Does anyone remember Steven Spielberg’s tv show “Amazing Stories?” In the opening credits there’s a Native American family sitting around the campfire and the elderly head of the house is telling a story. That’s how they did things before a telephone could download and play the latest – ahem – music from Lady Gaga in, like, ten seconds. It was word of mouth back then.
Now, people tell me I spin a pretty good yarn writing this here beer column. That’s what “they” say so I’ll smile politely and agree with them. “They” say that the story is what makes what I do different from, say, Dave Barry or Hints by Heloise. Without the story it’s just a description about a beer.
So I start with a story behind the beer. Sometimes there are multiple stories. In the case of today’s beer there’re even stories about the stories behind the name and history of what influenced the beer. Confused? Let’s visit Xingu and get to the bottom of this.
Xingu is a river in Brazil named after the indigenous people of the area who, after Whitey came a-conquerin’ a few centuries back, kept heading farther and farther inland to avoid assimilation. The Xingu are comprised of 14 or 15 tribes who live along the river and probably still pass along their stories and histories word of mouth. Europeans explorers and settlers unknowingly brought disease and the Xingu were thinned down to a mere 1000 or so tribe members by mid-20th century.
“Xingu” is also the name of an Edith Wharton short story where, as far as I can tell, is about a ladies’ book club trying to deceive each other before they fall asleep into their thimble glasses of crème de menthe. I couldn’t tell… I fell asleep into my thimble glass of crème de menthe reading it. In any case, Xingu is a people, a river, a place and a story. It’s also a pretty nice beer.
It’s a black lager that’s as dark and thought-provoking as the deeps of the Brazilian jungle.
The beer gives us a brown-black color with only a trace of ruby showing around the edges and a very evenly-dispersed tan head. Xingu delivers big scents of fresh wheat bread and caramel with small notes of dried fruits. It’s a different bread that I pick up in the flavor… pumpernickel with hits of honeysuckle and toffee. With no real noticeable hop bitterness, the malts are allowed to fully express themselves which can leave a bit too much sweetness on the palate yet isn’t overpowering.
There are many paths and rivers to lead you along your journey and you’ll never know where they take you. Hmm… I think someone told that to me once long ago.