Sounds like a pretty awesome joke, right?


Well, that’s not true. It probably would be an awesome joke. But here, it’s just referring to three beers I recently drank (though not in a bar, in the comfort of my own living room).

First of all, I have to give a shout out to Red, White, and Bleu in Falls Church for not only having these awesome beers on their shelves, but a plethora of hard-to-find beers (as in, hard to find even at Total Wine! Shocking, I know!), tons of quality wines (at value prices!), wheels of cheese bigger than my head, all the charcuterie you could want, yummy spreads and crackers, and even jelly beans packaged in little bags labeled “Chardonnay,” “Malbec,” “Viognier,” and the like, that when eaten in tandem with the other beans in the bag, will recreate the taste sensation of that particular wine style. I’m serious–Temperanillo, for instance, had black pepper (for spiciness), bacon (for woody/smokey taste), cappuccino (for caramel/coffee/mocha taste), cherry (for fruity/berry taste), dirt (for earthy taste), pencil shaving (for minerality), plum (for tree-fruit taste), raspberry (for berry), strawberry (for berry again) flavors. I’m not kidding you. Bacon jelly beans.

Yes. Please.

Unfortunately, all I have to offer of that bunch is a picture of an empty bag. I ate them in the car ride home.


Now then, who was the first to walk into the bar? Oh yes, the cider…

cider bottle cropped.jpg

This would be the Wanderlust variety from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem, OR. This cider was perfect for when I cracked it open, after a long, hot walk outside in the summertime.

cider b.jpg

Perfectly refreshing, effervescent, and light. I specifically chose this because it was characterized as dry, and modeled after English ciders. The bottle did not lie on that fact, it had just the perfect amount sweet undertones and apple character, without being sweet itself. It’s got a slight spicy finish as well. The only thing I didn’t get was why it was characterized as “full-bodied” by the label. This was anything but full-bodied to me! It seemed extremely light for a cider. That’s not a point against it, by any means. It seemed to me like the artfully-brewed and delicious Kolsch of ciders. And I can’t imagine why the bottle thought otherwise?

Yes, I’m aware that the bottle didn’t actually “think” anything. It’s an easy target though.

Moving on…

mole bottle 2.JPG

Mole, ole! Oh yes, I bet you thought that mole was an animal! But no. I just don’t know how to put an accent over the “e” in Ecto.

Isn’t it cool that this selection from the New Holland High Gravity Series, Mole Ocho, looks like it’s defying gravity in this picture? That’s the blurry edges of a photo taken with a fish-eye lens of a bottle propped at an angle against the window and atop a candle!

Though I was up to some optical illusions in that picture, this beer is no….optical illusion…..of taste.

(Yeah, OK, that attempt at “clever wording” went nowhere).

This was seriously delicious. Or at least, I thought so. Dan wasn’t so keen on it for some reason! I was taken, though.


This looks like it should be drank in some dimly lit library full of dusty, hand-bound books on shelves of deep, rich mahogany. Perhaps the beer is resting on a side table while you sit in a high-backed leather chair, afghan over your lap. An original handwritten journal of Hemmingway or maybe Kipling is balanced in one hand, sucking you into vivid, obscure locales in India, Africa, Cuba. Your other hand remains stationed outstretched to grab this beer–the only beer rich and deep, spicy and earthy, mysterious and commanding enough to match the tales you’re absorbed in.

Ideally. Or you could just drink it in your living room by lamplight while you watch the mediocre slasher take on the classic Brothers Grimm story, “Snow White: A Tale of Terror.”

Either way it will taste wonderful. It’s chocolatey (as one would expect from the beer version of the classic Mexican spicy, chocolate-based savory sauce), but without being sweet or overly-thick like a chocolate stout, and without being bitter like unsweetened chocolate. It tastes like someone took some cocoa beans and smoked them, then coated them in cayenne. It’s a smokey, spicey, earthy–almost mineral–chocolate taste. I have written in my beer tasting notebook “Very good with strawberries.” Then another note appears, in Dan’s handwriting. “Not as sexy as Dan.” Ha-ha. Bet you thought I’d write that on here unthinkingly, blindly trusting my notes!

Well, I guess I sort of did write on here.

