Real Gear Guide: Best surf beers!

Tired of milquetoast reviews? Get ready for the truth!

You have, through the course of your surfing life, read tens of gear guides. Maybe even hundreds. Wetsuits, trunks, fins, boards, leashes, wax, sunscreen, surf camp, surf charter, etc. And magically each wetsuit, trunk, fin, board, leash, wax sunscreen, surf camp, surf charter, etc. are exemplary.

Glowing reviews for all!

And it is very clearly bullshit.

Some wetsuits ain’t worth the $99 sale rack they’re hanging on. Some trunks are very lame. Some fins pop out when you are trying to win the Drug Aware Pro, some leashes snap, some wax freezes up + melts, some sunscreen leaves you looking whiteface, some surf camps have mosquitos, some surf charters sink with the captain fleeing by jetski. Etc.

It is well past time for an honest review of the things we use most. Which is best but more importantly which is worst.

And let’s start with beer! Michelob Ultra just signed on to the World Surf League so it seems a very appropriate place to begin don’t you think? I do and got to drankin. Here in all drunken honesty is the truth:

(Note. We will be using the WSL’s judging scale.)

St. Archer Blonde Ale: St. Archer began a full on movement of surfers investing in or starting beer companies. Just ask Mick, Joel and Mick and Bede and is Mick even invested in Balter? It don’t matter because it is a rip off of St. Archer that doesn’t get sent to the United States. But back to St. Archer. Many surfers are/were invested including Taylor Knox, Nate Yeomans and a shopping cart full of others. I selected the Blonde Ale because it is the closest the company makes to a “normal” beer. But it ain’t normal. It is heavy, thick, delicious, heavy, thick. I drank a sip and then drank another and then drank a whole big bottle, smacking my lips the entire time but then felt full and thick and heavy. St. Archer should stop pretending to be a fancy microbrew and start pretending to be easy. It should stop trying. 5.57

Michelob Ultra: I wanted to hate it. I wanted to taste and have to spit because of disgusting yuck in my mouth but the newest addition to the World Surf League’s stellar sponsorship roster actually tasted great if it was water. I’m serious! It tastes way better than San Diego’s tap water and pretty much the same as Dasani. Easy to drink, clean and tasteless. If you hate beer but like to drink lots of water and get slightly buzzed this is the beer for you! 8.94 (as water) 5.32 (as beer)

Corona: This Mexican beer has probably spent more time trying to associate itself with the “surf lifestyle” than almost any other. Luke Stedman might have been a pitch man at one point and for sure that handsome Jarrad Howse. It is, or at least used to be, a massive thing in Australia which always confused me greatly. Australia has James Boag! Why bother with the worst of the Mexican beers? But tasting it with an open mind for this guide I understood its appeal. It honestly tastes like sunshine. Cold, easy, sunshine. It is still the worst of the Mexican beers and the lime should be kept out. But a limeless Coronita is almost in the surf beer excellent range. 7.75

Heineken: Hawaii’s favorite beer! It should be Primo but it’s not. It’s Da Green Ones and how do Da Green Ones taste? Unfortunately like an Amsterdam youth hostel. Fun at first. A little off in the middle. Downright bummer at the end. But maybe that’s because I’ve actually been to an Amsterdam youth hostel (I was very youth). There’s a lot happening inside a Heineken. It wants you to know it is real but also wants you to sip easy. This dichotomy almost works. It is the Kolohe Andino of beer. 6.39

Bud Light Lime: Bud Light Lime sponsored a surf series or two back in the day. The powers in St. Louis, I’m assuming, thought it was the lime that gave Corona its kick and tasked their scientists with developing a carcinogenic “lime flavor” in order to snag the elusive surf market. They were wrong. There is no such thing as the surf market and lime actually ruins Corona and Bud Light Lime is gross. 2.45

Balter: I have no idea. It ain’t sold in America but since they copied St. Archer 5.56

James Boag: Why the hell isn’t the entire world drinking James Boag? Dion Agius? Are you? Both are from Tasmania! Flavorful yet crisp. Boozy yet non-filling. James Boag is a John John Florence air that puts the final nail in Joel Parkinson’s coffin. (Is Joel Parkinson an investor in Balter?) James Boag for the yellow jersey. 8.93

To recap, James Boag rings the bell. Corona gets its face painted by an Aborigine too and gets a mini bell.

Shhhhhhh it's a Hinano not a James Boag but Kelly Slater would never know the difference...
Shhhhhhh it’s a Hinano not a James Boag but Kelly Slater would never know the difference…

Shark attack: Truth vs. Fiction!

Are you more scared or less scared to surf in southern California?

More details have been released about the woman attacked by a shark at the surf break Church between San Onofre and Lowers and they are heartbreaking. She is a mother of three children from Vista, California. Her mother has set up a GoFundMe (donate here!) where she explains the physical damage:

Leeanne was swimming at San Onofre state beach on April 29th 2017 and was attacted by a shark. It tore her right back leg from her glute to her knee. The Doctors also say that she drowned when the shark pulled her under. She’s now in Scripps Memorial Hospital fighting for her life. She is a single mom with three young children who depend on her.

Brutal but the details surrounding the attack itself remain murky. Initial rumor had it that she was simply wading in the water wearing swim fins. Some even had it that she was cruising the shorebreak on a Boogie. Another rumor today had it that she was trying to rescue and injured baby seal.

I heard last night from a crew of very fine San Clemente locals that she actually was on the beach. Her male friend was on a SUP and out the back. She  wanted to go visit him so kicked out past the surf on a Boogie. When she got there a baby seal jumped, very scared, onto the nose of her male friend’s SUP. At that point she turned to swim back in and was grabbed.

