Brador People

“Ah! Brador people!”

The clerk at the little store near Lacolle knew why we were there. It was 1979, and I didn’t know much about Quebec, but I did know that it was where we went to buy Molson’s Brador beer.

It was kind of a big deal for SUNY Plattsburgh students to drive across the border to score cases of Brador. It was thought to be a fine and superior beer, especially when compared to the Budweiser and Genny Cream Ale we bought at Chuck Wagon on Brinkerhoff Street. But the true appeal of Brador may have been that it was a high-octane brew with 6.2 percent alcohol.

Today, you can get beer that’s much better — and with just as much alcohol — in any supermarket, but back then, Brador was a magic elixir only possessed by the most determined and discriminating drinkers, and it could only be obtained on a journey to a foreign land.

These “Brador runs” would take us into Canada by way of an obscure border crossing out in the middle of nowhere. I don’t remember much scrutiny on the way into Canada, and even less as we passed back through US Customs laden with cases of Brador. It was a different time.

These were my first trips to another country, so everything was interesting and exotic — as if what I encountered in the outskirts of Plattsburgh wasn’t strange enough. At the time, the North Country still felt raw and wild, like West Virginia collided with the Ozark woods. It was a rough and tumble corner of the state that was forgotten by time, and populated by people with strange accents so thick you could barely understand them. Are we really in New York?

As a bunch of stupid kids from the suburbs, we were convinced that we were one wrong turn away from a Deliverance country — but we always made it back with the beer.

Truth is, Brador probably wasn’t that great. Molson stopped making it some years back, and I’m not sure anyone misses it. Like a lot of things, the memory probably better than the truth.

Santa Season

I watched for a few minutes at Bob’s Trees as children lined up to visit with Santa. He had a real beard and a pretty good looking Santa suit. Maybe he was a tad thin, but that’s OK. Good on him for watching his weight.

To a little kid, spotting Santa is a pretty big deal — and seeing those children reminded me of something that still makes me feel bad.

Years ago, I produced a Christmas commercial for a local liquor retailer. The concept was simple: this store has such great prices, it’s where Santa shops for booze. I hired a local actor with experience playing Santa — he even had his own suit — and we spent a morning getting shots of Santa darting gleefully around the store picking out bottles for people on the ‘nice’ list.

All this was going great — but then, a woman came in the store with her young daughter to buy a bottle of wine. While we worked, the little girl kept peeking around the end of the aisle to catch a glimpse of Santa. Our talent played right along and coaxed the girl out from behind a stack of boxes. He was great, launching right into full Santa mode, and it really made that little girl’s day.

OK, that doesn’t sound bad, does it — and the commercial turned out great — so what’s the problem?

Even now when I think about that day — and this was nearly 30 years ago — I get the nagging feeling that it was wrong to put Santa in a liquor store. To that little girl, this was the real Santa, and I was using him to sell hooch.

Santa’s been used to sell so many things, but to see the power he has over children, right before my eyes — in a liquor store, for god’s sake — just made me feel dirty.

I’m probably the only person in the world who remembers all of this, but Santa, please accept my apology for exploiting your image in such a crass way.  I hope you can see fit to forgive me — and if you do, a bottle of Glengoyne 18-year-old Scotch might help ease my mind.

The Vomitory

Well, I’m heading to Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday for the clash of the AFC East titans as the Bills host the Jets.

I’ve got a pretty good idea what I’ll be cooking for our tailgate, but I haven’t decided yet on whether I wish to be mildly mocked by the Bills fans or severely mocked. My Joe Namath jersey will bring mild but respectful mocking, but the Mark Sanchez jersey I recently bought for $10 will certainly bring a cascade of derisive (and potentially lewd) commentary.

Buffalo’s being walloped with snow this week, but weekend temperatures will be in the 50s. If it doesn’t rain, it will be a nice day for November — and to be fully prepared for the trip, I took a look at the stadium info on the Bills website. That’s when I found this:

Wait for the Whistle Policy
To ensure the enjoyment of the game action for guests, The Buffalo Bills
enforce a “Wait for the Whistle” policy for guests returning to their seats.
Guests are asked to stay behind the yellow line in the vomitory until the
officials have halted play on the field, at which point guests are permitted
to return to their seats.

WTF? The vomitory? Having been to games at “The Ralph” I’ll tell you this: it would be difficult to define any single area as tyhe place where people vomit.

Naturally, I looked this up, and a vomitory is defined as “an entrance piercing the banks of seats of a theater, amphitheater, or stadium.”  Wikipedia offers a deeper dive into vomitory:

The Latin word vomitorium, plural vomitoria, derives from the verb vomō, vomere, “to spew forth.” In ancient Roman architecture, vomitoria were designed to provide rapid egress for large crowds at amphitheatres and stadiums, as they do in modern sports stadiums and large theatres.

So, there you go, you really do learn something new every day — but just in case, I’m going to avoid standing in the vomitory.

Beer Alarm!

I was in a local convenient store in a not-so-great Albany neighborhood recently when I set off the beer alarm.

Yes the beer alarm.

