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Beer 101

SEPT. 4, 2007

Why beer? Seriously. There are plenty of different ways to get D to the rerunk that don’t involve farting, peeing a river, or wiping “head” off your lips. Highest on the alcohol pyramid would be ether. Ether’s some good shit if you can put your hands on it. Like most people, your only experience with ether was probably in Curious George Goes to the Hospital. Props to H.A. Rey for dealing with drug abuse in such an honest and forthright manner. You don’t see George running around in terror flailing at frightening hallucinations or riding his bike with no hands (the latter, in fact, is covered in Curious George Rides a Bike, but George isn’t drunk on anything except maybe pride); no, after George hits the ether he is one blissed out, messed up monkey. It was like H.A. was saying, “Kids, you got to get yourself some of this shit!” Sadly, preschoolers don’t have the mental capacity to bookmark quality intoxicants like ether and therefore its stock among adult buzz seekers is fairly low. That’s probably a good thing. One of the big drawbacks to ether is that it’s highly flammable, so if you’re a drinker who likes to smoke, it’s definitely not for you. Just ask Richard Pryor. Next highest alcohol content is Everclear. If you have ever found yourself arched over a toilet at 3 in the morning firehosing purple vomit so hard it feels like it’s trickling out of your eye sockets, you probably have experience with Everclear. The big “E” can be found in a variety of concoctions: Trashcan Punch, Purple Passion, Hairy Buffalo, Cowboy Kool-Aid, Thunderfuck, and perhaps the most appropriately titled, Stupid Juice. All employ basically the same formula: Everclear and something sugary that makes it easier to choke down. In essence, this same simple formula can describe just about any mixed drink, but for whatever reason, Everclear seems to evoke a particularly lowbrow mixology favored by high schoolers and B-list sororities. With a modicum of intelligence and restraint, Everclear can be an effective and relatively pain-free buzz management solution. Unfortunately, people with intelligence and restraint never buy Everclear. Sliding further down the pyramid you’ll pass a dizzying array of rums, whiskeys, vodkas, gins, tequilas, and other liqueurs that run the range from flammable to unconscionable. Most will do the trick nicely as long as you don’t pair them with something like Red Bull or Jell-o cubes, in which case you’re better off cracking yourself on the head with the bottle they came in. Wines? Are you fucking kidding? Bad hangover plus purple zombie teeth? They’re nice in extreme moderation – maybe with some foie gras or a tenderloin or some French people, but if you’re looking to get your buzz on you might as well snort meth. Beer on the other hand is more forgiving. Beer is the solid foundation of the alcoholic pyramid because it has the least amount of alcohol. This is not to say you can’t get crunk on beer, you just have to work a little harder: Maybe stand on your head with the tap in your mouth or drink it through a huge funnel. Otherwise beer is an effective buzz management strategy: You always know what you’re getting … as long as you know your beer. Some beers stick to your ribs like oatmeal, and others run through you quicker than you can open your zipper. All give you something to do with at least one hand at a party. Who knows? Your beer hand might be groping strangers or giving unsolicited shoulder massages if it weren’t otherwise occupied. If you want to get to know beer, you could do a lot worse than this Sunday’s Beer 101 class at Whole Foods on Sixth and Lamar. Sure, there’s a good chance the Wholies will get all epicurean and fail to address the important medicinal properties of America’s intoxicant of choice, but knocking back brew samples at noon on a Sunday might be good pregame for cruising the produce aisles.

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