Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bottled Michigan: Short's The Wizard Barley Wine

I wanted to write this description of beer as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the 1989 movie where Fred Savage kidnaps his brother and gets him to win a Super Mario Brothers 3 competition. I wanted to pepper this with images of a pre teen Savage with questionably appropriate references to his later career as director of Daddy Day Care and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

It's in the contract.  Charlie blows DeVito, and I watch.

Unfortunately, the beer had other ideas, and without wailing 80s guitars and the power glove, I didn't stand a chance.

Far from being a fun riff on terrible 80 movies, Short's The Wizard is more of a fun riff on terrible occult movies. The label features what I can only describe as an African American Gandalf, pensively stroking a crystal ball with a skull and the numbers “666” on the base. I assume this is The Wizard, and this beer is Black Gandalf's beer. A black cat hovers on the Wizard's forearm, staring off into space and quite obviously displaying the visage of a cat who really enjoys her barlywine. Not sure how the artist for Short's knows how to draw a drunk cat, but my compliments to that person. Finishing the label is the name of the beer followed by the phrase “barley wine with raisins: boiled for 6 hours and 66 minutes.” I suspect this beer is less Fred Savage and more Alice Cooper. The kitsch occult is great.

This devil beer pours a deep, golden tan, with almost no head and minimal lacing. What little head existed (I poured it cold and let it warm up in a snifter) dissipated quickly. That said, something strange happens when the glass is held up to a light source; the beer turns a deep crimson, looking suspiciously like the liquid vampires tend to drink out of crystal goblets in movies like Underworld.

Vampire, or a Short's fan?

The first thing I noticed from the beer's aroma was raisin, front and center. It's like opening a box of Sun-Maid raisins and inhaling. Hiding behind that, there lurks flavors of dark cherry and bitter hops, which serve to keep the beer from getting too heavy.

The taste is intimidating. I can't be sure, but I have to assume from the alcohol overtones that the Wizard weighs in around 9-10% alcohol by volume. Raisins and fruit dance in front, but their sweetness is tempered by the same piney hops I mentioned earlier. The combination of bitter hops and sweet raisins blends into the malted barley to create a nutty tone, like eating raw walnuts or pecans. It's thinner than I expected for a barleywine, but it's still a hefty beer. Interestingly, The Wizard's evil concoction reminds me most of the Good Humans dry hopped brown ale; the flavors of sweet raisins and malt blend with the hops to create a wintery beer that retains a bit of lightness. Of course, the Wizard does it much more aggressively. The alcohol is high enough that I could almost compare this beer to a sweet bourbon.

Whether you think the occult is a subject worthy of gentle ribbing or not, I would suggest everyone give black Gandalf's The Wizard a try.

Maybe share one with Fred Savage, while you're at it. 


Witherspoon Bergan said...

Your Place to Discover the Worlds Wines
Many many thanks to you for this great share.

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