Friday, August 7, 2009

Drinking For the Cycle

For the uninitiated, “hitting for the cycle” in baseball involves a batter recording a single, double, triple, and home run in one game. It’s fairly rare; there have been 43 cycles in the nearly ten full seasons starting in 2000.

That’s roughly once every 546 games.

I’ve never really thought much of the accomplishment, to be honest. I think it’s because it’s more of a statistical anomaly than any real measure of skill. Sure, George Brett’s hit for the cycle, but so has Neifi Perez.

The closest I’ve ever come to witnessing one in person was in September of 1999. I was doing a ballpark tour, and I made sure to catch Detroit’s Tiger Stadium and Milwaukee’s County Stadium as they were in their last years of existence.

(As it turned out, the Brewers played another season in County because this tragic crane collapse delayed the opening of their new park, but I digress.)

Steve Finley of the Diamondbacks had a homer, triple, and double in his first three at-bats. A few people I had been talking to started to leave in about the 6th inning, and since I was keeping score I mentioned Finley was a single away from the cycle. They thought it would be cool to witness such a feat, and since he had the three more-difficult hits out of the way it seemed fairly likely it would happen.

Instead, the game dragged on for nearly four hours as the two teams used a combined 15 pitchers (I was listening to the radio broadcast, and you should have heard Bob Uecker trashing the managers for that) and Finley didn’t get his single. Box score here, if you care.

That’s a convoluted way of getting to a much more rewarding cycle experience: the Belgian beer cycle.

Two friends and I happily completed that cycle Tuesday. One friend did not.

As the Brain Trust met at Dish Pizza in Liberty, I was again impressed with the beer selection (click on link for menu).

I realized it was time to achieve. Here’s how it went:

First AB (Absorbed Beer): Dubbel (Grimbergen)

Grimbergen Dubbel was everything a dubbel should be: rich brown color, a little caramelly-sweet, with that nice alcohol warmth at the end.

Second AB: Tripel (Westmalle Trappist)

A true trappist ale, the strength of this style is deceptive: it pours light, almost pilsner-like (the style has its roots there) and comes through with a rich, crisp flavor with that nice funky sweet finish. By this point, my body knew I was in the midst of something special.

Third AB: Quadrupel (St. Bernardus Abt 12)

It was time to power up. Seriously—this is one of the best beers you’ll ever have. Dark brown, yeasty, fruity, great syrupy mouth feel…it’s just luxurious. Do yourself a favor and pony up for a bottle of this next time you see it.

Fourth AB: Single (Caracole Amber Ale)

This was the only beer in the cycle I hadn’t tried before, but it left me quite happy. Don’t be deterred by the non-descript “Amber Ale” label. This is a lovely Belgian, rich in hops but with that distinct finish.

The cycle was complete. By my count, my slugging percentage was 2.500, but my BAC wasn’t far behind. At 6.5%, 9.7%, 10.5%, and 8.0% respectively, Belgians do NOT play around with weak beer.

The best part? This cycle cost $15.

You read that right. All four super-premium beers for $15.

Dish has all their bottled beer on special Tuesday nights, and if you look at the list you’ll see how ridiculous the prices are.

Their pizza’s quite good as well, whether you go deep dish or thin crust.

So, if you happen to be in the NE corner of the metro, stop by Dish and have a beer and some pizza. No, they don’t have individual stemware from each brewery, but they have the beer.

And that’s what's important.


KC Hop Head said...

Now you're talking! I love Dish and love Tuesday nights there. Now you've released a great secret :)

Abt 12 on Tuesday nights is cheaper than it probably costs for distributors, okay I don't know about that but what a great beer spot.

Craig said...

Just like the Royals I had a small budget, and was unable to complete the cycle. I tried to compete with the big boys, but I could only afford 2 of the 4. I started off strong, but faded early, just like the Royals.

JJSKCK said...

@Hop Head - The beer menu there really surprised me. It's not often that you see a suburban pizza joint step up like that. There's a little something for everyone on that beer menu.

@Craig - Are you suggesting we implement a Brain Trust luxury tax, with the proceeds funneled your way? Of course, there'd be no verbiage in the contract that says you have to actually spend it. Hmm...the Royals analogy is endless.

Alan! said...

Great post, Josh! I'm looking for an excuse to get to Liberty now!