SXSWi 2008 – Friday – Day 1

BTW, I’m at the South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) thing again this year. W00t for me.

I woke up at 5am to make my way to the airport. I flew Southwest to Austin by way of Dallas. Unlike everyone else who flew the day before, I had 0 problems. I’m quite happy about that. I hopped a ride in the nicest cab I’ve ever ridden in. It was a brand new, taxicab-yellow Dodge Charger. I also conversed with the most interesting cab driver I’ve ever met. We talked about his troubles interfacing his website with a mysql backend. It was fun to be knowledgeable. If you are going to make a new website then make sure you get a dedicated server.

I’m at the Raddison again this year. While it is a little further away from the convention center, it’s not nearly as far away as the La Quinta that I stayed at my first year. Never doing that again, let me tell you. I checked in early, they thankfully had a room already available, even though it was 11:30ish when I checked in and normal check in is 3pm. Yay for that.

I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, so I checked in with Jeffy and met him and some other folks – Nathan, Christian, Sara, and for a short time Sarah. I had a so-so caesar burger with waffle fries. Oh, and roughly 5 Negra Modellos and a White Russian. Tasty. This was the first and second time I heard Jeff’s story about Ariel Waldman.

After that, I headed down to the convention center to pick up my badge. This process, according to everyone else I talked to, was to be a very quick process. In fact, it was to be “the fastest it’s ever been.” Those people are fucking liars. I believe from when I joined the line to when I got my actual badge in hand, it was about an hour.

Afterwards, I headed back to the hotel to grab a quick nap before the nights festivities. There is an annual initial party called ‘Mix at Six,’ which is held at a bar called Six. I got there around 6:20ish. The line was around the block. Quite different from previous years. I caught up with a bunch of folks and we headed down to the always popular Iron Cactus for some dinner. By the time we got there, it became known that Mike Davidson wasn’t going to make it down to SXSW. In accordance with this, everyone had to do a Jager shot in his honor. I hate this Devil liquid. Dinner was quite good though: chicken burrito with white cream sauce with beans and spanish rice. Rice could have been cooked a little longer, but c’est la vie. Also: two Negra Modellos. Mmm. Also, this is where Jeff met the previously mentioned Ariel and told his story to her. He also told it to our table – so it was my third time hearing it that day.

After dinner, it was time to drink. So, we headed down to the Ginger Man. The Ginger Man is a lot like Barley’s Brewhouse in KC, only with not quite as many taps. I had a New Belgium 1554 and a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen which was too orangey. I also played in a team pool game with Christian, Jon, and Josh. We lost, I was kind of drunk.

At some point we decided we needed to go to the previously mentioned Six. I had a delicious Red Stripe downstairs and then we headed up to the upstairs balcony. The funniest part of this section of the evening was Josh trying to talk. See his twitter around that time for further explanation.

Around 11 I bounced and headed to bed, called the wife, and fell asleep in the 800-pillow bed.

New Belgium Beer

This past Wednesday, at my apartment complex clubhouse, a New Belgium representitive put on a beer tasting. We tasted all of their six regular beers as well as their current seasonal beer.

I would like to comment a bit on each of the beers I tasted. After reading, I hope that you, my dear readers – all six of you, will have a better idea about the beer offerings by New Belgium.

This list of beers is presented as it was presented to me – roughly from lighest to darkest. Enjoy.

Sunshine Wheat
This is the beer that I thought I would like the most. My favorite beers happen to be wheat beers and I wasn’t disappointed by this beer. This beer is a nice light beer with a refreshing citrus taste – orange in particular. On a related note, our New Belgium representative noted that many people in Colorado – where this beer is brewed (Fort Collins) – drink this beer with a slice of orange in it to heighten the orange flavor. I’ve heard of lemons in beer, but the orange additive is new to me. Sounds good though. Because of its orange tastes, this wheat reminded me of Blue Moon by Coors. Only this was a better taste in general.
Fat Tire
Fat Tire is New Belgium’s flagship beer. Prior to this beer tasting, it was the only New Belgium product that I had heard of. This is a fairly light beer that has a nice balance of hops and malt flavors. It’s one of those beers that I could drink regularly. This beer is named because of a bike trip the founders of New Belgium took while touring Belgium.
Loft (Seasonal)
Loft is New Belgium’s March through September seasonal beer. This is another fairly light beer offering from New Belgium. Not too malty or too hoppy – nicely balanced. There is a light citrus flavor to it as well. The name Loft pays homage to the wind powered New Belgium brewery – a first for American breweries.
Blue Paddle
Blue Paddle is New Belgium’s pilsener offering. Because it’s a pilsener, it is more bitter than the previous beers that I’ve written about already. It was a nice crisp beer, that I thought, depsite me not being a pilsener fan, was quite acceptable.
1554 gets its name from the type of beer drank in Belgium during that year. 1554 is a black style ale. However, despite it being very dark, it doesn’t have a dark taste like a porter or a stout. It’s actually very light. When you first taste it, you will be pleasantly surprised at how light it is. The more I drank it, the more I liked it. In fact I might be picking up some of it the next time I’m at the L-store. Another distinct taste you’ll find is a coffee overtone.
This beer is made in the tradition of Belgian styled double ales. This is the type of beer that monks used to brew to support their abbeys. It’s a higher alcohol by volume beer. It’s much darker than the previous beers and has a more malty taste. Even for a lighter beer drinker like me, this was a very drinkable beer that I would have again, given the opportunity.
Trippel is similar to Abbey – dark and malty. This is New Belgium’s most alcoholic beer, something like 10.2% alcohol by volume – if memory serves me correctly. Yet, despite the high alcohol content, it is still a very drinkable beer. This beer gets it’s name from the way that beer casks were labeled in olden times. The Abbey would have been a XX and the Trippel would have been a XXX, hence the name Trippel – three X’s.

Overall, I would say that I would drink all of these beers again. As I’ve noted, I prefer the lighter beers, yet the darker beers were still very good beers. As such, I’d recomend you pick up one – or more 😉 – of the New Belgium beers and try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Brown Russian

You have your white russians. You have your black russians. I present to you, dear internet, the brown russian:

Brown Russian
1/3 vodka
1/3 coffee liqueur
1/3 chocolate milk

I swear, it puts the other two russians to shame. I invented it. You heard it here first, folks.