Archive for December, 2010

The Midas Touch

Friday I cracked the mammoth book released this year a hundred years after his death, The Autobiography of Mark Twain. And today I finally had the chance to actually get into reading it. It’s a fine way to look at life, the way that he decided to write about his. He dictated much of his autobiography to a stenographer while he sat in bed, freely thinking and remembering.

I am stuck with the thought now of how I should review the Midas Touch, of Dogfish Head out of Milton, Delaware. I mention Twain because he is in my head right now and I think that to relate an experience without care for making a definition, a true review will occur. Twain seemed obsessed with that in his attempts to write about his life, and since politics and literature go so good with beer, I’ll attempt, for just a little bit, to just be and drink and write about that.

First, I’ve meant for a while to try this beer. I’m not sure why I never picked it up, but assume it has to do with some instinct I have to wait for the right moment. The reason for the name is obvious once you see the beer. It’s gold, richer looking than a pilsner, and without the cloud of a tripel. I’m drinking it warm, at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and it tastes as English and Scottish ales will taste but with a sweet touch on the buttery notes. That’s the honey at work. The front of the bottle claims that this “Handcrafted Ancient Ale” was brewed “with barley, honey, white muscat grapes & saffron.”

It’s 9% abv. But, that does not become obvious until the glass is near empty. Light and fluffy? No, this beer coats your throat and mouth with a light syrupy sensation that probably occurs from the honey. This beer is smooth.

The smell is subtle. The malts are not aromatic in the sense that you can smell the beer from feet away. It reminds me of bees, which I used to keep for years with my father, and it reminds me of the harvest period of New England life. When you harvest honey you start noticing its smells wherever you go because bees make honey from many of the plants around where you live. Or at least the honey I dealt with came from the pollen and nectar of flowering plants within a radius of my home at the time. I think it strange that honey doesn’t find its way into more beer, but beer is strange to begin with.

And this beer is available in certain stores. Like the Oaked Arrogant Bastard I reviewed last, the Midas Touch won’t be on every shelf, but it should be easy enough to order.

It is pricey for a 12 oz beer. It goes for $3.00 a bottle, as a single. But worth the purchase if you consider that you could buy a Coors or Budweiser for the same price at a bar.

I give the beer 8.5 out of 10. I refuse to give it a 10 out of 10 only because I know that if I had a store of this beer I would go through it too easily, and therefore it’s dangerous. Delicious beer. Drink it carefully. I’m tempted to say that this beer is healthy, because I feel so damn good right now having finished the glass slowly over twenty or so minutes, but I won’t because I know I’d never be able to prove something like that.



Guinness Extra Stout makes a new friend

Tonight was my first night home from break, and I’d figured I’d start it out with a nice Guinness Extra Stout.  I poured a glass of this thick pitch into my pint glass, and started in. The half-finger tan head dissipated to wafer-thin quite quickly, and I could smell the chocolate notes immediately.

I dove in.

The syrupy consistency mixed nicely with the carbonation, as it had a bite but was not overpowering to the palate. The carbonation was fizzy with a dry finish. Creamy chocolate and coffee hit hard and sweet first, but finished dry as well. It’s a bit syrupy, but it fits the visual aspect of the consistency well.

The beer is highly drinkable, and has a decent body to it. With 6% ABV, it’s highly drinkable for a night, but by no means is fit for a session.

As my beer began to disappear inside my belly, I started rummaging around the kitchen for something to cleanse my palate with. I figured I’d open the freezer for the hell of it, and saw some vanilla bean ice cream.

Something clicked.

I scooped some out, and chucked it into my beer glass. Guinness Ice Cream Float? Sign me the fuck up. The tan head exploded and climbed halfway up the glass, its brown hue growing lighter as it climbed up the glass.

I stuck my spoon it the tan, bubbly, creamy concoction, and scooped out a large piece of of the ice cream. The coldness of the ice-cream mixed with the warmer beer and began to drip, and met. The white of the ice-cream was covered in the remnants of the tan explosion.

The taste was nothing but creamy vanilla bean and sweet chocolate with a bitter coffee finish.

I had found something I had been looking for a very long time.

I scooped the rest out and will be coming back for more tomorrow. I will be conducting experiments with beer and ice-cream for my entire intercession. Send me suggestions.

For the beer itself:

Overall: Fits the stout style nicely, as it is one of the staples of the style. 8/10

Availability: Any larger beer store or warehouse in Connecticut.

Cost Factor: It’s meant to be sipped and not guzzled at around 8 bucks- it’s sold in fours for a reason.

Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale: Drink Like A Gargoyle

I’d had Stone Brewery’s Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale before, but not in some time. A strange reunion with the bottle sporting the image of the stone protector, I noticed that there was barely any head to the beer, and on the first few gulps, barely any fizz or carbonation. This is good. Not all beers need lots of carbonation. If you did’t know, carbonation can mask flavors in a beer. So, if there are subtle oaky tones, as there are in this bastard, too much carbonation will mask them.