Oh man. I’ve been bested. I’ve been dogged. I’ve been beaten down and beaten down again. Makes me feel like I got the blues. Makes me feel like I’ve got a hellhound on my trail. Or perhaps…..on my……ale?

hellhound bottle.jpg

That’s right, the final beer that walked into that bar is a tribute by Dogfish Head to the inimitable Robert Johnson, whose song “Hellhound On My Trail” is the namesake of the beer “Hellhound On My Ale” and whose 100th birthday would have been this year, if he hadn’t stolen that guy’s woman, gotten poisoned with arsenic, survived, caught pneumonia, survived, then gotten poisoned with arsenic by that guy again.

The beer is hopped by centennial hops, a nod to RJ’s centennial birthday, and just like Robert Johnson, who did nothing if not to the extreme (be it playing the blues, drinking, running around with other men’s women, or selling his soul to the devil for guitar lessons), this ale clocks in at 100 IBUs (that’s international bitterness units). 100 IBUs is where the scale stops, because it is literally the threshold of human taste for bitterness. This beer could be even more bitter than we even realize, but we have no clue, because we can only physically register 100 IBUs.

So just from that, you’d think this beer would be all but unpalatable. But let me tell you, just like the blues, which howls of heartache, oppression, depression, and dark dark mojo, this beer–also just like blues–goes down so smooth and fine. It goes down in that way that makes you want to shake your head, smile out the corner of your mouth, and mutter “Mmmhmm! Thass right!” (<– and “thass” my country accent coming out).

And after all that, you’d think a 100-IBUs-bitter beer wouldn’t need the pucker of a lemon in it, but in a nod to Johnson’s mentor, Blind Lemon Jefferson, the folks at Dogfish Head added dried lemon peel and flesh to the mash. And let me tell you again, ain’t no pucker involved. It’s bitter, and it’s lemony, but somehow it just heightens that fine twang of the brew. It’s thick and good and it’ll put a slow, sweet smile on your face. Might even make you go “Mmmhmm! Thass right!”

Thass right folks. And thass all for now. Cheers!


OK, really really bad pun-title. It doesn’t even have anything to do with what I’m going to say. But titling is hard, you know? And maybe it was really an insightful play on words, because the lambs are representing a flock of people going, “Baaa, baaa, we refuse to drink cider because it’s not a REAL drinker’s drink, or so we’re told, and if we do drink it we refuse to drink it except in certain seasons! Baaaa!”

The people say “baaa,” yes.

Anyway, I just wanted to point everyone’s attention to this article in the WaPo food section today, on ciders.

I fully support this article. Not only am I a big fan of good ciders, but they referenced my absolute favorite, Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie, blogged about way back towards the inception of this blog, when I was far less nimble with a camera and far more devoted to the integration of poetic tinkerings into beer writing, apparently.

Anyway, I think this article hit it on the head when it referenced people in Gijon sending cider back if they get a sweet one. While I think it’s not a black and white issue, and that some sweetness can be pleasant and flavor-enhancing (it’s made from apples after all), it should be approached similarly to wine (also fermented from a sweet fruit): sweet, desserty wines have their place, but they’re the exception, not the rule. Of course you wouldn’t expect a cider to have the dry tannin-ated (urban dictionary, let’s see a definition for that one) taste of a Malbec, but it should err on the side of dryness rather than sugariness, complexity rather than appeal to underage girls who don’t like to drink the Natty Boh at frat parties but still want to be seen sipping something out of a bottle rather than the potentially roofied and most definitely germ-infested plastic cooler of jungle juice.

I digress.

My favorite ciders have that funky, earthy complexity that this article talks about. Something that almost reminds you of a Flemish sour ale or a biere de garde, if they’d been made with apples. And I’m super curious try a cider, like the Asturian one they described, that is uncarbonated except for the bubbles produced by a Victoria Falls-type pour. Similarly, I wonder if we could recreate this phenomena with wine.

….honey, get several glasses and a tarp ready. I’ll be home at 4:30.

Brew x 2

Two beers. Two recipes (well, two with beers. Three recipes total!). A bonus beer at the end. People.

This was a delicious night.

If you’ve never cooked with beer, these are pretty good recipes to try. It’s all simple, more about technique than precise measurements (just my style…I could never be a baker), with lots of room for tweaking and improvisation.

Let us begin.

