Craft Cider up in Here

I didn’t let myself drink cider for many years because Angry Orchard gave me such bad heartburn one time that I swear I almost called one of those infomercial hotlines for The Scooter Store just so I could make my way down to CVS for some PILLS. Also Angry Orchard tastes like spicy stomach vile that you burp up after a big plate of Mexican food.

For those of you who know me extremely well, you’ll remember that I grew up drinking apple juice almost exclusively. I called it “Appy Bubby” and had special sippy cups that my mom continually filled with juice because I never ever stopped drinking it. This carried on into elementary school when I graduated from sippy cups to juice boxes. My brothers still called it “Appy Bubby” when I drank it because they were dickheads.

For reference, I’d down one of these suckers all by myself in 5 days or less.

Motts

So as an alcohol consuming A-DULT (say the A like you would in asshole) cider was such an obvious move for me to make. In the years 2011 to 2014 I was pretty terrified of calories so this wasn’t an actual option for me, plus after all the Angry Orchard experiences I was sure it all tasted like barf.

In 2015 I gave in and tried Crispin off the recommendation from my brother Kyle. I gotta say, once I got used to the carbonation it brought me back to my glory days. The days where I would poop my pants while I played with stamps in the kitchen at our house in South Carolina, the days where I’d cry when my family wanted to eat somewhere fancy that didn’t have chicken tenders, the days where I didn’t wash my hair very often because I didn’t know it smelled so bad.

Friends, I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite ciders so that you can live in the glory days with me. Some of them you can find across the nation, others you can definitely find anywhere on the west coast. I’ll make note, just take a looksie and if you’re feeling frisky go give them a try!

1.) ACE Pear Cider

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You can’t really go wrong with the ACE brand, unless you hate pineapples as much as me in which case I’d stay away from the Pineapple flavor. I am not a huge fan of pears in real life but for ACE it makes the cider drier and less of a sugar overload. Shit’s all natural and it tastes like it. This one is carried pretty frequently at liquor stores and grocery stores in Los Angeles, I never have a hard time finding it. You can also find it at a lot of bars, occasionally on tap which makes me tingle inside.

2.) Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider

Cider

I hate that organic is in the name, because shhh! We know, you can shut up about it. This is pretty crisp stuff at a decent price (unless you buy it from Whole Foods.) You can buy it in big bottles for cheap at Trader Joe’s. What I like about this cider is that it’s deep and heavy enough that you want to drink it slowly to savor it. The apple flavor isn’t too sweet (pattern, I hate overly sweet cider) and you still get that glory days taste. It’s imported from the UK but I’m fairly certain you can find it all over the U.S.

3.) Loon Juice 

Loon Juice

Okay, I’m not gonna lie, a lot of this has to do with the title. I’ve only ever seen this in Minnesota (obviously) but I loved it. My favorite thing about it is how socially acceptable it is to drink because it’s called Loon Juice. If you show up with a personal 12-pack of Loon Juice no one is gonna make fun of you because how could you? Also it’s really awesome to me that they come in 12-packs. Taste wise it’s pretty standard and the can aspect of it makes it a good time. I like Loon Juice when I’m trying to get wild back home, because it’s slammable and cooler than anything anyone else is drinking.

4.) Crispin Brut

crisp brut

I sound like a douche with this one but I can’t find it anywhere. I got it at Total Wine in Minnesota and it was perfect. It’s barely a cider, it’s so dry that it tastes like champagne. I love champagne. This is my favorite style of Crispin because I’ve never found a cider that comes close to the unique taste. You get a hint of apple but you’re mostly just popping champagne from a bottle and feeling like a boss doing so. Apparently you’re supposed to serve it over ice, but I’ve never done that. If anyone finds this shit in Los Angeles hit a bitch up ASAP.

5.) Austin Eastciders 

Austin Cider

I might be biased with this one, because the first time I ever drank it was at a BYOB mini-golf course in Austin and I associate it with that awesome memory. But it also tastes amazing like all of the others. Austin knows how to do pretty much everything correctly, cider being on the top of my list. It comes in tall boys so you can feel like a real beer drinker (sometimes you just wanna be liked, you know?) If you’re gonna pair this one with anything, I suggest pairing it with BYOB mini golf or day drinking.

So those are five of my favorites just off the top of my head. I have tons more, and will continue to try any new one I see that doesn’t look like a descendant of Angry Orchard bile. There are several other shitty brands disguised as good shit, I’ll save that inflammatory post for another day.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have about cider, I get about as excited about cider as my dad gets about craft beer and fishing (very, very, excited.) I wanted to put this one cider I got in Nevada on the list because it had little trolls or gnomes all over the packaging but I couldn’t find it anywhere and can’t remember any other details. If someone has leads on the troll cider, please let me know ASAP.

The People of The Grad Gym

First blog post on the new site! This is exciting for me, I now own the domain for The Chips I Didnt Eat! Not that I had any competition whatsoever, but still this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while and now that I’m unemployed I might as well make it happen.

I’ve organized the new site so that each day of the week has its own type of post (except Saturday and Sunday because fuck that.) Feel free to explore the new site (it’s mostly empty) and take a look at the different categories. I’m starting this incorrectly because this post technically falls under “Whatever” for Wednesday but I’m writing it on a Thursday. Maybe I’ll write two posts today? I don’t know.

