Dean Clough

September 3, 2021

Portico Darwin: Lost (Labor Day) Weekend

Following is the fun, holiday-focused part of the blog, but I must first comment on the new Texas law outlawing abortions beyond approximately 6 weeks into the pregnancy. 

Texas mandates that a private business can't require a patron to don a mask, because that's too much of an intrusion on personal liberty.  At the same time, the state's new abortion law essentially forces a woman to give birth to a baby that's the result of rape or incest.

To any conservative or libertarian or citizen in favor of this Texas law:  I will publish, without comment and anonymously if you prefer, your explanation in what you truly believe. 

(Something like 70% of all Americans believe in safe and legal abortions.  No woman wants an abortion and it is the most private of any issue involving that word.  So yeah, I'm gonna rant.

I am hopeful this is will be a big loss on the culture war battlefield for these fucks. 

They got the Supreme Court through cheating.  They've got their tax cuts or pay no tax at all while others live in cars and have no health care.  They've propped up oil and gas to the point our entire country has catastrophic weather, all of the time.  They flushed $5 trillion on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and have less than zero to show for it.  They are awash with their guns and we're the least safe nation in the OECD.  And now, a woman can't control her health or life and they might recall a freely and fairly elected governor with a 12% minority.  Can they ever go too far?  Shouldn't it be great here in the US with all of these things they've wanted and now have?) 

On to the much less awful part of today's post.  Thankfully, it's about drinking, in honor of the long weekend, but also in celebration of the triumphant return to The Presidio of Ol' Purple Label and the living fashion accessory, Silly.  So yes, it is an alcohol-driven post today.  Just not in the way you're thinking.

Rather, I hope what I share today will motivate you to get out with friends and family over the long weekend (and beyond), and yes, perhaps tip a couple back. 

First, I am proud to introduce the third volume in my series of cookbooks, except the cooking takes place in the bar for this one.

Portico Darwin:  It Is Happy Hour

PD HH.jpg

It's 9 of my favorite drinks and drink recipes.  I hope you'll give one or several a whirl this weekend.  And the next.  Etc.

(This new one and the first two cookbook volumes, and many more Plans to Enjoy Life, are here.)

Next, let's focus on road beers.


A while back, I covered the wine regions we've been fortunate enough to visit.  But we've been equally lucky in terms of the places we've been where beer, in all of its guises, is a (or even the) focus.  We've spent plenty of time in each of these fine places, all of which have a thriving beer culture in some form or another.  

Which are Diamond Certified?  Spoiler alert:  they all are, but that's beside the point.  Or maybe it is the point.

In the words of my hero Fareed Zakaria, here's my take.

This is one of the best overall beer bars I've ever visited, and it's generally one of my favorite cities. 

But it's the mainstream Heineken that takes the spotlight here.  If you're laughing at that, it's because you've not gone into a brown bar and ordered a small Heineken.  Freshness counts, and it doesn't get fresher or better than tossing back cold Heinekens sitting canal-side.

I'll make this short and sweet.  Antwerp has the best selection of quality beer, and bars in which to drink them, of any city in the world.  The end.

(Go ahead:  prove me wrong.  I bet you can't, but you'll love trying.  The bars are the best I've seen anywhere - no joke.)

It's a cliché' because it's true, although we certainly steer clear of the Temple Bar district, a Fisherman's Wharf knock-off with Guinness and Irish accents.

But the real Dublin is the real deal, and so is the Guinness.  As with Heineken, freshness matters, no more so as you have your seventh or so imperial pint of the dark stuff.  And for God's sake, man, it seems touristy and is, but do not miss the Guinness factory tour.  Fresh?  Uh, yeah.

Many say the pub culture in Blighty isn't what it used to be, and I suppose that's true.  But I never seem to have a problem finding just the right atmosphere in just the right pub whenever I'm here.  Great beer?  Sure, amongst the best.

But to me, it's the environment and vibe of the classic British pub that makes the difference.   And a typical British pub is typically about as good of a place to imbibe as it gets.

Consider this a placeholder for all of America.  Craft beer has been a thing in the US for about forever by now, and yet?  We clearly make some of the best beer in the world, and I even have a close friend that is a master brewer.  I just wish we could nail beer gardens here, though.  That's what we're missing.

I will say that the Bill Maher fan Cardi A and I found this place unique and interesting earlier in the summer - any place where I can pour my own beer is a winner.  Road trip!

I complain about a dearth of real beer gardens in the US, and then the next city is the capital of them.  Go figure.

We're talking about Weissbier, and drinking outside in some of the most enjoyable environments of any I've personally seen.  The food, beer and conviviality of your typical Munich Biergarten has to experienced to be understood.  What else do you need to know?  Go right now.

The birthplace of beer, or at least Pilsner.  Unique among many European cities in that it wasn't destroyed in World War II, it has old-world charm oozing everywhere.  But beyond the Pilsner and architectural atmospherics?  I wasn't all that blown away by the beer.  Disclaimer:  it's been a while, but it was still Diamond Certified then, and I bet it still is now.  Gorgeous place, but Pilsner is boring.


Although I did have a tremendous happy hour with Julie, Hunter, OPL, and Silly last night at the Killer Inn at The Presidio.  And trust me, they said a lot.


Thank you to any one that is reading this blog.

I found this very interesting, and it should entertain you as you mix up some of the drinks from It Is Happy Hour.  Hey, you've got a 3 day weekend, and each and every one of those albums is at Spotify.  Heck, I've shared quite a few of them here.

But for the inevitable comedown from all of the long weekend carousing, perfect will be the soundtrack from HBO's "The White Lotus".  Hard to believe, but it's as good as the show.  Completely modern ambient music.

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