Saturday, April 23, 2011

Scotch Ale Twofer: Tyranena Shaggin' in the Wood and Three Floyds Robert the Bruce

Slow Friday nights at bars are terrible for business but awesome for patrons, especially those who are too weary for the logistical hurdles and social pressure of being with "real" friends. Because the bar is overstaffed expecting a big weekend crowd, service is especially fast, and the yahoos keep in line. 

At Brixie's, it also means seeing a (usually) good band performing for a few dozen people--again, bad for business, bad for the band, but enjoyable for me. Last night's band, Shannon the 2 Timers (that's a pair of timers, rather than an indefinite number of two-timers) gets my endorsement. Based on the hour of their set I caught, they're a country cover band that does mostly non-country songs, mostly quite well. "Ballroom Blitz" was a particular highlight.

I also played my first game of pinball--not in my life, but at least in fifteen years. The bar has two machines, but in all the times I'd been there, I'd never felt compelled to play. I don't remember pinball being so great as a kid, and as an adult, I expected it to be boring. But I got talked into a game. I was affirmed in my assumption of boring; add to it a little annoying--lots of waiting for the ball to fall and enough flashing light to put chemically stable brains near seizure.

Shaggin' in the Wood is barrel-aged scotch ale, so it's stronger and sweeter than your typical variety. I thought it had more of a bourbon than a scotch flavor, but that could have been some synesthetic conflation with the country twang in my ears while I drank it. The aroma had that roasty caramel smell and some dark fruits like dates and cherries, which also came out in the sip. The texture was thin but syrupy enough to swish, perfect for the flavor. I'm not a huge scotch ale drinker, but this was one of the best I've ever had. 

Grade: G, for good medicine.

Robert the Bruce is a very different type of scotch ale, so it wasn't redundant to my first beer. Still, as I expected, it was a step down but still very enjoyable. I'd had this beer a few times before but never (I don't think) on tap. Molasses is probably the most prominent note in both the aroma and taste. The hops give a little blueberry on the whiff, along with some general cakiness. The sip finishes more bitter than most scotch ales I've had. Neither of these beers has much of the musty flavor I think of with scotch. 

Grade: B, for borderline-walkable. That is, I could walk away from this beer if I couldn't finish, which I almost did, but I'd rather not.

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