Anyway, you know those people you continually run into at the gym because you always go at the same time? Well since I go at a disgusting hour (6:00 am) there are some odd characters who I constantly run into. At first I just took note of their presence, but then I started coming up with names and backstories for all of them until it blew up into a full on obsession. Just kidding. Not really. Meet my fellow gymgoers:

Rico: Rico is not the strongest guy at the gym by anyone’s standards, not even his own. He’s a Dental Student who’s a little bit older than his peers but he’s totally fine with it, it took him longer than everyone else to figure out what he wants in life. He stands 5 feet 8 inches and still carries a slight beer belly, but that’s nothing compared to what he used to be. Rico slimmed down from 300 pounds to his current weight of 197. He’s modest about it, but it changed his life.

What do I think about Rico? He doesn’t bother me too much. He is harmless, polite and focused. He recently decided to start offering himself out to other gymgoers to be their personal trainer. He targets the people who can’t tell that he is not qualified at all, specifically the elderly. We saw him today training a 75-year-old women on the bench press. I think the decrepit man lurking around with grey pee-stained sweatpants was his next client. Rico, I respect your hustle but I don’t think you should continue to rope innocent senile folk into your mediocre training sessions.

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(potential Rico client after a session.)

Headband Guy: Headband guy is the type of dude I would have hooked up with in college: tallish white guy, cocky douche bag, mediocre face, defines himself by his ripped body which is the only thing he is capable of loving in this life. He’s always at the gym before we get there (he must wake up at 5:00 am sharp) and is usually still there when we leave. He likes to wear headbands with his short blond hair (completely pointless) and blast songs like “Headstrong” and “Down With the Sickness” which always makes me wonder if he ever left the early 2000s.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Headband Guy glance away from his own reflection in the mirror. Dude comes to the gym for one thing and one thing only: gains. I bet he slays mad poon on the weekends and probably used to belong to a highly coveted fraternity before he became a grad student. He misses those glory days, but he’s studying to become a Botanist now and that’s what his father always wanted from him.

Theon Greyjoy: Ugh, Theon is my least favorite person I have ever encountered at any gym in my entire life. First of all he’s 5 feet 5 inches tall and absolutely hates the world for it. He is balding prematurely (sucks to suck) and looks like a rattier version of Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones (AKA Reek.) He likes to wear shaper shoes, various winter hats, and JC penny clothing. Whenever he arrives at the gym, he’s pissed off. He throws his enormous camping backpack into a locker and doesn’t lock it (even though the lockers are free and super easy to lock) or even bother to shut the door.

Theon is never quiet about his workout. He warms up with tons of Jumping Jacks in the middle of the floor in the place where most traffic occurs. In fact, he might be the Jumping Jack champion of the West based on how many he does and how little competition there is for that title. When he gets the squat rack, he will NEVER leave the squat rack. It is his. He owns it. He does not know how to re-rack his weights properly, he just puts them wherever he wants willy nilly because he don’t care bout no one but himself. He loves to steal weights from whatever machine you’re using without asking you if you need them, he’d probably remove them straight from your bar if he could.

If you’re on the squat rack when he wants it, boy, you’re in for a nightmare. He will ask you with palpable rage how many sets you have left. If you answer anything other than “None, you may take the rack sir.” Then he will stare at you with fierce and otherworldly hatred until you conclude. One time he forced me to let him do pull-ups between my sets. Which was fine, except I hate him and he screamed the request at me.

Theon, you are no fun. It’s not my fault that you’re short and angry about it. It’s not my fault that I’m a head taller than you and have to work less hard to build muscle even though I’m a woman. It’s not my fault that you’re mad at the world and everything it has brought upon you (the balding.) Lighten the fuck up.

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Alan Thrall: I love Alan Thrall, he is my favorite gym goer. He’s a pleasant dude who always shows up with a Starbucks in his hand, which makes him human. Otherwise I would think he is a prehistoric mega-beast. Dude casually squats like 400 pounds. I honestly couldn’t even tell you how much he squats because I can’t do the math. There are lots of 45 plates on both sides. The bar bends like a pool noodle every time.

He’s about 37 years old, looks like a lumberjack bred in the deep woods of Canada, and I mean that in the best way. He has a dark nordic looking beard, intense brown eyes, and a stocking cap that indicates he is no stranger to cold temperatures. His body is covered in tribal tattoos which I’m usually not a fan of but they work for him because he’s a mega-beast and was probably around during tribal times. He always wears all black, because he’s a boss. His calves look like they’re literally going to explode out from under his skin and he’s going to be some Wolverine style steel/metaly motherfucker.

Why do I call him Alan Thrall? Because Alan Thrall is this awesome YouTuber and Gym Owner who does squat demonstrations, and he’s also a mega-beast. The guy kind of looks like Alan Thrall so here’s a photo for reference.

Alan Thrall

 

Wannabee Justin: This guy just started going to the gym, probably for a New Years resolution. He is a scrawnier, nerdier, more awkward version of our very own Justin Williams. Seriously, the resemblance is uncanny. Even Justin agrees. This guy annoys me for no real reason, I think I just don’t like that he’s new. He always looks downtrodden and defeated, if I had to guess I don’t think he’ll achieve his New Years Resolution of becoming swole as fuck.

I know it’s way harder for tall dudes to put on muscle, on account of the fact they got a lotta body to distribute the muscle onto. This guy is at the point where he probably has a six pack just because he’s so skinny and there is no fat to pad his abdomen. We call that a starve-pack where I’m from. He probably can’t even finish a burrito at Chipotle without being “too full.” Bro, if you wanna succeed you gotta EAT. I guess that’s what annoys me about him, he’s a lanky motherfucker. Get some fat on dat wiry body and stop being a Wannabee Justin!

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Anyway, these are just some of the characters who call the UCLA Grad gym their home. As much as I just shat on them, I enjoy their company for the most part. Hopefully none of them ever see this, and if they do… They’ll know immediately it’s about them. So that’ll make for a fun interaction when I see them every week. WORTH IT.