This past month, two of my favorite series ended. Breaking Bad & Dexter. While one went out on top and left me wanting more, the other fizzled to a piss poor ending that only reminded me that I probably should have given up on the show years ago. Through it all though, I'd open a special beer each week once the sun set on Sunday Fundays and these two dramas eased me into the maddening work weeks ahead.
While Dexter started its final season a few weeks before Walter White did, I opened up this gem from Scotland that I had hiding in the back of my fridge for a while. Classified as a Black IPA, allowing this one to sit for a while essentially transformed it into a Belgian dark ale or stout. There were no hop flavors left but rather lots and lots of fruit. The barrel aging in Scotch whiskey definitely came though as well and kind of left a cloyingly sweet & alcoholic taste to the entire thing. All in all, a decent brew but nothing I'd go crazy to find another bottle of. Kind of like Dexter itself...ok on the first watch, don't need to do it again.
When it finally came time to change my priorities from Showtime to AMC, I looked for a beer that was unique within my favorite style - Imperial Red Ales. Pipeworks Brewing always seems to make solid beers, and their naming and labeling of bottles is among the best in the country. So, naturally, I was excited to try something so epic as to be called Blood of the Unicorn. While its probably more along the lines of an American strong ale, the deep amber color and thick tan head could be considered an imperial red. And, really...who knows what color unicorn blood really is? It's one of those mysteries that we'll never solve...just like the mystery of what exactly Walter White's contribution to Grey Matter really was.
When it came time to say goodbye to Dexter, I was extremely conflicted. On the one hand, this is a show that brought me many enjoyable hours of entertainment. On the other hand, it ceased doing that a long time ago. But, like any good friend, I stuck by it through thick & thin. And for it's finale, I went with a new barrel-aged beer that I've been dying to try. Velvet Merkin is, quite possibly, one of the best stouts I've had. Its thick, creamy, flavorful and easy to drink. At 8.5% abv, its also in my sweet spot for perfect alcoholic beverage. While it may not have the complexity that Firestones other barrel-aged stout (Parabola) has, the simplicity and drinkabilty make it equally as satisfying, if not more so. What wasn't satisfying, however, was the ending to Dexter...which I now consider to be the single worst ending to any show ever. That includes Lost, The Sopranos, and even Dinosaurs (seriously...go look it up. Shit is fucked up!).
One week after witnessing the worst of TV while drinking the best of beer, it shouldn't be any surprise that fate decided to pull the ol' switcheroo on me and deliver the best of TV and the worst of beer. But that isn't really fair to either of my favorite pastimes, both the finale of Breaking Bad and Dragon's Milk were perfectly mediocre. Neither grabbed my attention or caused a reaction in me either way. The final episode of Walter White's meth building opus felt off and disconnected from the previous 60+ hours of perfection. Similarly, Dragon's Milk (considered an imperial stout) tasted like an average beer aged to high hell on oak, whisky, and bourbon barrels. There wasn't complexity in the taste however, just an overabundance of wood. This particular bottle had been aging for about a year in my fridge, which could have increased those flavors and masked any of the malt and hops that were intended to be present. I'll have to go back again and try it fresh, just as I plan on going back and starting Breaking Bad all over again, this time with my wife to give me a fresh take on it.