Bluegrass Brewing Company– Horse Piss
Bluegrass Brewing Company– Horse Piss Beer – 5.0% ABV
Remember Opposite Day? When good meant bad, ugly meant pretty, and happy meant sad? Opposite day paved the way for things like “not” and facetious “no-ew-oh” remarks, and eventually to the consistent sarcasm of high school and the intentional irony of adulthood. Many people say that we are living in the Age of Irony. Irony is in; it is cool. If you get it…then you get it. John Deere hats are no longer worn by farmers, sons of farmers, or those who have ever actually rode a tractor, but by those that shop at the mall at Hot Topic. We are so inundated with irony that we now have to say “literally” when we are not being ironic or sarcastic or hyperbolic. (By the way, my personal pet peeve is when someone prefaces a comment with “literally” and then says something figurative. That is not hyperbole; that is stupidity.) Bluegrass Brewing Company’s Horse Piss Beer, which I assumed to be a wittily ironic name, piqued my interest then confounded my senses, making me realize (for the second straight review) that craft brewers should heed the warning that quite a bit comes with a name.
Horse Piss is a blonde ale, not my favorite beer genre, but not down in the lowly depths where I hold the farmhouse ales. This beer pours golden yellow, the color that the name might imply, with a thin white cap of foam that quickly dissipates. The aroma struts citrus notes on top of a foundation of lager maltiness (think pouring a Blue Moon into a Budweiser). The taste though is what discombobulated my normally mediocre senses of prediction and deduction. Horse Piss delivers very little on fruity complexity and even falls short on a crisp finish. My palate adjusted, and I got used to the taste, thinking that this is a beer that I could drink quite a few of on a hot summer’s day once my tongue demands only the cold and wet. Hose Piss Ale, as many reviews on PD lately have stated, transitions the marco drinker into a craft brew drinker seamlessly. But then there’s the rub…it is $8/4-pack. Now, I will pay for quality, but to ask a consumer (especially one used to getting 12 beers for $8) to pay top dollar for a middle-of-the-road beer is a little insulting.
Unless a beer has been suggested to me, I revert back to my shallow aesthetics of name and label. Is the name intriguing? Is the label cool? This is a powerful tool of marketing and sales, but craft brewers need to be careful, specifically when naming their beers. As alluded to in my last review on Monticello Reserve Ale, what you name your beer sets an expectation. I expected “reserve” to indicate special…drinker error…I misinterpreted. I think companies like Dogfish Head (60/90 minute IPA, Pangea, and Midas Touch), Oskar Blues (Dale’s Pale Ale and Mama’s Little Yellow Pils) and even New Belgium (Fat Tire, Shift, and Somersault) have it right when they go for naming: literally tell what the beer is or use a catchy or obscure reference that promises little in terms of creating expectation. If you name a beer Hopslam, and it slams you with hops, mission accomplished, expectation met.
The definition of irony is when you encounter the opposite of your expectation (situational) or when you say one thing but mean another (verbal). So when a craft brewer, especially Bluegrass Brewing Company who makes some really nice beers, calls a beer “horse piss” in this age of ironic enlightenment, my expectation is that the beer will positively surprise me in one or many aspects. I expected (again, to my fault) that calling the beer Horse Piss was meant to be ironic…it wasn’t. While the beer was not literally equine urine, it was not exceptionally good either. The title of this beer is too close to what its name implies to be ironic. Voltaire said, “A witty saying proves nothing.” In the parlance of our times, the same can be said for a witty beer name because irony doesn’t always translate well into the label form, and the last thing you want to do is confuse the consumer. Oh wait…is it Opposite Day?