Monday, May 2, 2011

New Glarus IIPA and The Hesitation Blues

I've been thinking a lot lately about the link between music and beer. I've been thinking a lot about the Blues lately too. I have no idea if or why these things are related but the link has been my near obsession with this beer - the New Glarus IIPA - which I have been thinking about a lot lately as well.

For those keeping score at home that's a lot of thinking. Especially to be where I sit today with no clear idea of how or why, in my mind, New Glarus' IIPA is connected to the Blues. I just find myself wanting both. When I'm drinking an IIPA I find myself wanting, nay, needing to listen to the Blues; but not any blues. I don't need the honkin' barroom blues; I don't need wailing blues; I don't need steamrolling blues. I need old-school blues; Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, and Blind Lemon Jefferson's Blues. And when I'm listening to these Blues I find myself wanting this IIPA.

I think the key is in the thinking. In other words, both lend themselves to reflection. Indeed, the blues is all about reflection and retrospection and insight. The blues is about assessing ourselves through the prism of another's experience. We all have or can identify with many of the same experiences. Lead Belly and I have very little in common, we have led two very different lives, but we've both had the Hesitation Blues.

Indeed, a song like Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave is Kept Clean" demands that we reflect on our end of days. That we ask ourselves how we see the end occurring. The reason for the end occurring. The realities of our end on others.

A beer like New Glarus' IIPA likewise demands introspection. Retrospection. Pondering. Deep thought.

You probably, at this point, think I am crazy. Fair enough. But this isn't a partying beer. Sure, you could crack one open in front of a Brewers game (The Beautiful Game, that plodding, playful, summer game meant for conversation and reflection seems like a rather fitting duo) but it doesn't really seem fit for, say, a Packers game or a Blackhawks game or NASCAR.

This beer demands thought, it will not be ignored, you cannot talk over it, you cannot mindlessly chug from the bottle, it is distracting at best when playing poker.

Its aroma is powerful; instantly transporting you to a lonesome, dewy, meadow with its bright grassiness and robust flowers. The bitterness is a smacking reminder of your godforsaken life and all of the pathways that have brought you to this glass in front of you. Its finish lingers, holding the thought; rotating it around in your brain, waiting for you to choose to let it go in search of solace in the hope that another sip will bring with it some other thought or some other memory. Drink it slowly, take the time for reflection; it gets better as it warms. The 9% ABV helps to cull the dead brain cells leaving the best ones to do your best thinking. But it doesn't stick around forever, overstaying its welcome, wearing you out.

I don't know. Maybe I am crazy. But I'm telling you that when I drink this beer it gives me the Blues. Some of the best Blues you can have in a glass.


  1. Not a bad post and shockingly New Glarus made a double IPA worth drinking. Though I'd much rather have any other double IPA made in the state (Lupulin, Satisfaction, Dank Street, Illumintaion), at least it's a step in the right direct for this over-rated brewery.

  2. Harsh words from Anonymous. I personally think this is the best IIPA made in the state, and no surprise at all considering NG's Unplugged track record. I knew when they tackled this style they were going to do it right.

  3. Matt I think your the one over rating this beer. This brew is good but isn't great.

  4. its pretty darned great...and I drink A LOT of DIPA's

  5. Oh, Jeff, you have inspired me to pull out one of my last NG IIPAs and put on my CD rotation: R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough! These two "modern" deep Delta blues greats will go well with the IIPA and will make for a pleasant evening during this cold May day! Cheers to the blues and to great beers!

  6. BadgerBeerMan -Good taste in music for shure. FYI, Holly Springs, MS is in Northern MS, not far from Memphis and Oxford, therefore Hill Country, not Delta. Several hundred important mile where the development of music is concerned! Deep, indeed!


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