GUINNESS BLACK LAGER—I’ll have another, and so will my dad

My Fellow Inebriates,

Thank goodness my dad had the sense to ignore Mum’s would-be dry weekdays edict. Seriously, we boys need to stick together against this sort of mini-temperance move. If my dad hadn’t felt the pull of the liquor store and gone in for some GUINNESS BLACK LAGER I would have worried about him.

Mum says I deserve hate mail for implying she can simply be ignored on financial matters. She said it was anti-feminist of me to suggest that Dad and I need to paint her anti-alcohol (at least on weekdays) campaign as irrational and militant, and that if I wasn’t careful she’d encourage the kids to put me in a dress ASAP and engage me in playtime well past Guinness-drinking hour, thank you very much, you nasty little bear.

DSCN2040I’m not making up the fact that my dad and I are overwhelmed here at LBHQ. The bathroom is full of ponies. Everything has glitter on it. We stockpile Purex’s pink breast cancer awareness toilet paper, which is so pink that it prevents you from seeing whether your ass is bleeding, if in fact it is. Yes, Dad and I are outnumbered. All we have is beer.

Moreover, I won’t get any hate mail because I don’t get any mail. Either my readers are completely nonplussed by the blog and left speechless or they simply aren’t reading it (my money’s on the latter). Ergo, I told Mum, I can say whatever I want.

She conceded the point but argued that Dad and I share more than beer. The stereo, the car, and probably the porn, she itemized.

“We watch gobs of porn,” I said—a small joust at her insecurities.

“That’s fine,” she said. “Lucky you’re nearby—you’re nice and absorbent.”

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OMG!! Maybe my allegiance is all wrong, my fellow inebriates. In the spirit of reconciliation, I suggested we try some of that GUINNESS BLACK LAGER my dad bought so disobediently. She’s probably the smart one after all—for surely it’s better to save up one’s drinking for the weekend and then get ripped to kingdom come.

This wasn’t what she had in mind when she first proposed dry weekdays; it was financially motivated—i.e., doubling up on booze to make up for Monday to Friday would defeat the purpose.

I made one last appeal: “But haven’t you read The Secret? If we act like we’re poor by cutting back on alcohol, we’ll create an impoverished vibe and perpetuate our poverty. We have to throw money around and behave like it doesn’t matter.”

After that she just stopped talking to me. We drank our GUINNESS BLACK LAGER in silence.

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Black and tan like a Guinness

As you’d expect, it’s the color of my friend Blackie Bear with tan foam (Blackie isn’t frothing at the mouth currently but he has some tan bits). An abiding affection for GUINNESS DRAUGHT must have programmed me to expect a deep, malty flavor—dark, boomy notes rather than the high notes you get off the top with the BLACK LAGER. While it does give off a malty smell, this proves deceptive upon the first sharp sip. True enough, I should be expecting lager-like characteristics, but it’s still a shock to taste watery barley and sourdough. It does settle down as it warms, but it continues to rail against all the sensory suggestions that attend the GUINNESS name, not to mention its warm, dark color.

The mouthfeel is inadequate but the carbonation is compensatory: forceful and emphatic. Coffee and malt hit the nose and the palate like a sloppy drunk trying to throw a punch. This beer is all over the map and yet it comes together in a fighting Irish sort of way. It’s pretty good if not memorable for anything other than some minor weird incongruities, and I would have another. And another. And another.

ALHAMBRA LAGER—Happiness in a bottle (or at least some kind of ALHAMBRA brew, maybe not this particular one; you can blame my sweaty mother for not clarifying)

My Fellow Inebriates,

Everywhere she goes, my mother ends up conversing with strangers about alcohol. Sometimes she doesn’t even initiate it; people just mention beer or wine when she’s around. She must have a “lush” vibe.

The latest recommendation came in a Superstore lineup. To be accurate, it was addressed to the cashier, not my mother. The dude in line behind her, asked how he was, gave an actual answer, saying he was brilliantly happy—mostly because of his hobby: drinking unusual beers from around the world.

4460What was his favorite? The cashier didn’t ask, but he volunteered that it was ALHAMBRA from Spain. Presumably not being a lush herself, the cashier didn’t elicit which ALHAMBRA brew, and my mother, not having pushed her way into the conversation and being filthy and sweaty following a morning workout, didn’t either. But she did get showered and make a beeline for the liquor store that afternoon, where she bought the only ALHAMBRA brew on offer: the lager.

Based on the Superstore dude’s demeanor we surmised that ALHAMBRA must be happiness in a bottle. And we were all the more disposed to try it given that Spain has been rocking our world oenologically lately.

Another plus: 6.4% alcohol. Happiness in a bottle indeed.

ALHAMBRA LAGER’s first impression is a skunkiness not dissimilar to Grolsch’s. I don’t mind skunky beers but my dad—who wasn’t thrilled in the first place that a lager had come home—had reservations about it.

