Gotta try this Bad Boy…
By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
October 9, 2007
The sacrifices we beer writers make in pursuit of excellence in our craft often go unsung. You folks who read our stuff figure we have perhaps the best job in the world (considering how many of you have offered to be our "assistants"). And you won't get much of an argument from me. But every job has its drawbacks, and beer writing is no exception.
For example, if we're not careful, our craft will permanently force us to do all our shopping in the Extra Large Men's Section of Walmart. And tasting sessions that last a long time are usually accompanied by the concomitant rise in the volume of our voices (why is that, anyway?)—which is probably why we write instead of speak.
And few people think of the Herculean restraint we need to evaluate a beer, especially when it's a great one. The beer writer is, after all, a beer lover, and when he finds one that hits all the right notes, it takes the patience of Job to limit our intake so we can be fair and focused in our evaluation. Also so we can write legibly enough to translate our tasting notes when we get back home.
Such was the case when I went to fulfill a promise to you, dear reader. In my last blog, I waxed orgasmic over Mike Sella's (Uno's of Metuchen) magnificent Oktoberfest—2007 Edition. I claimed that it was definitely Mike's best O-Fest so far, and maybe the best in Jersey, which these days, is saying something. I qualified the praise by admitting I had not yet sampled the Bitting's Bad Boy Oktoberfest concocted by JJ Bitting's hard-working brewer Augie Lightfoot.
So being the dedicated beer writer that I am, I found my way to Bitting's to see if Augie's Bad Boy could match Mike's, not to mention live up to the Bad Boy that won a Bronze at the GABF some years ago.
It does both. This is a slightly sweeter marzen than Mike's, possessing a beautiful orange/amber color and a rich, toasty, malty nose. Augie allowed that he brewed this batch with extra malt. The Bad Boy registers a tad above 6.5% ABV. The head disappeared pretty quickly, but the flavor more than compensated for it. At just $2 a pint during Happy Hour, which comes with free hot munchies, this beer is a definite winner. It would probably earn a medal at the GABF had Augie been able to find the time to organize the process. But Augie's a busy man these days, wearing more than just a brewer's hat at the Woodbridge pub hard by the NJ Transit tracks and Woodbridge train station.
Bad Boy is not just a good beer—it's a great beer, exceptionally smooth and true to style. The problem with it, as with Mike Sella's or Dave Hoffman's, is the one I mentioned at the top of the story: You don't want to stop at one.
The good news is that you don't have to. Both Bitting's and Uno's have growlers available for take out so you can enjoy as many as you want at home. This way you avoid causing problems on the roads and running afoul of the law.
But you won't avoid the Large Men's Section at Walmart.
And on a beer writer's pay, that's where you'll be buying your wardrobe. Unless there's a sale at Target.