Over the years, many things have been written about beer. But until now, none of them were written by me. Tonight I aim to change that. What’s the occasion? Simply, a co-worker homebrews and he brought a case of the results to distribute freely amongst the office. I wound up with two bottles of what he said is ‘American pale’. Well, I’m American and pale, so I figured it should be right up my alley!
I have an ambivalent relationship with beer. Most mass-produced canned stuff is bland (this is a shockingly controversial opinion, I hear), and I don’t really know enough about ‘good’ beer to tell if anything else is ‘good’. Sometimes I like it, but usually it’s when it doesn’t taste quite so beer-y to me, so maybe I’m not the best audience. If I am drinking, which is rare enough, I tend to go for spirits, with whiskey being my favorite and/or the stuff I’m most familiar with. Blame that on a summer trip to the Jack Daniels distillery when I was 16-ish.
What beer have I enjoyed? I can’t really say I remember any of it. There was one Samuel Adams seasonal brew that was rich and smooth and actually inspired a smile the first time I tasted it… Newcastle I can tolerate but only just. Corona, MGD, whatevs. India pale ale? I had one once, I don’t remember anything about it. Guiness I enjoy, but then I’m not even sure if that counts as beer. Had something once that was half Guiness and half berry cider, and that was damn tasty. I think it has a specific name, but again, I don’t know what it is.
So what the hell am I even doing talking about beer when I’m clearly not an expert or even somebody with an interest? Well, because I feel like it. Plus, my co-worker was looking for a name for this brew, so if I was familiar with it, maybe I could come up with something clever (otherwise I’m gonna fall back on “Yeast Injection”). It’s been chilling in the fridge since I got home, so once I figure out what to open a non-twist bottle I’ll get to it.
Turns out this is a pretty big bottle, and I don’t know how to re-cap it effectively given the current objects at hand. I suppose I’m committed to the whole thing, so I’ll try to get most of the writing done while I still can. I’m not a good judge of volumes but it looks like, uh, two normal bottles of beer’s worth? Cap’s off, a slight fizz is in action, about a quarter inch of foam ringing around the neck.
I’ll smell it first… it smells, uh… yellow, with horizontal red lines. Makes my nose run a little. There’s probably some fancy way of describing how yeasty and hoppy it is or whatever but I’m just an amateur! Bear with me. Hmm, maybe it… no, it does not smell like a bear.
Sipping time! Mouthful.. blurp. Yep, that’s beer. But there is something rising above the basic beer flavor. Or maybe that’s normal. I don’t know! It’s pretty good, though. Bitter, sure, but… savory? No. Well, maybe a little. That’s one of the food words I know. “Mouthfeel” is the other one. What a weird word. How’s that burger? It’s got a mouthfeel like mushy sandpaper! Sounds good. Oh yeah, beer. Here I am, here you are, tryin’ some more. This beer’s mouthfeel is like shaving cream? Firm, airy, fills my mouth up and threatens to spray forth in amusing pressurized fountains. It’s foamy. If I had to give it a sound, that sound would be “pfwsh”.
I don’t want to commit to saying “it’s sweet”, because it’s not really sweet sweet, but there is a sweetness to it. Like a forest? Is that a thing? It’s got a heady bouquet with a foresty sweetness. Oh yeah, I know “bouquet” too. It’s like drinking the spiciest pond in the foothills, that’s this beer. Fewer tadpoles, though, to its credit or detriment? Future generations will decide.
I just realized I’m only past the neck of the bottle and already it feels like my sinuses are packed with yesteryear’s bread. A taste of the old country, painted onto the insides of your nostrils and clinging for dear life on the back of your tongue. A rustic throat bath of fetid ogre spittle, eating away at your sanity. Budweiser may be the King of Beers, but this guy’s patrolling the dungeon.
And then there’s that thing that happens when I drink a bunch at once, where my head kind of involuntarily jerks from side to side. Am I going to die, I wonder? Will this beer cause me to convulse so forcefully that my head spins free of my body? If this beer is my downfall, will it have been worth it? He was destroyed by a moderately tasty beer. 2.5 out of 4 stars. Craft beer… witchcraft beer. Papercraft beer? Woody, pulpy, planty, adjectivey. Maybe I should look on Wikipedia and see exactly what a “pale ale” is.
So pale ale is, like, a beer, and it’s pale, but pale doesn’t mean, like, super-pale, like golden yellow like a pilsner, more golden brown, like autumn leaves. Pile o’ Leaves Beer. Jump in, but watch out for slugs. I think I’ll go with that. Rake APA. Do Some Yard Chores Ale. Hmm, now I’m undecided again. Maybe the answer lies at the bottom of the bottle.
No, just more beer. So much beer, all throughout me now. It was quite a journey, riding the diving bell to the bottom of the barley trench, discovering a heretofore unseen breed of flatfish (a flatbreadfish, you might say) and James Cameron filmed it all in IMAX 3D. I’ll sleep well, lulled to rest by the beer fairies.