The Year in the Brew IV

You would think we would have learnt by now. It was the famous Irish author George Bernard Shaw who said “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.” Shaw got his start as a drama and book critic for the Saturday Review evaluating the entertainment media of his era.

As I survey the wreckage of our offices I see the critics of our era. The DVD, Beer and Game reviewers of TMR Entertainment. Could there be another George Bernard Shaw in this twisted pile of hung over bodies? If George Bernard Shaw were alive could he be among these sleeping critics? Could one of these slumbering scribes be the next recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature as Shaw once was?

If you were here last night for our annual TMR Christmas Party you would know there is no way in hell either of the fore mentioned events would ever happen.

We have been reviewing a lot of Guitar Hero III and Rock Band games and peripherals lately and there are tons of controllers and adaptors around the office. Management thought it would be a great idea this year if we broke up into teams and had a battle of the virtual bands during the office party.

TMR was to go all out on this. Dan (Bac) and Steve (Hooch) setup a 1080p DLP projector, a 16:9 fixed wall projection screen and rented the most kick ass 5:1 sound system you have ever seen. The bass bin came up to my waist and the surround speakers were chest high. You could have supported a real band with this setup complete with a light show and smoke machine.

All were excited for the event with the exception of two of us. One of the other reviewers Greg (Prog) is a bass player and I am a guitarist. Neither of us could see spending hours to lean how to play a virtual instrument when we don’t even have enough time in the day to play our real instruments. Reluctantly we were recruited as judges of would turn out to be the most despicable display of competition I have ever seen.

The staff broke up into two teams with our interns forming a third. Everything was pleasant for the first couple of hours of the party. Sal who owns the sausage cart in front of the office came by with enough brats and dogs for everyone. Rosalita, our 74 year old Mexican cleaning lady, showed up with Willie, our building’s doorman, in tow. Willie was a jazz musician back in the golden era and even at 80 years old always smells like a USC dorm room.

Seeing Willie was once a musician he ended up on the judging panel with Greg and I. As judges we were not only trying to be diplomatic in our voting but also tried to keep everything on a somewhat even keel to avoid controversy. Not only did the rules dictate we take the actual game scores into consideration but they also want us to judge the bands on style and originality. Originality? These guys are banging out cover songs on plastic guitars!

To make matters worse, after every song Willie seemed to be increasingly drunker and his ramblings became less coherent and more vicious. It was like having Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul’s love child on the panel but with vodka breath that could melt plastic.

Everything was going pretty good. Adam (Adam13) had his band The Adam Bombs banging out Nine Inch Nails’ “The Hand That Feeds.” For the first time all night Greg and I were actual impressed. The vocals were pretty much dead on and it almost looked like a real band cranking out the song. That is when the unimaginable happened. Our sports guy Neil (Gator) tripped over the power cord on the way back from pouring his 7th vodka and cranberry.

Adam was bullshit and yelled at Neil “is that the only was people from New England can win by cheating?” This comment didn’t fly well with fellow New Englander Frank (fbennett) and seeing Frank was virtual lead guitarist for Neil and The Hammers he took offence and instantly stood up. Now we had a true to life band brawl about to start as The Adam Bombs and Neil & The Hammers started to size each other up. Greg and I jumped between the warring factions and reminded them this was all in fun and quelled what could have been the nastiest office fight in TMR history. Trust me we have had some good ones over the years.

What made the fight scariest was our editors for the first time ended up on opposing sides. Once sides were drawn Attila our 4 year old Rhesus monkey and mascot instantly ran to the defense of our editor Steve and was eyeing down our editor Dan big time. Dan and Attila have tangled before so there is a little bad blood between them. Add to that the fact that Steve constantly feeds Attila barleywine and lets him sleep under his desk there is no way Attila was going to let anyone anywhere near Steve.

On the other side with Neil & The Hammers was our cleaning lady Rosalita. Dan is the one who actually hands Rosalita her check every week because the rest of us are so scared of her. Some of you regular readers might remember when we found out how dangerous Rosalita was a few years back. Greg was teasing her by singing Sexy Mexican Maid by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. After Greg got out of the hospital, we all agreed not to mess with Rosalita anymore. She does a horrible job cleaning the offices, but no one has the stones to fire her.

There was no way Rosalita was letting anyone near her meal ticket or a she calls Dan “Chico Blanco Flaco.” We told Dan it means Chief Boss Man but actually it translates to skinny white boy we didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Once Wiillie saw his woman in the fray he mumbled something about his woman and honor and got up just to fall over after three staggering steps.

Willie taking a header took the pressure off of the situation. Watching him fall head first into the beer tub was the funniest thing I thing I have ever seen. We were all in hysterics even Rosalita. It is the first time I have ever seen her laugh and hopefully the last. Her teeth were black, broken and jagged. Her teeth looked like an alien on Startrek, a Ferengi or Klingon or something like that.

