Mountain Brew Beer Ice
Monday, June 28 2010
It's mostly a myth that good bagels cannot be found outside New York City, though it's generally easier to get bad bagels here than it is to get them there. I'm a huge bagel eater, but I don't eat all that many upstate mostly because I don't remember to buy them. They tend to be brought by others coming from the city (as if they are bringing precious cargo to a remote Polynesian island). So when Gretchen returned from Manhattan the other day, she'd brought (among other things) a bag containing 14 seasame seed bagels from Tal Bagels on the Upper East Side. They'd been so freshly-baked when she'd bought them they'd still been warm (that is something that's impossible to find outside New York City). I'd immediately frozen all but three of them. I ate those three over the course of a day or so, and then taken out another three. By today an avocado had ripened and I could manufacture a colossal bagel sandwich with avocado, vegan cream cheese, red onion, Dijonaise mustard, lettuce, and an admittedly-inferior store-bought tomato. After eating it, I declared it the "second most delicious thing I've ever eaten." The most delicious thing I'd ever eaten had been a vegan-bacon-and-oven-roasted-tomato-sauce-with-Sriracha-and-weird-Chinese-mushrooms pasta bowl I'd thrown together earlier today. It had had nearly as much bacon in it as pasta, as if the bacon itself had been another kind of noodle.
But back to that epic bagel. Eating a sandwich that large tends to make a mess, and for this reason I often eat them outside. But I'd chosen to eat this bagel sandwich in front of my computer, showering the desk with sesame seeds. Not wanting them to go to waste, I dampened my finger and stabbed at them, eating a few and going back for more. As I did so, I noticed an unexpectedly bitter (though not unpleasant) note on the seeds. And then I gradually felt the inside of my mouth going numb. Hmm, had someone been snorting coke off my desk? But then I remembered that before eating my last dosage of recreational pseudoephedrine pills, I'd popped them out of their blister pack onto my desk. Evidently some of the pseudoephedrine dust has sloughed off of them and was getting on my errant sesame seeds. Usually I try to avoid tasting pseudoephedrine, since it is extremely bitter and unpleasant. Evidently, though, in very small amounts it has a refreshingly-bitter taste and, like cocaine, acts as local anæsthetic.
After being gone less than 24 hours, Ray returned from the city for an unusual Monday shift at New World, the place were he has been working as a waiter. Tonight he came back from work with a new kind of beer: Mountain Brew Beer Ice, which has the look of a hastily-designed Stewarts product (Stewarts is a local gas station and convenience store franchise that, in contrast to most of the dot-not-feather-Indian-run gas stations in the area, appears to have a whites-only hiring policy). Stewarts has its own font, which may or may not just be Comic Sans. In a huge frost-accented italic variant of that font, the silver cans read "Mountain Brew Beer Ice." In the smaller, non-italics, they read "A VERY COOL BREW." For no apparent reason at all, there were a series of small icons around the bottoms of the can depicting highly-stylized figures engaging in what appeared to be sporting activities. I'm telling you, the cans looked like they had been designed either by a non-ironic Dadist or an eight year old equipped with a Macintosh back in 1985. (The cans' small print revealed that the beer had actually been brewed as a subcontract by the Gennessee Brewing Company, the makers of the famed "cream ale" of our college days.)
When it comes to beer, there are really only three factors that matter: flavor, price, and alcohol content. Two of those factors had been revealed on the can itself. The six pack had only cost $3. And the claimed alcohol content had been 5.5%. I cracked one open and found it amazingly good, at least by the standards of cheap American beer. It was reasonably smooth but also had some malty complexity going on there. Hats off to you, Stewarts Shops! You might just be my go-to place for cheap summer beer.
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