Shotgunning Stillwater Classique: Pee-Wee, Get My Gun

Next up, Stillwater Classique:


This Summer, I have been on a search for an everyday beer. While the Haybag might disagree, it’s not like you can always drink beers that are so big they leave their shirt on at the pool. And ticking something new every day can get tiresome.

My go-to shall be interesting, but not an attention whore. It shall be enjoyable, yet easy to shotgun. It shall not leave me wishing for something else. It shall be conducive to multiple beverages while tending to the smoker in the Summer or watching Notre Dame disappoint me in the Fall, but also just drinking one with lunch or dinner…or breakfast…or mid-morning snack.

I think I have found that beer in Classique. And I suspect that’s what Brian Strumke intended. Mr. Strumke took the building blocks of post-Prohibition American adjunct lager (including pilsner malt, corn, and rice) and tweaked it with Cluster, Northern Brewer, Saaz, and Cascade hops, and a farmhouse yeast strain to create one of the most drinkable, yet interesting, beers I’ve had in a long time.

It pours a slightly hazy straw color, with a persistent and foamy white head that leaves some lace. It smells like pilsner malt, light and lemony citrus, and the tell-tale phenolic and floral quality of Stillwater yeast (to me, it smells like distant cloves and fresh lilies). The taste follows the nose with the addition of some grassiness, some apples, and maybe very occasional bananas. And it finishes pretty dry and snappy.

All of this is very subtle, though. And while this is a beer that can be contemplated as such, it is also very conducive to pounding…or perhaps shotgunning. So, enough over-thinking this beer. Let’s break out the T-Model Ford album (Pee Wee Get My Gun) and get to it:

The Haybag: So this is how you spend your time while I’m at the grocery store and 2.0 is napping. Interesting.


Thanksgiving Beer Pairings, Part II: We still be all classy ‘n s$%t

It’s that time of year again: Awkward encounters with relatives you haven’t seen all year (for good reason), and spatchcocking your turkey. Of course, what you do with your turkey in the privacy of your own home is none of my business. But it’s not like awkward Thanksgivings are new.

Clearly, the first Thanksgiving wasn’t pleasant. First of all, after the brutal winter, there were only 4 Pilgrim chicks left to cook for like 140 people (who presumably got drunk and watched the Lions game instead of helping).

Second, eating over at the Pilgrims’ place was likely a bigger health crap-shoot than eating at the Moloka’i Jack in the Box. It’s well-documented that Pilgrims were so unsanitary that they smelled like the inside of a sweaty Wookie’s butthole. Further, the Pilgrims’ smallpoxy, plaguey, leptospirosisy explorer predecessors managed to wipe out 90 percent of the American Indian population with disease before the uptight, buckle-head Pilgrims even set foot on Plymouth Rock. So, undercooked meat and food-borne illness might have been the least of the problems.

Evidence suggests that American Indians phased-out handshake greetings in the early 17th century.

So, count your blessings and brighten your day with some solid beer choices. I had a comprehensive post last year that took into account many different food factors. You can reference it here. This year, however, I am keeping it simple and sharing the selections I am self-medicating with for Thanksgiving.

Saison Dupont – This is a Thanksgiving no-brainer. It’s earthy, crisp, grassy, slightly spicy, and ever-so-slightly reminiscent of a barn. It’s bubbly enough to cleanse your palate from the onslaught of the richest and biggest of Thanksgiving foods, and it finishes clean…instead of attention whoring it up and trying to upstage the food.

Stillwater Cellar Door – Another Saison/Farmhouse, but this one is a little more assertive. It’s got Sterling and Citra hops, which bring some spice and citrus character to the game. It has the always complex but subtle Stillwater farmhouse yeast character. And for the kicker: It’s brewed with white sage. This should go well with Thanksgiving dinner, because sage goes well with Thanksgiving dinner. (Note: If there is no sage in your feast, then you’re a communist. And nobody likes a communist. So, if nothing else, this beer will redeem you.)

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew – This is for dessert. It’s 2/3 imperial stout, plus 1/3 honey beer brewed with gesho root, which equals: Who the hell knows, but it’s 3/3 good. It’s got bittersweet chocolate, roast, coffee, and even more complexity as it warms up. It starts out sweet, but it is pretty well-carbonated and roasty, so it finishes almost dry. Which is good, because at this point in the program, the top button of my pants is undone, and I want something sweet but not huge and oppressive…otherwise I would have to take my pants off completely. And that’s not good.

The Session #68: Novelty Beers

This month’s installment of the Session is hosted by Tiffany at 99 Pours. The topic is: Novelty Beers. Have they gone too far?

I am a capitalist pig. As such, I am a fan of the free market and the competition and innovation a free market fosters. So, my feelings can be summed up with a couple words and two pictures…

I am willing to put up with the presence of this:

If it means that I can have this:

(Brewed with heather, honeysuckle, and hyssop.)

I don’t know that I would lump Debutante into the novelty beer category, particularly due to the sometimes pejorative nature of the term “novelty”. I do, however, consider it innovative. And the only thing worse than Rogue Voodoo Doughnut is a beer zeitgeist that stifles the type of innovation that occasionally lays an egg like Rogue Voodoo Doughnut.

Stillwater Artisanal Existent and the Original Hipster Twit: Nietzsche

Next up, Existent, from Mr. Strumke’s Stillwater Artisanal:

Existent has a picture of, and attributes part of its philosophical underpinnings to, philosopher-twit, Friedrich Nietzsche. History will show that Nietzsche’s biggest legacies are (1) extended-adolescent, existential, hipster angst; and (2) his last name, although physically unpronounceable, gets you at least 23 points in Scrabble (What? No proper nouns!?). Also, one of Nietzsche’s best known ideas is that Western society has moved beyond God as the basis of meaning and reality, and thus, “God is dead.” Of course, the fatal weakness in his argument was right under his nose…

I can fathom wind and water masterfully etching the majesty of the Grand Canyon over the course of a billion+ years. I’m down with the Big Bang. Evolution? OK, at times, my behavior is not far removed from that of primates. But nobody will ever convince me that Nietzsche’s mustache could be conceived by anything other than the Divine Hand of a Higher Being.

The beer pours an impenetrable dark brown, almost black…as soul-sucking as a realization that life has no true meaning. It has a lovely, tan, frothy head that hangs around for a bit, but as with many things beautiful in this world, it is transient and leaves you…alone. The head recedes to a film with isolated, foam islands and a substantial ring that leaves some lacing. The smell has no true will to power, but it is definitively chocolate, coffee, and roast, and char. I can also pick up a little farmhouse, almost like a horse blanket. And you can tell it’s dry, like the desert – perfect in its absence of crippling pity and compassion. It starts out with coffee and hints of chocolate, along with a bready and nutty character. Then roast, smoke, and a slight farmhouse-funk kick in at the end. Some style-nazis will lament the roast character in a Farmhouse/Saison, but lamentations about style rules and consistency are the desperate morality of the weak in an attempt to transvalue the power of successful risk-takers. I find it interesting and tastefully done. It is well-carbonated, but not overly so. And as it warms, some earthy hop character emerges, and some hop bitterness comes out in the finish, much like a…ahh whatever. What’s the point?

Not my favorite Stillwater ever, but good nonetheless. Different (but not over the top), interesting, tasty, and skillfully executed.

The Haybag: It’s decent. Generally, I’m not fond of saisons (I am not down with funk and lots of carbonation), but I think this one is interesting.

Note: To avoid a religious brushfire, I should note that I’m not saying the age of the Earth, the Big Bang, or Evolution rule out the existence of God. Besides, I’m Catholic. We’re down with that shit anyway…heck, Mendel and Lemaître were priests.

Stillwater Pub in Baltimore

Twits, twonks, tweeterers, etc., are aflutter. Mr. Strumke, of Stillwater, is teaming-up with Jack’s Bistro to open a bar in Baltimore. This will mean more trips to Baltimore for the beerbecue tribe: “Yeah, honey, Maddy told me she really wants to go to the train museum in Baltimore. But she’s really embarrassed about it, so if you ask her she will deny it.”

The name appears to be “Of Love and Regret”. And, if for no other reason, I will be going to preemptively drink all of Mr. Strumke’s beers before he drinks all of mine.

