Alright, ALRIGHT; here’s long-time reader and Malt Fiction subscriber “Shawn’s” top 5 beers of the year. Don’t go crazy, everybody; just calm the fuck down. We all know how important this is. We’re going to get through it:
5. Hermit Thrush Brewery | Jolly Abbot (Sour Belgian Barleywine, 2015 vintage)
Sure, Bolio, pick something no one has ever heard of. You piece of shit. Oh, right, I was there when you tried that. You still suck.
4. Maine Beer Company | Lunch IPA (American IPA)
3. Hill Farmstead Brewery | Arthur (Farmhouse Ale, 2015 vintage)
SHIT SON, YOU CAN PUT THIS BEER IN YOUR TOP 5, BUT NOT “I LOVE YOU, HONEYBEAR” BY FATHER JOHN MISTY IN YOUR TOP 10 ALBUMS? FUCK YOU.
2. Bissell Brothers Brewing Co. | The Substance Ale (American IPA)
Okey dokey, Sam Blow, I’ll give you a pass on this one.
1. Brouwerij Rodenbach | Rodenbach Caractère Rouge (Flanders Red Ale)
THIS IS THE GODEL, ESCHER, BACH OF BEERS. FIGURES, BOLIO.
…fuck, where was I?
These are, uh, Shane Bowery’s favorite beers.
Shap hates music, I guess–
And he lives in Canada
You might as well call him Ted Cruz.
At least Ted Cruz probably likes “I Love You, Honeybear,” by Father John Misty.
Fuck you, Jane Blooey.
Now give me my money.
PLEASE free Shamu.
This is what I think of your top 5, Jim-
Once, after graduating from college
I went to a party thrown by a few alumni on the North side of town
Flights of stairs
Crooked and stained
I approached the surprisingly unvandalized door hanging on its hinges
The bed in the living room
For one’s viewing
Of the beer pong game currently in
I use ‘pleasure’ and ‘progress’ in quotations because we happened to be sipping, that night, on
Miller High Life,
Was an insult to both pleasure and a testament against our
Languidly, we toasted
Our lives of menial employment
*3.5 out of 10*
I got my glass Batman mug and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie is on deck in the VCR.
Hot chocolate is in the boil.
Ah, powdered Nesquik, whey protein, and water.
Just like old times.
I got my stuffed animals surrounding me. I am all-powerful.
I am a prince amongst paupers.
I was a Space Cadet champion.
Long live Windows ’98!
Give me a coffee, mom.
I’m ready to fuck the working world.
I’m not sure what that means.
Just get me a bowl of oatmeal instead.
Swap the hot chocolate for a glass of vanilla milk
… yes, bitch, in my Batman cup.
What the fuck you thinkin’
Get me a cherry tootsie pop
And a blanket.
I need a nap.
I’m not yet
*7.8 out of 10*
Sun rises over the Akaishi Mountains.
The fog rolls in, billowing.
It slowly retreats as the gold tongues of sunlight lick against the tea fields.
Buddhist monks in a nearby monastery practice their levitation techniques while their pet dragon chases its tail around the premises.
A demented farmhand beats a goat with a swath of reeds.
In the distance, local schoolgirls engage in sexual intercourse with a demonic cephalopod.
These things brought to mind when sipping this beer, I find.
It’s as if it gives me no excuse to travel.
If I only have to spend $7.99 on this “plane ticket,” that’s fine.
No, it’s not being culturally insensitive,
It’s being culturally economical.
Moreover, if I drink enough, it’s like I’m flying anyway.
They can keep their Shaolin Soccer and feline delicacies.
…Wait, never mind; is that China?
…Eh, pretty much the same country—same difference.
I guess what I really trying to say, here, is that the Japanese can only wish they could brew beer like we Americans. I mean, hell, we pretty much invented beer.
Sure, the beer is really collaboration between Mitch Steele of Stone Brewing, Bryan Baird of Baird Brewing out of Numazu, Japan, and Toshi Ishii of Ishii Brewing in Guam, but we’ll just gloss that over.
The Imperial IPA was originally brewed as part of a relief effort after an horrendous tsunami rent asunder much of Coastal Japan. So, again, America to the rescue.
USA! USA! USA! USA!
Due to increases in efficiency, this new brew improved upon the 9.2% ABV from 2011, to now 10.1%. Rejoice, then, that you can support your alcoholism at a near 10 percent discount!
USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!
Before you black out, make sure to take time to appreciate the tangerine glow of this ale. Savor its great lacing, its bright white, pillowy (no, fuck you, Microsoft Word; “pillowy” is a fucking word, you fascist bastard, don’t give me that red squiggly line treatment) head, quickly receding. Note how very transparent it is. It has surprisingly vigorous carbonation, yet not so surprisingly, it tempers quickly.
Not unlike my astonishing sexual technique.
