Today’s title draws inspiration from the title of track 7 from the album Come on Die Young by Mogwai. The guitar riffs a penetrating, looping sequence, while the drummer and bassist maintain the constitution, and gradual build of the song. It slowly progresses to a gritty tensing climax of clashing symbols and teeth clenching guitar crunch before releasing the listener. Ethereal bells and reverb organ accompany a a dialogue that I have heard has “Please hold the light,” “Keep hope alive,” and even “Please hold the line.” Each interpretation seems to be relative to mood and environment and sometimes even degree of mental clarity.
This is evident of Mogwai’s catalogue. Mogwai presents a meandering, slow building instrumental rock that has an edgy and anxious quality. Mogwai is equal parts punk and progressive rock. Think of the thrashing guitar and clanging symbols of Nirvana mixed with the masterful song writing and extended jamming structures of Led Zepplin wrapped into one package.
I experienced Mogwai via my GodSpeed! You Black Emperor Pandora channel many, many, years ago. From my first listen of the song You Don’t know Jesus, to the colossus of My Father my King, Mogwai has never failed to penetrate the deepest of emotions. Paradoxical optimism flows freely with Dial: Revenge. Glassgow Mega Snake has enough destructive guitar and thrashing discussion to raise hell. And the ironic Mogwai fear Satan leaves one in a profound state of euphoria. I owe my discovery to taking a chance on one song related to a band I already knew.
DuClaw Brewing portrays similar feelings and emotions with their beers. Their labels are edgy, dark, and imply a bit of a metal music feel. The messages are simultaneous sanctification and redemption.
Colossus. Hellrazer. Euforia. Retribution. Sweet Baby Jesus. Repent.
Not long in the distance past I chanced upon an advert for a DuClaw launch event at one of my favorite establishments, Al’s of Hampden. Admittedly DuClaw was not on my radar of brewers. I had never had a beer from DuClaw and had never really experienced any discussion related to the company. As an enthusiast though, a launch in Pennsylvania and the thumbs up from Al was enough to get my attention. The launch was well attended and i procured several bottles which I enjoyed immensely, particularly the Bourbon Barrel aged X-1 Imperial Chocolate Rye Porter. My favorite was a caramel apple firkin of Euforia, DuClaw’s toffee brown ale. The taste still stimulates my taste bud recollections and beckons salivation tinged with sweet rich nutty apple warmth.
Between then and now I have experienced many other DuClaw brews that I have enjoyed quite immensely. Devils Milk holds a special place in my delectably quaffable trophy room. Funk has titillated my taste buds in unexpected ways. Repent has caused a lifting of my previous embargo on Belgian style beers. And Retribution, well dare I say, is among my favorite barrel aged imperial stouts.
My wish is to highlight a more recent experience. Monday 10/28/2013 DuClaw and Pizza Boy(Al’s of Hampden) collaborated for a tap take over. Amongst the pre-event hype were displayed many DuClaw brews that I had never previously enjoyed. Excited about enjoying some rarities, I arranged for a schedule change and attended the event. I give credit to Al and his staff for executing such an event. The volume of patronage was truly exceptional. At one point in the night I waited for ten minutes in a 40 person line for more beer and felt that my wait was actually reasonable. The staff handled the evening with professionalism and laudably Al slung pumpkin and spice infused DuClaw 31 and a firkin of Hellrazer with ease. In between satisfying eager throats and anxious palates, Al satisfied both friend and customer egos with attentive and genuine service.
After a few drafts and some spectacular wings, the crowd died down substantially. Al and Dave from DuClaw came into the patio area where we were seated. After an introduction and several pleasantries we began discuss Duclaw and some of the beers. Various opinions were exchanged about beers, business practices and brewpubs. Rarely have I experienced such an attentive, informative and passionate representative of a company. The conversations ranged from the secret meaning of the Sweet Baby Jesus beer to a disappointment regarding those who didn’t appreciate Citra or Nelson Suavin. At a point I was introduced to Brad from DuClaw, an energetic socialite who I must give a nod to in this article for his encouragement and deterministic attitude. Having admittedly been of the mind to sample as many rarities that I could, my faculties became excessively lubricated towards the later portion of the eve and discussion of particular alpha levels of hops with Jim the Brewmaster caused several head throbs of inadequacy. Yet….
What did the beer taste like?
Divine Retribution #1 – I was most excited about this one.(hence my ordering it first) Much to my regret I didn’t enjoy it. It had the consistency of excretion from a giant squid. It was ink like, oily and pitch black. The nose was slight bourbon and not much else. Sadly the taste was a molasses/soy sauce abomination. 3/10
Colossus – I had very high expectations for this beer, not of course just in the ABV category. I liked Repent a lot, this one, not quite as much. As a beer that would very discretely climb into your semblance of reality and destroy it, success. The issue would be forcing enough into your mouth to reach that point. It just didn’t have enough remarkable elements to it. It was very sweet and caramel rich, I just wished for some other degree of complexity. 5.5/10
31 Pumpkin Spiced Lager – I wish I had been able to compare the base beer to this one. This was poured through a pumpkin with cinnamon and various spices and was a perfect potation. It produced a nice spice balance with a rich dark base. 7/10
Hellrazer w/Blood Orange & Hellertau – This was rather chunky and grainy. I don’t think I had enough patience to let it completely settle. It had a nice citrus/bitter taste but the color of the sediment was a little unnerving. It looked a bit like the color of a Fisherman’s friend cough drop. Perhaps I got the bottom of the firkin. 5/10
Bourbon-Aged Bare Ass Blonde – This blew my mind. I didn’t expect it to be so excellent considering my prior experience with blonde ales. This meshed a perfect light bodied sweetness and sugary drop on the tongue with a malty bourbon decadence on the palate. Amazing. 9/10
Devils Milk – This is sin in a glass. Not just for the name but it harkens all things that are decadent. This is a rich, malty, caramel, earthy tasting sugar donut treat with hop undertone to round it all out. The prospect that I will be able to get this in a bourbon barrel aged form soon is ecstasy inducing. 9.5/10
Devine Retribution #2 – Perhaps since this is a blend of two of my favorite DuClaw beers, I enjoyed this much more. This is a 50/50 Blend of Repent and Retribution. While the alcohol presence was a little more hot that the Retribution #1 it was more pleasing to the palate. Dark chocolate and bananas foster style sugar were present in a more viscous brew than Divine Retribution#1. Subtle licorice and bakers chocolate were present. 9/10
A short while ago DuClaw was naught but an appreciation in another enthusiasts palate. When introduced into my world, however, I immediately was intrigued. Upon further exposure and prolonged enjoyment, I’m hooked. Like my discovery of Mogwai a decade or more prior, I believe DuClaw to be a persistent element in my future.
3 thoughts on “May nothing but happiness come through your door”
So what is the secret meaning of Sweet Baby Jesus?
It’s a secret…I’d have to break a sworn vow to Duclaw if I reveal the information.
That’s ok, I won’t tell anyone.
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