Feb 22 2010 7:41 pm

four pieces of news

He is plagued with a strange sort of ritualized eating practice. 

Toward the top of his driveway the edges of the asphalt crumble into the yard and he gathers 15 pieces of this material at a time and lines them up in three lines of five in the shape of a bird’s foot, one long line in the middle and two shorter lines at an angle to the sides.  He starts with the angled lines and eats one piece of each, chewing delicately lest his teeth be damaged.  He can usually finish all 15 pieces in an hour.

Everybody thought it was weird until he started patching driveways with his shit in the spring.  Then it was all smiles and thank you kindly, chipping ice this winter sure took a toll on my driveway, thank god for you and your weird ritualized eating practice.

There are three more pieces. 

One: I saw an ad in the Drake for Ranger IPA, a beer from New Belgium Brewing Company that hit my marketing/branding chord so perfectly I went out and bought two bottles of it the next day.  Rarely am I so moved by advertising, at least I like to think that I am so rarely moved by advertising, but this ad, as I have already mentioned, struck my proverbial chord. 


Like a lot of New Belgium's advertising, the layout is meant to look like some sort of mixed media collage, in this case a piece of satisfyingly worn and gold-grommeted green canvas appears to be a frame around a diorama (?) with a wooden back that has been painted blue so as to imitate the fine blue sky of summer, yet in a satisfyingly worn way, like the canvas.  The whole thing sits on a satisfyingly worn wooden table.  The set pieces all appear as if they were cut out of a magazine with scissors by hand and thus all bear an exaggerated but tastefully doctored white border space.  They also appear to be at different planes within the diorama thus providing a crude yet, again, satisfyingly campy illusion of three dimensional depth.  It’s all just so goddamn satisfying I can hardly stand it. 

I could do without the douchebag in the green uniform though.  I think a cartoon, vis a vis the crackly old Hop Wallop guy, would have been better, despite his farfetched back story as a wild west hops prospector.

The thing about the ad that really caught my eye, however, was the copy: “Three pounds per barrel of Simcoe, Chinook and Cascade hops make this 70 IBU brew...blah blah.”  Simcoe.  It jumped out at me right away.  Back when I used to homebrew a lot, Simcoe hops were all the rage.  They were fairly hard to get and they were really good.  I made quite a few IPAs with them and was pleased with every one, the pine and citrus notes are glassy and sticky all at the same time.  But more on that below.  The thing is, I wonder if the brewery and the marketing team knew how sought-after Simcoe hops are?  I’m sure they did.     

The name of the beer is right on.  ‘Ranger’ is a simple word, but one that sounds strong and interesting despite its simplicity.  The economy of a single ‘g’ doing the phonic work of several letters, or perhaps it’s just a pronunciation convention, I have no idea, is also, well, satisfying.  The label is simple and good.  It’s an IPA.  It is hoppy.  ‘India Pale Ale’ is written on the label and there are sketches of hop cones there as well.  It even makes the otherwise pretty annoying 12oz New Belgian bottles look cool.  In fact, I like the rebranding of the entire line of what they are now calling their “Explore Beers.”   

But one of the coolest things about this beer is that it is a firmly American beer made by one of the largest American owned breweries, that, until this beer (not sure when Mighty Arrow came out), hadn’t made a truly American beer. 

As for the how the beer drinks?  Thank god, it is as good as the branding, the marketing, the copy, and all the other crap, though as you can see, I think all that other crap matters as much as, if not more than, the beer itself in terms of how we experience the beer.  A truly hoppy American IPA that is 6.5%.  That is a good coupling, yet all too rare in today’s craft beer market.  One of my other favorite beers?  Three Floyd’s Alpha King.  Another rare IPA that squeezes every bit of citrusy and piney goodness from American hops without making a stupidly huge beer (Three Floyd’s does their fair share of stupidly huge though, cf. Dreadnaught). 

I swear to god it’s pineapple in the nose.  Not like Bell’s Hopslam, but still, there is pineapple here, along with the obligatory citrus and pine.  The bitterness is aggressive and lingers on the back of your tongue, but it isn’t offensive and doesn’t quite wear you down.  The hops are glassy and strong and almost syrupy tasting, like how I imagine molten glass would taste if it wasn’t so hot, though the beer isn’t syrupy at all.  It has a low to medium sweetness that doesn’t quite balance the hops but tries.  There is a remnant of cotton candy in the finish.  I like to think that what I like in this beer is the Simcoe.  But I just like to think that.  Doesn’t mean it’s true.  

Two: my brother continues to blow my mind with his internet discoveries:

Three: these may well be the last pictures ever taken with my beloved digital camera.  I have a new one coming that is very nice.  Much nicer than this one.


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