The color is rich gold with a generous creamy head. On the skunky spectrum it rates “intriguing,” stopping well short of “disturbing.” I couldn’t wait for the first sip.

Ahhhh! ALHAMBRA’s generous ABV gives it some welcome heft, making it more than a fizzy Eurobooze vehicle. Round and substantial with punchy carbonation, it strikes hard with sweet malt, corn, and moderate hoppiness. It’s not a one-note beer—maybe a three-note beer—and it’s weighty enough to be an effective “transition beer” for those months when the weather doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing and if you didn’t have a calendar you wouldn’t know it was April and not either March or June.

I doubt our fellow Superstore customer was talking about this specific ALHAMBRA offering in his ravings to the cashier (who said she preferred wine). Chances are our government-run liquor store buys the most mass-market variety ALHAMBRA brew. Which is fine because I was enchanted with the 6.4% ABV. I loved it, people, and it even tasted pretty good.

ASTROLIQUOR for March 8-14—What the stars say you should drink!

My Fellow Inebriates,

Here’s your booze horoscope:

Aries, it’s time to mend a relationship. The conflict started out small, but then you were a dickhead and exaggerated the situation. Now you need to pocket your pride. This is embarrassing, so you’ll do well to eliminate any inhibitions. With what? you ask. Why, with Jack Daniel’s and blackberry brandy in equal parts. Not at work, though—the stars are already forecasting a crappy performance review.

Taurus, your ability to focus abandons you. You’ll spend at least four hours this week watching people do the Harlem Shake and hunting through YouTube for philosophy lectures that bolster the weird-ass stuff you already believe in. Go out and have fun instead. The stars encourage incorporating Midori Melon into all your activities, as long as they get you out of the house.

Stock up on beer and potato chips, Gemini—you’re having a house party this week. Play some good music and people will show up by the dozen. Watch out for a Libra—a totally wrecked Libra. You’ll want to keep this person out of trouble. Pull him/her aside and have a real conversation about something important to you. Not only will you start a solid friendship; you’ll have someone to help you clean up later.

Cancer, the stars call for communication and negotiation with an emphasis on finance. You’ll be assertive and effective. You may well wonder: What place does alcohol have in this? The stars say “no place,” but who says you have to listen to the stars? They are very distant balls of exploding gas, and they know ^&*$@!* about your life. Pour some watermelon schnapps and tell the stars to kiss your ass.

Leo, get serious about finance and household matters. Buy some real estate, perhaps, or some throw pillows. If you fix up your surroundings you’ll feel like having visitors (the stars say “older women”). Moreover, you’ll get sympathy without having to act like a jerk. Of course all this civility will run its course and end with several ounces of Bailey’s dropped into a pitcher of lager.

As a Virgo you tend to be a pragmatist—but not this week. Get your paranormal/ astrological/ metaphysical game on. You could take a course and earn credentials similar to Sylvia Browne’s (or, since those would be “zero,” you could study some old metaphysics texts). This is not incompatible with drinking tequila, but it will mess up your workout at the gym. No-brainer: tequila.

Libra, you’ll experience memory dropouts commensurate with the amount of cognac that’s mysteriously disappeared from your bar. Yes, you bottomed out, Libra, and you can’t remember any of it. This will make friends and relatives laugh at you, and you will probably get fired, especially if you are an air traffic controller. Sounds like a reasonable week.

You get some bad health-related news about a friend, Scorpio. This person used to be in kick-ass shape, but you just can’t neglect a thing like syphilis indefinitely. Your friend is in trouble, and you’d better visit. Not that you have to avoid the subject. Your friend will love talking frankly with you, especially if come stocked with sloe gin, banana liqueur, vodka, triple sec, and Southern Comfort.

Sagittarius, those benders have been keeping you from a robust social life. Friends are starting to resent your no-shows—but not as much as they resent you breathing next-day Green Chartreuse all over them when you do make an appearance. If you feel too sick to address your social shortcomings, give yourself a week or so. But do keep up with old friends, because you’re not exactly making new ones.

Take it easy this week, Capricorn. Your body is wrecked after weeks of slamming blended whiskey and rum. If you don’t know how to relax, try modelling your behavior after someone you consider especially indolent. If you fake being a lazy douche for long enough, the next thing you know, you’ll actually be one, and then you’ll have arrived. Pour yourself some creme de cacao.

Aquarius, you suck at minding your finances, but your bank account is going critical, so it wouldn’t hurt to set a budget. No more fancy vodka for you; buy a plastic-jug brand. You’ll probably use the money you save to go on an expensive date rather than actually banking it, but that’s okay; you need human contact. Too bad the person is sketchy and knows where you live.

Pisces, strong emotions take over this week, leaving you barely able to function. This is what happens when you ingest nothing but rye with Tang® all week; you’re reduced to a snivelling ruin. Talk about your feelings, but not with people you know. Try people on the subway or in other confined spaces from which they can’t run away immediately. What you say is disturbing, but you need to say it. Remember life is beautiful, even if you’re not the most beautiful component of it.