Category Archives: MANuary

Beer Me!

Beer glor-i-ous BEER, so yummy and suds-y. Beer Mar-vel-ous BEER, drink it in spite of a big REAR.. Okay I’ll stop singing and turn this post over to Brad the author of one of this beer girl’s fav blogs Beer In Baltimore (I’m loving the timing of this guest post too.. a new beer for each weekend of the playoffs and SUPER BOWL…GO CHARGERS!)

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Good Beer
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Beer can pretty freakin awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I spend most of my days either writing about it or Tweeting about it.  Though to some folks, beer can be a tasteless and nasty experience, thanks mostly to the big (“macro”) brews… and the “Lite” movement.  But to some, this is all they know when it comes to beer!

Fortunately, there’s a whole new world out there if you are looking for flavorful, natural, robust beers.  This whole new world is open mostly thanks to the 1,600+ smaller breweries in the U.S. called “craft breweries.”  You’ve likely heard of many craft breweries.  Especially here on the east coast.  Names like Clipper City Brewing Co. (now Heavy Seas), Dogfish Head, Sam Adams, Victory Brewing Co., Troegs, Flying Dog, etc.   Believe it or not, these 1,600+ craft breweries only make up about 3% of the entire beer market in the U.S.   The “Big 3″ (Budweiser, Miller & Coors) control the other 97%.  But the good news is, sales of craft beer continues to grow, as people are finally realizing the great choices they have in terms of buying good beer; while sales of “the big 3″ are declining.  This is also good news for those who fully support the “Buy American” movement, since Budweiser and Miller are no longer American-owned companies (Belgian and South African owned, respectively); and Coors is now partly run by Miller.  Lost yet?  Stick with me here!

So getting back to tasty beers.  There are tons of options out there.  Lots of different styles and brands.  For those who aren’t really following the craft beer scene, it can be a tad overwhelming.

What should I try?
Will I like it?
I usually drink ____, so what is comparable?

That’s where I’d like to help. The first step is getting you on the path to righteous beer. Every beer fan has a “craft beer epiphany.”  A moment they clearly remember where one particular beer became a life-changer.  Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but you get the idea.

So let’s start with your usual go-to beer.  For many, it’s either Miller Lite or Bud Light, right?  And let’s be honest, you’re not really drinking it for the taste.  You’re drinking it because it doesn’t taste particularly awful, it’s “pound-able” and you can drink a few over some time.  The problem with these beers is, like we mentioned – they just don’t taste good.  In fact, they really don’t have a taste at all.  It’s basically carbonated water with some barley, yeast, *some hops* and corn. Corn? Yeah, corn.  Beer isn’t supposed to be brewed with corn!  But the fact is, these big international breweries brew their beer with adjuncts such as corn, rice and cheap grains because it’s cheap filler.  The problem is, these adjunct ingredients cut just about all flavor from the beer.

Almost all good craft beer uses just 4 main ingredients:  water, hops, barley and yeast.  No adjuncts.  But it’s the type and amount of hops, barley and yeast which creates such wonderful flavors in many craft beers.  The big guys are catching on too. They see the increase in craft beer sales.  They know that people would prefer their beer to actually have taste.  So they too are getting on-board with their own sort of craft beers.  Ever heard of Blue Moon?  Thought it was some sort of small brewery’s beer?  Nope.  Blue Moon is a Coors product.  There is no “Blue Moon” brewery!  Shock Top beer?  Anheuser-Busch!  Though you likely won’t see any traces of these big brewery names on the labels of these beers.  Pretty slick, ‘eh?

Soo, you’re a Miller Lite gal looking for a quality alternative.  The most logical next step would be a Yuengling lager (oldest brewery in the US and still family-owned) or a Sam Adams Light.  Both have more flavor than your usual go-to beer and both are technically “craft beers.” This girl loves both of them. Yuengling is amazing and if you can’t get it where you are and want to try it email The Nuggets we’ll figure out something. Sam Adams Winter lager will be on The Nugget Super Bowl table for sure. FYI Yuengling also has a  BLOG

But what if you’ve already had those “next step” beers and want to try something with even more flavor and character?  Something a bit more exciting.  Lucky for us here in MD, we’ve got two fantastic breweries in our state who produce lots of very good beer.

