It is always fun to let some one else do your work for you. Today’s post has been outsourced to Mr. Chafin - you can read his writings in the New York Press and follow his blog GentlemansTimes on Tumblr for savvy food and drink reviews, witticisms, and other glorious typological enlightenment. Voila!
I was recently in a stark white room, reclining on a couch and a bit soggy from spilling free beer all over my sweater, when more or less out of nowhere owner of Dogfish Head Brewery and host of Discovery’s new beer reality show Brew Masters Sam Calagione stood up on a box and began speaking. Well-built and genuinely enthusiastic about brewing beer, drinking beer, and talking about beer, he only mentioned his brand-new, soon-to-premiere TV show in passing before excitedly moving on to taking audience questions, which he seemed a bit disappointed there weren’t more of. He said he hoped some of his beers would offend us. He called the suddenly-controversial 4Loko “the opposite of a roofie,” not entirely disapprovingly, and spent the next hour bartending and chatting.
The event, at the Levi’s-sponsored space in SoHo, was titled simply “Beer and Stinky Cheese.” It was billed as a tasting of some rare and potent Dogfish Head beers, to be served with a selection of cheeses and chocolates, a sort of beer appreciation party, encouraging the masses (or at least the few dozen people who were able to RSVP) to think of the new crop of flavorful and potent beers being brewed by Dogfish and others more as drinks to be sipped, savored, and paired with an appropriate food than guzzled and forgotten. I’m not sure if Calagione’s appearance was exactly a secret, but it certainly wasn’t being publicized in advance. Forget him, though; this is a beer blog, so let’s talk about beer.
There were four on offer that night: Burton Baton, Fort, the 120-Minute IPA, and the World Wide Stout. I’m a sucker for IPAs, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise that the 120-Minute IPA, billed as “the world’s strongest IPA,” was my hands-down favorite. It’s full-bodied as the best IPA, with a flavor that’s more about jaw tingling than “notes” of anything particular (in my notebook, I scrawled “a mouthful of carbonated mouth pain”). The Burton was also good, a dark beer with as much barely as an IPA has hops, making it less spicy and giving it a rounder, more refreshing flavor. The Fort was my least favorite by far. It’s a raspberry beer (again, “the world’s strongest,” although I wonder how much competition there is on that front). It smelled of cheap vodka and tasted like cough syrup, and was so cloudy that it looked as if someone had poured dirt in it.
As for the stout, well, I don’t exactly remember drinking the stout. Here is where I should mention that all of the beers were 18% ABV (about 3 times as strong as a regular beer), except the Burton Baton, which was “only” 11%. I was at the event for about 2 hours, and about 20 minutes after leaving I found myself standing in the street with my shirt off and yelling at the top of my lungs.
In closing, I would just like to add that Sam Calagione is a very nice man. His show has the same producers as the obscenely watchable Anthony Bourdain vehicle No Reservations, and if watching it is anything like getting plastered on delicious free bottles of $20 beer, then it will be a very, very good show, indeed.