Back inda day there was a bike race team out of Texas and Southern California that dominated masters bike racing. It was called “Labor Power.” The team’s mantra was “gritty not pretty.” Their official mission was to win for journeyman unionists suffering from lung-killing asbestosis. Their real crusade was to “pound the pecker headed pretenders with impunity purely for the sake of pleasure.”
Labor Power cultivated a reputation for going hard at what they loved, sometimes even too hard. They thrashed, slashed and bashed, whatever it took to win. And win they did: over 500 races from 1995 to 2008.
The team realized that in order to mount the top spot of the podium, you had to be willing to train deftly, defy authority, sacrifice personal glory, take risks and suffer nobly. The team understood that the enemy was not external – no, it was that internal voice that preached paralytic prudence.
In the spirit of taking a chance and getting it right, Worthy’s pleased to introduce Labor Power Red Lager, our foray into the “looks easy but it’s not” world of red lagers. It’s a dark reddish lager that’s malted richly and hopped just right with Ultra, a rare noble hop progeny that was developed by our hero, Al Haunold, back in 1995.
We brewed our red lager on our pilot system as part of our “Heart and Soul” series. In a word, it tastes great. Spicy fragrance. Zesty and robust mouthfeel. Balanced bitter-sweet flavor. And a smooth, creamy finish that excites the tip of the tongue. At 5.8% ABV, this is an “upstream lager.” Most industrial lagers fuss and muss around a barely perceptible 9-11% IBU. Labor comes in at a swarthy 48 IBU that lives up to it’s namesake’s full-throated motto of “Pounding Idiots.”
Truly, Labor Power Lager is ready now to graduate to the Mothership 30 barrel system and then go straight to cans or bottles. But “good nuff” doesn't cut it around here. We want to play with a few ingredients before taking it to market. Chad’s got a few ideas.
Besides the euro-inspired hoppiness, what I really like about our red lager is … is… it’s virility. It’s alive. No really. It’s unfiltered. There’s a mish mash of proteins and yeast fragments floating around in there that are still working there magic. The taste profile has providently changed in the few days since it’s release. If you like the idea of probiotics – living bacteria that purportedly bring peace to the gut – you’ll love our red lager that keeps on lagering.
Worthy likes this style. We like it so much we’re going to keep tinkering with it. Our mission: a crisp, refreshing drinkable red lager that’s spiced to perfection. Yes, crafties love lagers but oftentimes are forced by economics to stick with the ales. Lagers take up precious tank space and occupy it for about 2 -3 times longer than most ales. But the mission is worthy and besides which we just ordered two more 120 barrel fermenters. Keep drinking our beer, and we'll keep buying more tanks.
It’s no secret Labor Power, the bike team, was dedicated to honoring the hard working men and women who helped win our wars and build this great country, but in so doing were poisoned by asbestos. Stay tuned for our Local 36 Red Lager, a beer we’re working on to honor the asbestos insulators union in Portland, Oregon, who back in 1990 hired me to represent their workers against the purveyors of the wicked white powder…
It's the dead of Winter and we needed photo ops of damp, gloomy fog wrapping around our Dark Muse. Our hypothesis was that the two go together - our Muse and melancholy. So we went to Seattle, where this time of year you should be able to count on being pushed by the dense, dreary fog into a dark-wooded old pub down on the waterfront to warm up and get unstuck with your favorite bottle.
But Seattle's in the Super Bowl. Instead of darkness at noon we found sunshine, blue skies, and about ten million "12" signs, which symbolizes the "12th Man," which is the town's way of saying "we're on the team, too." The town was lousy with good tidings, civic pride and optimism. No medieval fog. No brooding disenchantment. Our mission wasn't going to be easy.
First stop, the fish mongers at the Public Market. Nothing downbeat here. The monkfish had potential, but instead made me laugh. The slimy octopus tentacles were ghastly, but not exactly grim. They did make me think of Jules Verne's somewhat dark "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," but on a much smaller scale.
The street musicians outside jammed merrily, fueled by an invisible energy source, obliviously tucked in their own incongruous world. Nothing bluesy here. The guitarist politely asked me to leave, which was righteous. Artists should be touchy. The pianist kept his eyes shut the whole time, and didn't notice the fiver I dropped in his bucket. Stopped into a used book store. Being anarchists, they seemed to dig the dark vibes. Or was it nihilists? So far, instead of creeping social constipation, all I was getting was exuberant liberation. Click-bang, what a hang.
In need of instant inspiration, I stopped into a Hard Rock to shamelessly pose next to a few rockers who left us much too early. Jimi always struck me as mildly impervious to hang ups . "Cllick-bang, what a hang," he'd say unworriedly, as in: get over it, sh** happens, move on, convert it. And we all know The Voodoo Chile didn't do himself in. It was the dimwitted girl and the careless medics. They let him gag to death. Cobain? Now he seemed tortured. The real deal. Hmmm. Please don't get any ideas here. The Muse is for romantics. Truly. BTW, the Dark Muse art was inspired by an album cover another recently departed, my hero Lou Reed. You don't say?