Heavy Seas / Clipper City (Baltimore, MD) is Baltimore’s largest and most successful brewery. Their biggest selling and probably their most delicious beer is called Loose Cannon. It’s a bit more “hoppy” than your average beer, but has enough sweet balance where the hop flavor does not become too bitter for a first-time Loose Cannon drinker.  This is a delicious beer and even better at its freshest (thank goodness they’re so close!)  Heavy Seas also brews more “mellow” beers like their Gold Ale,  Marzen and McHenry Lager.  These are lower in ABV % (alcohol by volume) and still have plenty of flavor.  And as you  become more comfortable with these tasty, lower ABV beers – you’ll discover that Heavy Seas also makes even bigger beers, in terms of both flavor and ABV %. 
 
Flying Dog (Frederick, MD) is also doing some exciting things when it comes to beer.  They recently won a gold medal in 2009’s Great American Beer Fest as the country’s “Best Mid-Sized Brewery”.  Flying Dog makes some tasty beers, many of which are also lower on the ABV scale, which make them very drinkable, especially to the new-to-craft-beer person.  Some examples include their “Old Scratch” (an Amber Lager), “In Heat Wheat” (a Hefewiezen style), “Tire Bite (Golden Ale) and “Doggy Style” (Pale Ale).  And as we mentioned with Heavy Seas above, Flying Dog also makes bigger beers.

And don’t forget many of the local area brewpubs.  Here in Baltimore, we’ve got places like Pratt Street Ale House, Brewer’s Art and Red Brick Station.  There is delicious beer being brewed in the same building you’re having lunch!  Tasty and local!

With almost 2,000 craft breweries in the U.S, we could write a few hundred pages about other beers we think you should try.  And if you’re really up for that, you could always email me and we can chat it up. BUT, there is a simple way to try lots of different beers for yourself.  Many beer/wine/spirit shops now sell craft beer.  Not only do they sell craft beer, they sell single bottles of craft beer!  What’s this mean for you?  It means that instead of dropping $10 on a 6-pack of beer which you may or may not fully enjoy, you can instead spend about $2 on a single bottle and decide whether or not you like it.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  And if purchasing single bottles, check the label for things like style (lager, pilsner, pale ale, etc.) as well as ABV %.  But be careful, many of these craft beers can be up there in terms of ABV and hide it well, because of the many flavors going on at once!

MOST IMPORTANTLY – Do not drink good beer from the bottle!  There is a true saying – 90-95% of what you experience is through your sense of smell. Pour your beer down the center of a glass.  The wider the glass, the better.  Hell, even a plastic cup is better than directly from the bottle! Give the head a minute or two to soak back down into the beer.  A nice foamy head will eventually lead to even more flavor in your beer.  If you are truly interested in tasting your beer to the fullest extent, click here to read 4 basic steps.

So go out and try everything!  There are so many exciting beers from breweries all over; from Delaware to California and everywhere in between, these guys & gals are all making some of the best beer on the planet!

We promise you one thing – once you have a tasty craft beer, you’ll forget you ever even had one of those “Lite” carbonated waters!  And do the craft beer community a favor – once you fall in love with a good beer (and trust us, you will!), tell a friend who will hopefully tell a friend, who will…. you get the idea.  Spreading the word of good beer – it’s what I love to do and I hope that you soon will love to as well.  Cheers!

HOLLAH for our Homie

WARNING… This post uses “those” words.. you know the ones you say when you THINK no one old enough to “get it” is listening and then your 3 year old parrots them, with JUST the right timing, in the Sprawl Mart check out line. And now I give you The Nuggets of Wisdom’s very own ED The Destroyer.. {of any hope that a female NOT his mommy or wifey will EVER read HIS blog again!}
 

