Thinking back to the 1980s, it’s tough to remember a time when boobs weren’t being used to sell beer. From the ubiquitous heaving-bosomed St. Pauli Girl, to the Swedish bikini team, to the Coors beer wolf chasing skirts around a table, it was just sort of de rigueur during my teenage years to link boobs = babes. Then a few things happened. One, I got a TiVo in 2003, and I never watched commercials again. I don’t even know how macro lagers are marketed these days, but I suspect from the billboards I’ve seen that it has more to do with some lame, unconvincing appeals to quality, consistency and cleanliness – and not to T&A. Two, I stopped drinking that stuff decades ago anyway – and the “microbrews” I put in their place (and how!) have been unanimously tasteful and/or irreverent in their marketing, never once calling in the flesh card to move product. I’m not actually totally against the flesh card, to be honest, but I do recognize it as an act of marketing desperation that also tells me something about the stupidity of the brewer, and his condescension for me as a drinker.
It was therefore a bit of a surprise to get this bottle of MIDDLE AGES WAILING WENCH in the mail from my pal Aaron. It’s all one can do to keep from jumping two feet in the air with one’s eyes popping out of their sockets, Big Daddy Roth-style, and shouting, “Woooo-hoooo!!! Look at those gazongas!!!”. Once you get past that, and past contemplation of the fair wench’s dazed, I’m being-filmed-for-an-Al Jazeera-hostage-video expression, it’s well past time to actually sit and drink the beer. I finally got there, and I’m a better man for it.
MIDDLE AGES are based in Syracuse, NY, and I’ve heard them described by more than one party as an underrated brewer, even in their home state. WAILING WENCH is a deep rust brown colored “old ale”, or “strong ale” you might call it instead. It’s really, really assertive. Full-bodied and super-hopped, it clocks in at 8% ABV, and has a really deep syrupy mouthfeel. I’m getting brown sugar and really strong caramel malts. And a quick, big buzz-on, too. There’s no mistaking it for an easy-drinkin’ ale – it is a real bitter biter of a beer, and my notes say “definitely not for everyone”. It was, however, just fine & then some for me, and I’m guessing for you too. 7/10.