Suds With Securb: The Year In The Brew: 2005

Every year our TMR office parties get a little worse. The staff continues to grow and each new guy brings more bizarre behavior and questionable morals to the table. The latest batch really kicked the crap out of the office; we’re talking biblical proportions here.

The first person that comes to mind is Rosilita, our 74-year old Mexican maid. I don’t know who is going to be the fall guy for this mess but I can guarantee that Rosilita is going to kick their ass.

Just as this thought forms in my hazy hung-over head our office caretaker stumbles out of the supplies closet, walks over to the office bar and pulls her teeth out of a half full tepid mug of last nights beer. The first thought that comes to mind is, “was the cigarette butt floating in the glass of beer before she tossed her teeth in the glass or was the butt between her teeth as she tucked them away for the night?” She pops her choppers in her mouth and gives me her typical holiday greeting by flipping me the bird and calling me the pet name she has given me “bastardo barato.”

Part of me is wondering who was in there with her and why her teeth were out but my common sense tells me I don’t want to know. The whole thought is making me a bit queasy even more so than this hangover has made me. I do know it is time to ‘chase the dragon’ or have ‘the hair of the dog.’

Right now being drunk again seems like a lot more fun than being nauseous.

There is an old rule that says gentlemen don’t drink before 5 p.m., some say noon. Looking around this office there sure as hell aren’t any gentlemen working here including yours truly. Rules be damned it’s 8 am, I’m hung-over and I’m going to crack a beer.

One thing I can say about the new guys Joe and Adam is they do have pretty good taste in beer. I pour one of Adam’s Skullspliter Scotch Ales into what looks like one of the cleaner glasses on the bar (at least there are no teeth in it) and reflect back on what has been year full of wild highs and lows.

Running my hand across the new office bar I remember the woodworking DYI column published last January that prompted us the build this wooden alter to malt and hops. Now the bar itself is stocked with some real nice wood aged beers.

I think oak finishing is getting to the dangerous levels in brewing. A lot of brewers think if they let a beer sit in wood for 3 months they are doing something cool, not taking into account that in a lot of cases the oak is overpowering every aspect of the beer. There are some brewers that restrained from overdoing the oak and brought us some great oak finished beers this year including Stone Brewing Co.’s Oaked Bastard, Great Divide’s Yeti and Weyerbacher’s Insanity. Even Anheuser-Busch got into the act with their 10% ABV vanilla bean and oak finished offering, Michelob Celebrate.

Speaking of celebrating, as I forecasted in my Super Bowl column my boy Ricky Williams came back this year and Travis Minor was gone. Being the beer guy around here I don’t make too many predictions but when I do it seems like I hit! If you want my football predictions for next year you will have to wait a couple of weeks for my next column.

I can give you one sneak peak prediction: next year’s AFC champs will have fish on their uniforms. No, a Seahawk is not a fish and that is the NFC! We all know who I am talking about.

My Valentine’s Day column was once again dedicated to my loving wife and my challenge of turning her on to great beers. Every year she has the courage to fly higher and higher with her daring choices. In two years she has gone from Amstel Light to Belgium Triples and Saisons. She even had a beer or two by big beer brewers Avery that she went head over heals for. Speaking of Avery, we were supposed to talk to them last year at some point and it never happened. If I have to kidnap Adam Avery at next years GABF I promise I will get him to sit down with us.

In March I got to spend some time with my buddies and brew up 90 or so gallons of top shelf beer. I tried to bring my Barleywine recipe up to 16% and succeeded, at least I think I did. The body is a medium to dark amber very cloudy with a thin light brown head. The aroma is of honey with touches of earthy malts, flowery perfume and a touch of caramel malt tones. The mouthfeel is very full with a strong alcohol flavor that is incredibly malty but is pushed away by a strong honey flavor. The hops give a very dirty finish and balance the sweetness of the honey perfectly. The alcohol finish lingers for quite a long time along with the residual hops. The bitterness lasts on the tongue for a very long time.

Still the beer is a bit young and needs at least 6 months to a year to truly mature. But not as long as the bitterness The Practice’s big girl Camryn Manheim would have for me if she saw her picture on my beer bottle labels. I am making a huge Stout in two weeks that should be somewhere around 14– 16% ABV! If anyone finds a good picture of Star Jones, send it to me. I need it for the label.

March was a strange month here as we made a huge new powerhouse friend. Anheuser-Busch released their Ales and Lager sampler last winter and the only word I could find to describe the total package was genius. Phenomenal beers packaged with the correct glasses, recipes and beer snob cheat sheets. Two of the beers that blew me away were the Marzen and the Pale Ale. Securb’s predictions ring true again as both of those beers picked up gold medals at the GABF! I earlier mentioned how a lot of brewers were jumping on the wood finished bandwagon and Michelob Celebrate was one of the new beers in this arena.

Well Anheuser-Busch isn’t jumping on the bandwagon, they have been wood finishing their beers for over 100 years. Ever heard of beech wood aged Budweiser? Michelob Celebrate is AB’s next evolution and these guys continue to innovate and gobble up market share.

All I can say to you AB bashers out there is this: don’t hate the player hate the game. With two gold medals this year, AB has shown us they have plenty of game and have promised to show us a bit more this spring with an exclusive brewery tour.

In May we did our first Suds that wasn’t about beer by journeying into the world of Scotch Whiskey. I have to thank Bradley Jarvis as he was very insightful and a great teacher.

I also talked a lot about my dad, grandfather and uncles in that column. The great times we had at many family gatherings and events over the years with the amber goddess scotch filling our glasses. I am heartbroken to report that a little over a month after that column posted my father passed away. When I sit on the stone wall in front of Cambridge Brewing Company as I have done dozens of times waiting for him to walk across the courtyard, I realize he is not coming and I will never see him walk across that courtyard again.

