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Ladies of Craft Beer

Well all, as you may or may not know, I am the President and founder of a group called the Ladies of Craft Beer. We are a group of women dedicated to educating other women on the wonders of craft beer. Our site officially launched on August 24, 2010, and as demand for administering two sites as well as writing for Mutineer Magazine and working up future events for LadiesOCB has become just too much for me to properly keep up and put out quality content, I will no longer post on Basicallyred- To Be Read, Basically.

Have no fear, though, because BasicallyRed has been folded into a “From the Editor” column on the Ladies of Craft Beer website. Check in there for the good word from BasicallyRed and subscribe for future updates.

Thanks for your support- Cheers!






Phillip Green is a man who loves his hops.  Phillip Green is also a man who loves his chocolate…

Phillip Green is a man with a plan.

Hop Candy, Inc. is Phillip’s brainchild- a mixture of his many passions.  Phillip infuses hops into the chocolate he makes, utilizing beer mug shaped molds to make the adorable little chocolates.  The detail in the chocolates is amazing- he even uses white chocolate to make the overflowing, carbonated head on the beer!

I think that Phillip has a great idea brewing with his Hopolate chocolates, and I told him as such when he offered to send me his wares.  However, the hop taste was a little strong for me.  I’m really excited to see what Phil comes up with in the future and maybe something with more of a hop essence than a full on hop taste would be better for someone like me- a person who is not a hardcore hop head, but definitely appreciates the taste of a good hop.  The chocolate wasn’t bad by any sense, but the taste was just a bit overpowering for me.

At the time Phil sent me his Hopolates, he already had two different styles he made, including a set that amber beer flavor mixed in.  I think that with some more refining, Phil has a really killer product on his hands and something that could help expand the growing craft beer industry.  Big props to Phil for his experimentation and exciting new prospect!

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“Jackpot” Part Two, or Some Like It Hot…

Hello again!  So, it’s about 90° out and deliciously sticky, so I’m feeling lazy and am skipping the intro to the second half of this epic beer tasting.  For those of you who joined me for part one, you know the deal on this anyway; for those of you who didn’t (I won’t hold it against you, really, I won’t, I promise!) click here.

Brews Number 10, 11, & 12

Brews Number 10, 11, & 12

10. Black Cauldron Imperial Stout / Grand Teton Brewing Co. / Idaho, US / 8.0%

This adorable seasonal comes in a tiny 12 oz bottle wrapped neatly on the neck with silver foil.  With a completely opaque dark-as-night pour with no head, this brew completely fits the Russian Imperial Stout bill.  On the nose was a savory chocolate aroma; bready and sweat meat, like a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and Virginia ham.  The creamy, liquor-like taste boasted malted ice cream with pretzel bits, while the bitterness of the hops complimented the chocolate like a fine espresso- coffee with a bite.

11. Siberian Night Imperial Stout / Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. / Ohio, US / 9.0%

This Imperial poured slightly clearer and with a big bubbled yet small head.  I smelled creme brulee, Starbuck’s coffee (coffee with the bold, burnt characteristics of Starbuck’s signature blends), and a slight twinge of licorice.  The brew is very bitter and bright (full of carbonation for an Imperial Stout) as it meets the tongue.  The licorice twinge comes out in a touch of Sambuca.  Again, there is a savory breadiness to the brew, with a buttery undertone, and a little bit of liquory flame.

12. Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout /Bierbrouwerij Grand Cafe Emelisse / Kemperland, Netherlands / 11.0%

This surprising Russian Imperial stood up quite well for itself.  The pour was pitch black with a creamy milk chocolate flavored head.  True to the RIS form, this stout was very chocolate oriented in both smell and flavor.  On the nose was a deep, dark chocolate fudge ripple, while the taste was that of a slightly burnt piece of Hershey’s chocolate found in a S’more sandwich at a Summer night cookout.  The great thing about this brew was that it was a great example of the Russian Imperial style itself, without all the extra bells and whistles.

