When people hear that I am a professional beer reviewer the array of possible responses are pretty well conserved:
- “Wow, really? Does your daddy own a newspaper or something?”
- “May I kiss your ring?”
- “Suddenly all the years I’ve poured into my medical degree seem like such a waste…”
- “That’s really cool. Allow me to express my jealousy with an unprovoked strike to your groin.”
Their reactions are understandable. Most career satisfaction surveys put Beer Reviewer near the top of the heap (it never seems to edge out Stunt Cock though), but that doesn’t mean I don’t sacrifice for my craft. Consider what I must endure in typical day:
AGENDA (Times listed in 24-hour military style to convey the seriousness of it all)
09:30 – Wake up. Head to shower, taking care not to twist ankle while traversing floor strewn with slumbering supermodels.
10:15 – Perform yoga stretches. Make sure routine focuses on liver flexibilty and releasing tension in dry-heaving muscles. Stretches to aid auto-fellatio are not required, but strongly encouraged.
11:00 – Drink Breakfast. If full-body quakes persist, snort a couple rails of malt extract.
11:30 – Power Nap
20:30 – Wake up. Browse beer periodicals. Talk to stock broker about redirecting my liquid assets into the hop commodities market. Get reminded that it doesn’t exist. Go into shame spiral. Drink beer, feel better.
21:00 – Draw blood to test liver function. If numbers seem insufficient to sustain life, apply defibrillator paddles to abdomen until they improve.
22:00 – Grab multiple 6 packs and notepad. If beer is light in color, write joke including reference to urine. If beer is dark in color, write something about “coffee” and move on.
01:00 – Convert notes into something coherent online. Trust that my bitter, underpaid editor will correct misspellings and interpolate any missing paragraphs.
02:15 – Pleasure the aforementioned throngs of supermodels with all available extremities. Pass out.
There is no need to acknowledge my quiet heroism. These are the sacrifices I happily make for you. Your perennial worship and endless suckuppery is thanks enough.
CENSORED Rich Copper Ale (7.7% ABV)
Beers like this are the bane of my existence. Not because it’s a crappy beer as you’d likely assume, but because its name is too on the button. The name totally robs me of a perfectly valid observation about its color, which I’ll no doubt have to compensate for by padding the article with needless griping. Did anyone else feel this paragraph just go meta?
The nose has a bready smell with a surprising nectary sweetness. That malt backbone is evident in the first sip, with the hops building a rapid, spicy crescendo in the middle. The finish allows that cinnamon and dried red pepper flake heat to linger with fruity notes, but it is still pretty light. Its mouthfeel is a bit prickly from the carbonation.
This style resides somewhere between an imperial red and a barleywine, without the aggressiveness of either. It’s like a barleywine with training wheels. The spiciness is the big win for me, since I get to enjoy the flavor without the Ring of Fire later (Fun Fact: Johnny Cash wrote that song to immortalize his love of chimichangas). In summary, this has complexity with some sessionability, which is a fantastic combination.
Pro-Tip: As it warms and blows off some of the carbonation it really sings. Let it warm outside the fridge for a few minutes before pouring. If you’re unsure how long to wait, try drinking another beer while you’re waiting. That only buys me about 12 seconds, but the approach should be adequate for those that can’t unhinge their esophagus.
Dogtown Pale Ale (6.4% ABV)
To fully appreciate this beer, it is important to know the classical hallmarks of the style. The pale ale is an analog of the standard ale, but more pale. Feel free to reference this later if you get lost in the rest of my technical jargon.
This hazy, orange-tinted brew summons a foamy, taupe head. The nose has some honey sweetness, but is floral in an oddly perfumed way. I think that last bit may have just inspired my greatest invention to date:
This is predictably hoppy, but in a beautifully tiered way. There’s some grassiness and earthy notes up front that fade into piney flavors. This makes it a great selection to present to beer novices, as the suite of hop flavors will culminate in a rough 3-way gangbang on their palate. That’s the stuff that classic reaction snapshots are made of.
As with the CENSORED Copper Ale, this one was a little over-carbonated. Still, the oily mouthfeel helps the hops really resonate and give them requisite staying power.
Wilco Tango Foxtrot (7.83% ABV)
Of all the senses, none is more tightly coupled to memory than smell. It’s the reason even a whiff of tequila instantly smells like regret for most people. With this beer I get a sweet, woody smell that is vaguely musty. It immediately transports me back to the neighborhood hardware store of my youth. Mr. Gropington, the proprietor, had this old basement with a makeshift wrestling ring. He was really competitive so if you wanted a candy bar you had to keep him pinned for minutes at a time. This was no small feat because he was usually pretty oiled up, so you had to grab at any handhold avail…
Oh God. No. A thousand times no. DAMN YOU SMELL!
This mahogany ale produces a substantial, chunky head, which is the only factor that links this to a traditional brown ale. The hops are oddly prominent and the finish is a bit sour and burnt. The moniker “WTF” is certainly apropos.
It’s disappointingly watery. Usually browns have a bit more girth to them. That’s not as racist as it sounds.
It might fare well with aging, but that could be a desperate grasp as redemption. This has some agreeable flavors, but they’re outnumbered by the questionable ones.