#friday brew review
I love Colorado.
Now, I’ve never been to the state. But even from my perch aboard Spaceship OL, it ain’t hard to discern that Colorado is a multifaceted wonder. After all, it was the thirty-eighth entry into the Union that bore the mighty Tim Allen, creator of America’s greatest sitcom about a tool-man. Lest we not forget that Colorado gave refuge to a Boston hero and allowed him to become a champion. And then, of course, there’s always South Park.
I also love Mexico.
Again, I ain’t never been to Mexico, neither. But there’s plenty to appreciate about the nation. First of all, the Mexican flag features an eagle tearin’ a snake to shreds. Epic! Brutal! Awesome! There’s also the fact that Mexico is responsible for the taco. The goddamn taco! If there was ever a perfect food, it could very well be the taco! And if this didn’t win you over, the Land of the Shaking Earth was also the site of one of humanity’s greatest triumphs.
And now that I’ve discovered Agave Wheat, I can express my love for both Colorado and Mexico by drinking!
Holy shit! Maine’s making beer now!
As a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, I’ve always been a bit weary of Maine. That’s not to say that the Pine Tree State doesn’t have anything to offer. It does. It’s the spot to go for quintessential New England seafood, the people are friendly, and it’s scenic as hell. I wouldn’t try to dissuade anyone from vacationing in Maine.
With that said, there’s something a bit discomfiting about Maine.
Maybe it’s the fact that the state is in a weird spot culturally. After all, Maine is wedged right next to the libertarian paradise that is New Hampshire, the hippie epicenter of Vermont, and the progressive-to-the-point-of-scrutiny Massachusetts. What does this leave Maine claiming? Rocky shores and some mountains.
Or maybe I find Maine distressing because it’s mostly uninhabited. Last year I drove to Nova Scotia by myself, and spent the better part of six hours weaving my way through the wilderness of Maine. And let me tell you, if I had hit a moose out there (as the signs so comfortingly warned that I might), I would’ve been dead meat. There’s no way that anyone with the abilities of resuscitating my mangled corpse would’ve found me in time.
So it was with a bit of trepidation that I picked up a sixer of Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale from the folks at the Atlantic Brewing Company. As I brought the beers to the register, grappling with a barrage of thoughts, some rational and most not. “Is this ale any good? How strong is the blueberry flavor going to be? Is it safe to drink? Is this nothing more than Maine-yokels fooling us by bottling their pee after eating blueberry pie? Should I call Sam Adams and tell him that there’re some wild Mainers tryin’ to cut in on his action?”
By the time I got home, I was driven to investigate this beer.
Authoritarian regimes maintain power by cracking skulls and giving exactly zero fucks.
Remember that time Napoleon rewarded Boxer’s ceaseless efforts with a trip to the glue-factory? Or how about when Grand Moff Tarkin blew up an entire goddamn planet? And who could ever forget when the children of Panem murdered each other for entertainment?
The reason that all of this wonderful brutality occurred was because those in power didn’t have to justify their actions. Without checks and balances, these motherfuckers were able to do as these pleased, whatever the consequences. And although freedom fighters occasionally inspire resistance, there are still plenty of totalitarian forces at work today.
Even in the beer world.
Tonight I’m drinking a limited edition Russian Imperial Stout from the folks at Otter Creek Brewing. Having had my interest piqued by the Soviet-styled design on the label and box, I wanted to learn more about this stout. Hell, I even compiled a list of questions. But when I went to the brewery’s website, I was greeted by nothing more than an “under construction” declaration and the encouragement to visit the Otter Creek Facebook page.
Thanks but no thanks, Otter Creek! I haven’t been on Facebook in years, and I ain’t fallin’ for your ruse! It’s pretty obvious what’s goin’ on. The Otter Creek Elite wants me to join Facebook and “friend” them, and then they’ll monitor my beer-drinkin’ habits (via status updates and photo evidence) to target me more directly! Before I know it, Otter Creek shadow agents will be infiltrating the parties I throw, telling revelers about the newest promotions available from a beloved Middlebury, Vermont brewery.
There’s a pain in your stomach that can only be cured with Russian magic.
