The Art of Beer Pt 4 – Knowing When to Stop


I am currently sitting down at one of my favorite tap rooms. There are eight people in the whole joint including myself and the bartender cause it’s still kind of early. In the background while I am typing there is some music playing with a Jamaican flare and a large cacophony of boisterous female cackling and drunk dudes trying to over talk them. One party of four is making most of the noise

Ok. To be fair this place is not the greatest acoustically. And it’s Friday Happy Hour and these folks are happy. Good for them. They seem to be enjoying themselves and having a great time. More power to them.

On the other hand when it’s time for them to leave I hope they use the phone a friend lifeline. Because I doubt any of them is good to drive. Which brings me to the point of this particular section of the Art of Beer…. overdoing it. Or more importantly… Knowing When to Stop!


I remember when I was a teenager drinking was considered the cool thing to do. And that thought process is still probably true for the younger generation today. “Adults do it so it must be cool!” Or whatever word they use for cool now. Of course they also have a lot more peer pressure to use a lot of different chemical combinations than when I was that age. But this post is about beer so back to the topic at hand.

At that age the only signs that said you had to stop was when you couldn’t walk upright anymore. For any teens then, especially for boys but also for a few girls, this was considered a rite of passage culturally, and not just in American culture. I served overseas In the Air Force from the age of 18-20 in Germany and the same cultural rite of passage seemed true there as well. The difference between Europe and the U.S. is that alcohol consumption there is much more ingrained in the culture and the knowledge of proper consumption is taught to their young adults earlier. Americans have a tendency to throw their kids into the deep end of the pool when it comes to cultural dos and don’ts.


Americans culturally are usually all about testing their limitations. If you’re not pushing boundaries then how do you know how much you can do? The old adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” has been adopted by American youth throughout the many years for many different cultural activities, but this is especially true for consuming alcohol.


There is always one person in the crowd who thinks it’s funny to see how much it takes to make someone puke. This can be a man or a woman. And the victim is usually someone of the same sex who is new to that current social gathering and it makes the instigator feel better about themselves to make someone else look foolish. If you have ever drunk any alcohol then the chance is very likely that you have been the victim in the scenario I just mentioned. If you have been the instigator then shame on you!


If you are one of the lucky ones who have so far escaped unscathed from those who want to see what your limits are, or if you have not yet pushed your own limits, the following are definite signs that you have had too much:

  1. When you get up to walk to the restroom the earth suddenly shifts 45 degrees and you lose your balance. Just FYI – unless you are in an earthquake prone region the chances are pretty good that alcohol is interfering with your equilibrium, which means puking is not far away.
  2. You feel that closing one eye helps you see something you’re looking at better. Unless you have a glass eye, or are sighting down a barrel rifle scope, looking out of one eye is never better for you.
  3. You find yourself flirting with someone who, for some reason unknown to you, your friends keep trying to pull you away from. If these are girlfriends then they won’t stop pulling until they get you away from this person. Guys on the other hand only try to warn you once. After you growl a “Leave me alone!” at them then they adopt the “I warned you and now you’re on your own!” attitude. Part of that is because we’re a bit lazy and part of it is the guy code thing where you don’t try to interfere with another guy trying to get some.
  4. You’re willing to drink anything someone puts in front of you. Most people have their preferences as to what they are drinking for the evening. And while that may vary from night to night, you usually don’t mix different types of alcohol because they don’t always play well together. For instance, a beer and a shot are ok as long as you don’t do too much. Beer followed by wine if fine. But wine followed by beer doesn’t work as well. And you don’t do shots with wine… at least not with good wine. Mixed drinks don’t mix well with either beer or wine, but are okay with shots. If you start mixing these combinations and don’t pay attention to the common rules just stated it usually doesn’t end well,
  5. If you lay your head down on the bar, table or other hard surface and close your eyes, you’re done for the evening. It won’t be long after that you start praying to the porcelain god.
  6. You and a perfect stranger are suddenly the best of friends and you start telling each other things you wouldn’t tell to people who have known you for years,
  7. You come back from the restroom and see that someone has taken your drink or your seat and you start yelling at the top of your lungs and challenging them to a fight. Then you realize you’re at the wrong table/seat and these other people aren’t the group you came in with… or even worse you’ve wandered into a different bar altogether.
  8. You start airing your dirty laundry because your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse said something to piss you off!!! Granted, some folks don’t need alcohol to get to this point but it certainly drops the barriers that would normally keep that from happening.


