Beer Pong, the American college "sport" made famous by countless movies & tv shows, still found in campus bars and frat houses across the nation, is something of a cultural icon.
A classic drinking game that Combines physical activity (albeit limited, which suits me) and beer, although other libations can be used. It is for those, unfamiliar with the concept, an amended version of Ping Pong or table tennis for us Europeans
To be fair though, if it were called Beer Tennis, images of a different game jump to mind. Who would relish the idea of mixing booze with that game! Picture a drunkenly competitive John McEnroe, whacking tennis balls in your direction! It has Jackass & Emergency Room written all over it.
The game is governed by numerous rules and regulations, but in its simplest form requires, a ping pong ball, a long flat surface, 2 dozen or so cups, plastic would be best and of course some booze.
The cups, as per the picture below, can be set up in numerous patterns, with a wash cup set in either side.. well no one likes dirty balls..
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, anytime I have played the cups have been arranged in a pyramid formation and it's bloody hard to get a ball in a cup! Of course, that may have had something to do with already being drunk when deciding to play! Who ever decides to play sober? Actually, You may be surprised
Having set up our table, outside, thanks to a sunny day. My Pong opponent & I faced off with each other. We indulged in customary stare outs or stare squinting, due to the sun and some good old fashioned trash talking. Cue juvenile balls jokes!
As we took aim with our first shots, we fell foul of manly pride and thinking we had some sort of athletic prowess, we made the mistake of using or attempting to use ping pong bats! Forrest Gump would not be proud. At this rate, this was shaping up to be an endurance game.
If you haven't got the concept by now, each player throws or bounces the ball, towards their opponents cups, if you get the ball in then your opponent drinks the contents of the cup.
The winner is whichever player forced their opponent to drink all his cups first, the loser can then also be made to drink the winners cups
Of course The Irish version of this game forbids the loser drinking the winners booze.. that would just start a punch up! In fact extra official are employed to ensure the players aren't drinking their own cups during play.
This game does require a level of skill & I found My drunken Pong skills were so poor that I was gasping for a drink anytime I played. That's the main reason why our games never came to a natural conclusion, but ended when players began drinking the contents of their own cups out of desire for a swally.
As much of a drunken mess as our attempts at playing turned out, Beer Pong does have a serious side. Every year since 2008, Beer Pong Athletes descend on the state of Nevada to take part in the the World Series of Beer Pong which is advertised as the Worlds Largest tournament of its kind, with a top prize rumored to be approx $65000!
Surprisingly, The competition cups are filled with water, which the players do not drink... Now responsible drinking is a must, but it's a bloody beer Pong tournament.. if trading standards got wind of that....
According to the official website, the competition has drawn entrants from 45 US States and 5 Canadian provinces.. quite impressive, but not so much a World Series to be fair.
If you have never played Beer Pong, it's good Craic for a drunken Saturday afternoon. Perfect diversion game for when your mate "Beer Belly Brian" creepily suggests Strip poker for the 50th time..
Obviously you don't want to waste your decent craft brews on this, so either don a disguise or send the wife in to the offy's (liquor store) to buy some Budweiser or similarly pish beer.
My only rule addition would be a clean pair of hands, we all have that one friend who does questionable things with his hands.
Red Cups are available in most Supermarkets nowadays, although home bargains is the cheapest. Some places also sell Beer Pong kits.
Don't bother with bats, you will die of thirst
If you looked at a satellite image of Ireland and zoomed in around the ass of the teddy bear, which the country is often said to resemble, you would find the town of Wexford, just by the mouth of the River Slaney.
Home to approx 20,000 people or YellowBelly's as they are locally known, Wexford is where you will also find Yellowbelly Beer, a two year old Brewery that started from a brew kit in a basement below local watering hole Simon Lambert & Sons.
In that short 2 year period Declan Nixon (head brewer) & Nicky Lambert (director) collaborated on over 100 different beers. Although the majority remained keg only releases, 13 specialities were given nationwide releases.
