I was struggling to come up with what to write about this week. You’re probably asking yourself… “This is your 4th blog, and you’re already running out of material?” Fear not, dear reader! Having a background in Improvisation, I’m known to think on my toes… Bicycle! Mount Rainier! French Onion Soup! Horticulturist! Grandfather holding a baby (or a baby gremlin)! A banana as a hat!
…See? That was all off the top of the dome. Nothing to worry about. Nothin’ at all…
I have plenty of experiences I want to write about, I just wasn’t sure which one to pick this week. And then, on Tuesday night, my wife Holly Kay and I, and our friends Scott and Emily, went to see a live recording of one of our favorite podcasts, NPR’s Ask Me Another, at The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. When we arrived there, we discovered it was being sponsored by Lagunitas Brewing Company, purveyors of some of my favorite libations (which I will talk about later in this post, of course!). It was a sign from the heavens! “Here’s your next blog post, my son. Also, your posts make me thirsty.” -God. Does God get thirsty? He probably does. OTHERWISE, THERE WOULD BE NO BEER.
I’ll preface this story by saying, my wife and I do not like to go to Brooklyn. Nothing against anyone from Brooklyn, or against the borough itself (I mean, Three’s Brewing and Other Half Brewing are putting out some of the best beers in the Northeast), it’s just that, we live in Queens. Those of you who have lived, or currently live in Queens, know that getting to Brooklyn is a living nightmare. Unless you want to take the G train (not gonna take the G unless I’m going to Törst, a world class Beer Bar with a Michelin Star rated restaurant, called Luksus, in the back room), you have to go all the way through Manhattan to get there. That means, it’s at least a 3,000 hour commitment each way to get there. So, if we’ve come to visit you in Brooklyn, that means we really love you, or we dreaded the subway ride so much that I drove. If you live in Brooklyn, and we haven’t come to visit you, it’s not you. It’s just… The farthest away.
So, I won four tickets to see Ask Me Another, which is an NPR podcast that features puzzles, trivia, word games, music, comedy, jokes, laughing, microphones, buzzers, and fun. It’s hosted by Ophira Eisenberg, who is delightful, and very quick witted. She did about 10 minutes of crowd work before they began recording, to get us warmed up for the show, and she was hilarious. Their House Musician is Jonathan Coulton. If you haven’t heard of him, go. Go and do that. I will wait here.
Here’s a picture.
Jonathan Coulton and Ophira Eisenberg, hosting one of the games during the recording of Ask Me Another!
JoCo (as he is sometimes referred) is an Ivy League graduate, composed the theme songs to both Portal video games, Still Alive and Want You Gone and, in 2006, wrote a song a week and compiled them into 4 different albums, Thing A Week 1 through Thing A Week 4. Those albums produced such wonderful classics as Tom Cruise Crazy, Shop Vac, and Re: Your Brains (a song about zombie office coworkers). Like I said, go check him out. I sang one of his songs, Skullcrusher Mountain (about a Mad Scientist who falls in love) at my wedding.
We were all very excited to see the show. We invited Scott and Emily, because they are just as big Jonathan Coulton fans as we are, and they introduced us to Ask Me Another. Scott had no idea what we were doing. Emily decided she was going to surprise him, and told him they were going to an Awesome 80’s Dance Party (something Scott was less than thrilled about). I was coming straight from work, so they all got there before I did (it took me nearly 3 days to get from Midtown Manhattan to The Bell House). I learned that Scott had gone to help a young lady change her tire (possibly with the hopes of not having to endure Taco’s amazing cover of Puttin’ on the Ritz or Milli Vanilli’s lip-synctastical Girl, You Know It’s True). When he discovered what we were actually doing, he was, I can only describe it as, maniacally excited.
As I walked into the Bell House, I saw Lagunitas paraphanelia and signage, and was handed two tokens for free Lagunitas Pilsner! WHOA!
“Silly is the man who turns down a free Lagunitas.” -Abraham Lincoln
As it turns out, the featured guests on the show this week were Bob Boilen, host of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts and All Songs Considered, and Gaelynn Lea, who won the 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, beating out nearly 6,000 other applicants. Lagunitas is sponsoring the Tiny Desk contest, and subsequent tour.
Gaelynn Lea is an astonishing performer and composer. She was born with Brittle Bone Disease, and is in a wheelchair. She learned to play the violin in an upright position, like a cello, and she uses an electronic looping pedal, recording all the necessary pieces of the song and singing over them. Her story is inspirational, as is her music (Americana and Old World Folk), and I highly recommend checking out her Tiny Desk Concert to see what she’s all about. She’s an inspiration, and we were all very emotional seeing her perform live.
It was fun to see the behind the scenes of our favorite podcast. The show ran about 2 hours, and they edit it down into about an hour long podcast. I loved watching them do pick ups at the end, to re record lines they fumbled on during the recording.
Oh right, so, beer. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, we each were given two tokens for Lagunitas Pils. I’m not usually a Pilsner guy. It is a very easy style to get wrong (most times, a bad Pilsner reminds me of Bud Light). It’s a very difficult style to get right, because there’s no room for error. Hoppy beers can hide easily behind their hops, so when you have a Pilsner, which should be crisp, grassy, and refreshing, it’s very easy to go wrong.
Lagunitas does not go wrong. My first sip (I hadn’t had it in probably about 5 years) had a gorgeous, citrus hop bite, followed by some grassiness, hay, and then was softened and smoothed out by the Czech Pilsner malts. It may have been the environment, the company, or the fact that it was $FREE.99, but that beer was absolutely perfect for that moment, that night, that show. We all agreed. It reinvigorated my interest in Pilsners, and I’m very excited to pick some more up now that the weather is finally warmer.
The other beer that Scott and I had was the Sixpoint Bengali. (The Artist Formerly Known as Sixpoint Bengali Tiger, RIP Prince.). Another perfect beer for our live Ask Me Another experience! This beer is all about balance, and at 6.5%, you can have a couple and still enjoy the show without falling asleep. It’s bright and citrusy from the hops, and balanced out by the sweetness from the malts. I drank it out of the can. It was an amazing night.
I wish I could have kept these tokens!
Scott even made a new friend, and asked her to take a picture with us. Check it out!
All in all, it was a perfect night. Holly and I were in the perfect place (BROOKLYN!?!?!?) with the perfect friends, drinking the perfect beer (A PILSNER!?!?!?). There are times where you want the beer to compliment the experience, not outshine, or overpower it. This was one of those nights, and it made everything just perfect.
…and don’t worry, I’ll be back to palate wrecking IPAs and Bourbon Barrel Stouts before you know it!
As for now, I’mma go grab some more Pilsners. It’s Springtime. Drink what you like!
See ya later, Alligators!