9.2% ABV from a bomber (July 2008 bottling)
I’ll assume you haven’t seen Fellini’s “8½.” That’s cool. Most people nowadays haven’t and I’m not looking down on you for it in any way. I get it, modern folks simple have no interest, no tolerance, for “weird,” black and white, foreign, subtitled, art films. Shit, people in ‘08 barely have the time, energy, or inclination to sit through entire American mainstream pictures on such easily digestible subjects as lame faux-satires of lame trailers of lame films no one ever saw in the first place.
But you should see “8½,” it’s a frickin’ masterpiece, one of the best films in history. And it’s far from as boring as you probably think it is, rife with sex, sex, and…well sex. Isn’t that enough?
I bring “8½” up because I had a dream last night just like a dream the main character Guido has in “8½.” A visionary sequence that forms one of the most indelible scenes in cinema history. Now, yes, I too hate any conversation that begins, “I had a dream last night…”* but more on that in a bit.
I’ll steal Roger Ebert’s brilliant prose to discuss Guido’s dream where he “…occupies a house with all of the women in his life, past and present, and they all love him and forgive him, and love one another. But then there is a revolt, and he cracks a whip, trying to tame them. Of course he cannot.”
A similar thing happened to me. In my dream I was walking down the street minding my own business, listening to the “This American Life” podcast, when who should cross paths with me, but an omen even worse than a black cat–an ex-girlfriend. Our eyes met, her’s dilated and reddened, my jaw dropped, her nostrils flared like a bull seeing red, a squirt of urine came out of my urethra, and then I did what I’d probably do in real life–I turned and sprinted like a coward. One of those sprints where you can’t make ground, you feel as if you’re wearing patent leather tuxedo shoes on recently Zambonied ice. And I kept slipping, and she kept pursuing me slowly like a zombie. And just when I got some breathing room, I came across another girl from my past. A one-night stand I scorned by claiming I was moving to Los Angeles the very next day. With a Brian Westbrook spin move I escaped from her and ran into a three-months-long fling I jilted because she had a fat roommate I was getting sick of being seen in public with. I juked and jived and came to another ex and then another and another and another. I was surrounded on all sides. I had no choice. I fought through the swarm like a fullback plowing a goal line stand.
Somehow I escaped. I thought I was finally in the clear. I looked over my shoulder back toward the zombie exes, giggling at my freedom, when I collided with a freight train. My head hit smack dab in her well-formed chest. It was her! EGADS!
I woke up with a sweat, it had seemed all too real. I stared at the sleeping girl beside me. I’d liked her when we hit the hay but now I was nauseous from the spectacle of her. I went to the bathroom and read some Crate and Barrel catalog she had lying on a cosmetics stand.
So why am I telling you this?** Do I want to know what it means? Do I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something? Am I perhaps seeing into the future? No, of course not. Dream interpretation is a pseudoscience that is as big of crockery as phrenology or Ouija board seances. I tell you this simply to note that I dreamed last night. You see, I never dream. The only time I dream is when I drink heavily. “So you dream every night?” you retort back to me. Har, har. Not quite.
I only dream on those few-times-a-month occasions when I tie one on hard. And I only dream lucidly, vividly, like last night, when I drink something so potent and pleasurable. You see, last night I drank an entire bomber of Stone Twelfth Anniversary and it made my resting mind do backflips like I’d tripped the absinthe fantastic with Van Gogh and Gaugin. Yes, I know, this isn’t the most intellectually rigorous way to determine the worth of a product, but sometimes we need to simply critique things in the visceral.
The bottle lists its ingredients, oh so simple: barley, oatmeal, chocolate, hops, water, and yeast. I wish more breweries would list their brew’s components. It would take the guessing-game fun out of trying to “figure out” a beer, but it would also eliminate those insufferable pedants that try to humble you by claiming they taste all sorts of flavors that are simply not present.
The stout pours black, perhaps dark, dark purple, like sludge. A bubbly and gurgling cocoa brown head. The smell is of warm alcohol and smooth chocolate.
Gotta say, the taste is nowhere close to as bitter as I suspected. Likewise, I taste hardly any oatmeal at all. Though it is much more alcoholic than I thought it would be. A lotta bite on the back of the throat. It definitely warmed me up on a cold fall night. A member of the Polar Bears could drink one of these and have no problem jumping nude into the Atlantic.
I actually liked this one the more I drank it as the back end tastes started to shine through. Its got some problems no doubt. It could certainly use more pronounced flavors and it lacks complexity. It also has a quite bitter aftertaste that I really did not enjoy. Also, whether this is good or bad, at times it didn’t even feel like I was drinking a stout. More like a strong dark ale.
As it has been said before, this is one major league asskicker. The kind of stout that leads a person to–after polishing off a solo bomber–searching out hot former classmates on Facebook and actually contacting them (even though they are Relationship Status: Married (and quite frankly not as attractive as you recall from a decade ago)), to ordering the $9.99 soft-core from channel 535 on Time Warner on-demand, and then to, yes, having some fucked up dreams.
Overall, Twelfth Anniversary is a very good beer, but not one of the brilliant Stone’s best, and certainly not world class. And I don’t actually really like dreams that much, especially scary and all too real ones, so this may be my second and last time to have the Twelfth.
*Second worst conversation starter: “Did you see what was on ‘Oprah’ yesterday? Let me tell you…”
**Other than to show that even asleep I may be a hack that plagiarizes my ideas from the greatest masters?