NALDO South: Louisville, KY

The building is actually being held together by label adhesive, alone.

The building is actually being held together by sticker adhesive, alone.

We visited Sergio’s World Beers on a drippy, dreary day in Louisville, Kentucky. What beer-lover can resist the promise of thousands of bottles of beer available, not to mention a tap list of over forty beers you can walk around with while perusing the goods? Here’s to Sergio for planning out a killer business model — I’m embarrassed to admit exactly how many beer-related items I’ve purchased while under the influence: bottle openers, T-shirts, stickers I’ve never stuck. Hazy memories that aren’t quite worth it.

The man tending bar that afternoon was not Sergio. He was short, heavily-tattooed, and with the long beard that almost made me confuse him for a brewer. Sergio, however, was there in spirit. He was referenced often, a man of impeccable style and exemplary taste who traveled the world eight months a year, all in the name of beer. The customer next to us at the bar pulled two of Sergio’s business cards out of his wallet and handed them to us. “If you ever go to Belgium, go with Sergio,” he said with the seriousness of someone who’s three or four in.  Continue reading

Nick & Llalan Drink Ohio, Part 1: Canton

The launch of NALDO (Nick and Llalan Drink Ohio: A Beer Escapade) was not an auspicious one. Our quite randomly-chosen first brewery, Royal Docks Brewing Co. in Canton, is nestled snugly in a strip mall. I realize there are plenty of great breweries located such, but I can’t help but feel weird enjoying a fine beer with Famous Footwear in spitting distance. Second strike against them: super bad music piped outside. Another strike: the super bad music is super loud inside. (You get a lot of strikes in this game.)


Loudest Beers I’ve Ever Had

We quickly gave up trying to speak and gestured at each other futilely like angry, thirsty mimes. Fortunately our flight of six appeared quickly. The Tanglefoot IPA, the Her Majesty Sour, and the Baba Yaga Coffee Porter all got vigorous thumbs up.

Canton, Ohio, has a surprising number of breweries; like, more than one. In my home town of Mansfield, a town about an hour west and of comparable size, we are trained to lay scorn on Canton, which we know only as the home to the Football Hall of Fame. In Mansfield, we have the one brewery and zero Halls of Fame.

Nick and I headed toward the next Canton brewery. We made it to Scenic Brewing Co. quickly and safely, albeit a little sketched out by driving through an area of mining or drilling or something that looked ominous in the night.

At the brewery. we were two of five customers. Again we ordered a flight…and shortly we flew. Nick looked at me after tasting all the beers and whispered, “I don’t think I’ve had beers this bad at a brewery before.” This is big, an unprecedented statement. I opined they tasted smoky or perhaps chemically. Then I noticed the thin head on each was dark brown. We laid money on the counter and walked out as casually as we could in our haste. Continue reading

A Beer Pilgrimage: Asheville, NC


Three shelves of beer — a challenge!

My fridge has never had so much beer in it. I know, I know! It hardly seems possible, especially given that on an average day at least one entire shelf is devoted to beer and the rest of the space is a bachelor-scape of condiments. But having just come home from one of the US’s beer Meccas, Asheville, NC, I have some understandably well-stocked shelves and hardly a square inch for my Dijon.

One flat tire, one broken boot, and a sad, lonely hotel out of the way, I arrived in Asheville just in time to get to Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium. Wicked Weed Brewing is a vacation destination on its own right, or at least for those of us who unashamedly admit to traveling somewhere specifically to get a little fucked up. The Funkatorium is a taproom dedicated solely to sour and barrel-aged beers.

The Funkatorium's back room

The Funkatorium’s back room

I opted for their set flight of two saisons and two sours. And then my biggest regret since not getting a second bloody mary at Casa in Athens that morning: I drank the sours first. I blame it on road weariness. The saisons didn’t taste like much of anything. I’m sure they were lovely, but being a bit of a Sour Puss myself, I was content with the fantastic tastes of Oblivion and Genesis — both just sour enough to playfully pinch your cheeks from the inside, yet robust enough to let you enjoy a full glass. My notes tell me that Oblivion tastes like the shape of Saturn, so there you have it. Continue reading

What I Talk About When I Talk About Beer

Me being misinformed

Me being misinformed

In a recent editorial, or “Beer Smack,” as they’d have it, the Alström brothers of Beer Advocate urge beer-lovers to become knowledgeable about beer and the brewing process. After all, they say, “the internet is littered with misinformed beer geeks.” And I said, Hey, that’s me they’re talking about!

