Monday, July 30, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Drink'in the Mitten: A Beercation

Hello, I'm so glad you haven't forgotten about us here at The [An Avenue] Corp. while we were out traipsing about Central and Northern Michigan, embracing some of the most elegant beers in the world with our booze-holes night after night, lighting fires in the wolf infested woods, and visiting something so incredibly alien, they named it The U.P.

Its a fucked up world in Michigan, so many paradoxical foci -- the most forlorn billionaires, the most fucked up highway topography for a state built to sustain the automobile, corn beer enthusiasts.  No one has even heard of Sufjan Stevens.  No one.  And I'm still not sure if any Michigander knows if a wolverine is a real animal or not, despite, you know, that small state school and the state's nickname over all.  Oof to fuckin death, amirite? 

So, it has become somewhat of a tradition for my wife and I to plod all over the forest-pocked state every summer in a foreign rental and set up camp in the wilderness with a trunk of meat and beer.  And then get gorged on both while discussing the ways to fix this puzzling state of affairs.

Its a fine ritual -- most especially so because there is a very demonstrative moratorium on the rationing of Michigan beer during camping, which is something that we I strictly enforce here in Texas during the long stretches from visit-to-visit at Christmastime and Summers.  Its a goddam free-for-all at the party stores, markets, and bottle shops, as we horde singles of this-one and that-one to cover us for the wood-fire-lit nights ahead of us, talking shit and eventually passing out somewhere indoors or out.

Also, we manage to find ways to drink beers on the beach.  Bottles of beer.  Then I send hate-filled messaged to Canadia by launching my empty Two Hearted IPA into Lake Michigan with a note to manger un sac de bitesIts so paradoxically awesome.

Clockwise from left:  North Peak Brewing Siren Amber Ale, Founder's Brewing Cerise Cherry Ale, Frankenmuth Brewing Frankensampler, Bell's Brewing Oberon Wheat Ale, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (w/ Maui Brewing) Sobrehuman 'Palena Ole Sour Brown Ale, Arbor Brewing Michael Faricy Chocolate Stout, North Peak Brewing Pumpkin IPA, Bell's Brewing Two Hearted IPA
It is pretty exhilarating coming face-to-face with great innovation at every corner of the state, at every pause, draining it at every Paper Birch, and then doing it all over again.

While one could certainly make the analogy that California Brewing is the 1992 Dream Team, Michigan Brewing is the 2012 version of USA basketball; all-day tinkerers, dunkers, and long-range acuitists, who could certainly give the O.G. All-Stars a nice run.  Cali may have more depth coming off the bench, but Michigan has a starting backcourt of Founder's, Bell's, and Jolly Pumpkin, with Short's and New Holland providing valuable workhorse minutes in the paint.
Clockwise from left: Bell's Brewing Amber Ale, The homebound stash of midwest brews, Short's Brewing Kolsch 45, Tahquamenon Falls Brewing Falls Tannen Amber, The Secret Menu at One Eyed Betty's, Harvieston Brewing Special Reserve 16 Year Whiskey Barrel Aged Ale (and not even listed on 1EB's Secret Menu), Bell's Brewing Best Brown Ale, Sampler at Short's Brewing

I think that I was much more mature when i was younger, and probably, so was my wife, which makes us much more enjoyable and fun to be around in our advanced youth because we like to make tits of ourselves when we're pished.  This is why I love going to Michigan so much.  Concentrated alcohol and easy targets. This is the state of affairs in wolverine wolf country.

Michigan is an easy going, cheerful, loafing, and slightly confused state, but I can't say that I don't just absolutely love visiting.  She's a charmer, she provides.  What can ya say, she's a mate.

Monday, July 16, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Alt-eration | Hops & Grain Brewing | Austin, TX

This blog isn't about news, or specific promotion of breweries, or rambling about being at the most cutting of edges in regards to the small craft beer movement in The States.  Well, only just a little.

No, its really just a thinly built fa├žade manifested as a forum which allows me drink until my liver pickles over, all in the name of research, of course.  And so this, lads and ladies and other Avenuelings, will be the final essay on this blog for at least ten days due to very extensive field research in our country's Beer Belt.  Say Yes! To Michigan!

