A Friday night, good friends, and two amazing ales... Both of these came from the "big beers" category, which in our part of the country are only sold at liquor stores. The first was 7.2% alcohol, the second 9.0%.
Arrogant Bastard Ale, from Stone Brewing Company in California. Very bitter, though it smooths out a bit after some mellowing in the glass. If you're not afraid of bitter beer, this is a good one and a great bargain--around $4 for a 650mL (1 pint 6 oz.) bottle. We enjoyed this alongside smoked chicken, grilled corn, and chicken-apple sausage. A big hand for the bottle design. As long as you're drinking beer, you might as well further disappoint your mother by having a demon on the bottle.
Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale, from the good people at the North Coast Brewing Company in California, comes in a 750mL bottle with a cork. How could I pass this up? A hilarious pun, great jazz reference, cool label, and $2 from every case goes to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Pure delight. Rich and deep, chocolate flavors and aromas. Very low bitterness, golden crema-style head on top.
A perfect after-dinner beer, and the cage and champagne cork provide a little elegance. Bonus points for listening to the 1957 recording of the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall. At the very least, break out your old LP of Round Midnight and slow dance with your woman. The lights turned low, and the stereo turned up just enough to allow the sweet tickling of the ivories to vibrate through the night air.
You know, I've thus far managed to keep my love of jazz off the blog. I love playing classic jazz during dinner parties--Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, all those guys, and many more. Even people who claim to hate jazz are often captivated by the rhythms. And I attempt to avoid the jazz fan stereotype by never talking about the subject: I just play the music and let it speak for itself. Generally at a level low enough to allow conversation to take place, but loud enough for it to be the focus of attention during quiet lulls.