I finally got my hands on the #1 rated beer on Beer Advocate…

    Last night I was feeding my daughter at the kitchen table, thumbing through my phone as she currently is in this stage where it takes her forever to eat.  Occasionally she just likes to practice holding the foods, which is adorable, but can go on for a long time.  On facebook there was a post from Mike Shatzel, a guy pretty much responsible for opening the best beer bars in Buffalo.  The post read:

“2 cases of heady at monk”
    I had plans to go out later that night with my friend Pat, to catch a beer or two, and we happened to be going there.  I was pretty excited at potentially getting to try this.  People have been hyping it for some time now in forums and Facebook groups – it’s not sold here.  I tried not to get my hopes up for scoring a can, and in a few hours I made my way over to The Blue Monk.
   As soon as I walked in, I saw a couple dudes at the bar with some.  I looked around to see if it was advertised anywhere.  There was nothing.  I wasn’t sure if it was some secret thing or if I had to quietly ask for it…I wasn’t sure how this worked.  I finally decided to ask as I wasn’t quite sure if I’d ever have another opportunity.  Good thing I did.  For $9.00 a can, I now had in my hands a can of “Heady Topper,” the number one rated beer on beer advocate with an impressive 100 rating.
    Now I’m not going to say anything bad about this beer because it was very good.  Just not at all what I expected.  I mean look at the artwork on the can.  It’s awesome.  There are loads of hops exploding out of this man’s head.  Getting to try another one of the other best beers in the world, Pliney the Elder, when I was in San Diego – I had high hopes for this beer.  I cracked open the can and took my first delicious sips.  It was really good, just not at all what thought it would be.  This beer was a lot sweeter then I ever expected.  It had a slight hop finish, but nothing memorable.  Maybe it’s the West Coast beer lover in me, where I love a citrus, piney, hoppy overload that Pliney is able to supply, even Firestone Walker’s Double Jack, but this beer was nothing like them.  It was unique in flavor, and the flavor was very good, just nothing I’d seek out special. 
   I suppose where this beer gets its praise is it’s balance.  The balance of hop and malt among beer lover’s is praised in over 7,000 reviews.  So from a personal point of view, I thought this beer was good, but not amazing.  Putting that aside, and breaking down what this beer actually is, how it tastes, the balance, the color and carbonation, this beer is very impressive and well crafted.  I had to really separate my personal preferences when tasting this.  I will have to thank my daughter later for forcing me to look at Facebook by endlessly staring at her piece if spiral pasta.  Love you kid 🙂

The San Diego Zoo and a Lunch at the Hopping Pig

    One of the “must see” spots we wanted to hit was the Zoo.  It was supposed to be one of the nicer zoo’s to see in the U.S. so to not go would just be silly.  The Zoo opened at 9am and we were there right at that time.  This zoo was gigantic.  The entire layout felt as if you were taking a weird paved stroll through a jungle.  It was really impressive.  I found myself able to take some really awesome photos, close up.  I’m not sure if its just a common thing, or maybe we were just lucky, but many of the animals were as close to us as they could possibly be.

These two were rough housing under water while we watched.

Seeing this guy brought some mixed feelings about the zoo.  These things are so human-like, that its hard not to look at them as slaves or prisoners.   They did state several times while walking through the zoo, that these animals end up living way longer than they normally would in the wild, but still…

Talking about the upcoming NFL draft…

This was a site to see….the panda!  With only like 1600 of these things left on this earth, getting to see the Panda was awesome.  This panda was totally relaxed in his tree stump recliner eating some veggies in the sun, living it up.  He was not as sad (or sad looking) as the orangutan.  I could be wrong though…maybe the orangutan wasn’t sad at all.   Maybe he was just as enthused as I’d be with people pointing at me while I tried enjoying lunch…

For 40 bucks a ticket, the San Diego Zoo ended up being worth the trip.  It was a gorgeous day, nice breeze, and great way to spend a few hours.

For lunch we headed back into the city to the Gas Lamp District, an area in the city loaded with shops, places to eat, and pubs.  I had Nicole pick the lunch destination and she surprised me by picking a place that was right up my alley, the “Hopping Pig”.  The Hopping Pig is a little place with an open front, some exposed brick, great taps, nice menu, and cool background music (I believe they played The Smiths the entire time we were there).  Having driven, I only treated myself to one beer, Port Brewery’s Erasure IPA, which was solid.  Nicole ordered the Short Ribs and I ordered the Yellow Tail.

The result of two awesomely prepared dishes! 

   I was pretty happy Nicole found this place, as these are commonly the places I seek out when going out of town.  Similar places to the “Blue Monk” in Buffalo, “Hop Leaf” in Chicago, and now I’ve had the pleasure of relaxing at “The Hopping Pig” in San Diego.  Like Cube says….

Back from a busy few weeks.

