About- Danny King
Every summer, thousands of Michiganders make their trek to the northern part of Michigan for their “Up North Vacation.” What exactly Up North entails depends on who you talk to, as the Detroit Free Press recently pointed out.
Like many a Pirate’s doomed lusts for treasure, I’ve frequently attempted (and failed) to get my hands on Black Lotus Brewing Ninja Pirate to review it for the PorchDrinking.com audience. Winning a gold medal for best strong ale at the World Beer Cup tends to bring some competition for the bottles.
My first attempt, a week and a half after its release, failed because the beer was sold out. In my second attempt to procure a bottle of Ninja Pirate, a mere two days after the beer release, I was at least laughed at by head brewer Nick Joseph. It took one more failure before I finally got my hands on a bottle and subsequently found time to share the pride of Clawson, MI with you all. Trust me; Ninja Pirate is worth the wait.
On March 10, 2003, Natalie Mains of the Dixie Chicks told a crowd of concert goers in England that she was ashamed that President Bush was from Texas, because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The backlash was immediate and harsh when the statement was taken out of its anti-war context and presented in the light of ‘we are ashamed of Bush’. It led to a near industry-wide blackout of the Dixie Chicks, who at the time were arguably the biggest country music act to obtain success beyond Nashville since Garth Brooks. As we move along through the first months of the Trump regime, with all the protests and boycotts that have come along with it, it looked like the craft beer world may be dragged into the fray as well.
The Dixie Chicks spoke for themselves, but what happens when a corporation speaks for one of its members? Just ask Ballast Point.
St. Patrick’s Day is upon us. A day where you celebrate Irish heritage by getting drunk enough to exhibit all the worst stereotypes of Eire: unhinged drunkenness, hot-tempers, and boiled-based cuisine. You’ve probably attended one of the many different St. Patrick’s days where smaller towns hold their own parades to give pipe and drum bands some practice before the main event already. As such, you’re slowly starting to remember the transitions in Celtic Symphony. Maybe you even remembered that the chorus is “Up the RA” and not “Up their ass.” PorchDrinking wants to make sure you enter this festive season with the right tunes. Because of this, they have bestowed this sacred duty to their resident potatoey-looking writer.
I got a new car this week, due to the good people of the EPA busting VW’s scam. “Ugh” you say, “ANOTHER driving playlist, we just had one of those.” This isn’t just any driving playlist, dear readers. I’ve been a fan of the long-haul since the moment I could drive. Day trips to Toronto for a baseball game, 7 hour trips to and from Iowa City to Ann Arbor constantly in college, or an impromptu pilgrimage to Graceland, I’ll join anything. The headline photo comes from a last-minute favor to drive my friends to a KMFDM concert in Chicago. The electric system of my car Botilda shut down on I-90 but they still got in on time. Because of all these long-ass trips through the flat, level heartland of America, I started collecting voice-busters in order to power through the drive.
There comes a point in every hobby where you have to take things to the next level. This usually involves investing more time, energy and, most of all, money. I’m someone whose always resisted that for any hobby. With craft beer, it’s been a specific price point. When I started drinking I set a price I was willing to pay for a single bottle of beer from a store. Surely, I thought, I’ll never actually cross that line. Nothing can be that good. Well Porchdrinkers, Prairie Artisan Ales finally blew me to the next level of craft-dom with BOMB!, its imperial stout.
ABV: 7.5% | IBU: 15
The mad genius of Soft Parade is that it’s a year-round beer. When you look at that label—which I’ve obsessed over before—it screams a late summer beer (which is why I’m talking about it now). However, it has the heft to get you through fall and summer and a sweetness to pick you up with the blooming each spring. Shorts says they created it to appeal to wine drinkers, and I think they might have failed. Instead, they created a product that can hit the beer drinkers who want sweet and unique, the people who want a heavy hearty ale, and the people who want to just get fucked up (that 7.5% ABV always comes as a shock).
I’m not normally a cider guy. I’m spoiled by good non-alcoholic cider in Michigan, and the different taste just confuses me. However, it’s the only type of craft beer that my boyfriend seems to actively enjoy (that’s in not small part to Vandermill of Grand Rapids coming to the Fall Detroit beer festival last year). Therefore, I ventured this summer in order to find something we can both enjoy. And the search came just in time. As The Rio Olympics pointed out in their bummer presentation, it’s historically hot and you gotta find a non-AC blasting way to keep cool on the strings of unbearably hot day. Delightfully, Cherry Creek Winery has decided to branch out from the grape game and created Dancing Elephants Hard Cherry Apple Cider.
Back in May, I was hit by two new songs that were so fun and noisy, I fell in immediate love. Tegan & Sara’s Boyfriend (and really the whole album that it comes off of) is pure, unabashed pop perfection that had me bouncing up and down. It’s like a Patrick Nagel painting coming to life (for people who don’t know who that is, it’s like if Adult Swim’s Moonbeam City hadn’t been a disappointment.) On the flip side of that was Tyler Glen’s Trash, a middle-finger salute to the Mormon Church. While the song is dark and full of angst and reverb, it’s layering of sound hit me in the exact same way as Boyfriend — a bunch of noisy pieces that add up to a fun whole in a way that normal band instruments just can’t capture. After eating up all my phone’s data playing them on Youtube while I drove, I decided to capture this wall-of-noise sound I wanted for my noisy summer.
