Mini Chicago Beer Adventure

I didn’t touch alcohol until well after I turned 21 and was under the impression for a very very long time that all beer “tasted like piss”. I tried really hard to like beer because it was cheap and it was what everyone else was drinking. So I tried a long line of beers trying to find one I truly enjoyed drinking. About five years ago that was Sam Adams Light. Somehow over the course of doing research on craft and micro brews I stumbled upon Goose Island. I tried Goose Island 312 and it quickly became my favorite beer. From then on I was content to live in a world where I was drinking the tastiest, trendiest beer and that beer was 312.

Last March Goose Island was bought by Anheuser Busch and a side of the craft beer world I had never seen before came out of the woodwork to spout some of the most insane hateful shit I had ever read. This lead me to do some research. If Goose Island wasn’t the tiniest of the tiny brewers, then who was? One brewery in particular caught my eye and that was Half Acre here in Chicago. A week or so later I stumbled upon cans of Gossamer Golden Ale at the local Whole Foods. I cracked open the can, poured it into one of my beer glasses and took a sip. I was blown away, there was flavor to this beer like I had never experienced before. By the end of the glass I had cracked open another can and was declaring it my new favorite.

I then read online that production at Half Acre wasn’t able to keep up with demand and the beer was going to be scarce and possibly only able to be found in the city limits of Chicago. For months I scoured all the local high end liquor stores looking for more Gossamer, but alas none was to be found. Then in November Half Acre mysteriously reappeared at Whole Foods and all was well. But something was bugging me. Half Acre’s brewery was so close to my house, why hadn’t I just driven out there and gotten some fresh from the tap Gossamer Golden Ale?

The week before New Year’s Eve the stars aligned. Half Acre was brewing up a batch of Callow Knife beer special for NYE weekend and it sounded absolutely delicious. I got to my destination early and pulled up Google Maps. It turned out the brewery was less than a half mile away ON THE SAME STREET I WAS STANDING ON! So me and my friend Cliff (who doesn’t even drink) made the just over quarter mile trek to Half Acre. I bought my growler and walked it back to my car. On New Year’s Eve I cracked it open and fell in love all over again with a Half Acre beer.

My weekends usually consist of me doing household chores and playing video games and quite frankly I was sick of it. I decided I was going to have a mini Chicago beer adventure. Well…..I had to be in the city anyway and all this stuff was within 3 miles of each other so….again I got lucky. I started off by having lunch at the Wriglyville Goose Island. My beer with lunch was Mild Winter. Now I’ve had Mild Winter from the bottle and it’s great. I’ve had it form the tap at bars and it was really good, but from Goose Island it was a whole different beast. It tasted much more smooth than any other glass of Mild Winter I have ever had with the rye bread flavors being a bit subdued. On the food side of the equation I had the BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich and while the meat was pretty average the Honker’s Ale BBQ sauce was outstanding. My wife who could write a BBQ sauce blog like I could write a video game blog even said it might be her favorite sauce ever. I suggest asking for a side of it and some fries.

I left with a growler of 312 and my first glass out of the growler was a tad disappointing it had a weird funkiness to it. However I poured myself a second glass and it was much better. I’m starting to wonder if the first glass wasn’t dirty. Once again straight from the brewery beer > out of a bottle or even away from the brewery. The 312 was fresh and made me remember why it was my favorite for so long.

After that we drove down the road to Half Acre and much to my amazement Callow Knife was still being poured! I expected to leave with a growler of Gossamer or even Daisy Cutter but I quickly handed over my growler to have it filled with the Knife. I cracked it open Sunday and it was even better than I remember. I’m thinking of heading down there in a couple days just to get a refill for Super Bowl Sunday The Big Game.

If you have slightly more than a passing interest in beer (as in you drink it because you like the way it tastes, not to get drunk) I urge you to check out what small breweries might be in your area. Or try something different next time you’re at the liquor store, might I suggest the now practically nationwide Goose Island. And if you need any advice or help, I am definitely willing to lend a hand. Now if only someone could help me get my hands on a Bourbon County Coffee Stout….

My Favorite Music In 2011

Normally I would tell you what my favorite album of the year was, but really it was more about my favorite phenomenon of the year. Anyone who knows me even casually could guess that I’m talking about Odd Future. If you held a gun to my head and made me pick my favorite album it was Goblin by Tyler, the Creator. But every single thing that Odd Future put out this year is worth talking about. Domo Genesis’ Under the Influence mixtape, Mike G’s Award Tour EP, and the absolutely breathtaking Purple Naked Ladies by The Internet.

