Friday, January 27, 2012

today's friday photoblog is sponsored by steph gas and sam adams

Holy crap, Nicki's doing a Friday Photoblog. On a Friday. Not Sunday. Not Wednesday. FRIDAY. Ye gods. The times really ARE a-changing

Back in August, I tweeted that I was off to the Sam Adams brewery tour. The awesomely amazing Steph Gas replied and requested that I take pics since her husband is a big Sam fan. No prob, I think. It'll make a great photoblog.

And here we are in January. And here I am finally posting these pictures. From August. In January. 


Derrick's dad came up to visit this summer and we decided a trip to the Sam Adams Brewery was in order. Because a.) how more cliché Boston can you get, b.) it's beer, and c.) it's free.
Combine b and c and you've got free beer

Or as I like to call it, Christmas.

Before the brew tour, I'd never really been a big fan of Sam Adams. Didn't love 'em, didn't hate 'em, but I'll take a foaming glass of Guinness over ole Sam any day. But Sam Adams offered free beer samples, and no beer tastes better than free beer, my friends.

And something magical happened inside that brewery, readers. Maybe it was the roasted hops. Maybe it was the local charities. Or maybe it was the pitchers of beer they kept passing to me. Whatever it was, this beer snob's heart grew three sizes that day. 

I, Nicki the Guinness Girl, became a Sam Adams fan. 

First of all, Sam Adams is incredibly local-focused. The brand is Boston born and raised. The place just oozes the red brick buildings, the crooked smiles, and the reckless driving habits I've come to love over the past few months (okay, I don't looooove the reckless driving thing). Sam Adams makes a hell of a lot more beer varieties besides the Boston Lager, which, if I'm being honest, turns me on about as much as a bucket of mopwater. But the stouts! The pale ales! The reds! The maple porter! The chocolate stout! THE COFFEE BLACK & TAN! All these years I've thought of Sam Adams as a patriotic picnic alternative to Yuengling. Oh, Sam, you tricky bastard, you. 

Sam Adams actually makes a delicious red called the Boston Brick Red that's only served within Boston city limits. It's the ultimate Boston beer, and if I'm in a pub with Brick Red on tap, I'll be ordering 'em 'til I leave...even if they've got my Irish lover on tap. Hey, I've got Guinness in my fridge-- and the odds are pretty damn good the Red's going to be cheaper. You want the ultimate Boston experience, you come to Beantown during a Red Sox game, head to a pub, and knock back Brick Reds while the bar explodes over each play.

Ain't no bar culture like Boston bar culture, that's a fact -- and Sam Adams is a huge part of that culture. You walk into any bar in the area you are gua-ran-teed to have two choices on tap: Boston Lager and Sam Adams seasonal. No exceptions. Even the 5-stars in town carry 'em. It's like the sweet tea thing: you don't have sweet tea, you ain't in the South; you don't have Boston Lager and Seasonal on tap, you are certainly not in Boston.

The brand also creates special varieties solely for local events. At the Wellfleet Oyster Festival (pictures to come), Sam Adams sells the Wellfleet Oyster Stout, a to-die-for stout brewed with oyster shells that's made specifically for the festival. The two-day, once-a-year festival. Local love, man, local love.

Beer labels serve as your tickets for the tour (or, as our tour guide pronounced it, tee-yure), which would've been fun and whimsical had our tickets not been for Sam Adams Light. I tried not to see it as a personal assault on my character.

The Sam Adams brew tour is heavily accented with cardboard signs and fake vinery. I appreciated this.

So you're picked up by a charming young Bahston man (who will utter sentences like "Cambridge-- y'know, Cambridge, where all the wicked smaht people ah"), who leads you on a meandering tour through the brewery (which is fully functioning while you're there, btw) and has you taste hops and grains and all the other lovely dried ingredients that make beer beer. 

It's interesting, sure, and the guy knows his stuff -- he knows what we're all here for, so he keeps it light and interesting and with plenty of "Ya guys almost ready for some free beer?"

Why, yes, Stereotypically Boston Tee-yure Guide, yes we are. 

And then comes the best part, kids: the tastings.

Some college kids played it smart and hit up the other breweries in the area before our tour and I couldn't blame 'em -- no better way to pregame for free beer than with more free beer

The folks at Sam Adams are in no way stingy with their beer. They pass out pitchers, everyone pours a glass and starts a-tasting. The great thing was that we were in the front, so all the pitchers kept getting passed back to us...pitchers that were by no means empty. Instead of being Tasting Nazis (you know the type), we spoke the same language: You Don't Waste Beer. Ever.

So we got another round on the house before they whisked the empty pitchers away. 

And yes, I think this strongly contributed to my newfound Sam Adams fandom.

My favorite part of the tour was when the guide asked a woman how she liked the beer.

"It was okay. For a beer. I mean, it was really good for a dark beer. I don't really drink dark beer," she said apologetically.

"What do you drink?" someone hollered.