I chose to drink the beer at room temperature, which is another trick to bring out flavors in beer. Don’t do this with PBR or that wretched rice beer, Budweiser, they’ll taste terrible and won’t go down fast enough. They sell those beers cold for a reason. However, PBR is perfectly fine when cold, and I consider that a solid standby.

The Bastard is aged in American oak chips, and hosts similar tastes to chardonnays that are especially oaked. Personally, I have no taste buds in my mouth that like chardonnay, but the beer is different and just delicious. I’d imagine that if I had whiskey around, or perhaps Scotch, it would go quite well with this beer. At 7.2% abv (Alcohol by Volume), the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale is a hard-not-to-gulp slow-sipper. The damn drink goes down too easily as if it were a 3.0% abv or 4.0% abv English session ale (Session ales are beers meant to drink in frequency without getting drunk and stupid).

The Bastard costs above $10 for a 6-pack, usually around $12, or roughly $2.59 if you find a store that will sell it by the bottle.

Availability? Hard to say. It should be easy enough to order since Stone beers became available nearly a year and a half ago in Connecticut. However, it’s an alternate brew of Stone’s most popular beer, the Arrogant Bastard (unoaked), so it may be a challenge to find.

I give it a 7 out of 10, which may surprise anyone whose had the beer and thinks I should rate it higher, but I think the high amount of alcohol makes the beer hard to enjoy in great quantity, simply because you’d get quick-bombed without much effort. The beer is just that damn smooth. The oak is delicious, and keeps reminding me of bourbon and Scotch-Whisky, which any decent human being or beer drinker should also like. Enjoy, and imbibe good beer whenever possible.

-Joshua L Durkin

Tatra: Truly Polish, with character.

Tonight’s beer is Tatra. The bottle boasts full bodied taste, and features a proud Polishman gazing into a sunset, most likley contemplating the good beer he produced that day. Procured by a friend who will soon be collaborating with me on this blog, it has served me well in several band practices as a quality throat-cooler.

The pour had little foam, and the hefty 500ML bottle fit nicely into my mug (pictured above with my other mug.) A nice standard amber, the beer comes off as light (but not too light) with a little bit of fruit at the end. I want to say it’s a hint of lemon. Don’t expect the orange-citrus blast of Shock Top, as this brew is subtle enough to not be overbearing. Carbonation isn’t overwhelming either, and the lemon finish gives it a nice bite that tickles the throat regardless.

At 6%, it’s light enough to have more than one (if you’re having more than one) or sit and relax after a long day of pierogies and polka.

Cost factor: yet to be determined. I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Availability: Yet to be known.

Overall: 8/10. Would buy again. Would boogie on these all night long.




It was a balmy June night. With my senioritis absolved and my diploma in hand, I proceeded to figure out this whole “drinking” thing at Marie’s graduation party.

I showed up, and eyed the bucket of Coronas. The ice had melted into liquid, and they would bob each time the bucket was brushed by a relative’s ankle, or on the rare occasion that one would be grabbed out. They were there for the taking.

After noticing that a few of the other recent graduates of the class of ’07 had popped the Coronas, I made my move. I reached into the ice water, grabbed a bottle, and lifted into the air. I cracked it, it fizzed, and then I gulped.

It was putrid. It must have been in Marie’s garage collecting dust since last season. It was so skunked I could taste the rust of the cap in the metallic aftertaste. I’m not sure if the seal on the cap was tight, as I tasted the aftertaste of the refrigerator ice present in the bucket. Only one thing can have that potpourri of every expired, pungent, and forgotten food item from weeks past, and this beer had managed to absorb those flavors through some neglectful form of osmosis.

Soon after the beer was empty, the bucket ran cold too. I knew that Mike had a 30-rack of something in his car, and that it would be brought out after the last relative had left. Night began to fall, and we slipped into the back yard to play some Frisbee before we could sneak our cargo in.

Eric was Marie’s dad. As the local reverend of the church, he was at the center of the town’s talk and walk, and was a favorite among the children for his wisdom and open ear. However, his light manner was not to be tested when his temper flared, and none of the town’s children knew how he would respond to the 30 rack in the car. He was an intelligent and accomplished man; he got his divinity degree from Yale. If he was to believe that his daughter’s graduation party would go without a few cold ones down the hatch, it would belie the intellect I knew he had that guided our small new-england town.

As the final rays of sun slipped behind the horizon, he slipped upstairs to make sure there were no more relatives lurking in the dark corners of the house.

When Eric had gone inside, Mike made his move.

Sliding the 30 of (Pabst, Keystone, Bud Light, Beast, Shaefer, High Life, pick your poison) out of the backseat, we scurried the cumbersome box into the yard. I grabbed the (now) water bucket, and Mike dumped the whole box into the cold water. The spray of the cascading beers collected on my face. The low thud of metal on plastic forced the Frisbee players to look west at Mike’s fresh bounty.

Eric appeared in the doorway.

“Michael, what did I tell you?”

A deer in the headlights; a moose on the tracks; a boy and his first 30.


“Life is too short to drink shitty beer.”