Under the Spell of a Gypsy


It has been more than a year – if you can believe it — since your loyal beer geeks sat down deliberatively to hold forth on the merits or sad shortcomings of a given beer. That’s right, we’ve kinda stopped writing beer reviews. (We did not stop drinking beer.)

Why? Maybe we were just busy with life and, oh you know, finally finishing our second book, or we just got lazy. But what’s probably closer to the truth is that we haven’t felt that same “eee gads” compulsion that we used to when we’d taste a new batshit flavor of beer and nearly shit our pants. Yes, like married yuppies so familiar with each other’s bodies from years of cohabitation, we just haven’t been thrilled by any of the hundreds of beers we’ve sipped lately. (There’s better beer than ever before in history of course, we’re just harder to surprise nowadays.) Which is why when we put a chilled wine glass of Gypsy Ale to our lips this week, we felt something downstairs stir. Pronouncements were made, a second bottle opened, pictures were staged, and texts were texted. We’re back baby, we’re back!

Gypsy Ale is a variation on California-style brett beer brewed using rye malt and locally grown plums. (The brewers claim they listen to traditional gypsy jams while fermenting this thing.) It’s plenty sour and effervescent with a little funk, but if comparisons are your thing, it’s less extreme in its pucker-iness than Russian River and more subtle than Jolly Pumpkin. It has something else going for it.

One word: Salt. Gypsy Ale is salty. It’s refreshing in a way only tart booze and salt can be (see “Margaritas” and “Gatorade Cocktails”). But the closest thing we can recall tasting was a beer experience about 2 years ago in East Los Angeles at a club called Eastside Luv. Imagine for a second that you’re riding high on having just seen Pavement re-unite in concert (we had) and you’re stopping in for a night cap at your neighborhood bar. You sidle up to the bartender and order a beer while a Morrissey cover band is playing so loud he can only guess at your words and indeed what he hands you instead is a Miller High Life with a testicle-sized Saladito bobbing at the bottom of your glass. At first your bummer, but then you realize that sure it’s watery but that tart saltiness that dissolving makes it infinitely better.

It was good then, and it’s sublime now.

Soundtrack: Woods, “Size Meets the Sound”
Cheese: Holy Moly, a stinky goats cheese made by Bohemian Creamery — its rind is washed in Consecration.

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