On Something Different

It's finals so I think I've earned a beak from the beer blog to re-post old stuff. Without further ado I give you the definition of a word you sorely need in your vocabulary.

Here’s a super useful verb I bet you don’t know: ‘hogan’. You’ve probably never heard it before. It’s a word that isn’t used much outside my immediate family, but it could be vital to anybody cohabiting with other human beings. To hogan something is to “leave a pitiful, unsatisfactory amount of that thing behind”. For example if your partner drinks all but a meager mouthful of the milk then returns the bag to the fridge despite all decency,  you can say, “you bastard, you hoganed the milk.” If you are the rebellious party who drank the majority of the milk but really don’t feel like changing the bag then you can say, “I’m hoganing the milk and there’s not a thing you can do about it”.  

 It's clear to me that there aren't enough cookies here. Why on earth wouldn't you eat the last one? And what's with the crumbs?

It's clear to me that there aren't enough cookies here. Why on earth wouldn't you eat the last one? And what's with the crumbs?

The word was coined by a kid named Simon, a close personal friend throughout my formative years. He was a tad eccentric and had an odd habit of coming up with interesting, if rarely useful, words. “Hogan” was one of the last words he came up with before he discovered the joys of alcohol and re-focused his energies toward the development of disgusting mixed drinks*. If the term sounds remarkably similar to the proper noun Hogan, it is because we find its roots in that name. You see, Simon had a half-brother named Hogan**, who would stay at his house every second weekend. Hogan would invariably eat most of the food available to him, always leaving a little bit at the bottom of the box, bag, jar et cetera. Simon, being a pubescent teen at the time, expressed deep resentment at being forced to achieve sustenance by munching the remains of Hogan’s leavings. He became so frustrated that he decided to bring shame upon his sibling by forever associating Hogan’s name with the despicable act of leaving an insultingly small quantity of something behind.

There are many other uses of the word which serve to deepen its relevance. “Hogan” can also be applied as a label, as in “Jerry is such a hoganer”. This sentence implies that Jerry, like Hogan, often hogans. If Jerry’s hoganing continues unabated, in addition to dirty looks cast at him over the breakfast table, he may be subjected to the intensified form of the label as in, “Jerry is a hogan”. This form of the word expresses maximum distaste for Jerry’s misuse of shared household consumables by drawing a direct line between Jerry and the titular Hogan.

The astounding utility of this word cannot be overstated. Imagine you are en route to the pantry late at night to partake in the joys of after-hour graham crackers. When you open the box, you find only a single graham cracker sitting lonely at the bottom of the sleeve. You are frustrated; eating one graham cracker is not going to put a dent in your hunger for the golden goodness. If anything, eating a singular cracker will remind your body of the sweet honey taste and crumbly texture, driving your craving to new heights. You will stand in shock, aware that finding a solitary graham cracker is somehow worse than finding no graham crackers at all. You are beyond disappointment. A rage builds within you directed at the one who lacked the common decency to chow down on that final cracker, who instead left you saddled with this cruel mockery of your hunger. Until now English has had no words to describe this oh so common human emotion. Now, as you let the nearly empty sleeve fall from your grip and the inescapable wave of despair takes hold, you can at least give voice to your predicament: “My crackers have been hoganed!”


*This was in the late years of high school, and we as his friends were subjected to his concoctions at every party. Some of these were quite good; I have fond memories of“the iceberg” which involved floating a 7-up slushy from the local Quickie on a mixture of vodka and blue curacao, but most were far from palatable. I remember with particular horror a phase where he became obsessed with exploding drinks. It started benignly enough with an attempt at recreating the pan-galactic-gargle-blaster, a mixture of dry gin and pop rocks, but quickly turned sour when Simon discovered the volatile combination of diet coke and Mentos.

**I have it on good authority that this dude hoganed all the flipping time. Like, this guy had an unparalleled ability to eat almost all of everything. He once left a single bite of a Kit-kat on the coffee table, not a full stick but a single thumbnail sized piece. In short: he was history’s greatest monster.


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Conor Rochon

Conor is not an alcoholic. He is an engaged and passionate person who does about half as much distraught navel-gazing as this blog would suggest. He has an aptitude for communication and a passion for storytelling. When he finds he has free time he plays silly games and enjoys good beer.

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On Pals

 This isn't the same stout I had, but It's probably similar. It would seem generic beer makes photo hunting simple.  

This isn't the same stout I had, but It's probably similar. It would seem generic beer makes photo hunting simple.  

