Strange Bedfellows and the Beers That United Them

Josh Augustine, June 19, 2013

It’s the classic party story. You know the one. You wake up the morning after a late night during which you had a beer too many. You notice that you currently feel okay, maybe a little woozy, but you also have that feeling where you just know that once you stand up, your blood is going to move around in just such a way so as to give the sensation of your head being slowly and excruciatingly split in half by the dullest axe swung by the weakest lumberjack in the history of forests.

But you have to move. You have to move because there’s curiosity afoot. Something out of the ordinary is lying next to you. You roll over, slowly, being careful not to let the delicate biological balance within your body shift enough to let that splitting headache set in. You observe the stranger that has invaded your delicate ecosystem. You raise one eyebrow, because that’s the maximum amount of movement that is safe right at the moment. You watch it, unmoving, trying to recall the events that led to its presence in your bed. After an amount of time that is wholly uncomfortable for you, but not at all uncomfortable for it, because it is almost certainly blissfully unaware of the current situation, you realize you must address the situation.

This is one of those stories, and the beers that led up to it.

It started out innocently enough with a few happy hour beers on a Friday afternoon. At a craft bar where a buddy of mine bartends, I set out to try whatever new was on tap. First up would be Wilco Tango Foxtrot from Lagunitas. The pour into a tulip glass was dark brown, well past amber, with about a finger of head. The nose was initially a citrusy hoppy aroma, but gave way to a fruity sort of malt, and upon tasting the beer it behaved in kind with the hoppiness one expects from Lagunitas leading the way, but with a carmelly, figgy sort of flavor making itself known as the glass progressed.

I then moved on to try a couple of beers from a brewery that had just begun distribution in my area: Left Coast Brewing out of San Clemente California. The bar had just tapped two of their beers: The Black Magic Stout and the Hop Juice Double IPA. I started with the Black Magic Stout, which poured with moderate head with a sweet and roasty nose. It was a bit on the light-bodied side and therefore went down surprisingly quickly, at which point I moved on and had a glass of the Hop Juice.

Over the course of sipping these beers, a few more pals had trickled in and joined me at bar. Once they did so, shots of whiskey were ordered, because that's what sort of people I've chosen to befriend. To make matters worse (better), my buddy behind the bar had also handed me a couple of cocktails that had been made slightly incorrectly and therefore couldn't be served to paying customers. To make matters worse (okay, actually worse this time), I had not yet eaten dinner, as I'd figured I'd work in a meal after a mere beer or two. It was at some point during the Hop Juice that I stopped bothering to take notes. But hey, I gave it 3.5 stars or caps or whatever on Untappd, so... that's really something, right?

After that I moved on to the Petrus Aged Pale from Brouwerij Bavik. I’m someone who has fallen hard for sours, and this is one of my personal favorites. This lovely light-bodied, golden colored beer is very crisp, as the style tend to be, but don’t dive in with reckless abandon just yet. This beer will punch you in the face with fists of tart and not even feel bad about it. The great thing is that you won’t feel bad about it either. When you start to wonder if you’re still capable of truly feeling alive, then this is the beer that will set you right. Even when my wits had partially abandoned me, this beer still had the ability to capture my attention.

It was after this that myself and a few of the aforementioned pals wandered a block or two down the street to another bar wherein we would take in some live music from a fine local band known for their raucous brand of folk music. We had reached the point in the evening where we didn’t want to drink anything that was going to stimulate any sort of thought or analysis. When that mood sets in, then it is of course the time to switch over to good old reliable Pabst Blue Ribbon. You don’t need me to describe it. You know that the ratings are 5/5s across the board.

After a few tunes and a few rounds of hootin’ and hollerin’, shots of Old Overholt rye whiskey were passed around, because what sort of raucous folk show would be complete without whiskey getting involved? Then, after running into an acquaintance who insisted on purchasing me two more PBR tallboys, someone bought another round of Overholt shots. Finally, upon attempting to close my tab and finding I’d somehow only spent $4 when the bar has a $10 minimum, shots of Jameson for me and the bartender went down the respective hatches. It was shortly after that when things got fuzzier than fuzzy.

