Walking in the Woods on an Unsnowy Winter Afternoon

It was Sunday, and raining and alternately sleeting and freezing on the trees. Aldo called late in the afternoon to see if I wanted to go on a walk. “It’s supposed to turn into snow,” he said. That would be a good thing, but I frankly didn’t care.
Walking in the wet woods beats not walking in any woods at all. Especially when it’s 3 p.m. on a Sunday, after a rainy Saturday, at a point when Anne has exhausted about all the tolerance she’s developed over the 45 years she’s amazingly tolerated me. When Aldo arrived, his pack clinked. Out of it, he unloaded a bounty of bottles, all with tantalizing names. beer
SkullSplitter, Llerige (try saying that three times quickly in a row, even before you’ve had a couple of beers), Urthel Hop It, Weissenohe (doesn’t, I’m guessing, rhyme with Ivanhoe), Edel Weisse . . . you get the idea. Not Bud Light. In fact, the first beer I examined was 14%.
I thanked him, puzzled by his spontaneous generosity, although anyone who’s been to dinner at his house shouldn’t be surprised by the pleasure Aldo derives in seeing others enjoy themselves. Hard as it was, I left the bottles sitting on the kitchen counter and we went out and got ourselves thoroughly soaked and didn’t see a flake of snow, although via a wee bit of trespassing, we did see the Richardson Farm, as in Greensboro’s own Vick’s Vaporub, where Aldo used to go fishing and squirrel hunting as a lad.
But back to the beer. Little by little it began to dawn on me, duh, that Aldo had brought me a consolation prize for being the first of his friends to be laid off. Admittedly, I had mentioned to him in earlier email about trying to get used to drinking cheap beer. I guess Aldo took his cue from that. DO NOTE, MY FRIENDS, THAT I’M TRYING, WITHOUT MUCH SUCCESS, TO GET USED TO DRINKING CHEAP SINGLE-MALT SCOTCH, ARMAGNAC AND CALVADOS.
The least I can do, I figure, is to review the beers Aldo gifted me, starting with the weakest and working my way up.
WEISEN EDEL-WEISSE
Organic Hefe-Weizen ale: Not having eaten or smelled the national flower of Switzerland, I was a little suspicious of a beer named after a blossom whose latin name, Leontopodium, means “lion paw,” but this savory brew is a real kitten — with distinct floral tones of a good Hefe-weizen and an undercurrent of cascade and hallertauer hops. I’d guess the alcohol level was around 5%. Plus it’s organic and good for you.
WEISSENOHE Monk’s Fest: is, appropriately a Marzen Fest Beer, pumpkin colored and lager-smooth, it goes down easy and sneaks up on you sort of like the headless horseman in one of my favorite Tim Burton flicks. Described on the label as “liquid bread,” this is not a beer for the timid. The alcohol level wasn’t noted, although if the picture of the very happy monk on the label is any indication, I’d guess about 7%.
LLERIGE Doppelsticke Ale: At 8.5%, the only thing subtle about this beer is the contemplation of it before you open it. I’ve rarely tasted a beer that I didn’t like after the second or third swallow. Llerige doppelstick is strong, sweet and bitter at the same time with a mouthfeel like car tires — on fire. Maybe it’s the roast malt, which I’ve had before and liked, making the beer taste a little like bacon. I once licked a corroded battery to see what it tastes like. Don’t, because like Double-Sticky, it doesn’t taste like anything else you’ve ever had.
SKULLSPLITTER ALE
: Named after the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney, also 8.5%, despite the name, SS is smooth, round and lightly hopped, reminding me of a Pete’s Wicked Ale, but without as much bite and with a little more ooomph. Let’s hear it for Thorfin Hausaklif, otherwise known as Uncle Skull Splitter.
URTHEL HOP-IT: Superior Hoppy Blend Ale: My take on this is that it’s a belgium ale repackaged to look like an American microbrew. But as soon as I tasted thye funky undercurrent of the malt and the bright, complexity of the hops, I read the fine print and discovered that I was drinking bottle-conditioned ale from Flanders, Belgium. It doesn’t taste like a 9.5% beer, but as Aldo said as he was leaving Sunday, “Do notice on the bottle that it suggest that you don’t operate any heavy machinery.” Yeah, like a watch or a phone.
I haven’t opened the Eggenberg Brewery 2006 Samichlaus, “The World’s Most Extraordianry Beverage, weighing in at 14%

. I’m saving that until the next time it’s pouring rain and Aldo calls. “Come on over,” I’ll say, “but don’t bring any heavy machinery.”

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7 Responses to “Walking in the Woods on an Unsnowy Winter Afternoon”

  1. Cameron Cate Says:

    We recently had a party at my apartment that featured a 3 liter bottle of Samichlaus. A bar crawl through Arlington was supposed to follow, needless to say we didn’t make it too far. That beer will age beautifully, by the way, I’ve had bottles from the late nineties.

    • dclaud Says:

      I’ve had the Sam Adam’s high gravity beers and have been unimpressed, not to mean that they weren’t OK, but at the cost, not worth it. I had their new Imperial Stout and Imperial Wheat, I think it was and they were fine but not as good as, say, the high-gravity Russian and Eastern European beers.

  2. odalark Says:

    This sounds real purdy, but wat cud surpass glurping down Guiness while watching our most glorious glob of reddish orange paint my swamp with its subtle warm tones after a good day’s shooting?

  3. odalark Says:

    Sounds real good but what could compare to glurping down Guiness while watching our most glorious glob of reddish orange paint my swamp with its subtle hues after a good day’s shooting?

  4. odalark Says:

    The above sounds like a tasty multi-malted international guzzle (thinking globally) with a peripatetic trip in the woods near home (acting globally), that was fun, tasty and liberating. Makes me think of my own experience of glurping down Guiness while watching our glowing glob of reddish orange sink low in the the west while painting my swamp with mellow, warm tones after a good day’s shooting.

  5. beamishbuoy Says:

    Try a Guinness and Harp aka half and half. You can drink it slow because it still tastes great when it warms. It’s a powerful libation, so you won’t have to buy as much. And it leaves a nice friendly foam on your mustache.

  6. David Says:

    Saranac, whose Pale Ale, is a longtime favorite, has a 12-box with the words “What Ales You?” on the side, marketed for St. Patty’s Day, I suspect. In addition to their Red Irish Ale, which is fairly good, it contains their stout, not normally available and their IPA, which is not available by the six-pack in NC. I think I paid something like $11.99 for the dozen on special.

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