Bourbon County Stout x “Blood on the Tracks”
Tangled up in booze.
Drink: Bourbon County Brand Stout – Goose Island
Song: Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan
A great stout for the world’s greatest breakup album. This is probably my favorite Dylan album because it blends together approachable songwriting with killer storytelling, electric and acoustic, anger and longing, warm and cold. It’s a beautiful thing. You can even pull out a meta line from “Tangled up in Blue” where Bob sings about a book of poetry given to him from a woman who said he “looked like the silent type” he writes “And every one of them words rang true/And glowed like burning coal/Pouring off of every page/Like it was written in my soul/From me to you.” You can almost feel Dylan writing his make up and break up with a nod back to all of his favorite love-based art. Bob has denied that this album is biographical at all but it makes me feel better thinking it is. So it is. On to the beer.
Bourbon County Stout is one of the grandfathers of both the Bourbon Barrel aged beer movement and the hypebeast beer movement. First brewed some time in the mid-nineties and now released every Black Friday, finding this beer has grown into a yearly tradition for a lot of beer hunters and casual fans alike. For a while you had to know exactly where it was going to be and when to get there to make sure you got your hands on some. Now, it seems much easier to find with many stores around here (Rochester, NY) still having bottles and cases on the floor well into the next week. That’s not to say it’s not still an event for a lot of beer people. You can check plenty of beer related forums and review sites and see plenty of people posting pictures of their “haul” and talking about who still has what and where to get it. There are also more than a handful of sites that have written on the pros and cons of beer trading and waiting in line and limited releases. My stance, because you are dying to know, is pro-hype. Beer is a blend of physical and emotional connections. Physical being the beer itself. Does it taste good? Does it look right? Is it interesting and approachable? The emotional connection is everything outside the glass. What time of year are you drinking this beer? How was your day that lead up to opening up this can? Are you in your house watching Stranger Things or are you at the brewery on vacation? Having big positives on both sides lead to a great beer experience, as lame as that sounds. Beer hunting, and waiting in line usually means that you are around other people and talking about not just the beer you are looking for, but other beers you dig, other places you’ve been for good beer. Building the beer community, if you will. The downside, in my opinion, is that it may seem intimidating to people just getting in and, if you spend any amount of time on beer forums, it can get more than a bit negative if people don’t think the beer lives up to the hype. Does any of this make the beer taste better? Probably. Just like expensive wine with a cork just tastes a little better.
Now on to the beer, for real this time. If you have had this beer in years past, the new vintage opens up like a record you’ve heard before but haven’t gotten sick of yet. Familiar, warm, and a touch nostalgic. It pours a thick black and brown, looking like it will stain the glass as it slides down. The immediate nose if warm chocolate and booze. First sip is a warm rush of the same. You know when you put on a blanket that is already warm? There is now ramp up time for comfort. This beer is like that. And it’s perfect that you can dive right in with this beer, because that is just how this album opens up. Tangled up in got-dang Blue is the first track. This makes my personal High Fidelity “Top 5 – Side 1/Track 1” list. You get, immediately, the emotion of the album. Dylan lays out that he’s hurt, confused, optimistic, nostalgic, longing, and still looking forward. As the album rolls on to “Simple Twist of Fate” and you get even more of maybe Dylan’s best lyric writing. Each song stands alone as a testament to a hurting heart, but not necessarily a beaten one. You can drink this beer slowly as the Bob sings “Yer gonna have to leave me now, I know/But I’ll see you in the sky above/In the tall grass, in the ones I love/Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go” and it will warm up and open to big rushes of charred marshmallow and spent coffee grounds. The album is just under an hour, perfect for knocking out one 12oz bottle of a silky 14% abv stout. By the end you will have some artificial warm and fuzzies to go along with the ones that you get from “Shelter from the Storm” and “Buckets of Rain” as the album finishes off. If you have just gone through a little bit of the ol’ heartbreak yourself, feel free to open up another bottle and start the album all over again.
Sip & Spin