The following, unfortunately, are definite signs that you have had too much but they don’t make themselves apparent until it is far, far too late:

  1. You wake up curled up on the bathroom floor or hugging that nice cool commode.
  2. You wake up and don’t remember how you got there.
  3. You wake up and don’t know where you are.
  4. You wake up with someone whom you do not recognize.
  5. You wake up in jail.
  6. You wake up in jail and the new friend you made that night at the bar is next to you smiling a really creepy smile that makes you wish this is all a bad dream.

If have been sampling alcohol for any length of time then you have probably experienced at least one, if not two, of these signs. If you have experienced all of these signs then you probably have a drinking problem. If you have experienced all of these signs more than once then you probably have a death wish.

The point I am trying to drive home here is that pushing the boundaries has its place, but alcoholic beverages is not really the area to adopt that philosophy in. Knowing when you have had enough is a very important part of being a responsible adult. It’s also a very important part of making it home safely to your loved ones.

Oh by the way, the boisterous quad of drunks I mentioned at the beginning of the post have departed. Three of them left when one of the females started getting real loud and yelling. Then she broke down and started crying into her beer and telling a few strangers at the bar what a great and giving person she is. This is a perfect example of someone who is pushing their boundaries and should have stopped a few beers back.

My point is this, enjoy yourselves as much as you want. But when the alcohol starts letting down inhibitions and your start exposing parts of your personality that are better left hidden then expect to hear something like “Hey… I know you!!!… You were that drunk idiot in the bar the other night!!”

Showing your ass, figuratively and literally, always has consequences.



St. Paddy’s Day Weekend In Gainesville (BrassTap & House of Beer)

Myself, Rowdy and the Doctor starting our St Paddy’s Day celebrations with a Smithwick’s.

Here’s hoping you all had a festive and very Green St. Patrick’s Day this year. Our group of Suds Supping Bacchanalians certainly did.

We actually started planning where we were going to go a couple of days earlier in the week by trying to find out who was going to have Smithwick’s on tap that day. Drinking Smithwick’s (properly pronounced “Smittick’s”) Irish Red Ale on St. Paddy’s is a tradition for our group. We knew one place in town that always has it on tap for the holiday, but we didn’t want to go to that particular establishment and I won’t mention the name or why here.

We found out that the Red Onion Bar & Grill and the BrassTap would have it on tap. While there is nothing wrong with the Red Onion, we were more in a “drinking at the pub” kind of spirit and BrassTap fits that description much better. Plus the owner, manager and staff all know us and our tastes and are really great at finding us something we might like that we haven’t had before.

When Thursday, the 17th, afternoon arrived the texts started flying like normal. The Chemist and the Decorator had bowling that night which is on the other side of town from where we were headed, so they were going to House of Beer for a pint or two before bowling. The Maestro had a guest visiting from out of town who he was bringing but they were going to dinner first. So that meant  me, Rowdy and the Doctor would begin on our own.

I have to state one little drawback, for me personally, on going to the BrassTap during Happy Hour… the driving there sucks!!!

If you have ever been around Gainesville and tried to get anywhere on the west side of town in the late afternoon/ early evening then you know that what would normally take 15-20 minutes will take 45-60 minutes because of the traffic.

And this year on St. Paddy’s day it was also raining. So the idiots were out in force as well. Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that we really like the bar and the staff does a really good job, we probably wouldn’t go there just because the traffic is that bad. So that’s a back-handed compliment to BrassTap, and as long as they continue to do so good a job we will find our way there.