In early 2017, having outgrown their basement site, the guys moved production to a new brewery, not far from the pub where it all began, now with more space & canning facilities the quest to take over the world one beer at a time is in full swing!
Each Of the guys Beers releases includes unique artwork featuring "Yellowbelly" the brand Character & somewhat uniquely a comic & digital content including games & animated videos, all produced under the watchful eye of designer Paul Reck.
The company title is of course ironic, in that YellowBelly Beer never fears to be progressive and innovative with their beer styles and ingredients.
It was a can of their award winning Citra Pale Ale that introduced me to Yellowbelly. The eye catching can featuring the aforementioned Yellowbelly, who reminds me of a wrench wielding maniacal Circus Master, was one of the first I took hold of on a recent visit to the Vineyard.
Having rested in the Liquorjunky fridge the 300ml can of 4.8% Citra Pale Ale was poured after a long warm day of baby sitting, or parenting as my wife insists I should call it. Perfectly chilled & ready to sink
Pouring a hazy golden orange with a thin albeit fluffy white head. I could detect the grapefruit scent on this immediately. It wasn't overly carbonated and the citrus, grapefruit taste combined with a little zest made it extremely refreshing.
Overall, Yellowbelly Citra Pale Ale is a medium bodied, not overpowering in taste yet refreshingly finished Pale Ale.
It's perfect for an afternoon in the garden in a can sized serving. Not sure my palate would welcome several pints of this, although I would be keen to sample it on draught
I purchased my beer in The Vineyard, Belfast - a 330ml can cost £1.99
More info can be found here www.yellowbellybeer.ie
Nestled on the Ormeau Road, a short walk from the Southern embankments of Belfast’s River Lagan. The Vineyard is a blink and you will miss it Off License, an ordinary and unassuming shop front on a busy route through the east of the city. Unless you stop to stare at its carefully crafted window displays, or you know that it exists by its reputation alone, then you could be missing out on a hidden gem
At first glance, it has the appearance of a decades old family run shop, a business passed down from Father to Son. One that never quite embraced modern times or technology which ultimately is a big part of the charm. Entering the store initially is like stepping back to a time when the World Wide Web was Merely three words that begin with W, Craft Ale was a drink for old men in the Pub and a Growler, well a Growler was something your lady friend owned. This isn’t elaborate or well-designed theming, its character, character that comes with age.
The entrance, the most open and airy part of the store, leads you to a choice, left through the metal gate or right to the counter. It is in fact less of a choice and more of a carefully crafted one way system, designed to make best use of the stores limited space. An Artificial Light bathed Supermarket Liquor Store this is not. It is claustrophobic, intimate and dark all at once, but then 6000 products in a space this size will do that.
Picking up a basket and venturing through the gate was akin to walking through that Wardrobe and finding yourself in Narnia. The realisation that this is in fact a Magical Land hits home quickly. Did you ever visit Toys R Us or Leisure World (for locals), as a child and wish you had the means to buy all that tempted you? That’s the feeling this place produces! Bottles of Alcohol surround you in every direction, time is lost and only the windows at the front give you a sense of day or night.
As I browsed the abundance of Wines covering the shelves, the walls and in places the floor, I haphazardly flicked through my banking App to check the balance, some serious man shopping was about to commence. Winding through the bottles on the Pathway to the Holy Grail I found myself in the Beer section.. Like a time travel flash in a tv show, I was a 4 year old again, standing in front of the largest display of Star Wars figure in Leisure World circa 1985! That feeling of Joy, wonder & excitement was back. My eyes tried to take it all in, but as they darted in every direction at once I relalised it was pointless. There were far too many Cans and bottles to take in.