Recipe #1: Magic Piggy in a Hat #9

It’s a pork roast. In case that didn’t come across in the title. And it’s roasted in a bath of Magic Hat’s original brew, #9!

magic hat in shadows.JPG

Hiding in the shadows….come into the light, my dear….

magic hat lit.JPG

There we are. I thought the tangy, apricoty #9 would match fabulously with juicy pork. And it did.

So here’s what you do:

Make a make-shift no-clean roasting pan because you forgot to buy a disposable one by wrapping layers of tinfoil around an 8×8 baking dish (it won’t work. You’ll still have to clean up).

Pour about….~3/4 of the beer in the bottom of the pan. Add spices. I used garlic, oregano, cayenne, ground roasted coriander, (I think?) marjoram, and these guys:

mustard seed.JPG

(mustard seed) because I never use mustard seed! The bottle had literally never been opened before (it came with our spice rack). So I thought I’d give ’em a whirl.

pan o' juicesb.jpg

Yum. But I don’t recommend drinking it at this point. But at this point I DO recommend putting the piggy in the pan.

pork in pan.JPG

And sprinkle some more spices on top. Note: if you have cats, bury this twine DEEP in the trashcan after removing from pork post-cooking. If it’s at all smell-able, they will dig it out during the night, eat part of the meshy encasement, then throw it up all over the pants you left on the floor whilst you sleep unaware.


Then you put it in the oven at 325 for about an hour and 20 minutes, hour and a half. Even though this pork roast said “self-basting” (I didn’t believe it; it doesn’t even have arms!), I recommend basting a few times during the cooking process.

I also recommend drinking the rest of that beer. And taking awkward photos of yourself doing so.

drinking magic hat.JPG

And while that’s cooking, you can start on recipe #2!

Recipe #2: Okra and Tomatoes Stewed in Woody Creek Water

The star of this show is this yummy witbier from local Frederick, MD (birthplace of the one and only Dan Prestwich, by the way!) brewery Flying Dog.

woody creek white 1b.jpg

Not sure what Flying Dog’s availability is outside this area, but if you can’t get your hands on it, any medium-bodied witbeer will work. But if you CAN get your hands on some Flying Dog, I highly recommend it, because they’re awesome.

woody creek white 2b.jpg

“Good people drink good beer.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Their slogan is short and to the point as well: “Good Beer. No Shit.”

That says it all. I gave Dan a hoodie with that slogan on it for Christmas!

Anyhow, here’s how you stew okra and tomatoes in beer. Actually, stewing okra was a totally new thing to me in general; I had to look up how to do it. I’ve only ever pan-cooked okra in olive oil before. But this was super easy + super delicious.

First, you chop chop chop your okra:

chop chop okra.JPG

It won’t be as great as that one guy’s okra at the farmer’s market, that’s so firm and fresh that he’ll slice out samples to eat raw, but as you haven’t been to the farmer’s market and it’s not quite summer yet, Harris Teeter okra will have to do.

Then you chop chop chop your tomatoes:

chop chop tomatoes.JPG

These really were “Nature Sweet.”

nature sweet.JPG

SO fresh and delicious, and just bursting with perfect ripeness.

Then you take the okra and tomatoes (no amounts…just however much looks like it could feed a small army. Of hippos. Because this girl right here can eat a pound of okra just by herself), toss them in a pot, and add….~2/3 of a bottle of beer? And some tomato juice (who knows how much…wing it!)

Bring to a boil.

okra and tomatoes pre cooking.JPG

Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until liquid is aaaalllll but reduced (~30 minutes), stirring a few times (more towards the end, to prevent sticking). I think I threw some garlic in too? I don’t remember. Feel to run with it, babies!

And feel free to drink the rest of that beer too. But don’t bother with trying to take more photos of yourself. None of them will even be remotely postable on your blog.

But DO bother to make this next dish while the oinky’s roasting and the ‘maters and okra are simmering. DO DO DO BOTHER! It’s awesome.

Recipe #3: Beer-less (But Delicious) Spicy-Sweet Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Is this little bugger a sprout, or just some sort of potato hair??

sweet potato sprout?b.jpg

Welp, I don’t know, but I just cut it off and went on my merry way. And no one died!!

