Last week was "Beer Week" in my hometown, and as wonderful as that sounds in principal (for the most part it is quite wonderful) in reality, Beer Week can be quite frustrating. The explosion of interest in beer that has occurred over the last couple years means that beer-related events are now drawing huge crowds. While it used to be possible during Beer Week to walk into a place, sit down, have a bite to eat, and drink some quality beers, this year it was common to people lining up to get through the door. It takes a bit of the fun out of Beer Week when you are packed into a bar like sardines at all times.
My greatest disappointment, however, involved one legendary beer: Pliny the Younger. Here's the back story behind the beer: I've discussed its sibling, Pliny the Elder, before. It's sort of difficult to find in bottles, but, at least in my town, it's readily available on tap. The Elder is considered to be one of the best beers in the world, but its cousin, Pliny the Younger is an even more rarefied beast. The Younger is brewed in extremely small quantities only once a year, in early February, and is not available in bottles. On Beer Advocate, it was once the highest rated beer in the world, and currently sits at the number two spot. The brewer, Russian River, serves it in their brewpub and a few kegs are shipped out to small number of lucky bars and pubs around the country. When it goes on sale, things tend to look like this.
|Dr. Sparkle is visible in this photo. I suppose that if you can pick me out I should offer some sort of prize?|
I've had first hand reports that the lines at Russian River got out of control this year, with waits up to eight hours. I've always wanted to go to Russian River during Pliny the Younger season, but decided it might be saner to find it locally. Here in town, anyone who gets a keg will tap it during Beer Week, though the where and when will always be kept secret until the last moment. On Saturday, a local faux-British pub announced they would be selling it that evening. This was bad timing: I was having my car worked on that day, and needed to available to pick it before the shop closed. Then, on Sunday, a local beer and burgers place I frequent was going to tap a keg. We arrived about an hour early, and while a line was already forming, it didn't seem to be outrageously long. Ironically, I was standing next to a lady who said she lived a block or so from the brewery, but couldn't deal with the lines at Russian River. By the time they opened the keg and started pouring glasses, the line had stretched around the corner, and as we moved forward, we were pretty confident that we would be drinking some Pliny the Younger soon. So everyone was quite shocked when, as we were about halfway to the door, a staff member informed the crowd that the Pliny was sold out. We ended up eating lunch there anyway, since the place still had an astonishing line-up of rare beers on tap that day. This will mean nothing to folks who aren't beer fanatics, but: Firestone Walker Double DBA, Black Butte Porter XXIV, Flying Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo, Dogfish Head Burton Baton, Ballast Victory at Sea, Sierra Nevada Ovila Double Barrel Aged, and several others. It was the sort of line up of beers you rarely experience and I wish I could have had one of each. As a bonus, while leaving, the owner grabbed me and we discussed the Pliny situation. He explained the "keg" of Pliny they received was extremely small, and as a consolation, he dragged me back in and poured me samples of the Black Butte and Double DBA. Both were frickin' delicious, and since I am currently cellaring bottles of both, I was quite pleased to know how great they were. (Its also worth noting that while many places charge $5.00 or $6.00 for a glass of the Pliny the Younger, or even bundle it into expensive beer flights, this place was practically giving it away at either $2.00 or $3.00.)
In summary, this is both a wonderful and frustrating time to be a beer fanatic in this country. So many wonderful beers are made, but they are getting harder and harder to find. Certain limited beers hit the shops and sell out the same day. A fellow beer drinker, Dan S, mentioned "the chase" in the comments a while back. You will read about certain beers but you never find a bottle. You haunt the beer stores, scanning the shelves for anything new. Frequently, you'll see guys in the aisles, talking on their phones: "They just got in four or five boxes..." A few years ago, I never had problems getting certain once-a-year beers like Deschutes' The Abyss. In 2012, I never saw a bottle. Just too many people getting into beer nowadays....
(Just a reminder, this is video game blog, not a beer blog.)
A couple weeks ago I was complaining about the future of videogames, when, as if on command, we got the clusterfuck known as Sim City. EA releases a highly anticipated game, but requires players be continuously logged in to the EA servers. The next thing we know, the servers are overloaded and people can't play the game, even in single player mode. EA tries to alleviate things by removing some features from Sim City. Maxis claimed that the online only requirement could not be dropped, since the core features of the game required connection to the servers in order to function. Then, it turned out this was simply not true. The final result: everyone hates Maxis and EA just a little bit more than they already did. User reviews are currently averaging one star on Amazon and 1.5 out 10 on Metacritic. Perhaps after Diablo 3 and this, publishers will finally get the hint?
On a positive note, the long awaited, long delayed first episode of Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes vs Women in Video Games has been released. You might recall there was a bit of an online dust up over this a while back. Sarkeesian announced a Kickstarter to fund a series of videos about sex stereotypes and the role of women in videogames. The troglodyte set of the internet proceeded to freak out at this idea, and began a pretty concerted, vicious attack on her. The low point of all this was probably a flash game someone created which simulated disfiguring Sarkeesian by punching her in the face.
|This will launch around 100 fuck-tons of online butt hurt.|
My main complaint with the video (other than some questionable handling of the damsel in distress motif in the pre-videogame era) is the excessive repetition of the word "trope" in its contemporary, internet-y sense.
I don't have an exact release date for Chronturbo 4, but quite a bit of progress has been made. I actually finished editing Valis II right before posting this! In the mean time, I'll leave you with my current favorite German 70s progressive Jazz-Rock video, "Uranus" by Klaus Doldinger's Passport. German TV technicians of the era were pretty creative, and here they spice up the performance by splicing together footage from different pefermormances using split screen, so it looks as if the Doldigner is duetting with himself. It's pretty ridiculous and awesome.