Sunday, October 24, 2010

Deconstruction Man

I've felt this way before. It was a while back, probably 1994 or 1995. I remember watching Demolition Man on HBO, it must have been during a free weekend because we never actually subscribed to any of the premium cable channels. I can't really say Demolition Man was a film epiphany, but it definitely changed the way I perceive film as a form of art. Never having been a fan of Sylvester Stallone's work, I didn't go into Demolition Man with the expectation that I was going to come away from it with a new found respect for his craft... I watched Demolition Man more because of Wesley Snipes than Stallone. Rising Sun and Passenger 57 were a big deal to me back then, and Wesley Snipes was the new Bruce Willis as far as I was concerned. It became apparent during the grim future scenes of Los Angeles, set in 1996, that I'd been selling Stallone short... Snipes was there just to compliment Stallone's role. I'd wanted Demolition Man to be about Simon Phoenix but I enjoyed it more when it was about John Spartan. That realization, the sense of discovery, only heightened my enjoyment of what was arguably and an otherwise forgettable mid-90s action movie.

Let's finish with all the Rip Van Winkle and get moving
Odell Brewing Company, arguably the best thing to come out of Fort Collins, recently released a new 750 which hit the shelves in Kansas a couple weeks ago. This beer was brewed to be a flavorful medium bodied golden ale which was then divvied up and left to age in wine barrels, bourbon barrel and fresh oak. The different variations of this beer were then blended back into a singular batch that was bottled and labeled Deconstruction. The label on this bottle says that this beer consists of 44% ale, 33% ale aged in oak, 20% ale aged in bourbon and 3% ale aged in wine barrels. That's a pretty intriguing mix of barrel flavors... Nearly half of this beer is regular ale, but the two stars who's names will sell the most tickets would have to be the oak and bourbon.

Personally, I can go either way on the whole oak aged beer thing. Sometimes it's a novelty, sometimes it adds a lot of character to a beer, and then sometimes it's just an oak aged version of a stout of porter I already like. The more I have barrel aged beer the less I enjoy it, I've just chalked that up to diminishing returns. Bourbon barrel aging still tickles my fancy though, so when I saw that a fifth of this beer was aged in bourbon barrels, I was intrigued.

Isn't there a thought repeating in that barbaric brain of yours? The name Friendly? Mr. Edgar Friendly?
Odell Deconstruction has an interesting cast of characters. There's the strong lead role of 33% oak aged ale supported by 20% bourbon aged ale. I went into this beer not really expecting to enjoy the oak aged aspect of it. I was looking more forward to the bourbon barrel flavors that may have been imparted. There's a lot more Stallone oak aged ale than bourbon here so I wasn't sure just how things would turn out.

The Deconstruction is just as action packed as Demolition Man. There aren't many beers that I've uncorked and had to hold over the sink because foam started rushing out... There seemed to be a lot of carbonation in this beer as I poured it into my glass, stopping at about halfway full to allow the head to settle. Only the head didn't settle, it just kept rising, and rising until it ran over the side of the glass. If I had to rate this beer on an MPAA scale I'd give it an R for its violent and gratuitous head.

You are an incredibly sensitive man, who inspires joy-joy feelings in all those around you
Drinking the Deconstruction was a lot like watching Demolition Man for the first time. I was familiar with the basic premise but the cast is what kept me engaged and ultimately made the experience memorable. Just like the movie, it wasn't the supporting actor (who I was most interested in seeing), but the star which made the movie worthwhile. The star of this beer is that 33% oak aged ale, this was the Stallone of the Deconstruction. It's big and loud but always come off as the more enjoyable cast member. The bourbon aged portion of this beer, the Wesley Snipes if you will, gets more action packed scenes and is an all-around bad ass, but loses out when it comes to likability.

44% of the Deconstruction's cast is made up of supporting characters like Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt and Rob Schneider. I got the impression that the base ale could make it on its own, but these characters just weren't as interesting without the stars. I imagine this plain Golden Ale would be as uneventful as when Rob Schneider and Benjamin Bratt do an air high five in the San Angeles Police Department. Definitely anti-climactic.

I've left someone out. There's still 3% of this beer unaccounted for, it's the wine barrel aged portion. This is the role only Denis Leary could play. Just as he did in Demolition Man, Leary's wine barrel aged character provides a dry flavor and comic relief like no one else could. It may only be 3% of the overall production, but it makes a big difference in the end.

Just don't ask where the meat comes from...
Odell Deconstruction is a great beer. It tastes like a sweet Biere de Garde or Saison that's been barrel aged and blended to be incredibly well balanced so all those strong flavors meld into complex yet cohesive experience. There's a little oak, some white wine and a lot of sweet citrus. This is easily one of the best beers I've had this year, and I plan on picking up some more bottles while I can. I have a feeling this one won't be on shelves for very long. As for Demolition Man, it's been probably been 15 years since you've seen this movie, so why not go ahead and revisit John Spartan, Simon Phoenix and Lenina Huxley... I think it's safe to say the film hasn't aged as well as the beer has, but it's still good for a laugh.

Be well.

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