When I was considerably younger than I am now, I harbored an unhealthy obsession with a computer game called Escape Velocity. In this game, the player pilots a spaceship, trading goods at various planets, ferrying passengers to and fro, and occasionally getting into good old-fashioned space battles. As you play more and earn more credits, you can buy better and better ships, and this was basically the most exciting thing ever to me at age ten. There was one ship in particular that I'd had my eye on called the Argosy. Many days I'd wake up at 6 A.M., hours before school, just to earn a few extra credits and get that much closer to my goal.
Finally, after what seemed like months of work, I'd earned enough. I bought the ship and took it for a spin. And you know what? It sucked. It was glacially slow. It handled like an 18-wheeler on five flat tires. Unlike other large, slow ships in the game, it wasn't even well armed. Of course, it had a giant cargo hold, which is great for a game about trading large quantities of goods in space, but I did not give even one shit. I'd expected the Millenium Falcon, but I'd been given a slow-as-molasses transport ship instead, and I felt a burning stab of disappointment as my expectations came crashing down.
I was reminded of this experience the other day at a bar. See, disappointment is a constant part of life, but it's usually more of a slow, gnawing issue. See "Chicago Cubs, fans of" for more on that. In rare cases, though, disappointment just nails its entrance and manages to hit you with absolutely perfect theatrical timing, crushing your dreams all at once. This bar I was at has a Tuesday deal where they have a list of craft beers that are available all evening for $2 apiece. On this particular day, the list was generally uninspiring, but! There was Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. I could drink that all night.
Then, tragedy. Just as I was about to order, the sky darkened. Okay, so technically the sky didn't change; no, it was our server, leaning over the table and temporarily blocking the evening sun. She picked up the beer list, her pen striking lines through several beers whose kegs had been tapped. And of course, one of her victims was the 90 Minute.
God, I'm getting angry just remembering this.
Let's change the subject for a moment. Last week, my friend moved to California. He keeps sending me these annoying messages about how he can get Sculpin IPA, Stone Ruination and Firestone Walker Double Jack for like, seven cents a bottle or something. I get it, OK? Pennsylvania isn't exactly really good and also cheap beer central.
Now that I think about it, I guess that's the reason I keep going to this bar with the $2 Tuesday specials. It's a shitty bar, to be sure. They play shitty music, at shittily high volumes, and somehow the baseball game you want to see is always on the screen behind your seat, so you have to do awkward twisting 180s all the time. Nonetheless, you don't get a chance at 90 Minute for $2 every day.
So, despite the bitter taste in my mouth I got from not drinking a delicious 90 Minute IPA the last time around, I went back. I should note that I was, to some extent, dragged back -- it so happened that I had a four-pack of Double Jack (an all too-expensive four-pack, natch) at my house. My plan was to sit at home, drink that, watch the Red Sox game, and perform ancient rituals to bring curses upon bars that fail to maintain an adequate supply of their best beers. However, this was deemed "antisocial" by my friends, so to the bar I went.
The result? Redemption on all fronts. On the menu, there was none other than Double Jack. This time, they didn't run out of their best offering.
I had three.
The bar redeemed itself for its previous miserable failure. The state of Pennsylvania redeemed itself for failing to provide me with great beer at a reasonable price. I could swear that even the bar music redeemed itself; as my beer arrived, the music softened and a old Dylan song, something from Blood on the Tracks, came on.
So it goes with disappointment. One day, the thing you most desire is taken from you; the next, you're texting your friend in California "hey got FWDJ for $2, so you can gfy, i am revenged." Yes, after three Double Jacks, I should probably have someone take my phone away, lest I start using words like "revenged."
Anyway, let's take a moment and talk about the beer!
Double Jack is quite possibly my favorite beer -- the only other contender is Stone's RuinTen. When I first started really getting into good beer, trying Double Jack opened the floodgates. I'd had beers that were good before, but Double Jack is so uniquely amazing that, after I first tried it, I wanted to drink nothing but for weeks. Additionally, Double Jack is the first beer I tried based on a recommendation from Mr. Eno Sarris, the attractive and erudite bossman around these parts. Let's just say that after trying Double Jack, I don't question Eno's recommendations.
Double Jack is an Imperial IPA that pours golden copper, with thick, foamy white head that lasts for days. The aroma is light and grapefruity, without the strong bitter scents that are common in stronger IPAs. There's just a hint of resin and a little malt aroma, but it's faint. That said, the citrus isn't overwhelming, just the strongest of several mild aromas. If you want really extreme citrus, you'll have to look for something like Deschutes' Fresh Squeezed IPA, as with Double Jack it's more understated.
However, that's not a negative at all; really, what makes Double Jack stand out is that it incorporates just enough of each attribute without any single overwhelming feature. It's got a mild bitter taste up front, which is followed by the citrus flavors you get in the aroma, a malty finish, and a mellow hoppy aftertaste. It's a bit of an oily beer, and really carries on the tongue. At one point I had to wait several minutes for a refill (the horror!) but the aftertaste persisted throughout, which is both impressive and somewhat weird.
Double Jack goes down incredibly easy for a beer with a 9.5% ABV. Also, and this is a rare quality, the last sip is just as good as the first. I find that the first sip of a fresh-poured beer is the peak, and as it flattens and warms it gets worse. Not so with Double Jack. It may have something to do with the lasting foam keeping it bubbly and cool, or maybe it's just a unique flavor, but my palate just doesn't get tired of Double Jack.
So, there you have it: the perfect cure for disappointment. Things go wrong. Double Jack seems to have a way of making them right. Two thumbs way up.
Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA
You can find Alex on Twitter @AlexanderFossi, if you so desire.