Q. What’s Blender IPA all about?
A. It’s about blending.
We’ve been doing quite a few demos and “working titles” at NABC lately, perhaps reflecting the cadence of the creative process. We’re also repurposing, reforming, repositioning, and probably a few more words with re- as a prefix.
In the case of Blender IPA, it is precisely that: A unique new recipe of American-style India Pale Ale calibrated primarily for racking into bourbon barrels, and following aging, blended back into the barrel-aged quantity to yield a finished product. The beer brewed for blending may only occasionally appear solo, but not often, if at all.
The finished product is bourbon barrel aged IPA, which will be named Ancient Rage. It’s a name we’ve used before under different circumstances. The original Ancient Rage was a cherry-wood-smoked Baltic Porter, brewed only once by Jared Williamson, and designed to commemorate my 50th birthday in 2010.
The explanation from three years ago follows, and in this new, reimagined context, it seems to me that the words Ancient Rage are appropriate: The fiery youth of an IPA, tempered by time into something more mellow … perhaps even ancient.
Maybe there’s hope yet for other beer names that we’ve used and discarded: The Black Hand, Silent Oath and Croupier, among others. Until then, here’s the Ancient Rage saga.
Long ago, during the remote, ancient history of my life, I was infatuated with Ancient Age©, although not the firewater itself. Back then, the merits of bourbon flavor mattered far less than the imperative of masking it with cola and quaffing huge quantities through the inevitable grimacing. In this manner, Ancient Age© somewhat ironically became a rite of youthful passage.
Actually, it was the name itself that always appealed to me. Ancient Age© implied experience, dignity and respectability, but eventually I matured just enough to realize that while the words captivated me, the experience of consuming whisky did not. It’s probably been thirty years since I tasted Ancient Age© — although only thirty minutes since my last beer, which is where I stake my personal claim to knowledge.
In this quest for the higher ground, it’s time to revert to the lower case.
Only one additional letter is required to render ancient age into ancient sage, no longer a trademarked bourbon, and well beyond mere chronology, passing into the wider realm of pure wisdom: Sage as practitioner of sagacity, the quality possessed by the impossibly gnarly old man atop the high mountain, greeting exhausted searchers with impenetrable quasi-Delphic instructions for living, commandments regarded as all the more brilliant for being utterly incomprehensible.
One might turn the page, earn a wage or rattle a cage, but take away the “s” from sage and insert instead the consonant coming just before it in the alphabet, and the game changes dramatically, from ancient sage into ancient rage.
Did road rage exist in ancient times? Just ask Ben Hur.
As we commonly use it today, the word rage conjures images of furious anger, passionate intensity, and violent depth of emotional feeling. Rage comes from the same Latin root as rabies, not a condition to be confused with calm and deliberation. Whether enraged or outraged, we are primal.
Rage deriving from far-off places and times might legitimately be termed ancient rage.