Brews Number 13, 14, 15 & 16

Brews Number 13, 14, 15 & 16

13. La  Maline (Belgian Dark Ale) / Brasserie Thiriez / France / 5.8%

With a beautiful dark cherry brown color and big bubbled head with milky lacing, this sour beer actually worked for my palate.  I’m normally not a sour beer connoisseur, but this brew had just the right balance of sour with the normal Belgian dark fruit flavors.  The nose was the first thing that clued me into the impending sourness of the beer, with hint of citrus and lots of date.  My tongues first glance of this beer was super sour, but that waned as I let the beer sit in my mouth.  This is a deliciously done Belgian brew; dark and fruity, drinkable and filling with tender sour notes.

14. Grand Crüe / Sixpoint Craft Ales / Brooklyn, NY / 12.4%

Grand Cru is a term that comes from the wine world, and knowing as such, I expected a lot from this brüe… I mean, brew.  Dark copper in color, the beer smelled of boxed red wine or red grape juice.  The smell even reminded me somewhat of that popular Nuvo drink- marketed as the World’s first Sparkling Liqueur.  On the taste was grape jelly mixed with cheap alcohol.  I was somewhat disappointed with this brew, and I believe that to be because it was so hyped up to me.  Basically, the Grand Crüe was nothing to write home to Mom about.

15. He’Brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah (13) / Schmalz Brewing Co. / California, US / 13.0%

Now here’s a brew that, from the start, I knew what I was getting into.  Boasting 13 hops and 13 malts, this was to be one BIG beer journey.  Again, I faced another gorgeously colored brew- dark cherry stain with tan lacing.  The nose caught a sweet, thick, buttery bread smell, perhaps Challah (for our Jewish friends)?  There is an über sweetness to the gulp that burns all the way down with lots of caramel and butterscotch flavors.  Sadly, the hops are lost behind the multiple bready malt flavors, however, this is still one tasty drink.  I would have liked to see more hoppiness to balance out the sweet intensity to this brew, but not having the hops did not ruin the brew.  Mazel Tov!

16. Hitochino Nest Commemorative Ale (aka Celebration Ale) / Kiuchi Brewery / Japan / 9.0%

As I went to open this adorably bottled brew, it foamed out all over the entire table and continued to spill out of the bottle for about two whole minutes.  The bottle conditioning on this ale really did it’s work!  My nose got really excited for this super spice-rack of a brew, stating “Coriander FTW!” (That’s “For The Win”, for all of you out there not hip to the trends…)  My tongue went right along for the ride with my nose, starting with sweet vanilla and then meeting up with cinnamon (the bigger spice on the taste).  This ale is very drinkable and bright; something about spices always screams holiday to me, which goes right along with the “Celebration” theme.

Brews Number 17, 18, 19, & 20

Brews Number 17, 18, 19, & 20

17. Sea Hag IPA / New England Brewing Co. / Connecticut, US / 6.2%

Before I even opened this brew, I knew I would love it due to the adorable can alone.  Cloudy and gold with a tiny white head, I could tell that this would be a proper yet malty IPA from it’s aroma of pine forest and bread and butter.  With a generously malty and sweet undercurrent, this brew is savory with a well stated hop taste.  There is a great balance to Sea Hag that leads it to be very drinkable with just enough taste to be a great compliment with food.

18. Union Jack IPA / Firestone Walker Brewing Co. / California, US / 7.5%

Crystal clear and pale golden amber give way to big white lacing on the Union Jack IPA.  With an odor of marble bread spread lightly with butter or perhaps, even, a spiced cheese spread such as Alouette, this brew is creamy and bready with sharp, bitter hops on top.  Drinkable, refreshing and flavorful, this brew is one of, if not, my favorite IPA.  Two thumbs way up on this one.

