Joe's Rants and Raves

  • Jun 18 - 03:52 PM: A recap of the legendary keg toss of 2014 : Joe McBane

    No one expected Ryan Michaels to win “The Rumble in the Parking Lot,” arguably the most famous keg toss of his legendary tossing career.
    At 34, Michaels was considered washed up in some circles, his greatest victories long behind him. His opponent, on the other hand, was the formidable Jason Elsworth, who was far removed from his cuddly everyday persona as a craft beer pitchman.

    Ellsworth had already demolished two of Michaels’s most accomplished foes, Tom Gilmore and Cameron from Victory Brewing, with brutal tosses that left most keg toss fans wondering not if he would beat Michaels, but how badly.

    The so-called “Rumble in the Parking Lot,” which took place in the former McGregors (now the Democratic Republic of Tap and Mallet) 12 months ago on June 19th, was one of the most heavily-hyped sporting events of all time — thanks to the unique talents of promoter Joe McBane. Both tossers stood to make little to no money no matter what the result, although the undisputed heavyweight title was at stake.

    The toss off was preceded by an elaborate drinking session, which featured an incredible line-up including the likes of Victory Prima Pils, Hop Devil and Headwaters.

    Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the big bout, Michaels did his best to psych out his opponent with his familiar put-downs and claims that his finesse in the parking lot would trump Ellsworth’s brute force.

    Once the toss off began, it initially looked like Michael’s colorful boasting was all for naught. Ellsworth punished Michaels with a relentless stream of tosses in round after round. And still Michaels remained upright throughout, taunting Ellsworth with digs like, “They told me you could handle a keg, Jason!”

    It was all part of a strategy devised by Michaels, later christened “keg-a-dope,” to induce Ellsworth to wear himself out early through repeatedly tossing off. In the last 5 minutes, as Ellsworth began to look visibly tired, Michaels came alive and unleashed a flurry of throws on the heavily favored craft beer pitch man.

    To chants of “Michaels boma ye” (which translates to “Ryan kill him” — the Democratic Republic of Tap and Mallet crowd favored Michaels because of his reputation as being an anti-big macro beer rebel), the master knocked out the upstart and, in one of the most shocking upsets in the history of keg tossing, retained his title.

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  • May 18 - 11:32 PM: Rochester Beer Reviews : Joe McBane

    So I decided due to the fact that it is about to be Rochester Real Beer Week that I had better knuckle down and drink some beer from our local brewers. I spent a couple of tough afternoons, one morning and part of an evening laboring over the task. I am sure many of you will be sympathetic to the workload I took on. Here is my take on the different beers that I tried:

    Rohrbach’s Scotch Ale
    Well this really is one of the pioneering Rochester beers in the local craft scene. I sampled this mid morning on my porch just before breakfast. My occasionally over worked taste buds were fresh for the day. I have also enjoyed this at the local ballpark. It makes watching one of the regular beat downs suffered by our baseball team perfectly tolerable. Down right enjoyable even.
    The beer itself looks like a lighter shade of cola and has a sweet malty nose. Upon tasting it becomes clear that there is enough hop bitterness to balance out the predominant malt back bone. This really helps raise its quaffabilty factor. Personally I like a hint of smoke in my Scotch ales which is not a flavor that is present in this one. I suspect however most people are not like me in this regard. If you’ve not tried this beer yet and hail from the Rochester area move it to the top of your list. It’s an icon.

    Genesee Porter
    I dragged Chris down to the new Genesee Brewpub on St. Paul Street for this one. They have a small pilot brewery in there that they produce a number of unique Genesee beers on. The beers are only available there. We ordered a couple of beers and went and sat on the roof. Roof top patio that is. I can highly recommend it on a beautiful day. An incredible view of the High Falls is right there for you to soak in.
    The beer is dark. I’m talking almost black. It has a rather soothing sweet roasted malt smell. I thought I might have picked up a hint of coffee but I don’t believe that brewer used any in the making of the beer. It tasted like it smelled. I appreciate this in a beer and feel like it is an important aspect of the overall balance. It’s a slightly odd experience when the taste doesn’t match up to the aroma. Personally I am quite happy to suck down a few dark beers on a hot day and this one slipped down just fine. Overall I really enjoyed the beer and my time on the roof.

