Sports & A Beer – Drafting a QB1

The NFL draft and all its many rounds and players is done and now we wait for the season to start and to see which of the plethora of Quarterbacks taken in the Top 10 alone will fare.  Which will play and show promise, which will hold the clipboard (or is it iPad now?) and which will pull a Zach Wilson and flame out real hard and get called out by his owner.

Bear in mind that the offensive coordinator and the receiving corps are integral to any QBs success and some of these passers will not get either and will be harder to grade because of it.  Some will not be able to scale up to the speed of the NFL. And despite more and more mental and physical tests and all sorts of AI and computer modeling, no one is any closer to predicting success.

But I will go out on a limb and give a few guesses as to who will make a mark and who might have trouble….

Good Spots

Caleb Williams the No. 1 pick is walking into a team with two big wide receiver additions in Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze to go with DJ Moore and lowered expectations from past QBs make this a great spot to to land.

J.J. McCarthy in Minnesota also inherits a strong receiving and tight end corp and will not need to put the team on his back. Just needs to get that pigskin to the playmakers.

Drake Maye in New England is following some really mediocre quarterbacks so has a really low bar to clear for success and since the Patriots have a new coach and are clearly rebuilding this can be a learning year.

Bad Spots

Michael Penix in Atlanta. Why the Falcons selected any QB after backing up a Brinks truck for Kirk Cousins is way beyond me. Then the GM says that Penix will be groomed to take over wheb Cousins contract is done in FIVE YEARS.

Jayden Daniels is the new Commanders QB and I don’t know which direction the entire team is going so I fear Daniels will be running for his life.

For beer, see if you can find a brewery from each of those five cities or you can just go get Kansas City beer since Patrick Mahomes is the ne plus ultra of quarterbacks.

A Podcast & A Beer – Into the Tardis

The 15th Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa, made a memorable entry and then followed up with goblins at Christmas and is set for his first full season of adventures starting this month.  But if you need more Doctor Who, the place to go for a prolific amount of content is Big Finish which produces audio stories of all the Doctors.  Want more Paul McGann than just one TV movie and cameos?  They have some. Looking for more Christopher Eccleston?  They have it.

Up until now, you had to buy it but there is now a podcast version which will give you a taste of the danger and whimsey just minus the visual effects.  Into the Tardis is hosted by Colin Baker and it also includes little snippets of behind the scenes info.

For an ale accompaniment, I would suggest the easy route if finding some British beers either from Britain like Samuel Smith’s for instance or if you can find that rare American made mild or bitter, go for that. If you wanted to dig deeper, try to get some Scottish beer (just not Brewdog) to honor the heritage and accent of past Doctors and the current one. More American would be Single Hill’s Partner in Time IPA.

Or if you into that sort of thing, there are quite a few blue hued beers. Great Notion is one purveyor of non beer colored beers.

The Firkin for April 2024

Whenever economic figures for craft beer are powerpointed and then later dissected, it always seems to be in a tone of grimness.

Maybe people thought the high flying double digit days were never going to cool or that another alcoholic beverage would ever possibly have its time in the sun.

But that somber news story is exactly that, a story, one of many. And the side of the story that I wish would be focused on more is that of the sheer amount of breweries in the United States now.

The number is close to 10K. And that is amazing. Who would have thought back on 2000 or 2010 that there would be that many. Remember that back in the 80’s that there were barely any and the regional players were on life support. Even if this is the plateau, that is such a turn around.

Yes, closures may soon outpace openings but even so 10K! I have one taproom that I can walk to and three breweries that are super short drives to.

It may not be confetti in the air but this is still a good time for craft beer fans.

A Book & A Beer – The Bullet Swallower by Elizabeth Gonzalez James

If you have the actual Specter of Death in your book, you better make the most of the character and Elizabeth Gonzalez James does in the time sprawling The Bullet Swallower.

There are two tracks in this book, one set in 1895 with Antonio Sonoro a restless bandido and the swallower of a bullet off to rob a train and then in 1964 with descendant Jaime Sonoro, a singing cowboy. And of course, death is along for the ride as well.

I have a hard time deciding if one half was better to me than the other. 1895 was very action-y but Antonio was not a super likable character to me as much as the people he encountered. Whereas 1964 was a slower pace but I truly liked the inquisitiveness of Jaime.

For beer pairing, I would suggest finding a brewery where past brewers have left to start their own breweries and having one from old and new. Or if you know of a brewer that has brewed at multiple stops, find beers from each stop. Then you can track changes and see which you prefer.

A Podcast & A Beer – A Crispr Bite

Cultural anthropologist Dr. Lauren Crossland-Marr hosts the five-episode spanning podcast A CRISPR Bite. It takes a look at gene editing with a critical eye but also with hope too.

I like me a limited podcast series where a topic can be presented and a deeper dive can be made and this cleverly titled food podcast does just that as it clears up the difference between GMOs and gene editing as well as discussing the long term implications of changing, say, tomatoes to have more of a certain vitamin. The episode about creating cows with no horns was particularly thought provoking.

Since this topic is in the agricultural weeds, I have three drinking suggestions for you. First is cider, second is mead and then third, a little harder to find, a single malt or hop (SMASH) beer. Anything that has an easy link to nature.