19. Gubna Imperial IPA / Oskar Blues / Colorado, US / 10.0%

While paler and a tiny bit cloudier than the Union Jack IPA, Gubna is an Imperial IPA, meaning that it is hoppier and stronger in ABV.  Smelling of lemon scent Pinesol, melted butter, chicken noodle soup and orange peel, the savory citrus of this brew both conflicts and intrigues me.  While I was sipping for taste, the smell of chicken soup was so strong it was almost impossible not to think that I was drinking chicken soup.  Gubna is bigger and more hoppy than the Sea Hag IPA, but just as well balanced and drinkable.  Another strong IPA example on this momentous night, and another brew that I would recommend.

20. La Rouge Flamande (Flanders Red Ale) / Brasserie Thiriez / France / 5.8%

The last beer of the night was also the most sour, which, as I have previously stated, is not my favorite style of beer.  Brownish copper and a bit cloudy, my nose screamed in alarm at the aroma coming off La Rouge, “SOUR SOUR SOUR SOUR cherry”.  It reminded me of those baby bottle candy pop things I would have as a kid where the nipple of the bottle was a hard candy pop and the body of the bottle held that sour candy powder in it for dipping (sounds SO terrible now that I look back as an adult, but I LOVED those things!)  I actually really enjoyed this brew; although it was definitely sour, it was not overwhelmingly so, with a sweet and tangy SweetTart like dichotomy of cherry flavors.

So that’s it on this epic tasting journey, folks.  I hope you had as much fun as I had but without the wicked headache that I sported the next morning.

Remember- this was done by a trained professional- don’t try this at home.

Okay, I lied.  I’m not trained, nor am I a professional.  And yes, you should try tasting beer anywhere you would like.  Just remember that I did not actually DRINK all of these brews, but tasted them and then spit them out into a spittoon instead of swallowing (glamorous, I know, but it’s what the wine people do as well.  You cannot truly taste the brews if you’re getting drunk off of them, too!)

So, go to your favorite beer store, pick up a few beers you’ve never tried but have been dying to taste, and settle in for a fun night of experimentation- and always remember to share your finding and thoughts with all of us other beer geeks out there.  Cheers!

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Spring Cleaning; or what some might call “Jackpot”…

What happens when you’re an avid beer reviewer and own a generous, rare, and delicious selection of beer but live in a city apartment with the heat of summer setting in and a head cold that just won’t let you get to those reviews?

The real question is… what happens when you’re ^THAT^ man’s girlfriend?

This weekend Hoptopia and I did what any normal couple does on a long, holiday weekend… we cleaned out a closet to become a “beer cellar”.  Some call these types of projects “Spring Cleaning.”  I call it “the Jackpot.”  See, Lee had a lovely little bug (and we ladies always know how men act when they’re sick, amiright? High five!) So, sad panda for him, he couldn’t taste beer- like, literally, his taste buds had gone on strike.  I, on the other hand, was simply suffering from a moderate case of allergies and a half chewed off arm (long story).  This fortunate turn of events brought about the need for someone to taste and write about twenty (that’s right, folks, TWENTY!) of Lee’s strange and illusive brews in an attempt to clear out room in the refrigerator to save the more fragile brews, such as pale ales and saisons, from a skunky fate.

It was a dirty, terrifying job, but somebody had to do it…

And that somebody was me.  Armed with six tumblers at a time, the know how on what order to taste the brews in to save my palate, and a spit bucket for my sanity, I set to work.

Brews Number 1, 2 & 3

Brews Number 1, 2 & 3

1. Fruli Strawberry Beer / Brouwerij Huyghe, Belgium /Fruit Beer / 4.1% ABV

Pouring an opaque amber-red with no head but a white layer of lacing, The Fruli beer smelled of a strawberry sugar lollipop.  It reminded me of the flat, circular sugar pops the bank used to give me when my mom would make a transaction at the drive through- the receipt would always come back with a lollipop on top.  Taste-wise, the brew was more like the liquid center of a strawberry flavored Halls with a slight medicinal menthol-like bitterness.  Fruli Strawberry Beer surprised me on how much I actually enjoyed the brew- the fruit taste was not overwhelming nor horribly off-kilter or artificial.  While it wasn’t my favorite, I wouldn’t say no.

