Ultimate 6er | Age of Aquarius
During a “Tropiquarium” birthday party for 5-year olds, surrounded by Komodo dragons and sugar-fueled children, I had a thought provoking conversation with a fellow adult about the upside of living in Switzerland — mostly the chocolate made by magic elves but also the feeling of living in a bubble. Crime is low, average net worth is high, debt is frowned upon, armies of pleasant public works employees keep the joint spotless – you know, just like the rest of the world. He suggested this is a good place to be since “the world is on fire.”
Billy Joel once said we didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning, which is fair, but the fact remains the world feels like it’s on fire. Which brings me to the topic du jour – the Age of Aquarius.
Though made famous by the 60’s musical Hair, I prefer the ludicrous version performed by Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd of 40 Year Old Virgin fame.
The Age of Aquarius – according to some of my more mystically inclined family members – refers to the idea that all the chaos and turmoil currently taking place is nothing more than a clearing of the dead wood so to speak. Removing the Piscean Age values of money, power and control so that we can transition into an era of love, unity and integrity. I can’t say I’m much of an astrologer but I consider myself a beer half-full kind of guy and any dialogue that suggests we’re NOT life-imitating-art in the form of the Mike Judge classic Idiocracy, I’m all for.
So, after falling down the rabbit hole of Internet Astrology, I have decided to dedicate this 2017 year-end Ultimate 6er to a celebration of all the goodness coming in 2018, I daresay a REVOLUTION! Full disclosure: no one really knows when the Aquarian Age begins (or ends) but such ages change about every 2,000 years so 2018 is as good as any. Also, I’m taking even more creative liberty by looking at the next 5 astrological ages to fill out my six pack.
In retrograde astrological order after Aquarius, we have Capricorn, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Libra and Virgo. There are of course more than six zodiac signs but this being an Ultimate 6er and all… So, lets get down to the beer, as in what beer or brewery best fits the bill for the next six astrological ages?
Aquarius | Mikkeller
Known as the bearer of water to the gods, Aquarians are inventive folk that love to collaborate with big groups of friends on their goal of making the world a better place. What brewery do I know of that creates precious liquid, fit for the gods, with lots of friends to share around the world? Mikkeller. I first experienced Mikkeller at the Encinitas Ale House, it was one of the Beer Geek breakfast brunch bonanazas – I can’t recall which. Mikkeller has built their business around the art of collaboration to the extent that I’d have guessed no one actually knows how many beers they’ve created. RateBeer to the rescue. They list 1,031 options for Mikkeller and I’d wager half are collabs. I can rarely remember which of their brews I’ve had but I always remember enjoying them.
Capricorn | Bell’s Brewery
Ah, the ol’ goat fish, or is it fish goat? This mythical beast is known for being traditional with an inner sense of independence as well as ambition. As Capricorns are elements of Earth, they are naturally known as grounded folks. I certainly don’t know Larry Bell personally but from the bits and pieces I’ve read along the way, his eponymously named brewery strikes me as Capricornian. Their branding leans to the simple, more traditional side of things but at number 7 on the list of 50 biggest breweries last year, I’d say they’re ambitious. The head Fred, on the surface, seems like a grounded sort of dude. Plus, they make personal faves – Two Hearted and Oberon – so I had to have them on here.
Sagittarius | Sierra Nevada Beer Camp
12 breweries, 12 beers and nationwide parties all rolled into one. How does Sierra Nevada do it? Another screwy Louie hybrid, Sagittarians are humanoid up top, horsey down below. Why does this represent Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp? Because these centaurs are the biggest travelers among all zodiac signs. An open minded, extroverted optimist that likes to wander about and find the meaning of life is I believe the Mission Statement of Beer Camp, verbatim. I have yet to be a camper but I have frequently been a consumer of this 12 pack of adventure. My picture’s an oldie but the beer continues to be goodie. Getting extra frisky this year, Sierra has reached out to brewers from Germany, Japan and beyond to craft their goodness. If that’s not a Sagittarius I don’t know what is. For a great write-up on the 2016 offerings by Nick Ostdick, click here.
Scorpio | Magic Rock, Bearded Lady Dessert Coconut
Still waters run deep is what “they” say about Scorpios. Whoever they are also say Scorpios are intense and secretive with vivid imaginations and colors of powerful red and serious black. I’m not sure I could describe the coconut variation of Bearded Lady Dessert from Magic Rock Brewing out of the UK any better. It’s certainly secretive with that coconut, hiding among the blackest beer I’ve ever laid eyes on. And still waters run deep here. What looks like a basic stout on the surface is brimming with brewing passion beneath – a 10.5% barrel aged stout with cacao nibs, vanilla, cinnamon AND coconut. I’m something of a coconut beer sort of guy and this one knocked my socks off. When the bartender told me there were no bottles to buy, I asked to buy the keg. He just shook his head and walked away. I dream about one day finding this beer again…
Libra | O’Fallon King Louie Toffee Stout & Schlafly Pumpkin Ale “Black & Tan”
Ah, Libra, also known as Lady Justice for her need to balance the scales of life, keep it on an even keel so to speak. Harmony. Yin and Yang. Lamb and tuna fish. The first thing that popped in my head was a Black & Tan, the perfect balance between stout and pale ale. Guinness and Bass may be considered the originator of this blend and I’ve had my share but for an article of such gravity I felt the need to get outside the box. Pumpkin beer is a polarizing subject amongst beer nerds but I love the stuff and Schlafly’s is the best there is and would fit the bill for the tan side of things – you can read Andrew Sharp’s review here. On an STL kick, I thought of the super chocolatey King Louie Toffee Stout from O’Fallon, which I’ve waxed upon in the past, as the black half. Chocolate and pumpkin beer, considered blasphemy by some, would be manna from Libra herself to me. The perfect balance of spiced gourds and decadent chocolate. Oh man, I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Virgo | Kane Overhead Imperial IPA
Virgo’s are said to be hardworking, modest and very persuasive. Years ago, during a Kane Brewing tasting event at Brickwall in Asbury Park, brewery founder Michael Kane stopped at our table to ask what we thought. I remember the beer being solid and Mr. Kane being an easy going, pleasant guy. Hardworking and modest – check. And his Imperial IPA – Overhead – checks the box for persuasiveness. For one thing, an overhead day in Monmouth County will persuade non-believers that NJ surf is legit. And for another it will convince you to check out more of what Kane Brewing has to offer. I’ve had the beer on many occasions and am always left impressed with the just-right smooth resiny citrus notes I appreciate in world class big IPAs. It’s a beer that I would happily have on hand at all times.
During these end of year festivities, as I reflect back on 2017…wait, no, that’s unlikely. Let me try again. Over the holidays, while I drink lots of beer, eat lots of food and chase children around – I’ll wonder if good beer is the solution to the world’s problems. Well, I would argue that if a six pack of the above brews was delivered to everyone on the planet, it couldn’t hurt the ushering in of this Aquarian Age of mindfulness and no more selfies. But even more likely, I’ll leave the philosophy to Jeff Lebowski and focus my 2018 consciousness on the never-ending quest for tasty beer.
Cover Photo Credit: tricycle.org