Sculpted six-packs, muscular thighs, angular beards and knitted braids constitute the outline of the Spartan warrior…born and bred for the sole purpose of defending the freedom of an ancient culture, one that is strange to our sense of values – brutal, bloody, mystical, and fanatical in its code of manhood, religious belief, and warfare. Writer/Director Zach Snyder brings the epic film, 300, (based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley) into our world of 2007 society. Based on the bloody Battle of Thermophyle in which the barbarous King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) stood with stalwart defiance against the even more barbaric and autocratic Persian Army, we are positioned as the voyeur, peering through a mirror, into a society that is foreign in nature – violent, inhuman, and harsh, yet intoxicatingly sensual and filled with beauty.
Raised as warriors, these trained barbarians refuse to retreat. They will fight to the death, three hundred against tens of thousands, to defend their homeland and their freedom. In a sense, it would be uncivilized to raise a glass in their honor. But are they not the precursor of any civilized culture of today who defends its freedom?
In this vein, let us slam the beers on the table for the Spartan warrior! Seven beers for the fierce barbarian – complex, yet simple; stunning, yet restorative. Robust and full-bodied, with a memorable finish.
Furious – Surly Brewing Company, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, USA – American IPA – 6.2% ABV
As you pour this creamy, amber-orange Venus into your chalice, you are caught by the sticky tan head that leaves lattice patterns in ample array on the inner surfaces of your jeweled glass. Orange, citrus, pine needles and caramel seize the nose. Hoppy bitterness whips the tongue, balanced by a sweet malty character. Hopheads will delight in the unending madness.
Alesmith Decadence 2006 Dead By Dawn – AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, California, USA – American Strong Ale – 9.9% ABV
Presented in a 750 ml bottle, topped with gold foil, this decadent beauty pours deep maroon with a pillowy, tan head of cream. Bready, biscuit aromas merge with orange peel and mix with plums. Mild chocolate and sweet toffee give way to bolder caramel. As this bourbon-like juice spills over the lips, caramel meets the tongue, along with soft shadows of milk chocolate and tropical fruit. A sweet-sour finish proffers a level of depth to the medium body.
Dark Knight – Barley John’s Brew Pub, New Brighton, Minnesota, USA – Baltic Porter – 12% ABV
A shimmering obsidian body grips the thin brown head of foam that rests on the surface, ready for the assault. Sensations of bourbon, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla beans, and traditional black forest cake titillate the olfactory passages, lying in wait to paint the palate. On the tongue, caramel, toasted brown sugar, dark fruit, espresso, and the heat of a whiskey chaser bring sensuality to this complex mystic.
Titan IPA – Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, Colorado, USA – American IPA – 6.8% ABV
A cloudy, orange sunset amidst the golden shimmer of fading daylight is dashed with a soft head that dissipates to a lacy veil on the surface. The zesty grapefruit citrus profile marries a malty center, while secondary notes of pine slither in the background. The tastebuds are enamored by the malty sweetness; then led astray on a sensual journey through orange and grapefruit groves, until they reach the edge of a pinewood forest.
Four Horsemen #2: War – The Defiant Brewing Company, Pearl River, New York, USA – American Stout – 6.5% ABV
A tawny head of loose bubbles tops this walnut brown gleamer. Your eyebrows rise at the mingling aromas of peaty smoke, malt, cherry and wood. These intense flavors are echoed within the mouth, while silky waves of chocolate and coffee drift in from the shadows.
Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA – Dark Horse Brewing Company, Marshall, Michigan – American Imperial IPA – 13.6% ABV
A brown bottle, sealed in green wax, begs to be tasted. At the same time, your mind fantasizes about the silkiness that gentle cellar aging would deliver. You give in to seduction. Its coppery hue, slathered with a substantial head of cream, fades to a swirling coating of gauzy voile. Floral, hoppy aromas squeeze juiciness into the air, piercing the malt profile with deep strokes. Malts touch like caramel on the tip of the tongue, enveloping the inner recess of your palate with a fruit bowl of sun-drenched citrus debauchery.
Darkness – Surly Brewing Company, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, USA – Russian Imperial Stout – 10.3% ABV
Delivered in a 750 ml bottle draped in red and black wax, this monumental stunner possesses intoxicating beauty, thrilling depth, sensuality. She pours like roasted chestnuts with ebony shadows, supporting a dark tan head on her viscous body. Coffee, pine, figs, molasses and chocolate pound their accents into the surrounding air. On the palate, cappuccino couples with dark fruit, black currants, cherries, molasses, and black malt. A barleywine-like character prevails, with fresh piney hops adding a complex layer. Your senses get lost in this erotic beauty, with an intensity that knows no retreat.