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Malt liquor on the wine menu

Each Friday the Wall Street Journal helps its readers prepare for the weekend with a bit of advice about liquid refreshments.

Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher are among the nation’s finest wine writers, and this week they look into Sauternes class of 2001, which is just being released. Sauternes, from the Bordeaux region of France, is the world’s greatest sweet wine, with good bottles starting at $40 at retail and prices rocketing higher. That’s a 750ml bottle, about 25 ounces.

This Friday the WSJ offers an alternative: malt liquors, served in 40-ounce bottles. The headline calls this Malt Liquor’s Moment and the story reports:

But in a few places across the country, malt liquor is having something of a cultural moment. It’s showing up on the menu of popular restaurants like Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack in San Francisco, where Mickey’s is served in an ice-filled champagne bucket. Some microbrewers, who pride themselves on their “craft beer” made with fancy ingredients, have launched their own lines of malt liquor: Pizza Port in Solana Beach, Calif., periodically makes its Brown Bag Malt Liquor, and Piece, a restaurant and brewery in Chicago, offers Dolemite, named after a 1975 blaxploitation film. There’s even a cadre of collectors who pay as much as $300 on eBay for rare specimens of the 40-ounce bottles — even empty.

There’s even a picture of Dogfish Head Brewery’s Liquor de Malt, including the paper bag it comes in.

Tomme Arthur, who brews the Pizza Port Brown Bag Malt Liquor, previously has pointed out that he asks to judge this category at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival each year.

“Some like to shun their past. Me, I embrace it,” he said.

[Note: The WSJ is a subscription site.]

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Beer pong at Darmouth

The Dartmouth student newspaper offers “a three-part series looking at the evolution of beer pong as a social and cultural phenomenon at Dartmouth.”

From the first part:

But the pong players of today, whether or not they realize it, are partaking in a pastime that has come a long way from the original game. Pong consisted of two cups of beer per side from the 1950s until the 1990s, and the last 10 years have seen a proliferation in the amount of beer consumed during one game. The most common pong formations at Dartmouth include “shrub” and “tree,” which consist of seven and 11 cups of beer, respectively. According to common definitions of “binge drinking,” even a single game of pong can cross the line from social to binge drinking.

From the second:

For decades, speed pong dominated — a fast-paced game of table tennis with the added target of beers on the table. Eventually, slam pong came into fashion. In slam pong, one partner lobs the ball to his teammate who slams the ball toward the cup, similar to a set and spike in volleyball. This version, also known as volley pong at the time, was invented around 1979 and came into style in the early 1980s.

“Slam was for the hardcore,” Marriott said. “Regular pong was for women and [fre]’shmen.”

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Saga of the 10-ounce can

Newcomers to St. Mary’s County (Maryland) may not understand why beer is available in 10-ounce cans and why they are so popular. It costs the same, if not more, than a 12-ounce can. So why would people buy it?

‘‘It’s just become a big item in the county,” distributor George Guy said. ‘‘People feel it’s something they created. It’s something that belongs to them.”

[From Gazette.net]

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A Brit’s view of GABF

British beer writer Ben McFarland tells his countrymen about the Great American Beer Festival in The Publican. He begins:

I’ve just returned from the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, Colorado, where my flabber was well and truly gasted.

Later he writes:

While nearly all US craft beers can trace their origins to European roots, the artesian brewers currently transforming the landscape of US beer are crafting brews that are bigger, brasher and boast bigger balls than anything being produced in Europe.