I may or may not have a personal anecdote that could be titled Sour Bikini. Let's just say that if such an anecdote were to exist, it would most likely be from that time in my life before Wife and involve a non-Wife lady friend, a weekend trip to the beach, and a lesson that no amount of beers will allow you to unlearn.
Let's just say that such an anecdote would be one that I would prefer not to carve into granite-like permanence that is the Internet for fear that someday my daughter, or worse yet, my soon to be born son, would somehow stumble upon it like some unholy monolith in their life path and think that existence has to play out for them in the same manner it did for me.
There is, however, one particular tale from my childhood that, while embarrassing, I would be willing to share. And while it does not involve any sour bikinis, thank the heavens, it does involve my grandparents' house, their toilet, and a pair of what might be best described as my sour briefs. My hope is that at a point in the distant future my children will find this tale, read it, and realize that some of the difficulties that they attribute to my advanced age are in fact difficulties that I have had my entire life.
Bobo and Nanny lived in Alpha, New Jersey, and they were my grandparents. Inside their home was a billiards table and a majority of our family functions seemed to orbit that very table. On this particular day, I estimate I was between the ages of 4 and 6, there was a sizable gathering of family members at Nanny and Bobo’s house and I was having a great time rolling the billiard balls on that billiard table.
So great was my joy, so intoxicating the pleasure, that I was unaware of, or at least able to ignore, the 10 pound brown hammer knocking on my back door. I must roll balls was the singular thought in my head, and in general, it took quite the emergency to pull me away from a game of solo hand billiards. This particular bowel movement was going to have to wait.
Like all good things, my game of solo hand billiards eventually came to an end. It with a sweet come-from-behind overtime victory that I was able to reclaim the world championship from myself. After many handshakes and congratulatory hugs, I head upstairs to drop bombs.
Nan’s bathroom had this counter top with all these different colored boomerang shapes that hypnotized me every time I went in there. I would get lost in all those boomerangs. Just staring deeper and deeper into those magical shapes, wishing that I had hundreds of boomerangs so that I could make the sky look like this counter top, wishing that a boomerang storm would come and rain boomerangs, wishing that I lived in Australia where boomerangs were more common. You know, your typical maddening obsession set off by bathroom decor. Don't even get me started about the strange faces I saw in my parents downstairs shower curtain.
A knock-knock-knock on the door pulled me out of Boomerangtown and back to reality. It was my Mom checking on me.
"Stop staring at the counter top," she says, "and come down stairs."
I’m working on it, I say.
And work it was. I hopped down from the toilet, grabbed a suitable amount of TP and set to perform my finishing maneuvers. Satisfied with a reasonably clean backside, I put my shirt back on and bent down to pull up my He-Man briefs. It was at this moment that I realized that there was a problem.
Brown town, Hershey highway, call it what you will - bacon strips doesn't really fit this scenario due to its magnitude. What I had in my underpants was a brown map of the brown capital of a brown state. A topographical map of the Crap Mountains on Planet Poop. Brown rings from the brown trunk of a brown oak that was 160 years old. Apparently, somewhere between the second and third overtime period of solo hand billiards, my turtle popped out more than its head, or it had a really long neck.
As difficult as it may be to believe, this was actually a re-occurring problem for me. I knew that if my Mom found another pair of underwear in this condition that I may be back in diapers. These underwear needed to disappear and fast. I took them off and pulled my pants up - -my first real experience with the commando style, by the way -- while I searched for an answer. The hamper? Under the sink? Under the towel on the towel rack? All of these options seemed only temporary and I needed these undies to be gone for good. At the time, there was only one device that I was aware of that made things disappear permanently. For all I knew, the word ‘toilet’ was French for disappearing machine. So in they went. I pulled the magic lever and watched them swirl around and disappear. Problem solved. Back to the party.
What happened next is a little unclear to me. I’m not sure how much time passed -- was it 15 minutes or an hour? But at some point, water began to drip on the pool table and it appeared that some sort of leak had developed upstairs. I did not find this alarming in the least -- in fact, I did not even suspect that it could be related to my ordeal. My plan was so fool-proof that I had practically forgotten about it. Then I heard my name. Then I heard my name again. Then my Aunt came downstairs with a pair of children’s underwear in her hand. "How the hell did she get my underwear," I thought. This can’t be good.
"Are these your underwear?" she asked.