Tyler, the Creator – Goblin (XL Recordings)

Goblin, the “Empire Strikes Back” of the three part narrative that began with 2009’s Bastard and will conclude with this year’s Wolf is an absolutely dizzying bloated album. It’s well over an hour long, picks up right where Bastard left off, and ends with some of the most batshit insanity you’ll ever hear on an album. Yet if you’re invested it’s by far one of the most creative and refreshing pieces of music put out in 2011. By far and away Goblin is not for everyone (anyone?) but if you can penetrate the layer of insanity that surrounds it you will be rewarded.

The Internet – Purple Naked Ladies (Odd Future Records)

While it doesn’t get a physical release until next week The Internet’s debut album has been available digitally since a few days before Christmas. Forget about the fact that this album shows just how scary talented the members of Odd Future are and revel in the fact that this is just a great fucked up R&B album. It’s incredible that a bunch of teenagers can take a genre and turn it completely on its head. Drake wouldn’t dare make an album that sounded like this. Usher would never come near this level of genius and this is only their first album.

Frank Ocean – Nostalgia/Ultra (Self Released)

Before you heard his debut album you already heard Frank Ocean’s songs. He wrote for Justin Bieber, John Legend, and many other famous singers, but in his spare time he was quietly toiling away on his solo debut. Once he turned it in to Def Jam things went south. It had too many samples on it, it was too weird, maybe there was no big hit. So his friends in Odd Future said, fuck it, do what we do and just give it away. Needless to say the rest is history. It was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and suddenly Mr. Ocean was back in Def Jam’s good graces. He ended up writing songs for Nas and Beyonce, and most famously appeared on not 1 but 2 tracks on Watch the Throne. Nostalgia/Ultra does not come easy and you will wonder just what the hell is going on, but you will find favorite tracks and then you’ll listen to the track after that until you have fallen in love with the whole album. All that’s left is to wonder why you can’t buy it.

Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne (Def Jam)

It’s not perfect, but it is cray.

Childish Gambino – Camp (Glassnote Records)

I don’t know what it is about this album that bugs me so much. Too polished? Too clever for its own good? It tires too hard? Still the good outweighs the bad and it has definitely grown on me. You could do a lot worse, I just hope Gambino does a lot better next time out.

Moving Mountains – Waves (Triple Crown Records)

Moving Mountains has always been on my radar, and I liked them well enough, but this feels like their first true album. In fact it is. They have only released EPs before. The album is heavy and beautiful like the best Underoath songs but with a pop-rock feel that makes it very accessible. It’s just a good album by a good band. Too bad no one is paying attention. They totally stole the show at last year’s Warped Tour but were playing to MAYBE 40 people. If there was any band that needed saving in 2012 it’s Moving Mountains.

Into It. Over It. – Proper (No Sleep Records)

Chicago’s Into It. Over It. was always pitched to me as “a guy with an acoustic guitar sings heartfelt songs”. I’m kind of over that right now, so when Proper was announced I didn’t think much of it. Then someone told me that this album was with a full band and I gave it a listen. Well, I’m a dummy because this album is absolutely fantastic. It’s a very 2012 take on pop-punk. It tickles the nostalgia centers of my brain while also satisfying my craving for something new. If you were disappointed by the new Blink-182 album give this a shot.

Wilco – The Whole Love (dBpm/Epitaph)

Wilco can do no wrong.

Other albums worth noting are the spectacular Get Up Kids comeback album “There are Rules”, Touche Amore’s “Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me”, La Dispute’s “Wildlife”, Thursday’s “No Devolucion”, and The Wonder Year’s “Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing”

To hear songs from these albums and more check out my Best of 2011 playlist on Spotify.

I Am A Very Important Business Man!

Once a month or so my company sends me to Ohio to work at one of our remote sites. Sometimes I’ll bring back a little trinket or souvenir for my wife but this time I came back with something much worse. While I’m no doctor I either have food poisoning or a bad stomach bug. It started Wednesday night after I ate dinner. My stomach started making all sorts of noises like liquid being pushed through a tube. I then spent the next five hours in the bathroom. The mess I left for housekeeping wasn’t pretty.

