Ten years ago today Mad Men drank its way into our lives. We miss Mad Men with its sociopolitical themes and stylish ’60s outfits. The morally-ambiguous-but-still-sympathetic characters got away with figurative murder because it was set in the advertising world of 1960 Madison Avenue: Everybody smoked and drank, no one wore a seat belt, women were disposable playthings, and behavior (good, bad or worse) was never justified or explained for easy consumption. Don Draper and the hustlers of Sterling Cooper sold the American dream. There was nothing on TV as seductive as Mad Men before — and years later, there still isn’t. Peaks and Pints doesn’t pour the cocktails the Sterling Cooper staff drank all day and all night, but we can come close with craft beer. Many brewers have brewed craft beers that mimic mixed drinks. The base is beer (usually, but not always, a strong one), but then the brewer became a bartender, measuring in specific ingredients that seem like novelties until you actually taste how uncannily the final product resembles a cocktail. Today, we salute Mad Men’s seven-season run with a beer flight we like to call Craft Beer Crosscut 7.19.17: A Flight of Mad Men.
Mendicino-based Anderson Valley Brewing’s G&T Gose is a “beer cocktail” with only beer — plus saltwater, malted wheat, lemon peel, lemon grass, juniper, cinchona bark, grains of paradise, cucumber and a touch of lactobacillus. Flavor starts moderately to heavily acidic, and then finishes moderately acidic and sour. Palate is light, watery, with a fizzy carbonation and a tart finish. A lovely gose that leans more on a Thai influence than a gin and tonic one.
5.9% ABV, 18 IBU
In spring of 2016 Avery Brewing added another sour ale to its Barrel-Aged Series; this one inspired by the Tequila Sunrise cocktail. Expletus is a 5.9 percent ABV ale that has been aged in fresh Suerte tequila barrels with cherries for six months. In addition, the beer incorporates a combination of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces drie, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. Funky wet hay and soil meld with sweet cherries in the top of the aroma while layers of curacao, noyaux and little buttery vanilla center the scent. The flavor kicks off with sweet cherry fading to agave and molasses, while the finish is all red apple and tongue-twisting tartness. While the impact of tequila is just a bit subtle for our tastes, the brew’s gorgeous tart cherry character pulls out smooth oaky tones that makes this 35th release in Avery’s barrel-aged series one of its best.
6.9% ABV, 34 IBU
Scottish style beers can be a malt lover’s dream beer, with its smooth sweetness and body. The epitome of malty, scotch ales are boiled twice as long as ordinary beer, caramelizing the sugars to build these deep flavors of maple and molasses. Scottish ales commonly fall into four general types: Light, Heavy, Export and the Scotch Ale. Historically these distinctions carried labels of the shilling currency, which reflected the price charged per barrel of beer in the 19th century. For example, 60 shilling was used for Light Scottish Ales, 70 shilling for Heavy, 80 shilling for Export and above 90 shilling for Scotch Ale and Wee Heavy. The Scotch Ale, compared to other Scottish Ales, offers richer color, more malty sweetness and higher alcohol, which describes Black Raven’s Second Sight Scotch Ale (6.9%) pouring from Peaks and Pints’ Western red cedar tap log. According to Redmond brewery Black Raven, “Ravens in the Scottish Highlands were once thought to possess the gift of second sight, the ability to see future events before they occur. Second Sight is built around malted barley with hops playing a balancing role. This beer is ruby in color with large malt aromatics, delicious malt flavors and a full bodied finish.” Indeed, this creamy Scotch ale hits with massive fruity sweetness of raisin, date and toffee notes then flies forever with a woody finish, slight peat and a slight alcoholic aftertaste, warming if you will. Complex and rich, it finishes with a whisper of smokiness that calls to mind a fine single malt scotch.
9.5% ABV, 100 IBU
In 2012, No-Li Brewhouse introduced the Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout, and the name alone should be an indication that this beer is here to make a statement. Inky black with five types of dark, roasted malt for complex flavors of coffee, chocolate and brown sugar is balanced with two large hop additions to prevent the dark malt from totally dominating this monster of a beer. Then, the Spokane brewery aged it for seven months in second-used whiskey barrels and four months in fresh Dry Fly Distilling Triticale Whiskey barrels. The oak adds depth to the body and complexity to the mouthfeel. A bourbon-like sweetness and rye spiciness compliment notes of chocolate, molasses, coffee, vanilla and licorice.
12.4% ABV, 100 IBU
The best old fashioneds are simple — good bourbon brought to temperature with a hint of sugar and a spritz of orange. Likewise, Founders Brewing’s Doom coats the tongue with orange peel, bourbon notes and sweet caramel malt. Doom is a version of Founders’ Double Trouble imperial IPA that spent four months in bourbon barrels. Woody bourbon notes waft up on the finish — a boozy, gentle warmth. This is really well crafted, and the barrel aging dances cheek to cheek with the lovely IIPA. There’s just a lot going on in this craft beer. Draper would have loved it.