    Roc Brewing Dark Mild
    Let’s get one thing straight here…in the world of brewing mild does not mean light beer. Ok let’s move on. Roc Brewing is a nano brewery located on South Union that has been around for a couple of years now. They have an enviable association with the mighty Sam Adams Brewing Company who helps by providing guidance on some of the many challenges that can be faced by a start up brewery.
    The beer looks like a big ruby in the glass. It has an aroma not dissimilar to a cup of weak black coffee with some malty sweetness thrown in. It is pretty low in alcohol and light in body so it lends itself to be good for guzzling. It hits you with a nice burst of flavor up front that fades out leaving you with a bitter tang. A solid brew from a brewery that is making its name by brewing very sessionable beers. Fortunately the beer has very different aroma and taste characteristics to a similarly named cigar.

    Three Heads Too Kind
    Well this beer turned out to be a gamer changer for me. After I finished tasting it in the early evening I promptly fell asleep and wasn’t heard from till the next day. Be warned. Three Heads is a brewery that has been making bold beers for the last few years now. They’re not scared to push the envelope a bit. Consequently I am a big fan of what they do and urge you to check them out if you haven’t already.
    The Too Kind is a double IPA. A big brother version of their flagship beer The Kind IPA. It has a wonderful bright golden hue followed by a big piney nose of hops. The taste is full of bitter floral hops. Very reminiscent of some of the best west coast examples of the style. Well balanced and worryingly drinkable. What more is there to say except get some!

    Rogers The Mutt Double IPA
    A big thank you to my wife and her friend for not drinking this beer after I fell asleep upon concluding the Too Kind tasting. Al Rogers is Rogers Brewing and has been contracting his beers for the last few years out in Honeoye Falls. After coming on to the Rochester beer scene with his Pale Ale he has since released a number of higher octane brews due to popular demand.
    Just like Mister Rodgers I put on my favorite cardigan and slippers to drink this brew in my neighborhood. It’s dark golden in color with a nose full of citrusy hops. I know it’s strong but I would have never have guessed it. The light pale malt really allows the hops to be the star. It leaves the mouth dry and wanting more. Very tasty and a little bit dangerous as well.

    Naked Dove Starkers IPA
    I really wanted to take my all clothes off to drink this beer but Chris was highly resistant. Neither one of us is exactly an oil painting and we were in a public bar room at the time. Understandable I guess. Naked Dove is a fairly new brewery located in Canadaigua. The brewer/owner is ‘Naked Dave’ Schlosser who has done the rounds as brewmaster at a number of the local breweries. After gaining a huge amount of experience over the years our local gypsy brewer seems to have found his home.
    The beer is a warm amber color and comes with big solid head. The smell is full of earthy hops and biscuity toasted malt. The taste closely reflects the aroma and is a very good example of an east coast IPA. Overall it is nicely balanced and pretty mellow. It almost walks the line between an IPA and pale ale. Recommended.

    Custom Brewcrafters Caged Alpha Monkey IPA
    I should let you know that I have drank this beer while dressed in a full gorilla suit. It was uncomfortably hot however and I really didn’t get the full taste experience as I had to drink through a straw. For the purpose of this tasting I was dressed in civilian clothes and utilized a glass. I would recommend doing it this way. Custom Brewcrafters have been around since the 90’s and make a number of exclusive beers for bars around and about town. The Caged Alpha Monkey however is one of their house beers and can be found in a wide number of bars and stores.
    The beer is fairly dark for an IPA. It is full of earthy hop notes in the aroma as you might expect from a beer with this name. The hops also dominate in the taste. They have a slightly resiny quality that grows on the palate as you drink more. This beer will really appeal to the hop lovers out there.

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  • Dec 03 - 06:46 PM: The Full Spectrum : Joe McBane

    There have certainly been some peaks and troughs to the last week. A number of weeks ago I went down to NYC for a beer bar owner meet up. It was a pleasure to meet a lot of like minded people and share stories, experiences and approaches to what we do. One of the highlights was a tasting evening with 12% Imports. A man by the name of Brian Ewing spent all of his spare time and money traveling parts of Europe discovering little known gems of the brewing industry. At some point he must have decided that he was going to make a business out of his treasures. His beers are superb. It is important to appreciate just how good they really are. At times it is easy to get caught up in the rarity of beers and lose sight of their actual quality. No worries about that here. So with all that said I was incredibly excited to place my first order for a mixed pallet of his kegs. They will be here mid December and I will be cracking into them straight away. My Beer Social on New Years Eve will exclusively feature beers from that pallet delivery.

    Well that was the highlight...the low point came with a blocked urinal. We pride ourselves at the pub on a can do approach to tricky situations. There are probably a few problems where we should just call in help but we usually never do until we have lost all hope of solving it ourselves. The urinal was one of those times where we should have just made the call. I'm sure that there are a bunch of jobs that get done around a pub that most people would never consider. For sure I was never alerted to true horror of a blocked urinal at bar owner camp. All that said the water now flows through like the stuff of dreams. No calls were made.

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