By the time I arrived Rowdy and the Doctor were already at the bar, and Allan, the owner, was setting them up with Swag they had gotten for the day. This included a really nice Smithwick’s glass with raised impressions, a glowing Guiness necklace and a St. Patrick’s Day bead necklace featuring a different brewery, in my case Left Hand Brewing. He set me up with a set of these as well. And I began my supping with a Smithwick’s.

My second draft of the night was a Guiness, pictured with the Swag.
My second draft of the night was a Guiness, pictured with the Swag.

We started philosophying and supping suds. I began getting updates from the Maestro about when they were arriving and eventually found out we would be joined by more than himself and his guest Anne. So we decided to move to a larger table before they were all gone. We got lucky and found the big one on the center was available so we snagged it.

It wasn’t too long after that, that Maestro and Anne arrived and the supping and philosophying began in earnest. I had finished my draft of Guiness and was wanting something different so I asked if they could do a black and tan. I was told yes as they also had Bass on tap, but I didn’t like it with Bass, so he suggested one with Smithwick’s instead and I gave the go ahead for that.

Black and Tan with Guiness and Smithwick's
Black and Tan with Guiness and Smithwick’s

Another round of philosophying commenced and before long I was ready for something else. I figured three different pints was enough of a homage to Ireland and I asked for a recommendation and was steered toward the Stone Brewing’s Americano Stout, an Imperial Stout. It had a really nice espresso flavor with a malty aftertaste.

The Americano Stout from Stone Brewing
The Americano Stout from Stone Brewing


A couple of Anne’s friends arrived and we soon had a sizable group to justify the larger table. And Allen sat down with us for a bit as well.


After a bit I was ready for my last selection of the evening. So I got a Rodenbach Grand Cru, which was really excellent. Some Grand Crus have too much of a sour taste to them, but to me this one was very nice. I will definitely be ordering it again. Even Rowdy liked it and she doesn’t normally dig the sour beers. At least not as much as I do.

Rodenbach Grand Cru
Rodenbach Grand Cru

After that glass I was ready to leave and so was Rowdy and the Doctor. We said goodbyes to everyone and went our separate ways.

The next day, after a busy day of meetings I was again ready for a little relaxing. So I sent out a text that I was heading to the House of Beer for Happy Hour in case anyone wanted to join me. I didn’t hear back from anyone except from the Maestro stating he would be passing.

When I arrived Alex greeted me and asked what I was having. I wanted something on the lighter side so I asked for the Sixpoint Sweet Action Cream Ale. It had the nice smooth creamy aftertaste that I was looking for but it also had a nice hoppy flavor.

Sixpoint Sweet Action
Sixpoint Sweet Action

I sat at a table and took out the smart phone and was trying to catch up on emails. After a bit I heard a familiar voice and looked up to see the Deck-Orator and the Chemist had arrived. So my weekend celebration would not begin alone.

Being it had probably been a month or so seen I had seen these friends it was especially nice to see them stop by. They went to the bar and got a couple of drinks for themselves and joined me at the table. And we sat around catching up.

After a bit both the Chemist and I were ready for another so we went to the bar and I studied the menu for a bit while he ordered, then I decided to go with a mead and the only one I saw was Stock Up from Moonlight Meadery.

Moonlight Meadery's Stock Up
Moonlight Meadery’s Stock Up

It arrived to me in a wine glass which I thought was unusual but took and headed back to the seat. I have to say it did not taste at all like a typical mead. In fact the more I drank the more it tasted like a wine. In fact very similar to a German Reisling.

I served in the Air Force in what was then West Germany for two years and became very familiar with their Reislings. German wines are mostly made from Reisling grapes and generally also have sugar added to them for the fermentation. So they have an added sweetness to them that is not found in other European wines.

It was probably not my favorite mead because it didn’t taste like what I expected a mead to taste like. But it certainly put me in the mood for more wine instead of beer for the evening.

The three of us sat around for a bit longer while we finished our drinks, then we said goodbyes and parted ways.

Here’s hoping your St. Paddy’s Day weekend went as well for you.


