Until a few months ago, I was really into craft beer and nicer bourbon. I am still a fan of these things, but I haven’t been drinking much of either (or other alcohol) due to my focus on fitness. As a result my enthusiasm has waned somewhat as well.
If you asked me in high school, I’d have told you I wasn’t going to drink in college or ever. I would have been wrong. Beer started, for me, as something that I choked down as ~a punishment in rounds of beer pong in college (which were always, nevertheless, pretty fun). Over time, the taste started to get less bad. Then one day, I went to Cambridge Brewing Company and had their “Darkest Night”, which they term a “Cedar Wood-aged Solstice Ale”, but I might call just a Black Ale, maybe even venturing into Dubbel territory. Anyway, It was delicious!!
Soon, I gained an enthusiasm for this beverage. It was helped by the general wave of cache around an “American Renaissance” of craft beer that rose up around this time, thanks mostly to breweries like Dogfish Head and New Belgium, not to mention The Boston Beer Company (i.e. “Sam Adams”). Thanks to the last of these, CBC, and the fact that BeerAdvocate is based in Boston, I had a fertile environment to explore this enthusiasm and for a few years, it was really rather central to my identity.
Unfortunately, as noted above, I am not that enthusiastic right now, so I will keep this (kind of) brief and just fire off a few bullet points:
- My tastes tend to lean in the direction of stouts and porters. This means winter is the best beer season in my book.
- My favorite beers are probably Breckenridge Vanilla Porter (though they probably win unfair points in “Breckenridge” being my middle name), Founders’ Breakfast Stout, Murphy’s Irish Stout, and stepping outside that style family: Speakeasy Prohibition Ale and Goose Island Honker’s Ale
- I also really like Left Hand Brewing Company and Avery Brewing Company. This partially explains my vague plans to move to Boulder, CO in a few years.
- Amongst lower-end beers, I love Narragansett. But I will maintain heartily that, sanguine to the spirit of the game, Natural Ice is a solid go-to for beer pong (but that Keystone is unacceptable!).
- Looking for a good beer bar in Cambridge? I recommend Lord Hobo, Cambridge Brewing Company, and Green Street; with a nod to Meadhall for quantity of selection. If you are out in Brookline for some reason, The Publik House is great and probably has the best food of those listed here.
- Looking for a good beer bar in Brooklyn? I’m really not much help, but Downtown Bar and Grill is definitely a solid choice.
- Since Christmas Eve 2011, very nearly every beer I have drank (including a few I didn’t remember drinking) has been logged on my Untappd profile
Sometime between my 21st and 22nd birthday, my parents took a trip to the midwest and went through Kentucky on their way back. When I went home for Christmas that year, there was a lot of Booker’s being poured. Soon after Bourbon became definitively the official liquor of the Guy family (there’s a hold out for Scotch in my father). I have claimed on multiple occasion that while I am a rather poor American patriot, that with Bourbon being the quintessential American spirit, my love for it stands in.
To mirror the style used for beer, I shall here turn to bullet points:
- My favorite here may be Breckenridge Bourbon. Like the Vanilla Porter above, it probably gets an unfair bump in bearing my middle name, but definitely a good Bourbon (if you can forgive it for being distilled outside Kentucky), so I’ll stand by it.
- Jim Beam White has become undrinkable for me, but the Jim Beam distillery also makes Booker’s, my mother’s favorite, which is quite good, though I probably prefer their Knob Creek, or even better, Knob Creek Single Barrel
- While I have little use for Jim Beam proper, I actually still enjoy Jack Daniels. A) It’s not actually Bourbon (“Tennesse Whiskey”, not enough corn in the mash bill, and they drip it through charcoal before aging), B) This may be partially due to associations with my college dorms mythic forefather “Jack Florey”, but I stand by it.
- I also have a warm place in my heart (and stomach) for Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, largely because it is, in my experience, the finest bourbon-like elixir you can hope to find in Eastern (and very posisbly Western) Europe, and thus helped me when homesick.
- Possibly the most impressive whiskey bar I have been to is Hard Water in San Fransisco (pictured above right)
- Closer to home, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn’s Char No. 4 has a pretty solid selection
- The Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival is a pretty good, if potentially dangerous, time, if its coming to town near you. I will warn you that the BBQ component may be severely under-emphasized. It is due to the purchase of a “GRAND POOBAH VIP” ticket to this event, as a graduation present, that I came to own the plush viking helmet I am wearing in this site’s header (though I had to throw it away after the Tough Mudder that contributed the rest to that photo).