As a pittance to my fellows-in-beer up in Beardsville, and the suburbs of Euchreopolis and South Canadia, I elected to bring with me a message from the Austinites who have looked the rest of the Beards squarely in the face and said, 'Challenge accepted.' 

Two breweries in particular are forcing the rest of the Brewniverse to recognize the state of Texas and the city of Austin, especially, as the young beastmasters, for they were born with the courage of eagles, the strength of black tigers, and the power of  gods!!

Hide yo' kids, hide yo wives ... and veil any other precious kinfolk in whispered prayer, because these locals are getting real rapey with the awards, ribbons, and absurdly large trophies once predestined for the Giants of Microbrewing.  And, speaking purely on my behalf, I would like to put Michigan on blast first -- as the following beers will be crossing the border from Texas into the Murder Mitten:

Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle IPA
Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap Pils
Hops & Grain Pale Dog Pale Ale

... and ...

If ever a beer perfectly encapsulated the state of the local Austin beer scene -- and provides its consumers with a handy, transportable vessel -- it would be Hops & Grain Alt-eration.  (Pearl Snap as well, but this particular article is dry-humping on Alt-eration at the moment).

Let me use this analogy to explain the prodigy that is Hops & Grain Brewing.  My wife, God bless her sweet heart, loads the dishwasher like a goddam maniac.  There is really no control over her tyrannic reign of scatterbrainery all over the dish landscape.  I'm actually really impressed with her commitment to fuck it up so badly; bowls where wine glasses go, wooden spoons that inhibit the upper spinning arm, small plates in back of large ones, and other sorts of arrant shit.  Its a whip trying to follow up on dish duty behind her this artwork, like a skeleton crew trying to make sense of Edmund Fitzgerald.

In my opinion, this is how Hops & Grain made their indention on the local Austin brew scene -- piecing together, re-evaluating, and reconstructing the dallying momentum that was plateauing in this city; doing something simple, but doing it very well (again, this is also where Austin Beerworks comes in as another example, but they'll just have to wait for their hand job at a later date).

Hops & Grain were putting the wine glasses in the correct spot for bulbous glassware, the plates in the right slots, let it all rinse correctly through a full cycle.  It really was perfect vision for their future and the future of the local craft scene -- kinda like the way I map out exactly how I'm going to load my WHOLE fucking machine before I even eat a weeks worth of meals.  Its so simple that its actually kind-of hard.

Alt-eration is one of the two flagship beers of Hops & Grain, and in my opinion, is perfect in matrimony with its partner, Pale Dog.  One feeds the kids and the other, well, cleans the dishes.  Alt-eration also already has the hardware to back up its local acclaim -- taking the Gold Medal at the 2012 World Beer Cup for the style of Dusseldorf Altbiers.  This is a beer that Hops & Grain opened its doors with, and six months later, they were standing on a podium in front of their peers, looking shocked that they'd won a marathon just by purchasing new sneakers. This is what you get see when you dream about the future. 

So, what is this beer, anyway?  The altbier is Dusseldorf's answer to their Rhine-rival Cologne's Kolsch beer (though different in style entirely -- like Longhorns and Aggies being from the same state, but, you know, one exists because of the other.  And also, one is kinda strange).  Its is a generally crisp, but malty brown beer that is bold in color, and light in body.  This particular version is very, VERY handsomely constructed with a medium-to-light body, roasted, nutty, malty, and caramel-y, but also clean on the palate.  It finishes abruptly, making it very appropriate for hot-weather drinking, but also is complex enough to swim around your articulators like tiny spelunkers looking for taste receptors.  Its really a fantastic balance of bold and subtle, the way beer makers try to deftly balance hops and malts. 

Also, if you ever get the opportunity -- and please do -- try the (Maker's Mark) bourbon-barrel-aged version of the Alt-eration.  Jesus fuck.

Indeed, Hops & Grain wins at beer.  If you don't like it, you must be a pretty dismal sort of  fucker.

