A Matter of Taste

Can you believe that backpack?

This past weekend Erin and I went to Bastille Days here in Milwaukee, the festival that asks, “Can there ever be too many vendors selling the same gauzy summer dresses in the same place?” The answer by the way is yes, there really can be, especially when they don’t have my size – gender discrimination, if you ask me.

Bastille Days is a fun kind of thing that has good food – not all of it French, thank God – and great people watching. It’s not that I have anything against the French –  I like French people just fine, I am happy to drink your wine, and lately I have been having recurring dreams about a woman who doesn’t shave her armpits – but the food is just not my cup of tea. I like going to the merchants, as I alluded to above, and looking at the crap…er, stuff…for sale. In all honesty, last year I got a really cool wallet there – or was that at State Fair?

All kidding aside, there is a woman at Bastille Days who just fascinates me. I confess to being just a touch artistically challenged, and so when I see artists doing their thing it really fascinates me. Each year, this particular artist does a copy of famous painting on the street in chalk. We’re not talking about a tracing, here. She brings a copy of the painting and sketches it out on the pavement a little bit at a time and then sets about filling it in. Here’s the picture in a rather large format so you can appreciate it. My comments continue below.

I would love to talk to the artist and ask her the kind of stupid questions only someone like me who is completely ignorant could ask, but she always looks so busy. I want to learn how she manages to blend the colors, and gets the proportions right, and so many other things.

Malignant Melanoma, anyone?

The next beer was a Pale Ale. I’m not too fond of Pale Ales generally, and this one fell below my already low expectations. It was quite bitter, almost to the point of being astringent. When I heard that a Stout was next on the menu my ears perked up. I love me some Guinness! It looked delicious as the little old ladies moved among the crowd with trays full of my second favorite beer (Porters are my favorite). Taking the cup and savoring the aroma, I thought I smelled chocolate. Surely the heat was getting to me, because there is no place for chocolate in beer! I lifted the cup to my lips and what in the name of all that is Holy should I taste but the bitterest, crappiest stout I have ever had the misfortune to voluntarily, or involuntarily,  consume. It was at that moment that Snerdlyannounced the Stout

Hat doubles as a Japanese fan and a french fry basket

was brewed with coffee (yes, coffee) and dark chocolate. Who are these people? What kind of mentally ill lunatic runs this show, and who drinks this shit?

Then Snerdly announced their final beer was called “Seasonal,” which he mispronounced to make it sound French. I suppose he was being sophisticated. A light, refreshing lager, he announced – and at this point I would have done anything to get the God awful taste out of my mouth. Each beer had gotten progressively worse, surely the last one couldn’t be even worse. Of course, I was wrong. It was brewed with Lemongrass, for crying out loud. Bitter and sour. This garbage made Miller products seem palatable.

I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that there must be a fair number of people out there so enamored of the idea of drinking beer from craft breweries that it just doesn’t matter what the beer actually tastes like. It doesn’t matter that the emperor has no clothes, they are going to be erudite and sophisticated. The truth is that I’ve never had any patience for that kind of nonsense. I’m like my father in that way – and I’m not like my father in many ways. If something is terrible, I am going to tell you it’s terrible. I’ll be as nice about it as I can, and really try to avoid the conversation, but if you keep after me I will be honest. Fortunately, Snerdly didn’t linger after the tasting.

Before he left, though, he did offer us a taste treat from their restaurant, the Hinterlands Gastropub (I kid you not). Lamb balls. I took a pass. There’s only so much abuse my system can take in one day.

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