In Han Christenson’s short story entitled “Ole the Tower Keeper,” Ole speaks to the narrator about the tradition of New Years Eve and the transition from the old year into the new. He relates a tale about people raising glasses when the clock strikes midnight to bring success into the new year. Each glass has a different meaning.
The first is the glass of good health. Drink this and you will be blessed with good health until the end of the year.
The second brings about a little bird who soars upward with its happy song that gives you both courage and cheer.
The third brings about a little winged urchin with goblin blood who has no intention of harming you. But he will happily play tricks on you. He’ll whisper happy things into your ear so as to keep you merry and warm and provide you wit at parties.
The fourth is the boundary line of sense. Beyond this lies only despair and misfortune.
The fifth will make you weep at yourself and you will forget your dignity (assuming you have any left).
Inside the sixth glass sits a demon:
“And the sixth glass! Yes, in that sits Satan himself, a little, well-dressed charming man who never contradicts you, tells you that you are always right. He comes with a lantern to guide you home! What sort of home, and what sorts of spirits live there? There’s an old legend about a saint who was ordered to choose one of the seven deadly sins, and chose what he thought was the least – drunkenness. But in it he committed all the other six. Man and the devil mixed with blood – that is the sixth glass; and all the evil seeds within us thrive on it, and each of them sprouts with a force like the grain of mustard, in the Bible, and grows into a mighty tree, spreading out over the whole world.”
I came across The Sixth Glass while in Kansas City looking for some local microbrews to take home and feature. I was first drawn to the demon face staring at me from the store shelves and then drawn even further when I read this was a quadruple ale. A quad? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing. Intrigued, I picked up a four pack.
The Sixth Glass pours a lovely honey amber color. A fair amount of head forms, but there is not enough carbonation for this to get out of control. The foam is dirty is color and dissipates quickly. There is an immediate burst of honey malt flavors that emerge from the glass followed by dried fruits like fig and cherries. My first taste hit me with banana like sweetness and this was overtaken by a wave of additional flavors such as malt and oak as if it were fermented in oak barrels. The aftertaste was a little medicinal like cough syrup, but I attribute this to the intense sweet brown sugar flavor that lingered on my palette. As I drank my way through the glass and the beer warmed, the mouth feel became heavier and the flavors developed more depth.
The Sixth Glass is a suburb beer – plain and simple. The 10% ABV will hit you over the head if you treat this as a guzzler, so I implore you to slow down and savor the flavor. You can find 4 packs of The Sixth Glass for around $10 or in 750ml bottles for $7. I would place this in my top 10 favorite beers of all time, but will still knock it down from A+ status due to the mild medicinal aftertaste. Still, I highly recommend The Sixth Glass as a must try the next time you’re looking for something new.
So fair readers, the question remains. How many glasses do you enjoy on New Years Eve after the clock struck midnight?