Drunken Speculation

Session #84 – “Alternative” Reviews

sessionsTime once again to tackle the Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday: a monthly opportunity for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their unique perspective on the same topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts The Session, chooses a topic, and creates a round-up that lists all of the participants.

This month’s topic, hosted by Oliver Gray at Literature & Libation, is “Alternative” Reivews. Mr Gray posed the conundrum thusly:

So for my turn hosting The Session, I ask all of you to review a beer. Any beer. Of your choosing even! There’s a catch though, just one eentsy, tiny rule that you have to adhere to: you cannot review the beer. 

I know it sounds like the yeast finally got to my brain, but hear me out: I mean that you can’t write about SRM color, or mouthfeel, or head retention. Absolutely no discussion of malt backbones or hop profiles allowed. Lacing and aroma descriptions are right out. Don’t even think about rating the beer out of ten possible points.

But, to balance that, you can literally do anything else you want. I mean it. Go beernuts. Uncap your muse and let the beer guide your creativity.

This will be challenging. A lot of what we do around here is deconstructive beer reviews. In fact, Achieving Beer Nirvana aside, I’m not sure if I’m capable of an alternative review. I thought to myself, “Who’s work might I find inspiration in?” and then “How can I outsource this task to them?” Then the obvious candidate struck me.

dogfish head 90min ipaSo here’s Plutarch’s review of Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA:

Philonicus the Thessalian brought the horse Bucephalus to Philip, offering to sell him for thirteen talents; but when they went into the field to try him, they found him so very vicious and unmanageable, that he reared up when they endeavoured to mount him, and would not so much as endure the voice of any of Philip’s attendants.

As they were leading him away as wholly useless and untractable, Alexander, who stood by, said, “What an excellent horse do they lose for want of address and boldness to manage him!”

Philip at first took no notice of what he said but when he heard him repeat the same thing several times, and saw he was much vexed to see the horse sent away, “Do you reproach,” said he to him, “those who are older than yourself, as if you knew more, and were better able to manage him than they?”

I could manage this horse,” replied he, “better than others do.”

“And if you do not,” said Philip, “what will you forfeit for your rashness?”

“I will pay,” answered Alexander, “the whole price of the horse.”

At this the whole company fell a-laughing; and as soon as the wager was settled amongst them, he immediately ran to the horse, and taking hold of the bridle, turned him directly towards the sun; then letting him go forward a little still keeping the reins in his hands, and stroking him gently when he found him begin to grow eager and fiery, and with one nimble leap securely mounted him, and when he was seated, by little and little drew in the bridle, and curbed him without either striking or spurring him.

Presently, when he found him free from all rebelliousness, and only impatient for the course, he let him go at full speed, inciting him now with a commanding voice, and urging him also with his heel. Philip and his friends looked on at a first in silence and anxiety for the result, till seeing him turn at the end of his career, and come back rejoicing and triumphing for what he had performed, they all burst out into acclamations of applause, and his father shedding tears, it is said, for joy.

Author’s note: Some would call the transcription of a text – in this case, an anecdote from Plutarch’s Life of Alexander the Great – and letting the reader work out the beery metaphor, indicative of phenomenal laziness. Those people are probably right. But if you squint, tilt your head a little and add a heaping helping of poetic licence, you can see a bit of 90 Minute IPA in the taming of Bucephalus.


  1. Haha! Cheeky but a fun way to do beer reviews. You’re taking me back to my uni days with your Plutarch and Dante. Heidegger & Camus would be great sources for these kinds of reviews as well.

  2. Pingback: The Session 84 – Round-Up (Part 1) | Literature and Libation

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: