Note: any characters with similarities to persons living or dead (cirrosis?) is purely not a coincidence.
You go to enough beer geek events and you start wondering what “Piano Man” might have sounded like had Billy Joel hung around some of these creepy events stocked with some truly depressing lifeforms. The events never start as late as nine o’clock on a Saturday, usually more like two in the afternoon on a Wednesday when the regular crowd shuffles in:
No man is ever making love to his tonic and gin (a spirit?!), but I always see this obese man with a minuscule Beetlejuice head atop his body stick his schnoz all the way into his tulip for a good minute before imbibing. The mulleted Irishman at the bar may be named John, but he’s no friend of mine, in fact, his only friends seem to be a coterie of mental ward patients only allowed off Shutter Island for special craft beer events. He’s never quick with a joke, and I doubt he smokes (would F up his palate), but he sure will bitch about the over-maltiness of a Double IPA. Davy’s not in the navy but it looks like he eats gravy for every meal (what pairs well with that?) and he brags about being the first in line at every Captain Lawrence release (“I know Scott”). The fat fat fat Italian lady doesn’t discuss politics but she sure will bitch at you if you get a bar seat before her (perhaps she’s…eternally pregnant?) and after five pints will start ranting in Italian. Most of the guys aren’t real estate novelists–most likely in computers, or unemployed–and though few women would have them they have no time for a wife because there’s fucking wild ales to drink! The tiny scraggly Asian quickly gets stoned on samplers of bourbon-barreled stout and never makes eye contact with any one, instead preferring to keep his nose in sci-fi pulp. Then there’s the guy who looks like Jerry Garcia and wears shorts no matter the weather and the skinny ginger dweeb always passing out business cards for his crappy beer blog and the (male) Indian slob with bigger tits than Dolly Parton.
And the bar looks like a carnival (of side-show freaks) and the smelly British bloke is surely homeless yet he likes to brag about having surpassed 2000 reviews on Rate Beer…all these folks are sharing a drink called loneliness, well I guess it’s better than being a Trekkie queer.
I said Bill I believe these dorks are killing me, as the smile runs away from my face, well I’m sure I’d be full of more cheer, if I wasn’t into such fancy beer.*
Honestly, I always expect the worst and trod carefully when I go to beer geek events but the Stone one at Blind Tiger last night was stupendous–perhaps because I got a coveted bar seat in the mob scene, perhaps because I actually had an attractive girl with me (a site rarer than a bottle of Midnight Sun M amongst this crowd), perhaps because I quickly got loaded and entered my Stoic state–and I had some great offerings. Like most beer connoisseurs Stone was one of my first “idols” but, sadly, you get to a point where you don’t think they can impress you any more, you almost forget to drink them even. I was wrong to ever be so blasphemous.
Chipotle Smoked Porter and Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean (cask)
Stone’s 5.9% ABV smoked porter is one of the best in the biz and I was curious to see what these additions would do to an already great beer. A lover of spicy foods, the chipotles added a terrific zing to the brew which tickled my uvula and tingled the area behind my sternum as it went down. Just liked Cigar City’s mindblowing Hunahpu’s Mayan Imperial Stout which is aged on pasillo and ancho peppers, I just love how these rich, maltier beers taste with a little chili heat. (A-) As for the Vanilla Bean, it had one of the best aromas I’ve ever encountered, just a luxurious and creamy vanilla smell, but unfortunately the taste didn’t quite stack up and was surprisingly mild in flavor. (B)
Double Dry Hopped Double Bastard (2009)
Now I’m not exactly sure what double dry hopping means, but I do know that Stone’s highly limited, tap only Double Dry Hopped standard IPA has surged into the Beer Advocate Top 100, so I was intrigued to try this effort and it totally delivered. A gorgeous ruby red grapefruit color but an incredible floral smell. Kinda skirts the ground in between DIPA and barleywine, like a slightly aged Dogfish Head 90 Minute. Whatever the case, an amazing beer. (A)
Ruination w/ Simcoe and Amarillo (cask)
This DIPA was straight danky and just like pure liquid hops. As I was drinking this, coincidentally, a vagrant passed by the open bar window smoking a spliff. I gotta say, the joint paired well. (A)
Old Guardian (2007)
Old Guardian was my first ever “favorite” beer and the beer that made barleywine my first ever “favorite” beer style. Lately though I found each yearly release of Old Guardian to be a little “hot” (could you calm down on the scare quotes, Goldfarb?) and hoppy. Thus, I was psyched to try a three-year aged version, probably the oldest version I’ve ever had. This old friend had matured wonderfully into a silky, malty, cordial-like drink. Lovely. (A+)
Arrogant Bastard Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Gotta say, did not see this one coming. How could such a glorious beer aged in bourbon barrels not be startling? It was startling, just startling in the wrong way–this was easily my least favorite beer of the night. The bourbony flavors simple did not meld well at all with the legendary strong ale. (B)
Imperial Russian Stout (2007) and Imperial Russian Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels (2008)
Despite all the amazing beers I had last night, comparing an already monumental imperial stout now aged and/or bourbon barreled (!) to everything else I had was just not fair. Not much else to say. Both were as good as you could imagine, probably better. (A+ and A+)
So I batted 16 for 16 last night and tried every single Stone offering, not to mention the swell Green Flash tote Le Freak (a very spicy, yeasty saison) (A-/B+) and Pallet (sic?) Wrecker (a tap only rarity that is one of the best DIPAs I’ve had in a while) (A). I stumbled home and may or may not have watched three straight hours of “Life” on my DVR pretending I was on a drunken safari (“Look out, ostrich!”)
*I’m not exactly Al Yankovic but I’d love if someone musically talented out there could write this song.