It was cold. Jackets, hats, and scarves cold. A light wind was blowing fresh snow around the quiet streets of the Glebe. The four of us were on a journey to our favorite pub, The Arrow and Loon. We have been visiting the Arrow since second year university, whenever we could afford it. That night I couldn't really afford it, but that night I didn't really care.

The Arrow wins our vote because of its ever-changing, ever-intriguing beer menu. They have kegs and casks sourced from local microbreweries and often serve drinks you can’t find anywhere else. The place was quiet when we arrived, just a few people at tables and a few more at the bar. We went to the table farthest from the door. Like me, my friends preferred to avoid being at the center of things.   

The first round brought me a forgettable stout. It wasn't bad, just a little boring. It tasted like espresso, but with no malty sweetness or hoppy bitterness to round out the experience. It felt flat. If I were alone at home I would have let out a sigh. I would have cast my gaze into the middle-distance and, resigned to disappointment, sink into the pensive shell of myself.

There was no time for brooding that night. The first round loosened our lips and got us talking. We passed our beers around the table and compared tasting notes like yuppie connoisseurs. And as we chatted and laughed I felt good. The reckless pace of life we are constantly grinding against slowed to a crawl, stopped sliding away so quick, and I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.         

Our second round was something special. I got a pint of Lake Effect IPA from Great Lakes Brewery, and it was sublime. It opened with the strong taste you expect from an IPA, the kind of taste you can almost stand on, but washed away its own bitterness. It was one of the easiest drinking IPAs I've had in a long time and my glass was emptied far too quickly. I relaxed.      

Across the table my friends were sipping Flying Monkey’s Chocolate Manifesto Milk Stout. Which both looked and tasted like a big foamy glass of dark-chocolate milk. And with 10% alcohol they relaxed too. The conversation turned to life. Where we were at and where we were going. What was expected and what we expected. That’s when somebody said it, the most important words of the evening,

“You know guys, I’m pretty happy right now.”  And he was right. I probably spend too much time examining what I want out of life and not enough time accepting what I’m offered. That night I was offered good friends, good laughs, and good beer, and you know what? I’m pretty darn okay with that.


P.S. I’m sorry this post wasn't sad. It just couldn't be. Maybe Donovan Woods can console you. His sad and beautiful melodies have been helping me get into the right head-space for this blog. He’s a gifted musician who deserves a bit of love.            

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/craigmarren/12506959033/


Conor Rochon

Conor is not an alcoholic. He is an engaged and passionate person who does about half as much distraught navel-gazing as this blog would suggest. He has an aptitude for communication and a passion for storytelling. When he finds he has free time he plays silly games and enjoys good beer.

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On Transition

I bought my first ever cauliflower on a crisp fall day less than a week ago. I did so with genuine excitement and a desire to see how this new ingredient might transform my next meal. I had never dreamed I would be excited by brassica oleracea and, in a moment of epiphany, I realized that this simple vegetable purchase marked a clear transition in my life. On the way home from the grocery store I picked up a six-pack of Wind and Sail dark ale to celebrate the new man I’d become.  

Once I had prepared my brave new dish I poured myself a cold glass of celebration. Wind and Sail from Barley Days Brewery is a busy beer. I found the mess of dark, sweet, bitter flavours caught me off guard and left me considering whether my 13 dollars had been well spent. I needed a second opinion. I wanted to be able to pass my glass over to a friend so I could ask “what do you think?” But these days I drink alone.

I took a bite of my steamed cauliflower. It was sustenance. Something less interesting than taste. A bland nothingness that amounted to bare nutrition. It offered no solace. It fed my body but did little to buoy my soul.

Then I had my second epiphany of the day. This will be how the next phase of my life plays out. I have gone from sharing drinks, often too many drinks, laughing with friends in a crowded apartment, to cracking a solitary beer over a solitary meal.

We are all always changing. Every event in our lives makes us different people. These changes open doors more often than they close them. But that doesn't mean we shouldn’t shed a tear for who we were, or breathe a sigh for who we’ve become.      

Comrades unavailable, I decided to enjoy my beer— some things don’t change.


Conor Rochon

Conor is not an alcoholic. He is an engaged and passionate person who does about half as much distraught navel-gazing as this blog would suggest. He has an aptitude for communication and a passion for storytelling. When he finds he has free time he plays silly games and enjoys good beer.