Microwave it for 10 minutes until the skin basically falls off. Put it in a bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of cream cheese, a little apple juice to moisten things up (won’t need much…sweet potatoes are so much more naturally soft and fluffy than regular potatoes!), some cinnamon, a tiiiiny bit of cayenne, and this:

firefly hot sauceb.jpg

This stuff is my new favorite condiment. Sorry non-Virginian readers (if there are any of you out there), you’ll probably never get to taste this. Unless you make a very long journey to Fort Valley, VA (or Mount Jackson, where we bought it from, about 12 miles south of Fort Valley). That’s watcha get for not living in this awesome state! It’s so perfectly sweet and smokey and just the right amount of spicy. I applied liberal amounts to the sweet potato mash, and it totally MADE this dish!

mashed sweet taters 1.JPG
mashed sweet taters 2.JPG

You’ll want to make this with more than one potato though. I think we both would have preferred ~10 pounds of this, funneled directly into our mouths.

Now then, somewhere around this time you’ll have a steaming pot full of this:

okra and tomatoes post cooking.JPG

And a gorgeous, juicy roast that looks like this:

final pork 2b.jpg

Holy. Oinks.

Honestly, I was too busy digging in to take a nice pretty final presentation photo of my plate, so no climactic beautiful dinner plate pic. But it was deeelicious.

And the icing on the cake?

This guy to pair with my plate:

monk's 2b.jpg

I had the signature house brew of Monk’s Cafe for the first time a few years ago when Dan and I took our first vacation together, to Philadelphia, around Christmastime. It was my first introduction to sour ales, and I was completely, utterly in love. With the beer and with my man 😉 But I had never again been able to find it here in VA after that first taste.

And then, just like an old flame reappearing when you least expect it in the same aisle as you in the grocery store, it appeared on a little shelf in the Harris Teeter. And we were reunited.


(I was but a baby! Also no idea what I’m drinking or if it’s the sour ale or not, but that’s Monk’s Cafe)

And now:

monk's in glass 2b.jpg

So perfectly lactic and sour, with a sweet finish. My unicorn beer. Along with Innis & Gunn (which I had in Canada in 2006, but which is only available on this side of the pond in Canada & New England, it seems)

monk's in glass 1b.jpg

A perfect finish.

Go make all these recipes now. They will knock your socks off. Then, if you have access to the Hyde Park H-T, go buy some Monk’s Cafe sour Flemish ale. And have yourself a ball.


Bad Blogger

That’s me. Sorry. Part of it is that work has been busy and I no longer have downtime in which I’m bored and apt to blog. And homegirl’s freetime is scarce, even now that the big M.A. is completed. (I used the word “homegirl” right there because Dan told me this past weekend that you can’t refer to yourself as “homegirl.” And thus I have to refer to myself as it. A lot)

But there will be a post coming soon. Yes, soon, loyal readers (all three of you…hi Mom + Dan + Sarah!). For tonight, I’ll be cooking with beer!!

Because food + beer together is just so much more interesting than either of those things alone. Alone, they’d be like music without dancing, or camping without mosquitos.

Wait. Mosquitoes are not interesting. Just annoying.

Re-write: like camping without beastly grunting noises in the night that you convince yourself are bears or moose stalking you with the sole intention of ripping you apart like a burrito where the tortilla is nylon tent material and the meat is you. Or trampling you like a burrito, as a moose wouldn’t eat you, but would probably trample a burrito? Because a little fear makes for a very interesting night indeed. Even if the noise turns out to be just a fellow camper stretching after a hard day of kayaking.

True story. Old story.

New story coming soon.

For now, I leave you with a picture of beer amidst the cherry blossoms:

And a picture of me, in case you’ve forgotten what I look like (along with the future husband there):

And for good measure, here’s a song that is currently stuck in my head, because spring/summer beer drinking should be done outdoors, preferably with music. Ignore all the random “WOOOOO!”s; this was all I could find on YouTube:

Feel free to add dancing at your discretion.

for those of you who set out to work until 6 PM today but finished everything you could possibly accomplish today at work at 3:30. And got bored and decided to eat the kiwi that was in your office and write (er…read) a blog post.

I’m lookin’ at you.

A fun little feature of WordPress is that it can tell you the top search terms people have found your blog using, by day, week, or since the inception of your blog. If you have a blog, you should check these out sometime. If not, or until then, you can have fun with the phrases people use to find MY blog!

