Truth to tell, if I actually did think the world was coming to an end, I would spend the time making sweet… um, chocolate chip cookies with my family. Yeah, that’s it. Only if they were not nearby would I go to my beer cellar and start drinking all the vintage ales I’ve been saving.
But in fact, the imaginary apocalypse is really just another reason to party. I’m all for that. So the appropriate beers to drink can be chosen with the same consideration as a picture of Santa on the label of a Christmas beer. In this article, I listed some appropriate places to hunker down with one last, great beer. Now here are some beers to try at home.
First, consider that culture that was able to layout a pretty accurate calendar 5,000 years ago, while we “civilized” nations still argue over when Easter should be. Like many Mesoamericans, the Mayans brewed with local maize, flavored with cocoa, honey, chile peppers, and whatever other tasty plants were at hand. Some beers nearby with that same influence:
5 Rabbit Ki’ Chun: this is a new beer by Chicago’s Latin-influenced 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. It’s name means “tasty start” according to founding brewmaster Randy Mosher, who writes, “Ki’ Chun blends the apricot perfume of chanterelles with three malts and toasted oats, all tied together by the exotic fruitiness of New Zealand Rakau hops, accented by a Belgian yeast strain. Dark Thai palm sugar lightens the body a bit and makes this 9.5 % alc/vol beer dangerously drinkable, dry and creamy.” Ki’ Chun con Chanterelles will be tapped on December 21, the first day of the new calendar cycle. These locations will be pouring:
- Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St.
- Fountainhead, 1970 W. Montrose Ave.
- Bad Apple, 4300 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Simone's, 980 W. 18th St.
- State & Lake at the Wit Hotel, State St at Lake St. in the Loop
- The Owl, 2521 N. Milwaukee
I had one of Randy’s mushroom beers way back in 2002, and found it delicious. He’s had all this time to tweak the recipe since then.
Dogfish Head Theobroma: This is probably the beer I’ll be drinking on Thursday (which means I haven’t tried it yet). It’s another of Dogfish Head’s recreations of ancient brews based on archaeological discoveries. Dogfish describes it thusly:
This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilization to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish head’s Theobroma (food of the gods) is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs, honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds). (9% ABV).
Honduras lay at the edge of the Mayan culture, so that’s Mayan enough for me. Theobroma is widely available in 25 oz. bottles for $12-$16 in stores.
If you want to really get down with the doomsday date:
Stone Enjoy by 12.21.12: Stone Brewing’s experiment in freshness returned to the Chicago market in November, and Friday is indeed the last day you enjoy it, doomed or not. “Enjoy By” is a big (9.4% abv) American Pale Ale with lots of the more floral and citrusy hops, that needs to be enjoyed fresh. Thus the expiration date in the beer’s name, with clear instructions to pull any unsold beer after that date. When I reviewed the first version, “9.21.12,” I wrote:
Taste is an expected smackdown of hops that helps blow the memory of the cigar guy sitting next to me out of my olfactory. Hop smell stays strong through the glass. They also keep a big bitter aftertaste on the top part of my tongue that amplifies the malts more than they probably are. That is, a lighter malt as befits its color, with little caramel roast to it, just a small stage for the hops to work their magic.
Chicago is the only market for 12.21.12; other dated editions have gone to other cities. Look for it on tap throughout our area, or among Stone’s reasonably-priced 22 oz. “bomber” bottle.
Unibroue La Fin du Monde: Remember the goofball preacher who predicted the Rapture LAST YEAR? Then when it didn’t end, he simply said his Bible math was wrong and put it off a few months. And we’re still here. At that time, I popped this Belgian style Abbey tripel ale, aged in the bottle with an extra dose of yeast. I proclaimed it a bit funky from use of Belgian yeast and “staled” hops, sweet but not too sugary, and very warming from alcohol, with notes of orange peel and coriander. You might go the easy route and locate Shock Top End of the World Midnight Wheat, but this beer, named from the French for “End of the World,” of course, is the classier choice.
He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.: Just bear with me here. A Kosher-certified beer by Shmaltz Brewing Company. It’s another big beer (10% abv). A highly hoppy double IPA, but despite its bill of American hops, I thought the bitterness profile was more English. Also brewed with eight kinds of malts, including wheat and two rye malts. And why pick this as a doomsday beer? Because it was first brewed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of Lenny Bruce, who was name-checked in the classic REM song “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” Yeah there are some small German beers named “Bernstein,” but likely not after Leonard. For Leonid Brezhnev, a big plastic bottle of Baltika 9 will do. Lester Bangs is on his own.
Might I also make a quick suggestion for 3 Floyds' Apocalypse Cow and Zombie Dust? Just putting that thought out there!
I don't know about you, but I might have some time alone this weekend!