Did you know that Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware employs a molecular archaeologist to scrape the insides of ancient earthenware vessels, run chemical analyses to determine what past civilizations were brewing, and then brew it? For that matter, do you know what a molecular archaeologist does? Don’t worry, neither did we, but now we do. (Taryn’s detailed notes indicate “Lucy’s dream job! Science and beer!”) It turns out that professors can be excellent teachers. Even in bars.
For Lucy and Taryn’s Beer Club this week, we traipsed over to the Muddy Pig (intersection of Selby and Dale) with Professor David Chioni Moore of the International Studies department. We figured it would be an opportunity to come full circle—we, your columnists, met in Professor Moore’s “Introduction to International Studies: Literature and Global Culture” course during the fall semester of our freshman year. That course led both of us to pursue International Studies majors starting second semester first year. Taryn will graduate with an International Studies major, while Lucy has since pursued other lofty goals, many of them related to her love for (and major in) Geology. Since fall 2010, Taryn has benefitted from having Professor Moore as an advisor, and Lucy has enjoyed many ski-related conversations with him. Still, in four years of knowing Professor Moore, neither of us had ever broached our favorite subject: beer.
It was time to break the silence! And we found the exact right beers to do just that. If you want a beer that stimulates both conversation and the back of your throat, go for the Indeed Hot Box Imperial Smoked Pepper Porter Ale. It’s brewed with smoked jalapeño and Fresno peppers, and you can certainly tell. Descriptions that came out of conversation ranged from “it tastes like a burrito” to “I think a campfire blew into my beer.” If Lucy were to review her beer, she might say that it comes on sharply like smoked paprika, sits like a porter on your tongue, hints at barbeque sauce in the middle, and finishes with aftertastes of zippy pork. Strange, yet delightful, but Lucy wouldn’t recommend investing in an entire six pack. Twelve ounces of Hot Box was plenty to get the idea of the beer.
Taryn and Professor Moore ordered similarly interesting beers. Taryn went for the Moylans Hop Craic, a hoppy wonder brewed in California. This Imperial/Double IPA, according to the brewery, “satiates the cravings of the hard core hop abuser”. Though Taryn hesitates to subscribe to the identity of an abuser, the Hop Craic was 10.4% ABV. And utterly fantastic. Professor Moore enjoyed an Ommegang Hennepin, a Belgian farmhouse saison that entered his mouth like a July beer and went down like Grolsch, a Dutch Pilsner—clearly we cannot ever accuse Professor Moore of lack of specificity. It smelled vaguely like a Japanese culinary ingredient, and we couldn’t decide whether it was seaweed, sesame oil or rice vinegar. Even though Professor Moore’s beer vocabulary and trivia knowledge are fully developed (remember that molecular archaeologist?), it turns out that his primary “special beverage” interest is single malt. After he graduated from college, he and his buddies would reunite for scotch and whiskey tasting parties, certainly a classy pursuit for twenty-somethings. He has also investigated wine, with help from his sarcastic, Scottish Parisian landlord, who parodied wine reviews with descriptions like “brittle” and “Episcopalian in its predictability.” Professor Moore also went through a port and sherry phase, and when we asked if he had any other high-society alcohol tastes, he mentioned that he has never gotten into sake—perhaps that will be next.
Though his spirit scotch is the Balvinie Double Wood, aged 12 years, Professor Moore doesn’t (yet) identify with a spirit beer. He did, however, suggest that future column guests consider the Tactical Nuclear Penguin as a contender. Typical beers’ ABV (alcohol by volume) contents range from 4% to 7%. Nuclear Penguin comes in at 32% ABV, making it at one point the title-holder for world’s most alcoholic beer. That record has since been broken and re-broken, but an ABV-bomb beer named Nuclear Penguin is too entertaining to pass up. Anyone know where to find Nuclear Penguin in the Twin Cities? We’ll pay top dollar—St. Patrick’s Day is coming up! It’s the only day of the year where Lucy can incessantly tell the only joke she knows:
Q: What’s Irish and sits outside all summer?
A: Paddy O’Furniture.
Don’t worry, everyone else always groans at that one, too.