Nick Larson and Jake Devincenzi[follow id=”njlarson8″][follow id= “jake_devincenzi”]
Kinesiology senior Nick Larson and aerospace engineering senior Jake Devincenzi are Mustang News beer columnists.
Nick: I am a fan of the liquid of the gods, also known as beer. In this column, my partner in crime, Jake, and I hope to inform, entertain and make a positive impact on the beer culture around our campus.
I’ll start by saying, yes, I am a beer snob. I can admit it. That’s the first step, right? But that doesn’t mean I won’t anchor a boat race full of Natty Light and enjoy it. We are in college — the time in our lives where we’re surrounded by an abundance of alcohol and not a lot of money.
Of course, I’ll take what I can get. But in my ripe old age of 21, I’ve found solace from the constant nights of pounding glorified piss. I was introduced to a whole new world. Not a world filled with aluminum, 64 calories or Keith Stone. This is a world filled with glass bottles, hops and the perfect amount of head. Our goal is to introduce you to this beautiful world and help you enjoy beer as much as we do.
I discovered beer at a late age. I rarely drank in high school — not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t like the taste of beer. It wasn’t taboo in my family — I was always offered a drink at dinner — but to be honest, I preferred milk. Then, I arrived at Cal Poly and quickly realized through a rough couple of games of beer pong that my preference would have to change.
Sophomore year came, and friends introduced me to some new beers. Stella Artois and Blue Moon replaced Coors and Keystone, and casual drinking began. I think of this as the puberty stage in my beer life, as my elementary crush (Coors) turned into my first kiss (Blue Moon), and then, the best/worst thing in any person’s life happened: I experienced my first orgasm (Chimay Tripel, one of the most widely known and best-tasting Belgian Tripels) and never looked back. It has consumed my life. The gift of Chimay from my parents, accompanied by two friends who were also passionate about quality beer, sparked a new goal in my life: to try every beer I possibly could.
Jake: How have I gotten through three years of aerospace engineering, you ask? Beer. Beer, beer and more beer. From making beer, to drinking beer and everything in between, I love it all. But I wasn’t always a hophead (more on that term later) — there was a time when “classy beer” was Coors Banquet and Blue Moon was a luxury.
Yes, like most of you, drinking beer used to mean picking up a 30 of Natty and playing countless drinking games, finding any excuse to throw back those piss-flavored beverages. It was a simple life of blissful beer ignorance … and then I was hit with a roundhouse kick of barley, yeast and hops by the cockiest MoFo you could ever imagine. On second thought, he was more of an Arrogant Bastard. No, really.
One night, my friend brought over a 22-ounce bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale, a highly alcoholic bitter beer by Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, Calif. I wish I could say I took a sip of this liquid gold and my life was changed forever, that the roof opened up and golden light showered upon me from the beer heavens as the delicious bitter liquid made its way down my throat. But, alas, this was not love at first pint. I thought it was disgusting. I was certainly no proponent of the watery liquid I had grown accustomed to, but this seemed a bit intense. The Arrogant Bastard did do one thing for me, though. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of beer. If there was such a drastic difference between Coors Light or Blue Moon and this heavy-hitting Bastard, there must be some sort of middle ground in which I would find enlightenment.
A new mission began to form in my mind: I must try every beer in-between until I discover what I really like. This was no easy task. Growing up, my parents always told me, “you have to try something 15 times before you know if you like it.” Looking back on it now, this may not have been what they were referring to.
Nick and Jake: Since our epiphanies, we have cleaned out San Luis Obispo vendors and saved every unique 22- and 25-ounce bottle we consumed in the past year. We are currently in possession of approximately 250 bottles in our house, and have tried between 400 and 500 different beers. From sweet Belgian Tripels brewed by Trappist Monks in Belgium to bitter tongue-biting IPAs brewed in our beautiful home state — we have tried them all.
On top of all this, we began brewing our own batches of beer. We are almost to the point of brewing every weekend, and are fine-tuning our skills as brewers. We hope to eventually open a brewery and continue to pursue our passion.
In this column, we will take you on a journey through the discovery period we have ventured through and give you a taste of every small niche of the beer brotherhood. Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with physical tastes as some of you are not 21, but for those youngins out there, we will do our very best to educate you before you turn that grand ol’ age. You know, the one where you can finally try alcohol for the first time.
Weekly beer recommendations: India Pale Ales
India Pale Ales, usually abbreviated “IPAs,” were developed in England to be shipped to India. As rumor has it, they were loaded with hops for their preservative nature. The delicious bitterness and floral aromas added by the hops became coveted, and the style stuck.
Jake’s IPA Recommendations
$: Redhook Brewery. Seattle, Wash. “Long Hammer IPA.” Available at most gas stations and liquor stores for a lower price than a bottle of soda, this refreshing IPA is a hoppy go-to when your options are limited.
$$: Knee Deep Brewing Co. Lincoln, Calif. “Hop Shortage.” At 11.3 percent alcohol by volume, this IPA is more alcoholic than most, and uses its whopping 133 International Bitterness Units to perfectly even out the sweet alcoholic taste with floral bitterness.
$$$: Russian River Brewing Co. Santa Rosa, Calif. “Pliny the Elder.” To any hophead, this beer needs no introduction. Commonly regarded as one of the best IPAs in the world, living only in the shadow of the extremely limited release “Pliny the Younger,” this beer is the definition of a perfect IPA.
Nick’s IPA Recommendations
$: Tap It Brewing Co., San Luis Obispo, Calif. “IPA.” This hoppy beer is a solid option for someone looking to either get used to the IPA bitterness, or support a local brewery for less than $3.
$$: AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, Calif. “IPA.” An extremely good beer with a very good price, this IPA is the one that got me over my fear of hops when I visited this brewery this past year. If you like hops and find this in SLO, buy it.
$$$: The Bruery, Placentia, Calif, “Bryeian.” Although this is technically a rye ale, I love it too much to not share with you. Made by the unique, specialist brewers at The Bruery (pronounced like you’d think) this beer is simply perfection for anyone who loves a very strong hop taste. If you feel like spoiling yourself, it’s worth dropping a Hamilton and change on this hop-infused dark ale.