As I sit here and drink this Dale's Pale Ale, by Oskar Blues Brewing Company, I ponder many things...
The smell of this beer is the smell of balance – pine, citrus, malt, and a spring day after a rain.
I think about its perfect color, somewhere in the middle of orange and gold, and wonder about an alternate reality where oranges and gold are equally valuable and I think I would like to exist there - but only if I can bring along the three bags of oranges I just bought on sale at the market. Oh, to be a king in the land of oranges and gold. I would ride a horse named Julius on a saddle made of rind and wear a gaudy necklace of many oranges, the weight of which would be almost too much to bear, and the people whose families, many years ago, invested heavily in apples and peaches shall kneel as I pass.
As I drink from my pint, I notice a lacing on the glass that is quite nice, like the top of white thigh highs on a lady model circa 1988. And I think of Whitesnake. And I can't stand up (due to stiffening in my groinal region).
I take another drink and think about the balance of the hop and the malt, the smoothness of the beer, and how well this beer and I are getting along right now. I think about the two way street of pleasantries and admiration that me and Dale are traveling down on this lovely day, headed toward the intersection of Cooperation Street and Symbiosis Boulevard.
Dale looks over at me and says, “Let's go inside and listen to that new Plow United record.”
“Yeah Dale, that's what I'm fucking talking about.”
And so we go inside and I put it on the turntable and I lift Dale high up into the air and shout the closing lyrics of Track 3 (“Cui Bono?”) at him. Then we spin in circles as we sing “Shaking” (Track 4) to each other in near perfect harmony. We plop down on the couch exhausted and amused, just two dudes enjoying a record that more people need to hear and some beer at 11:30 am. I look over at Dale and say, “I gotta take a piss.”
I'm curious if befriending the personification of a can of beer at 11:30am on Tuesday is the sign of a larger issue.
Clearly, I have become quite fond of this beer, which incidentally I only bought because I thought Wife liked it. A few years back, my brother, T-Bone, brought some to the house. I drank it but was not a huge fan. Wife, however, raved about its taste. She liked the hop flavor, which is rare for her. She exclaimed how it wasn't too overwhelming, how it had a crisp, dry finish and yet she picked up on some fruit notes. She marveled at how smooth it was to drink. We all marveled at Wife's ability to describe a beer. We then realized this was Wife's first beer since she gave birth to our beautiful daughter and she was clearly intoxicated.
At the time, I thought the beer looked great but tasted like a muddled mess with a mix of every sort of hop flavor you'd expect – citrus, pine, and grass. And too malty – what exactly was the beer trying to be? In hindsight, I probably just wanted to finish the beer and get out of the house for a night out with the newly uncled Brother T-Bone.
Fast forward two years later, and I am at the beer store, being indecisive, with echoes of Wife's last words to me before I left the house - “Get something we both like” - bouncing around my brain. I know I want something hoppy and that Wife does not. So, when I see Dale's Pale Ale I think it is a perfect compromise. Wife loved it last time she had it and it had enough hop flavor to satisfy my craving.
It turns out Wife probably would have loved any beer that had the honor of being her first post-pregnancy beer. Also, it turns out she doesn't really like Dale's Pale Ale. Too hoppy, she says. Huh.
So now a few days have gone by and here I am half way through a case of Dale's, really enjoying myself and what I would now consider a well rounded, hoppy, and delicious beer.
I wonder how this beer would hold up against some of my other favorites, what I like to call, “everyday IPAs” -- beers like Uinta's Hop Notch IPA, or Southern Tier's 2XIPA, that I might consider to be a step below some of my all time favorite IPA's like Bear Republic's Racer 5, Port's Wipeout, or Green Flash's West Coast IPA. I guess this classification system isn't entirely fair – I really like all of these beers and it is hard to say which I like more than the other. I wonder how all of these beers would do against one another in a side by side comparison. I wonder how great I would feel after completing said comparisons.
As I finish this Dale's and head for another bathroom break, I wonder why my co-worker takes what looks like a black canvas lunch cooler bag into the private employee bathroom with him every morning. It is a pretty big bag, almost too big to be a lunch bag, kind of cube shaped, with a shoulder strap. It reminds me of the bag Wife's motorized breast pump was housed in, but boxier. Also, it appears to be about the same weight as said breast pump, which is to say that it has some weight to it.
What could be in that bag? Does he open it when he's in the bathroom? Is it food? Is he eating in the bathroom – like some sort of shit picnic? Is it a pump? What the hell is he pumping? I mean there aren't a whole lot of options, so I have an idea of what he is pumping if he is indeed pumping something. Is there some sort of thing that could happen to me as an older man that will require me to take a canvas bag into the restroom? Is there any preventive measures I can take to keep said event from happening? He seems like a healthy, fit guy but could there be some medical thing going there? Is he making protein shakes? Or maybe it is a private collection of magazines – an actual portable, black canvas spank bank being carried around, out in the open, amongst society. It has to be something obvious right? Or something I have no idea about and when I find out I am going to feel terrible for even thinking about it -- like the guy brings his kitten to work because his wife passed away and he can't stand to be alone or he washes ducks in the employee bathroom that he rescued from oil spills and then releases them to the wild on his lunch break.
And now I am at a crossroads – do I stop drinking for the day and make an attempt at getting some stuff done around the house, or do I have a few more Dale's and try and solve this goddamned mystery...
“Dale, we are going to need a black canvas bag, some metric weights, a blender...and then meet me in the bathroom.”
Dale's Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Brewery 4.05/5
appearance = 4.2/5
smell = 4/5
taste = 4/5
mouthfeel = 4.4/5
overall = 4/5