Because, let’s face it, I know plenty of people in my immediate friend group who know more about beer than I do. I can’t keep straight all the hop varieties that begin with “C,” I never measure the gravity when I brew, and I thought “Grisette” was the name of a new Muppet.

Some people think that’s all there is to beer. But to me real beer is nothing less than spiritual.


The Big Hunt, home of the Chaz

Several cities ago, I found myself sitting at a bar on Dupont Circle, my idealism newly squashed under the weight of corporation-sized nonprofits. I was with my new roommate, a stranger who said “know what I mean?” too much. The bar was called The Big Hunt, and, at least in my memory, part of the seating area looked as though it was in the belly of a whale, ribs and muscle arching across the ceiling. Continue reading

The Rules of Vacationing: 1) Drink Beer

Beer and cheese. You can't see the condiments.

Just beer and cheese here. You can’t see the condiments.

Lots of Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ and Great Lakes Chillwave, two rye IPAs — Rhinegeist’s Streaker and Cane and Ebel from Two Brothers — Fat Head’s Head Hunter Imperial IPA, Sixpoint’s Bengali, Troegs’ Hop Knife, and a double stout from Green Flash. This line-up — essentially an all-star team of my favorite beers this summer — was what filled my fridge on my week-long vacation last month.

The vacation was in Canada, but I brought the beer from The States, which brings us to the second rule of vacationing: 2) Be prepared. In my personal experience, the beer in the part of Canada we visit is crap, so I always bring my own.  Canadian customs allows exactly one case of 12 ounce beers for each person in a vehicle crossing the border. With Kate coming with me that came out to be 48 beers in our car and about three and a half beers per person each day on this week-long trip. That’s cutting it pretty close, frankly, for a vacation, so we made a number of excursions to The Sandbar around the corner to drink generous glasses of Dan Aykroyd Cabernets. (That man’s so damn talented.)


Kate and Coffee

My friend Kate and I breezed through customs, as two young white women of extraordinary beauty are wont to do, and made it to our cabin in time for beer and a sunset on the beach. The next morning we took our coffee with our towels and sun hats to the lake. By noon it was beer time. Rule 3) Keep it classy. We found two plastic champagne flutes in the cabinet, forgotten by long-ago celebratory campers, and shared an imperial stout. Continue reading

Fruity Beers: This Ain’t No Love Poem


Fruity Beers over Mansfield, Ohio

I firmly believe that it’s important to challenge your own likes and dislikes, because, once you’ve stuck by them for a while, they become an actual part of you, and not a quirk of your personality. For example, I have allowed my love of beer to define me. Beer has become my “Thing.” I’ve tried to figure out how that happened, but it doesn’t really matter: I am The Girl Who Likes Beer, A Lot.

I am especially vigilant in challenging this Like. I challenge it pretty much every night. But these challenges have split my definition into further subset labels like “Hop Head” and “Sour Puss” (which isn’t actually a label, but it should be), and “Despiser of Fruity Beers.” It’s this last label I decided to challenge recently, employing the help of three poets, which as you might remember, is the only way to have tasting.

I picked up a mixed sixer of beers that were somehow fruit-related several weeks ago. Then, about 10 minutes before we were scheduled to start, I began frantically researching them. From there I created a lineup of beers that I hoped ranged from tamest to most taste bud-withering. Continue reading

Pokemon GOse & Other Pop Culture Curiosities


The Phoenix Brewing Co, home away from home

When, in a small town such as mine, there are people outside in the city square at three in the morning, smiling maniacally and following their smartphones around like divining rods, you become curious. Are they on drugs? Is it a cult? Have the proper authorities been notified? But more importantly: what am I missing out on?

I hate know-it-alls as much as the next person, but mostly because I am always the smartest person in the room. I was sort of disgusted that this cultural phenomena snuck up on me. Similarly, one day I was blissfully naive and innocent of the gose style of beer, and the next, it was a nationwide sensation.

In the last few months, the style has popped up in breweries all over the country in that same inexplicable way that everyone knows, suddenly, to roll their jeans up above the ankle. One day I realized the gose style was everywhere and I didn’t even know how to pronounce it. Gauze? Goose? Nope: GO-zuh. It is a German style wheat beer, originating in the Leipzig area. They are traditionally tart and refreshing, so I think we may be related. Continue reading

Big-Ass Beers & the American Way

You don't get much more American than this Tennessee native

You don’t get much more American than this TN native

I love America. Goddammit, I really do. And I love that I come from the same country as the blues, baseball, Patti Smith, candy corn, and the Double IPA. I love the Jumbotron cam and I love Spencer Tunick (nsfw). I love Dolly Parton’s…hair. At the same time there’s this over-sized American pride makes me really uncomfortable; the kind I associate with monster truck rallies, super-sized grease fests, and SUVs the size of my living room.