The Firkin for March 2024

Maybe it should be changed to seller beware.  Cigar City Brewing in Florida famous for Jai Alai IPA and Florida Man beer has had brewing shifted out of state to Brevard, North Carolina.  With a lamentable loss of jobs as Monster Brewing Company shifts production.

As much as I understand the desire to flee that state, this shows yet again that no amount of assurances before an owner signs on the dotted line can be expected.  Owners have to foresee that new owners will do what they want and you have to be ready to either buy back or walk away, both at a moments notice.

It is 2024 and corporations keep telling us they don’t give two shits by raising insurance rates, selling our data or shrinking packaging to barely anything so we simply cannot be surprised when a corporation chucks away people and brewing history.

My suggestion for brewery owners about to sell is to lawyer yourself a way to retaining ownership of the brand name if certain conditions occur such as moving brewing or changing mission statements.

Best Beers of March 2024

Time to get into the time machine and tab the top beers of March before we head into the April drinking session.

Honorable Mentions go to Long Beach Beer Lab for their Brewte (Brut) IPA, good to see this sub-style pop up on tap and this was a nice executed crisp, dry and pear version. Next to mention is the pilsner High 10 from Highland Park Brewery. The menu board had re-brews of past years and there were many High 10s to choose from but I really liked the West Coast Pilsner. I also quite liked the latest Short-Lived IPA from MadeWest brewed with Firestone Walker. Crisp and biting with nice fruit notes.

The March winners was the strawberry whipped Infinite Wishes from Smog City Brewing. Filled with berry notes and a slight touch of vanilla, it was luxury when paired with a bourbon barrel imperial stout.

Sports & A Beer – March Madness

It is easy to get caught up in March Madness. The sheer amount of games, the buzzer beaters and the Cinderella teams, Stetson Hatters anyone. Also the fun of busted brackets, yes fun, no one wins so it is truly a game to play.

The only thing going against March Madness is that a good chunk of games each passing year are played in April. But compared to the shitshow that is the college football behemoth and their three super conferences, college basketball is as pristine as the driven snow.

And making this an even more interesting year is that there is no real consensus best player except for Caitlin Clark. And as much as the boy’s bracket will be tough, the Women’s bracket will feature Clark and the Hawkeyes of Iowa, defending champs LSU and new powerhouse South Carolina. That Final Four will be great games.

There are two ways you can pair craft beer with games. One is to find a brewery that corresponds with each of the four regions and when you watch a game from that region crack one open from that part of the country. You could also select beers based on where games are played.

Another route would be to pick beers from the cities / states where the #1 seeds hail from or if you are here for the upsets, find the #16 seeds instead.

Enjoy the tourney and its shining moments.

A Book & A Beer – The Trees by Percival Everett

I have been reading a lot of Percival Everett lately. Dr. No, Erasure, So Much Blue, his latest James. But today it is The Trees.

The trees are referencing hangings. Lynching of black men. Right away there is a heaviness and sadness and anger surrounding this tale. Ostensibly, it is a murder mystery set in Money, Mississippi but Everett is extremely skilled in both humor and sarcasm which you can see by the names chosen for various characters (Junior Junior / Red Jetty) and also by the slapstick plot point and buddy cop banter throughout.

When I hear that a book is funny, most of the time, that is an exaggeration to me. But this book is funny, sad and violent and has a history lesson too. I read one synopsis that had Tarantino films as a comp. I agree with that.

One passage (of many) that struck a chord is the following between the two detectives on the case:

Ed said. “Here we are. The Lorraine Motel. There on that corner of that balcony. I was ten. That’s why I’m a cop.”

“It’s a museum now,” Jim said.

“And it shouldn’t be,” Ed said.

“Why not?” Quip asked.

“It’s just a motel. That’s what it is. That’s all it is,” Ed said. “People should rent out that very room and sleep in that very bed and step through that very door and stand on that balcony and realize what happened there. People should know, understand that not all Thursdays are the same.”

excerpt from The Trees

This is a novel that will stick with you and keep you thinking.

For beer, keep your thinking cap on. Get to researching minority owned breweries and buy their most complicated beers. The ones with the most added ingredients. The aged beers. The beers that are decocted. The beers with history about them.

Sean Suggests for March 2024

Staying local for March and also canvassing a wide array of styles so that your palate does not get stuck.  And yes, I do not approve of green beer and the first selection is a green hued beer, but, in my defense, it is also a sour.  So that means less of a points deduction.

Far Field Made With Luck Sour  – 4.1% – “As  luck would have it, your favorite clover-green sour ale returns to our shelves and draft lines just ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.”

Creature Comforts Spring Belgian-Style White Ale – 5.1% – “We’ve got Spring Fever. Our fresh take on the classic Belgian-Style White Ale is brewed with orange peel, coriander, and local wheat from Day Spring Farms.”

Enegren Brewing Doppel Valkyrie – 8.2% – “a double version of our beloved flagship altbier, Valkyrie and a throwback to some of our first anniversary beers.  This strong, dark ale has rich flavors of dark fruits with hints of dark chocolate and rum, balanced with just a touch of Mt. Hood and Herkules hops.