Sunday, November 19, 2017

Bryan White – "Eugene You Genius" (1994)

Tell me, Eugene, I just gotta know
Can I go down and buy it
At the grocery store?

Pushing an eight-month-old baby around the neighborhood is thirsty work.

So after spending time recently with grandson number two, I was in the mood to drop by a bar with a good selection of craft beers on tap and a friendly bartender to serve me a pint.

Fortunately for me, the H Street Lounge in Washington, DC – which has a very impressive craft beer list – was just a few blocks from where I dropped off my grandson after our visit.

The H Street Whole Foods
Did I mention that the H Street Lounge is located inside a grocery store

That’s correct – it’s located inside a new Whole Foods store in Washington, DC.

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I had never been in a grocery store that sold craft beer on tap for consumption on the premises.

The H Street Lounge had a number of local beers, starting at only $5 a pint, including beers from breweries in DC (Atlas’s “NSFW” imperial black IPA and DC Brau’s ESB), Virginia (Old Ox’s “Black Ox” rye porter and Hardywood’s “The Great Return” IPA), and Maryland (Jailbreak’s “Feed the Monkey” hefeweizen and RAR’s “Bottom Feeder” blonde ale.)

Some of the beers on tap
at the H Street Lounge
Its offerings also included number of beers that didn’t originate in the DMV – including some exotic, high-gravity (i.e., high alcohol) brews.

For example, there were three beers from the Captain Lawrence brewery in New York State – including the “Seeking Alpha” 12% triple IPA – and Unibroue’s “La Fin du Monde,” a Belgian-style tripel that’s brewed in Quebec.    

Even casual craft beer fans are familiar with Boulevard’s highly-regarded “Tank 7” farmhouse ale.  Instead of Tank 7, Whole Foods was pouring “Saison Brett,” a hard-to-find limited-release Tank 7 variant.

Another rare beer available by the pint at that Whole Foods was Firestone Walker’s “Bretta Weisse,” a Berliner weisse that’s aged for eight months in French oak tanks called foeders.  

This way to the H Street Lounge
The famous Tröegs “Mad Elf” ale – a holiday brew flavored with cherries and honey – sells out quickly every year.  But the H Street Bar was offering this 11% ABV ale at a very good price.

The piece de résistance of the bar’s draft beer list was the 2016 Goose Island “Bourbon County Stout,” a legendary 13.8% ABV imperial stout that’s aged in bourbon barrels for the better part of a year.  

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You may think it’s odd to go to a grocery store for a draft beer.  

The Whole Foods that’s home to the H Street Lounge is as much a restaurant as it is a grocery store.

Like most Whole Foods stores, this one offered a dazzling array of pricey prepared foods that you could either take home or bring to the bar to have with your beer.  You’re not limited to a salad bar and some ready-to-eat soups and sandwiches – the Whole Foods also sells made-on-the-premises pizzas and sushi and ramen and bao buns and raclette and a whole lot more.

Smoked pork shoulder ramen
Nearly all the customers drinking craft beer in the H Street Lounge when I stopped by the other evening were also enjoying the store’s food offerings.  And the majority of those people had their kids with them.

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We have plenty of Whole Foods stores in the Maryland suburbs of DC.  But none of them offer craft beers on tap.

That’s because the great state of Maryland – unlike DC and neighboring Virginia – forbids it.

The Great Seal of Maryland
In fact, Maryland forbids not only the sale and consumption of draft beer in a grocery store, but also the sale of six-packs of beer to take home.

I’m not going to bore you with a long rant about lobbyists and special-interest legislation and all that jazz.

Suffice it to say that we Marylanders can’t buy beer (or wine) in grocery stores, drug stores, warehouse club stores, or other chain stores thanks to our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad state legislature.

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Maryland is home to a number of very good craft breweries.

The Whole Foods store in DC that is home to the H Street Lounge sells six-packs of beer from a number of those Maryland breweries – including Evolution, Jailbreak, Manor Hill, Monocacy, Oliver Brewing, and Union Craft.

Monocacy Brewing beers for sale
at the H Street Whole Foods
But once you cross the DC line and enter Maryland, you can’t buy those Maryland beers (or beers from anywhere else) at a Whole Foods store.  

Or, for that matter, at a Wegman’s or a Harris-Teeter or a Trader Joe’s or a CVS or a Walgreen’s or a Walmart or a Costco or a 7-Eleven.

That’s what I said – you can’t buy beer at a 7-Eleven in Maryland.  What exactly is the raison d’être of a 7-Eleven if you can’t buy beer there late on a Friday or Saturday night when the liquor stores are closed?

These Union Craft beers are also
available at the H Street Whole Foods
(Note: The statement that you can’t buy beer at a 7-Eleven is accurate in most, but not all Maryland counties.  Maryland’s alcohol laws vary significantly by county, which makes it almost impossible to make accurate generalizations about what is legal and what is not legal in Maryland.)

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Millions of Marylanders live just a short drive from DC or Virginia, of course, which means it’s not all that hard for them to cross state lines and contribute to the economies of our neighboring states.

This popular DC liquor store is just
one block from the Maryland line
Have I ever crossed state lines to stock up on beer and wine – thereby depriving Maryland of the tax revenues it would have collected if I had done my shopping closer to home?  

I think I’ll plead the Fifth rather than answer that question.

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Oklahoma native Bryan White was only 20 years when he released his eponymous debut album in 1994.

“Eugene You Genius,” the first single from that album, stalled at #48 on the Billboard “Hot Country Songs” chart, but two other singles from Bryan White made it all the way to #1, and the album eventually went platinum.

Two singles from his second album almost were #1 country hits, but his popularity waned over the next few years.

In 2012, White turned to Kickstarter to raise money to pay for a new album.  The $34,889 he received from contributors was enough to pay for only a six-song EP, Shine, which he released in 2014.  

Here’s “Eugene You Genius.”  It’s not the greatest song ever featured on 2 or 3 lines, but there are very few grocery store-themed songs out there.

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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