2. Siamese Twin Ale / Uncommon Brewers, California, US / Dubbel / 8.5%

“Uncommon beer for uncommon people,” boasts this brew’s can.  The Siamese Twin Ale is brewed with coriander (not so uncommon), lemongrass, (getting weirder) and kaffir lime leaves (ding ding ding ding ding!).  The fizzy golden copper brew smells like ginger ale with a hint of fresh rain.  It tastes earthen- like sandy dirt and dust, clay and Playdoh.  There was also a slight menthol taste on this brew which left my mouth feeling a bit numb.  While I’m normally a fan of experimental beers, this one was not my flavor.

3. Frambozen Raspberry Brown Ale / New Belgium Brewing, Inc., Denver, US / Fruit Beer / 6.5%

Frambozen is derived from the Flemish word for Raspberry, a flavor which, on this brew, New Belgium did not disappoint.  The cherry wood colored liquid immediately gave off a raspberry tang to the tongue while it smelled of compost and peat.  It is surprisingly sweet with a slight sour twist- too tiny for that of a Flemish Brown.  The Frambozen is very drinkable for the fruity drinker.

Brews Number 4, 5 & 6

Brews Number 4, 5 & 6

4. Monk in the Trunk / Jupiter Brewing Co, Florida, US / American Amber / Red Ale / 5.5%

This Florida native came to me direct from my buddy down in Tampa, DosBeerigos.  With sporadic carbonation and no head, I was worried that the brew might not have traveled as well as planned (although it was exquisitely packed).  The nose gave off a slightly bready, earthy and weedy malt flavor.  A surprising hoppy bitterness met my tongue; very refreshing but with a sour bite that was, luckily, offset by some great fizz.

5. Oberon / Bells Brewery, Inc., Michigan, US / American Pale Wheat Ale / 5.8%

Bells is a brewery that has not failed me yet, and Oberon is a great example of that.  With a nose like the beach in the bright summer sunshine (sandy organic seaweed smell), this brew walks the delicate line of balance between hops and malts.  The sweet caramel malt undertones support this tiny, bright, fizzy hop beer- great for any summer day.

6. Porterhouse Red / The Porterhouse Brewing Co., Ireland / English Pale Ale / 4.4%

Sadly, this beautiful looking dark amber brew smelled and tasted more than a bit off, forcing me to the conclusion that, somewhere along the line from Ireland to Lee’s hallway, this brew had skunked.  Let’s have a moment of silence for my fellow Red…

Brews Number 7, 8 & 9

Brews Number 7, 8 & 9

7. Dr. Klankenstein / Sixpoint Craft Ales, New York, US / Stein Beer / ABV Unknown

To illustrate how lucky I am that I got to try this specialized, one-off production brew, there was no label to be found on this bottle.  A true stein beer, this was made by heating rocks to insanely high temperatures to heat the beer for fermentation purposes.  The clear, caramel colored beautiful brew boasts a large head that subsides to a milky layer of lacing.  On it, I smelt lemon peel, fresh baguette, and a slight grass and pine.  These were all reflected in the taste- sweet and hoppy with sweet peanuts and lemon iced tea.  This flavor pairing made me want to drink this brew at the local baseball game.

8. Black Raspberry Reserve / Sly Fox Brewing Company, Pennsylvania, US / Fruit Beer / 8%

One of the more beautifully colored brews of the night, the Raspberry Reserve poured maroonish and clear, the color of R39 gel (for all my fellow lighting nerds out there, that’s my favorite gel color- Exotic Skelton Sangria).  The delightful “pop” of the cork on this brew gave me the idea that the carbonation would be ever present.  After the head subsided, the top of the liquid housed pretty little bubbles that I could have stared at for hours- slowly conjoining with their fellow peers.  Otherwise, the beer was exactly what it said it would be- black raspberry preserves on the nose and taste.