It’s about time Lara finally decided to add some NUGGETS to this Chicken.
Yeah!
It’s the GUYS time, DAMNIT!
No more mommy-blog posts.
No more “Try this recipe to add spice to your love life” bullshit.
No more “Does this color nail polish bring out the whore-ish-ness of my past?” posts.
No more “Do these jeans show off the fat where my ass used to be?” diet tips.
Nope.
Now it’s the MENS turn to shine, and I’m not wearing any nail polish……this time.
When asked to write this post, I had no idea what to write it on, partly due to my supreme laziness mixed with a pinch of apathy.
Should I mix a little humor with tasty insightfulness, and beat in a couple of memoirs?
Or do I just get on here and stir away for awhile and hope the spiciness covers up the bad taste.
But then, I let it simmer on 350 degrees for an hour and decided, “Fuck it! We’re having takeout!” because I just took these cooking metaphors to a whole new level, and it’s Emeril Lagassi Brown.
BAM!
And so,
After much deliberation and careful thought, I have decided to focus my topic blah,blah,blah,blah, take-this-part-out-in-editing-and-add-something-profound, blah,blah,blah.
So, in conclusion, I would like to leave you with this…..
*Ahem*
“Your Mom!”
*raises middle finger for added effect*
So, how did I get so awesomely funny and handsomely witty, you ask. (You said it with your eyes.)
Well, it all started at birth.
I was born at a clown convention in Las Vegas.
Okay, not that far back.
It probably started when I realized that, if I made my mom laugh, she wouldn’t whip me when I was in trouble.
And they say beating a child never amounts to any good.*Psshaaa* Look at me NOW, ma!
I found out that this also worked on bullies and helped with making friends.
Soon, I was constantly trying to make people laugh.
I also loved to laugh.
The really good, belly cramping, knee slapping, teary-eyed, talking like a baby kind of laughing.
I became somewhat obsessed with humorous stuff.
Funny shows, jokes, stand-up routines, comedians, sitcoms, redundant things used to describe other similar things of similarity that are the same, and funny stuff…..
Laughing felt great.
About the only thing better than laughing, was making other people laugh.
I never really found my shtick though.
I’m kind of a shitty joke tellerer.
I’ve always been a better “on-the-spot”, adlib/improv, smartass response, make fun of those I’m with, or their situation(unless they’re dying)(except, if their dying is going to take more than a year, then they are fair game) kind of person.
Witty. Quick witted. Jerk. Asshole. Smartass. Insensitive. Turret’s. ADHD. Asbarger’s.
These are terms I hear a lot.
Used to describe people NOT me.
Sucks to be them.
I actually get it honestly, though.
My mom is pretty witty.
She used to be funny too, until old age and senility made her mean. Guess who’s not getting visited in the old folks home.
I’ve also got some uncles that are pretty funny.
My mom’s brothers, Cliff and W.C., seem to enjoy making people laugh almost as much as making themselves laugh, which they do frequently by asking people to “pull my finger”.
Some of my dad’s brothers are funny as well, but it’s hard to understand what they are saying, cause they speak in Hillbillish.
Regardless, I had many memorably fun experiences making or attempting to make people laugh.
As some not so good.
I remember one such from middle school.
It was lunch time, and a really pretty girl (who, I won’t mention any names, *ahem-Corrie-ahem*) told me basically that I was hot, but that none of the girls wanted to be my girlfriend because I always acted like a retarded assclown.
And here, I thought it was because Dee-Dee told everyone she saw me picking my nose in class in 4th grade (lying bitch).
Thanks, Corrie. I hope your nipples fall off.
Hahahahaha…
Yeah, like she’s reading this. She is probably off somewhere being hot and judgmental.
But from that day on, I became Mr. ToCoolForSchoolGuy.
Okay, that’s not true.
I was still a tard.
But, I did try to cut down on the clownishness.
I always dreamed I would be a stand-up comedian or an actor.
Or a Pediatrician.
Eventually, I realized that I had severe stage fright.
I think that was the year I tried out for the Talent Competition.
There I was…waiting for my turn to go up on stage in front of everyone and do my sweet Break Dancing Routine that I had all planned out, and it hit me…I panicked…..I couldn’t breathe….I couldn’t move….everyone was looking at me…..
I finally managed to make up some lie about having to be home at a certain time that had already past, and then I ran out.
ME + comedy career  / stage fright = dreams FAIL
The Stage Fright also ruined the acting thing, as well.
That, and there were only so many parts for Hunchback of Notre Dame or Gollum.
So, I concentrated on a career in the medical field, and resigned myself to making my friends and family laugh.
Eventually, I was introduced to blogger.
And that, my friends, is the rest of the story.
**Oh, I eventually did get over my stage fright thanks to getting older and not giving a fuck what other people thought. Also, I took a Public Speaking course in college. Probably my favorite class ever.**

This guy knows how to PARTAY!

MSo you all know I’m working through a mean twitter addiction (hurry somebody call Dr. Drew I think I need mouth to…um mouth, yeah that’s it… Dr. Drew yet another of my odd attractions, more than you wanted to know right?). The thing is you can really find some interesting cats round the nest over there in the twitterverse. What is it with this trend for slapping “verse” on the end of everything these days?.. blogoverse, mommyverse.. it’s almost as bad as the whole changing the font size thing! Whatever though I guess it could be verse (bada bing, I made a punny). All snarking aside it’s true and I can prove it. I found Eileen and John Calandro (@calandro5) there. They tweet AND blog as a team at Clandroclan.com. Let me just pause here to say that though I’m WAY impressed by that, The DH isn’t into tweeting or blogging and I’m COOL with that! Though I’m still sort of miffed that he refused to participate in MANuary, maybe we’ll take that one to the octagon.. nice visual huh?! 

