Monday, December 2, 2013

2013 Advent Beer 2: Kudzu Porter

Kudzu, in case you did not know, is an invasive species of vine common to the southeastern United States. It is a species of the pea family, and in parts of Asia, it is used as a starch and medicinal ingredient. Thankfully, none was listed as an ingredient of this porter.


Kudzu Porter pours a dark, chocolatey brown, with a decent sized head that dissipates a little ore quickly than I would like. As the label testifies, there is a strong coffee nose and flavour to this beer; it is offset a bit by the citric tartness, but without actually making it too sour. Like most porters, a warming winter sipper, as opposed to the thirst quenchers of warmer seasons. I would like to try something else from Back Forty Beer Company; I like their style, and the words 'Liquid folk art' emblazoned on the label. Despite being maybe a little lighter in terms of mouthfeel than I prefer in this type of beer, their Kudzu Porter is a solid entry In the style.

But the kudzu plant? That stuff is insane.

They call it, " the vine that ate the south" and it grows at 130,000 acres per year. Herbicides aren't very effective, so cutting it really short is your best bet. But you have to burn the cuttings, or they could end up growing again wherever you dump them. They choke out native plants wherever they grow, and have no natural predators or rivals in the US, so they are very hard to get out once they are in. Kudzu is like flora's version of the vampire, or maybe the zombie, except kudzu is real.

It is a strange thing to name a beer after, but it makes for a catchy slogan: "Careful, it will grow on you!"

Got a chill just then, writing that last bit; I keep picturing a green version of Donald Sutherland slowly raising his arm to gesture at me while his mouth opens impossibly wide, Invasion of the Body Snatchers style...


Meanwhile, in the actual Advent calendar, our first shepherd has made the scene. I like the shepherds, for a couple of reasons; first, because I think it was pretty cool that the first humans to hear about the birth of Jesus were these smelly outsiders that polite society sort of looked down their nose at, not some bigwig merchant or hierarchical religious figure or even a village elder. Just folk. I also like them because they remind me how unlikely it was for Jesus to have been born in December: remember, the shepherds were sleeping in the fields with their flocks, and even in the Mediterranean climate around Bethlehem, that just isn't done in the wintertime.


Even more importantly, I love how Fenya very purposefully moved the shepherd from his original spot on the left side of the calendar to his current place on the right. When Audrey asked about it, Fenya matter-of-factly explained that since the lights of town were visible in the distance on the left side of the scene, the shepherd would obviously be coming in from the right.


This gave me a huge chuckle, and when Fenya flared up with her semi-indignant, "What?", I said, "Sorry dear, but you're a nerd."


"Well, I know that," she replied, "but what's the shepherd got to do with it?"


"The biggest difference between a nerd and a mundane isn't necessarily what they know," I explained, "the difference is, to a nerd, it matters. It matters that things are done with care and respect and thought and consistency, whether it's the symbol on Batman's chest having a yellow oval on it or not, or if 5 replicants made it to Earth in Blade Runner instead of 4, or that the grandfather says 'as you wish' instead of 'I love you' at the end of The Princess Bride..."


"Or if a shepherd comes in from the fields instead of out of downtown Bethlehem," she finished in agreement."


"Just so," I nodded.


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