I began to fill my basket, a mixture of cans I liked the artwork on and breweries of which I had heard good things. I must have done ten laps, easy, of the intimate beer section, apologising for no real reason to each person I had to squeeze by on my travels. When my basket was full I decided, reluctantly, to call it a day. It’s a repeat visit kind of place, with more beers that were new to me than not. My 35 minute shopping spree, didn’t even allow me time to inspect the Ciders, Sour Beers or the Cities only Growler Station. Which during my time there, seemed to be well used.
So with no space left I reluctantly made my way to the till, finding myself facing the spirit section. Where I dug deep for self-restraint and did my best not to look at the vast selection of bottles. As the staff member totalled my bill, I took in the atmosphere & the smell one last time. The Wooden shelves and wine racks add to the ambience and I half expected Arkwright to appear from the store room berating Granville.
So, with a final bill of £**.49 (My Wife might be reading) I settled up and lugged my tasty haul to the car, but not before being offered assistance by the incredibly friendly staff.
The Vineyard is 60 this year! Although it has evolved over time, crucially it has maintained its independence, which allows the sourcing of so many niche wines and beers. The selection is unparalleled and it deserves its place as the best specialist off license in the North of Ireland (In my opinion at least)
My advice, pay this place a visit close to payday.. Life has many tough choices, which excellent craft beer to leave behind shouldn’t be on that list
The Vineyard is located at 375-377 Ormeau Road, Belfast and is open from 0930 to late most days, 1130-9pm on Sunday!
Although present on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, their website remains under construction.
All beer purchased was paid for by myself. Credit to the owners of the pictures, I was carrying too many beers to take pics
Being a New Yorker isn't about where you're from it's all about your attitude. Having an attitude isn't brashness, more a self-confidence of being comfortable with who you are and not letting anyone or anything undermine that.
You can be many different things in life but you can only ever be 100% New Yorker.
So, yeah! As the picture shows, in my haste to taste I poured the beer before I took any pictures. Generally that's not a problem, well it with dark glass bottles. So I included a stock image, courtesy of the New Yorker Beer website to properly showcase the product. Think of it as a before and after shot!
I cant find a lot about this Lager online, there doesn't appear to be a detailed backstory, invented or otherwise, as is the marketing norm nowadays. Nope, New Yorker Fine Lager Beer Is a Lager without a History, but is it Lager without a soul?. New Yorker Beer appears to be completely fresh in every sense
Pouring a pretty standard light straw Lager colour this Beer is at first, weak on the nose, its a lager, so don't expect the strong deep scents of other craft beers. I find all Lagers have that generic scent.. once you really stick your nose in and get a whiff there is a maltyness coming through.
While Lager certainly isn't my favorite kind of beer, this one is streets ahead of the mass produced fizzy water that the big producers throw out.. the kind of beers where the cardboard case has more flavour than what's in the bottle..
New Yorker Lager is a solid beer! It's refreshing with a palatable flavour and a full finish. An ice cold New Yorker Beer would be a welcome sight after a long day of Sightseeing in the Big Apple.. A great beer for a six pack and Frisbee in Central Park.
It would even go down well on our one day of Irish summer weather... though for that you will have to wait a year, as we had that weather in early April
Sometimes I think I am a little hard on Lager, yes of course I have a preference for more flavour some craft ales, but I need to remember that Lager was the starting pitcher for my Beer Journey. It may not have the sophistication of IPA or Amber Ale, but then it's not trying to be those brews! When served cold to a thirsty booze hound like me, then it's a good solid classic beer, well New Yorker is, I'm still not acccepting some of that other crap that people drink.
New Yorker Beer is served in 330ml bottles at a strength of 4.2%
I received my bottle of New Yorker from the kind folks at Pierhead Drinks. No money was exchanged and no endorsement of this product was requested or implied.
Beer is far to serious a subject to be anything other than truthful - How is that for a legal jargon free disclaimer?
"During the Renaissance, Harlem was a catalyst for artistic freedom and one of the most popular cultural destinations on the planet"
It was from this melting pot of culture that the Harlem Brewing Company was born! Having started by experimenting back in the early 90's with a simple home brewing kit, Celeste Beatty has long outgrown her small Harlem Apartment that witnessed her initial forays into craft beer.
