Action Figures & Their Beers - Time for dessert!

by Beedo Sookcool
on 2015-03-07, 17:46:46

CRÈME BRÛLÉE

I know this review looks tediously long, but the product is well worth the extra time to read about, just as it was well worth the extra time to write about. Trust me.

Greeata came over from the States to visit me for a couple weeks recently, and apart from a tussle with the norovirus (which I lost spectacularly), it was a very enjoyable vacation for both of us. And she brought me lots of goodies, including two expensive, high-end, high-potency, craft-brewed beers to try from the Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York. Today’s offering is the “Blackwater Series” Crème Brûlée.

This one, she insisted I try and review first. When I pondered what figure to pair with it, I thought Charbroil and/or Blowtorch, flamethrower troopers from G.I. Joe. After all, even though it’s somehow got a reputation as a particularly “girly” dessert, crème brûlée is best made using an actual friggin’ blowtorch, which is about as hardcore as desserts get. (Unless you count desserts that have topless dancing girls popping out of them or Jean-Pierre’s heavy metal cake from Metalocalypse.) But, no, Greeata insisted I use the girliest action figure I have in my collection.

But who to choose? There’s that My Little Pony I got on clearance, bought solely for the purpose of making trolling memes for when MLP fans insist on swamping non-MLP sites with their own irritating crossover memes. Trolling memes such as this:

Beedo angrily punching My Little Pony baby unicorn

Feel free to use that image anytime and anywhere you like, especially to annoy pestersome MLP fans. You’re welcome. };D

In the article I wrote to go along with Bill’s MOTU Classics pictures from Toy Fair 2014, I mentioned Flutterina, a butterfly-woman character, as “possibly the girliest action figure ever sold to grown men.” Normally, she would be a shoe-in, but she also owns a whacking gurt sword, which kind of lessens the girliness a bit. And that left me with Glimmer, who looks like a pink-haired 1980s aerobics instructor carrying a giant rose with a jewel in it and a large crystal ball. (And, as the abovementioned article also points out, Glimmer is the Brightmoon Bicycle: everybody gets a ride! This has nothing to do with anything except that at every possible opportunity, I like to bring up the fact that a kids’ cartoon character is a complete skank, and I don’t even have to apply Rule 34. Seriously. Every new guy that shows up in the cartoon, she’s on him like a rash.) So, here you go:

AF&TB Crème Brûlée & Glimmer

And I still don’t get it. With the possible exception of Hot Wheels vs. Hello Kitty party cakes, I just do not get this idea that certain foods or drinks are only for certain genders. Food is . . . just . . . well . . . food. It’s for everyone. That’s what’s so great about it. I don’t care if it’s still stuck to a recognisable bone and dripping blood all over my hands or if it’s seven shades of pink and lilac, covered in candied lavender blossoms, and is meant to be eaten with a comically tiny fork from a delicate bone-china plate. Does it taste good? Yes? Great. Then I’ll have some of that, thanks, and you’d best not be between me and the plate unless you want to be trampled. And possibly gored. But I’m supposed to be discussing beer, not arbitrary gender roles relating to luxury foods (which I actually seem to do a lot in these articles, for some weird reason). Anyway . . . .

The bottle is a whopping 22 ounces (650 mL), which is actually two ounces more than a proper English pint! So the beer didn’t fit into one of my half-liter Garrison Carida pilsner glasses all in one go. And at 9.5% ABV, I do believe it’s the strongest beer I’ve drunk to date. Which means by the time I finished it, I was in no fit state to finish writing this review, so I had to have two attempts at it on two separate days. (Hey, shut up. Since I had to cut my drinking way back owing to my anti-arthritis chemo nearly three years ago, I’ve lost my formerly-heroic tolerance of alcohol.)

The bottle is covered in text. Other than the name of the brewery and the brew, “A STOUT BREWED with VANILLA BEANS” is the probably the first text you notice on the label. There’s the usual government warning and refund info next to the picture of the dazed-looking cow. Next to the ABV rating is an outline of a chalice with “42°F” printed inside it, indicating the ideal vessel and tempearture you’re supposed to drink it from and at, respectively. Above that, you get listed 25° plato (something to do with the density rating – calculations hurt my head at the best of times, and I’m not about to let maths and stats spoil my beer enjoyment), 2-row barley, dark caramel malt, vanilla bean, lactose sugar, and columbus & horizon hops.

