Drunk of the Week
Things have officially gotten out of hand in America. Entering Super Target the other day with my daughter, Allison, I noticed a prominent display of the next entry in the Hello Kitty line of kids' stuff, which already includes keychains, videos, crayons and oil filters. This latest development: thong underwear. Even worse, Allison knew the proper term, as in "Ewww, thong!" I wonder if ancient Romans could feel the impending collapse of the empire when they spotted mini-togas and low-rise tunics for kids at their local mega-mall.
Within minutes of leaving the store, I confronted another harbinger of doom: Guinness now has a billboard touting its calorie count. If there is one thing God left out of the Ten Commandments, it was "Thou shalt not make bad beer." Originally, this would have included beers like Schaefer's and Lone Star. Then in 1974, the first of the seven signs foretold in Revelations became evident with the advent of Miller "You Couldn't Get Worse Taste Filtering This Beer Through a Green Bay Packer's Jockstrap" Lite. The FDA, effectively trying to protect the public for only the second time in its history, mandated that the Miller "Brewing" Company misspell "light" so consumers would in no way consider this product a natural beverage. Unfortunately -- I think as a result of Ted Kennedy putting on several hundred pounds around this time -- America was by now desperate for weight-loss tricks. I have no doubt that the last invasions into Rome by the Visigoths, Oakland Raiders and Mongol hordes were predated by the introduction of low-carb mead.
The Atkins craze has gotten so out of hand that small breweries and brewpubs now make bad low-carb beer. After our shopping, we dropped by Hops Grillhouse and Brewery (149 Steele Street), where I've always found the Alligator Ale to be a decent chain-restaurant homebrew. It's the kind of amber beer that's dense as heavy water, suits any type of food or mood, and tastes like God meant beer to taste. It was obviously the beer overserved to the decorators of this Hops before they put the finishing touches on the place by burying half-barrel kegs in the walls and ceiling. True frat-house interior decorating only comes from drinking real beer or grain alcohol.
On the same beer menu, Hops is touting its new low-carb brew. I have no idea how anybody, much less a relatively reputable restaurant, can possibly get "low-carb" out of the wort stage of brewing. If you've ever seen wort, or even said the word, you know that there are more carb calories in it than in a pound of sugar. Still, I decided to try Hops' little experiment, and was rewarded with a pale, sickly beer that didn't look much different than that by-product of beer that interrupts the serious drinker's binge more and more frequently as the night progresses. And it tasted no better than I imagine that by-product does, either. Honestly, I would rather have "enjoyed" one of those wheat beers whose marketing tool is that the brewer has already added the backwash in for you. (At least, I assume that's what those chunks are.)
Now that Guinness has put a calorie count on my beer, I may have to do something I haven't done in several years: make my own beer. Because if Guinness goes low-carb next, I'll have no other way to get beer after the liquor stores are closed by martial law in response to widespread rioting. In order to avoid such a state of siege, at their upcoming convention the Republicans need to outlaw light and/or low-carb beer and its accompanying commercials and advertisements; enforcing this policy should fall under the Department of Homeland Security. Without such stern measures, as I'm sure Tom Ridge would tell you, we are destined for chaos and collapse.
Worse yet, Hello Kitty may just decide to get in on the brewing business.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.