Yes, really, those are He-Man and I don’t even like He-Man (a total lie, and I apologized to He-Man a million times in my mind as soon as those words left my mouth).
"Well, then whose underwear could it be?"
I don’t know.
I was the only child at the party, hence the solo hand billiards, and this fact was quite the smoking gun. Had I known that the toilet was not going to disappear my underwear I would have had time to come up with some sort of logical diversion. I put all my eggs in one basket and the basket was exploding in my face.
"Well, then let me see your underwear."
Well, that is an inappropriate thing to ask a little kid, I thought.
"I’m not wearing any today," I said, matter of factly, triumphantly.
This response elicited a mixture of shock and laughter from the crowd of adults that had gathered to watch my demise. It was here that Mom chimed in, her mental state was a perfect mixture of confusion, rage, and humor (this would become her signature mental state over the next few years). She said:
"What do you mean your not wearing any underwear? Who doesn’t wear underwear?"
At this point I believe exactly three uncles and one aunt raised their hand. And somehow, I was off the hook. That was the end of it. Apparently any damage done was not worth murdering an underpantless child over.
But enough about my sour briefs. Let's talk about beer in the hopes that we can drink it and drink enough of it that we can forget that we, well you, just read 1300 words about me flushing my underwear down the toilet.
Sour Bikini is a collaboration between Evil Twin Brewing and Intangible Ales. As the name implies, it is a sour ale, but one with a lower ABV of only 3%. And while the lower ABV combined with the higher price point generally attached to sour ales might cause you to be hesitant in pulling the purchase trigger, I say this one is worth it. I paid $13 for a bomber, which in hindsight, considering how much I enjoyed the beer, seems like a very reasonable price.
Now, when I first had this beer I knew nothing about Intangible Ales. I took the bottle over to a friend's house, we opened it, enjoyed it, and wrote down some tasting notes. In fact, at the end of those notes I wrote down that the sour flavors reminded me of some of the sour ales I have had from Pizza Boy Brewing and that I should look those up to see if there is anything in common, particularly in the souring technique.
It turns out, Intangible Ales is a new project started by Terry Hawbaker, of Pizza Boy Brewing (of which clearly I'm a fan), and Kristen Mullen. That there was a connection between my initial perceptions and the actual reality of this beer fueled my interest even more. I reached out to Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø from Evil Twin to ask about the souring technique. I found out that Sour Bikini is, as the name would imply, the same recipe as Evil Twin's Bikini Beer but made as a berliner weisse. For those as unfamiliar with brewing techniques as I am this means, as Jeppe explained, that Sour Bikini is kettle soured and fermented after the souring process. In other words, no souring yeasts or bacteria are added at any point.
Frankly, this idea blew my mind a bit for two reasons. First, I had no idea that you could get a beer to sour this way -- just from the mash, prior to fermentation -- I'm glossing over some things here, but basically just by letting the mash sit in the kettle. I had just assumed all sour beers involved adding some lacto or something of that nature. Something about it just seemed so interesting. Now granted, I had never looked into it prior to this, but now that I was, looking into that is, I was amazed at how deliciously sour they had made this beer compared to other berliner weisse beers that I've had.
Mind blown. Thanks guys.
Sour Bikini, Evil Twin/Intangible Ales Collaboration
Appearance = 3.5/5
Looks interesting enough – a hazy brownish gold with a rim of white head.
Smell = 4/5
If there was a time when people made candy out of wood, and those wooden candies were sour, then I imagine those candies would smell much like this beer smells. In summary this beer smells like sour wooden candies.
Taste = 4.25/5
Quite sour on the initial sip, which I wasn't expecting because of the low ABV, but I suppose the sour and ABV have very little to do with one another. The flavors are sour lemon and some berry. On the first few sips the sour seems to drop off quickly and is followed by a dry, musty wood flavor in the finish. The contrast between the two seems to fade as work down the glass.
Feel = 4.25/5
Fizzy and light, but not too thin.
Overall = 4.25/5
I enjoyed this quite a bit. The contrast of the flavors between the sour and the wood through the first few sips was fun and as that faded, the overall flavor and feel of the beer continued to impress.
JR Shirt hosts the Drinking With Shirt podcast with his brother T-Bone. You can listen right here at BeerGraphs or on iTunes. A version of the Sour Briefs tale originally appeared several years ago under the title "The Day I Realized How The Toilet Works" on the Childhood Realizations page of the Beer On My Shirt blog. Follow JR Shirt on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt.