“These Are Not Your Uncle’s Balls”

Over the course of a day I have many opportunities to be wrong. There are plenty of people from federal and state regulators to the occasional staff colleague hoping that I’ll miss something or fail to catch an esoteric issue as they sharpen their career-advancing daggers.  I guess that’s a reasonably good description of stress. Halloween was a particularly fine example (and not because I’d be spending much of the early evening careening about the neighborhood in the company of hideous ghouls and pint-sized Taylor Swifts).  It was my final day of preparation for a deposition (as a witness – the wrong side of the questioning) in a case involving about a quarter billion dollars.  So you could say it was a bit more stressful a day than most.  That said, we were having a few friends over for drinks, pumpkin ales & apps after trick or treating with our kids later on so I took a few minutes to type up a sign to go with the meatballs I concocted for the evening.  The description started with “these are not your uncle’s balls.” It devolved from there, listing the odd culinary Fusion Confusion Collision Cuisine elements it contained from Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, and Sweden.  For no good or apparent reason I sent the description to my enabler and wingman in all things culinary, craft beer, spirits, and lunacy, G-Lo of It’s Just The Booze Dancing and he responded with the following annoying line: “that’s a blog post, just say’in.”  I didn’t have time to list all the reasons why it was certainly was NOT a blog post, went back to preparing for the deposition, and ignored him for the rest of the day (while occasionally mentally circling back to why it wasn’t a blog post).     ………..Until it was.

I did my part as the trick or treating craft beer evangelist by dragging around a rolling cooler full of Wachusett Pumpkin and Tuckahoe Holly Beach Pumpkin Ales, handing them out to worthy and thirsty Halloween revelers (after they presented legal proof of age of course – can never be too sure when you might be handing an adult beverage to a freakishly large 14 year old in a skin tight dalmatian suit).  The meatballs went over well and the after party was success but there were no inspiring craft beers and definitely nothing to inspire a craft beer blog post.

Fast forward to that Saturday.  My oldest daughter’s birthday and youth soccer double header.  As I was getting ready to get out of the car at the second soccer field one of these parked next to me:

Your Uncle's Sedan Deville (still a big seller in Canada)

Your Uncle’s Sedan Deville (still a big seller in Canada)

A 1978 Caddy Sedan Deville.  Required wheels for uncles in the Northeast, tricked out with a split front bench seat, color-keyed hub caps and, for the lucky few, a Dolby B 8-Track cassette player for that collection of Lawrence Welk tapes.  Your uncle had one too and if you never saw it, it was because he kept it in the garage of his other family’s house on Long Island.  You never saw them either, but they were there.  Little did I know that a few hours later I’d pour a beer that would relate – in an extremely byzantine way – to the Sedan Deville proving G-Lo correct.  There was a craft beer blog post in them thar balls after all.

Fast forward even further to that much celebrated annual slaughter of homely birds in honor of our cultural slaughter and domination of the indigenous Native Americans and where do I find myself but in the company of uncles.  Lots of them.  Veritable late seventies Caddy showroom lining the street out front.  But before I digress further, there has to be something done about 60+ year old couples shopping together at supermarkets.  It must be outlawed.  When was the last time you didn’t see couples of that age arguing in the soup aisle?  The husband grumbling quietly under his breath while his wife proudly proclaims something that’s almost certainly wrong.  Meanwhile, they left the cart at an angle across the aisle apparently forgetting that they hadn’t rented out the whole place for a private shopping/sniping experience.  From now on, one at a time.  Couples with an aggregate age at or over 120 must not shop together.  Really quite simple.  Better for all of us.

Anyway, while some look forward to turkey, stuffing, and Cowboys football in the lead up to Thanksgiving, I look forward to the arrival of winter and holiday seasonal craft beers.  Always have.  Nothing says holiday season like the first sight of Anchor Christmas Ale.  That’s always been my favorite winter/holiday seasonal and this year’s version is especially good.  That night I poured my first of the season.  The next day I poured something entirely different.  Anchor California Lager.

Not hipster approved

Under-appreciated Craftbeersmanship

First of all, I generally avoid lagers.  Just not enough going on.  They always lack depth and complexity.  The Reader’s Digest of beer styles.  This one was different.  I checked the label a few times as if to expecting it to reveal itself to be something more than a pedestrian lager.  But it was more – though firmly a lager.  It was a a classic example of what true craft brewing is irrespective of style.  Anchor has always held a very special place in my craft beer heart.  Anchor Steam was the beer that started me on the path to becoming a craft beer geek in the first place.  Anchor Liberty Ale is another favorite.  A solid go to pale that’s versatile,  never gets old and never disappoints.  Perhaps the cleanest, driest finish of any beer I’ve ever had.  It even brings out the best in a sun ray or two on a cold East Coast winter day…

Suddenly I was reminded of the deposition I attended up in Manhattan the week before.  Eight hours of testimony on asset-backed securities and swap terminations is enough to drive the purest Mormon to drink.  Fortunately I’m not Mormon (and never have been despite my Bob Dylan-esque temporary departure from the balls of my People – matzo, that is) and I’m far from pure – though generally pretty good.  So I’m on my way back to Penn Station when I “just happen” upon Rattle N Hum in Midtown.  I’ll review the bar another time but, suffice it to say, it has a very Philadelphia craft beer bar scene vibe.  That’s a good thing.  I figured I could squeeze a pint of craft beer research in  before I had to hit the train so I grabbed a stool.  Few things surprise me in a craft beer bar but I was taken aback at the tap list scrawled on the chalk board.  40 Sierra Nevada brews.  These were not your uncle’s Sierra Nevada Pales (though it was on the lines).  Everything from Torpedo to one-off barrel aged stouts.  Familiar to anything but.  Most of your uncles only know SN Pale (especially the ones who confuse volume with insightful comment) but the cool one has had most, if not all, of the brews on the tap takeover list that day.  By that standard I guess I’m kind of cool because the only one I hadn’t had was the Barrel Aged Maple Stout with Coffee (until there was one in front of me on the bar).

