A Dumb Use For Cheap Vodka
Is it Friday? How is that even possible?
Say au revoir to le Profussor, because I’m off to Sturbridge today. Gotta drop the kids off with their gramma. And it’s very possible that before coming back home, I’ll make a pit stop at Tree House Brewing Company for some of its hard to find and impossibly juicy beers.
But I’ll be back on Saturday for The Enchanted City in Troy. And that’s going to be a great time. Because not only are some great chefs going to be vending from 11am-2pm, but there’s also going to be a culinary competition starting at two o’clock.
Guess who’s going to be both head judge and master of ceremonies for the chef versus chef cooking challenge? It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it.
Actually, the hardest part of the job will be doing it in costume when it’s hot outside. I’ve got my steampunk cowboy outfit mostly ready. It’s a little past my comfort zone, but I think it kinda works. Plus I’ll be going much further outside my comfort zone on Saturday night when I head up to The Hangar for Mab After Dark’s burlesque and curiosity afterparty show*.
You know what I won’t be bringing to The Enchanted City? A flask full of cheap vodka. That I’m saving for an entirely different event.
It’s probably a bad idea to announce one’s intentions of doing something sketchy. But I’m actually not sure there’s anything wrong with my plan.
I should probably back up a bit.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve been immersing myself a bit in the wide and wonderful world of beer. However, I’ve been experiencing a problem. A tasting problem.
Many of the great beers these days are hop monsters. Hops are the flowers that were used in beer originally as a way to preserve it, but also lend all sorts of fruity, spicy, and bitter flavors to the brew. Much like grapes, hops have varietals, and those varietals have different characteristics. But it’s the oils from the hops which contain the flavor.
Here’s the problem.
Those bitter oils from the hops tend to linger on my tongue. Which of course, isn’t a problem in and of itself. Part of the enjoyment of a beverage is its long, lingering finish. The problem happens when I want to try a second beer. Because those lingering bitter hop notes, totally have a negative impact on how I perceive subsequent brews.
So that sent me off on the path to find a way of trying to reset my palate. Which is where science comes into play. Remember, it’s the hop oils that provide the bitter flavors.
I can’t remember who made the brilliant suggestion that alcohol is a powerful solvent. The hypothesis was that rinsing your mouth out with vodka would probably do the trick. Of course, that drove me out to the liquor store to buy something I would be happy putting in my mouth, but wouldn’t feel wasteful about spitting down the drain.
Hello Smirnoff. It’s fine. Really, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
Last night I tried my first experiment to see if this would actually work. And lo and behold, it did. Granted, I had to take a few sips of water after rinsing and spitting with the vodka. But I can’t think of a more neutral spirit that I could use for this task.
The big question is, can I get away with having a flask of vodka-based-mouthwash for The City Beer Hall event on September 12? If it’s a violation of some kind of city or state ordinance, I’ll leave my mouthwash flask at home. But there are going to be so many awesome beers to try, I really want to be able to taste as many as I can.
Dimitrios and Ian are creating food pairings for a bunch of beers from Grimm Artisanal Ales and Kent Falls Brewing Company. Both of these producers make incredible beers. How incredible? Well, Paste Magazine just did a tasting of over 200 IPAs, and Grimm had two in the top 10. That’s nuts. And Kent Falls does some remarkable things in its own right.
So it would be nice if the hops from one beer didn’t obliterate the delicate notes of grain from the next. My solution to that is using a relatively neutral solvent. Spitting vodka down the drain feels wrong. But drinking cheap vodka also feels wrong. Especially since the alcohol impedes the careful tasting of alcoholic drinks.
And there’s another conundrum. But we can save that for another day. I’ve got to hit the road soon and buy as much beer as Tree House will sell me. As it turns out, that’s precious little beer.
Man, this beer stuff is dumb.
* Actually, if you are interested in checking out this event, I do have one extra ticket (thanks to the Yelp sponsorship of the event). If you want to come with me, find a way to let me know either in the comments below, via social media, or email. And if more than one person raises their hand, I’ll just have to make a hard choice about who to bring along.