I woke up the next morning feeling as described above and rubbed my eyes. I rolled over to the left. Cocked my eyebrow, confusedly. Craned my neck to lift my head just barely off of my pillow so as to get a full read on the situation. I reached across my body slowly, gently. Carefully nudged my odd bedfellow, trying to get a better view. My mouth silently formed the words, “How in the hell did you get here?”

This is a question which would remain unanswered as I decided to take action and make the best of the situation.

I repositioned my hand and delicately opened the to go box stamped with the logo of a local late night pizza and sandwich place, exposing the now-room-temperature French Dip sandwich contained therein. I grabbed the sandwich and shoved it clumsily in the cold tub of au jus which had been packaged along with it as though I was the pastor of some sort of carnal baptism. When the bread had absorbed its capacity of that savory liquid, I, with an intensity that was quite surprising considering my lack of willingness seconds ago to make any sort of movement at all, shoved the dripping mess down my gullet.

Oh yes, this is exactly what I need right now. This might just be the thing to stave off that head-splitting lumberjack. This might just be the thing that saves my life! And I barely even needed to move in order to attain and consume it. Drunk Josh may not be great at taking notes, and he may not bother to take pictures of anything, but he nails breakfast in bed for hungover Josh every single time.

Lagunitas WTF

Appearance: 4.3: Poured dark brown into a tulip glass with maybe a finger of head.

Smell: 4.0: Initially a citrusy hop aroma took over, but gave way to a fruity sort of malt aroma

Taste: 4.2: Again, hop forward, but as I progressed through the glass and the beer warmed a bit there were some caramel and fig notes, plus a touch of booze on the back end.

Mouthfeel: 4.0: Full, but not syrupy. Very smooth. Just enough carbonation.

Overall: 4.2: Great beer, very well balanced, lots of ... [notes end]


Left Coast Black Magic Stout

Appearance: 3.0: Very dark in color, poured with very little head that didn’t last long.

Smell: 3.8: Very nice roasty aroma, some cocoa in there as well.

Taste: 3.8: Really enjoyed the roasty flavor of this, some subtle bitter cocoa and coffee notes as well.

Mouthfeel: 3.0: Pretty middle-of-the-road. I like my stouts to coat the inside of my mouth a bit more than this one did.

Overall: 3.4: Pretty decent beer, overall. I like the roast forward flavor with only very little chocolate/coffee/etc nonsense mixed in. I think a fuller body would do this beer a lot of favors.


Left Coast Hop Juice

(I went back and had another one in order to properly take it in)

Appearance: 4.0: Nice, not cloudy at all, dark amber/orange color, pours with not much head, and very little lacing.

Smell: 3.5: Citrusy hop aromas dominate here

Taste: 3.5: Hops are present throughout, bitter citrusy flavor matches the aroma, malts are pretty forward here, but there’s a pleasantly bitter aftertaste

Mouthfeel: 3.0: Fairly light bodied, I think a chewier texture would be really nice here.

Overall: 3.5: A pretty nice beer, not remarkable, but good. Very drinkable, especially considering the Strong Ale style.


Brouwerij Bavik Petrus Aged Pale

Appearance: 4.0: Nice golden color, initially hazy but clears up pretty quickly. Not much head or lacing as is standard fare for the style.

Smell: 5.0: Oh yes. The tartness immediately makes itself known. Hints of sour apple sneak into the general fruity aroma.

Taste: 5.0: Again, oh yes. Very tart, almost puckeringly so. Tartness is consistent throughout the glass, a nice mix of citrusy tartness and appley tartness. Very very small amount of boozy flavor on the back end.

Mouthfeel: 4.5: Very light, but the sourness almost makes it seem like a thousand dull needles are delicately prancing about on your tongue.

Overall: 4.6: Really really really great beer. Without a doubt one of my favorites. Bold sour flavor, not so drinkable that it disappears in one big gulp, but drinkable enough to sip on steadily.