Why is it then that the same bigger-is-better attitude I roll my eyes at is precisely why I like American beers so damn much? Because please, throw an obscene amount of hops in my beer — I’ll take two.

The state is conveniently shaped


This contradiction was evident on Sunday, July 3rd at 11:30 in the morning, when I found myself in the Nashville’s Farmers’ Market with two flights of Tennessee beers sitting in neat rows on boards the shape of their state. I had suffered a panicked moment of almost-Millennial FOMO and had to try all of the beers. Of course, I didn’t drink them all by myself; my ever-eager, ever-thirsty father was across the table from me, ready to take whatever I handed him. Some families go worship God together every week; me and Pops, we share a sacred brew of our own. Continue reading

Hoof Hearted Brewing: Artisan Immaturity


Let me tell you about my Inflatable Time Machine

For my father’s birthday, we gave him essentially what every 21-year-old wants: his own pub crawl. I don’t mean to speak poorly of my father’s maturity, but he was thrilled. Because I was put in charge of planning this event — wisely or not — we went to a bunch of places in Columbus, Ohio, whose beer I dig. I almost got us all cheap matching Ts to have the bartenders sign at each stop, but in the end, saved us that embarrassment. Our first stop was the Hoof Hearted Brewing pub. (Go ahead, say it a few times.)

My friend Kate joined us again, and it probably goes without saying that my mother was the stoic, only occasionally disdainful designated driver.

so11We heard the brewpub long before spotting it. The thumping noise outside was incongruous with the generic architecture that seems to speak to whatever the newest batch of yuppies is called. Inside, the four-on-the-floor beat faded under dozens of ironic conversations between bearded and bespectacled hipsters. My clan slunk in, squarely, and wove our way amidst the crowd of afternoon drinkers, which was clothed entirely in thrift store T-shirts printed with slogans the wearers didn’t believe.

Phasion Phil

Phashion Phil, our waiter

We found a table outside where we could watch silly people exercising through the windows of the gym next door. We conferred about which beers to taste, trying to nonchalantly throw around names like Wet When Slippery, Mom Jeans, and Bulgin Musk. Then our adorable and slightly stoned waiter arrived and I tripped over Kill Wai-iti (say: KILL WHITEY!), a Belgian IPA and also ordered an Inflatable Time Machine, a sour. Kate was admirably adroit, ordering her Sidepipin, a farmhouse ale. My father, unsurprisingly, chose the DIPA, South of Eleven. Continue reading

Beer: the Stuff of Friendship & Community

I’ve never been much of one for defining things: vocab words, relationship status, my abs. But there are a few things I know to be true. One is that dear friendship is equal parts being supportive, giving sage advice, and keeping your mouth shut while your friend downs six beers during an afternoon-long bitch fest. My own dear friends recently flew me to New York and then further indulged me by not only by taking me to all the Asian restaurants I don’t have at home, but also by going to every brewery and bar patio within stumbling distance of their apartment.

Shannon at Kelso with Black Walnut Stout Barrel

Shannon at KelSo, wishing I wasn’t taking pictures

One other nebulous concept that I’ve nevertheless stuck by like a religion, is that beer is defined by more than style and taste; that its influence on our lives is wider.

The KelSo Brewery, where my friends and I stopped first on this trip, is an example of the impact beer can have in your world. KelSo recently opened a tiny tap room that is carved out of the Brooklyn warehouse where they make their beer. Shannon, Jason, and I sat for quite a while, snug in a nook lined with barrels of conditioning beer.

KelSo has woven itself into the community fabric of Brooklyn by donating their product to a number of organizations they support. No doubt these groups were thrilled be getting free wallet lubrication for their potential donors at fundraisers. More importantly, their movement gained the support of another local business and all the patrons it brings with it. KelSo is also a careful steward of the environment, taking many measures to make the smallest negative impact as possible.  

The name “KelSo” is formed from the first names of the couple who owns it, which makes me trust them, irrationally, but also makes me believe that this brewery is built from their heart, their family, and means more to them than any money — which is one of my several issues with macro beer. Continue reading