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.