9. Wrassler’s XXXX Stout / The Porterhouse Brewing Co, Ireland / Irish Dry Stout / 5%

The first in my line of stouts for the night, I had high hopes for XXXX (while also baring in mind that this was the brother of the skunked Red Ale).  Smelling more like a rauchbier (no complaints here!) than a stout, I smelled burnt earth where the rain washes out a fire pit after cooking hot dogs.  Wrassler’s tasted very salty and dry, like carbon charcoal without the ashy-ness.  As a stout lover and rauchbier enthusiast, this beer gets a thumbs up in my book!

At this point I needed a Tostitos break to recharge my palate.  On here I will do the same.  Take a hot second, chew on what I’ve given you, dip it in some salsa; make it your own.  Stay tuned for brews 10-20!  Cheers!

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Theraflu – The Other Other Non-Beer

Like a Saison... sans the tastiness...

I am sick- a lovely little gift from my boyfriend…

(Thanks, hun!)

Unfortunately for me, that means not having the ability to taste beer.  (Sad panda!)  Fortunately for you, my esteemed reader, it means it’s time for…

TheraFlu– Nectar of the gods!-ods-ods-ods-ods…

Okay, so TheraFlu isn’t even close to being the “nectar of the gods,” however it did make my poor lil’ hurtin’ throat feel a bit better.  And so- behold, o wise reader, my review of TheraFlu Severe Cold.

The pour is that of an off-white powder into a steamy mug of microwaved water.  There is no visible head on this brew, but it emits the aroma of stale Orangina and lies.  The first sip leaves me puckered and pouting but is soothing on its way past my irritated throat.  The warm orange-water flavoring leaves something to be desired.

As I let my drink cool to luke-warm temperatures, however, it begins to taste as if I dissolved a citrus flavored SweeTart into my glass of water- a childhood science experiment gone right.  The after taste can quickly be assuaged with the chewing of your favorite cookie.

Lastly, I detect no alcohol.  I think they may have forgotten the fermentation process… I will have to write to somebody about that.

Disclaimer: I don’t own any rights in regards to TheraFlu.  Also, TheraFlu did exactly what it was supposed to do and worked wonders on my cold this evening, despite my snarky comments.  I would recommend this concoction to anyone with a stuffy nose and sore throat.

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The 2010 Bucket List

Okay, so I know it’s not a bucket list unless I kick it at the end, but here’s my list of things I want to accomplish in this lovely year of 2010:

  • Learn to play guitar
  • Homebrew my own beer
  • Finish reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • Understand what I read in Infinite Jest
  • Go to Cedar Point amusement park
  • Learn to play Ultimate Frisbee
  • Make a reel of Visual Effects work
  • Get at least one job as a video editor
  • Take more photographs
  • Expand my music listening horizons and go see more concerts
  • Watch a NYC sunrise

I may think of more as time goes on, but this is what I’m starting with.  Some are simple, some are more time consuming, but all can be achieved…

Hey, Alright! I Conquered January!

Hey readers!  Have you missed me?

I know I’ve been absent lately.  It’s for a good cause- I’ve been living.

2010 signalled a fresh start for me.  I have an amazing apartment in Manhattan, a steady job (in lighting!) and amazing friends.  My family has been super supportive and my artistic juices have been flowing.

Life. Is. Good.

And I did it on my own, which makes it even that much sweeter.  25 is my year for new beginnings, new triumphs and for being me.  Like it or hate it, I don’t give a flying poop.  Deal with it, or move on.

So, frienditos, let me share with you my month in review.  Perhaps you will see something among my travels that tickles your fancy and experience some of it yourself!

