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

Top 10 Beers of 2015

New Year’s Day is a time to sit back and reflect on the year, contemplate some of the big questions: Why am I here, What the hell am I doing with my life, and At what point did I finally drink my weight in beer. What follows is a list of my favorite beers of 2015. Why give a flippin’ firkin about what one hop head in the middle of Ohio drank this past year? Same as why you read any end of the year list: to judge yourself against popular taste and declare yourself the winner.

skeletonred10. Skeleton Red Rye IPA, Four String Brewing (Columbus, OH)
I was disappointed to learn this is only a fall seasonal, because it’s my favorite Four String beer so far. The beer is hoppy, fresh, almost citrusy, and yet seriously dry — attributes I strive for, myself. Skeleton was a favorite this fall and made me proud of Ohio’s beer integrity.


Wheeling Brewing: This is how we get by–all right!

9. Nail City Porter, Wheeling Brewing (Wheeling, WV)
Within a square block in the city of Wheeling I purchased: an armload of fantastic used books for $1 apiece from a used bookstore that specialized in towering, dusty stacks of novels; a vintage red leather jacket with rabbit fur collar from an antique shop specializing in the Confederacy; a growler of rich, roasty Nail City Porter from a bartender who looked like Britt Daniel of Spoon. I’m sure that had nothing to do with my attraction to it.

A Tuesday

Your average Tuesday

7. Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, Lagunitas Brewing (Petaluma, CA) / Celebration, Sierra Nevada (Chico, CA)
Based solely on the volume of certain bottlecaps in our collection, these two beers earned their spot on this list. Both are go-tos: Little Sumpin’ year-round; Celebration from November to January. They remind me of each other in character, a bit. Each is dangerously, deliciously easy to drink and not of such an obnoxious abv that you can’t have two or three in an evening.
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Giving Thanks: Drink Small Saturday

ShopSmallThanksgiving is coming up shortly, and I anticipate its arrival with the same enthusiasm I feel sitting in the gynecologist’s waiting room. (That poor bird with its legs in the air…) What I am looking forward to comes the following weekend: Small Business Saturday. Now, admittedly, this is just a made-up holiday concocted by American Express to make it look like they give a flying fruitcake about small business; however, it brings customers by the Prius-load to my bookstore, all cheerily looking to support local businesses rather than ruthlessly scrabbling for the last Disney Light-Up Frozen Realistic Hair Extension Play-Doh Kit. So, don’t think I’m complaining. Rather, I ask you to raise a small glass of beer with me.

I am assuming most of you know the basics of why one shops local, but I’ll go ahead and preach anyway:

  • 68% of all money spent locally goes back into the community through wages and taxes and change dropped on the ground
  • You support members of your community, not distant CEOs on yachts somewhere in the Caribbean
  • You can be rightfully self-righteous

Continue reading

The Future is Here…and It Has a Built-In Koozie

Great Scott!

Great Scott!

It’s recently been brought to my attention that Marty McFly’s future of the Back to the Future trilogy is now. Doc Brown and the crew time traveled to 2015. This troubles me manifold.

  1. This means I am quite old.
  2. This means I am quite old and still do not have a DeLorean.
  3. This means I am quite old and still do not have a DeLorean, NOR are there any hoodlums on futuristic hoverboards to run over in this beast.

And fourthly, I still think a DeLorean is futuristic. I’m pretty much behind the times in all forms of pop culture (those Hanson boys are cute, though). Unless you consider craft beer culture, “pop,” which many do. This is also troubling, because craft beer isn’t actually a fad; its development has, in fact, altered the course of drinking for forever.

As shocking as it is to discover you’re living in The Future, there is evidence to prove it. As the fastest growing segment of the beer industry, craft beer is inspiring innovation in the brewing practice itself as well as in the recipes and the way we drink the final product.

Beers in Space!

Beers in Space! The Hop Gun

Brewing: Many of you already know I’m something of a Hop Head, so it will come as no surprise that one of my favorite craft beer inventions made it possible to hop the bananas out of an IPA. A few years ago Sierra Nevada invented a contraption they call the Hop Torpedo. They fill this torpedo-shaped device with whole-cone hops and pump fermenting beer through it, adding some serious hop smack without the bitterness.

Tröegs Brewing has a similar device called the HopCyclone and yet another hopping device called the Hop Gun (do you think dudes named these things?). This contraption is filled with hop pellets and then beer is pumped through its double-helix-shaped interior. The pellets dissolve and the beer is infused with starshine and rainbows and magically spirited into bottles at a sparkly pink palace near you. Continue reading

Top Ten Beers of 2014

Goddamn do I love me a good list! And since it is List Season, here are my top ten beers of 2014. Half of them are from Ohio (apologies non-Ohioans, you should wish you were here.) This is a list of beers that I found myself picking up again and again or beers that make me drool a little bit when I think of them.

Formerly Alchemy Hour, presently delicious

Formerly Alchemy Hour, presently delicious

10. Great Lakes’ Chillwave. This summer seasonal from Great Lakes Brewing actually made the list last year under the name Alchemy Hour. They changed the name after a copyright issue with another brewery, but the recipe for this strong but mellow double IPA remained the same. It is singularly responsible for me making it through every day in the summer, counting the minutes till I could sit on my porch with one of these.

9. Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. Another beer I crave come 5:30, and also one I’m uncomfortable ordering at bars, for obvious reasons. This was my year-round go-to of 2014. It is pale-ish, but Lagunitas refrains from categorization, so it is what it is. Bright and smart and irresistible. If you ever wanted to make a Llalan trap, bait it with this.

Don't mess with Texas beers

Don’t mess with Texas beers

8. Southern Star’s Buried Hatchet Stout. I wouldn’t have guessed a stout this hearty would come out of Texas, being so warm and all. But everything is big in Texas and so is this beer. I recently ordered one during a meeting (what, your meetings don’t happen in bars?) and had to admit to everyone that it was more beer than I had signed up for; I sat there for quite a while after everyone else had left, collecting myself.

7. Thirsty Dog’s Siberian Night. Same bar, different beer. Thirsty Dog’s imperial stout kept me warm many a night last winter. One of my favorite parts of the season is sitting in the window of Martini’s on Main, sipping this black warmth, watching bundled people hurry by. Continue reading

The Phoenix Rises: Proud and a Little Tipsy

Liquid Mansfield

Liquid Mansfield

Something wonderful has happened! Something amazing for my little Ohio town, in fact. Something that will bring people to the area and that will change people’s attitude toward our city. Something for all of us to be proud of. And yes, of course beer is involved: a brewery has opened in Mansfield!

Last Wednesday was a bright and giddy spring day. My skin was buzzing with the forgotten touch of sunshine and the promise of a good beer after work. At 5pm Ben and I took our tickets for the brewery’s soft opening and crossed the small brick parking lot that separates my bookstore from the dangerously close by brewery.

The Phoenix Brewing Company is located in a brick building built in 1914 that was originally a mortuary. Rather than ignore what could be taken as a morbid history, they have embraced it. When my sampler of their five beers arrived, it came on a coffin-shaped, wooden flight. The names of their beers, too, riff on the theme: Redemption IPA, Ferryman’s Stout, etc. (When they were first brainstorming names, “Embalming Fluid IPA” was bandied about. Apparently clearer heads and weaker stomachs prevailed.) Continue reading