Beer Review – Prairie BOMB!

Scarcity has a funny effect on things. Within the framework of persona (especially celebrity persona), scarcity of information takes myth and creates legend. Within the framework of beer, scarcity of supply often creates a mad rush of demand, along with a completely different set of expectations regarding quality.

rhA list of 25 stories about Rickey Henderson has been floating around the internet for years, and it matters little how much of it is verifiable, because it’s hardly the point. The legend of Rickey Henderson is not far fetched, because the stories in question fit the larger-than-life persona he’s crafted throughout his life. Rickey talks about Rickey in the third person. Rickey doesn’t care about the baseball’s hallowed past; “It’s Rickey time.”

Before I get to a few of my favorites from Henderson lore, I’ll share my favorite memory of him during his days as a Met. I swear, I wish I could find a video clip to confirm it, but have been completely unsuccessful. Rickey was on second base, taking his usual large lead (the man stole 37 bases in ’99 at the age of 40!), awaiting the pitch. The pitcher took a long, hard look at him. As pitchers sometimes do, he spun around, despite the shortstop not covering the bag, to fake a pickoff throw. Wouldn’t you know it – Rickey knew full well that the shortstop was still in the gap and didn’t so much as flinch from his lead off the bag. He just stood there, staring down the pitcher. “Sure, fake the throw. I’m not diving back. What are you gonna do about it?” Never seen anything like it before or since.

A couple from the archives:

In June 1999, when Henderson was playing with the Mets, he saw reporters running around the clubhouse before a game. He asked a teammate what was going on and he was told that Tom Robson, the team’s hitting coach, had just been fired. Henderson said, “Who’s he?”

True? Appears to be. Added irony that he became the Mets hitting coach in 2007.

A few weeks into Henderson’s stint with the Mariners, he walked up to John Olerud at the batting cage and asked him why he wore a batting helmet in the field. Olerud explained that he had rh1.jpgan aneurysm at nine years old and he wore the helmet for protection. Legend goes that Henderson said, “Yeah, I used to play with a guy that had the same thing.” Legend also goes that Olerud said, “That was me, Rickey.”

True? No. The story grew out of a joke in the Mets’ clubhouse.

[In Seattle,] Rickey struck out and as the next batter was walking past him, he heard Henderson say, “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”

True? Unsubstantiated. But probably.

Prairie Artisan Ales’ imperial stout, BOMB! ranks at #54 on BeerAdvocate’s list of top ranked beers. Although it’s not as rare as some other entries on the list, in a broader sense, it’s rather difficult to find. Scarcity and reputation often affect beer opinions, andpb2 usually in quite polarizing ways. The qualities of the beer itself can get overshadowed by “totally worth it” or “overrated” incidental judgments.

As unbiased by other factors as I can be, BOMB! is quite good, in my opinion.

A cornucopia of flavors appear in BOMB! – coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and chili peppers. Impressively, you can pick all of them out one by one. The chili peppers are mainly in taste, leaving only a very dull tingle in the back of the throat, which I prefer to a building burn.

Complexity is the name of the game – I love clearly delineated layers in a beer, and this is certainly one of the finest examples. Everything plays off each other; there’s no clash from one flavor to another. There is a bitterness (to be expected from an imperial stout) to BOMB!, but it’s not even one of the first 5 things I notice, and is tempered by the mocha-like sweetness. Perhaps most notably, the beer is very smooth for its gargantuan 13% ABV. Part of the pronounced warming sensation going down is the alcohol, but the chili peppers do their part as well.

pb.jpgScouting Report (20-80 scale)

See:        60

Smell:      65

Taste:     75

Feel:        70

Overall:    70

Prairie BOMB! is a compelling, bold imperial stout, with a welcome spicy twist. Comp: only appropriate – Rickey Hendserson

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