Back in the Home Country

Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena, California, by joedecruyenaere on flickr.

Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena, California, by joedecruyenaere on flickr.

I’m in America for a month, on a bit of a beery safari.  I’m staying with my friend Bob who is an amazing brewer and the person who first turned me on to good beer.   So, when I arrived some fresh, homebrewed Kolsh and a super-grapefruity American Pale Ale welcomed me.

We’d decided that we’d brave the frat-guy atmosphere of the Yard House (a place that serves beer to bone heads in yard-long glasses) because they have an extensive menu of beers on draft.  Our plan was foiled when I got carded!  (To Brits, this means you are asked for ID to prove you are over 21). I was completely out of the habit of carrying ID with me, as I don’t have to do this in London.   All I had with me was my expired California ID which proved I was old enough to be the waitress’ mother, but since it was expired she refused to serve me.  A surreal moment indeed!

So we ended up at Lucky Baldwin’s in Pasadena, an “English” pub which had an array of English beers on draft that would put most pubs in England to shame.  And, unlike most British pubs, we were able to luxuriate outside in the sun in mid January wearing only tee shirts, and as evening came on we ordered another round and the fairy lights came on in the beer garden.

I ended up trying two beers I’ve been curious about, both by the American brewery, Stone.  I started with the Smoked Porter and was impressed with the sneaky smoke note, and the overall drinkabilty.  Next up was the Arrogant Bastard ale, a beer beloved of certain British friends, probably because they like saying the name.  Bob described it as a barley wine.  It did have a malty middle that I associate with a barley wine, but bookended by an oily, resinous hoppiness that coated the mouth completely.  I had a pint of this because they only serve pints here…I had to nurse the damn thing, happy it would be my last beer of the night.  My palate was done for.  It was a reminder that I am now in the US, and things could get mighty hoppy.

8 Responses

  1. Drinking a tall can of London Pride right now, in your honour.

  2. I have a both a bottle of Arrogant Bastard and Stone Smoked Porter stashed away. I can’t wait to try the Bastard (I do actually enjoy saying that..) and I’ll heed your warning of palate destruction.

  3. As a final act of presidential power, Mr Bush has issued an Executive Order mandating that all beers in the US be 65 IBUs or more. Welcome back to the States, stranger! (if only for a short time)

  4. Hey E.S.– so this is proof of Bush’s bitterness then. One of the better moments of his presidency!

  5. Ever wonder how an expired ID is any less proof?

    My drivers license will expire on my birthday this year, somehow, on May 13, it will no longer prove who I am, even though it did it exceptionally well on May 12.

    Welcome back to the states, you gonna make it up to chicago?


    • Hey Virgil– The whole carding thing smacked of some arbitrary, irrational and robotic corporate policy on the part of the restaurant. Meh! I would love to make it to Chicago one of these days. I have family and friends there. Maybe next year! We’ll have to meet up for a pint when I do!

  6. Sorry you did not like the Arrogant Bastard. I don’t think it’s a barelywine, but its style is unclassified (I think). Stone makes a barleywine called Old Guardian that is available now. In my opinion, Arrogant Bastard started the trend of “extreme beers” about twelve years ago, although its not too extreme anymore. California beers are definitely hoppy. If you are still in California make sure to try Russian River’s Blind Pig or Pliny the Elder – IPA and Double IPA. Great hops but excellent balance. They do ruin the palate for anything more subtle, however. Excellent blog, found via Pete Brown’s blog.

    • Hi Nat– Thanks for checking out the blog. I don’t know if I didn’t like Arrogant Bastard– it was more just tough going– perhaps in a different context I would like it better? I will look for Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder (both great names!) though I am no longer in California, I’m sure to return soon, so thank you for the suggestion.

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