Beer on my Shirt: On Collaborations and the Mini-Growler Imperial Stout

J. R. Shirt, June 28, 2013

I sing of collaborations. And I sing of stolen first lines, or at least of an idea for a first line, from an essay I read recently called Brooklyn the Unknowable by Phillip Lopate. While under the influence, the idea to follow in Mr. Lopate's footsteps of fantastic opening lines feels less like thievery and more like inspiration. A fitting borrow, not just from Phillip, but from all the 'I sing...' first lines that came before his. A half-known, one sided collaboration put to work as an opening line, followed by many more lines, all about collaborations.

The specific collaboration I have in mind, the dark liquid muse that spawned all my thoughts of collaborating and collaborations, is the Mini-Growler Imperial Stout brewed (collaboratively) by Westbrook and Evil Twin. My glass is currently filled with a beer so thick and dark, I feel as if all the world's bad tribal tattoos have been compressed and liquified and brought to my kitchen. The thought of “no more tribals” pleases me more than I would have thought and I am thankful this collaboration was able to provide such a valuable service to society.

There is nothing better than the journey of a great stout getting to that proper temperature as you drink it -- shuffling flavors as it warms, hanging tiny weights from your eyelids, wrapping your insides in fluffy blankets, and sharpening your mind like a hatchet.

So I sing of journeys and collaborations. I smell the bitter chocolate of the beer and licorice and a hint of coffee. With the first sip I get a wonderful roasted, almost smokey, dark chocolate, coffee flavor and my journey has begun. Another look at the collaboration in my glass and my mind starts to recall the small journeys and collaborations I'd been a part of over the past few days.

Specifically, I recall the journey I took with Bruce Springsteen down Thunder Road this morning, while in the shower -- a vocal collaboration so grand, so magnificent, that I am certain no less than 400 angels got their wings.

Immediately following the shower, I collaborated with a steamy mirror to pluck away the three random hairs that tend to grow from the middle of my forehead. Not between my eyebrows mind you, but rather these three hairs are the remaining sentries left to guard the real estate where my widow's peak once resided. All the other hairs have fallen back, retreated, or receded to higher ground about an inch back on my ever growing forehead. So I am left with three straight hairs growing where my widow's peak once was, existing there like some sort of trifecta of floppy unicorn horns, a reminder of how things used to be before receding hair lines. A reminder of a time when there was still magic in the world.

As I finish the circus freak portion of my morning routine, my finest collaboration to date -- my 2 year old daughter -- bangs on the bathroom door and shouts “Where are you, Daddy?” 

“I'm in here.”

“What are you doing, Daddy?”

“I'm turning into a unicorn, honey.”

“You are a unicorn, Daddy?”

“Pretty much.”

“Can I have a yogurt please Daddy?”

“You bet.”

I snap from my memories of the morning with another drink of my imperial stout, I take notice of the bittersweet finish and pick up on some very mild citrus notes from the hops. The flavor is slowly turning towards more of roasted molasses and ending with chocolate bitterness as I get about halfway down the glass. The warmer the beer gets, the more the herbal flavor of anise stands out in the finish, getting almost effervescent with the alcohol of it all. What I like is that this beer stays sharp and never takes on a syrupy taste or feel, like a lot of Imperial Stouts tend to do as you finish a glass. The crispness of the beer doesn't require a lot of carbonation, but there is just enough, and it drinks lighter than the thickness it poured with and the 12% stated on the label. But my body is taking note of that 12% and I am feeling loose.

My thoughts wander back to past and future collaborations and I am wondering if Wife and I will be collaborating later tonight. No bottoms. In the bedroom.

I look at my beer like a magic eight ball and it tells me to ask again later. So I pour the rest of the big bottle into my glass and step outside to admire the lawn in the moonlight.

I wear the same outfit every time I mow the grass -- a gray t-shirt and camouflage shorts. The camouflage collaborates with the local flora of the back yard and, in my mind, makes it appear as if I have no legs. So as I sip away at the last half pint of Mini-Growler, I picture myself as just a torso, floating around the backyard, pushing the mower. I imagine my neighbors seeing what appears to be a hovering robot mowing my lawn and they come to the conclusion, based on this odd spectacle, that they live next door to the future. And I imagine that this must make them feel pretty good. I know I would feel pretty good about things if I knew the future lived right around the corner.

I look again at my beer like a magic eight ball -- all signs point to yes.

My floating torso heads up the stairs. No bottoms.

It is time to collaborate.

Mini Growler Imperial Stout, Westbrook/Evil Twin 4.29/5

appearance = 4.5/5

smell = 4.25/5

taste = 4.25/5

mouthfeel = 4.5/5

overall = 4.25/5