Written by our resident Brit, Jack Grimshaw...
It was a vision from hell. For seafarers in the 17th and 18th centuries, there was no sight more bowel-loosening than a horde of no-quarter-given-or-sought pirates swarming over your taffrail with cudgels, cutlasses, battle axes and bad intent. (If Edward "Blackbeard" Teach was leading them, he had three brace of holstered pistols, lighted matches stuck under his hat, and might just nail your entrails to the mast and make you dance.) The invaders were screaming, bloodthirsty--and drunk. On lengthy voyages, water in casks turned bad and was often difficult to replenish. Triple-strength ale--three times the normal amount of barley malt--stayed fresh for a long time, felt almost like a meal and packed a huge punch. A daily ration kept crew members content. Unlimited quantities before an engagement? They turned frothing-at-the-mouth berserk.
A direct descendant of the Skull and Crossbones brew is the aptly-named Piraat, a lethal Belgian ale that goes down extremely well with the awesome custom-made sandwich selection at Hollingshead's Deli, in Orange.
: This ain't from your crap Corona/Bud/Miller puny school of circus-lemonade suds. Refermented in the bottle and keg, it's a "living" beer that packs a mighty 10.5% alcohol by volume. Rich, fruity and spicy, it has a hugely complex aroma and subtle flavors. It
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be an acquired taste ... one that's well worth acquiring. It pours with a cloudy deep-golden color and a thick head that retains well. Imbibe judiciously, or the thick head will be yours tomorrow. Also can be used to swab the decks or put hair on your chest. Aaaargh!
Hollingshead's Deli, 368 S. Main St Orange, (714) 978-9467; www.hollingsheadsdeli.com.