And so then I followed the unknown with something more familiar — as the Tragically Hip once advised,1 seemingly referring to those times when the unknown is a disappointment. It’s also fitting that Diary II would celebrate its Hundred with a Yeastie Boys beer, since their ‘Her Majesty’ was there to break it in back in September last year. 100 entries in 244 days doesn’t strike me as too-bad an average, especially considering that the 300-ish of Diary I took six years on account of some serious slackness and patchiness.
A bottle of regular-edition PKB also showed up in the first-few pages of the new notebook, and I briefly touched upon the ‘remixes’ then — but what I didn’t mention is that they initially kinda pissed me off. Looking way back in my notes, in the original book in June 2009,2 I was delighted by the peculiarity of PKB and its expectation-ruining mix of conspicuous hoppiness and big rich blackness. Then it goes to Beervana (appearing as Beer #19 in my Diary entry for the day)3 and takes out the Stouts & Porters category and wins the Peoples’ Choice award — an impressive melding of meritocracy and democracy which is so far unique. And then it reappared a few months later in a “Stout Remix” incarnation. The original had won the accolades and generated the buzz, and so people were drawn to the Yeastie Boys badge when it showed up on the taps, but they were getting something else. It’s not like I was outraged — by now, you’d probably recognise when that happens — but the bait-and-switch of it struck me as messing with people, or somehow poor form. It took until the following January before a (positive) mention of the First Remix appeared in my notes, when we tapped the last keg of it, at work. The beer had conditioned beautifully, and there’d also been a few more Yeastie Boys beers released in the meantime — the side-by-side comparative Nerdherders,4 an explicitly-vintaged ‘His Majesty’, and the style-bending ‘Plan K’ — which demonstrated the experimentalism that we now recognise as Their Thing. Mild discomfort averted. Now, I get it.
With the original-ish-edition now also regularly available (and with label text that nicely explains what’s going on), the remixes are the perfect way to have your cake and eat it too; a best-of-both-worlds situation if ever there was. The Second Remix, this U.S.-hopped variant right here, was an absurdly-welcome member of my ‘Beer 121: New Zealand Beer for Americans’ tasting — but I’d never gotten around to having more than a sampling-glass-worth until Jono generously brought this into work to share. Working part-time with us while he’s studying journalism, he’s originally a Coffee Nerd who is fast becoming One Of Us Beer Geeks. So we rambled away about our mutual fondness for Hunter S. Thompson, and the vexed question of the difference between porter and stout — great-big 750ml bottles of delicious beer are perfect for such occasions.
Like its First Remix brother did, it was also aging gracefully — getting on towards a year old and still tasting outrageously fresh and fantastic. The typically-citrussy notes of the bold and brash American hops made it reminiscent of Croucher’s ‘Patriot’, though the PKB seemed to have a good deal more solidity where Patriot has sharpness and snap — neither end of the spectrum seems to me less worthy than the other; they’re just different. We were both also struck by the distinct elements of umami we were getting out of it — it’s not uncommon (in my experience) for both devotees and detractors of some black beers to find them oddly-evocative of soy sauce, and I suppose this is what’s at play, since it’s something of an overlooked flavour sensation and thereby harder to put your finger on.
Coincidentally, I’d had a bottle of the regular-edition not too long previously and had also been watching episodes of The Office — in both its (English-language) incarnations. And it occured to me that there you have it, right there; that’s what’s going on. The differences are just as striking as the similarities, the ways in which it changed make perfect sense when you understand the context from which the ingredients are derived — and it’s perfectly-possible to imagine any given person liking one, or the other. Or neither, or both. You couldn’t fault anyone for their particular pair of opinions on the two options. You’re just left marvelling at the variety of the human species, and grateful that there’s a lot of good beer (of dizzyingly-varied differing types) to go around.
Verbatim: Yeastie Boys ‘PKB Remix 2010’ 7/5/11 ÷ 2 with Jono @ MH 750ml 6.8% while rambling about HST, journalism + Flying Dog on the stout-porter difference. At a year or so old, this is still outrageously fresh + delicious. Cascade puts it in the camp claimed by Croucher ‘Patriot’ — totally chocolate oranges. With a good whack of the umami sideline that makes us white people say “soy sauce!” occasionally, with a good grunty porter. We’ve got some first-edition PKB in the fridge. Must see how that’s going.
1: In ‘Courage’ from Fully Completely (1992). As I write this up, it was very-recently Canada Day, so I’ve had the Hip stuck in my brain for a week or so. My fondness for them is one of those data points that go together with my weird accent and convince people that I ain’t from ’round here.
2: We had a really fun launch night at work for Pot Kettle Black and a Hallertau-brewed homebrew-competition-winner with the utterly-masterful name ‘Bring Your Daughter to the Porter’. Each was available on handpump and on tap, and I happened to have the night off. I spent a long time plonked on the end of the bar, happily going through several pints of each. In hindsight, neither was a session beer — my notes have them as 6% and “6-point-something%”, a failure of accurate record-keeping which tells you all you need to know.
3: Talking of ill-advised “sessioning” (as I was, above at n2, obviously) I worked after that Beervana visit, and then signed off at midnight because it was officially my 30th Birthday. Six more beers appear in my notes after that, which mostly proves how stubborn my Diary-keeping habit had finally become after years of slackness. I did very little on the Actual Birthday. Which suited me just fine.
4: As I’ve mentioned before, I love these Variant Edition experiments. They’re a great exercise in Science!, an eye-opening learning opportunity, and a great way to discover what you like / don’t like / prefer — and why. Yeastie Boys started with the Nerdherders (varyingly-hopped bitters), and did something similar with their Monsters (varyingly-hopped hoppy pale ales) and their Blondies (an abbey-ish ale and a Kölsch-ish ale produced by different yeasts).