Where was I? Yes. Searching. Stopped by the Needle, just because. Created by architects in the late 1950s, who probably unjammed with uninspiring suds like Hamm's, Rainer and Blitz. With all the great beers out today, we should be erecting observation towers exponentially loftier and much more mind-boggling. Then I got lost, ended up down at the tracks. Found my way to The Labor Temple, where I said a prayer to all my friends and clients afflicted with asbestos poisoning, and before you could say "Peace, Land and Bread," I stumbled across a gigantic statue of Vladimir Lenin, perched ominiously in the Fremont district.
It was getting late so stopped at a Church to collect my thoughts. Lots of happy folks in t-shirts out enjoying a scandalously sunny day in Winter. Not alot of fodder to feed the flames of grief, despair, longing or anguish, even if as a properly neurotic environmentalist you should be regarding a heat wave in winter as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
It was dark out and I ambled up to a Renaissancian hotel with gilded cornices and a bronze lion door knocker. There's got to be bottled up intellectuals and artists in there. Met a charming chap at the foyer, explained my unrequited mission and he sympathetically offered that his Muse in fact was on the cusp of getting all bollixed up. Music to my ears. Finally, a semi-despondent Seattle-ite, who dressed well to boot. So we uncapped our bottle and took a tour of his "lovely lady," which he whispered conspiratorially was "haunted." I love a dapper English bloke who has worked long enough at a historical landmark that he prides himself as being "an exhibit." My dour looking docent of course turned out to be a hoot.
One look at this big black beauty and you fancy the notion that whatever sucks in your life is about to get sucked and sorted out.
Against the mental backdrop of a dark night, a deep whiff registers as a thunderous explosion of sweet roasted malt and pungent coffee, like the grande finale of your favorite fireworks show. The bulb’s no longer as dim. Beguiling tendrils of dark candied fruit, fudge brownie, maple syrup and oatmeal fill in the crevices of the brain like a creeping London fog.
Even for a melancholiac, the gears are starting to shift, and something good’s about to happen.
Opposition is True Friendship*
The malt sweetness almosts freezes time and space. Almost, but the need to cling to all that roasted goodness gives way without much resistance to a pleasant hop bitterness that’s been emboldened by the electric zing of unsweetened cacao and espresso. Another swish and dark fruits abound, buttressed by toasted almonds, and brought home with an entrancing bourbon booziness.
Suddenly, opposites begin to attract, dark becomes light, sorrows become joys, braces relax and bright flowers spring forth from the fetid, standing pools of the mind.
The Muse Awakened
The Muse arose not with a stick in its eye, but with a mature joy in its heart. Blake once wrote that “all deities reside in the human breast.” He meant that in each of us lurks the creative power to imagine and build another, better world. Tapping that creative force has always been the challenge.
Dark Muse is like that proverbial mother who gently awakes you from a deep and salubrious slumber, initiating that slow and delightful transition from death’s counterfeit to crystalline awareness. The beer slowly dances on the tongue, languidly, as your consciousness gradually sharpens and expands. She holds you tight with her full-bodied favors. You feel the pull of her carbonation and the push of her bluesy, boozy alcohol. The stuff once heavy begins to float.
Dark Muse is an imperial stout that pairs well an inclination to shake up the status quo. The Muse probably won’t alight when all is well. She needs an invitation, which inevitably arises when there’s a disturbance in your melon. Look, we can’t always be skippy. Sometimes you hit a low. Might as well capitalize – the brain’s lousy with perfectly good seeds – all you need is the elixer to make ‘em grow.
Speaking of unjamming oneself, Dark Muse herself was a bit of a jammer. Chad pumped in so much grain the Muse actually snapped the stainless steel plow stabilizing arm on our lauter tun. You don't have to know what a “plow stabilizing arm" is, just picture a bowl of oatmeal so thick that it bends your spoon when you try to stir it.
Dark Muse demanded more sugar, but she gave less nectar. We normally can count on about 30 barrels a batch. After twice the normal amount of brew time, and about twice the malt bill of our Lights Out stout, the Dark Muse yielded a precious 17 barrels. The brewer's equivalent to converting carbon into diamonds.
Dark Muse is easily our most potent libation. At 10.1% ABV, she has plenty of candle power. And yet, for a vintage port surrogate with that eye fluttering bourbon barrel flavor, The Muse is as pleasantly sippable as the rest of our beers are happily drinkable. Extreme Balance, as always, continues to be our code.
Look for our limited edition Dark Muse in a bottle shop near you. We’ll be saving a few kegs for our restaurant. So if you’re feeling stuck, or just want to sort things out, let our Dark Muse unbottle your inner genius.
* William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793).