Masala Mama India Pale Ale

November 6, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | Filed under Brewer: Minneapolis Town Hall, Country: America, Grade: INCOMPLETE, Style: IPA.

5.9% ABV from a growler (sorta)

There’s a lot of obvious reasons why alcohol is so grand.  It calms, soothes, eases the pain, uninhibits, takes away fears and neuroses and self-consciousness, makes your arm steadier and your nerves steelier for bar games, allows you to dance without feeling like an asshole, and is the only reason why you have so many friends on Facebook.  It gives you liquid courage and the famed beer goggles.  Both to the women around you and even to yourself.  (I surely can’t be the only person who after pre-gaming at home, goes to the mirror for one final check before heading out and thinks, “Goddamn, Goldfarb, have you gotten better looking in the last hour?”)  And, yes, I cherish and agree with all those reasons.  But an oft-underlooked aspect of alcohol consumption which may be most crucial is that it turns one’s brain off.

When I’m sober my mind is racing, cunning, conniving, scheming, improvising, scrutinizing, analyzing, calculating, Machiavellian, and generally being too smart and clever for mine own britches.  But when I drink, I love everyone, and everything, and I’m interested in only the most non-cerebral, reptile brain, visceral pleasures in life: those gastrointestinal, bacchanalian, carnal, and Syracusebasketballal. 

My mind sober is scary, frantic and racing with creativity.  It won’t stop coming up with ideas.  Some genius (BallooNYC, Manhattan’s first and only hot air balloon tour*) while some less-than-stellar (cloth candy bags at movie theaters as to prevent the loud and annoying noise that comes with the repetitive crinkling of plastic during the snack’s consumption).  I had no idea where a recent idea I had would fall on the scale.

After scoring six cherished bottles of Surly Darkness (review soon!) and being a prince of a man to actually send me one, The Captain wanted a few more Minnesota beers to include in his package.  I had noticed that a seemingly obscure Minnesota brew loomed at #10 on the Beer Advocate’s Top 100 list.  I questioned The Captain on that, could he get me some?  He noted that the brewery was amazingly just a few miles from his house, yet even more amazingly he had never had the beer before.  He made a phone call and learned that it only came in a growler, which he would gladly send me.  I had to quickly put the kibosh on that.  True, I am selfish and care about my needs above all others’, but I simply hated the idea of the poor guy having to lug a no-doubt fifteen pound block of unwieldy glass and beer to FedEx and then pay probably $50 to ship it.  Oh well, guess I’ll never have it, I thought.  Then, I had a Eureka! moment.

Realizing that The Captain is an accomplished homebrewer and that he has bottling capabilities, I asked him if he couldn’t just buy a growler for himself, make me a bottle, and then enjoy the rest of the growler at his leisure.  It was so utilitarian, we would both benefit!  He readily agreed it was splendid idea.

The Captain bought the growler on Thursday, transferred it to bottle that night, mailed it on Saturday, I received it on the next Thursday at about 11:45 AM, I refrigerated it at 11:46 AM, and by noon I was drinking it.

Before he’d even shipped it he had warned me of potential issues.  The Masala fresh has such high levels of carbonation that after the bottling it settled down to filling only half the bottle, about six ounces.  Air and space is anathema to keeping beer fresh so this was a grave concern.  The Captain said he would normally put corn sugar (live yeast) in his own beers to keep them fresh, but in this case he didn’t want to taint the sample.  He was almost certain the beer would be flat by the time it got to me.  I actually kinda prefer flat soda to fresh stuff (the sugariness shines through a bit more while my sensitive esophagus isn’t pelted by the prickly carbonation) so I thought this might still work.

I knew I had no choice but to drink the Masala Mama immediately upon its arrival, despite having a lot of stuff to do for the rest of the day.  I gotta say, The Captain probably did as good of job of re-bottling as possible.  As I opened the unlabeled bottle a surprising *pfffffffft* of air was released.  Hmmm… this was promising.  The dark amber pour, however, showed not much fizz left and next-to-no head.  This coming from a beer more famous for its head than Monica**.  But, it smelled fantastic, bordering on world class, one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had the pleasure to stick my face into.

The taste though was “eh.”  Off.   Flat beer just has a weird mouthfeel.  I told myself I was drinking it from a poorly-managed cask.  Nevertheless, it was still very flavorful.  Beautiful hop bitterness along with orange and lemon citrus zests and a nice hint of caramel sweetness.  I can tell this is an A/A- beer when it’s fresh, perhaps even deserving of its top ten legendary status.  Even a week old and flat, I’d still say it’s better than maybe 95% of beers out there.  Glad I got to try it even in a distorted way.  I refuse to give an official grade to this sample so let’s call it:


(with the note that I suspect it’s an A- at the least, though probably higher, something I hope to confirm one day)

*Seriously, you don’t think this would be a smash hit?!  In New York City, one can pay to utilize all of the following vehicles for either tours or travel: train, subway, tram, limo, black car, taximeter cabriolet,  bi-plane, ferry, cruise boat, rowboat, powerboat, sailboat, kayak, boat-bus hybrid, bus, double-decker bus, bang bus, motorcycle, Vespa, bicycle, tandem bicycle, scooter, helicopter, Rascal, horse, hansom cab, pedi-cab, rickshaw, rollerblades, zeppelin, and motherfucking GOB Segway.  Yes, there’s only one vehicle in the world not on that list.  And it ain’t llamas steered by Nepalese midget jockeys.  It’s hot air balloons.  How awesome would it be if hot air balloons were going off every half hour from the Columbus Circle and Plaza corners of Central Parks?  Drifting high above the park to get a better bird-eye’s view of the city than even those rubes that wait for hours to go to the Top of the Rock or Empire State Building.  And tourists will over-pay for anything.  They already pay $50 for Top of the Rock, $30 for a hansom cab, and actual money to shop at the Hershey’s store.  I figure we could charge them to the tune of $200, perhaps $500 to even a grand per basket.

I know your next question:

“Is that even legal?  You can’t just have balloons hovering over the city!”

To that I say, I’m not sure, but my research shows that it isn’t illegal.

Whatever the case, I have this brilliant idea protected so if you want to steal it from me, don’t.  However, If you are a VC that wants to produce the idea then please contact me and let’s talk.  I even have a logo I’ve already designed.  It would look quite swell on our company Polos.

**Did he really make a Lewinsky joke?!  In 2008?!

7 Responses to “Masala Mama India Pale Ale”

  1. amm002 says:

    It was actually just Bud Light mixed with apple juice. =)

    Glad it tasted good.

  2. If you had actually done something like that and duped me, you would be an all-time legend and I would fold up shop and take the VB down out of great shame. However, flat and old Masala Mama is vastly superior to even the best Bud Light.

  3. amm002 says:

    The man who took down the VB…not sure I could live with myself.

  4. Dave says:

    I’ll be trying this, probably over the weekend. Look forward to it even if it’s flat. Yeah and all beer trades would stop if you gave me a bottle filled with bud light, just wrong =)

  5. Dirtyspeed says:

    This is good do not get me wrong but Town Hall also has a beer called 1800 which is an English IPA and I would have to say it is better, or maybe because it is not year round my mind is telling me it is better.

  6. Do they bottle any beers?

  7. amm002 says:

    I’ve never seen bottles. I think only options are draught or growler.

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