Special props go out to Kenny Barron who after his interview last month toasted my dad with us. This is the man that turned me on to Jazz, beer and life. The man that never told me what to do but told me, “I raised you right I shouldn’t have to tell you what to do.” Dad we all love and miss you.

In the early summer we kicked off the BBQ season with a primer on Lawnmower beers. One of the things we promised last year and that I think we made good on was better graphics. Not only have the pictures gotten better, in a lot of cases they actually are tied into the column theme. There is one drawback with this method of compiling the pictures for the columns; once the beers are cracked someone has to drink them.

The upside is if we take our time to take a picture of a beer at TMR, trust me it is going to be a great beer. Yet another one of my picks that got slammed by a lot of you picked up a gold medal at the GABF! Actually The Pabst Brewery picked up 6 medals this year all together.

In August the perfect marriage of DVD and beer made its way to TMR. We got a chance to talk to Paul Kermizian, the director of the documentary American Beer. This movie was great for me in so many levels. I got to match up a bunch of the names I have been talking to the past few years with faces. I also got to talk to an ultra cool director.

So you would think that the TMR/ Paul Kermizian simpatico would end with the beer/DVD thing. Hell no! Paul is also a gamer and has an ultra cool beer bar in Brooklyn called Barcade. This is a beer bar with somewhere around 25 hand picked great beers on tap. We are talking big boy beers here like Avery, Dogfish Head and Blue Point to name a few. This gets cooler! The bar is lined with classic Sega, Midway and Atari stand up video games. Paul is quick to add they all take a quarter.


And talking of big boy beers I got to sit down with the creator of the biggest of all big boy beers, Boston Beer Company’s Jim Koch. Jim is great; he gave us a preview of his Imperial Pilsner that is one of the best beers I have had this year.

Joe (3D to most of you) and I also got a chance to have breakfast with Jim in Denver. Sam Adams Light pancakes? Believe it or not the pancakes and everything else in this beer soaked buffet was phenomenal. Seeing Jim is right around the corner in Boston we plan on dropping in a lot this year and he will either get frustrated and kick us out or just give up and give us the keys. We are hoping for the latter.

In my column ‘Hey Tagliabue, I give up!’ I got to vent on the commissioner of the NFL a bit and bitch about the prices of beer in NFL stadiums. The NFL in its infinite wisdom week 16 pulled the beer at the Jets/Patriots game Monday Night. They did this so that the fans wouldn’t get rowdy. What kind of weak ass shit was this? The game didn’t matter to the Jets? Was the only way you could keep Joe Namath sober for the last Monday Night broadcast? I can say all of this because Tagliabue doesn’t read my column anyway. If he did he would have read how lame that Rolling Stones pre-game show was and never hired them for the half time show this year. Mick, it has been 5 months and not one song from your horrible album has made the charts. You should have named this album ‘A Bigger Flop’ because this waste of plastic makes Steel Wheels sound like Exile On Main St.

I wrapped up the year by going with Joe out to the GABF. Right off the bat I have to tell you Denver is a beautiful city and I am going back next year. I always said that beer had little to no value in Las Vegas and New Orleans, but that is crap beer. The week of the GABF in Denver great beer is treated like water.

I think we spent more time at Falling Rock Tap House that we actually did at the GABF. Falling Rock had great beers on tap one surprisingly good beer was The Man Beer.

One important thing I did learn at the GABF is beer is only beer so get over it. I would like to see the timeline when beer went from something the cool kids in high school drank to something a room full of geeks sniff. I wanted to say, “hey, check out the aroma on this. It has subtle delicate notes of get a frigging life”.

So what is up for next year?

You may have noticed the whole site being revamped. Look for the Beer Zone to receive a similar aesthetic makeover soon.

I will interview Adam Avery!

I got the wife to drink a Barleywine this year and I will get her to like Barleywine.

Due to personal issues and time constraints the I’ll Have Another Beer Awards didn’t launch on time but they will launch.

We have a new beer feature on the drawing board that will be the ‘killer app’ of beer websites. It will quickly be copied and imitated.

Next year will be another perfect year. If you noticed, this year’s Year In The Brew had no retractions.

The second the first session of the GABF is over, Joe and I will throw our tasting glasses in the trash and request new ones for each session until they tell us they wont give us any more limited edition plastic tasting cups.

The Rolling Stones will release a sucky DVD of the sucky tour for their sucky album.

Sucky will become an accepted technical term when describing aging English rock bands, Paris Hilton MPEGs or the service on Delta’s flights.

You will hear the line on TV one fall Sunday afternoon in 2006, “Dante, hands off to Ricky…” If Ricky Williams is in international waters with Dante Culpepper and a boat full of strippers, can he legally smoke weed?

By the way, that was Old Willie the building doorman I saw coming out of the supply closet after Rosilita. You go Willie.

Well that is the year in a nutshell and our hopes for the next year. I want to wish a happy new year to my editors Dan & Steve. Thanks for having the vision of Suds. My coworkers here at TMR & my day gig, I am looking forward to another great year with all of you. Barry, Kenny, Neil & Lenny you guys aren’t English but you are Sucky. My wonderful wife Christa, I love you so much honey, thank you for being my best friend. My kids Joe and Amanda, I love you both. Mom and Sis and the rest of the Owens clan I love all of you dearly.

Most of all Dad I miss you so much, everyday. Thank you for everything. I have your treasure and I will make sure when I need to I will leave it in good hands.

– Bruce G. Owens, Jr.