January 1-In addition to a hangover, the commencement of New Years brought with it my buddy Graham to visit.  After running around Manhattan for awhile, we visited the Excellent Dumpling House in Chinatown.  Delicious food from a hole in the wall- however, that was just the beginning of our Asian experience.  We tried to get into Ninja, an experience on Hudson Street where you actually are served by Ninja warriors, however, the restaurant was closed (I guess Ninja’s do have to sleep, who knew?).  Next, we took a stroll through Union Square and hit up Republic– this place is all about noodles (they even have portraits on the walls of people covered in noodles).  Pomegranate martinis rounded out the excursion.

January 2- Day two of Steham! First stop- brunch at Chocolate by the Bald Man.  The place was packed (as always) but we warmed up by drinking some outrageous hot chocolate while we waited to be seated.  Upon sitting, I ordered a chocolate and peanut butter pizza– heaven on bread!  Whoever said you can’t have dessert as your entree has never been to this restaurant- just make sure to bring your appetite and don’t step onto a scale for the next week!  Next we trekked to Grand Central Station, in which we visited the Whispering Gallery– an archway where one person stands facing the corner and another stands facing the opposite corner.  Looking up slightly, it is possible to whisper sweet nothings to each other from across the room- a very interesting experience indeed.  After stopping into some shops, it was time for Graham to head out.

January 5- Saw the movie Up in the Air at Chelsea Cinema with some buddies, after stopping in for a quick drink at a local gay bar.  The bar was fantastic, a little place with some couches around a fireplace.  I was disturbed to see cracked glass in the door with a note stating that the bouncer had been recently attacked and was in critical condition.  It’s sad how much growing our country still has to do.  Up in the Air exceeded my expectations- Clooney was as charming as ever but newcomer Anna Kendrik stole my heart.  It was interesting to watch this film, as it’s so very relevant to my life at this current moment.  An awakening of sorts, it showed a little glimpse into how our lives follow the paths we take.

January 6- Perks Jazz Club on 123rd and Manhattan Ave.  My first jazz club visit in Harlem, Perks holds a live jazz band every Wednesday night.  The tunes were smooth and the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly.  A great find full of talented musicians both playing and enjoying a good time.

January 7- Alligator Lounge, Williamsburg.  Thursday night at Alligator brings about free Karaoke after 10 PM!  Not only that, but for every drink bought, you receive a ticket for a free personal pizza (toppings cost two extra dollars each, well worth it!)  Alligator is a great place for the young single to meet their peers.  (For those in Manhattan who can’t always make the trip to Bk, Alligator has a sister on the LES called Crocodile Lounge– same pizza special and a small arcade in the back, but I’m not sure about the Karaoke).

January 10- Saw The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus at Lincoln Square 13.  The film, about a rundown traveling stage show full of secrets, is Terry Gilliam’s finest work to date.  There were definitely huge ups and downs to this film- the opening special effects sequence with tiny green hand people looked completely fake (coming from a woman who is studying for her MFA in special effects), however, the acting was quite exquisite (Andrew Garfield’s Anton stole my heart).  Congratulations to Gilliam for succeeding with this film despite the death of a main character.

January 12- This Tuesday night brought about a trek to DUMBO to see the Two Man Gentleman Band play at a restaurant (name forgotten, too expensive for my taste).  While the food and drinks were expensive, the place had a great atmosphere and the Band was well worth the $7 beer.  My favorite- shouting “WILLIAM!” over and over again during their song “William Howard Taft”.  (also enjoyable- the dueling kazoos).

January 13- Weekly poker at Beachwick (my friend’s Bushwick apartment in BK) commenced.  I lost, but I put in a grand fight.  Well, not really, it took me a little while to get back into the swing of the game.  But it was a blast while I retrained!

January 14- The Grey Dog ‘s Coffee, Chelsea (W 16th St).  This is the newest location of the Grey Dog’s Coffee, and it is a must go.  The food was delicious, the selection of coffees and teas was outstanding, they had Dogfish Head 90 Minute on draft, and the desserts are colossal!  Even the music played throughout our dinner caught our fancy- CCR and Allman Bro’s Band, to name a few.  The men behind the counter are worth the visit as well… (Blogger’s Note: The Grey Dog also caters and sells coffee by the bag.)

