Friday Froth: Holy Schnitzengiggles

James Gribbon

"I wish it was winter so we could freeze it into ice blocks and skate on it and melt it in the spring time and drink it!"

Beerfest is a movie by Broken Lizard (the Super Troopers guys), who take the "unlikely hero saves the rec center" trope and get it knee-walking drunk in front of horrified loved ones. I'm a big fan. 

The action centers on the proprietors of Schnitzengiggle Tavern, a family of German descendants on a quest to regain both a long lost lager recipe, and America's beer drinking honor. The movie is extravagantly crass, usually leaves me sore both from laughing and a hangover, and MAY have been the inspiration for New England Brewing Company's Schnitzengiggles Festbier. Allegedly.

Schnitzengiggles pours a distinctly brassy color, with a respectably sticky head. There are more hops to the nose than most märzens, and just a light whiff of malt. It is a beautifully smooth, slightly dry lager, and it has a very nice marbling of grainy richness. The hop character comes through in terms of a fruity flavor, rather than the more staid, traditional bitterness, and I'd say that's to be expected from the brewery that brought us Gandhi-Bot and Coriolis. I could and would drink this by the stein, liter, or glass boot.     

Winking jingoism, dipsomania, and gratuitous nudity not your thing? I have just the monastic order for you, because the United States now has its first ever Trappist brewery. 

Trappist monks are a Benedictine order who follow the orders to "pray and work" by supporting themselves and their charitable outreach through their own labor. The Trappist abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts has traditionally made and sold jams and jellies since their founding in 1950, but recently took interest in another monastic tradition: brewing. 

The monks interned at a local brewery, made pilgrimages to elite breweries at the Abbeys of Westmalle and Sint Sixtus, and decided to create a patersbier or "fathers’ beer," which is usually brewed for the monks to serve during their meals. 

I found Spencer Trappist Ale at The Goose in Darien, served in a European-style 33cL (11.2oz.) bottle, accompanied by a stemmed glass the monks worked with Libbey Glass to create. The beer is a cloudy honey color under a big, rocky head. It is a pretty, pretty pour. Belgian yeast aromas rise off the froth like the smell of dried flowers - it's not too far away from the the nose on a good saison. 

There is an immediate complexity of flavor on the first sip, as the yeast asserts itself over a rich malt background. The finish is a little dry, but the malts and a twinge of hop bitterness linger on the tongue. This is, again, a very smooth ale, even at 6.5% alc., and I can see how it would be complimentary to a wide variety of foods.  Somewhere on the label under the depiction of the abbey's bell tower is the suggestion to pair this refectory ale "with family and friends." Good advice, but I plan to share it with everyone. Ask your local bottle shop about it, and see if they'll order it for you. It really is that good. Go America.   

Have you had enough of Oktoberfest already? Perhaps told Belgian yeast to kiss your backside? You may the right personal for a tall glass of Founder's Dissenter Imperial Lager. From four feet away, it could be a Budweiser with a better head. Nothing marks the yellow fluid you see as a craft beer until you pull it towards your face and an invisible bouquet of hops brushes your nose. This is a strong lager (almost 9%) but, like a savvy politician, it hides its boozy nature well behind bland good looks and fine tailoring. Dissenter is bitter, but the overdose of malts leave it with the faintest glaze of sweetness. It is profoundly easy to drink. Dissenter is a beer that will sweet talk you into complacency before you notice it's stolen your car and your girlfriend is pregnant. Politicians like term limits as much as barflies like last call, but they both exist for a reason. 

See you out there.