Back in the early 2000s, I picked up a copy of American Beer: A Bockumentary. The premise was simple enough. A group of buddies piled into their rented minivan with only clothes, beer, and video cameras. Their epic quest across the United States would take them to 38 breweries in 40 days.
After watching the flick with my roomies, I felt quite certain that the craft brewing industry would play an important role in my life. The passion of these talented men and women was infectious. Obviously, the guy that stood out the most was a very young Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. Listening to him preach the gospel of Ralph Waldo Emerson while sipping on some experimental beers was exciting and unexpected. His charm, charisma, and dedication to his craft is without rival.
Two other pioneers featured in the movie were Dan and Deb Carey from New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin. The attention to detail, their high quality brews, and their level of differentiation in a crowded craft beer market absolutely blew me away. I still remember the first time I took a sip of their Serendipity. My palate was permanently affected. I had never tasted anything quite like it.
Anyway, Kristie and I got home last night and decided to treat ourselves to a night on the couch with a Sturgill Simpson concert on PBS and a Raspberry Tart from New Glarus.
Kristie settled herself into the coziest spot she could find that wasn’t occupied by a gigantic black lab, the band took the stage, and I went into the kitchen to pour the nights libations.
“Ain’t no point getting outta bed if you ain’t living the dream,” Sturgill growled from the other room, backed by the most talented band in recent memory. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as the new addition of Dap Kings brass pierced the din of grinding bass and slide guitar. This guy is a true fucking artist. If you haven’t listened to Sturgill Simpson, do us all a favor and go download it now. You won’t be disappointed.
The first thing I noticed was the beautiful, sparkling color of this beer. Absolutely gorgeous. Ruby red, only a slight haze. Dense, white head gave way to perfect lacing. Despite the tartness and assumed high pH, the wheat proteins lend themselves to good head retention.
The next thing I noticed was that the entire freakin’ kitchen smelled like fresh berries. Aside from your standard dank IPAs, this is the best smelling beer I have experienced. I couldn’t tell if the tears in my eyes were from the heavenly aromas in the brew or Sturgill’s smooth baritone absolutely killing the 80’s hit The Promise.
“I’m sorry, but I’m just thinking of the right words to say
I know they don’t sound the way I planned them to be
But if you wait around a while, I’ll make you fall for me
I promise you, I promise you I will.”
The flavor was fantastic. A bit tart, a bit sweet, refreshing, moderate carbonation, and just the slightest amount of spontaneous fermentation funk. I am once again floored by the quality of this beer. If I had planned ahead, I would have picked up some great food to pair with it. Obviously some creamy brie would do well, but it was a bit late and my mind couldn’t stop thinking of lemon pound cake or brownies. Next time, Jon.
After a few minutes in the snifter, the Raspberry Tart got even more Raspberry Tart. The flavors hit my taste buds with a vengeance and refused to let up. The only thing I regret was not having another bottle cold and ready to go.
By the time the beer was gone, Sturgill Simpson had left the stage. The last notes of Call to Arms were still echoing in my ears. If there is a better way to end an evening at home, let me know.
Celebrate the finer things in life, everyone. Sturgill and New Glarus are both up there.
“Am I dreaming? Am I dying? Either way I don’t mind at all.”