Celeste sought out some key people in the New York brewing industry and steadily honed her skills and learnt the craft. The year 2000 saw her initial offering, Sugar Hill Golden Ale released via Contract Brewing through a facility in Upstate New York, Renaissance Wit followed in 2014
Pouring a rich Amber which a weak sunlight shines through topped with a light off white foamy head! Ok, even I cant take myself seriously. I am going to start over, Wit does indeed pour a rich amber colour, the cumin and spices are clear on the nose and the beer is lightly carbonated. The added spices enhance the regular Wheat Beer taste which makes for a deep taste and a wonderful after finish and follow up.
Taking a look at the bottle itself, it is clear Renaissance Wit is brewed in New York and imported. A lot of beers are brewed under license in the UK, which invariably affects the taste when you consider the difference in water and other ingredients. A downside of shipping a beer like this can be the effect on the taste. Renaissance Wit doesn't seemed to have suffered from its journey. Its a clean American, Belgian style Wheat Beer.
Overall this is a Wheat Beer packed with flavour. Having never drank an American take on the Belgian classic, I have to admit I was impressed. Its obviously expertly brewed which produces a surprisingly decent craft beer
Renaissance Wit from Harlem Brewing Company, recommended by the Brewer to pair with fish and cheese.
5.8% ABV in 355ml glass bottles
**I got my bottle courtesy of the kind folks at Pierhead UK. I did not pay for this beer, however Beer is far to important to lie about.. So I stand by my review!
Established in 1719, Belhaven is Scotland’s oldest working brewery. With abundant local barley, fine water from the brewery well , Belhaven was the perfect place for a brewery back then, and it still is today"
Just imagine the history and heritage a brewery approaching its 300 hundredth birthday would possess. Methods steeped in generations of brewing, a product so refined and perfected that it would be a matter of national pride to the intensely proud Scottish people. Well, Belhaven has just that, in its Stouts and Ales. What's surprising is the line of outside the box thinking craft beers the brewery also produces.
Take for example, TWISTED Grapefruit IPA. Grapefruits wouldnt exactly be native to Scotland and neither do they readily fit with the stuffy image that you assume the second oldest brewery in Scotland should have. But then, just look what happens when you assume.
I'm not a big fan of flavoured beer or cider for that matter, although I am softening to the latter. To be honest I mulled over this purchase for longer than I usually would when beer shopping. Somehow though it found its way into the trolley and was soon nestled into the Liquorjunky fridge.
It pours a fairly rich golden colour almost like a light mahogany. This IPA has a very generous white head that covers the beer below. On the nose its, well it's like nothing I have ever smelt from a can of beer. Fruity, grapefruity, incredibly fragrant and sweet. I actually spent a good bit of time taking in the scent of the beer. Yeah sure it's a bit of a novelty and that's the whole twisted appeal, but it works well and I found that it ramped up the anticipation of the tasting itself
I don't want to say it let itself down in its taste, as I have no other Grapefruit IPA to compare to, however it was a little false to drink. It was refreshing and the IPA base was strong however the grapefruit didn't work as well as the aroma lead me to believe. Ok perhaps false isn't entirely fair, it's a twisted infused fruity IPA after all. After finishing this off I concluded that it tastes exactly as its meant to and that wasn't half bad. It's sweet, very sweet and that's what would stop me drinking more than one. This is a fun brew for sure and one I would buy for the surprise of the initial smell in itself.
I picked my my 330ml 3.5% ABV can up in Tesco
Want that lightbulb moment? Get refreshed with our clean, crisp Pilsner. steeped in spicy Czech hops. It's a fresh, dry lager with a citrus finish.
