Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sumpin's Up with the Wacky Hops

Last time I had a Lagunitas it was the weird Brown Shugga — kind of a schizoid beer with a mess of hops and malts and no real character. I was ready to call foul after the first bottle, but as it came in a sixer I had five more to get through. By the end of the pack it had grown on me. It was a similar experience to listening to Soulfly or Merzbow or some other thrashy, distortion artists — blunt and unapproachable until you let your inhibitions down and go with the madness.

The Little Sumpin' was a refreshing contrast. Billed on the bottle as a straight out "ale", this is a zingy fresh IPA with a lemony backbone. Recipe is very close to Central City's Red Racer, I'd guess. Just the right thing for my homemade beef and chocolate chili. I wouldn't usually be concocting such a sledge-hammer of a meal this time of the year, but Victoria seems to have forgotten what season it is. Here are a couple of pictures of young T pouring me a perfect Lagunitas to go with dinner.

Lovely stuff, but I'm a cantankerous type and I'm going to whine about the label. There's a trend these days to add a jaunty twist to ingredient lists, and it is cheesy and boring. "Hops, Malt, Hops, Hops, Yeast, Hops, Water, and Hops" reads the label. Haha. How WACKY! It would be fine if it were just a few guffawing brewers pulling each others' fingers at the back of the classroom, but the temptation to add a cheeky riff to an otherwise worthy bit of packaging is proving too much for today's brewer.  Even the generally dignified Driftwood recently felt the need to add "Shwack 'o Hops" to their cute ingredient icons.

I understand that beer labels are important, especially in a saturated craft market increasingly fuelled by hipsters, social media bandwagoners and other image-receptive types. Sure, the need to stand out has prompted some beautiful label designs (the awesome pourcurator.com knows). But I get tired of the pun-ridden names, derivative graphics, and particularly the pornographization of the humble hop.

Hops really are the double-D tits of beer these days. If there's a beer in a brewers' stable that has a ker-azy label or a hyperbolic name — it's generally the IPA. Some of them are pretty well-done, but for every Perpetual IPA there's a dozen that are less-than-inspired: Hop CircleTotal Eclipse of the Hop (I'm sorry Howe Sound, it just makes no sense!), Hop-a-Doodle-Do (oh please). For any brewery marketing types hunting for an easy selling name, might I suggest a few ideas from my own inner-Loaded Magazine-reader "Hopic of Cancer", "Bilbo the Hoppit", "Hop Killah", or, my personal favourite, "A-Hop-Bop-a-Loo-Hop-a-Hop-Bam-Boom" — unless these are already taken. I mean it's just so completely childish and unoriginal and cheapening and...

...Woah, hang on. I just saw this.

I take it all back.

Get yer hops out love.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is this wrong?




On right: plain 50/50 Pothole Filler vanilla ice-cream smoothie.
On left: smoothie floated on top of half glass of stout using back of a spoon.

I'm going to repeat this with a handful of black cherries and a splash of port. It's a way of hedging my bets: If the liver doesn't finish me off, the coronary will.