Along the top band, more stats. “Color: Very Dark | Body: Full | Bitter: Medium | Pair: Organic Vanilla Ice Cream, Cheesecake | Store: Dark, Upright, < 48° | Serve: Snifter.” Couple of notes from me: Firstly, “Very Dark” is not a colour, that’s a relative intesity of shade. Its colour is actually very, very, very dark raw umber – remember that Crayola crayon? Yeah, that, only even darker. Almost black. Also, being somewhat allergic to dairy, the best I could pair it with is chocolate chip cookies. And I’d already poured it into a pilsner glass by the time I read the snifter comment, so too bad.

But wait! There’s more! “The British founders of burnt cream & from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality & we respect that. But it was the French crème brûlée that survived history.” Yeah, one thing I discussed with Greeata during this recent holiday is that when it comes to food and drink, changing the name to French somehow automatically makes people think it’s miles better, and allows the restaurant to jack up the price. Who wants boring old custard when you can have the luxury of crème anglaise, or everyday, working-class gravy when they’re offering posh jus? Fish sticks? No, thanks, those are for kids. I’ll have the breaded goujons of pollock, please!

But that’s still not all! “A STOUT OF GREAT INTENTION. How could a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple: resilience and finesse.” (Or you could, you know, just taste it.) “Pour Crème Brûlée into a glass. The incredibly dark & opaque beer reveals a thick head.” (Mine didn’t; it was more of a thin comb-over.) Aroma leaps forward; sweet, creamy & uncannily true to the namesake dessert.” (100% true) “Enjoy it with – or as – your favourite after-dinner treat.”

Well, that’s all the reading out of the way, but what of the beer itself? Well: wow. Just . . . wow. Smells exactly like it’s supposed to: custard and caramel. The aroma alone is enough to satisfy my appetite; it’s practically a tangible entity in and of itself. Tastes like custard and caramel, too, but with stout and the tiniest bit of chocolate mixed in. And, like most of these high-octane, high-class beers, it’s got a rich, rummy, brandy-butter aspect to its flavour as well. It’s rich, sweet, smoky, sweet, and rich. It’s the Essence of All Dessert in beer form. I am awed. This. Is. Outstanding. Greeata herself described it as “one of the finest things that’s ever gone in my mouth.” Or, to quote Lisa M, an old college buddy of mine,“£*&%ing exquisite.” I lingered and savoured it and drank it at every temperature from ice-cold to about 50°F (10°C), and the quality, aroma, and flavour barely changed at all. No skunkiness. All bliss, all the time.

Despite all my snarky asides about the various chapters written on the bottle, this is superlative drinking. The storage and temperature and glass and food pairing suggestions are welcome, but do I need them to tell me that this beer is “Very Dark”? No. I can see that myself. Some may accuse me of not taking beer-drinking seriously enough, but I think if you take it seriously, you’re abandoning fun and enjoyment, which is what beer-drinking (or any drinking, really) should be all about. As soon as you start talking like a pompous sommelier to your customers and telling them about specific gravity, you need to step back and re-evaluate your priorities. This is some of the finest beer in the world. Let it speak for itself – or let reviewers like me do it. I might not have done very well in my Organic Chemistry and Physics classes at university, but I know comestibles both instinctively and through deecades of wide-ranging experience on three continents. As I’m fond of saying at every opportunity, always trust a well-travelled fat man when it comes to food and drink. So trust me on this: Track down Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée. It will be well worth it!

And, oh, yeah: If you’re a fan of Masters of the Universe in general, and the Millennial reboot in particular, this might also appeal to you: The MOTU Classics Club 200X Mini-Subscription, open until 23rd March 2015.

Drink this if you also like: Crème brûlée, chocolate stout, Fuller’s Vintage or Past Masters lines, classy high-end beer in general, pleasure.*

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* Pronounced, of course, as Matt Berry does at the end of every episode of Snuff Box: PLEZZ-yuuure.





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