So far, it looks like the following are good places to watch for updates on this:
Stillwater Artisanal Ales Facebook
Stillwater Artisanal Ales Twitter
Jack’s Bistro Facebook
Jack’s Bistro Twitter

Congrats, Mr. Strumke. And good luck!

Brian Strumke Can Come to My House and Drink My Beer…All of It.

The Curmudgeon
Brian Strumke, who is the brewer, chief executive, president, receptionist, janitor, mailroom clerk, etc., for Stillwater Artisanal Ales, held a recent email interview with After an in-depth discussion of Stillwater’s Premium Post-Prohibition Style Ale, they move on to miscellaneous topics such as Strumke’s thoughts on the state of session-strength beer at the moment. His reply:

I personally really enjoy lower ABV beers for their refreshment and drinkability. I think there is a time and place for beers of all strengths and don’t want to turn the concept of producing moderate weight craft beers into a trend, I just think the idea of session beers becoming popular again is rubbish.. 90+% of beer drinkers have been and do drink beers between 4-5%. I just think that ’session beer’ hype came as a backlash to the popularity of heavyweight extreme beers that took the scene by storm, and while I love to get down with a case of Prima Pils, I also like to session with Orval (6.5%) when I am in Belgium, but that’s how I roll.”

Then for the rest of interview, Strumke uses the term “session” with quotation marks. Beautiful. That’s how the beerbecue household rolls, too (except we don’t need to be in Belgium to “session” with 6.5%). In fact, some of his thoughts are strikingly similar to beerbecue’s thesis on the ridiculous “session” morass: What is a Session Beer? Who the F$%k Cares?

I enjoy Stillwater immensely, when I can actually get my grubby biscuit snatchers on it. And I have heard anecdotal evidence that Brian Strumke is a cool guy. However, I may now have officially lost all capacity for objectivity with respect to Stillwater and Mr. Strumke (as he will hereafter be known on beerbecue). In fact, Mr. Strumke, you can come over to my house and drink all my beer if you want to. If I am low, I will make a beer run just for you. And you can rest assured, Mr. Strumke, that the word “session” will ne’er be uttered, save in scorn or jest. ;7

Beer Review: Mikkeller/Stillwater Two Gypsies Our Side – Confronting my gypsy curse

I received a complaint about fawning over too many beers in a row…so next time I will say WTF to the super brewer collaboration La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado. This time we have the Mikkeller/Stillwater gypsy brewer collaboration – Two Gypsies Our Side:

OK, make that three gypsies.

I may be a little late to the game on this one, but this beer has me a little unsettled. I was once cursed by a Spanish gypsy. My friend, Tomás, and I were walking up the pathway to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, and from nowhere pops this woman who, in my mind, after 10 years of telling this story looks like this:

10 years ago I was beautiful!

She was sticking a bouquet of parsley in our faces and insisting that she tell our fortune for an undisclosed fee. After repeatedly declining her generous offer, she became enraged, started stamping her feet, pointed at us with two fingers, and screeched at us in Andalusian Spanish crossed with God knows what…yada, yada, yada…now apparently death will come for me alone in the woods by way of a serpent.

A snake...fine. But a fucking serpent!? Really?

It pours a hazy gold, with a nice head made of big, fizzy bubbles. It has an earthy saison/farmhouse yeast smell with lemon peel and piney hop aromas. It is bubbly up front, with a nice barnyard funk in the middle. Then it finishes with pepper and very subtle, piney hops. The aftertaste alternates between a slight and pleasant piney bitterness and the occasional barn. It’s like a barn at a Christmas tree farm (without any pesky animals).

It is fairly dry, and as it warms the hops become more apparent. The hops are definitely piney, with some citrus, and maybe a little grassiness. This thing is so subtle and complex, I couldn’t take my beak out of the glass. At one point towards the end, the hop aroma started to smell like tropical fruit. I give up. I suck. I am not worthy of describing this beer. The damn review is a mess!

The Haybag: Umm, what’s your deal? It’s good. It went very well with the tuna steaks. Hey, I forgot about that gypsy curse. Are your life insurance premiums current?