Dreams

We,
Who dwell between hell and
Hell
Pass our days in trembling pain
And our nights in pursuit
Of relief from the purgatory.

I howl,
Til morning’s burning eye.
I ache, to the dawning glass
And then I ache more
Awaiting a placid moment
For which
I have failed

I watch,
As some move on
To peace
And others seek–
Blowing gunpowder
Nightmares through
To morning.

We,
Who inhabit an unknown
Heaven
Pass our days with dreams
And our nights breaking
The dull monotony of comfort.

Today is the birthday of a great (deceased) blues man, Bill Broonzy. He would be 120 today, if he hadn’t been cut down at a young 65 by cancer. Bill’s blues were built on a foundation of traditional tunes and some of his own writings, and all were sang with a sweet mellow molasses voice over his expert finger style guitar. As a testament to Bill’s skill one need not look further than the fact that it was Bill who was signed up to replace the recently killed Robert Johnson in John Hammond’s 1938 “From Spirituals to Swing” concert at Carnegie Hall. Bill’s career spanned several decades, over which time he influenced generations of musicians, blues and otherwise–here’s to you Bill, happy 120

Doesn’t get as real down home delta as Son House. Son was a contemporary of Robert Johnson. If you don’t know who that is you may be lost in the internet. Son’s life was one of contradiction; alternating between periods as a preacher and one wailing incantations of the devil’s music, blues. He also was perhaps too big a fan of whiskey, but so it goes.

This song is a great example of Son’s distinctive rhythmic style, and a great example of his skill with the slide–one of my favorite weapons of blues. This song as been covered plenty, perhaps most notably by the White Stripes, but every one of those artists were just playing tribute to the master–he couldn’t be outdone. Son House is as real as the blues gets.

Review: Bulleit Rye

Let me preface everything I say here: I’ve been sitting on this whiskey for a while—one decent (hefty) pour left in the bottle.  It’s hard for me to reserve whiskey—I tend to drink it like a Mongol hoard was heading my way and I wanted to make sure there was nothing left for them.  So this is a bit unusual clearly.  I did this because I like this whiskey; I wanted to enjoy it and review it right.  So here it goes.

It should be known, I am a great fan of American rye whiskies.  They’re bold, peppery, and thoroughly warming.  They’re great straight or in any of my favorite classic cocktails.  Bulleit Rye is certainly no exception.  Bulleit Rye is the good kind of gut shot, warming and mellow, without the consequence of a bullet gut shot.  The death and all that. Unless you drink too much of this 90 proof love, then you could die.  Don’t do that.  Although the whole gut shot metaphor works really well with the “frontier whiskey” image that Bulleit projects.  It’s like a western movie.  Now to the taste: with a 95% rye bill, Bulleit does not skip on the spice—forget tequila; this would go great with Mexican food.  That spice is balanced by a nice warm tingle on the tongue, just lovely and light enough for you to enjoy the slight oaky vanilla any good whiskey leaves.  Frontier whiskey really is apt because the underlying flavors here are all robust and manly; there’s a bit of leather in there that makes me think if I was more of a cigar guy they’d be the perfect pair.  It would definitely go well with anything cooked over a fire.  I’m rather hungry, so it’d go well with a boiled boot too, if it came to that. Also, it’s that good.

I’ve enjoyed this particular bottle as a greeting for the return of two great whiskey-loving friends, and it served as a great lubricant for good conversation by a fireside.  I’m glad I’ve saved this bottle, although I really hoped to give a better review—which is why I’m quite glad that I know a magical place where this stuff grows on shelves.  Or something like that.

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See, empty.

I’m still feeling the tremorous after effects of last night. You see, in the wee hours of last night / this morning our caravan headed south to retrieve a valued envoy from the airport. At around 3 am we were headed north bound. The sky began to lighten around 4. We arrived at our safe house around 4:30. The fridge was full. Beer. Lots of it. And some good cheese, that’s an irrelevant detail. Last night wrapped itself until about 11 am. It’s a bit fuzzy, perhaps it’s the alcohol, perhaps I sustained a concussion during one of the 4 drunken grappling sessions which I was consecutively subjected to. There was lots of singing. Screaming of the old anthems, and some new. There was a lot of whiskey slugging. As I write this my voice is just whistles and gasps. Perhaps we took it a tad too far. Perhaps this is just a beginning of a massive decent into rock ‘n’ roll again. This is what youth should be. This is the return of the fiery days of the Wulfemen. As the Clash say, we’re a garage band. We live in garage land. Welcome home, comrade. Hawwwooooooooooo!!!