A lot of these were obvious. “Ale.” “Beer Glass.” “Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.” “Pictures of bubbles in a beer glass.” Stuff like that. Some of them, however, were so choice I had to share them (capitalization- or lack thereof- authentically replicated. People do not like to capitalize when searching).

Like #1. “angler fish” I get how that search term would lead people to Iambs and Ales, actually. Awhile back I did a post on RJ Rockers’s Fish Paralyzer, which included a picture of an angler fish. Now, I’m (very very vaugely) SEO-savvy, so I knew to label the picture “angler fish.” I also included the term a couple times in the post. I’m not surprised that people have found the blog through that picture at all. I’m just incredibly happy that the #1 search term used to find my blog is “angler fish.” And that 15 INDEPENDENT PEOPLE found my blog that way. To you 15, I say: welcome, fellow angler-fish-lovers! We share a passion for ugly, scary, mysterious sea creatures that few other people can know the intensity of.

#3. “racial harmony” Again, I know why this came up. It’s probably from this post. I’m just proud to say that 14 people came to my blog looking for racial harmony. I hope they found it.

#6. “crazy foam experiment” Fucking sweet. That’s all I can say. I’ve never featured a crazy foam experiment on this blog, but this makes me think I should. There are six people out there incredibly disappointed now, and I feel like some crazy experimental foam content could really kick this blog up a notch.

#22. “not washing urself” Apparently my blog’s a good place to find out about that. I mean, I will admit to some unsavory showerless stretches on weekends (usually only weekends with wicked hangovers though, which don’t happen that often) or on travel days. But how can they sense that through my blog?? And even more questionable…what sort of information on not washing “urself” did they hope to find by googling that? And MOST questionable…did two separate people, as the stats indicate, really spell that word “urself”?

#26. “pics of little cats drinking beer” …disturbing. I mean, there was also a search term further down the list that read “cat drinking beer” but for some reason, that sounds like good fun. The cats are just having a good time. This sounds dirty. Part of it could be that for some reason, I think the word “pics” is sleazy, like someone’s getting real visceral pleasure out of these “pics,” and even more so when combined with “little cats.” Like grown cats weren’t extreme enough. It’s like the pedophelia of cats-drinking-beer fetishes: kittens drinking beer. Or really small, runty cats. But either way it sounds like they’re being forced into it, and they can’t fight back because they’re little kittens. And just one little kitty isn’t good enough. Oh no. This has to be a group thing. Blech.

#29. “taco smashing before a big game” Is this some awesome pre-gaming ritual I’m not aware of? And are you really smashing tacos, or is that a euphemism for something else? It sounds like it could be either.

#42. “examples of bitter tastes” ….similar to my final concern about #22, it sort of blows my mind that two discrete people on two discrete occasions searched for “examples of bitter tastes.” There are really two people out there who can’t think of examples of things that taste bitter? We should get them together.

#46. “interestingly fotos” I like interestingly fotos too! And speaking gud grahamerz! I certainly hope these people found my fotos to be interestingly!

#99. “super knives” Enough said. My blog is officially badass.

And my personal favorite,

#136. “chewy meat wine”

Mmmm. Chewy meat wine.

(let it just be known, that amidst all these, the title of my blog- “Iambs and Ales”- was searched for by 1 person. It was #131 on the list).


Wooooow. I really have not blogged in a long time. But I’m going to stop starting every sporadic post with an apology. So there. I haven’t blogged in a long time. It is what it is.

Onto beer!

I have two for the price of one today. First up: Fish Tale Organic Amber Ale! All the way from Olympia, WA, Fish Tale- come on down!

Fish Tale Amber.JPG


Now let me tell you a little (fish) tale about this photograph. You may notice that this beer is next to a lamp. It is, in fact, being lit by a lamp. Let me tell you something: I have never bought a lamp in my life. I mean, there were lamps at my parents’ house. I’ve lived with lamps. I’ve just never actually bought one of my own. But now I have. And I’m absolutely in love with this appliance. Now I can take photos in the apartment AT NIGHT. NOT AT ISO 1600. You maybe don’t know how much this is revolutionizing my life. Or maybe you do. In either case, this certainly wouldn’t have been possible before. Or this:

Fish Tale Amber Cap.jpg
Fish Tale Cap 2.JPG

But the beer still would’ve tasted the same. Tasty! Good ambers to me have a mouthfeel that’s somewhat similar to blondes (the ale, not the hair color): smooth, thick, foamy, but not sludge-like, with good carbonation. And this one did. It was sweet and toasty, with floral hops on the tail end of the taste. The…fish….tail….end, you might say? HA!