From the shoulders up Willie was soaking wet and he was cursing us all. The ice water must have sobered him up a bit because his cursing was more lucid and coherent than I have ever heard working 4+ years in this building.

So we picked up Willie and dried him off and put him back in his chair. We got everyone settled down and started the next round of our competition. The interns who had chosen the band name “Strano Del Sesso” did Beastie Boys “Sabotage” for their next tune. Not only did they nail the song but our intern Geoffrey was spinning drum sticks and putting on quite a show on the drums. No small feat for someone that was 10 minutes earlier spewing imperial stout and bratwurst off our balcony onto unsuspecting pedestrians 6 stories below.

So for now the interns are in the lead as Neil & The Hammers take the stage for the last time. Neil decides to go old school as he and the band blast into The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Not only are they killing it but Dan is doing acrobatics on the drums that would rival Keith Moon. Sticks are spinning and as Neil & The Hammers are finishing off the song Frank starts smashing the guitar controller ala Peter Townsend, Dan is kicking over the drums it is total madness. The song ends, Greg and I are on our feet for the first time all night clapping and Willie mutters those boys are plum crazy.

We haven’t tallied up the votes but by Greg and my reaction to the last song everyone knows how this is going to end. That’s when Geoffrey still nursing the Imperial Stout gets in Dan’s face and proclaims Dan stole his act. To paraphrased what he said was “You straight jacked my beats, you weren’t down like that ‘til you saw my shit, you pimp my style again I’m gonna get in your ass.”

What makes this disturbing is Geoffrey is our Asian IT intern that works on our network infrastructure here at TMR. He is about 4’ 10”, he is 92 lbs soaking wet and speaks in very bad broken English.

Willie who doesn’t hadn’t muttered a comprehendible word in 3 hours barring curse words heard Geoffrey’s comment. Our drunken doorman yelled back at Geoffrey “I don’t know whos pimpin’ round here but I know I did some pimpin’ in Korea back in ’52, probably pimped your grandma, shit I might even be your Granddaddy”.

That was it. Geoffrey who isn’t even Korean dived at Willie in a rage. Willie drunk as he was moved out of the way one step on his unsteady feet and used Geoffrey’s own inertia to throw him across the room.

Geoffrey slammed into Attila knocking the barleywine out of Attila’s hand. Attlia let out an ear-splitting scream then instantly jumped on the intern’s chest and started pounding the stuffing out of the poor kid. One of the other interns ran to help Geoffrey which Rosalita interpreted as a hostile move towards Willie and clothes-lined the kid planting her boney elbow right in his trachea. The kid went right down to his knees like a sack of potatoes holding his throat and wheezing.

Other interns thought they could help their fallen band mates. We watched Rosalita, Willie and Attila throw 5 of our interns around the office like Nerf balls for what felt like an eternity but what in reality was only about 5 minutes. Still 5 minutes is a long time when you are getting your ass kicked.

That was around midnight, 12 hours ago and interns are finally waking up or should I say coming to. Thank god these kids get college credit for this. As the rest of the staff crack their first beers of the day and the interns try to pull these offices back together. I sit here at the last computer in working condition at TMR Entertainment bringing you The Year in the Brew IV.

In my annual Superbowl column “Superbowl XLI Beers,” I picked The Bears over The Colts based on Chi-town being a cooler city than Indy and of course my distain for the Manning Family. You wouldn’t believe how things have changed in a year. Of course my pick was way off but that is no news to anyone. The big news is I am actually becoming a Payton Manning fan. I had Payton as my fantasy quarterback and due to rooting for him all year, I am actually liking the guy. Payton is also my one hope to shut up the moronic Patriots* fans and preserve the ’72 Dolphins perfect season.

I could see myself watching a Giants/Colts Superbowl. I think it would be more historic than seeing The Patriots* run the board; that has already been done.

In my next column I revisited with our friends at Harpoon Brewing Company. Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series is one of the best ideas in brewing in years. The series gives us a guaranteed 12 new beers every year not counting the encore series which allows us to revisit some of the most celebrated past recipes of the series.

Their current 100 Barrel Series edition is the #21st offering since the series started. This Weizenbock brewed by Todd Charbonneau the Head Brewer at Harpoon’s Boston brewery is sport on perfect.

Springtime brought us to New York and the first Suds With Securb – Destinations. We hit 3 notable beer bars in New York. The bar receiving my top honors was Barcade. The beer selection is awesome and the location is great. Barcade is also the location where I had my first sip of Dogfish Head Honey Rum, the stuff is delicious. I have a bottle of Dogfish Head Blue Hen Vodka sitting in the office. Expect a vodka drenched Suds in the upcoming months.