White Birch Brewing, a Tale of Two Visits

In the time since I’ve been legally permitted to imbibe I have paid many a visit to nearby White Birch Brewing of Hooksett, NH.  I’ve been able to see them develop quite a bit in that time, but I’d like, here, to briefly highlight the two tasting sessions I enjoyed their last week.

Round1: 6/7/13. Scene: myself and two of my closest comrades in arms.  We’re supposed to be headed to Newburyport, Mass to see the final show of a band I used to play with.  It’s going to be a solemn occasion, so we sweep the complete opposite direction for some fuel.  Enter White Birch.  It’s a pretty simple scene, classic, a few people lingering at the tasting counter and chatting amiably and we walk in thirsty and slightly boisterous.  There are a lot of samples to be had, the flagships, the usual suspects, are there and maintain their delicious glory.  Belgian yeast and hops: pale and India pale American goodness.  The unusual suspects are always a curve ball at White Birch.  Their beautiful barley wine Cattywhompus often shows up, as well as whatever they’ve decided to do, including usually an apprentice beer.  They have a great apprenticeship program that puts out some cool beers, basically the apprentice gets to make what they want and it gets sold.  This time around it seems the theme is sour.  They had quite a few, tart little barrel aged tweakers that make your face twinge but give you a new perspective on shit, man.  They’re pretty tasty too, once you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into.  The names and all that escape me, as the night only began at WB, and much blurring would come, but I can tell you there was a great assortment with seasonals and special one offs.  Anyways, the steal of the day was a case of White Birch Hooksett Ale bombers. 12 x 22oz of 8.5% ABV IPA goodness.  We split the cost 3 ways–$14 each for 4 of these beauties.  That is a steal—robbery at gunpoint.  That’s a lot of joy at $3.50 a pop.  Of course we leave White Birch buzzy on beer and drunk on the good conversation and good times.  The rest of the evening involves weird scenes in the rain, bars that tried to gouge us, didn’t serve us our food (until I went into the kitchen and got it) and other strange happenings.  It was a roller-coaster that started at a great place.

Round 2: 6/13/13. After the first experience it is obvious why I return.  Companion: My lovely lady.  We’ve just spent the day in an art museum and meeting a friend of hers for lunch.  Seems like a fine time for another visit. It’s on the way home anyways.  Sour beers are not her thing.  That may be mentioned in a soon to be written article if I get to writing it, but anyways, she’ll pass on the bretted Schwarzbier.  Also should be mentioned that I was easy recognized by the customers.  Anyways, this trip carries many of the same beers as the last time—and I little hidden secret.  From the golden (white) beer fridge comes a special as of yet unreleased beer.  This beer is a patersbier, something that the White Birch boys got from the traditions of the Belgian Trappist monks, who usually brew lots of great complex beer for other people to buy, and a lighter, simpler beer for themselves.  One Malt + the proprietary yeast + some hops = patersbier.  From what I gather this is usually a simple and low ABV beer.  White Birch made theirs 6.5% or something and somehow it’s not boring like it sounds, but actually the oat bread like complexity this single malt gives you makes this a fascinating beer.  I like the almost deconstructed idea of it.  Also, they’re making it for a charity, I forget the cause, but if it was my charity I’d be honored.  Another great visit to a cool local brewery.

Of course this babbling little tale tells you very little about White Birch Brewing.  It doesn’t tell you about how Bill Herlicka built this place up very quickly into a brewer’s playground and a drinker’s delight.  That’s a shame, I’ve failed.  So get off your ass and go visit them or find one of their beers if you’re able.  If you aren’t, visit their website and envy me. Cheers.

A sweet song about a father who misses his daughter for father’s day–one of Chuck Berry’s few emotionally stirring songs. Also, a shot (of whiskey) out to all the dads out there like mine who introduced us to the things that make life worth living: good music, good books, good movies, and a good drink. Here’s to all the dads and all they’ve done for us.

