This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Friday, August 31, 2012

State #18: Minnesota

Beer: John Henry 3 Lick Spiker Ale

Brewery: Cold Spring Brewing Company, Cold Spring, Minnesota

ABV: 9.1%

When I think of Minnesota, there are many things I think of, even though I’ve never been: snow, funny accents, snow, silly accents, cold, blonde hair, sleet, ridiculous accents, snow, the Vikings, the Mall of America, nasally accents, and snow plows clearing the parking lots of the Mall of America. Two things I definitely don’t think of are black people and railroads. So what better way to market your Minnesota-brewed beer than to name it after a black folk hero who smashes railroad spikes?

"It sure is hot hear in Duluth! I better take my shirt off so I don't overheat while smashing these railroad spikes!" said John Henry in zero versions of his legend.
Clearly the Cold Spring Brewing Company, in tiny Cold Spring, Minnesota (now THAT sounds like a town in Minnesota!) is not trying to make this beer appear Minnesotan in any way. In most versions of the legend, John Henry is a southern, African-American, workman’s folk hero who defeated an automated railroad spike driving machine in a contest, thereby allegorically validating the value of manual labor, before dropping dead with his hammer in his hand. It was said that he could drive a railroad spike into the ground in three licks (or strikes), which I guess is impressive after watching this pussy do it in fourteen:

I think it’s great to name a beer after John Henry, even if he has nothing to do with Minnesota. It’s a cool story, John Henry was a badass, and the connection between labor and beer has always been strong, so why not?

I also opened this beer with my awesome railroad spike bottle opener. Thanks, Ryan!
The beer is also very tasty. It’s advertised as an ale, but it tastes like an imperial stout to me, with lots of chocolaty deliciousness, a dark brown color, and an earthy, oaky flavor that comes from the beer being aged with bourbon oak chips (seriously, are we sure this beer isn’t from Tennessee or someplace?). Like John Henry, it’s also strong, at 9.1 percent ABV, more than doubling up on Bud Light. So, while nothing about this beer evokes Minnesota, I’d give it a try anyway, as long as you can get past the fact that the Cold Spring Brewing Company seems to want John Henry to be white.

Yep: he's white. Way to go, Minnesota.

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