Saturday, February 5, 2011

Foamy Furlough: BONUS EDITION!

If I'm strolling and the moon is out, night or day, I can't resist gazing up at it frequently. I love the ghostly beauty of its chalky, bright features and the false seas of blue-gray that surround them. I ponder how it looms there, so massive and spherical, held in an invisible bond with our world. It persistently accompanies us, tantalizingly close yet beyond a gulf of space crossed by only a handful of earthlings.

That kind of relationship is apparently enough to drive some people nuts. Me? I'm down with hoisting one in her honor. I said at the beginning of the week that I would try to obtain a sample of J.W. Lees Moonraker Ale. I have done so, and am now prepared to offer tribute to Monday's namesake, that most inspiring of heavenly bodies, the moon.

I initially assumed that the name of this beer was an homage to the mediocre James Bond movie from 1979, but according to the J.W. Lees website, the beer "is named after a story about farm labourers raking for cheese in a pond close to our brewery. The cheese turned out to be the reflection of the moon." And the bottle's label depicts a hand grasping a crescent moon. Let's see whether the beer lives up to these lunatic fantasies...

I poured into a tumbler, then realized I would have had more fun drinking this one out of my Guinness imperial pint glass. Oh well. The pour produces an inch of stiff, large-bubbled foam, and almost no lacing is left behind as the glass is drained. The brew is nearly black, tinged with chestnut brown where light infiltrates around the edges.

The nose carries impressions of honey, sorghum, and I was also reminded of Fig Newtons. In taste, honey sweetness and nutmeg spice decorate the malt body. Overall very sweet, but there are enough substantial flavors to round it out. Medium carbonation and an almost sticky mouthfeel. The body fades out on a nice creamed coffee finish.

Moonraker is a strong ale that hits some flavor territory in common with familiar brown ales like Newcastle and the well-loved Samuel Smith's, but to my taste is richer and more coffee-inflected. The beer gets good marks from me, and I'm hoping that my girl Luna has been well pleased.

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