I think it would taste good with some toast slathered in honey, to mirror the toasty grains and amber sweetness, or if you wanted something savory, something like caprese salad: mild and smooth and maybe a little milky to go with the sweet grains, with the acidity and tang of tomatoes and balsamic to cut through the beer and cheese, and enhance the hops. And the basil would definitely bring out the subtle hops.

I definitely had toast with honey (sans beer) for breakfast this morning. I didn’t take a photograph of it. That would’ve been great to have right about now. Dammit.

Onto beer #2!

Terrapin Side Project 14 Black Saison bottle.JPG

This is the “Side Project” Volume 14 from Terrapin (of Athens, GA). Side Projects are something Terrapin has been doing each year since 2008. They are 22 oz, one-time batches that the brewery puts out, reflecting different (and often experimental) brewing styles. This year brings us to Volume 14, the 14th Side Project undertaken by Terrapin. It’s called Tomfoolery, and it’s a Black Saison.

Black Saison, you say?!? Does there even exist such a thing??

Apparently. Now there does.

Terrapin Side Project 14 Black Saison.jpg

No, that’s not Guinness in that glass! My first impression of this beer was that as a “Black Saison,” it actually tasted remarkably similar to some Cascadian Dark Ales/Black IPAs I’ve tasted (though maybe not as hop-heavy, and with less pronounced carbonation). The funky, wild, earthy taste signature to Saisons came through subtly at the end of the taste- though, as I’ve often found to be true with Saisons, the taste became more and more pronounced as it warmed up. However, every time I stuck my nose down in the glass and took a deep, long whiff of it, it smelled very Saison-y. But maybe my still-stuffed-up nose, recovering from a recent 10-round knockdown fight with a cold, was partially to blame for my not picking up on the Saison-y-ness in the taste right away, when I wasn’t sticking my nose down in the beer.

Anyhow, I liked it. Beer is good.

And now I’m just going to leave with you two random pictures. One, a bottle cap found in the bag of bottle caps Dan and I are saving for a wedding crafts project (http://draftmag.com/features/how-to-bottle-cap-candles/). I saw this and thought this bottle cap must’ve been designed specifically for me and my love of aged, solidified dairy products:

Seize the Cheese cap.jpg

The other is a picture of Dan (the fiance) and I at the Black Cat seeing Futurebirds! I don’t post a lot of pictures of myself or Dan on here, but I know I always like seeing what other bloggers look like/glimpses of their lives (when the blog isn’t specifically about their life, especially), so here is us at an awesome little concert we went to!


Futurebirds were awesome. They kind of sound like a melodic, psychedelic, reverby version of Crazy Horse (who, if you are gigantic Neil Young fans like us, you will know what they sound like)….with awesome old-timey country pedal steel sounds. Which I called an “electric dulcimer” and Dan had no idea what I was talking about. But that’s all a pedal steel is, right? It’s a dulcimer you plug in! OK, whatever. Anyway, I was too self-conscious because we were right up front and center/too focused on dancing my heart out to take a picture of the band, so I took a picture of us after the last song and said “I’m only taking one picture, and I’m using it, no matter how bad it is!” So Dan purposefully tried to make a weird face. But it actually didn’t turn out that weird (well, a little). Actually, I kind of like this picture.

Cheers everyone!

Party of the Century

It’s almost hard to put this party into words. I know this blog usually focuses on the good in the beer world, the delicious successes that the art of brewing produces. But sometimes, you just have to embrace crap because crap has its place, and crap can be fun, affordable, and a great sociological experiment.

Enter: the First Annual Shitty Light Beer Blind Taste-Testing Party.


