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As a kid, I was forced by my parents into the most torturous of tortures: church on Sunday. While my other friends were out doing whatever it is heathens are wont to do on a weekend morning, I was reciting Psalm and struggling to stay conscious through sermon. The church we went to had a tenuously long service -- sometimes it lasted two hours or more. To pass the time faster, I would fidget and groan, make unnecessary trips to the bathroom, and linger outside the chapel doors as long as I could without prompting my parents to issue a search party. As service began to wind down I felt like an inmate about to be granted parole.
By the time I was 15 or so, my parents reluctantly decided that if I was to be damned for all eternity it was my own choice, and so they stopped forcing me along. Forever after, my Sunday mornings felt like a blessing. But I did miss communion. Communion was the only part of service that I didn't loath -- not only because it took up a sweet 20 minutes or so as the congregation filed up to receive it, but also because it culminated with a thimble-full of wine. To me, that sweet and acrid cup (and the fact that they'd give it to a teenager) was proof that Catholicism wasn't so bad after all.
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Salvation Golden Ale from Avery reminds me of that communion wine, albeit in a good way. It has a doughy, yeasty, biscuity quality about it that makes me think of dipping wafers and dissolving them on your tongue. Plus, it's sort of funky, like the way I remember those first sips of wine in my life being -- uncomfortable, pungeant, yet oddly attractive. It's my Catholic youth distilled into a bottle.
Unlike dark Belgians (last week's Delirium Nocturnum), strong golden ale more closely resembles blond or pale ale. It's a tangy, tanin-heavy beer that pokes around the back of your throat and washes over warm. Malty rich with notes of unripe fruit, Salvation reminds me of Unibroue's Don De Dieu, a spicy, strong wheat that's also quite funky. Neither beer is something you'd drink a bunch of at a time. They're simply not balanced enough to have more than a glass of. Since Salvation comes in a 22-ounce bomber, that means you'll want to enlist a friendly soul to share it with.
For slowly sipping in small quantities, though, this champagne-like beer and its lacy-thick head is richly powerful and rewarding stuff. A light pour into a wide glass allows it to breath and grow -- it becomes less syrupy and more wine-like. I didn't have any communion thimbles handy when I tried my bottle, but if I did I could imagine gulping little shots of it like I used to do at church on Sunday. Only without all the boring stuff in between.
Find Salvation at BX Beer Depot, ABC, and Total Wine and Spirits.