January 15- DVD must see- (500) Days of Summer.  I previously talked about the weirdness of watching your life unfold on screen, however, (500) Days… took it to a new level for me.  Not only do I completely identify with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character, but my love life has previously run parallel to the relationship between him and Summer (Zoe Deschanel).  Added bonus- Levitt is the most adorable human being I have ever seen (if I ever meet him, a proposal may be in order).  Favorite scene- the random dance break lead by Levitt- you have to see it to get the full experience.  Go.  Now.

January 16- NYC Social Sports Club Flag football begins- DeWitt Clinton Park/Aces and Eights.  The commencement of my career as a flag football ref, the day was a gorgeous 50 degrees and sunny, perfect for some flag football.  The teams were ready and raring to go- lots of friendly people on the field.  I even got a striped referee jersey!  After the games, the club buses the players and refs to the sponser bar- Aces and Eights, a small place with a back room full of tables for your drinking game pleasure.  Drink specials ensure plenty of pong and flip cup.  The night was a blast full of bonding and friendly competition.

January 20- NFT (Not For Tourists) held an event at Brooklyn Bowl, Williamsburg.  Free bowling from 6-8, a free NFT Brooklyn guide upon entrance, and a free drink ticket.  Although we didn’t get to bowl due to the lanes being packed, the drink ticket, guide, and tons of people to meet were worth the trip alone.  Brooklyn Bowl often holds concerts and events, including their weekly Saturday dance party.  (Blogger’s Note: Another plus- Brooklyn Bowl is located across the street from the Brooklyn Brewery, which has Friday night drink specials and tours on the weekends!)

January 21- Another poker night, this time- I left with as much as I came with- yay, me!

January 22- First on the agenda for the night was dinner for my co-worker who had recently left the company I work for.  We went to a lovely Mexican place (can’t remember the name) on 52nd and 9th.   While the food was delicious, the highlight of the meal were the bowls (and I do mean BOWLS) of margaritas that were served up.  Later, another visit from some friends occurred, this time my girls Lola and Christa from Beantown.

January 23-First stop- brunch with Lola at The Flame Coffee House.  Located in Hells Kitchen, this diner packs great food.  Our server was adorable- he even invited us back the next day!  Then came weekly flag football, at which my blood was flowing and the calls were on point (I even remembered the hand signals, thanks to a briefing by fellow ref Kate).  One dislocated elbow (not me, a guy on the Cheek Splitters [team name, no joke!]) and a couple of midfield Roger Rabbits later, it was off to Aces for some further debauchery.  Three games of pong, over a dozen rounds of flip cup and a slice of Two Boots later, it was time to meet up with my visitors for Christa’s birthday outing.  Keats was the first stop for some badass karaoke.  While the crowd was young and fun, the place was packed to capacity and then some.  This is only the place to go if you don’t mind a mosh pit of sorts while you drink.  We then moved on to a bar not too far from there- name started with an “o”.  While the place was spacious and the music was loud in the back room complete with dance floor, the DJ was reluctant to play any requests and the green disco lighting made me feel a bit sick.  The night came full circle when we ended up at yet another diner (at which I got ridiculed for ordering Matzoh Ball soup- a diner staple.  What do you people know?!)

