Occam's Razor: A Drinking Game

Categories: Brew Blog

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Nicholas L. Hall
Look at him staring at you with his vacant, soulless eyes. He knows what he's done...
Spare me your opinion on the accuracy of the attribution, or the exact translation of, "Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity," and indulge me in my slightly unwarranted perversion of the spirit of the statement, but, when you get right down to it, Occam's Razor is essentially the Reinheitsgebot.

In order to have beer, says the Bavarian beer purity law, you must have water, barley, hops and yeast (the overt inclusion of this last one depending on which version you're referencing). That's it. Anything else, and you've unnecessarily multiplied yourself right out of proper brewing. While I don't agree with the firm application of the law itself, and thoroughly enjoy a lot of "experimental" beers which would have seen their brewers branded as witches or madmen back in 16th-century Munich, I think it serves as a worthwhile caution, and this beer as a worthwhile cautionary tale.

The concept of multiplication beyond necessity runs rampant in the food world. Bacon topped everything, for example. Bacon is delicious. On its own. Sure, it goes great with lots of things, but it doesn't need to be in an ice-cream sundae. In general, it doesn't need to be in beer, either. It's not just bacon, either. Entire genres of food and drink go to unnecessary extremes, often muddying up what was great about the original, in the meantime. There's a reason that this recent piece by Brooke Viggiano contains the word clusterfuck in the headline, after all. Similarly, Rogue Voodoo Bacon Maple Ale simply didn't need to happen.

The beer pours a clear copper, with an off-white, foamy, one-inch head. The foam cuts in half quickly, but shows decent retention.

The first whiff is like vaguely smoky rubber cement, with a hint of, well, maple glazed doughnut. Not maple syrup. Not maple candy of some sort. Maple glazed doughnut. So there's that. It's also a bit like Chris Frankel's Gravy Boat cocktail, with a chaser of dry erase markers.

The first sip is all acrid smokiness. The maple is there as an afterthought, not really sweet, per se, yet with a slightly aspartame-like, cloying character. Like an overly fatty piece of meat coats your tooth, waxy and dulling, there's an insidious linger to the odd flavors. They round out, yet cling to the upper palate like some sort of invasive climbing plant.

Once, when I was a young boy, I bit into a tube of Ben-Gay, confusing it for a tube of Wint-O-Green Lifesavers. I don't recall the experience, but I imagine it was similar to the expectation (taken at face value, mind you) vs. the reality of this beer. I can imagine the taste of a maple-bacon doughnut, and I'm pretty sure it would be good. After all, who doesn't dunk their bacon in their maple syrup at breakfast? Commies, that's who. And Commies drink vodka, not beer, so this should go in beer, right? Wrong.

I've had worse beers, for sure. I'm not even sure I'm willing to say this is bad. At least not in the sort of visceral way we mean it when we take a sip, make a face and proclaim, "This is bad beer." I did that with Ghost Face Killah, pouring most of the bottle down the drain.

The response here was more one of apathy. I didn't like it, but I also didn't hate it enough to bother pouring it out. If you try it, I expect that will be your response, too. Of course, you could avoid all that by not trying it. That's what I'd recommend. To do otherwise would be falling on the wrong side of Occam's Razor.



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5 comments
David L.
David L.

 I don't know about that - I went to Germany, and there were tons of barley beers and barley wines.  In fact, most of the same that I've had in the states were imports from the Rhineland.

Bruce R
Bruce R

"In order to have beer, says the Bavarian beer purity law, you must have water, barley, hops, and yeast."

Despite this law Germany is famous for its wheat beers. What's up with that?

Megan
Megan

I've always wondered that, too....

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