It seems the South End Stewart’s has the beer cooler rigged with an alarm that goes off when you open the door:

The alarm sounds for as long as the door remains open. It’s possible that this is effort to save energy, a reminder not to keep the door open unnecessarily, but I’m guessing it’s actually a loss prevention measure.

If you’re like me, you feel slightly self-conscious when buying beer at convenience stores. It’s like everyone standing their with their eggs and milk are looking at you saying, “Oh, sure… here’s the miscreant buying beer. You gonna drink those in the car on the way home?”

So, having an alarm go off when you open the cooler doesn’t help.

I’m hoping my wife doesn’t catch wind of this. The thought of an alarm on my refrigerator door at home is beyond disturbing. It’s bad enough she can see me poking my head in there from the family room.

Light and Unsatisfying

A couple of people asked how I dropped the extra weight I’d been carrying around. “Took up smoking,” I explained. “Controls the appetite — and you get to spend much more time outside.”

The truth is more disturbing: I started drinking light beer.

This really is the golden age of beer. There are great variety of obscure and delicious craft brewed products around, but more significantly there is very good beer right in the cooler at your supermarket. Why would you buy a six pack of Budweiser — or Corona, God help us, which is beer bought by people who want to seem cool, but are not — when there are so many better choices. If that makes me a beer snob, so be it.

But in the face of all that, in an effort to trim calories and carbs, I turned to something contemptible: Coors Light.

I hesitate to call Coors Light beer at all; beer-like would be a better description. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in society: Coors Light is not a bad thing to have on a sweltering summer day after cutting the lawn, because it is so much like drinking water.

Many people have compared drinking Coors Light to quaffing horse urine, but I disagree; horse urine is surely more flavorful than this insipid stuff. Anyhow, now that I’ve reached my goal, I believe I’ll go out and get a 25 ounce bottle of Ommegang’s Hennepin Ale. Cheers!

Now for the entertainment portion of our blog post, Dan Reeder’s I Drink Beer:

March Madness

Albany has re-routed its St. Patrick’s Day Parade, hoping that steering the procession away from the bars might create a more family friendly atmosphere. That’s an idea, but I’m not sure that moving a block away — less than a two minute walk — will make much difference.

Just in case you’re not sure you’ll be able to navigate between the parade route and the strip of taverns that line North Pearl Street, here’s is a map you can use as a handy reference. According to my calculations, it’s a whopping 463 feet from State Street to the Pearl Street Pub.

View Larger Map

If that seems too far, just stay right on the corner of State & Pearl and go to Savannah’s. If I were a betting man, I’d wager they’ll see record business tomorrow.


I take a shortcut through a walkway in downtown Albany that takes me below the steps in front of the Times Union Center.

When I started walking this way, I noticed that every single morning there was a guy out here with a bucket and mop cleaning all around the dark nooks and crannies. Wow! They do an amazing job of keeping this place tidy, I thought. It smells like bleach — which to me is the odor of CLEAN.

Then one day the bucket and mop guy wasn’t there — and the entire area reeked of urine. Ackkkk! Apparently, this is Albany’s favorite spot to urinate, which makes perfect sense. There are a couple of bars nearby and lots of street people — not to mention all the beer drinking at the arena — so the urinating is understandable.

Because I always have to go to the bathroom, I find this interesting — but just for the record, I do my best to find a bathroom.

I think the mayor should stop down here and have a look; if we clean up around Albany as if people are peeing everywhere, it would surely be a better place. And the mayor could stop worrying about Alex Trebek dissing the city.

G’day Mate

Here’s former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke pounding a beer at a recent cricket match:

Hawke is something of a legend when it comes to drinking beer, and once held the world record for drinking a yard of ale — in eleven seconds.

This brings us to the Granite State of New Hampshire, where voters must ask themselves this question: do we want a leader who won’t drink even one beer, much less 2.5 pints of beer in eleven seconds?

Yes, that’s a terribly superficial and absurd way to judge Mitt Romney, whose Mormon beliefs forbid him from imbibing — but what about this campaign season has not been terribly superficial and absurd?

I rest my case.

Is Beer a Clear Liquid?

When I saw that someone posted this as their Facebook status, I instantly understood:

Is beer a clear liquid?

You see, I had been wondering the same thing just hours before as I examined the prep instructions for my colonoscopy. The guidelines are very specific about consuming only clear liquids, but as you can imagine, the gastroenterologist isn’t going to include beer on the list. Broth, bouillon, juices? Yes. Beer? No.

But it doesn’t say don’t drink beer, does it?

My regimen started with four Dulcolax tablets to kick things off, and then proceeded to heavy doses of MiraLAX, popularly regarded as the Drano of the laxative community. Here’s how you know you’ve cleaned the pipes:

After your prep, the results should appear clear yellow or clear green liquid with no solid matter.

Oh, what fun. I suppose this is the price one must pay for living until 50. The indignities have commenced, and will hereby continue until death.

By the way, I asked for a videotape of my scoping to put on YouTube, but that was a no-go. It seemed like the perfect thing to watch while enjoying a clear liquid.