Go ahead, clench the side of your abdomen. C’mon, admit it already! Y’know that you feel an inflammation somewhere in your gut! In the darkest recesses of your tummy! Maybe it feels like a itch at the bottom of your cecum. Or maybe it throbs like a patch of warts in your large intestine. Hell, some of you might even have a burning in the colon, and you’d damn well better pray that it doesn’t keep runnin’ down your digestive tract.
The truth is that you’re afflicted with a goddamn existential bezoar.
Fortunately, the Russians have been attacking these motherfuckers for years. Although Rasputin’s mystical sojourns are well-documented, it’s not often mentioned that he was simply trying to remedy the bezoar ailing Russia’s collective unconscious. Later, during the dark days of the Soviet Empire, the mystic arts would be forfeited in favor of science. But even with the root of these explorations being the same desire to destroy all that ailed, these efforts would also fall short. As such, Mother Russia, proud and noble and willing to die trying, would forge ahead in search of a new solution. And it would be found.
The solution? Beer.
To be precise, tonight’s curative elixir is Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout `12.
We should all aspire to be a bit more like Indiana Jones.
What’s that? You say you don’t approve of Indy? You think he’s a poor choice for a role model? Well then, why could that be? Is it the fact that he makes murder hilarious? Or do you have some serious qualms about his freewheeling sexual ways? Oh, let me guess – you’re going to give me some malarkey about child endangerment? These’re all arguments that’ve been presented to me before, and as such I have no hesitation in brushing `em off with a Donkey Kongian nonchalance.
`Cause at the end of the day, Indiana Jones is a Nazi-battlin’ scholar who hunts down ancient artifacts.
It’s by conjuring this spirited admiration for the Jones-lifework that I approach the prospect of reviewing tonight’s featured beer. Although I’m not a philanderin’, bull-whippin’, gorgeous-as-man-can-be archaeologist like Indiana Jones, I certainly share his love of the arcane. Y’know, the stuff that’s too elusive or frightening or challenging for mass consumption. Like the Star Wars Holiday Special. As such, my reverence for the hidden truths of antiquity and inebriation and maybe even existence itself have led me to sip upon the splendor that is Verloren.
Welcome to the Friday Brew Review!
For the uninitiated, I feel obligated to provide a few words of warning. There exists an entire community full of individuals who’ve spent years fine-tuning their appreciation for beer. The knowledgeable members of this community approach beer-drinking with a cultural respect, honoring the legacy of brewing that’s been weaving itself throughout the entire narrative of human existence. They come together – sometimes at respected websites – to discuss the current state of the beer world. In many ways, these aficionados are like a beer-enthusiast version of the Justice League.
But if that’s the case, then I’m definitely fulfilling the role of Plastic Man.
Whereas my peers use concise language and agreed-upon formats to review beer, I just go for it. In the course of a review, I’ll ramble and use too many pop culture references and showcase my ignorance of the brewing process. But I’ll be damned if my reviews aren’t entertaining (even if only in that, “Honey, slow down so I can see the wreckage before it explodes” sort of way).
Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Today, I’m sippin’ on VJ Black Imperial Stout.
There’s something to be said for taking advice of the locals.
Now, I’m not enough of a daredevil to suggest that indigenous peoples are always lookin’ out for the tourists. There’re more than a few cases of an innocuous wayfarer being purposefully misdirected by the natives. Hell, I can tell you from experience that if you get lost on the way to Mos Eisley, don’t ask any Jawas for help. I hate to perpetuate stereotypes, but Threepio was right when he called them “Disgusting creatures!”
But for Pete’s sake, don’t be one of those turkeys who goes on an adventure and then searches for the stuff you have at home! That’s total bogwash! Why even leave the front door?
So if it’s your first time venturing into a land whose citizens seem trustworthy, follow their lead. Even those who’ve led mundane lives will be able to steer you towards the essentials. So park your pride and incredulity under your bottom lip, and simply go to where you’ve been told you can find the region’s best burgers, babes, and beers.
When Rome, do as the Romans (and when in Hell, do shots at the bar).