This sign is there to tempt you when you step out of the brewery.

The Party Trolley to Doyle's

The Party Trolley is a crammed-to-the-gills free ride to Doyle's Café. The Party Trolley comes with its own hanging disco ball. You've got about a 65% chance that the driver will be blaring Journey. And you will be standing so close to your neighbor that there is a slight chance he can impregnate you. But it's okay, because you've got a belly full of free Sam Adams and you're on your way to get some more,

Now, Doyle's is the real deal -- the bar dates back to the 1880's and has dozens of famous politician visits under its belt. Ya walk in and you just know the Kennedys went campaigning here. The food's not bad, but you're not here for the food -- you're here because it's a historic bar that offered you a free ride to a free Sam Adams glass. That said, you could do a hell of a lot worse. The pastrami was good, the fries were hot, the beer was cold. And the Sam Adams glasses were free. 

So in short? Sam Adams? I'm a fan.

Hope I did ya proud, Steph.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

hold your judgment for just one second

Look, I know you all are sick to death of SOPA/PIPA, okay? I know you're sick of the jokes, the tweets, the hashtags, the IMMA GET SERIOUS UP IN HERE posts.

But can you spare just a few minutes to read Chanel's post?  It's beautiful. So well-written. So well-rounded. And it comes from the perspective of a musician, a voice so rare in the debate. I wish to God I'd seen it sooner.

If you're sick of SOPA, can you just give it a read to appreciate her writing? It's glorious.

Speak Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace

The amazing Steph also wrote a terrific post from her standpoint as an artist:

Reasons Why SOPA/PIPA are Tools of the Devil You May or May Not Believe In 

Look, I get it. You're sick of the buzz. You're sick of the overreactions now that SOPA's being talked down nonstop. You think it's blown entirely out of proportion. But here's the thing: people are getting excited about moving their country, and people are caring about how Congress works, and people are talking, and people are THINKING, and people are formulating opinions and finding out who their Congressmen are and the Internet, this crazy fucking Internet we all publish on, is making people move and act and think and do. And that is why I don't give a damn if you're sick of it all. Because I think people moving towards a common goal is a beautiful thing.  Because people standing up against lobbyists with millions of dollars is a beautiful thing. And because people reminding themselves that they can make a difference in the world they live in is a beautiful thing. You have a right to voice your cynicism -- but I beg you, instead of nitpicking to form a dissent, consider the forest for the trees.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

kat does a way hotter rant than I do

Want to read a killer SOPA-PIPA post -- one with a picture of a gorgeous girl? one that really addresses the issues for bloggers in real, plain English? one by one of my favorite people in the world?

okay, Internet. Here you go.

don't break the internet

I try not to plug my own stuff here (that's what Twitter is for), but as bloggers, you can't ignore this issue -- or risk five years in jail time for posting a parody of a pop song. 

The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, may or may not be destroyed (verdict's out), but its Senate identical twin PIPA is still at large. 

In brief: Hollywood lobbied Congress to regulate pirated material. 

Hollywood asked (paid millions of dollars) Congress for teeth; a real method of punishment against online pirates. 

Congress responded with a bill chock full of ridiculous punishments (including, yes, a five-year jail sentence for numerous copyright infringements) intended to target foreign sites, but written with language vague enough to affect the entire Internet.

The bills call for any intellectual property owner (Justin Bieber, let's say) to file a complaint to Internet service providers. Those providers would then have five days to shut down a site (or a blog), block it from search engines, cut off ad revenue, and cease all payments (PayPal, Visa, etc.). Until a few days ago, the bill also called for the blocking of domain names: meaning would suddenly disappear and y'all would have no clue where I went. No court time. No official lawsuits. No innocent-until-proven-guilty. Nada.

Worse still, the bill calls for punishment even if you didn't violate any copyrights. If one commenter posts a link to a site with a copyright violation, your blog can be shut down.

Yeah. That sucks, doesn't it? Especially given how many parodies, gifs, videos, and images out there use copyrighted material. Especially how many of us bloggers post said parodies, gifs, videos, and images. Especially because our site could be shut down -- or we could go to jail -- because of them. Ridiculous.

This is an article I wrote about the entire ordeal. Please read it: it affects the entire blogosphere (indeed, the entire Internet). It explains why it got started, how it will affect you, and how you can fight to stop it. Please share it. Hell, if you don't want to share my words, share someone else's. Write your own. As I wrote in the article: 

I write for the Internet. I know it well. I know its risks and I know its shortcomings. I know it’s fickle, untamed, a wild thing. I know how fast it can turn on you. The Internet is what feeds me, pays my rent, moves me, inspires me, and lets me inspire. The Internet is mine, it’s yours, it’s this scrappy, cobbled-together chaos forged by billions of hands, led by billions of voices. The Internet matters to me. And I’m not about to let Congress mess with it. Not without a fight.

Now let's strap on our helmets and start fighting, kids. We've got too much to lose.