It seems that someone is interested in preserving our history! The Stinkymeat project is back on the web!
The first one kept me well-entertained in early 2001, back when thespark.com didn't suck.
As you may notice, I have made some new layout changes to the site, and I think you'll agree it looks a good deal nicer than it used to. As ever, I am open to feedback. In the event that the site looks completely screwed up, may I suggest hitting F5 to reload the page, as your browser simply has the old site's layout cached, and needs to be updated.
Now, if you want to look at an article, you can just click on its title in the title bar. I removed the per-entry listing of how many comments there are. I figured there are about twelve different places you can already look to see how many comments there are, including the comments page I worked so hard to make.
Enjoy the layout, and let me know what you think.
When I rolled into Decatur, I almost immediately noticed the, "I want to die," character of the town. I would guess that forty or fifty years ago, it was a pretty bitchin' place to live, but now, I can see that the people in Illinois' eighth largest city are pretty accustomed to their town not being that great.
Don't get me wrong. There are more than enough Wendy's, McDonald's, Arby's, and even my Illinois favorite Steak n' Shake, to tide over the cursory doubting Thomas, but I still went wanting, when I found out that there really isn't much to do in Decatur, regarding beer on tap. So, when I found out about a certain fact that I'm sure most Decaturians know about, I high-tailed it out of my hotel room, and did what so many before me have done, when faced with the prospect of going out in Decatur.
I went to Champaign.
I read up on Beer Advocate that the Blind Pig was a great place to go in Champaign for beer on tap, so I went there post-haste, only to find that they don't open until 3 PM, while I was standing outside their door at 1:50 PM. So, I walked down the block to the Esquire, where I ordered a cheeseburger and a Bell's Winter White.
It's interesting to find such a light beer listed as a wintertime beer, but who am I to base a complaint on convention? Being a resident of Missouri, I have only ever seen this beer in bottles, so, also being a huge fan of Bell's beer, I eagerly drank up.
I ate my burger in peace, spoke with some locals about the Illini and close-in Weapon Systems, and finished my beer. I must also complement publicly the quality of the service and atmosphere at the Esquire in downtown Champaign, IL.
Ratings (out of ten):
Aroma: 7 (Sweet and yeasty)
Flavor: 8 (Also yeasty, but with a bitter finish)
Body 7 (Thick but mostly headless. Great with food)
Smoothness: 7 (Very strong flavor, but light enough to drink all night)
Price 9 (At $2.25, I can't complain about the price of a seasonal craft brew)
After moving my rental a little closer to the bar, and throwing another fifty cents into the meter, good for two hours, I wandered into the Blind Pig, and quickly became acquainted with Charlotte, the pretty Dutch woman tending bar. After getting my first beer, Dogfish Head's 90-Minute IPA:
...we talked for a good hour about fun things to do in the Midwest, as she had only recently moved here with her U of I scientist husband, and was frustrated with both the lack of things to do in Central Illinois, and the distances one must travel to get anywhere, compared to in her native Netherlands.
I told her I was originally from Peoria, and she kinda sorta lit up, saying how relieved she was with Peoria, with its expansive river, topographical variety, and vast forests, after seeing nothing but flat land and cornfields for the whole time she's been here. For once, I felt justified in my civic pride, for having come from Illinois' "River City."
The beer was fantastic, and because of our conversation, I didn't get anymore pictures. See below for more information.
Ratings (out of ten):
Aroma: 9 (Awesome. Spicy with only a hint of hops)
Flavor: 9 (A happy marriage of pine(?) and hops)
Body: 7 (The spiciness comes through in the mouthfeel, compensating for a thin feel)
Smoothness: 9 (I could drink this all night but I could never stop noticing the flavor)
Price: 6 (At $4.50 a draw, it's a little expensive for a town as small as Champaign, but if that's the price you have to pay for an excellent tap selection, I'll happily pay it)
I decided to stay at the Blind Pig for another beer, as their selection is just second to none in Central Illinois. Careful not to get anything too strong, as I still had a 40-mile drive ahead of me, I spotted the alcohol content on Boulder Brewery's "Never Summer" Ale. 6%. I also thought of the extremely complementary words for this beer on the part of my friend Dave, and that was that.
I asked Charlotte to pour me one as soon as she had a moment.
It pours a deep brown color, as with any quality winter beer, promising a delicious fifteen to twenty minutes. Unfortunately, those minutes are up before you notice.
Not eager or ready to be tossed out on my butt just yet, I ordered a Two-hearted ale off their very impressive row of taps.
Ah, Bell's. Is there any time you don't come through when I travel in the Midwest outside Missouri?
(note: the Midwest is composed of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri)
Ratings (outof ten):
Aroma: 7 (Chocolatey, with hints of maltiness)
Flavor: 8 (Had a strange fruity flavor that I can only identify as "inverse bitter," with fruity undertones in its relatively bitter finish)
Body: 8 (Fruit-propelled thickness retreats soundlessly down your throat)
Smoothness: 6 (It goes down easily, but because of its fruity flavor, one is enough)
Price: 7 ($3.50; Not terrible, but still more than I'd expect to pay in Champaign)
Even though it hasn't been properly voiced on this website, because of me breaking the comments at some point, it has been on the minds of my four readers that it's been a while since I've posted a new Draught of the Week. I know. It's been on my mind too. Here's three.
I thought I was going to zip into Wisconsin for a relatively easy work exercise. I thought I was going to be able to hang out with my college friends in the evenings. I thought I might have a chance to enjoy at least a little of St. Patrick's Day. I thought I had seen the end of snow for one year, except on mountaintops.
I thought wrong.
