Photo by Joshua L Durkin

I tasted this about a week ago and took some notes on it.

I remember it was one of the days last week when the rain froze moments after it fell. Outside my apartment near freezing water dripped from the porch and snow above. So I placed my beer under a stream of falling water to let nature do its thing.

Pike’s Naughty Nellie, an American pale ale out of Washington State.

At first I wasn’t sure if listening to The Black Keys romp around in their world was making my impression on the beer better than it should have been. But the opening taste of the beer was good.

Attack & Release came on an NPR station out of Portland, Ore. And so it seemed a good fit to impulsively buy the album and review both the beer and part of the album at the same time.

Attack & Release opens with “All You Ever Wanted,” slow and mellow, like Nellie, or a vaquero.

Imagine Clint Eastwood with a rug slung over his shoulder, and a haze of flies swirling around his head.

He traipses through dubious red earthen terrain, with a bottle of golden yellow Pike brewed beer, which he pops as “I Got Mine” rocks some eardrums loose, and then swigs from the beer, muttering about the cucumber buttermilk aftertaste, and then turning awkwardly, with fixed anger at a man lying in his own blood at the foot of a horse previously unseen.

He growls something like: “Beers are like people—you have to recognize the differences between them,and accept them, in order to respect them.”

Photo c/o Amazon

The dying man grunts.

And then, because the film appears to be a proper western of sorts, “Strange Times” enters with the kinds of mercuric riffs that fit properly behind montaged scenes of, let’s say, an intense staring contest between the dying man and Eastwood with his Nellie beer and interloping flies.

Then the soundtrack cuts to silence and Eastwood spits, and then rams a cigarillo stub into his mouth, and the dying man—bleeding through his rug and dark tattered pants—pulls himself to a sitting position and Clint speaks.

“Even when I agitate this beer,” he snarls, “with my sloppy walk, the beer doesn’t produce more than half an inch of head. Amazing.”

The dying man nods, and searches Eastwood’s face for sympathy. Eastwood hands him the beer to swig. The dying man does. “Psychotic Girl” begins to play quietly and then louder in the background.

“This is a calm mother,” the dying man mutters, and drools some of it. Then he says, “The low alcohol by volume makes the beer pleasant to me. It must be 4.70%, almost a session beer, which is a beer you can drink many of without worry of quick intoxication,” he says.

Eastwood nods and takes the bottle back and then nearly drains it while the dying man gasps and reaches to the sky while letting out an utterly gut-wrenched groan of a wail, while the Black Keys’ “Lies” wistful, and nostalgic, plays.

Eastwood considers the bottle and says, “When I opened this bottle, there was no head, or barely a lick of it. A smooth, crisp, hop flavor—like listening to jazz flute while smoking pot in an underlit Mexican hellhole of a restaurant that doesn’t even have tables.”

“That’s no restaurant then,” said the dying man, “all restaurants have tables. It can be no other way.”

“You are right,” said Eastwood.

“Remember When” side A and B begin to play, and then he sits next to the dying man and they pass a canteen back and forth as shadows start to stretch across the plains of the southwest. And when the sun is nearing crimson cadmium, “Same Old Thing” starts and Eastwood rises to finish his beer.

He walks over to a saguaro cactus and punches a hole into it with his bare fist. A thin liquid runs out and Eastwood tilts his bottle against the cactus, catching a few ounces of cactus juice in his beer. Darkness is falling.

He mutters something about the song “So He Won’t Break” and lets loose a barbaric yawp that echoes throughout the land. He slams the rest of the beer into his throat and shatters the bottle on the ground at his feet. He breathes heavily, and wild.

The dying man gasps, and starts, as if to make away but for his wounds, he cannot. A horse struts up slowly to Eastwood’s side. He searches the saddle and then removes another bottle. Secure between his teeth, he wrenches the bottle and cap loose and spits the cap at the feet of the dying man.

The dying man says something like, “‘Oceans & Streams’ is playing now. I will be dead soon.” Eastwood nods at this and goes over to him, crouches and hands him the beer while he puffs slowly at his cigarillo. The glow lights up his face for a moment.

“Overall, I would rate this beer a six shooter,” says Eastwood.

“Corny,” says the dying man. “It must not be very available. I do not often see Pike’s beer on shelves. If I weren’t dying, I would go to Washington, where this beer is from.”

“Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be,” says Eastwood. “The beer looks like the desert after rain, and when the light is low in the west.”

And then the guy dies, and the film ends with the same kind of random, spirited confidence that the opening of Attack & Release, Clint Eastwood, and Naughty Nellie all had.

-Josh

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