April/May 2005, Soul Food
(download print edition)
distrust the perpetually busy; always have. The frenetic ones, spinning
in tight little circles like poisoned rats. The slower ones, grinding
away their fourscore and ten righteousness and pain. They are the soul
- Mark Slouka
the regular Beer Beacon tasters to take a moment, reflect on their tastes,
bring a bottle to share for this issue's tasting. Some
call this a "beer-luck" but I conclude
that beer-lucks occur pretty much anytime two or more folks bring quality
beer lo a place out-
side of their homes to share with others. This occasion was different.
Our tasters passed their
selected brews to the crew at the Pizza
Plant upon entry; to be hidden and poured, identities
only revealed whence naturally paced reflections and discussions were
4 out of
5 of the evenings' tasters were long-time home brewers and beer worshippers.
This, I believe, reasoned why I watched more than one truly enjoy the
moments their offering was carried away, anticipating their next appearance
in shining glasses.
- When Magistrate, the strong, silent regular, handed me a cooler of
home brews...I was not surprised. I anticipated that a home-made would
most likely be his choice. How else could one adequately represent the
still depth churned by years of longtime home brewing?
Jack - Confidently arriving with offerings in tow, Hop Jack ordered
a British beer at the bar and casually discussed the tax evasive reasons
British Brewers use inverted sugars, demonstrating, yet again, why he
holds beer geek awards from the world over. It's a knowing smile he'll
give with his schooling humor for anything less than a head-full of
beer knowledge. Hard fieldwork shaped this country boys' beer buds a
long time ago into one word: Hops.
- Vinny's magic is sensed by all those fortunate enough to taste the
abundance of great beer at his bar or order from his incredible menu
of pizzas. I mean, the best beer and pizza on this side of the Great
Lakes, and if you haven't had them both...you're missing out. Vinny
and Hop Jack casually leaned back across from each other, geek equals,
some would say, sharing a love for good beer and thorough feedback.
Fox - The last writer for the Beer Beacon, Janet Hinkel, did a fantastic
job naming this regular, which just about summarized her presence that
evening. She was eager for some good brews and was quite certainly a
fox. Her taste was born and bread on Labatt's X Stock but she sticks
to Bass and Ying Ling, and if nothing else, a Molson Canadian Standard.
Late, and awake just shy of 14 hours. Evil handed the bartender something
hoppy, threw his cigarettes on the table and went to the bathroom. signifying
natural form that evening.
we got here! Smells like Warrior with a citrus bomb, " Vinny
chimed. Beer Fox and Vinny agreed on the earthy skunk taste, while
Hop jack narrowed the scope to a single hop varietal beer, most
likely the work of the Brit's. "The alcohol sneaks up on ya,"
Evil noted, while Magistrate enjoyed a hoppy flavor over citrus
Home Brewed Oatmeal Stout (abv
usually don't like darks but this is good," Beer Fox announced.
Vinny and Hop Jack picked up a British taste, inverted sugars, and
determined it a dark Holy Grail with food coloring. "It's gone
and I still can't tell you what it is," Magistrate said, looking
puzzled at his empty glass. "Alk-ke-hol." pronounced Evil,
noting roasty dryness as the beer warmed.
and creamy, but I liked the last beer better," Beer Fox hiccupped.
"Definitely not a hop head," Hop Jack said laughing, pointing
at Beer Fox. "A Double Bock in the nose, black licorice after
taste, something medicinal in between... I'm feeling Brother James,"
Evil gently summarized. Vinny sifted through some possible origins,
leaning towards British or Czech, noting a lot of licorice. "Sweet
cologne and stale funk in the nose," Hop Jack added.
like apricots and pears," Evil offered. "You should let
it go stale and use it in your hair," Beer Fox agreed. Vinny
laughed and wondered if Chanel was getting into TPA's. "Maybe
a Wisconsin brewery" he guessed. "Fluity, probably a Ringwood...classic
chic beer," Hop Jack slipped in. We unanimously agreed that
this beer would go well with any breakfast or brunch buffet if,
as Evil's put it, one were awake for breakfast or brunch.
too damn sweet," Hop Jack said as he slid his glass to the
center of the table. "Smells like pop," chimed Beer Fox.
"Smells like ginger," added Vinny. "Smells like Maryanne,"
Evil coolly replied, affectionately referring to an old favorite
TV show. (I was too busy laughiny my ass off at
this point to continue taking notes but basically it was sweet with
peppery coriander as noted by Magistrate.)
||"Ow," chirped Beer Fox, "my
finger dissolved in it." "It made me go blind...I liked
it," Evil cooed. Hop Jack agreed, calling it a "well-balanced
"This definitely gets you where you want to go," Magistrate
said, to the tune of 11.26%. Vinny called the day after reporting
would be great through a coffee filter or as a shot...peach snaps
comes to mind," chimed Beer Fox. "Huge taste, a lot of
spice...very good," Magistrate said, finishing his glass. "You
can taste Vitamin B and a touch of sour...European whole flowers,"
Hop Jack added, agreeing with Vinny on the good balance of alcohol
and sweetness. "lf you hold it up to the light you can see
plankton in it," noticed Evil, as we all held our glasses high,
into the light above us, admiring our golden pleasures, and pondered
the specks before our eyes...
fill us with precious yeast and mulches, but these moments are what
render beer "soul food." The experiences we have are as vital
as the lype of beer we drink. A good beer can transform an atmosphere,
brighten the dull, and rearrange an opinion, it has the power
to make us stop and look again... many a happy mrrisgr are had between
two who saw each others choice of beer and then laid eyes on
each other. During the blizzard of '85, Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin
wisely guided us to "go down to (our) local convenience store,
pick up a six pack and just wait it out." So take time to delight
in these moments: the snow in March, the blue dawns and gray dusks.
There is a bounty of time and space and beer before you on this and
every day. Slow down, smile, call a few beer-loving friends over tonight
and see what's in your glasses.
by Susan Griskonis,
Beer Beacon columnist
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2005, Great Lakes Brewing News