THE EDITOR’S DESK :: The Big Eating and Drinking Review … and stuff

by Harvey Gold on August 27, 2015

unnamedThere’s an art installation here in downtown Akron, Ohio, within a teeny tiny common space possessing a few tables, benches… a picnic area cum smoking section on the edge of what is now being called Akron’s Historic District. My band, Half Cleveland, rehearsed in the building that sits just across the alley from this little inkspot of niceness, so we came to explore it a bit when taking smoking breaks from practice.

The art installation in question is a tribute to Akron musicians of note and, to a fair extent, pretty much all other cultural notes and landmarks to be found here in Akron. There are nods to our blimps, the soap box derby, our parks, weather (such as it is), and musical luminaries DEVO, Chrissie Hynde, and The Black Keys. But there was, just under the disc tributing The Black Keys, a space about the size and dimensions of a vinyl record album where something appears to have at one time been and then, leaving the screw in the wall, mysteriously vaporized leaving just the faint impression of it ever having been there. Some would say an Ancient Alien Civilization was responsible for all this, both the appearance and… the disappearance. Others, not so much.

tight hueysSo anyway, the idea came that half of Half Cleveland’s source bands, Tin Huey (the other mothership would be The Waitresses), as one of the seminal New Wave bands of the 70s and early 80s, should occupy this space.
Ideas hatched quickly, there being a great and grand Tin Huey visual association, The Huey Sisters, hatched and re-hatched in so many, many fluxoidesque multiples by artist Allen Bukoff. Dolli went to work on this and the end result was an 8” cake plate shrine to Tin Huey.

Under cover of daylight

Under cover of daylight

As anti Banksy as we could get, we waited for a nice sunny afternoon and under cover of nothing, took a couple screw drivers and installed this Art-Rock-For-Laughs edifice. We took pics, had a guy who had strolled in for a sit and a smoke take a pic of us all involved in this not guerilla exercise of it-would-be-civil-disobedience-if-someone-had-told-us-not-to-do-this, and then strolled south a few blocks to The Lockview for a beer and an early birdbite.

I ordered a Hoppy Birthday APA from Alpine Beer Company, located in Alpine, California, which sits about half an hour from the San Diego City Limits, so we’re in the deep orbit of this SoCal beer mecca.

Hoppy Birthday from Alpine

Hoppy Birthday from Alpine

A very lemony, grapefruity nose with an IPA feel, it was spectacular. I haven’t seen a published IBU, but there’s a seriously crafted bitter at the back end of an eminently drinkable 5.25% ABV. Everything with the exception of a malty middle feels like what should be a great IPA, begging the question, what’s the diff between an IPA and and APA? The simple answer for me would be the lower ABV of APAs. As the alcohol level is derived from the sugars in the malts, this would explain how two of my favorite low ABV yet aromatic, flavorful, hoppy, and bitter brews, Hoppy Birthday and Stone Levitation Ale have very little, if any, of that middle presence of caramely malt, often the one notable difference in the flavor profiles between an IPA and an APA. There! The mystery is solved… for the moment. Edgy, citrusy, and delicious. A nice reward for very little labor today. Even moreso as, in researching this piece, I learned that our friends at Stone are discontinuing my beloved Levitation Ale, making Hoppy Birthday APA even more of a go-to brew for me.

Our next new experience came when we went to an early screening of Love & Mercy, the film about Brian Wilson and The Beachboys. My capsule review, for those who might be interested:

OK then – Love & Mercy. I loved it… but I found myself either tearing up or getting adrenalized every time one of those epic tunes started rolling in, so a bit less than objective from the get go. The use of music and events from the studio as previously documented on audio ( and a little film) was just wonderful. Some of the expository to set the table (ex. who the Wrecking Crew was) seemed to be exactly that and a little forced… but might not to someone who didn’t already know this stuff.
I thought the Brian casting made sense, starting with Dano, who’s moonface made for a proper young Brian, then Kusack, not so much in resembling Brian – though he did mindful work with his mouth twisting, finger twitching and body language – but resembling the grown up Dano!! There were a couple moments where he talked a bit too jazzlike quickly, resembling John Kusack more than Brian Wilson. Still, not bad at all.
sinopse-do-filme-love-mercy-2015They were attempting to cover an enormous amount of historical and emotional territory, used Brian as the vehicle to tell this larger story, doing a really decent job of getting details right and making pretty fair decisions about what to bring into the pic and what to leave home.
As for Giametti? The real guy WAS kind of a monster, so I’m good with it. And the love interest was fine. No one said she didn’t fall for Brian based on her own pathology: personal neediness, mom instincts, loving the Beachboys AND him being a really authentic, amazing guy, right?
So regardless of whether I’m right, full of crap, giving some acting and directing more credit than deserved, I repeat, I loved it.
And I saw the Smile Tour and it was, indeed, transcendent!
And then there’s this, the one love song that maybe owns my heart more than any other ever. RIP Carl… voice of an angel.

