Thursday, September 20, 2007

Go Back to Wrigley, You Yuppie Chicago Scum 

That's what I say.

What other conclusion can I reach after encountering boorish Cubs fans during a non-Cubs game at Miller Park . . . just so they could cheer against the Brewers and be general cockmouths about everything.

But Michael Hunt really says it best.

I laughed so hard when the Brewer fan sitting next to them -- fed up and not about to take any more shit -- rose from his seat, grabbed that stinking Cubs hat, and threw it onto the field.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Selling Out to the Tanning Salon Girls 

I don't mean to be a dick about this, and I sure don't mean to come off half-cocked. But this has been bothering me for some time now, and I think it's high time I made mention of it:

What the Fuck has Happened to Leinenkugels?

I went to school a few miles from the brewery, so please believe me when I state I mean no disrespect. I've had more Leinies than the great majority of people walking the earth. I remember my first, sitting on the porch of the green house. I remember the discontinuation of their Ice beer, and realizing how this was a good thing -- this was a family brewery ditching the trends and coming back to its own. I remember touring the store, buying my Red shirt. I remember one of the greatest beers I ever tasted -- then called "Leinies Limited" -- at a friend's house after a hard race. I remember the great seasonals they put out throughout the year. This was a hometown brewery to be proud of.

In those days, my bread and butter included:

Honey Weiss
Autumn Gold (autumn seasonal only)
Winter Lager (winter seasonal only)
Creamy Dark (came a little later, but still a staple)
Auburn Ale
Maple Brown Lager (may have been just an autumn seasonal, not sure)
Bock (think it was just a spring seasonal, but I could be wrong)
Big Butt (spring seasonal only)

Of all those great beers (OK, 'Original' is average at best, I grant you), here is what is still available today:

Honey Weiss
Creamy Dark
Big Butt

They've pillaged their own stock. When you go to the Leinies website, they have an FAQ section in which they 'explain' why all those great beers are gone:

"We constantly look at our family of brews to determine the best mix to satisfy our loyal Leinie fans. We know that everybody has a favorite beer. (The challenge is how many different styles can the physical brewery brew in a given amount of time to quench the taste preferences of the market.) Sometimes we have to make a tough choice to discontinue a certain brew in order to be able to keep up with the demands of some of our most popular beers like Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss, Berry Weiss, Sunset Wheat, and Red Lager. Don't worry, we'll still continue to come up with new brews like our upcoming summer seasonal to be introduced in April 2007."

I realize that a lack of sales undoubtedly is to blame. But it's still a damn shame.

Northwoods - there's no good reason why this nector of beauty is gone, but that schlock of crap, Berry Weiss, is brewed year-round.

Autumn Gold - this was a real sleeper. It always seemed to be available for just a month or two. Nice, rich flavor.

Winter Lager - this, to me, was the flagship. This was a dark to fly a flag by. This was a pride beer. A beer like this could only be brewed by a small-town brewery. Or so I thought.

Auburn Ale - another sleeper with some surprising flavor. Real interesting character.

Maple Brown Lager - I heard Jake L. on the radio ripping this beer as kind of a bad experiment. That was too bad. Sure, it wasn't a beer-after-beer lager, but it was good. Had a sweetness that wasn't too obvious.

Bock - admittedly, the lesser bock when compared to the Big Butt. But that's no reason to kill it. I alway thought it was cool that such a small brewery could put out two kick-you-in-the-pants bock beers.

At some point in time, Leinies was bought by Miller. I don't really know if that's good or bad. From a distributing standpoint, it should be good, right? The thing is . . . I look at their offering right now . . . and I can't escape the conclusion that they're catering to the non-beer drinkers now. I humbly submit my evidence below. Aside from the five stalwarts -- Original, Red, Creamy Dark, Big Butt, Honey Weiss (with which I have no complaint) -- here's the lineup:

Berry Weiss - This one's been around a while, and they've finally created enough groundswell among the wine cooler crowd that it's no longer a seasonal. I guess I just always assumed that Honey Weiss was the chick beer. I don't know how anyone can handle any more than six ounces of this thing. Why not just melt a couple popsicles in a cup with some booze?

Light - This has been around a while. Never had one. What's the point?

Sunset Wheat - This is pretty good. But it's a ripoff of the Blue Moon Belgian White. It's a blatant, uncreative attempt to cash in on someone else's good beer.

Summer Shandy - Again, a pretty good beer. A real burst of lemon. Very drinkable. So much so, that this feels like another target. This smacks of playing to the wine cooler crowd. "Let's brew another beer that college girls will drink!" I guess I'm being pretty hard on Leinies here, because I genuinely enjoy this beer. But is this really the same company that brewed Winter Lager?

Apple Spice - They fucking did it again. Another obvious beer. Above I mentioned the Blue Moon company. They were bought by Coors, and changed all their beer names to kitschy marketing-friendly titles, such as "Havest Moon" or "Rising Moon" or "Full Moon". The ultimate triumph of the label over the brew. Well, Apple Spice isn't that different to me. This is yet another beer that's so overdone, so over-the-top with fruit flavor, that it's not even a beer anymore. It's a fancy label that girls fresh out of the tanning salon will pick up on their way home. Whatever happened to subtlety?

