Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 82

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Rio Rita Bloody Mary (Austin, Texas)

There aren't many alcoholic beverages that are acceptable to drink during the morning or early afternoon, but the Bloody Mary is one of them. For that reason, and the fact that it has an extremely unique taste, the Bloody Mary is probably one of my favorite cocktails. Anyway, this particular Bloody Mary had been hyped by my brother for a couple days as probably the best he had ever had. That's always a pretty bold statement no matter what you're talking about, but I was pleasantly surprised that he was absolutely correct. This is an incredible drink. As with all Bloody Marys, it all starts with that tomato juice concoction. This one is made all the better by the fact that you can ask for habanero infused vodka to go along with it. It creates this perfect, very spicy and salty version of the drink. Everything else tastes so interesting that you tend to forget you are even drinking something with alcohol in it. The added bonus is all the edible non-beverage friends that come along for the party. Pickled okra, pickled banana peppers, olives, a lime wedge, and the classic celery garnish create an appetizing meal in itself. It also gives you the chance to take a break from the drink if the spice gets to be too much. The only downside here is the hefty $11 price tag (it's an extra $2 for that infused vodka.) It probably goes down as the single most expensive drink I've purchased at a bar. That said, I have no regrets. You pay for that kind of quality sometimes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 81

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Pibb Xtra

This beverage used to go by the name of "Mr. Pibb" back in the day, but apparently Coca-Cola rebranded it to be "Pibb Xtra." First of all, I'm not sure how I feel about the name change. I feel like it's a bit too early 2000's to put an "x" on something just to make it seem cooler, and they did make that change in 2001 which makes sense. For those of you who have never had Pibb, it's a no shame in the game direct rip-off of Dr. Pepper by the folks at Coke. Pretty much every store brand in America has their own version of Dr. Pepper, so this isn't a surprising move to try to capitalize on a very popular flavor. Actually this fellow at Not Quite What the Doctor Ordered gives a pretty miraculous run-down of all the phony doctors out there. Quite a service I may say. Anyway, I don't really see Pibb Xtra all that much in this area, or maybe I just pretend not to notice it with so much DP around. For that reason I like it because it's a bit of a novelty for me. Pibb is a pretty good knockoff I suppose. It tastes enough like it's supposed to. I've never had a superior version to the imperial cane sugar Dr. Pepper however, so there's just no comparison. Just ain't nothing like the real thing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 80



Pint's Pub Lancer IPA (Real Ale)

So this is a very special beer in many ways. Pint's Pub in Denver is one of the few places in the country that currently makes what they call "real ale" which contains live yeast, is served by hand pumping, and presented to you at a balmy temperature of 50 degrees and with very low carbonation. The whole process is explained by them here, as it's a bit more complicated than I can adequately explain. That's also what that bottom picture explains. Anyway, this was a unique experience that was worth driving out of the way for. On a side note, this place also has one of the largest Scotch collections in the country, over 250 styles with some costing $800 per bottle I believe. As for the beer, it was really good. Warmer, less carbonated beer takes a little while to get used to, but I like its aesthetic. I've had hand pumped beer before, but this stuff certainly seemed like the real deal. It had that very "British" taste to it, which I feel like I can't explain fully, but it shared that warm bitterness and hoppiness that I've enjoyed in other "classic style" British IPAs. If you're looking for a taste of how most beer used to be, then this is the thing to try. Also because it tastes really great.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 78

New Holland Brewing's Dragon's Milk

I ate this with an egg burrito. Just thought you should know that from the get-go. Anyway, I mistakenly had assumed that this was an imperial stout (official classification is "American strong ale") just because it had that look to it. Maybe that's why I was kind of disappointed when I first started drinking it. It was dark, creamy, and had oaky and vanilla notes like many strong stouts (this is a 10%) have, but it didn't quite the thickness or bitterness to it. Another problem is that it didn't really hide the high alcohol content very well. That's sometimes distracting in terms of trying to pick up some of the other flavors. I love this kind of strong, dark beer, but I've definitely had better. I like the idea that this is what baby dragons drink though.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 77


Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

As you can see from the picture, we had to brown bag this bad boy. Why is that? Because we were drinking in the park, aw yeah. It was actually a pretty great scene that combined high school punks, dog walkers, and homeless drug addicts. The highlight being when a crazy lady went into the port-a-potty and just started slamming her fists and feet into it while screaming. It made for good beer drinking because we were all glad that we weren't her. Oregon has some good beers (Caldera + Rogue which I have reviewed before), but I was excited to see this brand from Eugene which I'd never tried before. Our friend Nathan recommended it, so I figured it would be tasty. Oregon is also known for it's hops and the Total Domination IPA has a lot of great hoppy flavor. At 6.7% it took a bit out of me drinking a whole bomber in the afternoon, but I enjoyed it. It was crisp, floral, with a little bit of citrus acidity and a nice bitter finish. Definitely a good park drinking beer, though I don't think I've really seen this stuff on the East coast.

Monday, September 20, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 76


Negra Modelo

Imported beers from Mexico slowly have become more and more the rage in the US and Negra Modelo has certainly jumped along that train. All in all, this is probably one of the better ones that I've had from Mexico. It's obviously different in that it's a darker lager and it is not enhanced by a lime like Corona or Tecate might be. This one is fine on it's own. It's a pretty uncomplicated beer, and has similar notes you'd expect from a lager. Fairly malty with not a whole lot of bitterness and maybe just slightly sweet. The stubby little bottle is always a unique twist and an eye-catcher. It's not an amazing beer by any means, but one of the better ones that we got for free on the tour.

This Is What I Drink: 75


Freddy's Vanilla Malt

This was the final malt of a certified malt craze during the summer. We called up Freddy because he came up on one of our telephones when the malt cravings started after dinner. Freddy's in Oklahoma City had a chain-like feel, where all the employees had to wear old-timey uniforms while serving up burgers and shakes. Since we had just gotten dinner, I only had the stomach for their smallest size which was called a junior or baby or mini or something else emasculating, but it was only about $2, so I felt pretty good about it. I felt that this malt was more "beverage-like" than the one I got in Sioux Falls, but since it was just vanilla it didn't bring much to the flavor table. It still had a pretty good malt kick though, and the kitsch of Freddy's restaurant was amusing enough.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 74


Sioux City Cream Soda

I was going to regret not grouping this beverage in with the rest of the "Sioux Falls" related drinks until I realized that they were two completely different places. Shame on me for thinking that two nondescript Midwestern cities might be similar. But seriously, I'm pretty into this line of sodas. They seem to be fairly common to spot in convenience stores and gas stations once you get west of Ohio. As far as I know their entire line uses pure cane sugar as a sweetener which is a must. Apparently they have a Cherries 'n Mint (huh?) flavor, which I'd love to try, but I've never seen that one on the road. Here's a description of the brand from their website: "Sioux City embossed bottles were developed in 1987 and were one of the first western-themed soft drink brands in the country." Umm...Congratulations? I guess you beat Cowboy Coke to the punch, but unless I'm missing something, what else would be considered a western-themed soft drink? In the end, it's a fairly decent cream soda. The flavor is too sweet and chemically tasting for me, so I really miss any kind of vanilla flavor. Cream soda is pretty difficult to pull off and this one just doesn't quite cut it, but it's not terrible. I will say that the bottle design is pretty.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 73


Heineken

Here is another European beer that seems to be somewhat overrated and overpriced just because it's an import. Again, it's much better than a standard American beer, but I'm not convinced it's much better than something like Yuengling lager (which I can get for considerably cheaper) or a microbrewed lager which I can get for a comparable price. That said, I'm also not a huge fan of this kind of pale lager. They are pretty easy drinking and good to have around on occasion, but they don't bring a whole lot of flavor to the plate. I also drank this one out of a tall boy can which kind of decreases it's classiness as well. It just seems better to have this beer out of a bottle. I actually always confused this flavor for a pilsner, but it's clearly a lager. I dislike pilsners more than lagers, so it doesn't seem surprising that I'm not a huge fan of this beer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 72


Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle is one of those classic English beers we're all supposed to be in love with. That's not to say it's not a good beer, because it is, but it isn't a great one. I think when you compare it to Budweiser, Coors, or Miller, sure, it's much better because it actually has some interesting flavor to it. However, when you compare it to other countless American microbrew's versions of brown ales, it's really not anything special. Admittedly, the first time I tried it I was blown away by it, but that was early in my beer drinking career. Brown ales have a unique bitter flavor, and Newcastle is a pretty good base example of one. I also do not buy brown ales very frequently, so my flavor profile for them may not be perfect. When we played a show in Newcastle I was amused when our tour manager (also from Newcastle) said "nobody here actually drinks Newcastle." Fair enough, but whoever imports it has done a good job of creating a mystique behind it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 71


V8

The most famous of the vegetable juices (popularized by the famous Campbell's soup co.), V8 is a fairly regular purchase for me on tour. It's just the kind of thing that makes you feel better about treating your body so terribly for the other 23.5 hours of the day when you aren't drinking V8. It's tough to get your daily intake of veggies on tour. Heck, it's pretty hard to get them while at home. So what are the famous eight vegetables? Tomato (making up 87% of the drink) followed by beets, celery, carrots, lettuce, parsley, watercress, and spinach. Sure, it's basically tomato juice, but the thought of getting just a little bit of those other healthy vegetables mentally enchances it all for me. Of course, as a child, I absolutely loathed the stuff. Drinking veggies? Yuck. My main complaint is that the "low-sodium" version of V8 is not quite as widely available in the convenience stores accross the US. A normal V8 has something like 35% of your daily sodium, while the other version is in the 20% range. Taste-wise I feel like there's not enough of a difference. They should just male regular V8 have lower sodium. Anyway, veggie juice of any sort is always a good low-calorie option. Way better than all those stupid sugary coffee drinks I love.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 70


Margo's Bark Root Beer

This will be the first of seven new sodas that I bought at the wonderful Galco's while in Los Angeles in late July. As the Spinto Band, we've gone on and on about what an amazing soda shop Galco's is and how it's my dream to open an East coast shop just like it some day, but we've already established that. This was the first time in three years we've actually had enough free time to go there and despite the infuriating L.A traffic, we made it just before closing. I got a decent variety of stuff. Some colas, some fruity sodas, some flowery sodas, and of course some root beers. I'm not sure why I grabbed Margo's Bark, but being a fan of root beers, dogs, and puns, it seemed like a natural selection. While their "drink a bite" trademark might be a blatant rip-off of Barq's "the one with bite" slogan, I liked the idea that they donate all their profits to shelter dogs. Sappy stuff aside (enough with the puns, dick) let's get down to the ingredient list, always important in a root beer. We've got: Molasses, Vanilla, Clove, Cassia, Nutmeg, Wintergreen, and Yucca Extract, and of course it's got cane sugar (I actively refused to purchase any high fructose corn syrup sodas.) I'll admit I have no idea what cassia is, but I liked what I saw from the other bunch; some real classics in there. The final result didn't blow me away, but it was a pretty darn good root beer. It was very crisp and clean but still with the bold root flavors. Too bad I'll never be able to drink it again because I don't think I can get here. Time to find a warehouse to build up the soda shop around here...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 69