Afterwards, we went to a well known eatery/craft brewpub, Melt. I’d long heard about their giant, decadent, gourmet grilled cheese offerings and their great beer menu, but this was our first time. Our server was great and very attentive. I ordered up a Victory Dirtwolf, described as a “Double IPA that is wildly assertive, intentionally untamed and dangerously satisfying.” The ABV at 8.7%, brewed with Chinook, Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops, was very lemony/citrusy. Sweet, mildly balanced without noting a lot of malt in the mouth, only a little bitter on the end, but in making a big IPA, you have to add here, then there, then here again, leading me to think sometimes that the higher alcohol brews are not only higher in flavor intensity, but often more balanced because the brewers simply HAVE to pay attention to it or the brew will go off the rails. Regardless of whether I’ve hit the nail on the head, or just made up some sort of brewing fiction, Dirtwolf was excellent.

Dirtwolf and my Menu

Dirtwolf and my Menu

As for the food, well… they were out of pulled beef brisket so I coulnd’t get their Cleveland Cheese Steak (Another favored Brewpub in Cleveland does it with pot roast. Really tasty), so I experimented. I ordered the Korean War Pig : korean bbq glazed pulled pork, seared pork belly, kimchi slaw, pear onion cilantro relish, & muenster cheese. I found, for my tastes, the kimchi slaw to be too dominating in the flavor balance of this one, but that’s me. Dolli got their Mom’s meatloaf dinner grilled cheese, and outside of there just being SO MUCH FOOD, liked it very much. My only real issue is based on them printing their menus on used vinyl album covers, and I wasn’t terribly thrilled with mine.

Other notables:

indexChillwave Double IPA from Great Lakes Brewing. Yet another Northern Ohio Beer kicking ass. So balanced, there’s no telling this is a 9.4%ABV with 80 IBU except in the great, vivid, high level of flavor generated by this excellent, beautifully balanced IPA. Trying to get a true fix on this based on the high level of citrus and fruitiness, yet a touch of, if I’m not mistaken, pine. The brewer, speaks to a “flash” of Mosaic and a “kiss” of honey malt. The Mosaic would speak to the fruitiness, but that’s all I’ve got except to shout a bit that I LOVED IT!

beer_123773A friend brought over Hoppin’ Frog Turbo Shandy. Frankly, I’m not sure he knew what he was buying, but I’m always curious about offerings from Akron Ohio’s Hoppin’ Frog, the award winning purveyor of big beers in big bottles. An average ABV, for Hoppin’ Frog, of 7%, definitely high for a shandy. I’m not big on such brews, finding it hard to think of them as a beer. For what it is, I enjoyed this one. It was like a carbonated lemonade, BUT I detected the tiniest hint of sour in it, giving me an real excuse to like it. A good shandy, without question, but if I’m going with a beer presenting “summer” flavors, I’ll likely order a Thirsty Dog Citra Dog IPA, made exclusively with Citra Hops, refreshing and lemony, with a nice bitter bite, or the awesome Hoppy Birthday, written about above.

Next up… “My Dinner” – Home Brew Sour Cherry Chocolate Stout

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

carol westbrook August 31, 2015 at 3:25 pm

That’s a nice assortment of brews! I haven’t come across a single one of them. Here in NEPA the draft lists are going toward sours, saisons, and sessions (the 3 s’s). Fortunately, no pumpkin ales on draft… YET. Love & Mercy was one of my favorite films this year to date, thanks for your review. I especially loved the recording sessions, which were pretty faithful copies of the little footage that exists. We have tickets to see Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys in concert at a local venue in October, and I’m looking forward to it, since I never got to see them in 1960-something. Cheers!


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