As watched the Soprano’s neighborhoods of North Jersey fade in the distance during the train ride home I couldn’t help but think of how underrappreciated Anchor and Sierra Nevada seem to be these days.  Don’t get me wrong, I love plenty of cutting edge, aggressive craft brews.  Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra and New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Coconut Curry Hefeweizen being prime examples.  But with Dogfish Head, Brew Dogs, Surly, and so many others vying for shelf space and attention, the stable longboard surfers – the ones who first taught us that you could ride waves in the first place – are often left too far out of mind.  There’s something to be said for stability, authenticity, and tradition.  Kind of like a ride in the center front seat of your uncle’s ’78 Caddy.

Then I arrived home and after a quick dinner and check of the kid’s homework I went to the chilled craft beer research locker and gazed upon a shelf full of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ales.  Coincidence? Nope.

Happy Hoppy Holidays!


13 thoughts on ““These Are Not Your Uncle’s Balls”

  1. I think your ADD might be worse than mine. I like it. You had me at “balls”. I cut my teeth on Anchor and Sierra Nevada back in the 90’s…but I often (sometimes unfairly so) forget about them these days.

    The Haybag and I, back when she was lowercase haybag (not yet married), borrowed my friend’s 76 Cadillac Deville for a roadtrip from Philipsburg, MT, to Seattle to Portland and back to P-burg. It was awesome. The Haybag doesn’t remember it quite as fondly…

    • You mean my parallel compound extreme multi-tasking (a.k.a. serpentine stream of consciousness)? You’re probably right. Thankfully, otherwise I’d get bored with my own thoughts.

      The Haybag must have been fond enough of the Caddy roadtrip (or one of the driver) to have overlooked whatever deficiencies or affronts occasioned to her, otherwise she’s have remained lower case haybag to this day.


  2. Sadly, for reasons I can’t quite explain I’ve drifted away from Anchor over the years. Maybe it’s time for a revisit. I still frequent Sierra Nevada, for no other reason than I can usually get their beers at a dollar or two below what everyone else is charging. Around here they haven’t gotten “stupid expensive” yet (well, in beer terms anyway).

    As for the rest, all I can say after an event a couple of weeks ago is that I totally agree, old couples should not be allowed to shop together. Or if they do, they first have to agree ahead of time which one knows where everything is and the other has to stay quiet.

    • Another good point on SN. With only rare exceptions, they’re usually a bit less expensive than most other legit craft brews around here. Twelve packs of Celebration Ale at around $15 are a no brainer (and it’s maybe the only brew that I’d gladly buy 12 of at a time anyway).

      I’d like to think that one of those couples would actually stay quiet (you know the husband wants to anyway) but it’ll never happen. Something about the supermarket environment brings out the worst in them.


  3. I think maybe the beer is negating the effect of your meds. You might want to check to see what sort of interaction you are in for. That said, I am a little jealous that you just happen upon Rattle N Hum and find a fantastic tap takeover and “rediscovered” a great beer.

    • You may have misspelled “enhancement.” Pretty close with “interaction” though.

      I was fortunate to have not taken the Hyperloop Tube from the Upper East Side to Penn Station, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to stop at Rattle N Hum. They get all pissy about people pulling the brake cable in those things once they’re up to speed. Takes a bit longer to walk but you get an opportunity to stop and taste the pints.

  4. I very much enjoyed reading this- very funny! You have made me want to try the Anchor lager. I do not drink a lot of lagers either for the same reasons you mentioned but you have me intrigued. How was the Barrel Aged Maple Stout with Coffee? That sounds very delicious and something perfect this time of year.

    p.s. I love the picture of the liberty ale- awesome capture!

    • Thanks! I have to give Mother Nature all the credit for that shot – I was just in the right place at the right time and at the right angle.

      I’m still surprised at how much I enjoyed the California Lager. A few more of them almost found their way into my cart a couple days ago. That would be saying a lot because I so rarely drink lagers and even more rarely buy more than one. That SN one-off stout was really well done. Maple often overpowers brews but this one had a nice balance and long, clean finish with just enough sweetness. I doubt we’ll ever see that one bottled so if you’re lucky enough to catch it at a local craft beer bar, don’t pass it up.


      • Well, I love when mother nature works well with us 🙂 I will definitely be trying that lager. I am always up for trying anything but I typically would not get a six-pack of a lager or other lighter beers (unless it is summer). However, I recently got Baba black lager from Uinta and have really enjoyed it. It is super easy to drink and could easily be paired with most food.

        I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for that beer. It sounds delicious. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Beer Review – Old Dominion Double D Double IPA | It's just the booze dancing...

  6. Awesome blog! I kept waiting for the punchline to be something like “…they’re your new Aunt Duncan’s balls,” but this was really good, too. Cheers!

  7. Awesome blog! I kept waiting for the punchline to be something like “…they’re your new Aunt Duncan’s balls,” but this was really good, too. Cheers!

    • I’d have loved to have been that honest but I’ve already gotten a ton of hate mail from the Aunt Duncan Preservationist Society. Try as I might, they simply have no sense of humor when it comes to round things – even obavoids rub them the wrong way.

      Thanks for peeking in.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s