A Craft Beer Weekend: BrassTap on Friday and FBG Beer Fest on Saturday


I don’t know about you folks out there but my work week was filled with meetings, business process discussions, both existing and what should be happening and decision making about a few different topics. All of this in conjunction with a project I am involved in at work and will be for a pretty long while. Needless to say I was ready for the weekend when it arrived.

So it was a welcome sign to see the Doctor start texting me Friday afternoon and let me know where he was. After completing a couple of errands, running home and changing the dog and walking my clothes, I headed out and met the Doctor at BrassTap.

When I arrived he was at the bar talking with Brad, the manager and son of the owner, Allan, who was talking with other patrons. Brad greeted me and after I settled in asked what I was in the mood for. Since I had missed the Cider Event they had held the night before and they had some on tap still, I decided to start with The Anvil Bourbon Cider from Sonoma Cider.

Sonoma Cider's The Anvil - Bourbon Cider
Sonoma Cider’s The Anvil – Bourbon Cider


That garnered me another badge on Untappd but I also liked that it wasn’t the cloyingly sweetness or tartness associated with most ciders. The bourbon flavor in the background help dampen down the sweetness, and any tartness that might have been in play. It was refreshing in a way that you don’t normally expect from a cider.

The Doctor and I started catching up with each other and before long a second round was needed. I wanted something with a darker flavor too it and I saw that they had Southern Tier’s 2XIBA, which is a Dark Ale. It had the roasted malt flavor in the background that Schwarzbiers and Porters have, but an extra amount of hop flavor brought it back into the IPA realm.

Southern Tier 2XIBA
Southern Tier 2XIBA

After a bit, Allan’s relief came in and he sat down and jawed with us a bit while we supped suds and swapped lies. About the time I was getting to the end of my Dark Ale I began to feel a bit peckish and decided that with my next beer I would have one of the hot pretzels. So along with the pretzel I ordered something I had heard about but had not tried yet. They actually had Yeungling’s IPL (Imperial Pale lager) on tap.

Yeungling IPL
Yeungling IPL

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by it. I used to drink regular Yeungling frequently before I started drinking Craft Beer and if I find myself somewhere where craft beer is not available or at least not one that I like, then I will ask for a Yeungling. It is not my go to beer but I still prefer it over Budweiser or Coors or any of the others. The idea of treating a Lager like and IPA isn’t unheard of and is probably how the Czech’s created Pilsners but the flavor was interesting. It was smooth like some Lagers and you could definitely taste the hops in it, but it didn’t have that harshness that Hops can add to an IPA when the brewer gets carried away.


And I have to add that it went very well with the hot pretzel they had served me. Though to be honest the pretzel could’ve stood on its own with the honey mustard dipping sauce they served with it I can’t wait to try the beer cheese sauce they are thinking of trying.

After I finished the pretzel and the Yeungling I decided it was time to head home as I had a long drive the next day. So I bid a good evening to the Doctor and the BrassTap staff and made my way home. But I must confess to a case of the munchies and stopped at Steak and Shake on the way home. Nothing like a steakburger, fries and a shake to stave off the hunger pangs.

The next morning after a hearty breakfast, walking my dog Tucker a couple of times, and prepping the truck for a long drive I headed off to Tampa. Most folks would travel I-75 down to Tampa and I have done so many times in the past but I really hate dealing with the traffic on that route. So instead I went further west, through Williston then turned south and eventually hit the Suncoast Parkway and took it into Tampa.

The ride was fairly smooth even though there was a lite bit of traffic. But on Saturday in Florida that’s gonna happen.  I got to my destination about 10 minutes after it started and as I drove by the entrance I saw a very long line to get in.

As I drove past I started looking for some parking whether it was free or pay to park didn’t matter as I had figured I would end up paying.  But nothing in the immediate vicinity was available. I actually ended up getting turned around and lost while trying to find point nearby, which if you have driven to the vicinity of the Tampa Stadium you understand.