Edison Biritsh Pilsner brewed in Bath, the Town in England not the big tub you fill with water, is a beer from the Electric Bear Brewing Company. A company named in part after the original Bear Brewery which stood proud in the Town until being destroyed in a bombing raid during WWII.. The Electric in the name was added to represent the power supplying the brew house kettle.
With a line up consisting of some 20 different brews, each one as intriguing as the next, based on the artwork alone. Edison British Pilsner is the first beer I have tried from Electric Bear Brewing.
Pouring a clear pale this Pilsner has the thinnest of white heads. Mild carbonation with lemony and floral scent. It has a decent taste and crisp finish but overall is a standard Pilsner. Nothing more nothing less. It's another inoffensive and drinkable beer, not one I would order more than one bottle of.
Thankfully the Electric Bear Brewing family holds much more potential in its other offerings. Honesty is best, so I wouldn't recommend this Pilsner but with a caveat attached. There are much more flavoursome and satisfying beers on the market. This beer would be fine to drink if there is nothing better behind the bar, where that isn't the case, treat your taste buds and order something with a little more to give.
Edison British Pilsner,330ml bottle with an 4.8% ABV
More info can be found at www.electricbearbrewing.com
Dixie Lager is an American icon. Brewed all-naturally today as it was first brewed in 1907, Dixie Lager uses lightly roasted two-row barley malts and rice. The result is a crisp and flavorful beer with a mild Cascade hop finish. A century of New Orleans' brewing tradition lives today in every bottle and keg of Dixie Lager.
I may have missed the Boat on Mardi Gras, but I am taking a little trip to New Orleans none the less. I hear its a great town anytime of the Year, with amazing food, bars and Music. So with suitcase packed and $$$ in my pocket I am heading to the Deep South of the good old US of A
Unfortunately the production budget doesn't quite stretch all the way across the Pond, so a bottle or two of the local beer and a playlist of classic "Nor Lans" songs on repeat is as close as I can get, but a visit to this party Town is on my ever expanding Bucket List
The Dixie Brewing Company was founded in 1907 (Happy 110th Birthday) by Valentine Merz in New Orleans, it survived Prohibition and brewed on a sight in Mid New Orleans until 2005. After a battle with Bankruptcy in 1989, the brewery emerged 3 years later with a refreshed line of Beer and worked to get back to its previous status.
Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005 and badly damaged the Brewery. A lot of the equipment was taken during looting in the aftermath of the Disaster. Although the company pledged to rebuild the brewery and continue production in the city, this has yet to happen. At present this beer is contract brewed in a number of other locations and the Original Brewery has been abandoned.
so History lesson over, it's time to drin! Dixie Beer pours weak lager yellow with a slight foamy head. It is pale on the nose with an aroma in line with many other American Lagers, non offensive but not rich in hops and flavour.Ice cold and crisp, it plays well on the palate and has a decent balance. This Beer is very light in comparison to other craft beers I have been trying. It is brewed in the style of many American Lagers and I found it a little weak when compared, possibly unfairly, to the Irish Craft Ales and IPA's. It is what you would expect from a 100 year old American Institution.
A Lager that I cant help would be exceptional in the New Orleans sunshine, sipped slowly on Bourbon Street watching throngs of Bead Clad Ladies.
I picked up my stash of Dixie Beer in the Gap Wines Store in Carrickfergus.
It comes in 330m bottles with a 4.5% ABV
Dixie Beer is brewed in the UK through Pierhead Drinks
Blind Pig is a Premium Cider brand brought to the market by Heineken and produced in the UK by H.P Bulmer. It was released in May 2015 with a themed launch based around the old American Speakeasy's which operated across the Country during Prohibition.
But as Prohibition is long gone and never actually affected us to begin with, its available to buy in 355ml bottles. Three flavours are currently available and I managed to grab a bottle of each at a local Tesco.
First up in this Spirit infused Cider range from Blind Pig. Whiskey, Honey and apple is a really smooth drink. The flavours mix well, almost to well as you begin to question why you have stuck to regular Apple Cider for so long. This is surely one for repeat drinking and with the combination of flavours I sometime forgot it was a Cider at all. None of the flavours beat out the other, yet I could really taste the Honey and the hint of Whiskey.