So how did John of the Calandro5 fame end up over here for MANuary? It happened one tweet.. Eileen said something about him doing ALL the cooking for a holiday and I HAD to get him over here. WOW if The DH ever cooked anything other than a poptart I think I’d need a cardiac unit. Boy I tell ya that C5 gang can party too! Check out the Panasonic 3D HD TRUCK they had at their holiday party (and all the boys say..mmmmm 3D aaaaaa HD …oooooo TRUCK). And now I give you John and his feature…

Birthday Parties Aren’t for Sissies

As the father of three boys, my wife and I have had plenty of opportunities to throw birthday parties for our kids. Every party we throw has a theme, and we never repeat a theme (except for Star Wars at age 7). I’ll admit that for the first seven years I pretty much coasted on my wife’s coattails- she’s incredibly creative and artistic and is able to come up with more party ideas in 5 minutes than most people could generate in their lifetimes.
In the beginning it was fairly easy- pick something we like or pick something the kids like and run with it. My wife, who only has one sister, realized that after the age of seven, she really has very little idea as to what exactly goes on in the heads of boys. It’s not that she didn’t try to understand, it’s just that if you’ve never been a boy, it is difficult to grasp. I tried to explain it to her once like this- “Did you ever play with Barbies as a young girl?”
“Yes,” She said.
When you played with them with friends, was your first thought to rip the heads off of the Barbies and throw them at each other, or swing them around by their hair to see how fast they had to go before the their bodies flew off?”
She looked at me blankly. “Really?” she asked. Then she rolled her eyes, sighed heavily, and told me she’d be in the bedroom in the fetal position.
Every man out there knows exactly what I am talking about. Every mother of boys that reads this has a little more insight into what they’re dealing with, and any woman who has only daughters is still working on the idea that anyone would think the point of playing with a Barbie is to try to destroy it.
How do you throw a party when you have no frame of reference? Fortunately, my wife trusts my judgment enough to let me run with some things and do them in my man way. Instead of store-bought Star Wars invitations, we sent out a DVD with music, special effects, and our son inserted into several scenes from Star Wars. Instead of creating an “idol” craft at the Indiana Jones party, we gave 14 eight-year old boys cheap fedoras and six foot bullwhips. At each party, we have dedicated one corner of our house to be decorated as the “adult joke” of the party- so far, we manage to keep it over the boys’ heads: in addition to the “CRASH!” and “POW!” decorations at the super hero party, we had a “WHAM!” a “BAM!” and a (you guessed it) “Thank you , Ma’am” decoration.
As the boys get older, the party activities have gotten a little more “boy” (read: disgusting)– making slime, eating “monkey brains” (noodles in red Jello), creating an alien autopsy- and the party favors have progressed from balloons to light sabers to pointy sticks and bullwhips. I get to have a great time letting my creative juices flow and running around whipping 10 year-olds into a frenzy. And while she’s never been the kind of woman who wishes she could throw a pretty pink princess party, sometimes I catch my wife just shaking her head as she watches these boys get farther and farther from her comfort zone. Most of the time, though, I think she digs it and she’ll jump whole-heartedly into any activity we can come up with.
Our second son’s 7th birthday party is coming up at the end of the month- that means it’s the Star Wars birthday- Rerun of the Jedi. I’m glad to take an active role in planning our parties and I’m glad my wife is willing to run with some of my wackier ideas.
Now if I can just get her to wear that Princess Leia bikini…

I’m Late, I’m Late, for a Very Important Date…

I’m not quite sure where the concept that women are always late came from. My dad is infamous for his ability to make us late for everything from a movie to his ONE and ONLY daughter’s wedding. Truth be told his penchant for procrastination has me, to this very day, still setting all my time keeping devices 10 minutes fast. And as I recall the rodent who scuttled about wonderland didn’t run around with a pocket watch blathering “I’m on time, I’m on time!”, and he was not a SHE. Even with all the “historical facts” out there I still blithely sit by and allow women to take the rap. Well no MORE! Turns out all but ONE of the featured gentlemen in my testosterone tea party known as, MANuary are running a bit behind the clock. That’s okay though, after all as Carly Simon once said “Anticipation is making me wait”. Maybe what I need to do is tell you how amazing they are and they’ll come running to add their two cents. One of those cents I figure will go towards telling me why women ARE indeed the “later” sex. I give you the MEN of MANuary! FYI I’ve included twitter info where available. Each and every one of these guys are WELL worth the follow.