Say Yes! To Texas!

ABV: 5.1%
Acquired: HEB

Friday, July 13, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewing | Frederick, MD

The outcry for RAAAAIIIN in these parts is definitely palatable, and I certainly do understand the populus' enduring desire to break out the high ABV imperials from the vault once again as a sort of free-day from chamblies, fruit beers, and pale ales.  Only rain can free us from this bind, the way it did unexpectedly last Spring when it rained for a record two days straight.

Well here we are, Avenuelings, RAAAAIIIN!  Out come the imperials like the goddam Galactic Empire lead by the Sith Porters wielding 10% sabres.  (And here I was doing so well with my mission to cleanse the IPA shelf in the special fridge.  It is God's work, to be sure -- a beer crusader.)  But when the temperature is cleanly divisible by 78, we have to move on to the back of the rack for the boys doing hard time. 


There is a reason that I swear a lot on this site, and mostly it is because the world reduces me to fucking tears half the time.  The other half is because beer moves me to tears in an equal and opposite trajectory.  Sometimes there is no better expression than, 'Fuck, this is some good shit'.  No really, it applies to any situation, anywhere, anytime.  It is one of the highest compliment one can receive, because, lets be honest, there is a ceiling threshold for compliments when you abandon the will to curse.  There just is.  And besides, they are just fucking words.  This is beer I'm talking about here.  Get the fuck over it.

So, this review can be reduced to one efficient sentence: Fuck, this is some good shit.  I swear to fuck.  Okay, that was two sentences, but I felt there needed to be a denouement.

Its the kind of beer that instantly makes me happy without having to think too much about it.

The smell!  The fucking smell is like Tuscan chocolate said fuck this world and leaped to his delicious demise in a concentrated vat of brandy, espresso, and soft caramel.  Tastes like it too, this fucking thing.  I'm genuinely excited writing about this beer at this very moment.

I'm ending this review early, because frankly, I'm gonna go grab one before the sprinkles melt on my acid-hot pavement.  Its just like November in my mind.

ABV: 9.2%
Acquired: Twin Liquors

Thursday, July 12, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Saison | Funkwerks | Ft. Collins, CO

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on the side patio of The Draught House in a slightly uncomfortable sweat waiting to meet the first fan-of-the-blog who would agree to meet me in person. 

Well, okay, so this wasn't really a meet-and-greet from anyone who reads this garbage, but I did have a buddy fly in all the way from Ft. Collins for the explicit purpose of bringing me generous quantities of Coloradan potations for the sole purpose of drunken wankery in this 103° inferno.  We also planned deep analysis of shit we know nothing about, like the brewing process and yeast strains -- but one of us sports a scraggly outline of a beard and one of us lives in The Centennial State by way of The Golden State, so we figured those were good enough combined credentials to act like professional beer media for purposes of scribbling in this shitty blog.  So take that, Perez Hilton!

Anyway, so I am sitting there in my usual spot waiting for my dude, trying to look busy or important on my phone -- the way someone tries to do when visually convincing his make-believe audience in the bar that, yes, he's in the band, so I won't be alone here much longer, just waiting on my mates, yer know, so no need for sympathetic interrogation or seat poaching, thank-you very much -- when from the very precariously placed Dart Hazard Door of The Draught House burst Dean and his wife Tanya with a box of bootleg and secrets for smiles.

I could see right away these two were about to put on a great show, and I was concerned that a fair bit of fuck should be given on my end of things.  Dean presents me with a sweet Funkwerks tulip that he wants me to drink out of like Belgo-American royalty.  I concede and shortly after we're arcing our vessels towards our faces in greedy thirst, for this is what the fuck was in that mystery box of his...

...and the mind fucking boggled!

The Belgians have been brewing saisons since God was a boy, so in that time, it is assumed that they had mastered the nuance of making a beer that would be brewed in the spring to last until fall in the era of pre-refrigeration and Black Death.  One would also assume that, given the allotted head start, The Belgians would have imparted characteristics into the beer that would be so clever and deft, that anything brewed in homage to this style in the modern era would simply be a clone of an already-perfected recipe.

