Drunk on the Amtrak: The Beers of Amtrak

Matthew Kory, June 24, 2013

Doing the Cockroach by Modest Mouse is not a song about drinking craft beer on an Amtrak train. It does contain the line "drunk on the Amtrak" though, which is about as close as I can find to any song or really anything at all about drinking craft beer on an Amtrak train.

It used to be when it came to beer on a train, your best bet was the kind traditionally used to get drunk. Does anyone delicately sip or even gently quaff a Bud Light? And if so, what is their address, and do they have a mailbox large enough to put a flaming bag of poop?

Point is there didn't used to be much in the way of craft beer available for sale on the Amtrak. If you wanted good beer you'd better have it stowed in your backpack, your luggage, or, in the unlikely event you are Christopher Walken, well, I'll just stop right there. Now, at least on my train as I trundle through beautiful and thankfully dark because it's not really beautiful Trenton, New Jersey, there are actually several craft beers available.

Now about that last sentence: the total truth therein depends on your definition of "craft beer." This train will sell you, should you produce a legal ID or possibly just a disarmingly handsome smile, a Heineken, a Corona, a can of Bud, maybe a Bud Light (I don't remember because I don't care), a bottle of Sam Adams Boston Lager, or, my choice, a bottle of Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA. If you were to put these choices in terms of, say, cars, you'd have a bunch of old rusty Ford Escorts with springs visibily sticking out of the drivers seats, a new family sedan (the Sammy A), and a BMW M5 or whatever fancy supercar you'd like to have. The choice, my friends, was obvious, assuming you're not a card-carrying member of the Rusty Ford Escort Owners Club of North America.

The experience of drinking a beer on the train is one that, for me, involves some level of serenity. I'm not anywhere. I'm not where I was, I'm not where I'm going to be. I'm in a kind of limbo, and the perpetually disappearing internet signal which Amtrak swears up down and all around that they're working on upgrading soon soon super duper soon we totally swear sweary swear-swear, keeps me there, whether I want to be there or not. But I do, at least on this trip. In a way, the lack of working technology is comforting, forcing me to look out my window and think of personal things, people I'll see, people I've seen, people I won't see, and wonder about all of them.

The beer only adds to this. It's a very drinkable IPA, not one that punches you in the nether-regions with bite, bitterness, or an aroma so intense it pushes your nose and attached face away from the glass. Still, this is a serious beer with serious flavor for serious times, even if those serious times involve looking out a window, wondering if the internet will ever reappear as the east coast passes you by.

 * * *

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

appearance = 4.6/5

It's reddish-brownish-orangish with a head that won't quit.

smell = 4.3/5

Musty, alcoholy, resiny, but I'm drinking out of a plastic cup and have a stuffy nose.

taste = 4/5

I'm getting mostly hops and alcohol here. There's bitterness, as to be expected, and a sweetness around the edges and in the finish. Not much citrus or pine though, more thick hoppy resin. 

mouthfeel = 3.8/5

The beer is thick and the burn on the alcohol sticks in the back of your throat. Neither of these are bad things.

overall = 4.4/5