Tag Archives: Beer

Exercising Civic Virtue: or, Why Dive Bars Are Best

Obviously, I’m in favor of anyone who defends drinking after work, but the latest from Front Porch Republic goes above and beyond the call of duty:

The news is dreadful: According to the Census, since 2006 we have been living in a republic where, for the first time in the history of the republic, Americans drink more bottled water than we drank beer.Why is this important?  It’s important because beer is a socially oriented beverage, and bottled water is a privately oriented one.

There’s a reason that beer commercials tend to include lots of people hanging out in a room together, and bottled water commercials tend to include lone individuals climbing things and running around by themselves, usually on a beach at sunrise – even though they are not being chased.

Drinking beer emanates, albeit clumsily and with all the familiar risks, from essentially social impulses.  Most people drink beer to lower social inhibitions, to make it easier to have conversations with other people, to assuage loneliness, to grease the wheels for engaging in what my students euphemistically call “relationships” – in other words, to give a form and excuse for social life.  You don’t drink beer to improve your private, individual health.

This is all true, and perhaps the best justification for finding a nice hole in the wall to go relax at is the social aspect. Of course, you want to avoid the cliquish, high school-like atmosphere of most meat markets, so your best bet is to identify a local dive to call home. If you’re in DC, the best option is definitely the Galaxy Hut, a place with the ambiance of ” . . . a grunt’s hooch in Khe Sanh circa 1968.”



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Note to Self

Don’t try any of Poulos’s holiday mixed drinks without a chemistry degree. I’ll stick to Boddington’s and Wild Turkey on the rocks, thank you very much.*

Regular posting will resume shortly.

*That said, I’m glad I’m not the only one to recognize the sublime mixability of Pepto-Bismol.

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The Best Bar in DC

Turning 21 liberates us from the oppression of bad booze. Before we come of age, we’re all complicit in a conspiracy to deny the reality of how awful cheap American beer really is. Whether you’re huddled around a keg or sharing a sixer of Coors Light, everyone realizes that the beer we’re drinking is bad, but saying as much out loud risks condemnation and exile. We loudly profess our love for Natty Ice, PBR, or Beast while holding our noses and swilling can after can of alcohol-flavored water.

Thank God for bars. Ironically enough, the best dive in DC is in Arlington, not the District. The Galaxy Hut’s website doesn’t do justice to its fundamental dinginess – that intangible hole-in-the-wall quality that makes a bar into a real dive – but believe me when I say that this place is a dump. Its ambiance can only be likened to that of a grunt’s hooch in Khe Sanh circa 1968. The decorations are homemade, candles are jammed into empty beer cans, and the menu runs the gamut from greasy to really greasy. But the beer selection is fantastic, the place is cozy, the music selection doesn’t suck, and they’ve got this great tin cup booth out back that is made for outdoor drinking. On a Friday night in Northern Virginia, there’s no better place to be. Here’s to you, Galaxy Hut – I wouldn’t trade you for any other dive in the world.

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Beer Me

The New Yorker has a brilliant article on the Dogfish Head Ale craft brewery:

“I looked around and saw three breweries basically ruling the United States,” he told me. All but one per cent of the beer sold in the U.S. was still made by Miller, Coors, and Anheuser-Busch, along with mid-sized and foreign breweries such as Pabst and Heineken. And while craft breweries made wonderful beer, they were mostly focussed on classic German and British styles, such as pale ale and Pilsner. Calagione had something else in mind. “I’d read a copy of Michael Jackson’s ‘World Guide to Beer,’ and I thought, Holy shit! There are people out there making beer with fruit! There are Scottish ales made with heather flowers! Maybe I can make a living making beer that isn’t like anything else.” It was an opportunity to play David to the beer industry’s Goliaths, he says.

Selders arrived about an hour after we did, driving a van filled with sacks of grain. He was wearing what looked like a gas-station attendant’s uniform, with his name stitched over one front pocket and the Dogfish logo over the other. His hair was gelled into a miniature Mohawk—more Tintin than Billy Idol—and his eyes, framed by thick black glasses, wore their usual look of ironic bewilderment. Selders, who is thirty-three, was a painter and ska guitarist before he became a brewer. When he and Calagione aren’t making beer, they sometimes perform together at the pub as a beer-themed hip-hop duo called the Pain Relievaz (sample lyrics: “You’re the barley virgin that my malt mill will deflour”).

Great stuff. At present, my favorite craft brews are Brother Thelonius Abbey Ale, Flying Dog Hefeweizen, and Delirium Tremens.


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