However, I think that it is the Americans who have adopted this beer style and illustrated the ways in which a saison could be brewed delicately, complexly, organically, perfectly -- much in the same vein of the India Pale Ale, which we ratified from the English.  Saisons and Audrey Hepburn may be Belgian by birth, but their success and perfection is derived from American appreciation.

Funkwerks jumped into the farmhouse beer enterprise only two years ago, but based on the contents of this bottle -- shared in communal fashion the way God and the Wallonians intended -- they are as skilled as a lefty specialist, picking the spots on your palate to buzz with a cunning slurve.  This is a twenty strikeout beer.

It is very obvious that the flagship beer of Funkwerks is brimming with pride.  It is very well-executed, satisfying, and thoughtful -- rich and cozy.  The exposition of this saison is that of a brightly-steeped lemon and ginger tea.  Then, there is crisp pear and citric acids exposing shrewd carbination that boils on your tongue like cauldron spill.  Over-ripened guava, alfalfa hay, pepper and cloves impart before finishing with biscuity malt notes.  This beer was kicking some serious ass.

Then, Dean cracked another bottle from his box, hidden from pint-glass-flunkies and the formerly sympathetic chair imperialists.  This shit was just about to start getting real.  It did.  True story.

ABV: 6.8%
Acquired: Dean and Tanya! Thanks!

Monday, July 9, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Brux Wild Ale | Russian River Brewing / Sierra Nevada Brewing | Santa Rose, CA / Chico, CA

As an adjunct to my lastest post that was, well, mostly about the misnomer of 'American' adjunct beer, I'm expanding on the discussion by talking about two decidedly-domestic breweries who are often referred to in sentences with characterizations like 'the most innovative ...', 'the most important ...', and 'the most well-respected ...'.

If you are into drinking anything beyond lake beer, then you have probably tried something that Sierra Nevada has brewed; most likely their iconic Pale Ale.  This beer is one of the platinum-standards for craft enthusiasts who cut their teeth on its toasty, piney goodness early on in their potable devotion to inebriant outliers.  When Sierra Nevada went national, it welcomed the country to what the Belgians, the Germans, and the English had been exposed to for centuries: master marksmanship of ales and lagers that reflect the regional characteristics of the land.  In this case, the bright, floral, hoppy notes of the west coast.  It allowed people in Detroit or Kansas City or any other meteorologically-unfortunate city to experience what its like to drink a handmade beer in permanent 80° weather.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was -- and continues to be -- a very important gateway intoxicant for those interested in expanding their palates.  

While Sierra Nevada was emulating Bruce Springsteen: cocksure pioneer of Americana folksiness, Russian River was bringing the Axl Rose swagger to the main stage.  Though hotly debated, Russian River is mostly credited with inventing the Double IPA and exposing barrel-aged wild ales and sours to the palates of second-generation beer nerds.  In fact, wild ale and sour beers have basically become synonymous with the Russian River Brewery.

The way Russian River works with Brettanomyces is both science and art.  Inoculating yeast strains into the aging process is destined to continually develop the beer so that the flavors alter and diversify over time.  I hesitate to use words like "evolve" or "progress" to describe the process -- as that would insinuate that the beer is not enjoyable at its earliest incarnation.  However, because of the development of the noble yeast in bottle-conditioned beers, sampling it at one month vs. one year would change its flavor profile almost entirely, making the beer theoretically more complex and rounded at the latter stage, and more bright and rigid if uncorked straight away.  This is what the festivity regarding cellaring and aging beer is all about -- and not necessarily hording 750mL bombers in order win Facebook.  Although it's that too.

Together, with classic and innovative flavors and styles, Sierra Nevada and Russian River were putting craft beer squarely on the culinary scene -- dinner table real estate became available at fair market value where wine and custom cocktails had squatted since the dawn of dinner parties.

So, when the two decided to come together to combine their collective ingenuity, creativity, and clout you get one hell of buffet at the head table in Jesus Camp.  The hype surrounding such a collaboration of powerhouses make others in the brewing caste stop and wonder just what in the fuck have they done here?  When Sierra Nevada and/or Russian River preach, others stop to listen.