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On Abandon Beer

It’s Saturday night and I’m satisfying my hunger with the Pizza Shark walk-in-special, a staple among students and junkies — chosen first for affordability and second for taste. I need a beer to go with my meal but I don’t see any in the fridge. I dig deeper, shifting a bottle of ketchup and a block of my roommate’s cheese when I see it, a can of Abandon Beer left behind after some long-forgotten gathering.

It is a false prophet. Pabst Blue Ribbon, pretentious beer, yet completely unable to satisfy my craft-beer snobbery. I sigh and contemplate the can where it sits, sandwiched between a jar of pickles and the wall of the fridge. I even reach out and touch it, resting my index finger just above the brand’s signature red stripe. I think perhaps this is what I want, a cold glass of uninteresting grain water, but I’m unable to make this self-deception stick. I let the fridge door swing shut and run myself a glass of water from the tap.

This beer will still be in my fridge a month from now, waiting for someone to come along whose tastes match its flavour. I remember the last time I left behind my own Abandon Beer. It was at a house party in Kanata. I had brought a beer I love, a case of Mad Tom IPA. It’s a flavourful offering from Muskoka Brewery, but, like most things labeled IPA, it doesn't hesitate to kick you in the back of the throat on the way down. My host on that fateful night wouldn’t drink it. It’s probably still hiding somewhere in the depths of his fridge.

 A generic lager for hipsters. Though the packaging holds a certain allure, especially to us country boys who see the local agricultural society as a proper authority.

A generic lager for hipsters. Though the packaging holds a certain allure, especially to us country boys who see the local agricultural society as a proper authority.

This is the true sadness of Abandon Beer. It is the same sadness shared by all things lost. We leave something behind with the hope that it will be found again by someone who will truly appreciate it. In a perfect world, where all hearts beat with the same rhythm, love lost can be loved again. But this is the real world where tastes are fickle and gifts can’t be predicated on the taste of the giver. What we leave behind will ultimately be either too bland or too bitter  for our peers, and our passions always wind up in the back of the fridge— behind the pickles.

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/294559767/


Conor Rochon

Conor is not an alcoholic. He is an engaged and passionate person who does about half as much distraught navel-gazing as this blog would suggest. He has an aptitude for communication and a passion for storytelling. When he finds he has free time he plays silly games and enjoys good beer.

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On Bitterness

Light and safe with just a hint of hops off the tail. This pale ale is bland enough to inspire a pitiful tailspin of self-loathing which serves to accentuate its easy drinking nature. 3/5. 

I drank straight from the can. I would have poured it into a glass but none were clean. I sat on my dirty couch amid squalour and gloom, binging on mindless television. The fantasy on the screen didn't stop my eye from straying over the stack of rejection letters piling up on the coffee table, but the beer helped a little. Life was running away without me, and I was caught in that blend of lethargy and resentment that leaves me steps behind the world.

The beer was a Crosswinds Pale Ale from the Lake of Bays Brewing Company. It was a gift from my mother, who thought I’d find it interesting. I suppose it did engage my attention, but only as a mild curiosity. It was bland for a craft beer, mirroring my mood. The label claimed “notes of citrus and a clean landing,” but I only tasted bitterness.

And I reveled in it.

Bitterness is the backbone of beer. Despite an endless variety of brews, there's always a taste that sits at the back of your throat, asking you to spit it out. Domestic lagers try to force this taste out, watering down their formula until they lose everything except the slightest twinge of hops. Palatable to the masses.

Those of us who enjoy beer in its variety are suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Truth is, nobody likes beer the first time they drink it. After all the hype from television and teens, the first time you try Lucky Lager at the bush party behind Katlin’s house it will let you down.

If this is your first disappointment in life it won’t be your last. Later that year when you ask her to the spring formal she will laugh in your face. Your first job, which you were so optimistic about, will be a chaotic mess of incompetence and abusive management. As will your second, and third, and so on. And when you think you've found love, when you are ready to share all that you are with another, the skin of the relationship will flake away, revealing a hollow space where you are more alone than you were before.

Bitterness is the taste of life. Dress it up however you like. Try to hide it under the fresh spice of celebration, or the malty taste of contentment, but you will always come down with a bitter landing.

I've acquired the taste for beer, but never the taste for life.


Conor Rochon

Conor is not an alcoholic. He is an engaged and passionate person who does about half as much distraught navel-gazing as this blog would suggest. He has an aptitude for communication and a passion for storytelling. When he finds he has free time he plays silly games and enjoys good beer.

Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn