I was very introverted when my family moved here in 1988. I didn’t know anybody, was starting high school a week behind the rest of the classes and suffering an acute case of culture shock. Basically, this California kid, fresh from the Sierra Nevada foothills, laid-back manners via liberal school upbringing was in for a rude awakening.
I quickly learned the etiquette of The South. One tight-lipped teacher admonished me in front of the entire English class that, “… here in The South, it’s ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’! Do you understand me?”
“Yes… I understand what you’re saying…” I said cautiously, not wanting to end my sentence with a preposition or commit any similar grammatical faux pas. She began to turn purple at my lack of title recognition.
Between the country boys in their muddy, jacked-up trucks and the hip hop crews with their Public Enemy and leather Africa medallions, I was ill-prepared for this new locale and absolutely clueless to the pecking order of teenage hierarchy in Pensacola. To make matters worse, I was getting into heavy metal and none of the cliques cottoned to my lengthening hair and ripped jeans.
I had one friend in the entirety of my freshman year. The ebony to my ivory, a good friend to this day, fellow columnist Mike Smith. Only he lived on the other side of the school district, so our only friend time that first year was during school and our lazy attempt to join the Bowling Team after classes. In a nutshell, I spent a lot of time watching that true opiate of the masses: television.
One show that was on back then was Star Trek: The Next Generation. Kids used to tease me saying I looked like Wil Wheaton’s character from the show, Wesley Crusher. My skin was much thinner in those days, so I’d get very mad. If anyone were to make the comparison these days, I’d say “thank you.” Turns out ol’ Ensign Crusher grew up to be an avid home brewer.
In fact, he just collaborated with Greg Koch – CEO and co-founder of Stone Brewing – and fark.com creator Drew Curtis to make what they’re calling Stone Farking Wheaton wOOtstout. This oddly-named imperial stout is what they’re calling Stone’s “geekiest accomplishment.” Well, sure! The beer geek, the media geek and the geekiest character from a geeky TV show making ale together? Come on!
As is par for the course with Stone’s beer – and polar opposite of my origins in this town – there’s nothing shy or quiet about this massive stout. Practically solid brown-black with a creamy head, this beer has an overload of scents from everything that went into its recipe; wheat, rye, pecan, dark-roast malt and Bourbon barrel aging. In addition, there are notes of liquorice and vanilla joining the crowded party. Flavors are equally impressive; espresso roast and dark chocolate with the Bourbon adding some caramel-vanilla booziness and the pecans providing a nutty depth to the finish. Sip cautiously around the beer’s 13% alcohol by volume.
My childhood and adulthood are colliding together in one beer.