I'm inclined to disclose an important fact about this sampling, and that is that my wife and I sampled it only three hours after purchase -- not exactly a geologic period in aging -- but shit, when you see Russian River branded merchandise at your local booze outlet, its hard to do the extended time in lockup.

Also, I only purchased one bottle of Brux at $15 because I was after some other targets that night, and frankly, shit starts to add up -- particularly when gambling on liking the stuff before even trying it.

So, after all that long-winded diatribe above about aging and developing the yeasts, yadda yadda, I went head first into this bottle for an early swim without waiting for my food to digest.  Fuck it.  I couldn't just gaze rapturously at this thing for any longer than it took to chill down to 45°.

But there was joy in [An Avenue]-land that night!

The first impression was that Brux was quite obviously the calligraphy of Russian River.  The use of its prevalent and temperamental ingredient, brett, was clearly the masterwork of skilled and experienced brewers.  This is the same kind of sensory acknowledgement as when Boulevard does a bourbon barrel aged Smokestack Series or Founder's does an Imperial Stout.  This is what Russian River does, and it is what they do best.  

Reciprocally, it was also very apparent that Sierra Nevada's horticulture-inspired craftwork was helping to drive the bus as well.  Brux tasted like organic apples and fresh lemon fallen into the grassy hedgerow.  This was half beer, half orchard.  Tart and cidery.  As crisp and clean as Born to Run.  I was finding it rather enjoyable.

Right now, Brux is a collection of songs -- great songs, absolutely -- but not quite a whole album.  The flavors are too distinct from one another and can use some more time in the studio.

But aging Brux for half-a-year is going to make this beer into OK fucking Computer.    

ABV: 8.3%
Acquired: Spec's
☆ (in 2012)

Friday, July 6, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Mo' Betta Bretta | Lost Abbey / New Belgium | San Marcos, CA / Fort Collins, CO

Given the paramount theme that was the birth of these United States this past week, I thought it would be my patriotic due diligence to apply that to the very subject of this blog.  Beer drinking in this country is an important civil right afforded to us by a bunch of old, populist drunks who loved to cut loose at the discos during the days of living hard and dying harder.  Drinking beer was the cornerstone of industry and commerce in the new world, and was also probably a major reason why a country of 16 dainty puritans could defeat the entire British Empire.  For the Brits, beer was, as Homer said, "the cause of and solution to all of life's problems".

Because beer has such a long, valuable history in this country -- and is the very impetus by which all of our celebratory rituals impart velocity, it is important to talk about what American beer actually is; what it stands for, and how to determine its legitimacy.  But to do that, one must have to talk first about what American beer is not.

1) American beer is not Budweiser in an American flag can ... 

... no matter how much the Belgian conglomerate, In-Bev, tries to convince us with their Zubaz-can of penguin urine.  This also applies to the other heavy-handed, self-aggrandized posturing from other foreign owned beer companies such as Coors (Molson Canada) and Miller (SAB UK), who parade around the supermarket coolers like Ronald Regan and Chuck Norris at a Farm Aid benefit.  The Big 3 are as American as Born in the USA is nationalistic.  They only seem to be trying to make people seem foolish in their allegiance to be American by buying American.  Its a little heartbreaking.

I understand that, as a commerce-driven society, we are generally aroused by gimmicks and Katy Perry and Doritos Tacos because they ping our consciences and remind us what a pleasure it is to poke around with our impulses for a while.  If you enjoy the fine tastes of American adjunct lagers, by all means; but lets face it, we have a lot of fucking options in this country and you should be making the right decisions for the right reasons when it comes to fair trade.  This is awareness vs. industry with a conditioning-effect multiplier

2) American beer is not thrifty.

Brewing is disproportionally expensive, and even more so if you are a small brewery.  The cost of buying artisanal products from small farmers growing exemplary hops, barley, and other grains found in craft beers is exponentially pricey.  But to many, if not all of these microbreweries, the art of making delicious beer is worth the decrease in profit margins.

