Moon Knight No. 5, by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey.

Moon Knight No. 5, by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey.

A beery heaven indeed. (at The Ginger Man - New York City)

A beery heaven indeed. (at The Ginger Man - New York City)

#559: Super Fuzz – Elysian Brewing Company, Seattle, Washington

It’s as if I can only enjoy a beer around midnight these days. Or close to it. On Wednesdays  (I wear pink), no, on Wednesdays I go to my local, play Tom Waits songs at the open mic and drink Guinness. That happens around midnight.

The other time is after work. I got home around 12:30, looked in the ‘fridge and saw this. I wanted to pick up my guitar as well, but I’ve got an awful bruise on my finger from fencing. Beer and music meet quite often in my life, so damned if tonight were going to be an exception.  Then I got the type of idea I’d get only around midnight: A beer and music pairing.

That’s right, folks.

I suggest you pour this one boldly down the middle, but slowly. Knock out the excess gas while building a sufficient, tight, creamy head. Head to an area where dim lighting is a possibility, then put on “Look on the Bright Side” by Levek. Preferably through real speakers, not crappy laptop ones. Once the beer’s settled, take in the aroma. Pungent orange citrus, tropical fruit. Take your first sip at the 25-second mark, when the song begins to shift. A velvety, juicy texture greets the palate, guiding across resinous hop flavors and lively tropical fruit, with a touch of tartness in the middle, cleaning up nicely en route to a gently bitter finish. Smooth, soft, yet lively and refreshing. Much like this song. Take a while between each sip. Savor it all.

#558: Rebel IPA – Boston Beer Company, Boston, Massachusetts

I left for work around 2:00 PM. Subtle warmth emanated from countless miles away and wound up here, on my street. It was, by the skin of its teeth, just warm enough to remove my cardigan and allow my arms a little exposure to the elements. And it had been an awfully long time since I felt that comfortable.

Then I got in the car. Windows down? Yes.

“Sticky Fingers” rattling my car’s speakers? Yes.

An alarmingly over-sweetened iced coffee in the cup holder? Yes.

When I got home from work it was a notch under 60 degrees. The moon was high, and I could see the blades of grass leaning back and forth under the cool breeze’s command. The cardigan went back on. My pace to the front door was quicker than I thought would be necessary. Get inside, get warm.

Then I grabbed this beer. A beautiful, subtle sparkle of gold. A vibrant, pungent aroma of tropical fruit. A resinous, moreishly bitter flavor, undercut by biscuity sweet malt and prickly citrus. A fine beer indeed.

It’s the taste of warmth when you know it’s cold outside. The promise of something about to arrive. A comforting wink, signifying that things are looking up. Pleasant until the very last drop.

So make it two, please.

Gonna Punch Everything.

#ironman

#ironman

Because I’m the cheesiest person in history. #nyrangers #newyorkrangers

Because I’m the cheesiest person in history. #nyrangers #newyorkrangers

Brilliant. #batmaneternal

Brilliant. #batmaneternal

Wednesday Open Mic’ing

Wednesday Open Mic’ing

#557: Rye of the Tiger – Great Lakes Brewing Company, Cleveland, Ohio

It’s early in the mornin’, and I ain’t got nothin’ but the blues.

It’s hard for my generation to do the shit it wants to do. I’ve witnessed so many talented people forego their dreams because their crippling debt cornered them into taking a time-sucking job that isn’t conducive to nurturing their abilities. But we promise ourselves that we’re not going to abandon our true crafts. We’ll make time. After work, before work. Maybe even during work. You know, when we’re not spending time sleeping. And maybe eating.

So it goes this evening. Or morning. I got home from work at 3:00 AM. I hadn’t touched my guitar once all day, and I rarely go a day without at least playing scales for a half hour. It’s my craft. My discipline. But I was tired. Traffic-filled drives do that. It could have been so easy to admit defeat, flatten out on my bed and let it absorb me until my eyelids ferociously fought the arrival of tomorrow. But I didn’t.

I went to the ‘fridge and pulled out the bottle seen above. A RyePA from one of my all-time favorite breweries; arguably the brewery that is most responsible for my good beer affinity. I poured it slowly, went into my room and put on “Born Under a bad Sign” by Albert King. And I picked up my guitar and started following Albert along. The slick lick at the beginning of the title track. The bouncy groove of “Crosscut Saw.” I took solos with him, and attempted to bend my strings up into the stratosphere, just like he could.

Then I took a whiff of the beer. Candied mandarin oranges. Sharp lemon zest. Tastes of both, with some sweet biscuity malt and a smooth, rounded texture mid-palate, leading to a moreishly bitter finish. That’s what Great Lakes does. They take a beer style and accentuate some of its finest attributes, while both making it accessible to any drinker and not stripping away the things that make it awesome.

This went on for another hour. Song, beer. Song, beer. Song, beer. I wound up going to bed a lot happier than I would have if I hadn’t spent some time with Albert and a pint of beer.

Because that’s what you do. When you have a skill, you don’t just do it when you want to. Playing guitar, playing a sport, writing, cooking, building, drawing, they’re all crafts. Disciplines. And you make yourself do your craft even when you don’t want to. Even when you’re exhausted from work. You can’t let other things prohibit you from getting better and reaching your potential. Even if you have to sacrifice a little sleep.

I won’t lie, the beer helped.