Friday Froth: XX, ADD and IPA

James Gribbon

“He is the life of parties he’s never attended. His business card simply says 'I'll call you.'” The “Most Interesting Man In The World” commercials get me every time. Do you know what the two X’s in the Dos Equis name signify? Unlike the “33” on bottles from Old Latrobe, this one actually has an answer. XX was first brewed in 1900 by a German émigré to Mexico named Wilhelm Haase, and named “Siglo XX”, or “Twentieth Century” to commemorate the dawn of a new era. Concise and easily recognizable, the brand name has survived 111 years. Pacifico remains my personal favorite Mexican beer but, like the big building with patients, that’s not important right now.

Shall we? 

I recently had a few pints of Big Eye IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company in San Diego, and no, I am not going to make an Anchorman reference. What I am going to do is tell you I don’t like Dogfish Head IPAs very much. Was that an ADD moment? Yes, but I do have a point. Big Eye is basically everything the Dogfish IPAs should be: intensely bitter [without trying too hard, like the 90 Minute IPA] but with a balancing richness to round out the flavor.

“Eyeball” is an adjective used in the world of car collecting to describe a car that behaves like a magnet for our ocular orbs. (Think ’59 Buick Electra) This beer has lots of eyeball: you can tell from the minute it settles it's going to be a good one. It pours a come-hither shade of deep gold, and the head is like meringue. It is very difficult to have just one, and I put up no resistance whatsoever when I was offered a second pint. And a third. Consider Big Eye recommended if you like the style.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot pours a clear, brick red with little foam. This barleywine has won nine gold medals, five at the great American Beer Festival alone, and is widely available in our area despite also hailing from the Bear Republic. I’m not really sure about the aroma, to tell you the truth, because someone ordered fajitas near me and pretty much wiped out every other smell for a twenty foot radius, but I can tell you that the air did seem fresher with my nose in the glass, so I’m going to call it a fresh scent. That makes it sound like antiperspirant, but I’ll make you a promise: it tastes better.

Bigfoot is malty, bitter and interesting – the Oliver Reed of beers. Also like dear, departed Mr. Reed, it is 9.5% alcohol by volume, and not to be taken lightly. Any man who spends all night carving carrots into the shape of fish just so he can horrify other hotel guests the next day when he reaches into the koi pond and starts eating them can be my drinking partner any time, which is another quality shared with this beer.

As long as we’re discussing partners for the evening, may I suggest Dogfish Head Fort? This is a strong (hence the name "Fort"), raspberry beer, but stay with me: this is not a lambic. The berry flavor is subtle - somehow much more so than Abita Purple Haze, despite the Fort having visible raspberry puree sediment in the glass. It's also 18% ABV and comes either in a champagne bottle with Tara McPherson artwork or, like I had it, on draught. It's not a session beer, but it was fantastic as a nightcap, which is what I did*, or a digestif.

*After drinking a Farmington River Blonde Ale, which I’d give a B+. It seemed to get better as it warmed up, developing distinct honey notes down in the mix, which I found pleasing.

Stay thirsty, my friends,