Before you zonk out on the counter, relish the aromas of peach, pineapple, grapefruit, honey, grass, and some floral crap—like orange blossom, or something.
Taste the spicy apricot. Understand the grapefruit. Attempt to rationalize the lemongrass. Challenge the bright, green tea flavor to an arm wrestling match. Flirt with the big herbal notes—salty seaweed, mango flavor (likely from the tea) grassy, vegetal qualities are all sweet nothings you can whisper to get brownie points. Appreciate the sweet finish. Settle with the sloppy seconds of more apricot, especially on the aftertaste.
Before your roommate calls an ambulance, notice that sticky texture left in the mouth, contemplate the beer’s decent carbonation and its warming, seemly post-coital coda.
Slam your head into the corner of the refrigerator door as you grab for the sushi.
USA! USA! USA! USSA! UAS! SSA! ASSASAUSSA! SUSSSUUSUSUSA! SAUSUDFHFNAKFOGSOEFGJAasaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
*8.8 out of 10*
It was an early Thanksgiving. The weather was an unseasonably warm 49 degrees—teeming with that kind of “how are you enjoying this heat wave” bullshit that you’d elicit from a passerby when you couldn’t care less about the fucking weather.
“Oh, I know, right?” You ask, not answering the question. You smile, somewhat through your teeth, forcing your arm down at your side in a somewhat Strangelovian manner, restraining the throbbing urge to flip this guy the fuck off. Feet squirming as you plodge upon the frosty ground, teeth grinding. You ask yourself—like you do, year after year—“why the fuck do I live here? What am I doing with my life? This place is practically showing me the door. It doesn’t want me here.”
Leaning to my side, practically collapsing upon the dining room table, the second (or was it third) helping of mashed potatoes was settling upon the bottommost recesses of my stomach, hammering against my pyloric sphincter in the most Gothic manner. The fucking Fall of Rome was reenacting itself in my gut as I sat there dazed, listening to my grandmother drone on about whom else she knew who died recently.
“Her husband was a firefighter, years ago…
He lives alone now…
Losing his mind
And his brother, did you hear?”
Right, he died too.
“Who else is dead, grandma?”
Now is the winter of my uncontent.
Public radio blared through the speakers as I sped my way back home. Folksy stories about decline, quiet, quaint mediocrity and resignation in a frozen Minnesotan shithole lulled me into semi-conscious stupor.
At this point, I’m about to go straight Royal Tenenbaums on this shit and calmly fling this fucking sedan into Lake Arrowhead. Just straight up cock the wheel to the left and launch myself into oblivion.
Yeah, I know that didn’t happen in the movie.
Who’s telling the story here?
It’s called creative license.
So, anyway, after I ran all those people off the highway and caused a 54-car-pileup in middle of the main road, the whole town caught on fire and pretty much everybody died except for that one guy who people thought was crazy, holed up in a bunker, snickering to himself, eating his toenail clippings.
Yeah, it was pretty weird.
Winter is a hard season to adjust to though, aside from the mass destruction of whole villages, there’s also the snow, the cold, and the shorter days.
Needless to say, it’s fucking depressing.
That’s why I have to give credit to Jack’s Abby Brewing, who went out of their way to Kiwi Rising, a Double India Pale Lager with such a sunny disposition.
I mean think about it; Framingham must suck right now too.
Talk about escapism!
No, don’t change the subject; I’m talking about beer here
So, like it’s summer in New Zealand, right?
Pretty perfect timing, Jack’s Abby.
Did you plan that?
You think you’re sooooo fucking cool.
Seriously though, it’s sunshine in a bottle.
Except without the deadly radiation. (Ok, whatever, I’m running out of material)
So, what’s the significance of this bottle of beer? Well for one, it’s stupid hoppy.
Like four pounds of hops a barrel.
I mean this beer is being ridiculous right now.
We’re talking “four kettle hop additions, whole leaf hops in the hop back, and multiple dry hop additions.”
Like, Brazzers level.
As in, you’re gonna need a shower after this level of hop fornication.
It’s 105 IBU of
…and we’re not just talking hops here. We’re talking kiwi hops, which just sounds dope as hell. Turns out, they taste nothing like kiwis. First, that pissed me off, Jack’s Abby. I was furious, but then I realized that I was pretty much just drinking Heady Topper lager, which I guess is ok.
The color: honey gold to sunflower, not much lacing– Very little carbonation visible—it looks like mead… but it isn’t.
…and it smells like vacation too. There are big citrus notes on the nose, along with some other tropical fruits. There’s a residual sweetness as well (because obviously you can smell sweetness—just work with me here)—like an orange marmalade. Finally, there’s some slight pine.
It made me want to parade my fat
Around the beach
Looking for a cool crowd, with which to play
…and when I scare everyone off, I’d go bungee jumping instead.