January 27- This night begins at the Village Pourhouse, LES (although there is a location on the UWS as well), where beer tasting classes are held every first Wednesday of each month.  Each class focuses on a specific brewery.  January was Sam Adams month, and due to overwhelming demand, the Pourhouse added classes for EACH Wednesday of January.  Although there were not really any new beers to try at this tasting (except for the Imperial White, a spicey witbier that boasts a 10.3% ABV) the tasting samples were bountiful and aplenty.  The food was expensive but tasty as hell and the bartender who ran the tasting was knowledgeable and engaging.  (Blogger’s Note: The Pourhouse boasts three rooms and different nightly events as well, check the site for details.)  Next stop was Plug Uglies.  Only a small walk away from the Pourhouse, Uglies was low on the drink specials but the sweet bartender talked us through what they had, ending up with a beer/shot combo.  As it was a Wednesday night, the place was close to empty, which meant plenty of space for us to conquer the table top shuffleboard.  (Blogger’s Note: There is also a pool table and darts available for some raucous competition!  Bonus- all games are free!)   Lastly, it was a short ride on the 6 to Pat O’Brien‘s bar, located at 88th and 2nd.  Again, Wednesday night stuck us with a lowkey bunch of stragglers, however, Pat’s often hops on the weekends with the younger crowd.  Despite the Red Sox and Patriot’s logos adorning the walls, Pat’s is a sports bar with plenty of tables for your beer pong/flip cup needs.

January 28- 92Y Tribeca, Comedy Below Canal.  Every Thursday, 92Y Tribeca hosts a plethora of comedians for some reasonably priced laughs.  Michael Ian Black hosted this particular show, themed upon the website he hosts, Witstream, a Twitter equivalent for semi- and professional comedians.  The lineup included Pete Holmes, Myq Kaplan, Kumail Nanjiani and Amy Schumer.  At a small fee of $12 (in advance, $15 at the door), it was one of if not THE best comedy show I have seen- each comic was on point and the interruptions from the live Witstreams only added to the hilarity.  (Also on my list of favorites for the night, the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale I partook from a can like a Champ!)

January 29- Rudy’s, Midtown.  Although it was only a brief stay for me (Rudy’s is a small space that gets SUPER packed on Friday and Saturday nights), Rudy’s Red is a beer worth talking about.  Also great about this joint- the hot dogs that are grilled right behind the bar.

January 30- Idiotarod.  On this fair single digit degree day, nothing quite beats a five mile race through the streets of Brooklyn and Queens dressed up in crazy costumes and toting around a modified shopping cart.  Quite possibly one of the quirkiest things I’ve ever done, Gilligan’s Revenge survived through losing three members overboard (the cold was just too much), sabotage by the Beavers (silly animals left branches on our island!), and the High Five Challenge checkpoint.  Other favorites- the guy and girl shaking their nakedness at us from their apartment window, Jersey Shore hitting on anything with boobs, and the comraderie we all gained by finishing the race.  Now, to begin brainstorming for next year’s theme…

January 31- Rounding out the month was another trip to Williamsburg.  This time, I visited Barcade– a hipster joint with 25 craft beers on tap and walls full of 80s style arcade games (at 25 cents a play, prices can’t be beat!).  Weekend happy hour ($1 off drafts) extends from 2-8PM, and any hungry patron can search through the takeout menu binder of doom after inquiring with the bartender.  Some of the night’s highlights- Galaga, Tetris, Marble Madness and Centipede.  Favorite part of the night- trying Brooklyn Brewery’s new Brewmaster Reserve, Cookie Jar Porter.  If you haven’t tried it yet- go find it.  (Blogger’s Note: more to come on Cookie Jar Porter, stay tuned!)  Barcade was nothing if not the best was to finish out an amazing month.

And so, readers, we find ourselves in February.  School begins, and I must settle down a bit to let the bank grow back a bit after cutting off it’s tail a few dozen times.  I can promise you this- January 2010 is one month I will never forget- a month of growth, successes, failures, and anarchy.  Life is short, live it up while you can.

February will bring my 25th birthday, and I feel younger than ever.

From this point forward I will be reviewing my experiences more thoroughly in the hopes that I can share with you the fun, cheap and quirky things to do around NYC.  Perhaps you will see something you like and experience it yourself.  My one hope is to inspire those who are feeling weighed down by life, people or possessions to take a small look at what they want, and to encourage them to go out and experience it.

After all, I made it through January, and so can you!

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