Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dark beer and dark evenings, all fit for writing

The Beer Nut's musings on the joys of 'having written' gave me much to think about yesterday. I agree with him entirely, particularly about the joys to be had from a disciplined approach to writing. Sadly, I don't feel as disciplined as perhaps I should be, and my rigidity of thought with respect to how important it is to be disciplined and my apparent lack of it, is a source of consternation to me. I mean, take a look at Ron, he's a blogging machine, driven by what precisely I don't know, but you know he just loves it. Not just the having written aspect but the process of cramming all those facts and anecdotes into his posts. Mark Dredge is similarly prolific, but he just wants to write, it is essential to his well being and his beer blogging is a means of combining two things he enjoys. If you query The Beer Nut about why he blogs, he'll give you a glib answer along the lines of the need to document the beer he drinks, but it's clear there is far from mere ticking at work on his pages - you just don't have to write that well to make a list of conquests. The beer community is the better for it.

I'm glancing to my back garden while I painfully hammer out these words. Things are starting to stir. The tail end of hurricane Bill is heading this way, the depression slowly moving eastward across the country, promising heavy rainfall and a night of blustery mayhem that will no doubt slaughter the impressive sun flowers my wife has tended to over the summer. Much like other beer lovers, on evenings like this my mind turns to dark beers, particularly stout.

I am shameless in my promotion of American dark beers, but I feel this enthusiasm is entirely justified by the shear quality of those I have tried. The uncompromising nature of American brewing suits stout particularly well, mainly because flavour is packed into them but not in an overpowering one dimensional hop bomb way. It's just full, rich, complex roasted goodness with the occasion always just right measure of hops. The strong pedigree that this Oatmeal Stout traces its family tree from whet my taste buds from the off - Goose Island's IPA is a world beater, and the stout delivers in a similar manner. It's a cliché to say that an oatmeal stout is smooth, that's the very reason the oats are added, but this one really is. This may well be as much to do with the perfect carbonation as anything else. The one thing I didn't expect, but welcomed greatly was the quite pronounced smoky, phenolic note on the nose, very similar to Islay scotch. The smoke didn't follow through onto the palate, instead was replaced with wonderful bitter chocolate, coffee and a long lingering bitterness. I'm not surprised really, the damn label even looks tasty, and is the most striking manifestation of Goose Island packaging I have seen.

I feel much better now, having written.


BarryM (Adeptus) said...

I like writing too, and have to write a lot in work, but of course it's never seen other than by people evaluating tenders or technical specifications. It's a kind of story telling I suppose. In my past I've been published in archaeological books and magazines, but again, kinda boring (although the outdoor work was great!). This beer writing lark though... I wish I could spend more time at it and do proper research. Still, it's fun, and I can always hope to improve. After all, it was TBN who inspired me to start! :)

I'd love to try that damn stout. I saw it in Chicago airport at the Goose Island bar, but got an IPA to see what it was like fresh!

Thom said...

TBN inspired me too. (You just know he's blushing reading this)

I greatly enjoy this blogging lark, bit I really have to knuckle down to it. I don't get to write much elsewhere and so find it difficult to make the switch to writing mode when the need comes.
I read a great deal and there is no doubt this helps no end when it comes to stringing words together.

You just get a feel for what's good and count yourself lucky that one in every 50 sentences sits right.

Velky Al said...

Should you get the chance to try Starr Hill's Dark Starr Stout then take it, it is a very nice stout indeed - and the most decorated stout on the US craft scene.

The Beer Nut said...

Since you're quoting me on it, I should probably point out that the thing about the difference between writing and having written is stolen from Terry Pratchett. I think the original line is "a lot of people tell me they'd like to write when what they mean is they'd like to have written". It's a wonderful observation for anyone who's ever stared at a blank page and blinking cursor for half an hour.

And thank you for your kind words. Never before has my fondness for cardigans and pipe smoking seemed so justified, young one.

Ed said...

I'm a big fan of Goose Island but I'm not generally a fan of oatmeal stouts, I don't really like the oily texture.

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

You need to get hold of AleSmith's Speedway Stout.

Mark said...

I wish I'd bought this beer when I had a chance now, it sounds great.

As for writing, it keeps me out of mischief!

Thom said...

Cheers Grandad. The pipe, cardigan and mature musk you exude really completes the picture.

Now, I'm off to get you some Worther's Originals.

Worst, Al - Thanks for the recommendations, but I'll have to make myself happy with the more mainstream stuff for the moment. It's unlikely that the really interesting stout will arrive any time soon.