During my recent trek through the Canadian Maritimes, I posed a simple question to anyone who I thought might have the answer (for the most part, this meant winos and women of ill-repute): “What’s the best Canadian beer?”
Without failure, they’d size me up, pausing for an extra moment at my ostentatious hi-tops, and then say in a tone that belied the thought that I could be an honest-to-Vishnu beer-drinker, “You’re goin’ to want to drink Alexander Keith’s.”
Tonite, from the porch of a farmhouse in Nova Scotia, I’m drinkin’ Alexander Keith’s Dark Ale.
Dodging stray dogs and traffic and my own ineptitude, I ran through the streets in the rain.
I hadn’t felt that alive in a good long time. A month? A year? I’m not sure. But as I clutched the package and hopped over gasoline-streaked puddles, I felt an undeniable electricity dancing up and down my spine, reminding me that this is my one life and I’d damn well better appreciate it. So even though it was bright’n’sunny when I went into the liquor store, and I found myself sprinting with the ferocity of a Wally West fan-video so as safely transport my beers, I couldn’t help but smile.
Runnin’ through the rain on a Friday afternoon isn’t an inconvenience, it’s a goddamn privilege.
Safely within the confines of my apartment/spaceship (my therapist is tryin’ to help me come to terms with that one), I unloaded the cargo I’d guarded so closely. I didn’t want any of the wonderful acid-precipitation that we call weather to touch these containers, and in that mission I’d been wholly successful. Now, the next test revealed itself as I attempted to remedy faith with scientific experiment.
What the hell does any of this mean? Well, if I can decipher my own nonsense, it means that I’m going to try to quantitatively describe a sacred ritual. Science details religion?
That’s right, today I’m reviewin’ Monk’s Blood.
Today is Friday. As such, I’m drinkin’ beer. And while I normally use this weekly inebriatory-ritual to seek out potions by breweries foreign, enticing, and sometimes entirely alien to my palate, today’s beer-drankin’ is goin’ to be an exception.
After all, I’d be remiss to not follow the advice of my good friend Grandeur Faex.
Grandeur Faex was a dude I used to work with at the post office. He was older than my grandfather but still alive, drunker than my dad but twice as strong, and funnier than my brother but more diseased. Mostly venereal. Also, he regularly made claims that he came from a utopia-future in which sex was currency and everyone was a millionaire.
With these credentials, it’s not hard to believe that Grandeur proved to be an indispensable dispenser of advice. One afternoon, upon noticing that I wasn’t sorting mail with my usual panache, the old pervert wrapped his arm around my shoulder and began spouting out some words of wisdom. Totally unsolicited, of course – but I always open to getting some guidance from a self-proclaimed time-traveler and state-proclaimed maniac.
“M’boy, you ain’t got no soul today! Bones? Guts? Fat sack of shit in your gut? Sure. But no soul! You done broked, huh?”
I look at him and laughed. “Yeah, I guess I’m feeling a bit down today.”
“H’ain’t no worries, son!” He matched my chuckle with one of his own, except that his had more black abscesses than teeth. “Lemme give a wordda wisdom – when life gets you down, yagutta go to the stuff that yaknowle makkya happy! Your favorite pop song. Your woman’s bosom. And, most especially, a beer that you trust.”
Finding myself at the end of an incredibly overwhelming workweek, I’ve decided to follow the instructions of Grandeur Faex. Rather than seeking out a beer by a brewery I’ve never heard of, I’m diving into the deep end of my comfort zone. Today, I’m drinking Imperial White from the folks at Sam Adams.
Is it Friday nite yet? Nope!
Does that I mean that I have to wait to party? Nope!
The fact of the matter is that it’s Friday afternoon and this is as good a time as any to toss back the first brew of the weekend. This potable antecedent has quite the responsibility, providing a party overture without revealing all of the ways the motifs will develop. The name of the game is wonderful flavors and the buzz-inklings, not gustatory-overload brain-cell genocide.
Drinking on a Friday afternoon should be more burlesque than pornography.
So join me as I dip my toes into the the pool of weekend celebration. I assure you, I’m not going to smash light bulbs over my head and do keg stands. But I am definitely going to pump a jam and imbibe a bottle of Colette.