I had a hectic morning, because folding laundry counts as hectic if you have a certain kind of lifestyle, and therefore I’m a bit behind on my daily media-eating. Can someone help catch me up? Specifically I’m wondering if the part of the internet in charge of dispensing cultural edicts has decided if Comedy Central should murder that South African kid with the stupid tweets from a few years ago?
You know the one I’m talking about: He was just named the new host of The Daily Show, but then some brave joke archivist dug back deep enough through his Twitter timeline to reveal that in his mid-twenties he said some dumb shit about which religions like to perform oral sex and which weight classes look good on the weekend. Then we all had to pick sides: either “Let him live and learn / comedy’s all about pushing boundaries / I remember once I didn’t get a blowjob even though I really wanted one, and that sucked, so I can see where he’s coming from” versus “This anti-Semitic misogynist can not be trusted to act as a responsible steward of the single most important television show of all time.”
It’s that last part, about The Daily Show’s cultural significance, that inspired some digging of my own: It turns out that America has about as many Daily Show watchers as we have Walmart employees. Roughly one-third of one percent of us count as one or the other; pure statistical probability—before you even consider demographic factors about who watches what or works where—suggests there is very little overlap.
I have never, to my knowledge, known a Walmart worker, despite the fact that one in every 300 Americans is employed there at any given time. On the other hand, everyone I know watches The Daily Show. This makes sense, because I’m a big-city Northeast liberal blogger, which means I’m hopelessly out of touch with the normal world.
Do you realize that many of the very clever teenagers who run the cultural-criticism internet lack every single one of the following: a car, a dog, a kid, a mortgage, a favorite college football team, a gun, or a non-ironic appreciation for stuffed-crust pizza? And yet we continue to yammer away at you as if our situations and predilections were the American standard. Fuck us, man.
This is why I try very hard to take as broad an approach as possible to Drunkspin’s beer coverage. Even within this tiny little niche of people who not only drink fancy beer—which still accounts for just 11 percent of overall American beer consumption—but actually bother to read about it, I realize there’s a hopelessly broad range of preferences and experiences. This is why even though I realize it’s egotistical to always be speaking at you fine folk, at least it’s better than pretending I’m qualified to speak for you. This is why I started this column discussing my laundry habits: Because I respect your journey.
In addition to all the usual things that limit our ability to hold one big, inclusive conversation about any cultural artifact or consumer good—i.e., we don’t all like the same shows or work at the same stores—national beer camaraderie is further limited by the antiquated three-tier system of alcohol distribution, which is one of the primary reasons we don’t all have access to the same beer. In addition to market-based production and logistical limitations, there are also just too damn many legal hoops to jump through.
This means it’s nearly impossible to write about beer that’s available to all potential readers. I try to mix it up both in terms of brewery size and geography. This is why on Tuesday we talked about Gigantic, an excellent little brewery in Oregon; then Wednesday we shifted to Sierra Nevada, one of the few high-quality brewers who manage to distribute to all 50 states; and today we’re back to the obscure stuff, this time Massachusetts’s Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project.
This handy map indicates that you can now get Pretty Things beer in 6.5 states, plus Washington, D.C. (The half-state is California, which is color-coded to indicate “limited or regional distribution,” but I’m not sure if that’s still accurate.) The lucky people of Missouri are joining this list soon, if they haven’t already. So Pretty Things is starting to get around a bit, though it’s not likely to ever get too huge, just based on their production process. They only sell 22-ounce bottles and kegs, and they don’t tend to hew to traditional beer styles (their aim is to make “good-time artisanal beers” in whatever manner strikes their fancy). That’s cool, but it can be tough to break into a new market on the other side of the country without a six-pack of IPA.
Pretty Things’s flagship beer is Jack D’Or, a farmhouse ale brewed roughly in the saison style. I love saisons, but for whatever reason Jack D’Or might be my least favorite Pretty Thing. I have a hard time choosing a favorite, because husband-and-wife brewing team Dann and Martha Paquette do a lot of real nice things with water, malt, yeast, and hops. But if I had to pick just one, I’d probably go with Fluffy White Rabbits, their weird-ass spring seasonal that is hereby crowned Drunkspin’s Official Easter-If-That’s-Your-Thing-And-Sunday-If-It’s-Not Beer.
What kind of beer is it? Shit, I dunno. Website says “Why, it’s some sort of triple.” It’s a 8.5-percent alcohol-by-volume beauty featuring the uncommon combination of German (Weyerman) and British (Fawcett) malts along with Czech (Saaz), British-inspired (Styrian Goldings), and French (Strisselspalt) hops.
The classic peppery Saaz aroma emerges first, and then you get hit with a bit of lemon, tricking you into expecting a pilsner, or at least some other lighter lager, but then you get fruity, spicy Belgian aromas from the other hops and the yeast—mostly banana, with light bubblegum and just a touch of clove. On the palate, the Saaz is again first out of the gate, followed by fruitier-than-expected malt, then some citrus before a reassertion of the more traditional Belgian flavors. The whole experience comes across as possibly backward, but certainly excellent.
We don’t all have access to the same beers at the same times, so I can’t in good conscience tell you what to wash down your next ham with. But I heartily recommend Pretty Things Fluffy White Rabbits to anyone blessed with the opportunity.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.
Illustration by Sam Woolley.
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