(This post is brought to you by Boak and Bailey, hosts of the 88th Session. Topic? Traditional Beer Mixes.)
No matter how many times I typed it, those pesky quotation mosquitoes swarmed the word traditional. I urged him to show up for the barbecue, have a beer, eat a bratwurst, that it would be a good time, but no, the little conveyers of annoyance just couldn’t leave him alone. Now he has to sit in the bathroom for an hour, scratching and slathering Benadryl gel on all those inflamed lumps, all because I tried to drag him out here against his will.
I can’t in good conscience use the word traditional in a post like this, because I fear, that as a 28 year old American beer drinker, I have no traditions. I’ve got rituals, sure, and more beer related ceremonies and tribal dances than I even remember at this point. But traditions? Those are carved from the wood of a tree with many rings. They’re built from collective societal experience, passed from elder to youth, made up of the fibers that bind demographics and generations together.
The only quasi-traditions I have any experience with exist mewling and hungover on college campuses, but those mixes (cheap orange juice + 40 oz malt liquor; 15 Natural Ice cans + Saturday full of regret) don’t exactly bring much intelligence to the discussion. It also seems like mixing beer became (and remains) popular in England, and a quick survey of my American beer drinking friends shows that nearly none of them mix beer outside of snakebites, shandys, or the one-off experiment.
I’m at an impasse. The road’s closed, possibly due to an overturned Budweiser truck. The bridge is out, and the misappropriation of the local civics budget means it won’t be repaired anytime soon. If I want to get in on this traditions game, I’ll have to take a machete to the cultural thicket and make some of my own, starting right now.
Dogfish Head 60 Minute + Dogfish Head 90 Minute = Dogfish Head 75 Minute
You may be thinking, “But Oliver, Dogfish Head already brews a beer called 75 Minute, so isn’t this a little redundant?” Yes. But also no. More no than yes.
When the Dogfish Head Brewpub of Gaithersburg, Maryland, rose from the ashes of the old Pat and Mike’s restaurant like an inebriated phoenix, my friends and I mustered all our young courage, donned our hepatological armor, and became regulars. We suddenly had a place to drink that served beer not just “beer,” and found pretty much any excuse to plant ass on bar stool. We’d meet for happy hour, or lunch hour, or just regular hour, to celebrate birthdays, holidays, or just Tuesdays.
As the pub wasn’t exactly walking distance from any of our homes, we’d often want for a driver. Cabs weren’t in the first-job-out-of-college budget. Girlfriends and siblings grew sick of always picking up a troupe of Dogfish infused drunks. We had to adjust how we drank, and thus the 75 minute was born.
By mixing the 6% of 60 minute with the 9% of 90 Minute, you’d, quite logically, finish out with a balance of 7.5%. The mix had all the bitter aggressiveness of the 60 minute, with some of the mellowing charm from the 90, bringing out the best of both beers. You could order one of these on half-price burger night and chew on beer and beef all night. It offered all the flavor of sipping on two beers, with none of the buzzing side effects.
I can’t say we invented it, because local rumor says people were already making this mix at the brewery in Rehoboth, Delaware, but we invented it.
Stone Go To IPA + Stone Ruination IPA = Regular IPA
It’s rare for me to make blanket statements about a particular thing, because I try to keep an open mind and admit my experience is perpetually limited, but:
I don’t like “session” IPAs.
They taste like a bottled identity crisis, like a brewer started brewing an IPA then second guessed herself, only added half of the malt of the recipe, and then instead of dumping the batch, finished it in a panic. They’re plenty aromatic, but out of the nine or so I’ve tried, the low ABV does not offset the weak finish and lack of body. A low ABV IPA seems fundamentally wrong, and I wonder, every time I see one, why the brewery didn’t brew a style that actually supports low ABV instead of hacking up a perfectly good style of beer to fit a weird marketing niche.
Stone Go To IPA reigns as my least favorite of the versions I’ve tried; it’s sort of sour, sort of crass, like someone who brings an already open, two thirds full bottle of wine to a dinner party. But my solution is easy: to fix it, mix it.
Your neighbors might call the cops if you set off a hop-bomb of this magnitude, but by mixing Stone’s delicious Ruination with their not-so-delicious Go To, you get a surprisingly easy to drink weapon of nasal destruction. The two hop profiles blend surprisingly well, and the spaghetti-noodle malt backbone of the Go To manages to calm the raging of the Ruination. The result is a lot like Stone’s regular IPA, but by mixing, you get two good beers instead of one great one and one lame one.
The universe always finds balance.