You know what is comparably not as expensive?  Making beer filled with cheap corn and rice fillers that extend the beer product to the slimmest margin where one could still legitimately call it "a beer".  You know how when you run out of puppy chow for your dog and its late, so you make a stop-gap run to Walgreens for some off-brand grub until you can get to the PetsMart -- and you kinda feel bad for your dog, but not really, because this is the same animal who eats his own shit?

These are the same ingredients that the big brewers are selling you.  And this is what they think of your palate.  Why do you think they want you to drink their beer at tongue-blistering temperatures?  The answer is: because you will be less likely actually taste the beer and realize that what you are drinking is total and complete garbage.  To add further insult, these guys think you need a visual in order to understand the physics of subjective temperature.

This is why I cleverly fabricated the term 'brrr-eweries', so named because temperature is much, MUCH more vital for their sustainability than the actual ingredients.

Our resources are rich in this country, particularly with our proud farming history -- there is really no need to cheap-out, especially as a huge conglomerate who could afford to increase their production costs -- if by only just a little bit.  But they give fuck all about that.  American the beautiful, they say, look at our blue mountains!

3)  American beer is not illusory.

It is innovation; the working of ingredients that mesh together in interesting ways, an allegory for our culture itself.  Beer making is not mechanical, it is manual.  It is laborious.  Take some time to enjoy the fuckin' stuff, you've earned it-- we Americans are amongst the hardest working societies in the world.

Sure, I get it: tailgates, groom's waiting room, the golf course -- all acceptable environments to chugging cheap lagers for a common goal.  But we also didn't escape the grips of zealots and prohibitionists to cheapen the sanctity of beer drinking in public.  Which is why stuff like this is maddening:

Not only drink our beer arctic cold, but do it as fast as possible!

Is there a problem with the rate at which I am currently drinking this crap that I have to rush it all down my hypothermic throat?  I'm willing to bet that the good folks in charge over at the Miller Lite offices need desensitizing lotions for their dicks.

4)  American beer is not combative.

It is collaborative.   Except when its both -- for no reason other than the enemy of the enemy is my friend.  The concept is acceptable in war and college football, but for brewing purposes, it is creatively destructive.  Wait.  Maybe we're on to something here.

Both Miller and Coors had such a hurting of their individual butts, that they combined forces to take on the behemoth that is Anheuser-Busch InBev.  Thing is, MillerCoors is still 40,000,000 barrels behind A-B InBev in terms of shipment despite combining their operations to better compete.  Forty.  Million.  For those unaware, one barrel = two kegs.  If A-B InBev just charged $50 per barrel (which they don't), they would still be TWO BILLION dollars ahead in profit margin beyond their closest competitor.  Now double that for actual profit margin.

Its laughable how void of fucks A-B InBev is. They will do what they want, however they want, whenever they want; so fuck you pay me.  Its pretty alarming -- and their latest target are the small brewers of the USA.  Why?  Because they are impeding on less than 4% of the general market share.  Fuck them.  Fuck them so bad.

So, with all of that nonsense out of the way, let me cleanse your palate, and tell you what what American beer actually is ...

This is an excellent example of collaboration, artistry, innovation, and pace in the American craft industry.  

Together, two of the most coveted breweries in the United States in Lost Abbey and New Belgium, put their collective creativity towards a common goal and emerged on the other side with a very gentle, very nuanced saison/berliner weisse hybrid that defines what the modern U.S. craft industry is all about. 

Mo' Betta Bretta uses recent brewer-innovation by inoculating its beer barrels with brettanomyces, a yeast that formerly caused great alarm amongst brewers due to its spoilage capabilities -- but are currently being cultivated during the aging process as an intentional compromise of the beer in order to produce wild ales, or sours.  The result is a beer with bright, summertime citrus and tart notes, along with a sparkling wine finish.  It is a fun beer to drink, to enjoy in hot-weather situations, likesay, the tailgate or the golf course (you see my angle here?).

