Dock Street Walker – A Beer Not Reviewed (leaving that to the real Walking Dead)

About a year ago I wrote a “somewhat sarcastic” and critical post about what I saw as a troubling trend towards craft brewer’s use of more and more outrageous ingredients.  Thankfully, “Howard Stern Meets Craft Brewing. Enter The Era of Shock Brews” appeared to have made a difference.  Apparently the seventeen or so people who read it were the exact seventeen or so that would otherwise have brewed something slightly despicable.  They reconsidered after bowing to the force of my reason and observations.  I saved craft brewing with a few pictures, a string of adjectives, and a wireless keyboard.

And then this happened…..

 

A new low in shock brewing?

A new low in shock brewing?

Apparently that eighteenth reader was the one that got away.  When I first heard about a beer brewed with smoked goat brains I assumed it was a bit of interwebz malarky.  A premature April Fools joke on the craft beer community.  Not so lucky.  This beer actually exists and can seemingly be acquired without having to recite a secret phrase to the craft beer manager at the rear alley loading dock entrance of your favorite bottle shop.  Apparently bull testicles and beard yeast weren’t outlandish enough for Philadelphia’s Dock Street Brewery, and otherwise well-respected and established outfit that’s anything but extreme.  Odd.  Its not as though these City of Brotherly Love Brewers are the American equivalents of the Scottish loons at Brew Dogsinfamous brewers of Tactical Nuclear Penguin, the world’s strongest beer and only one “bottled” in a squirrel carcass (or something like that).

It seems the boys at Dock Street are devotes of AMC’s The Walking Dead and thought up this mind numbing recipe to coincide with the airing of the season finale.  It’s not as though craft beer and pop culture haven’t collaborated before.  Ommegang has already done two brews for HBO’s Game Of Thrones (the current Take The Black Stout is a well crafted, complex but accessible stout that would be worth a pour even if it was associated with H.R. Pufnstuf).  And then there was that Hanson Brothers MMMHop IPA.  Or was there? Did they ever get that off the ground or have they been too focused on training for an eventual invitation to appear on Dancing With The One Hit Wonders?

Maybe its just me but I think brewing with roasted goat brains makes about as much sense as Yul Brynner nailing a series of Taylor Swift hair flips.  And before you go there, I’d say the same thing if they were using candied goat brains. I tried to fight the windmill but, alas, the battle is lost.  Since it appears as though shock and grotesque gimmick brews are here to stay I figured I’d toss out a couple of ideas:

Extreme Brewing Fermenter

Extreme Brewing Fermenter

Staying with the anatomical theme, how about a Surgical Waste Saison fermented in used medical waste buckets?  No need to pitch any yeast.  Plenty of naturally occurring, wild yeast strains already partying in the goo.  Looking for something a little darker to pair with a hearty burger of slab of BBQ ribs?  Can’t beat this:

Those aren't hop sacks

Those aren’t hop sacks

Yes, its finally here.  Diaper Genie Baby Poo Porter.  Chocolate malt entirely optional given the robust deep dark hues imparted by the brewing process.  Variants could be fermented with Gerber Peas, Chicken Mush, Organic Carrots, you name it.  The baby food aisle’s the limit!

Unfortunately, there may be no end to this madness.  Fortunately; however, there’s always Bud Light.  I’d take one of those over brains (in my beer) any day.

Cheers!

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The Darkest Side of Craft Beer Geekdom

 I really like the many faces of my craft beer dark side

I really like the many faces of my craft beer dark side

OK, there are a few of them.  Maybe not enough to keep Sybil occupied during a cross-continental flight  but there are more than I’d initially recognized in the 20 or so seconds it took me to formulate the basis for this rant earlier today.  For the purposes of this post, I’m going to ignore most of the obvious ones but I’ll list them here just for good measure (let me know which ones I forgot):

  • Enough excess calories to make Sanz-A-Belt slacks seem downright appealing, if not absolutely necessary

  • A financial drain that makes the Congressional debt ceiling debates hit a bit too close for comfort (even when wearing the Limited Edition Sunday Brunch Buffet Sanz-A-Belts)

  • Having to “fib” when answering that invasive question on patient forms regarding your weekly intake of alcoholic beverages – and grumbling under your breath about the need for a sub-section for “beverages consumed for research purposes” (because, you know, those would be exempt)

