Guo: Treat yourself to a Golden Monkey

by Clara Guo | 3/1/17 2:25am

The following email was sent on Friday afternoon to the entire figure skating team:

This is a reminder that dry policy begins tonight at 11:59 p.m. As a team, we are committed to not engaging in alcohol (or drug) use until the completion of next weekend’s competition. This policy will be upheld by the whole team, even those skaters who are not competing next weekend.

Dry Policy is a reminder to maintain our physical and mental well being as we prepare for our first competition, and it is an important way to express our support and dedication to ourselves and each other. We cannot expect ourselves to perform our best unless we treat our bodies as the athletes we are.

Any violation of dry policy will result in a meeting with the coach and captains to discuss the responsibility to the team, and transgressors may be asked to take a leave of absence. Breaking dry policy may also jeopardize involvement in future team events, competition starts, team social activities or officer positions.

The Friday night countdown always begins early. Every few minutes, I make a habit of checking the time on my Fitbit. 11:04 p.m. 11:17 p.m. 11:35 p.m. 11:50 p.m. At 11:57 p.m., I throw out my drink and announce to my friends that I am now, officially, dry.

On Saturday night, I forego tails in favor of Netflix-and-chill-by-myself-in-pajamas.

“Do I want pizza?” I ask out loud.

“Treat yourself,” my roommate responds. Vehemently.

And so I do. I order a small sausage pizza from EBAs (instead of my usual small Hawaiian) and eat three-quarters of it. The last slice, I leave on my roommate’s desk for when she returns.

I’m not sure if this is what our coach meant by “maintaining our physical well being.” Any major meal past 10 p.m. is something I’ve been taught to avoid, especially when that meal occurs less than four hours after dinner (and definitely when there is only a week to go before I have to compete a long program).

But my roommate is right. “Treat yourself” because, sometimes, we forget to do so.

On any other Saturday night, I would have popped open a beer­ — most likely one of the several Stella Artois in our fridge — because pizza and beer enjoyed together is a hallmark of American culture. But, alas, we are dry, and so I relish the comfort of stringy cheese with only water by my side.

I don’t remember the first time I drank a Stella. Was it at home? Maybe — my dad loves Stellas (and pilsners and sometimes Heinekens). Recently, I bought a six-pack of Golden Monkey Belgian-Style Tripel. The Victory Brewing Company’s website describes the beer as follows: “Nose is loaded with Belgian yeast character. Banana, clove, isoamyl. Body is equally fruity with light earthy hop character. Boozy with a dry finish.” Apparently, we’re supposed to: “Serve at 45° F. Tilt bottle slowly into glass making certain that pour is sufficiently vigorous to raise a foamy head. Try to avoid pouring the last dregs as the yeast sediment is not the most favorable part of this beer. Savor the experience slowly as the ale warms.”

I’m a beer person, but I am far removed from the level of expertise needed to tease apart the tasting and serving notes. (Who actually knows what “isoamyl” tastes like??) The first time I had a Golden Monkey was when I was in Chicago, Illinois junior fall for a neuroscience conference. My friend who handed me the beer told me one thing and one thing only: Golden Monkeys are 9.5 percent.

I suppose, however, that I can try to adhere to the last serving suggestion: “Savor the experience slowly.” But how slowly is too slow? How warm is too warm? What if I don’t have the time to appreciate every sip? I suppose the answer to that last question is quite simple: if I don’t have the time, don’t drink the beer.

Last week, when I was in New York for West Point’s 100th Night, Eric and I stopped by The Pantry Specialty Coffee Roaster and Craft Beer Bottle Shop. We ordered two pour-overs of single-origin Burundi and debated buying a large bottle of craft beer.

The barista, upon hearing our conversation, remarked, “A few West Point students dropped by less than an hour ago. One was bold enough to ask for a drink at 11 a.m. but saw that we only offered craft beers. No Keystone or ‘Natty’ Lights. He was taken aback. Pretty disappointed actually. Said the beers were too fancy, and he didn’t know how to drink fancy.”

I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of the statement — how could one possibly choose cheap, watery beer over one infused with unique flavor? Has college taught us to appreciate the cheap, the convenient over the “fancy”?

I wondered, mostly, if we have forgotten how to “savor the experiences.”

At the end of our competitive season in April, I’m going to treat myself to pizza and beer. I haven’t decided which beer I’m going to drink yet, but I’ve heard that Evil Twin Brewing’s “Even More Jesus” is delectably dark, infused with notes of coffee. It’s a beer to be savored.