Do you ever find yourself tripping over a sense memory from your childhood? I mean, stub your toe – hard – across a very fond moment from your upbringing?
Does your grown-up brain ever wish there was an adult version of that one thing; a chance to tether together such a powerful experience?
This is going to sound dangerously weird, but I’ve just found a beer that reminds me of after school, 8th grade. Please don’t call my parents to admonish them. Let me explain.
With all of us increasingly unhappy with my previous school, my folks managed to get me switched to one out of district. While I had to awkwardly get used to a whole new campus, student body and precisely what malarkey teachers would or wouldn’t allow, I also got to run with the best skateboarders in Sonora, California. My skills never improved close to theirs, but it was still a lot more fun hanging with the “coolest kids” in our very small scene.
Being out of district made me a de facto latch key kid. Luckily, the local library was right next door and on the short hop to my mom’s office. One would think that having 10 hours a week in a library is what helped me become such a smarty-pants, but they’d be wrong. I used the time, instead, to re-re-re-read Larson’s “The Far Side” compendiums and giggle at certain pictures in certain anatomical instructional tomes. This explains much about the adult me, actually.
After 5, mom would scoop me up and off we’d go to the local Lucky’s Grocery. My almost daily after school snack was a Hostess Cherry Pie with a pint of Nestle Chocolate Quik. The sugary shell and sticky, unnaturally-red cherry filling paired great with almost anything; Cream Soda New York Seltzer, Jolt Cola. Miniature diabetic comas. But it was always chocolate milk that was the best.
I tried JDub’s Bell Cow Milk Chocolate Porter the other day and my adult self spotted young me in the distance. I smiled and waved to him. I had found, by accident, that bridge between youthful innocence and of-age indulgence.
JDub’s is a neat little Sarasota, Florida brewery. Bell Cow starts off with a long list of grains in the malt bill – seven including Black and Chocolate malts plus flaked oats – before adding earthy East Kent Golding hops, cocoa powder and lactose sugar. Lactose doesn’t ferment in brewing. Instead, it remains in the beer providing a bonus sweetness and creamy body.
What you get is an elixir so brown it’s bordering on black with a tan head settling into a thin ring. Chocolate pudding, cream and, perhaps due to my childhood, a hint of sugar-glazed pie shell scents flood the nose. Tight carbonation prickles give way to a smooth body full of baker’s chocolate, fudge, a hint of dried fruit (cherry, maybe?) and Tootsie Roll with a very long finish.
See you around, kid. Big Tim’s staying right here with a can of JDub’s Bell Cow.