Month: April 2014

Wu-Tang Live & Gritty

I’m finally getting around to digitizing this shoebox of cassette tapes from the 1990s.  Most of the tapes are from various Stretch and Bobbito shows on WKCR; however, I’m not sure if this was on WKCR or on WBAI’s Underground Railroad Show. Whichever the source, this is Wu-Tang showcasing the essence of gritty, with Ol’ Dirty Bastard stealing the show.  Enjoy!

 

 

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Craft Beer in the Dominican Republic

It doesn’t exist!  Image I just came back from a family trip to the land of my ancestors, the Dominican Republic aka la Quisqueya aka Santo Domingo. (What you shouldn’t call it is in the footnotes below. Take heed, my friends!) Image I spent a full week consuming the pride of DR, Presidente. If you are not familiar with Presidente, it’s a lager brewed in the style of an (tasteless) American Adjunct Lager. Fill the bottle with Coors Light or Bud Light and you probably couldn’t fool a Dominican octogenarian who has been consuming this bad boy for decades. Presidente, like its distant relative Heineken, comes in a green bottle. I spent the majority of my time drinking 22 oz bombers of this stuff, although 12 oz bottles are also available. I won’t bother with a detailed analysis of the flavor profile of Presidente. The fact that it needs to be served nearly frozen to fully enjoy is testament enough. Once it warms up, it truly tastes like crap. It’s usually above 85 degrees Fahrenheit all year round, so it’s best to drink the beer ice cold. Certain stores take pride in serving the bottles laced with ice – You just have to ask for “una vestida de la novia,” a white wedding dress. (So cute!) Here’s Beer Advcoate’s rating. Give us Dominicans a break, beer geeks!   Image Image It’s a pretty bold statement to declare there is no craft beer in the entire country, I know. Mind you, I didn’t scour the island (the Dominican half) looking for craft beer bars, craft breweries, or bottle shops.  I didn’t even ask my primos and tias in DR about the prevalence of home brewers in the country. Trust me, craft beer just doesn’t exist en la Quisqueya. Presidente, and to a lesser extent Bohemia, both have beer consumption on lock. There are a few other beers available in DR, but they are not widely distributed. I didn’t see them at all while I was there. The variety of beers below are nearly all brewed by Cervecería Nacionál Dominicana (Grupo León Jimenes), which is majority owned by InBev since 2012. It’s nearly impossible to find another beer style apart from a Pale Lager (American Adjunct Lager). The “best beers of dominican republic (sic)” – There has to be irony at play here?!?  Image The one exception, which seems to be independently owned, is Cerveceria Vegana which churns out Cerveza Quisqueya and Cerveza Soberana. I have a feeling, though, that their production has been severely limited or they are currently closed. (If someone can confirm this, please let us know.) Unfortunately, one of Cerveceria Vegana’s flagship beers got slammed on RateBeer.com. It’s actually quite an entertaining read: Image

Before the trip, I had daydreams of meeting a home brewer somehow or stumbling upon a bar or restaurant that at least served Dogfish Head or Sam Adams. It never happened. There is a glimmer of hope, though. After I came home, I found this spot while doing some web research:

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The bar/restaurant claims to have a variety of craft beer on their website. Sadly, I checked their website today, and it’s offline. I hope it’s just a server issue. The one possibility for craft beer in the entire country needs to stay open. I plan to pay them a visit during my next family trip. My wife posed an interesting question while we were out there – Could a craft brewery fare well in the Dominican Republic or are the Dominican masses happy enough with their American Adjunct Lager called Presidente? Craft beer seems to be growing in other Latin American countries. There has to be hope en la Quisqueya. Image

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to piss off a Dominican, refer to the country as “The Dominican” minus the Republic.

Introducing the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito BierWAX Series

I was recently invited to contribute to a project that Stretch and Bobbito are working on. It was amazing to spend the afternoon with two hip hop legends who had such a significant impact on my musical sensibilities beginning in the early 1990s. In preparation for this much anticipated meet-up, I dug out two shoeboxes from storage and dusted off numerous cassette tapes of Stretch and Bobbito shows that I have not heard in many years. Most of these tapes were live freestyles (both actual freestyles and “writtens”) from a wide range of artists who visited the show throughout the 1990s. I’ve started to finally digitize these tapes and I will periodically post them over here at BierWAX.com.

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If you have no idea who DJ Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito are, here is a quick bio from their event at the New Museum last year:

Widely regarded as the best hip hop radio program of all time, the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show broadcast from Columbia University every Thursday night from 1990–1998. Co-hosts Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia operated one of the few independent, noncommercial forums for hip hop in the ’90s, a position that allowed them to explore the furthest creative, political, and controversial reaches of rap music. By featuring exclusive demo tapes and in-studio freestyles from unsigned artists, the show introduced countless MCs to the world, including Nas, the Notorious B.I.G., and the Wu-Tang Clan. Home-recorded tapes of the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show have circulated internationally for decades, celebrated as much for their humor and attitude as for their incredible selection and mixing. Today, contemporary websites offer exhaustive catalogues of these historic programs, reiterating their continued relevance.

 

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I plan to post mainly freestyles, demos, and some rare tracks.  However, some of my most cherished moments of the show were the live calls and shenanigans between 4:00 and 5:00 am.  Here is a compilation of phone calls, Lord Sear beat boxing, and other early morning ridiculousness.

 

Empire Brewing Company

From the Archives

I had Empire IPA from draught at NYC restaurants in the past, so I was curious to see what the brewery would be like. I did some prior research and found out that they don’t bottle or can their beer. They do well enough with keg distribution and selling directly to customers at their brewpub. Their best known beer is perhaps their Cream Ale, which has the creamy goodness of a Guiness without being a Stout.  To meet New York City demand, Empire has been contract brewing at Brooklyn Brewery. Empire hopes to finalize the purchase of a few acres of land in Upstate New York to increase their barrel output and to possibly start canning their wide selection of craft brews.

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Their food menu is pretty amazing. After sampling most of their beer list, we worked up an appetite and were not disappointed with the food. If you are in the Syracuse, NY area, I highly recommend visiting the Empire Brewing Company.

Enjoy these other photos from our visit.

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