Happy Solstice, one and all.
Been in a stout mood lately. Must be the weather. Voodoo American Stout, 8.5% booze, hails from San Clemente, Calif. I imagine this beer would be excellent with a little fog rolling in off the ocean. Maybe a bonfire in that scene. Or perhaps just perched on a bench overlooking the black ocean, the town lights twinkling, the smell of orange trees and jasmine and salt water. And this fucking beer, which is not spectacular but does conjure a certain introspective mood. Hoody weather and fog. The solitude of night, dark dreams vivid. California voodoo.
Happy Election Day, one and all. Even you, Gary Johnson supporters. We realize you exist.
Life, liberty and what else is there? Oh yes, the Pursuit of Hoppiness. It’s in the Constitution, people. Look it up. This delicious Imperial Red Ale, 8.5 percent booze factor, is a consensus builder. It hails from Idaho, which is now projected for Gov. Romney.
We’re all going to wake up tomorrow and still be family, neighbors, friends and colleagues. Most of us who say we’ll move to Canada if so-and-so gets elected will not actually follow through with that threat. No one wants to move to Canada. Let’s be honest. Nothing up there but hockey, white flesh, moose, universal health care, fresh air and shitty pop singers. And really excellent craft beer. It’s actually sort of a wash for me. I might move up there, even if my guy wins. Sort of talked myself into it.
Point is, we’re all Americans. And we can all drink trainbeer, if we so choose.
And if President Obama should get reelected tonight, well, congratulations, Mr. President. I’m proud of many of your first term accomplishments. Clearly, many challenges remain.
But to paraphrase the great Dr. King: “The arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
I stood in front of the new MLK Memorial in Washington this summer and rolled those words around in my mind. It is perhaps just some leap of faith, but I do believe it. It feels like more of a promise, some solemn vow, than a blind prayer. It resonates to me like some shared commitment of what we will leave for our children. And I do hope my daughter believes it, too, someday.
Anyway. Back to beer. Cheers, everyone.
PBR hits the tongue and gut with a bright, familiar burn. It reminds one of corndogs, baseball, wilderness, road trips, fireworks. Of corner bars and summer storms. Of some bad decisions, perhaps. It somehow stands apart from from its brethren — the Buds and Coors and Millers — yet among them. It is not a good beer. It is a legendary beer. It is unfuckwithable. Someday, PBR will open a steakhouse with Michael Jordan, sit at the bar in a slightly opened bathrobe, and talk to strangers like Bill Clinton at a pig roast. Picture that.
The day called for stout, a Rogue Double Chocolate Stout, 9% booze factor.
Today’s trainbeer: Revolution Mad Cow Milk Stout, 7.9% booze factor. Made the cold bike ride home from the train station a little more bearable. Let’s go, OAKLAND!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dan Lakin, who may swiftly become the world’s most envied and hated man.
OK, hate’s a strong word.
But right this second, Dan is on a train from Munich to Freising, wending his way to the world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephan. He is drinking a beer called Augustinerbrau Munchen Lagerbier Hell, which may roughly translate to ‘perfection.’
Dan is in beer mecca, an exotic country sometimes called Germany, for this year’s Oktoberfest, which as I understand it, is a massive beer-swilling festival involving wenches, group singing on tabletops and lederhosen.
So, picture Dan in lederhosen and drinking litre upon litre of fine Oktoberfest beer, as you sit hunched over here in your cubicle, tip-typing away on the day’s menial tasks, and tell me how it makes you feel.
Trainbeer experienced technical difficulties yesterday. But this Firestone Double Walker — double IPA, 9.5% percent booze factor — definitely turned my frown upside down. Delicious ale. It melted away my ennui like global warming melts Greenland.
Trainbeer and such and such.
America has spoken. Old Style it is.