The Bacade write up also included a picture that got more comments than any picture in the history of my column. To set the record straight I am not the photographer of that shot and no the underwear only video game competition was not going on the night I was there. What I can tell you is there will be a road trip to Barcade this year and all are invited.

In our annual look at beers in cans we pondered What Would Paris Drink? There were no revelations in this column everyone can guess that Paris Hilton prefers it in the can. The beer I found as a most likely beverage for the humping heiress was Magnolia Brewing – Old Thunderpussy Barleywine. Old Thunderpussy doesn’t come in cans. I am pretty sure Mike Vick does these days. Maybe we will talk to him for this year’s can column.

Our next beer destination brought us to Phoenix. Phoenix is a great beer city and it was great to see the distinct differences in Northeast and Southwest selections. I loved the selection of light crisp lagers and airy ales in the southeast. The must try for those of you in the Phoenix area is Delux. My son still claims after living in Phoenix for over a year that it is the best meal he has had since he has moved down there.

August brought about my annual NFL preview column. Being a dog owner I used my column to sow my distain for the actions of Michael Vick.

I made a few predictions in that column. I was 50/50 on QB’s going belly up this year. Dante Culpepper and Chad Pennington will be at the helm of some sub par club next year as I predicted. Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger both shocked me and made the post season.

I did predict a Bill Bellichick to have a break down this year. The year isn’t over yet and Jack Del Rio could be the one to derail the Patroits* drive for perfection. While I am on the subject isn’t Jack Del Rio the coolest freaking name. It sounds like he should be a private eye tooling around in a convertible. If Belichick gets by Del Rio I am sure my buddy Tony Dungy will get the job done and preserve history.

This past fall we visited with our friends at Stone Brewing Company again. I am hoping San Diego County will be a Suds With Securb Destination this year. If I fall in love with Stone World Bistro’s food as much as I love their beer it is going to be hard for me to leave Southern California.

I did finally find the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale. As usual what a great beer. I am now getting ready for Old Guardian and to hit the shelves as I dig into the last of my 2007 Double Bastard Ale.

November brought about my holiday column. Political correctness forced me to lash back at liberal wingnuts that would love to see the end of Christmas. the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement denyed applications for labels for Santa’s Butt Winter Porter and two other beers Shelton Brothers wants to sell in Maine. They denied Santa’s Buttt Winter Porter’s label because it might appeal to children.

Maine is a fairly screwed up ass backwards hillbilly state. Still where are the kids seeing theses beer labels and if they are attracted to them how are they going to get the beers? It shocks me that we pay these bureaucrats to waste time and money deciding if Santa Clause belongs on a beer label. Tackle the real issues first like bars and clubs serving minors. Then take on te cartoonist of the world.

In my first column of the year last year I made my yearly predictions. I said This year Britney Spears will implode and her album will tank… and suddenly her sex tape will surface, reviving album sales. Well the album was commercially a success even thout it does suck. Thus we never got our sex tape but Britney did flash her baby maker repeatedly this year and to say she imploded is an understatement.

I was dead wrong when I said Fidel Castro will not read “The Year In The Brew IV.” Cuba will become the hottest vacation destination in the world. If it is possible I will take him another year in the dead pool and also give me Dick Clark.

For the love of god what happened to that man. I can’t believe they rolled him out for New years rocking eve. What a mess that guy is. Who would have thought at some point Keith Richards would look better that Dick Clark. Which brings me to my final prediction of last year.

I said, “The Rolling Stones will release another horrible album, which will be a live album from last year’s sucky tour and lead to another over hyped tour.: We haven’t seen the album yet but they did release the live DVD. The Biggest Bang, don’t the die hard Stones fans see by the title that The Stones enjoy screwing them?

So what is up for this year? The Spears family will bring their insanity to the next level. With Britney’s driving skills I could actually see a vehicular homicide in her future.

Get ready as she and her cum sponge of a little sister battle for the attention of the paparazzi.

Howard Stern will come back to celestial radio. His ego would let Opie and Anthony sit in his thrown much longer even though they have twice the talent.

Tom Brady will knock up another supermodel in his quest to better. He can’t out run Larry Johnson but he can try like hell to beat him at the baby game.

The Tuna will get rid of Flipper, expect a logo/uniform change in Miami. Parcells is not going to watch a bunch of idiots running around with fish on their helmets.

My final prediction is we will finally get Dan Bradley up in the northeast be it Boston or New York for some serious beer drinking.

Well that is the year in review. 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 still suck. 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. Sis and the rest of the Owens clan I love all of you dearly.

And most of all, Mom & Dad, I miss you so much… everyday. Thank you for everything.