Friday Froth: Gold Diggin'

James Gribbon

Every once in a while you just have to splurge, and this means different things for different people. For Mikhail Dmitrievitch Prokhorov this means playing underwater polo using solid platinum submarines off the Dalmatian coast, or the Beluga caviar high-dive, but non-oligarchs must find other avenues of diversion. This week we're going to dive into golden luxury like Scrooge McDuck taking a swim. These beers may not be kilt-wearing Scottish royalty like Ola Dubh, Tactical Nuclear Penguin or the clan Bruce, but if they're not members of the country club, they at least lunch there often.

"Liquid Luxury" is the nickname given to Victory Brewing Company's V-12 by its brewers. This is a specialty Belgian style ale only sold in 25.4oz. bottles and clocking in at over 12% alcohol. The attractive brown bottle presents well with its champagne corked top and snazzy label, and drinking it is like taking a ride in a Bentley Mulsanne. The aroma, the power, the taste - can one be swaddled into intoxication? Yes. Yes, one can. This beer pours an amber so deep it could trap a Jurassic fly, and the head is thick enough to pass the toothpick test. The aroma is huge with Belgian yeasts and Tettnanger whole flower hops. V-12 has a rich, hoppy flavor full of maltiness and bright Belgian yeasts. Styrian Goldings hops come through at this point, and the overall effect makes you want to wear a red dinner jacket with medals on your chest.

Gulden Draak comes to us from Brouwerij Van Steenberge in the Meetjesland of East Flanders, northern Belgium. The name comes from the golden dragon decorating the belfry in the town of Ghent.  In the late nineties, this beer was named the best tasting in the world by ChefsBest. It pours a deep ruby with a generous head and an almost cola like aroma. It is hyper effervescent with a sweet, clear malt flavor accompanied by banana like yeast esters and cherries deep in the mix, but not prevalent. Alcohol flavor comes through almost like a liquor, and the Golden Dragon is no pauper in that department, either - at 10%ABV Gulden Draak is like a band of silk slowly abrading your sobriety. 

Gold digging like one of Hef's girls (and possibly given a similar name by some) is Flying Dog Raging Bitch. This one's a member of the celestial Canis Major series from Flying Dog, and was first brewed to celebrate the brewery's 20th anniversary last year. It's a Belgian style IPA with a particularly frothy label in the "This is bat country!" style founder George Stranahan adopted in honor of his friend and Aspen neighbor, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who introduced him to artist Ralph Steadman. Flying Dog suggests pairing this beer with spicy food or dark chocolate. Raging Bitch pours a nearly pumpkin colored amber with a light head and a tangy, floral hop aroma. A good malt base to the flavor is pierced by sharp hops, and exhibits a sweetness that is to be expected from Belgian styles. Rich and indulgent, this beer hits all the right notes, and boasts over 8% in boozeriffic dividends. It is also one expensive bitch to keep. A six pack of 12oz. bottles will set you back over $15. 

Any one of the above would be the delight of the tippling gadabouttown, but should be enjoyed individually with the kind of casual attitude which says "this is my everyday, darling" before one tumbles elegantly down the stairs into a heap, having lost a grip on neither glass nor dignity. A monocle is optional, but I consider it important. Cuts down on the double vision, you know.