As I’ve been writing for Brew and Orange, I’ve been finding myself making more and more connections between our beloved Mets and beer. During a recent trip to my favorite local supplier of beer, as I surveyed my options, three bottles reminded me of some Mets memories from the roller coaster of a decade, 2000-2009. Appropriately, they highlight a few of the dramatic highs and lows from that turbulent time period. It’s all smiles for Part I.
It all started on a lazy Friday night on June 30th, 2000. With a bases loaded walk, a 3-run single, and an RBI groundout allowed, Mike Hampton had dug himself a 5-0 deficit after 7 innings of work. Reliever, Eric Cammack fared no better, giving up a 3-run bomb to Brian Jordan to push the deficit to 8-1. Following the home run, the Braves’ win probability was 99.6%. But that’s the funny thing about baseball. 995 games out of 996, the two teams would play out the string, uneventfully recording the final 10 outs, returning home, and preparing for the next day’s affair. This just happened to be that 996th game.
Sandwiched between a pair of singles, Edgardo Alfonso’s fly out and Robin Ventura’s RBI groundout left the Mets down 8-2 with two out with a solitary man on third. Even with the run scored, with only 4 outs left to records, the Braves’ win expectancy still sat at 99.5%.
With both Todd Zeile’s RBI single and Jay Payton’s single hit hard into the outfield, Bobby Cox had seen enough from his journeyman long reliever, Don Wengert. On a short bullpen, he turned to his former closer fresh of elbow surgery, Kerry Ligtenberg. That proved to set the carousel in motion:
“It’s unexplainable,” catcher Javy Lopez said. “I’ve never seen that in my whole life. Two outs, two strikes on every hitter, and we couldn’t get that last strike.”
With the score now improbably tied at 8, the man with the highest career slugging percentage in Mets history took his turn to the plate.
How could you possibly characterize the comeback? What was the vibe like in Shea Stadium? Weyerbacher Brewing’s whiskey-aged barleywine sums it up nicely: Insanity.
Insanity pours a cloudy light coffee brown. Though the thin head evaporates pretty quickly, the nose is huge. Big dark fruits and a ton of booze emanate from the glass. The taste follows in appropriate measure – sweet malt and dark fruit up front with a huge alcohol burn from the back of the tongue down the back of the throat (in no small part due to the whiskey). It’s only fair that a beer called Insanity would have such bombastic flavors and boozy qualities. The oak from the barrel aging is present and adds a nice complexity to the barleywine. The low carbonation was a wise choice, as any more would be pretty harsh with a beverage this big. Once adjusted to the sheer level of alcohol present in the taste, there’s a smooth, sweet molasses finish that follows the alcohol heat down.
Scouting Report (20-80 scale)
There’s a very fine line that a brewer must walk when incorporating barrel aging, in which they impart the flavors to enhance the beer, as opposed to overwhelming it. Insanity is the product of deliberately teetering right on the edge of that line, producing massive oak and alcohol characteristics while still managing to maintain a complex undercurrent of engaging flavors beneath.
Comp: A big man for a big beer – Kevin Mitchell