Aristotle noted back in the day that all great philosophers, artists, and poets were infected with “melancholia,” a disease thought at the time to arise from too much of an ill humor known as “black bile.” Because of it’s association with genius, Aristotle pondered whether an abundance of black bile was a good thing or a bad thing.
Thus began a long tradition of idealizing melancholy as a wellspring for inspired creativity. From Van Gogh to Sylvia Plath, the melancholic was romanticized as the tormented genius who sits all alone, in the dark, in deep thought, nurturing her sorrow in the noble pursuit of perfect and beautiful clarity.
We’re not sure what “black bile” is, but it doesn't sound that good. And we’re not sure that “sweet melancholy” is all its cracked up to be. But at Worthy we do appreciate the role that mood plays when you select and enjoy a malted beverage. Whether you’re feeling rosy red or moody blue, our goal is to provide the right beer for you.
Eat, Drink, Ponder
Whatever your disposition, we do believe that each of us is blessed with an inner muse, and it’s a worthy thing to try to draw her out from time to time. The need for a bit of illumination is especially dear during the winter months, when the skies go dark at noon, and the winds send the snowflakes sideways, and no matter how many logs you throw on the fire, it never seems to get warm enough.
Introducing Worthy’s Dark Muse, our hearty, creamy and voluptuous Imperial Stout. This is a beer for the thinker. The ponderer. It’s made to be sipped, cradled and inhaled, slowly, methodically, and deliberately. It’s meant to satisfy that yearning for answers, for cutting through the clutter, for breaking things down, and for connecting the dots.
To do any of that, you’re probably going to need the proper lubricant. Something that lights a fire. Something -- channeling Walt Whitman here -- that unscrews the locks from the doors, or better yet, something that unscrews the doors themselves from their jambs.
That torch, or prod, or hammer, or burnt offering, or "black bile" activator is the Dark Muse.
Let’s break it down.
Dark as Deep Space
She pours pitch black - mine shaft black, bottom of the ocean black. Thick as a milkshake. Capped with a foamy, two finger, tan mocha head. Her lacing webs the goblet with a mesmerizing doily pattern that, if you look hard enough, may provide clues as to whereabouts of the nearest exploding black hole.
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).