Review: Old Forester Signature 100

In one of my many trips to the state candy store I saw this bottle of fire and love sitting on the shelf.  One thing bothers me about this bourbon, and it bothers me madly.  The scotch-canadian spelling: “whisky.”  Of course I’m nitpicking, I hadn’t even opened the bottle when that pissed me off.  Of course, I do end up opening the bottle with a good friend, on a quiet evening of screaming acoustic folk, punk, and blues tunes until our voice run raw and a medicinal salve is needed.  Enter “whisky”: I place a communal glass and the bottle within easy reach and we get to work at our professional and obviously sober minded tasting.  Okay, I don’t care how this is spelled anymore, its pure burning caramel on the tip of my tongue that evaporates toward the back of my mouth into an oaky vanilla tincture of voice cleansing goodness.  I like my bourbon to have bite.  By bite I mean I want it to burn down my throat and turn my stomach into a mini furnace.  Old Forester 100 proof delivers, but unlike some napalm bomb bourbons, this doesn’t hurt.  The way the heat vanishes by the back of the tongue makes this a sneaky bourbon that could easily masquerade as a lower proof, so warn your less bold friends.  For my fire breathing comrades, don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed, it still turns your pot belly into a pot belly stove and gives your mouth the warm and tinglies.  This bourbon is beautifully executed, and perhaps the most sip-friendly 100 proof I’ve had.  Don’t worry, we conducted the bottle slug test too, and it performed beautifully at that too.  Incredibly enough I found this bottle on sale for under $20, not that this deal will last long I’m sure, but when it’s just me, the boys, and the blues, this may be exactly what we need—just gotta watch out and make sure it doesn’t sneak up on us.Image

To my very likely indifferent readers:

I would like to apologize for the lack of posts this week, summertime has me busy with my friends home and a recent visit from m’ lady, so I’ve been neglecting this thing. I’ll work on getting some posts up by morning. In the meantime enjoy Alvin Lee’s and Ten Years After tearing it up on “Going Home” as done live at Woodstock. This song is basically a history of rock ‘n’ roll and the blues in 11 shuffled up and screaming minutes. From Elvis to the Killer, Muddy to John Lee Hooker–this tune may just be the original, and the best, mash-up song.

Social Media on Social Media on Bourbon:

ImageSipping on bourbon in the late evening the television flashes something about Smirnoff sorbet, and the DD is eating sorbet out of a martini glass, blah blah flavored vodka, fuckin blah. But this reminds me of a trend I’ve been seeing on Facebook.  I am a fan of a lot of adult beverages on the Facebooks–surprise.  Well I’ve noticed that some of them tend approach their social media in different ways.  Let me just take some examples out for you.  First up is Bulleit: the responsible one.  I’ll let this sink in.  The bourbon that is branded as frontier whiskey and has a name that sounds like something that can tear holes in human flesh (like the lining of your stomach, for instance), is the one that is responsible.  Bulleit likes to make every other post about responsibility in fact.  For example one they use slogans like: “With maturity comes great character & responsibility,” “enjoy responsibly and create your own luck,” and “love bulleit responsibly.” My guess is they have some pretty cautious lawyers.  But they have a good point; drink is something to be respected.  Then again, I write a spirits blog that I refer to as a booze blog, and which at times portrays a less than moderate approach to love and respect.  But that’s just me.  The other end of the spectrum is Buffalo Trace.  The guy who posts for Buffalo clearly loves his job.  He sits on the internet all day (I imagine he keeps inspiration nearby) and he finds memes and e-cards about drinking bourbon.  Some examples from them are: “Friday is the beginning of my liver’s work week,” “I’d like to apologize for bourbon’s bad behavior this evening,” “I tried to log on to your iPad but turns out it was just your kid’s etch-a-sketch and you don’t even have an iPad—also you’re out of bourbon,” overly manly-man’s “comfort food? You mean bourbon?” and Mark Twain’s classic quote “too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

ImageThe point here is that they like a little excess. I enjoy that.  It’s entertaining.  Then again, everybody posts tons of cocktail recipes.  I have a feeling 80% of people who like bourbon enough to like them on Facebook, probably either think cocktails are those little hotdogs or know how to make something Facebook couldn’t handle.  Then again, some people post recipes for 5 liters of Sazerac.  So that’s my rant on social media about social media, talking about bourbon. By the way, here’s that Sazerac Recipe:

Sazerac recipe for 5 Lt Barrel:

4 bottles Jeffersons Rye(750)
1 1/2 cups Sugar in the Raw
52 dashes Peychauds Bitters
Zest 4 whole lemons over top, letting rind fall into the mix.
Spray glass with Absinth
Chill and strain into rocks glass.