Interesting bouquet, floral notes, hint of tannins, strong peppery flavor with lots of ripe blackberries and jam. Ah, yes, talking about wine. It’s all good and well, really, there’s lots of things to find in a glass, if one takes the time to discover them (or has the time to, before the glass is empty. One of my foremost pitfalls when it comes to wine critiquing, let’s be honest.). But what we are not, then, talking about, is the actual reason a lot of us have for picking one bottle over another in the store: how much we connect with the drink itself.
I will be the first one to come out and say that I have picked many a bottle based on its label. An attractive design, a clever name. This urge runs even more rampant when it comes to beer. I feel like breweries (particularly of the micro variety) are often so clever about their names that I can’t help but want to try them, either because of what it means for me to be a person that drinks something with a quirky name or cool story, or because I feel mischievous ordering it from the bartender.
Discussed this with a bartender a while back. He said, we do not just sell the drink, we sell the vibe that goes with it. And when he got to talking about Flying Dog’s Gonzo Imperial Porter, with its label illustrated by Ralph Steadman and its tribute to the fantastic and crazy Hunter S. Thompson, I have to admit, I was buying it. He called it the beer equivalent of a good spanking.
Drinking Gonzo obviously isn’t going to turn me into some carefree, lunatic philosopher, I know that, but I’m still ready to buy the beer and play pretend. Just like when I go to grocery stores in Utah, where our parents live, and pick up a pack of Wasatch Brewery’s Polygamy Porter. It’s tasty, absolutely, but I mostly buy it because their “Why have just one!” tagline cracks me up, every time. I probably shouldn’t just have admitted that. Don’t tell my sister.