We have been working 13-15 hour shifts, and we haven't even begun this exercise yet. Heaven forbid anything actually going wrong. I think my colon might joyously burst, like a child's hand around an exploding firecracker, if it does. We have been here for four days, and will be here for two and a half more, and it feels like a year in both directions.
Also, the sky in this dumb state has decided to dump 4-6 inches of snow on us, while we keep hearing about 60 and 70 degree days, back home. They say, "the grass is greener in somebody else's yard," and I think "they" must have been in Wisconsin.
Luckily, we all get along pretty well, and the work that is our task is well within the scope of our abilities. I have also gotten a chance to write a lot of new system administration scripts, and pitch a lot of my ideas to the senior sysadmin, who generously came to breathe down our necks during comfortable hours, and he has been very receptive to them.
It's been a valuable experience, but I'm not sure how much I'll be in the office next week.
Once again, work took me to Madison, WI last week. I had previously arranged to meet up with an old college friend and short-time roommate, James, who makes his home in Madison with his wife Jackie. He rolled up to my hotel at about 6PM on Tuesday, where I was waiting outside, talking with my work partner(TJ) and his Louisiana counterpart(Gerold). The temperature was in the thirties, and when James pulled up, he got out of his car and changed shirts.
TJ and Gerold both freaked out when they saw my friend do what he did on what they considered to be an arctic day, and freaked out further when they saw that this crazy person was a friend of mine. We said good-evening to TJ and Gerold, and, with James' friend Marcus, went over to the Prime Quarter for some steak. Apparently, James' bachelor party was held there, and he ate the 40-oz "Beefeater," steak, a feat that gets your picture on the wall, shown below.
After stuffing ourselves adequately with KC strip steak, I pressured James and Marcus into a trip to the Come Back Inn, which is now officially my favorite place in Wisconsin. We walked in and took some seats up at the bar. We had all each had a 32-oz beer or two with dinner, so we were very talkative, and set to conversing with Dave and Johnny behind the bar. James settled into his beer quickly.
Marcus helped himself to beers he requested as, "the lightest you have," when he discovered they don't carry budmillcoors on tap. Honey weisses, wheats, and various yellow beers passed his lips, before Dave the bartender thought it appropriate to adorn his next beer as such.
I decided on a year-round offering from Cleveland's excellent Great Lakes Brewing Company: the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.
It pours a deep brown color, and an equally deep roasted aroma emanates off it immediately. The first sip throws itself all over the front of your mouth with its dark roasted flavor, and before you know it, your glass is empty.
This, in my opinion, is one of the truly great American Porters, and one of the best beers available in the Midwest.
Ratings (out of ten)
Aroma: 8 (Dark chocolate hints at a sweet maltiness)
Flavor: 9 (Chocolate malt is very heavily pronounced, followed by a roasted maltiness)
Body: 8 (Thick and even, leaves roasty residuals)
Smoothness: 8 (The thick even body makes for a smoothness that is as uncharacteristic of porters as it is pleasurable to drink)
Price: 8 (The 22-oz German-style glass was on special for $3)
After a week of 15-17 hour workdays, we are finally finished here in Madison, and the exercise was, by all accounts a success. It feels good to be done, and to have accomplished such a thing. We wrapped everything work-related up yesterday at about 5PM, before adjourning to Red Lobster to drink beer and eat their ridiculous garlic bread biscuits. Immediately following, I moved on to the Come Back Inn, downtown, and made friends with the other patrons.
As soon as I sat down, Dave the bartender poured me a very tempting glass of Tullamore Dew, which I had to respectfully refuse, as I was driving, and mixing beer with liquor has never led to good results for me, so I moved on to beer from Flying Dog, Bell's, Anderson Valley, Big Sky, Sprecher, and Capital, before taking my leave. Dave and Greg, behind the bar, told me that the building has been earmarked for demolition to make way for condominiums, and could be gone in as soon as six months.
If you're ever in Madison, make sure to get a trip to the Come Back Inn/Essen Haus beer/happiness-plex. It's not to be missed.
I added a couple of features to the site. One is a mostly functional one, one of many steps I've taken to make running this site easier for myself. You may notice that when you click a link to a particular entry, there's a question mark in the url. That's because it's all running off one file now, so changes like the one I'm about to mention are much easier to produce.
I also added a link list, and removed the link to the old "Links Page," that nobody ever looked at. I can't blame them either, as it has remained largely unchanged since this site was launched, full of the obligatory "look at my webpage!" style of links that most people have basically built into their memories and web browsers. Instead, I will periodically add new links, the latest five of which will be listed on the side menu, along with a link to the new ever-growing links archive.
Looks like whats-her-face officially died today. I have an inkling hope that this will end the media circus, so we can return our attention to other insipid bullshit like Michael Jackson, reality TV, and the contrived battle between left puppets(Democrats), and right puppets(Republicans). Because that's what's really important.
I apologize. I get very frustrated at how naive and sheepish public opinions and habits seem to be. I recently watched the movie, "Sideways," and enjoyed it immensely, but was very put off to hear that Merlot sales have plummeted since this movie came out, and that Pinot Noir sales have taken a skyward bend. As Maddox said, get your own opinion. Though I do admit that I'd like to see an independent film garner the kind of popularity enjoyed by Sideways, while waxing poetic on fine beers, causing a massive retreat from the American big three breweries, but I know that could never happen.
I am home ill today. I can't recall the last time I've been sick this often in such a short stretch of time. But I guess I can't exactly say that I'm living healthy. I get marginal exercise walking everywhere I go(besides work and the grocery store), but not the amount that I really need. I think I'll resuscitate the lard section on this webpage, because when I was running regularly, I don't think I ever felt sick. On the contrary, I can't remember when I've felt healthier. It's been about two years, and that's quite long enough.