When I was out shopping the other day I spied an interesting ale from the Best Damn Brewing Company called "The Best Damn Cherry Cola You Ever Had". If you read this blog a lot you know that I am not a huge beer drinker which means I don't troll the beer aisle all that often. I like an occasional ice cold beer on a hot summer day in a frosty bottle, no canned suds, thanks; and my beer of choice is Bohemia. However, I am learning to appreciate fine ales and stouts, and I love cherries so that piqued my interest. It was also 108° here, perfect brewski testing weather.
At almost $11 for a 6-pack, my interest waivered back and forth a bit until I remembered I get to deduct my booze purchases. Into the cart those Best Damn bottles went. WTH, live a little. If I hated it, maybe I could throw it into some funky chili or weird-ass beer can chicken. Plus I suspect it is a seasonal product and I didn't want to miss my opportunity to try it out.
Once home I froze a little extra chill on the Tucson summer warmed six pack by popping it in the freezer for ten minutes. Then I popped the cap on a bottle, took a sniff and definitely got those cherries right up front. A hint of some warm spice also tickled my nostrils, but an odd, metallic aroma teased at me, one I couldn't quite place. I actually sniffed a couple more times because that metallic smell was thumbing it's nose at my olfactory memories. I let it go because, often as not, the nose is not always a perfect indicator of flavor, and took a sip out of the bottle.
The cherries immediately confirmed their dominence and I was extremely pleased to find a nice bitter bite instead of the cloying sweetness I expected (like the syrup overdose I got from Not Your Father's Root Beer.) However that metallic tinge crept into the flavor as well, just bugging the devil out of me, leaving an unpleasant aftertaste that pushed the ale's more natural and appreciated bitterness out of the way.
It nagged my palate much like artificial sweeteners do, hitting me only on the sides of my tongue, not over the whole tongue like real sugar does. There is no nutrition labeling on alcoholic beverages*, so I had no way to tell if artificial sweeteners had been used, but it's the only explanation I can think of for that chemical bitterness.
I didn't get the cola flavor until the second beer, which I poured into a chilled glass. At this point the sweetness level kicked up a notch as well and I finally got the taste of cherry cola. The metallic aftertaste faded as well. Maybe this ale just needs to breath a little?
The appearance is a dark, brick colored brown and what head there was when poured quickly dissapated. With a 5 5% ABV its light enough to be able to tip back a couple of bottles and sit out and watch the hot sun set which is exactly what I did.
All things being equal, I found I actually enjoyed "The Best Damn Cherry Cola You Ever Had". It's strong on real cherry flavor, is surprisingly not that sweet and has a credible depth of flavor. I could also see this being a great mixer with whiskeys and some beautiful barrel aged tequila or mezcal.
Woud I buy it again? Possibly, especially if I come up with a great cocktail that makes use of its particular qualities. If I do, I'll update this post with a link to that recipe.
Yes, I found a great way to incorporate this into a cocktail:
Or how to take a Surfer Dude meets Prom Queen Pop Cocktail into the 21st Century.
Would I keep it on hand as my beer of choice? No, but it is a nice change if you're looking to experiment.
Best Damn ever? I have no idea since I have not seen another cherry cola beer available. It's pretty easy to be "best damn" when you're the only damn one on the market, but it makes for clever marketing.
* Alcoholic beverages do not fall under the FDA purview and thus, at this point in time, do not require nutritional labeling.
BEER [beer] /bɪər/ noun. An alcoholic beverage made by brewing and fermentation from cereals, usually malted barley, and flavored with hops.
“Most people hate the taste of beer, to begin with. It is, however, a prejudice.” ~ Winston Churchill
Thanks to the huge craft beer movement I have finally learned to enjoy beer. Not the garden variety, watery, canned suds I grew up with, but the beautifully crafted, small batch ales, lagers and stouts that are popping up for sale on a daily basis these days. Thank you, hipsters, I can now enjoy some brewski with the rest of America, albeit a brewski that's been dressed up.
I've discovered raspberry ales, peach lagers, chocolate stouts, apple beer and cherry cola ale, among a few. I now know what IPA (India Pale Ale) and IBU (International Bitterness Units) stands for and my brain doesn't shut down when I hear "hops" or "barley". I've learned the difference between types of beers* and now hunt the beer aisles for the latest hip sixer or growler to hit the market. Who'd a thunk it?!
I can toss back a tallboy with the best of them but I have also discovered beer as a cocktail ingredient. It's a great day when that barley pop you only bought for frat parties and keggers suddenly becomes a delightfully flavorful inspiration for a new drink.