Santa Fe Brewing Company Trio

We had the privilege of playing a brewing company on this tour, and it couldn't have been better. When you are normally presented with cases of cheap beer as a band, it's pretty amazing to get some microbrews on the house along with a tasty meal to go with those brews. I didn't get to try all of the beers on tap (they cut off the freebies after a certain point, whoops!), but the three that I tried were pretty good. I first had their award winning porter. I'm not sure what the award was or where it was from, but I believe them. It had all the nice roasted, warm, and chocolately and coffee flavors that you look for in a porter and with a nice alcohol kick at around 6.4%. This was definitely my favorite of the night, but I also have a dark beer bias. Next I tried the IPA. This was very good as well. It was appropriately very hoppy and had some great citrus notes to go along with it. I believe it weighed in at about 6.2% alcohol. Last but not least is their brown ale pictured at the bottom. This was the lightest of the bunch, but still very good. I'm not a huge fan of brown ales in general; there always seems to be something off about the flavor, but despite that I liked this one. They mentioned that they would be the first brewery in all of New Mexico to start canning their beers. I hope they get some distribution back East because I'd love to have that porter again.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 68



Cheap Shots Wheel (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

What do you usually want after a malt? Cheap shots! How do you want to get those shots? Spin a wheel! This is probably one of the better ideas a bar has ever had. Make a gigantic wheel that offers $2 shots. Some are disgusting and vague (windex shot, pictured below) and some are pretty basic (lemon drop.) This is just the thing to seduce a bunch of dudes from Delaware. Maybe this is a common trick in bars, but it was my first encounter with anything like it. My first shot was something with bourbon that I can't remember the name of. I think it had bourbon and some kind of schnapps. Being a fan of bourbon, I didn't mind that one so much. The second one I got was the windex. As you see, it kind of looks like windex. The actual ingredients involved blue curacao and some other sweet schnapps. This one was slightly sweeter and more disgusting, but still enjoyable enough. Seeing this wheel made me wonder if anyone had tasted every single shot in a single night. It seems like something I would do if I lived in South Dakota (slight offense, South D).

Monday, September 6, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 67


B + G Milkyway Marshmallow Malt (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

A friend of ours is a malt fanatic so when we told him that we were driving through his old town in Sioux Falls he said we had to check out this spot. We went directly to the shop as soon as we got into town, and despite being weary from a 10-hour drive I was instantly charmed by this roadside ice cream joint. Our malt master friend recommended ordering the marshmallow malt with extra malt, so I felt compelled to order that as well. I believe I got a medium, but a small might have sufficed. Using my best judgement I would guess that the sizes went like this: small 12 ounce, medium 16 ounce, large 24 ounce, and extra large 32 ounce. How anyone could put down an extra large, I'm not sure. Anyway, this was a super thick malt. It may have actually crossed the line from beverage to solid, but there are arguments to be had about that. I felt like I needed to use a spoon for most of it until the very end. It tasted incredible though. Marshmallow might not be something I normally go for, but it was really good. The extra malt kick was probably the true secret ingredient. Despite it feeling more like ice cream than beverage, I still had a good time at this place and you should go if you're ever in freaking South Dakota!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 66


40 Party feat. King Cobra + Colt 45

40's have always been a good tour novelty beverage. With Delaware and Pennsylvania's antiquated liquor laws (no buying booze in grocery or convenience stores, and rarely past 11 PM), it's nice to be able to walk into a 7-11 at 1 AM and buy forty ounces of crappy malt liquour. By "nice" I suppose I mean that it's cheap and is a good sleep-aid while you're sitting in the hotel room watching Iron Chef eating potato chips wishing Morimoto was cooking you some room service. Taste-wise, it's kind of hard to separate any of these malt liquors. For whatever reason I find King Cobra the least offensive, while I find Steel Reserve ultra-offensive. To me, King Cobra doesn't taste any worse than any cheap "actual beer", yet you still get the 6% alcohol content for $2 a bottle. This is a little bit o' change for a little bit o' buzz. For that reason I understand the trashiness and stigma of the 40. It's often the choice of the hobo. But whether it be grifting for free donuts and bagels or drinking 40's, the life of the indie rock band is sometimes the life of the hobo. At least we can afford to split the hotel room 7 ways!