   The past two weeks have been pretty crazy with work and lots of birthday’s, plus the insanity of trying to get our house in “ok” condition for guests, mid remodel.  Ive been tearing apart the foyer, rewiring everything and getting ready to drywall it, so it’s been a constant battle against the dust from the plaster.
   My parents spent the weekend here for my mother’s birthday.  It’s always fun when they come down because we do so many cool things.  My stepfather and I have a love for beer so every time he comes down we try to plan a stop somewhere for a tasty brew.  A bar in my neighborhood had a Dogfish Head Tap takeover this weekend so we were able to get down there for lunch and have a pint.  We caught the Sabres game on Friday night at the arena and watched the Sabres beat Boston for the second time in a row.  On Saturday night we went to one of the better restaurants in Buffalo, “Prospero”.  Nicole and I had eaten here last year and we were both in agreement that this was perhaps one of the best restaurants in the city.  It was amazing Italian food.  My stepfather wanted to bring us out to dinner to celebrate my mom’s birthday, so I could not think of a better place.  I was able to get reservations three weeks in advance but even with this much of an advance, we could only get in at 8pm.  On Saturday, we got a call from the restaurant reminding us that they had a prefixed menu on Saturdays.  I totally didn’t know anything about this and it was not on their website.  Sightly annoyed I had to inform my mom that we were not going to get Italian.  Don’t get me wrong, the specials on the menu were still good, but it was sort of a bummer that we wanted Italian food and we were told the day of the dinner that we couldn’t get it.  Its not like I would have been able to get reservations anywhere else with that short of notice.
    I took an afternoon nap Saturday, while Nicole and my Mom put back some wine and called “Prospero”.  I’m not sure exactly what they talked about, but the place was going to make my mom a pasta dish, just for her!  The restaurant is a class act, I highly recommend trying to get reservations there if you can.
   Now that everything has slowed down, I should be able to get more posts up.  I have some things I want to talk about this week, including a new Jazz Bar in Buffalo that we went to and my review of “Spotify”, a new service that I am in love with.  That’s right, what has two thumbs and is legitimately paying for music?  This guy.

Some Random weekend pics..
Center ice Friday Night, my mom’s xmas present for Henry.

Sunday afternoon Mikkeller IPA’s at the Monk.  That’s right, one of those IPA’s is Nicole’s :).

Monday Beer Review: Hercules Double IPA

    I’ve decided that because every single one of my weekends is spent drinking fantastic beers, Monday will be the perfect day to review beer.  Buffalo is turning into a great city for beer, with great places to get fantastic beverages like The Blue Monk, Cole’s, Pearl Street Brewery, Village Beer Merchant, Pizza Plant, and many more.  There are plenty of places to go out for great beer and plenty of options to bring some home, such as create a six pack or filling up a growler.  This weekend I drank a few beers, one being the Hercules Double IPA a fantastic treat brought to us by The Great Divide Brewing Company out of Denver, Colorado.  Up until Saturday my favorite double IPA was Southern Tier’s which i still highly recommend especially if you can get it on tap.  The Hercules was a fantastic blend of citrus, hops, with enough bitter to bring a smile to my face and a nod of approval.  This beer would go amazing with pizza or any food that can come “Buffalo” style.

At about $5.75-$6.00 a bottle, the Hercules Double IPA does not disappoint.

ABV:  10%
IBU:  85

It’s Friday! Go Sabres!

    The weekend has finally arrived and its slam packed full of things to do.  My parents get into town today for an overnight visit which usually involves drinking, good food, and fun.  Tonight is a huge playoff game for the Sabres as we try to pull ahead in our series with Philly.  When they get here we will be going to the blue monk for an afternoon treat that I am looking forward to.
   Also I started on some of the model pictures for the site.  I think they came out pretty awesome and look forward to doing some more.

Busy Weekend!

    This weekend was pretty busy. Seeing as I did nothing creative this weekend, I figured i might as well write about the weekend. On Friday I finished work early itching for a delicious beverage.  Nicole and I headed down to one of our favorite places for beer, The Blue Monk.  It’s a Belgian beer garden with about 50 beers on tap.  I am not a Belgian beer drinker, in fact I hate Belgian beer, but Nicole likes it and there is usually a delicious I.P.A. of sorts on tap that I can enjoy.  I like my beer to be hop overload.  Usually at night its almost impossible to get in there at night because its the best place to get beer in the city, so getting there at 3:00pm was quiet and relaxing. 

Hopfenstark Post Colonial I.P.A.

  When the Middle Ages truck is parked OUTSIDE, that means its time for me to go INSIDE.  

       At night we made BBQ Seitan on onion rolls with salt potatoes.  We felt we should probably eat in because this weekend was going to involve spending money.  The Sabres are in the playoffs and when that happens, we live it up!

Nicole slicing and dicing

   After dinner we watched “In the Company of Men”.  Its one of my personal favorites and Nicole has never seen it.  The movie is dark comedy about these two business men that hate the way women go through men like they are nothing.  They both come up with a horrific plan to find a vulnerable woman, make her fall in love with them, and then destroy her emotionally.  Its totally out there but I enjoy it ever time I see it.

    Saturday was Sabres Day.  5:00pm game at one of our favorite playoff hot spot, Gramma Mora’s.  We enjoy catching the playoffs because we always get a seat at the bar right in front of the TV and its some of the best Mexican food in Buffalo.  We had a good time there as always even though we lost the game.  Minus the insane amount of penalties we received in the second period, it was an awesome game that we could have won if we didn’t push our luck in the second.  We will take them on Monday.

This was the Garden Platter which was delicious.  I don’t remember exactly what was in it but it went down  fast and I was satisfied.  Above the Garden Platter is the Guacamole Nacho platter Nicole ordered.

    We had met our friends Molly and Patrick at the restaurant and after the game we came back to our apartment for some boardgames.  We usually play Apples to Apples which is usually fun but then I broke out an intense oldie but goodie…..Jenga.  It was an intense session of skillfully removing blocks one at a time, hoping not destroy the fragile foundation that it created as each piece gets removed from the foundation and placed onto the top.  We then ended the night with a game of 90’s trivial pursuit where Nicole and I mounted a comeback and then I blew the game at the end by asking Patrick a question that he answered before I even finished asking the question.
     It was a fun weekend and I’m looking forward to next week/weekend.  More playoff games, a fundraiser to attend for a new micro brewery, and my parents visiting.  I should have some new ideas and shirts to present this week and I have already been brainstorming and am ready to do something sweet.

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