My downstairs neighbor, partner-in-beer-crime, and late-night-Mexican-chip-dip-co-chef Laura and I decided it would be a great idea to buy a whole bunch of macro-brewed light beers (read: any light beers that might be readily available in a gas station), cram a bunch of people into the apartment she and her husband Jason share (the one right below ours), and have a blind taste-testing party. We made up scorecards for each of the five beers we chose (Coors Light, Natural Light, Bud Light, Milwaukee’s Best Light, and Sam Adams Light- somewhat of a ringer), and had each person rate the beer on it’s flavor as well as it’s uniqueness and boldness, and answer questions such as:

  • Would you rather drink this beer as a compliment to a meal, or upside down in a keg stand?
  • Do you think this beer came from a can or a bottle?
  • Do you think this beer is domestic or imported? (we forgot to include any imported ones…d’oh!)
  • How much do you think a six-pack of this beer would cost?
  • What brand of beer is this?

We also had them give bonus round rankings of:

  • Best Beer
  • Worst Beer

And choose which most closely matched their attitude towards light beers:

  • They are a complex and varied bunch of beverages that I enjoy greatly for their gastronomic delights
  • I consider myself a beer snob; light beers all taste the same to me (like piss!)
  • I’m not picky about my beer; all beers taste the same to me, including the light ones!

We not only wanted to see if people could accurately tell which beer was what, but we wanted to see if maybe their preconceived notions or attitudes towards light beer would influence their tasting (i.e., if they went in with the attitude that they’d all taste alike or taste flavorless, would they find that there was actually a range of flavors, or a clear best and worst? Would their expectations of certain brands influence their rankings or influence which they thought was best or worst, from a bottle or can, cheapest or most expensive, domestic or imported?) We also offered a door prize for most accurately guessing the right beer.

I’ll get to the results in a minute. But first, we have to talk about popcorn.


That is part of the spread of popcorn (missing the salt & vinegar popcorn which had yet to be made) that Laura and I spent 3 hours and 5 sticks of butter making. This is a totally normal, hip, and cool Friday night activity. You’d agree with me if you were there to taste it. Ho.ly.shit. From front to back we have honey caramel, cocoa, parmesan & herb, and tandoori popcorn.

You heard me. Tandoori popcorn.


Here is Laura holding the tandoori marinade about to go into the stove-popped corn.

And here is Laura & Jason’s dog Nigel trying to swipe some popcorn for himself.


I ended up with lots of pictures of Nigel trying to interfere with the party food that night. Oh Nigel.

Anyhow, like I said, it’s hard to actually describe the party in words. So I’ll just show you in, pictures, what happened.


Everyone drank out of clear plastic cups labeled 1-5

The offerings- which were poured into numbered red plastic cups to conceal their identity, which Laura and I then poured for everyone

Laura pouring the first round...

Everyone hard at work sampling...from left to right: Laura, Shannon, Tom, Joy, Morgan, Sarah

Jason really analyzing those subtle tastes and aromas

More scoring- Tom, Joy, Morgan, and Sarah

Nigel insisted on a close-up

The taste-test crew: Dusty, Shannon, Tom, Joy, Morgan, and Sarah. Jason & Laura and Dan & I are off-camera somewhere.

The big reveal! "And beer # 1 waaaaas....Natural Light!"

Everyone reacting to the cold, bubbly truth.

Our menfolk: Jason and Dan going, "No waaaay! This isn't very scientific!"

The winner of the door prize ended up being the lovely Joy! For guessing 3 out of 5 beers correctly, she got a Guinness glass that we donated as part of our efforts to clear out some of our ridiculous amount of bar ware that we have no room for in our cabinets.

Honestly, we didn’t do any real statistical analysis on the correlations of people’s attitudes with their preferences. It was a ton of fun, and we decided to leave it at that, and leave Excel spreadsheets out of it. We did come to one interesting conclusion though: striking out Sam Adams (as that was clearly a ringer, and clearly one everyone would rank highest, as it’s a bit of a different caliber than the rest), the overwhelming majority (all but one person, in fact) rated Milwaukee’s Best Light the best, and not a single person guessed that it was Milwaukee’s Best. What does this tell us? That perhaps we’re all a little unfairly biased against the Midwest’s pride and joy? That we should perhaps give it more consideration when deciding what cheap case of light beer to buy for our next party?


Or perhaps we should just do like this guy, and when we find ourselves beer-less, swipe someone else’s brew to the floor, then lick it up under the pretense “Well, it’s on the floor and you’re not gonna drink it now! SOMEONE has to!”


Thanks for that one, Nigel. And thanks to Laura for this awesome idea, Jason for conceding their apartment to Laura and I for our wacky experiment, and everyone who came that night and made it an awesome time!