Next up is Bourbon and Blueberry. Ok, so I said none beat the other, but this was quite possibly my favourite of the three Piggies. The Blueberry, which is a flavour I do not normally like infuses with the Bourbon to produce a really refreshing and moreish drink. Fresh and just a little bit different this really is excellent stuff. Subtly done so that the tastes combine to work well together.
Just when you thought the flavour combinations had peaked, they piggies throw in Rum and Poached Pear. Rum infused Cider, that just sounds a little out there to me. I mean I love Rum and I am partial, very partial to Cider, but together and with Poached Pear... Well, sniff, sip, gulp... How the heck did they ever come up with this? It just works and quite well. Its my second favourite in what was almost a 3 way tie.
How has such a quality Cider avoided my attention for almost two years!? Consumed Ice cold as always this is a brand that I hope expands its line.
I find it hard enough to keep up with the constant refresh in release of Craft Beers, but now Cider is getting in on the act and when it comes to Blind Pig, they are owning the Game.
I picked up my selection at Tesco. They were, from memory, on a 3 for £6 promo which is excellent value for drink with an on sale RRP of almost £5. Keep your eyes peeled for Blind Pig.. It is worth splashing the cash for
The range is available in 355ml bottles and has an ABV of 5.5%
Strongbow Pear Cider was released in 2012 to take advantage of the upsurge not only in Hard Cider sales but the ever expanding flavoured variants market. It is produced by H.P Bulmer in England, who have been brewing the original Strongbow Cider since its initial release in 1962. Amazingly, if my facts are correct it is the Worlds Leading Cider Brand with a market share of 15%.
A staple brand of park benches everywhere, Strongbow is associated, by me anyway, with two distinct target audiences. Underage drinkers & those of us unfortunate enough to have succumbed to Alcohol addiction. Empty Strongbow bottles are a common site in parks and river paths up and down the United Kingdom, usually in the company of the somewhat cheaper White Lightening Cider.
As someone who didn't drink cider until my mid twenties, Strongbow wasn't part of my formative drinking years. In fact I would be pretty certain it has never passed my lips, until now. Having recently received a 4 pack as a gift I took the decision to take the plunge with as open a mind as I could get.
I planned to work up a thirst before trying it, as I figured ice cold cider sampled with a thirst on would be more agreeable no matter the flavour or brand. So, last Sunday morning I set out on my Bicycle to get the blood pumping and get my body ready for the reward. That, i should point out is as method as it comes when we talk about sampling booze! So after an epic 45 minute session covering some 7 miles, there are a lot of hills near the LiquorJunky Bar, I free wheeled back to base, hopped off my ride and made towards the Bar. Admittedly I probably wasn't a pretty sight as I rubbed my tender ass all the while panting like a fat kid chasing a snickers bar. However, I had done what I set out to do and had a thirst like never before
With a weak straw coloured pour, it gave off a rich Pear scent, albeit slightly chemical in its makeup. It settled down quickly in the glass and the first long sip was cool crisp & satisfying. Strongbow Pear has a reasonable aftertaste and finishes off better than I expected. This is certainly a cider that you could settle for on a summers day in a beer garden. Its clear I am not a fan of Strongbow, nor a fan of falavoured ciders on the whole. In saying that This Pear cider isn't going to offend. Its a reasonable place to start your Cider adventure, just make sure you move on quickly.
Curiously Pear Cider doesn't appear on the Strongbow Website. Has it been discontinued already? While I wasn't as harsh on this as I imagined I would be. It should be noted that I was hot, tired and feeling like a busted Sofa.
400ml Can serving, 4.8% ABV
Purchased in Home Bargains, Larne as a gift. Price unknown, but I would imagine it is cheap.
Please Drink Responsibly