And did I dive into this beer. Again, there is citrus first on the tongue. Following are strong, biscuit and bread notes—light, crisp malts, like a nice rustic, country loaf, very dry. Pine and botanical flavors linger after swallowing. It’s slightly spicy—very similar to that of a fine gin. By that, I suppose I mean somewhat akin to juniper… and then there’s mango at the end. The feeling in the mouth is rather sticky, with a dry finish. I feel it could be slightly more effervescent, but it is certainly not a detractor.
It’s a damn fine beer.
This is a beer for those who seek to escape from the cold. It’s a beer for those who dream of golden shores, sprawling hills, and mountains that lunge towards the sky. Think of the breathtaking views from the Lord of the Rings movies. That’s this beer—splendid, somewhat sordidly beautiful. You feel guilty partaking of something like this.
*9.3 out of 10*
At this point in the afternoon
I was less
To be desired
The taproom was occupied
Shoes swarmed the linoleum as cockroaches do
But certainly busy
Everyone seems courteous
Of gratification and straight up
Upon my fourth flight, my bartender and I discussed the Ghoulschip.
It was a
“So they put the house yeast in the batch, but it
To the wild
Yeast in the
We put our noses upon our respective glasses (seriously, who talks like this?)
“Aromas reminiscent of green apples, sharp cheese, slight caramel, wet leaves, kohlrabi, tartness somewhere between a lemon and a lime.” She’s leading me on
Rolling my eyes
Take a sip; upfront—lemony citrus stings upon the tip of the tongue, then comes a sour funk marrying a Danish blue cheese and Camembert or brie. It’s salty. A toasty sweetness follows. (This is probably the toasted pumpkin seeds and the pumpkin, itself—I thought to myself) “Oak-i-ness” pokes through towards the back end, and then dryness emerges. Vanilla flavors develop with tart cherries as the flavor begins to dissipate.
More like Boo Berry
It’s a fuck-up
She looked at me, to the bar, to the patrons, and walked away.
Total fuck up.
Don’t die or whatever.
*9.0 out of 10*
OH MY FUCKING GOD
I’M JUST WAITING IN LINE TALKING ABOUT ALL THE BEERS I’VE DRANK
EACH ONE WAS BETTER THAN THE NEXT
EACH ONE WAS SO FUCKING MORE RARER THAN THE OTHER FUCKING ONE
EACH BEER WAS SO MUCH MORE BEER THAN PRECEDING BEER
INTRINSICALLY, BEER OF THIS CALIBER COULDN’T BE MORE BEER
OH, WHAT CENTENNIAL HOPS? CASCADE? COLUMBUS?
NO YOU FUCKING CRIMINAL
HOW CAN YOU DRINK BEER WITH YOUR COMPLETE
I KNOW ALL ABOUT BEER
NOBODY DRINKS BETTER BEER THAN ME
I’VE WAITED ALL FUCKING DAY IN THIS GODDAMNED LINE
I’VE BEEN INSTAGRAMMING THE FUCKING CLOUDS
I’M IN THE RAIN
IT’S FUCKING VERMONT
LOOK AT THE GODDAMNED MOUNTAINS
I BROUGHT A TENT
MY FIANCE LOVES BEER
MY FIANCE IS BEER
I MUST RAKE IN A FUCKING FORTUNE TO BUY ALL THE BEER I BUY
LET ME TALK TO YOU ABOUT ALL THE BEER I JUST DRANK
OH YEAH, LAST BATCH OF FOCAL BANGER WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS PIECE A SHIT
IT DOESN’T TASTE JUST LIKE THE OTHER BATCH
BUT ITS MORE LIKE THE PREVIOUS BATCH IF IT WERE A COMPLETE REITERATION, IMITATING ITSELF, MIRRORED AND DISSECTED, A POSTULATION OF A SIMILAR SEMBLANCE, BUT TOTALLY SEPARATE
YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING? IT’S KINDA THE SAME FUCKING THING BUT DEFINITELY DIFFERENT. LIKE EVERYTHING SUCKS NOW, MOSTLY BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T HAVE THE SAME BEER I HAD WHEN I HAD IT. SO I’M SORT OF BETTER THAN YOU
LIKE IT HAD A
LIKE SO CLOUDY
GOLDEN, YELLOW, ORANGE, YELLOW
FEELS GREAT BETTER THAN YOU, BETTER THAN BEER
I’M THE BEST AT DRINKING BEER
BUYING BEER IS SO FUN
I CAN WAIT IN LINE LONGER THAN YOU
I’M GONNA LVIE FORECDVRE
DFASDFADSFNASDF AWEJANEKNGKRAJNFLE;LAN F AKLAEMRKELRNA EWRNANER AEWRLKAER AWERNALERKLADSFADSMLASD’[FNASFADSFADFADSFASDFASDJNGOJ RBGARLFNORNOINKRNASDLFKJMPVNLAPFDALDSF
*10 out of 10*