Honestly, I can’t tell if this beer is skunked or not. It has the taste of a beer that has been rolling around the floorboards of someone’s Buick for more than year, forgotten beneath the greased burger wrappers, the unpaid bills, the empty and partially crushed beer cans languishing like profligate cousins. This beer no doubt has suffered scorching heat, careless muddy football cleats, marital disputes and endless bouts of Blue Oyster Cult, among other indignities. It once rolled beneath the brake, but Dicky didn’t notice, no, he just stomped the pedal harder and lit a cigarette off the one he was already smoking. Yes, the Old Style beer has been to hell and back, vaguely acknowledged as the far west suburbs.
But it’s time has come. Only God knows how it made it from the Buick to the 7-11 cooler. I don’t profess to know such things. It’s here with me now, though, as the sunlight knifes through the leafy trees, slants fiercely through the train’s westerly facing windows. It’s here with me now.
And I can tell you it gets a little better, this Old Style, with each pensive slurp.
Take heed, all ye doubters and heathens, Trainbeer answers to no man.
Following the great tradition of Thoreau, Sitting Bull, Che Guevarra (sp?) and Socrates (pronounced SO-crates), Trainbeer respects no government, no rules, excepting its own loosely-formed malleable smattering of ethics. And so when the Metra railway service laid bare its fascist tendencies with temporary restrictions on alcohol, We took that to mean only extremely hoppy, high alcohol beers in old Nalgene bottles would be permitted. Only a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, 8% booze factor, would suffice.
The day has built to this moment. After coffee with a friend, I was caught out in a summer deluge. Completely soaked, I blindly splashed back to the quiet, air-conditioned hum of the office. For several long moments, I felt alive. And then I had to answer some emails and such.
After that drenching, I had no choice but to change into a t-shirt two sizes too small. I wear it still. As I drink this thrilling ale from its unbreakable receptacle, I idly gaze out at the falling rain and ponder Mandela’s long imprisonment and Suu Kyi’s comparably cushy house arrest. I thought of Rushdie exiled and Gandhi doing his Gandhi thing. Rosa Parks, even.
I can’t help but think Trainbeer logs this journey in their midst - unyielding, steadfast and hurtling toward some evolution of human spirit.
From the sweltering heat of Arizona to the insufferable heat of Chicago, my Dad and awesome stepmom, Sharon, did venture. What did they want to do in the City of Broad Shoulders? Maybe check out the Sears Tower? Perhaps visit the Art Institute? Or did they want to take a scenic architectural tour?
No. They wanted only Trainbeer.
In my father’s own words:
“We’re a hundred tons of steel and glass, hurtling down the track,
We in our air conditioned cool, posted up in the Trainbeer throne,
Upper deck, back of the car, forward facing seats, and, in the moment,
We become one with the worldwide phenomenon,
Touching that chilled Trainbeer to our lips, drinking deeply, sublimely,
Satisfied smiles on our faces, as leafy green Chicago flies by.”
I once spent a month in Death Valley with Jeremy Sasson. He was a student of mine in the Athenian Wilderness Experience. With humor and resourcefulness, he took all the challenges of desert travel in stride. And now, I’m proud to annouce he’s become a Trainbeer foreign correspondent (talk about climbing the ladder of success). Here’s a recent dispath from Spain. Because of his brave contribution, I will forgive his Giants propaganda.
If there is one thing in Spain that is in a worse situation than its economy, it is its beer. Understandably so, the previous foreign correspondent elected to comment on a Spanish wine instead. I, however, have put my life on the line in the interest of Trainbeer.
Cruzcampo, like most Spanish beers, is a lager light enough to be consumed in large quantities on a sweltering Spanish summer day. This usually transitions flawlessly into a long Spanish siesta.
As a beer connoisseur, Cruzcampo will never mean a whole lot. But as a Giants fan, it now means the world. But as a Giants fan, it now means the world. After waking up to the news of Matt Cain’s perfect game, I knew I had no choice. From this day forward, Cruzcampo will be known as “Matt Cain Perfect Game Celebration Ale presented by Cruzcampo.” Spanish beer never tasted so good.