Mo' Betta Bretta has the rich, but nuanced flavor of fleshy fruits like peaches and apricots, hints of pepper and oak, combined with hay notes and other general farmhouse characteristics -- as American as a Gothic Revival architecture.  

Despite its complexity, Mo' Betta Bretta is not a stuffy beer.  It is playful and approachable.  It is a mix of traditional and imaginative. Clever and tasteful. I think terms that we as Americans would like to be defined by.  These brewers are our clergy for the New World, their beers our caravels.  Go explore and live in it.

ABV: 6.3%
Acquired: Hopfield's

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Burton Baton Oak Aged Imperial IPA | Dogfish Head Brewing | Milton, DE

Entering the practice of drinking craft-only beer is not that dissimilar to the practice of an actual, theologically-based religion, except way more rock n roll and not exclusive to the two major holiday seasons.

Like other dogmatic veneration, the Church of Craft proposes a generally recognized belief system of cultural and sociological rules that mandate loyalty and blind faith.  It asks that you promote The Good Word through activism and circulation.  And when shit gets Jackie Chan, the book of Cicerones 23:19-20 implies an all-out jihad against The Great Satans: A-B InBev and MillerCoors.  

But like most people in Texas, I grew up ordained Shiner by association -- with occasional schoolboy dabbles into the subsects of Celis and Pete's Brewing.  That continued for most of my youth.

Later in the post-formative years, palatal baptism by Spoetzl long since dissipated, I wandered alone in the desert of general witchcraftery and adjunctism.  I was a mess.  I was all over the place.  There were $9.99 24-pack beer runs intertwined with $16.99 4-pack orgies; mixing genetic traits, living together in sin.

At some point in this malfeasance, I left the denomination altogether and took up wine.  WINE!

While leaving the House of Hop was a good time to develop my practice as a functional drunk, my heart was always still in beer and not in purple-toothed snobbery.  Besides, I didn't even know what fucking slate and pencil shavings were supposed to taste like!  I was in a dark place, like twice as dark as a Teroldego, with its delicious spices notes and hints of tar and red fruits.  And pencil shavings.

This was about the time I discovered Dogfish Head.

The more I went back to owner and general badass Sam Calagione's beer scripture, the more I related to the common philosophical ideas about how beer should be enjoyed, something I talk a shitload about on this blog.  Sam Calagione crusaded my ass back into the circle of nirvana, escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth through other less enjoyable spirits.  Dogfish Head was doing interesting things with beer.  New things with beer.  Historically, influential, and epic kinda shit.  They were cultivating a following through alluring beer practice.

Also, during communion, one could listen to a shitload of Dirty Projectors and The National -- so, there was very little resistance in getting all glassed over with conviction.  I was born again. 

The Dogfish Head Brewing Company has been both pious and divine throughout their relatively longish history, adhering to base recipes that promote the inclusivity of all Craft's children -- but also duplicating bygone recipes that had been lost to ancient archives.  Dogfish Head was formulating an entirely new beer rubric with which to grow their following.

Burton Baton is an amalgamation of that new-meets-old parameter.  It is a big, Double IPA beer aged with Cricket bats and East Coast cosmopolitan crank.  Actually, those wooden slats are called staves, and the meth flavor is, in fact, northwestern hops.  Both are used in cohesion to impart vanilla goodness counterbalanced with bitter hoppiness.

Burton Baton uses the advanced Bourbon Barrel Aging Kit to provide maximum bath salt delirium beginning with bright, citric acidity and finishing with smooth, floral hops.  However, its what happens inbetween those two goal keeers that makes this beer really impressive.  Burton Baton imparts the beautiful smell and flavor of honey nectar drizzle just before its maple syrup inflection in its defensive third.  Then, Burton Baton holds vanilla notes in the midfield, before advancing to the attacking position with bold, unsweetened green tea bicycle kicks.  Like the beautiful game, this is the beautiful beer.  Cohesive, intuitive, aggressive.  And it finishes strong near the goal.

If Dogfish Head, like world football, is religion, then Burton Baton is the gospel according to Messi.  Go forth and conquer.

ABV: 10.o%
Acquired: Spec's