I had to leave for the airport an hour after my body decided that there wasn’t much else for me to expel at great velocity from one of my ends. Then with no sleep I made the hour drive from the hotel to the airport. I somehow made it through my flight home without grossing out all the passengers. A couple of hours later I was home and asleep and slept well into Thursday. I’m very slowly recovering and even worked from home today. I ate some ramen noodles, my first “meal” since Wednesday night which seems promising. Also, do you guys realize how delicious Gatorade is? I’ve had so much Gatorade.

Basically this charming story also serves as an excuse for why I haven’t updated the blog since…..I LAUNCHED IT. If dehydration doesn’t end me I’ll be sure to throw something up tomorrow.

Ummm…..I mean….write a blog tomorow….

What A Crazy Day For Music

Back in the year 2000 there was a hype storm of epic proportions. Every magazine, every fledgeling website, and every indie rock kid would not shut up about At the Drive-In. This was before the Internet was a household thing and everyone was talking about this band. They had just signed to a major label and they were going to be “the saviors of rock and roll”. That was a phrase that was thrown around quite a bit back in the year 2000. Hip-hop albums were debuting at #1 on Billboard and boy bands were ruling the airwaves. The press was constantly looking for rock and roll’s savior.

In September of 2000 the band released the album “Relationship of Command”. The first single was getting lots of play at rock radio, MTV was playing the video constantly, and it seemed like these guys were going to be huge. Unfortunately a year later the pressures of fame got to the band and they called it quits. 2 of the members went on to form The Mars Volta while the remaining members would found Sparta. In the press the band would constantly poo poo any whispers of a reunion. These guys seemed to genuinely hate each other. About three years ago something started to change. In interviews most of the members would say they would consider a reunion then they would go ask the other guy and he would say “tell them to go fuck themselves”.

Today was the day that Coachella was going to announce its 2012 lineup and suddenly in advance of that a new At the Drive-In Twitter account popped up announcing that the band was reuniting. Sure enough when the Coachella lineup hit the net the band was on it. This reunion doesn’t just mean a lot to me because I was a big fan of the band but I actually had tickets to see them, but they broke up right before the tour was going to start. So, to think that it’s possible I’ll see them in the year 2012 is incredible.

However, that wasn’t the only other ridiculous piece of music news today. Also, playing Coachella? Refused. The band that inspired countless other hardcore bands is playing for the first time since they broke up while touring on their groundbreaking album “The Shape of Punk to Come” in 1998. That’s not a bullshit title, that album still sounds like it was recorded recently. New bands are formed every day after listening to it. It’s truly a touchstone for the hardcore music scene. Bands are still trying to figure out how they seamlessly melded hardcore, electronica, and jazz and have it make sense.

These reunions were once thought to be impossible, they were never going to happen, yet here we are. It doesn’t even feel real to me. I never got to see either band and I really hope I get to see them during these reunions. Each of them had a big impact on my life and if you have never heard them before I’ll drop a couple of Spotify links in this post and hopefully you will check them out.

At the Drive-In “Relationship of Command”

Refused “The Shape of Punk to Come”

My New Home On The Web

Welcome to my new blog. I could assume that you know who I am, but let’s assume you know nothing about me. My name is Jim Plachy and I have started countless personal blogs. Probably half a dozen Blogger sites, an AOL Hometown blog, and even a couple of Tumblrs have all bared my name. In 2009 I co-founded the video game website Four Player Co-op after realizing that video games were something I was more than passionate about. In the Summer of 2011 I was offered a job that would get in the way of my working on Four Player Co-op and I took the job and walked away from the site. I continue to host the Bullshot! podcast an infrequently recorded show about video games and technology. It is meant to be humorous and more like listening to two good friends bullshit about being nerds. I enjoy doing it and it appears that some people enjoy listening to it.

Before that I was in the music business. I interned for a couple of major record labels and even owned my own record label. Needless to say when people stopped buying music the bottom fell out and I had nowhere left to go. So while video games appear to be my main passion I am also very passionate about music. It is definitely the first thing I really nerded out about in my life. You will definitely see me posting about music quite frequently starting with my best music of 2011 post coming soon.

So why start a new blog? Well anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I have a lot to say. I felt like I needed a permanent place to put my more longform thoughts and while I had a Tumblr I didn’t really enjoy the interface. I’m definitely an advanced user and I really enjoy WordPress so the timing felt right to launch a new blog. Also buying yourname.com is a pretty cool feeling.

I couldn’t have done this without some help. Telegraphics Inc is hosting my site and obtained my domain name. The photo of me at the top of this post was taken by Tiffany Warren and then Eli Hodapp ran it through his computron to make it look better. Thanks to them, and thanks to you for reading.