Wells & Young’s Brewery Banana Bread

March 16, 2011

Mardi Gras is finally over. So long, pernicious traffic jams. Adios, lack of parking downtown. Sayonara, drunk reveler in the camouflage jacket and jester hat. A warm can of Bud Light at ten a.m.? Sounds like a terrible idea, no thank you. You want how much for a corn dog?

Okay, so I’m a notorious cynic, sue me. I fully understand the historical and societal impact of Carnival and Mardi Gras. Yes, thousands of people cherish the parades and balls and parties. Most of them don’t work in the service industry and have to deal with every type and background of person imaginable. It tends to make one jaded and grumpy well before their time.

Are there any upsides to Fat Tuesday that I can mention? Sure. The bank deposit is much fatter than usual. And, honestly, after four tours of duty in New Orleans for their debaucherous spectacle, Mobile’s carnival season is far more family-friendly and a lot less nutty. I won’t waste column space on everything I was witness to over there, suffice it to say that strange doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

There’s also that one little thing about Mardi Gras that’s as ubiquitous as blue roofs after a hurricane. The one item I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with. Besides cheap plastic bead necklaces and feather boas it’s probably one of the most recognizable signs of a parade having recently passed by. I’m talking about the Moon Pie. Bereft of vitamins and high on the calorie scale, there’s just something about the combination of chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker. Sugary sweet and sure to please the kids of all ages, the Moon Pie (and its various new flavors) is portable, inexpensive and comforting.

All of the above has me thinking about the British beer Well’s Banana Bread. Is it possessive of a strange, yet attractive, quality? Certainly. Does it satisfy the sweet tooth in all of us? Absolutely. As a part of the Young’s family of brews, this unique ale from Bedford is, like all their beers, brewed with mineral water from a well source over 100 years old. Actually made with bananas from a sustainable fair trade import, the malted grains marry perfectly with the natural fruit sweetness. It pours up golden and clear with a nice head of foam. There’s rather surprising lacing down the sides of the glass for such a malty beer. It smells, as one would suspect, strongly of fresh-baked banana bread with some nutty scents mingling around hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. The flavor delivers even more of its namesake with touches of toffee and a slight peppery bite from the hops.

Surprisingly fun and flavorful, I’d equate this beer with Mardi Gras. You don’t want to do it all the time, but it’s kind of nice when it comes around. Now, where did I put that Moon Pie?