Oktoberfest - And this is the kicker. They did it -- they tried to jump on the Oktoberfest bandwagon. Pathetic. Who do they think they are, brewing an Oktoberfest beer? I thought Oktoberfest beers were supposed to have more alcohol and more flavor. This has a slight bit more alcohol than the typical Leinies, but flavor?

I can no longer ignore the fact that Leinies has been leapfrogged by brands such as Lakefront or Berghoff. I think only two or three of the current Leinies lineup are worthy of mention alongside a whole host of Berghoffs: Lager, Red, Dark, Solstice Wit, Bock, Pale, and Hazelnut Winter. It's difficult when the brewery you loved has abandoned its base and shot for the Zima market. But I have hope they will rebound. They are in God's country, up there in Chippewa Falls, so anything could happen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Out of touch, out of mind. 

I just got an email from a friend about my old team. I went through a few years after school in which I desperately missed cross country every day in late August and September. Still do to a lesser extent. At this point, as much as I still run, I'm too far away from being in that sharp, fast sort of shape to be 'eligible' to miss it as much. Anyway, I saw some of the pictures, and read some of the captions, and I guess I'm like everybody else. You look for your part in it, and it was quite small. Just a chain link of four years that gets passed over so quickly. I left having accomplished what I wanted to do. But the competitor in me, the guy who pushed so hard that whole time, made it such that I couldn't be satisfied. When you work for something so long, you don't remember the end of it -- only all the failure and missed chances leading up to it. I look at those pictures and feel bad about how misunderstood I probably made myself. And I hope I contributed to something. It just gets farther and farther away in my mind.


I'm so jacked about this weather, I can't even begin to write about it. For weeks now, I've been pinning everything on September, and here it finally is. About fucking time. And everybody's trying to rain on my parade with all their "summer's over" whining, as if the guys in masks were about to arrive with the Kool-Aid. Fuck them! This is the prime time. Football. Greatest running of the year. Flannel shirts and jeans. Fresh apples. And that smell of burning leaves everywhere.


With that stated, I do feel bad about the poor bastards back in school. Because it's really here, isn't it? Homework and tests. Lockers and pop quizzes. Study halls and pep rallies. Chalk boards and backpacks. Ice breakers and drama. There's no avoiding it. I'm sorry, kids. There's just no easy way through it. I wish there was one. And I'm here to tell you that you can't sugarcoat it. It's really as bad as you think. So don't be ashamed. It's just starting, so go ahead: bitch about it. I don't mind -- I'll read all you have to say about your loneliness and frustration. The worst part, to me, was the fire drills. All those people filing outside. You'd think it would be OK, being out of class for a while. But there's nothing more desolate than a big crowd of people. That's why I don't know how people do it at large schools. All those voices -- all rhythm and no lead. It's enough to put anyone to sleep. So . . . long story short, I sympathize, as petty as that may be.


Well, finally, people are seeing things my way. Yes, for the second year in a row, I've read articles criticizing MTV -- cultural cannibal that it is -- because it holds an awards show for music videos which it never airs. Fucking liars! "Music Television." What lying bastards! And the kids just lap it up, don't they? Well, at least we're not all fooled anymore.


An ex-sort of friend of mine just had a kid. And this is kind of funny because several of my old friends just had kids, so it could be either of them I'm writing about (so don't get any concrete ideas, you). But anyway, I do wonder how it's going and sincerely hope that it's all going well because kids, especially at that great young, young age -- that age so far before potty training -- is a lot of fun. Sure, they don't 'do' much. But to me, they're just the top of the muffin. So you have to feel good for the parents, wherever they may be.


I killed someone in a dream last night. First time I ever killed anyone in a dream. That I remember, anyway. I didn't know the woman, either. Just some random, dream thief. Actually, she wasn't really a thief, but was one of a group of home invaders in this little dream. But the story kept changing. In fact, the person I strangled even changed right there at the end. I'm actually OK with the ending. They deserved it. And it was the first dream I remember in which I took control and beat some ass. But it never would have happened if that old Chinese man hadn't lost his cool. I have him to thank.


Everyone's waiting for it to happen, but not saying anything about it. I think it should probably happen. I'm no junkie for gossip or anything. But if it's not working, it might as well end while they're still young. That's very shallow and 20th century of me, but sometimes it's just best to hit File < Exit. Sometimes you cannot change her mind. It would be so much easier if you could.


I'm finishing this Lion Stout, which is a decent beer that's grown on me a bit. But it's in a really heavy bottle, which is annoying because every time I have one of these, I feel like there's half a bottle left when I'm really finishing it. The glass of the bottle is that heavy. It's a good nightcapper, but I need to start pouring it in a glass.


I'm just about ready to start writing again. I just have to pick a project. It really could be three different things. But I think I know what it will be. I'm starting to lean, and I'm starting to think about it more and more. So that means the seeds are ready. It won't be long now.


"My thoughts were so alive."

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?