Before a 63-year-old schoolteacher named Annie Taylor went over Niagara Falls in a barrel, nobody believed it could be done. But the hard-ass opportunist outfitted a barrel with a mattress, reinforced it with some steel and had some friends (can they be called friends if they’re pushing her down Niagara?) pressurize her coffin once she climbed inside, using a bicycle pump. She lived.
We only bring it up because it sounds remarkably like what Marble Brewing‘s Reserve Ale tastes like. Hell, Daniel and Ted, head brewers of the Albuquerque brewery might as well have climbed into a wooden death trap themselves, the way this beer tastes. It is strong and sweet and destructive. Even the beer snobs who usually go all goo-goo-eyed over “American strong ales” (Arrtogrant Bastard, Angel’s Share etc.) thought it tasted too much like bourbon. It’s a 9-percent ale aged in bourbon barrels for the purpose of cellaring. Too much like bourbon? Are you fucking kidding us?
Popped and poured, the beer is placid like a lake of Maker’s Mark. Its slightly see-through and tinted deep red with the faintest white clinging to its surface. Swirl it hard and you’ll inspire the most meager of foams, more like a white patch on the nose of an angry red mare than the head of any beer we’ve seen. The nose can only be described as an evil version of that ABV-perfume that wafts off of fragrant ice wines and ruby ports. Cane sugar and danger. Smell it long enough and you detect a Jack Daniel’s brand breath spray. Or an Old Overholt deoderant.
Now, it’s worth noting that we have flirted with bourbon barrel-aged beers for years but were unaware that the technique could bring us this close to actually drinking bourbon-flavored beer.
Putting your lips to a glass of Marble Reserve tastes like everything that is good about America. Specifically, chopped lumber, bent with fire and scorched for flavor, steeped with bourbon for years, and then used to discolor and flavor a strong beer. Why wouldn’t we want to taste this all the time? Sweet and nearly hot with alcohol burn, we imaged putting our faces directly into spitting whiskey mash pots. Or letting a cowboy soak their boots in Old Rip Van Winkle and proceed to grind us in the face.
Do we like that? We’re buying more and aging it for our birthdays. What do you think?
Dairy Pairy: Trappe Echourgnac, aged cow’s milk washed in walnut liquor
Soundtrack: Las Vegas Club’s “Whiskey Flats”
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