Eventually I ended up parking between the stadium and the historic museum at a pay n park but it was about 40 minutes later by the time I walked back to the beer fest. The only good part of that was the line has shrunk considerably by then and I gained entrance in a matter of minutes.

Soap box time!!

Why is that beerfests always take place in areas with I sufficient parking and then don’t post anything about it on their sites  I don’t mind having to pay to park but just once I would like to attend a Beerfest where I don’t have to walk a mile to get to the rest from parking or worry about being towed or worse token into!

Stepping down from soap box.

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After finally entering the fest I was glad to see that it was fairly well organized as far as the site went. There were plenty of brewing tents and quite a lot of food trucks   And lots of port-a-potties strategically placed throughout the grounds.

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As I began making my way through the various beer vendors I saw some familiar faces with folks from Alligator Brewing, First Magnitude Brewing and Swamp Head Brewing all having their wares for the offering. All of them being Gainesville based I felt obliged to stop by and see if they had something I hadn’t sampled yet. Unfortunately for me I had sampled all of them before but that didn’t stop me from having one anyway as I know they all have pretty good beers.

There were a ton of other brewers present, many of which I had sampled offerings from before. These included Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Intuition Brewing, Funky Buddha Brewing, Cigar City Brewing, Barley Mow Brewing, Coppertail Brewing, Due South Brewing, Florida Ave Brewing, Motorworks Brewing, Miami Brewing, Green Bench Brewing, Wynwood Brewing, Rapp Brewing, Pair O’Dice Brewing and some more.

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But there were quite a lot that I had never seen before, maybe not even heard of yet. These included: 7venth Sun Brewery, Barrel of Monks Brewing, Central 28 Beer Co., Copperpoint Brewing Company, Crooked Thumb Brewery, Mastry’s Brewing Co., Rock Brothers Brewing, The Waterfront Brewery, Ulele Spring Brewery, and maybe a few others.

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There was a very large crowd with people mostly from the Tampa area but there were also some folks like me who traveled from a bit further out.

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I had a good two hours of beer sampling before the fest ended and that actually was about all I really needed. There were hundreds of beers and I probably only sampled about 30 or so it was enough to hit my limit.

So I wended my way back toward the parking garage and half way realized I hadn’t eaten anything at the fest. Luckily for me an answer appeared in front of me.

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Yes, there is nothing quite like wings and fries to go with craft beer.

This fest occurred last weekend and I haven’t been able to finish the article til this morning. I stopped by Gainesville House of Beer yesterday after work an chatted with the manager Alex for a bit. I mentioned the beer fest and he asked me if there were any beers that stood out.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them here:

Mosaico – Session IPA from Four Stacks Brewing

Paratrooper Porter from Veterans United craft Brewery

Udderly Calm – Milk Stout from Swamp Head Brewery

Twisted Streams – a Saison from Saltwater Brewing

Glass Emporer – a rum barrel aged Imperial Stout from Proof Brewing

5th Anniversary Panhandle Steamer – a California Common from Pensacola Bay Brewing

Mad Cola – a mead from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company which tasted just like a cola.

Dry Hopped Series Pale Ale (Mosaic) from Due South Brewing

Domestic Bliss – a Belgian Strong Pale Ale from Crooked Can Brewing

Blood Orange Wit – from Copperpoint Brewing Co.

Honey Bach – a Doppelbock from Central 28 Beer Company

Indiscretion – a DIPA from Escape Brewing (This got my highest ranking for the day but all of these listed I scored pretty high.)

One last little note for the beer geeks out there. HOB has a couple of Cigar City beers that haven’t been around before: Strawberry Shortcake – a Helles Lager with strong strawberry notes in the nose but a smooth lager finish, and Cinnamon Apple IPA which also has a fruity nose (smells like apple pie) but a strong IPA flavor with a smooth finish.

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But they also have a very, very good Belgian Strong pale Ale from Lost Coast Brewing called their 25th Anniversary Ale. Really good flavor and a nice smooth finish.


If you’re near there stop by and try and tell Alex I sent you.