Friday, June 24, 2011

Beer Review

I thought I'd continue some of the features of LCL Magazine on this blog and the 'Beer n Grog' review was always one of my favorites. This is where I would try a beer or some other booze and share my opinion along with a few memories not directly related to the product being featured. generally the criteria for making it into an LCL review is even the slightest association to an adventure theme, such as the label merely depicting some trapping of classic adventure.

Today's selection is Hangar 24 Columbus IPA. Since this brewery is located in a building across from the small Redlands Airport here near the orange groves that remain to remind us of Old California, their motif is the days of biplanes and barnstorming.

I chose to try a chilled 22oz bottle of Columbus IPA, served in an equally chilled glass mug, accompanied with a sandwich of sliced chicken breast and cheese on Ezekiel bread with mayonnaise. After the sandwich ran out, there was last night's popcorn and some taco flavored Doritos. My recliner parked in front of the bedroom TV, where I watch movies in the wee hours, was the perfect lunch spot to enjoy this beer during Khartoum (1966) starring Charlton Heston as Gordon. Since I've been to this city at the convergence of the Blue and White Niles more than once, it was appropriate viewing.

I forget how much Kiplingesque Gunga Din-ish soldiering there is in this movie of mostly weak attempt at presenting Gordon as a Lawrence of Arabia type figure. That is to say, not nearly enough but at least it's there. I've always felt there should have been more of Kitchener (who was a major in 1883, the year this telling depicts). One of my favorite British actors of all appears as Woolsley, an excellent choice, and the film could have used more of him, as well. That's not to say it's a bad film, because it's not. It just doesn't quite deliver what it intended, sort of like the Columbus IPA I was drinking with it.

Having spent some time in Khartoum, I enjoy watching this film because it reminds me of seeing the actual locations that were used, such as Gordon's villa and his boat (Well, the locals like to say it's Gordon's boat but whether they used his actual boat or not it is the actual boat used in the film...again, from what I'm told and could tell by sight). You know those scenes in movies when government officials, usually military and security types, gather for local traditional cuisine
and bureaucratic schmoozing? Such were the circumstances I first saw 'Gordon's boat' early in my first stay in the city. Anyway, if you care to look, you can still find remnants of Gordon's Khartoum including his ditch. Believe me, if you're ever there, you would care to look as there's little else to do besides whatever reason brings you to Khartoum in the first place.

As I sipped this bitter brew, I realized Hangar 24's Columbus IPA is best consumed with food, preferably something salty and spicy and robust. The food really calmed down the assault on the taste buds. My mistake was probably kicking back in a reclining chair drinking an ale, for dozing off soon followed. That's OK, it's Friday.

Once Khartoum ended, I raced through the commentary on Mario Bava's Italian cut of the anthology film Black Sabbath, enjoying the wonderfully frightful segment 'A Drop of Water' and the 1960s pulp lesbian overtones of 'The Telephone' so delightfully played between French and Italian actresses. I recall my dad dragging the family to see this film at a drive-in during my childhood and I loved every minute of it.

A good beer, like any decent alcoholic beverage, is best enjoyed when it reminds one of memorable adventures. As I thought of my time in Sudan, I remembered the villa compound where we resided, literally a stone's throw from the Nile. We had a nice and well tended pool I never swam in, for some reason. Haboubs, or sandstorms, would blow in every ten days or so and could be pretty dramatic the first time you experience one. We had local African girls who did housecleaning (and loved the job because we paid well). I was told they worked topless up until right before my first trip and only stopped the practice because some anal retentive dickhead in our group complained that it was inappropriate. Seriously, the Africans laughed at us for this guy's complaints and our bosses' acquiescence to his hang-ups. I wish uptight puritanical Americans would just stay home, inside their houses, and never go out. There we are working on a potentially dangerous job in a dangerous world and we have a guy who can't handle tits twice a week. Jesus H. Christ, did this guy's mother have any sons?

It probably sounds crazy but one of my pleasures when in places like Khartoum or the Middle East is to go out alone for a few hours. We generally have to pair up so often that you spend an entire month with no solitary time. Sometimes I'd get into the Landcruiser and drive to Omdurman to get away from all things modern and just smoke my pipe and think and dream. I'd have a pistol on me, so I wasn't completely naked. It's simply that I can take only so much of hearing about sports and talking about 401Ks or whatever else a lot of men think is interesting to discuss when they think they should talk. Me, I like talking about history, especially the history of where I'm at when I'm traveling. Not everyone is into that, in the vehicle to the wilderness to smoke a pipe.

If you haven't had any Hangar 24 products, I recommend them. Once in a while I go to the brewery with my friend and his dad, who has a plane at the airport. We get the cold fresh stuff. Their Columbus IPA should be very cold and is enjoyed best with food.

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