Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coconut Porter

So, my first beer I experimented with was a Coconut Porter from Maui Brewing Company.  I picked up a 4-pack from a local restaurant supply store here in LA.  I figured this was as good a place to start as any.  I am a big fan of porters and stouts and this was one I'd never heard of or seen before, so why not give it a try.  I drank all 4 within a 2-3hr time while playing Batman: Arkum Asylum for the PS3 (yes, I am that big of a dork).

The Beer:
To start, I was a bit surprised to find this craft brew in a 4-pack of cans.  That's something that I don't find too often in craft beers.  The can states that this is because "cans are lighter, chill quicker, and can be enjoyed on beaches and sensitive environments."  That makes sense and coming from Maui, I can see why these aspects are important to the brewery.  As far as taste goes, I dug it!  It had strong notes of vanilla on top of the aforementioned nutty coconut flavor.  It went down smooth and poured easily.  I had no trouble throwing back all 4 of these in a night.  The one thing that was distinctly different for this porter though, was the lack of a widget (that little ball in cans of Guinness that releases carbonation into the glass as your pour it). I kept expecting a cascading effect similar to that of Guinness or Boddingtons.  It didn't have that, but it also didn't need that.  Coconut Porter is certainly a beer I'd recommend.

The Buzz:
So how drunk did I get off these 4 beers?  Well, each can packed 5.7% alcohol.  That's slightly more than average, but not extreme enough where I felt a distinct reaction to the first beer.  In fact, I felt nothing.   That is until I finished the 2nd beer and stood up to go get the 3rd.  After just two drinks, the alcohol had mingled and mixed with my blood and had me feeling fine.  My gaming skills were not yet impaired though, so I continued to drink down number 3.  After 3 beers though, it was time to take a piss and reevaluate whether or not a 4th (and final) beer was necessary.  Well, I couldn't very well leave that one beer all alone in the fridge with no friends.  And as any good drinker knows...leave no soldiers behind!  A 4th beer might not have been needed, but it was appreciated.  I was certainly on my way to full-fledged drunkenness after I was done with numero quattro.  My gaming skills had perished.  Despite thinking I was doing a great job of beating up The Joker's thugs, I kept dying time after time after time.  I decided to call it quits on the game and the beer.  I'm glad this was a 4-pack.  The Coconut Porter went down so smooth that I would've easily finished another one (or possibly two).  But that certainly would have been trouble.  So, 4 down, happily and fully buzzed, Maui Brewing Company gets the nod for brewing a quality and tasty beer.

The Hangover:
As with almost all hangovers, this one came in two parts.  The first, at 5:30am when my dogs decided to wake me and let me know they could give a shit about my drinking experiments.  At this first stage (on about 4 hours sleep), I felt like total shit.  Completely dehydrated, pounding headache, crushing heartburn.  Curse you Coconut Porter...curse youuuuu!  So, I let the dogs out to pee, popped a few Advil, had about half a glass of water, and passed back out for another 4 hours.  Part 2 of the hangover was much much better.  There was still a subtle headache.  Brain cells had certainly died the night before.  My stomach was marginally upset.  But after a coffee and bowl of cereal, it didn't get any worse, so I assumed that I was in the clear.  There was a lingering shakiness throughout the day, but that could easily have been due to the 22.8% total alcoholic content I poured into my body, that certainly wasn't unexpected or severe.  I did my best to evaluate throughout the day how the hangover fared.  Did it totally fade away?  No, not really.  But it didn't affect my day-to-day chores and activities.  I was aware of the hangover, the fatigue, the cloudiness in my brain, but I wasn't cringing with pain and uncomfort at every turn.  I always feel as though driving is a the true test of a hangover.  If you can operate a vehicle without problems, the hangover is either gone or insignificant.  If you feel like you're in worse shape than you would've been the night before while drinking, then the hangover won.  I was driving while hungover and aside from the same cloudiness, had no problems operating a large vehicle.  I could drink a 4-pack of this again, although I wouldn't recommend doing so on a work night.

The Verdict:
Not Allergic!  Maui Brewing Company's Coconut Porter will get you wasted and taste good while doing so, but it won't cause you an early allergic death.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Experiment

I suppose that I should start this whole thing off with a bit of an explanation and description of what I'm doing and why.

So, a brief history about my love and hate of alcohol (specifically beer).  Like 90% of the country, I started drinking in high school, then more so in college, and stayed the course in terms of alcohol consumption well after graduation.  I'm a relatively healthy, smart guy.  I stay in shape, eat pretty decent, and have little medical concerns.  Shit, I'm normal as hell!  I like beer.  I like the taste, the variety, the packaging even.  And of course I like the buzz.  What I don't like --- the hangover!

Yet, the thing is, I believe that as I've aged, my hangovers have gotten worse and worse from less and less beer. I never gave it much thought until a couple years ago when my girlfriend (now my wife) pointed out that not only did I look like shit the morning after a night out with the boys, I smelled like shit.  Ok, that came out wrong.  More specifically, I smelled like beer.  Like, I was sweating out the alcohol.  She could literally tell what KIND of beer I was drinking just from the odor emanating from my body.  Gross, yes.  Odd, yes.  Normal, I don't think so.  On top of looking and smelling bad.  I felt like I had been poisoned.  The hangovers were so intense that it was like every night out I was channeling Nic Cage in Leaving Las Vegas.  And they lasted ALL DAY LONG.  What the fuck was going on?  Why did my once robust physiology turn on me?  In high school, I could go to swim practice the next morning and rock out a 2hr workout without a problem.  In college, all I needed was a greasy breakfast and some episodes of Law & Order to get me back on my feet.  After graduation, it was half a day of sleeping and then maybe some pizza and pills.  Now approaching 30 years old though?  I can barely stomach 3 Coors Light without being on my ass all day Sunday.

So all this got me thinking, am I just becoming a bigger pussy with each year?  Or is there something else happening?  Why am I sweating out the beer and unable to function when all my friends just suffer the typical "drank too much" hangovers that I was familiar with?  Something was afoot.

Then one day a friend mentioned that I may have developed an allergy to beer.  That the hops or yeast or barley used by certain breweries could be poisoning my system.  They could be the case for the truly horrendous symptoms I suffered.  The more I thought about this, the more it made sense.  I could have 4 or 5 large Guinness Stouts and be ok the next morning.  But if I had 4 or 5 Bud Lights, KO!  I'm out!

And that brings me to my experiment.  I will try to weekly (maybe more, maybe less) submit myself to personal experimentation in an attempt to weed out the beers I am possibly allergic to.  There will be rules however:
1) All servings of beer will not exceed 48oz, yet will always be atleast 36oz.
2) The beer will be consumed on a moderately full stomach (post meal).
3) Beer may NOT be mixed with any other type of alcohol.
4) Beer may NOT be mixed with any other type of beer.
5) One (1) 12-16oz glass of water may be consumed at the end of the drinking session.
Following these rules, I hope to narrow down the type of beer and possibly even the ingredients that cause my unfortunate affliction.  I plan to chronicle the hangover and it's potentially lingering effects.  Additionally, I will provide a brief review of the beer itself as well as the buzz it provides.  In final summation, I'll classify whether or not I am indeed ALLERGIC TO BOOZE!
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