Just because you can
Just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
I was reminded of this life lesson on Friday night. My curling team was taking part in the annual Men’s Bonspiel at the Waupaca Curling Club.
One of the main draws of the event is that on Friday night members of an area brewing club bring their beers and wines in for the players to sample. As someone who enjoys both curling and brewing beer, it was an opportunity to totally geek out and get into conversations about pitching temperatures and how cold it has to be to make Eisbock. Not to mention that one bottle of Eisbock is probably far more than any one person should drink at a time. That last point I discovered on my own the next morning.
Among the home-brewed offerings was a peculiar beer called “Cool Ranch Doritos.”
I admit I was hesitant to try that beer, preferring to stick with the more forgiving dark beers with their warm, earthy notes that reminded me of long walks in the woods on an autumn afternoon.
I finally worked up the courage to sample the Cool Ranch Doritos.
Before I describe the flavor of the beer, I have to share that Cool Ranch is my family’s go-to flavor when we buy the corn chips for parties, road trips and other events. It has enough bite to keep you interested without any of the burn of other flavors. My children in particular are wusses when it comes to anything spicy so the Cool Ranch is the compromise flavor that doesn’t bother anyone.
One of the downsides of Doritos is that when you eat them, you get an aftertaste in your mouth. It is like the ghost of the chip that haunts you for the poor choice in putting something so unhealthy in your mouth. Usually this is remedied by eating another chip or taking a swig of an age and setting appropriate beverage to cleanse your palate.
The Cool Ranch Doritos beer tasted like this aftertaste.
I had a lengthy talk with the brewer who came up with the recipe about how he did it and more importantly why he decided to spawn such an abomination.
My teammates suspected that it was the result of drinking while brewing and getting the bag of snacks too close to the boil kettle. While he would neither confirm nor deny the sampling of beer while brewing, he did say it was an intentional effort that did not involve the drowning of any chips. It actually was a well thought out plan to prove that you could make a beer match any flavor profile. It involved included ground corn in the primary boil and then in the secondary adding ingredients like dill to create the distinctive ranch taste.
I have to admit that part of me admired his ability to come up with the idea and pull it off.
This is the part of me that roots for the mad scientists and think that Dr. Frankenstein deserves some credit for his scientific breakthrough.
The less scientifically detached part of my mind was telling me to run and run fast from someone who would unleash such a horror on an unsuspecting world. If one is willing to go down the rabbit hole of Cool Ranch Dorritos-flavored beer, who knows what other monstrosities lurk in the dark corners of their brewing cellars?
For the most part, beer making and tasting is a very subjective topic. This can be seen in the choices people make at the bar. Some people go for the nearly-flavorless Michelob Ultra or Bush Light, while others prefer something a bit more flavorful and robust. The world is a better place for this range of styles and preferences, it would be dull if we all had the same tastes.
Not wishing to show the craftsman who made it disrespect by dumping it down the drain, I gulped down the remainder of my glass of Cool Ranch Doritos beer and moved on to sample other flavors.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.