Ah, January Thaw, what a cruel temptress thou art. The temperatures dip and dive and skyrocket like a rollercoaster—or a junkie. I’ve been busy making observations on the state of the world every day on the drive home from work. For once, I catch a break from the people who bitch about the cold (as if winter was known for vitamin D and rhododendrons!). I go to the gym, work the legs, the chest, the arms, the legs, the chest, the arms. I get home. I walk inside and make some disgustingly obscene noises to the cat. Jazz blasts forth from the speakers and I shout some more slurs with cathartic glee. I start to dance. I lose my shirt, my shorts, and pay homage both to Tom Cruise in Risky Business and to my preschool years.
Meat and potatoes, meat and potatoes.
It really is that time of the year.
I am surrounded by the sweet sounds of shattering resolutions—stillbirths (or abortions, really), hearty foods, and strong drink.
Winter is here, I finally admit to myself a month late. I collapse upon the kitchen table in my skivvies, seeking out the bottle opener, only to find it poking into my side as I sift through the bills waiting to be paid, newspapers now collecting dust as demoted ephemera. My weapon in hand, I approach the fridge and pull out my conquest.
To my delight, I was able to find a bottle of one of Le Trou du Diable’s many fantastic beers. Being a teeny-tiny little brewery in Shawinigan, Quebec, it’s rare to find stateside often. That being said, if you have a chance, pick up an offering when the opportunity presents itself.
La Grivoise de Noel loosely translates to “ribald Christmas.” In nothing but underpants, I found this masturbatory salute to be indulgently appropriate for the occasion. And how appropriate the beer! Like the Thaw, this beer is a tribute to pure deceit from its overtly invigorating nature—not something typically expected from a winter beer—to its alcohol by volume. Approaching 8% ABV, you do not get the alcohol at all.
You start to become a little suspicious shortly after the pour. It’s a bright garnet color in the glass with an off-white head and some very strong, very attractive carbonation.
God bless America.
There’s a strange coppery stench to the beer, or perhaps iron. It quickly fades as it comes to room temperature and what you’re left with is really no real hops to speak of, toasted malt, nutmeg, orange blossom, and banana. There, that’s the ticket. That’s all you really need to know right away. It is definitely a Belgian.
Then comes the brown sugar taste— well, maybe burnt sugar with plum and overripe banana finishing off. Maybe there’s some spice there. I think this may be some gross confabulation, but I kind of get some cardamom and clove in there. Of course, the nutmeg pushes through in the end.
There’s a satisfying stickiness to the beer. It establishes a fine middle ground between thick and thin on the tongue. A delightful carbonation prickles the tongue just slightly.
*8.0 out of 10.*
me to the horse races, I said.
Let me cavort with the bourgeois, I said.
You bet your life’s savings on a thoroughbred named “Saskatchewan Bull Dingus Mk XXII: Dream Sequence.”
What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
I, beside myself, found my pockets out-turned and telling.
These are unfortunate circumstances.
I wound up in the streets.
It was cold.
I was bared to the world.
The frigid air left my joints and appendages lay ramshackle, cracked and suppressed by the elements.
Everything was fine. I had my health, otherwise.
I took the role of vagabond and forsook knowledge of the left hand from the right.
The darkness was my friend.
I crept into the numbness of solace.
The solace of numbness.
The solness of numblace.
The numace of solmbness.
The offstace of numsolasticness.
Oblastician dastician numalsol.
Ommss sosd tosa numosola oosa colacolastion.
I narrowed myself towards oblivion and entered my shoebox.
I am a graceful donut.
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Kristian Klarup Keller can shut the fuck up for two hot seconds.
You want to make an offbeat experimental IPA.
Do it on your dime, not mine.
Let me clear my throat.
Beer gypsies Mikkeller have donned their extravagant Santa hats and have flounced about with a number of strange, wonky beers for the holiday season.
Hoppy Lovin’ Christmas is one of them.
It’s an IPA (a borderline double at 7.8 percent ABV) brewed with ginger and pine needles. Naturally, my loins tensed with the thought of such a brew. Surely, this is a beer that would embrace the rich intensity and spice that comes part and parcel with the ginger root and sport proudly the bold elegance of pine far beyond the casual recesses of its otherwise marked hop prowess.
Wait, no? It’s really just a standard IPA? I’m just getting hops here. I’m getting hops and sour. You’ve got to be kidding me.
My palms got sweaty.
No, that can’t be right. I spent $14 whole dollars on a bottle of this.
I’m ruined. I simply cannot believe I fell for this crap. Then again, this isn’t the first time I’ve been screwed by two Great Danes (…too far?).
But wait; there are subtle nuances to this beer.
No, no, I see it. There, at the end of the tunnel, there is a light.
The pitter-patter of horse hooves gallivant forward.
The succor of fortune floods my being and I am rejuvenated.
I realized the warmth that tickled my throat was in fact the ginger. As the brew warmed to the air, I breathed deep in the glass. I got the pine. I got everything. There was lemon, there was apricot.
Oh, I was pissed.
Maybe I’m just bitter. Maybe I am just so jealous of Mikkeller that I pretended I couldn’t taste the ginger and pine that I so expected when picking up this beer. Maybe I wished I was as cool as these new gods.
The mouthfeel was smooth, yet brisk. The aroma was brilliant. There was tropical fruit and a lingering tartness akin to sourdough. A brilliant effervescence gave the ale character.
Maybe I was jealous. Maybe I went headlong into drinking this beer that I expected terrific faults only to find quiet successes.
Maybe they delivered what they promised. Nevertheless, don’t expect a robustness that I did. You’ll just get all pissy and end up bitching about the government. Your moodiness will overcome you and thoughts of romance, ambition, civil obligation and certain bodily functions will seem blasé.
Or, maybe I just drank the whole bottle.
…Did I mention it’s almost a double IPA?
*8.1 out of 10*