Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Beer Called Terrible

I can't wait to have my own craft beer. And it's not why you think.

Well, I mean, it is - the ultimate culmination of one of my passions, the chance to prove my knowledge beyond a few lines in a blog, a grand exploration of the art form that is being a beer meister, etc. and blah blah...

But the real reason I can't wait to have my own beer is because I really, really just want to come up with a name for one. 

I have a hunch that's a big part of fun for a lot of the little guys and medium sized breweries out there, if the names are any indication. Unlike most food and drink products out there, beer companies tend to go delightfully berserk with their packaging and naming (again, I'm sticking to the smaller batch stuff here -- the Goliaths of the beer world  obviously tend to adhere to the boring, rigid and by-the-numbers marketing that you'd affronted with on a daily basis), and it sort of makes it a lot more fun. 

My uninteresting name and packaging tells me you don't really care what I taste like. Sort of like when you're buying toothpaste. 

What's more, the name often tells you absolutely nothing about the beer itself. Sure, they may tack on "Ale" or "Lager" to give you a hint as to the direction you're headed, but beyond that, you're largely on your own. And that's sort of part of the fun, and is what makes randomly picking a fun looking bottle off the shelf such an enjoyable game of chance. 

My favorite example of this "We'll name it what we damn well please" phenomenon comes from the host of beers that host powerful, devastating, almost Biblical vernacular in their names. Ruination IPA from Stone Brewing. Fin Du Monde from Unibroue. Russian River's Damnation. Or, my absolute favorite: the "Stout of Morning Destruction," from Staple Mills. Tell me that's not one of the best names for anything ever. I dare you.

Granted, all of these may not-so-subtle nods to what their higher-than-usual ABVs could be doing to your general well-being, but I like to think their marketing meetings consisted something along of the lines of "I dunno, man, it just sounds f-ing cool." It also sort of suggests that the Apocalypse will come on a chariot of barley and hops (which I obviously welcome). 

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy- AND DIE IN A FIERY BLAZE OF BEER DRENCHED JUDGMENT" - Ben Franklin 

But then, sometimes, there's an even more extreme scenario. After a long week of desperately trying to name their new beer, a brewery will just say "Screw it!," sweep their desks dramatically clean, wear their ties around their foreheads and call their beer "Terrible". 


Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec, Canada
Dark Ale, 10.5% 
Pint bottle with cork 

From the people that brought us Fin Du Monde comes Terrible - "A beer that's anything but!" They don't actually use that slogan, thank whatever advertising deity you ascribe to, but inane as it sounds it's exceedingly appropriate. It's from Quebec, and their pronunciation of "terrible" is admittedly less awful sounding, but it still evokes a second look and perhaps a quizzical curiosity - which is maybe why I picked it off the shelf to begin with (marketing baffles me). But trust me. It's good stuff.  

Terrible is a dark ale that runs carefully through the host of your taste buds in a careful and articulately delicious order - sour, sweet and bitter - and appears to evoke many wine qualities, with its menagerie of subtle flavor hints that come together in a great way but leave you questioning exactly what you're experiencing with each sip. That sort of complexity isn't uncommon among French style beers - see my La Goudale post from a few months ago - but this one banks on the realm of exceptional. 

A not-so-subtle title belies the amazing, amazing nectar that lies within. 

It took a few sips (ok, FINE, two bottles...) to be sure, but I detected cherry, burnt notes and citrus melding into a very unique experience. It's unlike any beer you've ever had, of this I am certain. And best yet, it's reasonable in price at 8 bucks a bottle. I often hear talks of reasonably priced wine that could go toe-to-toe with pricier bottles, and I think Terrible is a fine parallel to that concept. It's one of the best beer experiences I've had (and, fine, it gave me a great buzz if you measure quality by that sort of unit). 

Highly recommended. 

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