Doesn’t this seem very far fetched? It does to me. Like, surfers trying to find justification for why they won’t get attacked.

Do you have any more information about this attack? Did you see the drone images of all the sharks hanging out in southern Orange County?

Yikes or who cares?

Kevin Reed pictured soaring.
Kevin Reed pictured soaring.

Freedom: Surf icon released from jail!

Kevin Reed is let go and all charges for murder are dropped!

Yesterday, if you happened to swing by, you read the very tragic story of Kevin Callaghan née Reed, an iconic Santa Cruz surfer and the first man, maybe, to ever kick an air.

He had fallen upon hard times and was living on the beach where he was arrested on suspicion of murdering another homeless man. Legendary Santa Cruz shaper Bob Pearson commented:

“You drive by homeless, you hear it a bunch of times: Don’t judge the people, you don’t know who he is, who she is, where they’re from, what happened to them and what’s going on in their life,” Pearson said. “I’m sure he has been judged wrong by a lot, a lot of people. It’s unfortunate, some people just fall through the cracks.”

Well today there is a bit of good news for Mr. Callaghan. He has been released from jail without any charges being filed! Let’s read in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

A 58-year-old Santa Cruz man and well-known surfing pioneer arrested on suspicion of murder Sunday morning was released and all charges dropped on Tuesday.

“After careful review of the evidence submitted by the Santa Cruz Police Department, and autopsy findings provided by the Sheriff’s Coroner’s office, the District Attorney’s Office has determined there is insufficient evidence to charge Kevin Callahan regarding the death of Steven Lee. Kevin Callahan has since been released from custody,” according to a release from the Santa Cruz County District Attorneys Office on Tuesday.

Santa Cruz police have reclassified of Lee’s demise as a “suspicious death” and consider Callahan a “person of interest,” department spokeswoman Joyce Blaschke said Tuesday. Callahan previously went by the name Kevin Reed.

Blaschke said the department stands by the District Attorney’s Office and its “sound decision” to release Callahan. However, Callahan’s arrest, she said, was based on probable cause, including his own admissions, witness reports, evidence of an apparent struggle around Lee’s body and Callahan’s proximity to the body the next morning.

“At this point, because the coroner’s report is inconclusive. There isn’t a conclusive cause of death. We can’t rule it a homicide because we don’t know how or why he died,” Blaschke said. “This all hinges on the coroner’s report. It makes sense as part of our legal process that we would err on the side of caution.”

A very fine turn of events.


Screen grab taken from WSL video.
Screen grab taken from WSL video.

Dion Agius: “This is just ridiculous!”

Is the World Surf League fat shaming one of its stars?

Pioneering professional surfer from Tasmania Dion Agius is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. A few hours ago he took to Instagram and poured fire on the World Surf League, posting a still from the WSL’s latest Brazil promotion and writing:

Is this really for real. What on earth is @wsl trying to turn surfing into? Who is approving this? 195 lbs of BOOM? Have a look at the latest Instagram clip promoting the next Brazil event and tell me this shit isn’t getting out of hand.

I sprinted to the League’s feed and watched the video.

“Hey John, good news! Yellow jersey. Bad news… These guys want it and they’re comin’ after you with 194 lbs of boom, high flying wizardry, relentless fight. oh and… there are 29 focused, gritty, hungry, sharp warriors chasing you too. So watch out in Brazil.”

And Dion is right. Fat shaming Jordy Smith would be inappropriate in any context but it feels particularly inappropriate wrapped in strange neo-dubstep.

A precious brotherhood! | Photo: @tsherms

Letter from San Clemente: Lessons in love!

Who's worse? The older local or the teen wizard?

In between multiple sharks sightings, a potentially fatal attack and murder allegations, a much bigger story has rocked California’s surf community: Overzealous pre-teen dunked (or maybe stabbed) at Salt Creek by local.

While initial reactions take one side or the other or highlight the obviously ridiculous police response, each side represents the demographics of surfers that have been ruining lineups across California for years.

On one side, we have the middle-aged, failed-pro who sits way on the outside, reminisces about surf trips and has gained so much weight he rides a shortboard with more volume than a Laird paddleboard. He’s now a forklift-certified warehouse manager at one of his old sponsors, still takes surfing too competitively and hoots you off every set wave he catches.

Then, you have the grom. He has unusually blond hair, rides a brand new custom board and when you see him paddle out with two other friends, all smiles and hope, you curse under your breath again. The kids paddle back-and-forth, back-and-forth, across the peak you had all to yourself about 30 minutes ago. They catch an unreasonable amount of waves and are constantly yapping about how sick their last air was. All on a wave you didn’t even look at for a second. Thankfully, mom or dad appear on the beach with video cameras, tell them how spectacular they are, and reinforce ignorance to the fact they’re chasing a pipe dream.

And then there’s us (or just me), who enjoy surfing, but don’t do it as much as they’d like.

We surf sporadically, sometimes waiting a month for a good swell.

We remember how fun it is, and proceed to binge on surfing in the next week.

The cycle repeats.

We aren’t all that good, but we do it because of what surfing is, an inexplicably peaceful and unmatchable connection to nature’s energy. Just really damn cool. And fun.

When one or both of the parties described above are present, howevs, it kind of ruins it. It turns a relaxing time into a competition of who can be a bigger dick and backpaddle the furthest. Trading waves isn’t an option for them. They’re programmed to be competitive no matter the environment.

I wish I could offer some solution, but it’s just the result of living in a surf-industry populated area, a place where surfing was turned from a passion into a business.

But there’s still those days.

When Surfline messed up the forecast for a mid-sized swell met with unexpected offshores. And the assholes are one-upping each other elsewhere, still searching for that validation from their parents.