Like many students around the country at various levels of education, I’m working for free and/or “experience”. After spending the last semester being completely confused about how criminal law works and what type of intent is needed for what aspect a crime (trust me, it’s harder than you think,) I decided to lean in and work at the Prosecutor’s office for the summer. It took three days of looking into criminal minds before I began to consider moving into a cave and never speaking to anyone again… because everyone in the world is terrible.
I love watching countries compete against each other in any (non-violent) form. World Cup, Olympics, PR battles; I’ll follow all of it. But my favorite competition, by far, is Eurovision. It’s essentially a contest to make the most all-around appealing pop song, which results in a ton of nonsense dance-songs, guilty pleasure ear worms, crazy train-wrecks, and even a couple of great tunes. When I lived in New York, during the month before the competition, I would spend every night writing insanely long and detailed profiles of each contestant. I never actually showed them to anyone (the only surviving full one from 2010 is 17,090 words.) The entire contest is an exercise of pure, unabashed joy and I love every minute of it. ABBA is the only well-known winner (they won in 1974 with Waterloo,) but in recent years snippets end up being shared around the internet, like Moldova’s “Epic Sax Guy.”
Valentine’s Day is over and winter is coming to an end. We have officially left “Engagement Season,” a made-up period of time around the holidays where the diamond industry tries to trick you into spending all of your money when their markup is at it’s highest, and we’ve now entered “Breakup Season,” a totally real period of time when your boyfriend or girlfriend decides to shed off their significant other so that they have enough time to “get in shape for summer.” That means some of us here in the PorchDrinking world are likely to experience some heartache.
I can’t believe that I am admitting to this, but I am OBsessed with Miley Cyrus’ song “BB Talk“. It’s freaking genius and I spent basically 50% of December listening to it on repeat while studying for finals. Her rambling description of whether or not she wants to get over an old boyfriend is so open it veers on comedy. She definitely knows how uncomfortable you’ll feel listening to it and made a bizzaro video to accompany it. She’s extremely convincing that this song is just a page from her journal she decided to talk over a beat. Not only is it an amazing song, but I love that she had the guts to release a spoken pop single. Surrendering a major portion of a song to talking is ballsy as hell and the few people who have tried it have had varying degrees of success. It is a Talky Treasure.
I am always game for a new bond movie. Even when the movie itself is a bigger bomb than the special effects in the film cough Quantum of Solace cough. There’s always so much fun to be had in a new Bond, especially with their theme songs. Spectre had high expectations after how great Skyfall was both as a movie and as a song. With Daniel Craig rather loudly and insistently stating that this is his last film as 007, the franchise had some pretty high stakes ahead of them and brought in Sam Smith to try and build upon Adele’s channeling of old school, Shirley-Bassey level theme song.
I don’t know about you guys, but the combination of the In-Bev/SAB Miller merger and that Grubstreet article about the End of Craft Beer have kinda bummed me out. I feel like I’ve really just started to be more of an active participant in the craft beer world. I even broke my Festival seal last month (hence the picture above from the MI Brewers Guild Detroit Fall Beer Festival) and now the sky is falling.
ABV: 5% | IBU: 31
In the 1920s, industry was booming in Detroit. The car companies were producing jobs for the area faster than they could be filled, and the 18th Amendment turned Detroit, with its thin water barrier between the glory land of Canada and dry United States, into one of the most important towns for liquor running and bootlegging. In Detroit, the Purple Gang (run by the Bernstein brothers) was the most ruthless and terrifying group of people you could run into. Known for their general lack of discretion and ability to do anything from kidnappings to murder for hire and bombings, The Purple Gang was vicious enough that Al Capone stayed in Chicago and bought off them rather than attempting to battle them for territory. Eventually their complete disregard for covering their tracks got them caught and led to the group dismantling, but not before becoming notorious enough to make appearances in Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock and multiple James Bond books.
Joan Didion wrote “Goodbye to All That” about falling in and out of love with New York after leaving the city. Like most of the works considered essential cannon of literature, I haven’t read it (blame the Strand, suckers will NOT reduce the price of her books one dollar). It’s in fact such essential reading for the New York transplant that it’s spawned its own cottage industry of “leaving New York” personal essays.
I recently (as in like last week) moved back to Detroit after six years in New York. I’m happy to be out of all the craziness and expense of the city, but know that I’ll be missing so much that only New York can offer. With all that wonders of the city no longer mine for the taking, I’d thought I’d share the 6 New York City beers that I’m going to miss the most.
There are few New York cultural institutions that have survived the Disneyfication of the city better then Coney Island. The injection of the money has created some updated facilities and relatively cleaner beaches, the classic Coney Island experience is still available for those willing to take the long train ride down to the bottom of Brooklyn. Whether you are looking to take advantage of the sun and swimming, gorge yourself on every carnival-type fare available, or scream your head off on roller coasters old and new, Coney Island has it all. Coney Island Brewing company has captured all of these into a nice little pilsner perfect for the summer that celebrates the emblem of the area’s greatest parade, Mermaid Pilsner.
One of the best parts about living in New York City in the summer is getting the eff out. I spend as much time as possible myself running away to the woodsy wonders of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The combination of plentiful lakes and rivers, scattering of small towns, apparently every single firefighter from New Jersey working volunteer service, and legal fireworks; the area is gangbusters for all you can stand Americana. To sweeten the vacation deal, the area is flush with smaller brew pubs and craft breweries that allow me to discover a new favorite beer each time I go down there. While the 4th of July day was a literal washout for the folks on Lake Wallenpaupack, it did allow me to discover this wonderful fusion of light pilsner quality with dark tastes that matched the gloomy weather.