What’s your pleasure tonight? I won’t go all cliché on you and say I want something tall, dark and full of muscle; but I am on the lookout for something a little playful to match my mood: Perhaps one with a touch of Irish humor, but a bit dry, like a Dry Irish Stout. Murphy’s or O’Hara’s would do if I was in Dublin, but I’m here in the States, so I’d like to stick with the local boys. O’Reilly’s Irish Stout from Sly Fox in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, hits the palate softly with lots of roast, a bit of chocolate, and thin malts underneath it all. But I just love the dry wit that goes along with it:
O'Mally, the barber, was hearing complaints from his present trimmee about the price of barbers' services. “I tell you, O'Mally, these big city barbers got a stranglehold on the citizens. I was in New York just last week, and you charge me half again what they charge there.” “That may be true, Sir,” said the Irishman, “but think of the airfare.”
I love a little bit of the Scotsmen, too, as in a Strong Scotch Ale. Big on that sweet caramel taste, rolling across the tongue with smooth, sticky foam; earthy, with a full mouth of malt, like those malt-eds we had at the ice cream shop as a kid. At 8% ABV, Kilt Lifter from Moylan’s in Novato, California, soars in without any hint of heat, but full of whisky notes and enough hops to add a bitter edge to the finish. But a little joking with my Scottish drinking-mate makes for a light-hearted evening. Callum decided to call his father-in-law the “Exorcist” because every time he came to visit he made the spirits disappear.
He waxed on about his latest travels by train, seated next to a stern-faced clergyman. As Callum pulled out a bottle of whisky from his pocket, the clergyman glared and said reprovingly, “Look here, I am sixty-five and I have never tasted whisky in my life!”
“Dinna worry, Minister,” smiled Callum, pouring himself a dram. “There's no risk of you starting now!”
I like a little English style on occasion, too, like Short’s Publican Porter, a London Style Imperial Porter from Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, Michigan. With all the richness that defines the style, this outstanding classic measures in at 9.15% ABV. Deep walnut and roasty, the lace sticks to the glass. Although some beers are like liquid bread, this one is chewy, like a chocolate-drenched caramel, with fruit-and-molasses that mixes with vanilla and licorice.
But the Brit’s humor makes me laugh even harder: A man walks into a bar with a roll of tarmac under his arm and says, “Pint please, and one for the road.”
As I sipped on my Short’s Porter, he continued: The bus driver says, “Ugh, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen!” The woman walks to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her,“The driver just insulted me!” The man says: “You go up there and tell him off. Go on, I’ll hold your monkey for you.”
But at this time of year, I am ready for a Doppelbock, with that German flair. Dark Doppelbock from Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin satiates with dark spices, drenched in plums, black raisins and dried cherry fruitiness, accented with anise, cloves and warmth. My German friend sat down next to me and said to the bartender, “Two Martinis, bitte.” The bartender asked, “Dry?” He answered, “Nein, I said TWO!”