We start off across the pond with the minds behind the next big innovation in hydration Kieran McCrorie (@kieran_mccrorie) and Stephen Bradley (@quiversgb) of Quiver (AMAZING product! more on that later). These Scotsmen kick Mel Gibson on his be-skirt-ed butt! I can’t wait to have them answer the age old questions: “What does a Scotsmen wear under his kilt?” and “What the HELL is haggis and just how much scotch must one consume before even CONSIDERING eating it?”

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Ted Rubin (@tedrubin) CMO of e.l.f. cosmetics for MANuary here at the Nuggets. He is smart, funny, approachable and has some amazing insights into life, relationships and fatherhood. Of all the interviews I’ve done in a lifetime of aspiring to be a “real” writer, my talk with Ted is among the very best.

Larry Vollmer (@lvollmer) author of Inside the Octagon has agreed to explain the concept of Mixed Martial Arts to us. I’m thinking it’s pretty much a bar brawl only with no shoes & no booze. Being a big fan of boxing I’m really looking forward to learning more from Larry.

Because everybody needs a little Rock in their Roll I give you Rodney Howard (@rodneyondrums). Not only is he an kick ass drummer who tours and records with the likes of Avril LavigneGavin DeGraw and Regina Spektor he is an equally amazing dad. Oh and NOBODY can rock the hot pink skinny tie like he does! All this and he still manages to be a mentor to my budding rock star son and lucky enough to have one of my bestest best friends in the world as his better half. FYI he might also have the best proof that women are indeed always late as his wife can NEVER seem to be on time for anything!

Our own Ed of Ed’s Funny Pages (what’s he smokin’ in that cartoon on his blog. SURE he wants us to THINK it’s one of those party blow-out thingies but we’re on to him) will bring his make-you-spit-coffee-out-your-nose humor over to The Nuggets for a guest post that shall be nothing less than hilarious. In all honesty I’m sort of worried about this one. See, I told Ed he is free to do WHATEVER he wants for his post. I’m thinking now that maybe I should have been more clear about what the meaning of the word “is” is

Self proclaimed male cheerleader, Brad (@BeerInBaltimore) Squad Captain of Beer in Baltimore will sound off on suds. Okay he says he cheers for beer (maybe beer causes lateness?) but I suspect he might wear the costume now and then as well. (Is it wrong that I sort of dig that idea?)

Lance Carter (@DailyActor) actor, cat wrangler and editor at The Daily Actor will stop in with something. Not sure what yet (did I mention the “boys” are LATE) but I KNOW it will be great. Lance recently appeared on one of my all time favorite TV shows The Middle on ABC. He is a funny and talented guy and I can’t wait to Nuggetize him!

One of my FAVORITE flicks of all time has got to be “Almost Famous” (warning TMI moment imminent) I’ve got this whole elaborate Cameron Crowe as his character Lloyd Dobbler stealing away my adore from Alan Rickman  as Éamon de Valera fantasy. Hey I never claimed to be normal. In fact, I recall saying something about his blog being my cheap excuse for therapy. And now we rejoin my point already in progress. My next MANuary guest has taken the title of his blog from “Almost Famous”, Always Home and Uncool. Kevin (@homeanduncool) bills himself as a father, husband, writer, goofball with the order subject to change. He writes one of the sharpest witted blogs I’ve ever had the pleasure to stumble upon whist web surfing in the middle of an attack of insomnia.

And last, but by FAR not least, I’m honored (actually I’m still sort of shocked and all googly over this one) that Evan Handler, you may know him as Harry, Charlotte’s husband from Sex in The City, has agreed to come kvetch with us. Evan is one amazing guy. How so you say? I don’t want to give it all up to early  I’ve had “issues” with that in the past but a little snippet is, in addition to his roles in Sex and Californication, (oooh that sounds sooo naughty. Me likey) he has stared in many a Broadway play and Hollywood flick. He has also written two books, his own play AND stared in it.

I contacted him after reading his latest book It’s Only Temorary: The Good News and The Bad News of Being Alive. This book is simply sublime. It’s funny, raw, intelligent and heartwarming without an ounce of sap! I suggest you go grab it now… and since the interview is pending you are welcome to email me a question for Evan, I’ll do my best to get it answered. More to come on the book, Evan as an unconventional romantic, a father, an actor and amazing human being who has THE best mantra I’ve ever come across.. “I don’t Know”. Oh and I’ll be giving away a couple copies of the book to some lucky Nuggets.

I hope you’ll forgive my tardiness in getting started here (did I mention it’s the “boys” that are LATE?). I promise to make up for it with what I know will prove to be a great time for all.

Oh you owe me a THANK YOU for NOT including “It’s raining men” as a theme song for MANuary.. you’re welcome!