  • Having to come up with creative ways to convince your significant other that a visit to that bottle shop or craft beer bar in Hanalei is a natural part of any romantic Hawaiian getaway.  Who needs another rainbow or spectacular sunset anyway?  HINT: There are no plausible ways to explain a craft beer detour out there so once you try and fail, be prepared to shell out $400+ for a sunset catamaran cruise or dolphin encounter – just for suggesting it – so you might as well grab a Maui Big Swell IPA for your troubles.  And you thought Westy XII was an expensive brew

  • The whole Instagram thing.  Yes, I know that isn’t a sentence and it didn’t make any sense just like taking pictures of beer doesn’t make any sense.  Last time I checked, Ansel Adams and Richard Avedon didn’t prowl the aisles of BevMo for their subjects but that hasn’t stopped me from making a complete ass out of myself by setting up and taking “interesting” pictures of beer, knowing full well the mocking expressions my wife and children are giving me from the family room.  Meanwhile, I wear my Beertography competition award shirt proudly.  Like I said, dark side.

  • Homebrewing.  Need I say more? Probably, but I won’t.  Well, not now anyway.

So those are just some of the dark sides that I’m choosing to ignore here (see? I bet you didn’t even notice them and have no idea what I’m talking about).  The one I’m wrestling with now has elements of most of the above but is far more sinister (not quite Olestra side effect anal leakage sinister, but pervasive nonetheless) and goes something like this….

Its time for lunch but thanks to bullet point number 1 up there I’m on the zero calorie lunch plan so I decide to drive 8-9 minutes to one of my favorite bottle shops/liquor stores only intending to check out and maybe pick up a bottle of bourbon or American whiskey.  No intention of buying any craft beer and I even toyed with the concept of not even walking near the craft beer aisles.  As it is, there’s still most of a mixed case of great brews from State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD awaiting study next to the tasting room fridge so I really don’t need anything else.  Not yet.

Your run of the mill granola brew

Your run of the mill granola brew

Then it happened.  From about 20 feet away I cast a decidedly unengaged glance towards the end cap where they usually display new and interesting bombers.  Completely safe – after all I was also at a pretty extreme angle so it wasn’t as though I could get a good view of anything as that end cap faded from sight.  Then through some evil and mystical means far beyond my understanding I found myself standing right in front of those bombers while holding one in my hand.  The words “God Dammit!” formed reflexively under my breath and right then and then this post was born (sorry about that).

I had picked up Dogfish Head’s American Beauty.   The latest edition of their Music Series Ales.  I’ve had all of the previous installments and aside from Bitches’ Brew, their ode to Miles Davis, none were remarkable.  What annoyed and confounded me most about holding the American Beauty was the fact that I had little interest in its concept when I read about it several months ago and had no intentions of buying it, period.  I never liked the Greatful Dead or their 7 or 4 fingered lead guru (and for the record I don’t like their 90’s remake, Phish, either).  Not sure which is more frightening, a gaggle of pale, stick thin, cannibus mind-addled, 3:00 a.m. Taco Bell-craving Dead Heads, or a street full of even paler, Thriller wannabe, undead zombies shuffling towards an all-they-can-eat surgical waste buffet.  Never mind not knowing what’s worse, I’m not so sure there’s much of a difference.

take all the rotting kidneys you want but eat all you take

take all the rotting kidneys you want but eat all you take

The bottom line is that I had no intentions of buying any beer, period, let alone a beer that I had no interest in ever buying.  Yet there I was, seemingly compelled by unseen forces contemplating the purchase of American Beauty.  The darkest side of craft beer geekdom was perched on my right shoulder demanding that I buy a beer I didn’t want and didn’t need.  That sounds better than admitting that I suffer some form of OCCBAD (Obsessive Compulsive Craft Beer Acquisition Disorder).  Somehow I mustered the strength (a.k.a. common sense) to face down that demon and put down the Greatful Brew…..after I saw the Stone Suede collaboration.  All bets were off at that point.  The battle was lost.  Fortunately I’m a gracious loser (and I had a few new craft beers in the cart that I didn’t need with which to toast the victor – my dark side).

Cheers!