Joe's Rants and Raves

  • May 12 - 11:42 PM: 2015 Keg Toss - Clash of the Titans : Joe McBane

    As the sun rose on the morning of June 19th and before the morning dew had had time to burn off, two titans of the keg tossing universe dragged their weary bodies from their slumber. Neither Jason ‘Beardo’ Ellsworth or Ryan ‘Big Baby’ Michaels had slept well the night before as the anticipation of what was to come had been gnawing away at them.

    Beardo worried how much more torment he would be able to take. Each year the mental and physical exertions had taken a toll. In the past three years he had managed to summon the strength of three bears in order to shatter the previous world record only to see Big Baby pip him at the death by an inch or two. He fretted about whether or not he had consumed enough dank ass IPA’s and Tap and Mallet burgers to really be at his peak tossing weight. Seeds of doubt crept in but he stubbornly pushed them away as any true warrior must. Time for worry had run out and it was time for action. As with all of our greatest tossers a day of peddling delicious brews to his craft beer disciples lay ahead before he would be able to toss off in the evening. The big long day had officially begun.

    Big Baby woke up on the other side of town in a sleepy suburban enclave. Although knowing his name should have been etched as the reigning champ on the trophy (it wasn’t due to a very limited budget and lack of motivation) he hadn’t slept well. Could he continue to pull miracles out his very round butt? Despite his heroics with his last toss last year he knew that he been forced to call in a Biblical favor and wondered if such a thing would be at his disposal again this year. He had watched Beardo simply destroy pints and plates with a viking like enthusiasm for the last 12 months and was worried that he had listened to his wife’s nagging requests for smaller portions and low fat options one too many times. Could it be the undoing of him? As he pulled on his favorite pair of tailored tan chino shorts along with his ‘innovatively brewed’ Bells polo shirt that he always wore on Thursdays, he knew another possibly impossible challenge lay ahead.

    As the 5 o’clock hour arrived, crowds started to gather at the Tap and Mallet. The Tap and Mallet parking lot is the physical and spiritual home to the world’s most legendary keg tossing arena. The crowd was visibly nervous and giddy with equal measure. What would happen? Would they witness records once again? Would everyone even leave alive or at least without serious injury and hernias? Dollar bills were being exchanged. Pints of Victory and Bells craft beer were quaffed. The scene was set...but where were the Titans, Beardo and Baby Face? The crowd waited patiently and amused themselves by watching some of the minnows toss out some warm up efforts. The local constabulary showed up during the down time as they like to each year to chat about noise complaints and satisfy their curiosity for tossing off. After the promoter Joe McBane established that all was well conforming kegs continued to fly. After a while Beardo arrived at the venue. Apparently he had been called to very necessary and important craft beer emergency at a local establishment where none of the 12 staff or owner were willing or able to change a coupler between kegs. Now that he arrived he tossed off for a while between big guy pint chugs. He was looking good and feeling great. He was putting them out there and for all to see he was long, loose and full of juice. Where was Baby Face? The crowd was restless. Had he lost his balls they wondered? Beardo perhaps thought he was off the hook, but bang! There he was...resplendent in his neatly pressed chino shorts (had he even done any work that day?) and sporting the baseball equivalent of pine tar - gloves. Beardo was incensed but Baby Face was unapologetic and the tossing began with a fury and intensity never witnessed before. Beardo set the mark. Baby Face went further with the ease one might display when sucking down a much anticipated first brew of the evening.

    Back and forth they went until something as significant as the original high jump Fosbury Flop move happened. Beardo tossed one out there with a new technique, the one handed 270 degree spin fling. From that moment on the world of tossers would never be the same. The now red in the face Baby Face had to copy the move as perfection can’t be improved on and copy it well he did. The gloves certainly helped Beardo would later contest. The battle royale continued unabated until the last few minutes of the contest drew close. Who would walk away with their head held high? Who would cry themselves to sleep in a pool tears and spilled beer? Once again it was the Baby Faced assassin. With one final heave ho he let one fly that will probably be remembered as being as important in history as mankind’s first step on the moon or until next year when the record is broken again. 40 feet! Wow are these guys even human or could they be creatures from another planet? The crowd went wild, Baby Face soaked in the adulation and Beardo was left once again broken and wondering where it had all gone wrong. How had he been on the wrong end of defeat for the fourth year in row? Baby Face snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with the same enthusiasm a beer truck chaser shows when obtaining the latest Grimm Double IPA release. Till 2016...

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  • 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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