We’re taking some tentative baby steps back into the blogosphere after the passing of our fellow Alehead, dear friend, and all-around best person ever, Magnus Skullsplitter.
This site was important to Magnus for a lot of reasons. First, he really liked beer. That was fairly obvious when friends starting sharing hundreds of pictures of him from over the years and he had a beer in his hand in essentially every one. Second, he really liked staying connected with his friends, no matter how far-flung they were. The Aleheads are all over the map…Oregon, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut, etc. Magnus was in NYC and didn’t get to see the rest of us that often. This site was an excuse for us to send insanely long e-mail chains back and forth to each other every day. It was an excuse for us to have “Podcasts” which were essentially just two-hour bullshit sessions that we tried to fruitlessly cull down to 45 minutes of beer-related material. It was an excuse for us to mercilessly mock Sam Calagione.
So Aleheads combined two of Magnus’s great loves…beer and friends. Letting this site fade in his absence would be an insult to him. Both because it was important to him AND because it’s important to us (Magnus would have been devastated if his passing caused his friends to let go of something meaningful). But most importantly, it’s a way to keep his memory alive. He’ll always be a part of this humble little site. Even though he’s not writing anymore, his name will always be in that little box on the right and his Tasting Notes and comments will live on for as long as this site does.
I suppose the point of this post is mostly just an explanation for why you’ll probably be seeing some more “normal” beer-related articles in the coming days and weeks. Like Mayor Giuliani giving the OK to Lorne Michaels to “be funny again” after 9/11, I think it’s OK for us to start writing again.* You never truly know what anyone “would have wanted”…but I’m 99.99999% sure Magnus would have wanted us to keep going.
*Not that SNL has actually been funny at any point in the last 15 years.
So here goes…I’m starting with a Tasting Note that Magnus would normally have handled on his own. It’s one of his favorites…the Brooklyn Local 2.
NOTES: 750 at McHops Monastery
STYLE: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
APPEARANCE: Deep, cloudy chestnut with golden flecks
HEAD: Short, but exceptionally dense, frothy, off-white head that lasts for quite some time
LACING: Excellent…high and tight on the glass
NOSE: A little tame for the style, but still outstanding. Nice hints of ripe figs and plums, a little toffee and caramel sweetness from the dark malt bill, and a faint, but noticeable hint of booze at the end of each whiff. BSDAs usually have a bit more robust of an aroma…and I find this to be a tad subdued.
TASTE: Like the nose, the taste is delicious, but a little underwhelming. It tastes like a “starter” BSDA which probably explains why Magnus enjoyed it. He was JUST starting to get into Belgian beers and this would have been a perfect gateway brew for Belgian Strong Darks. It’s smooth and sweet with a good roasted malt backbone and plenty of dark stone fruits and yeast funk in the middle. The finish has a touch of booze and a crisp, dry, but not astringent finish.
MOUTHFEEL: A touch fuller than medium-bodied but the aggressive, bottle-conditioned effervescence keeps this brew dancing on the tongue. Actually, it might be a little over-carbonated since it does impede the creaminess of the mouthfeel just a hair.
DRINKABILITY: Because of the muted flavors and the effervescence, this is a very drinkable BSDA. Magnus remarked that it was one of the brews he almost always had in his fridge and I can see why. If you’re in the mood for a tasty, dark Belgian this one would go with any meal or be suitable for any occasion. It’s not as complex or remarkable as some others in the category, but it’s still an excellent version of one of my absolute favorite styles.
RATING: 3.5 Hops