The year was 2010, and our candidate had lost, stunningly, to a fellow who appeared to be a doofus. Quite unhappy about this turn of events, a group of friends gathered upstairs at Brocach on the Square the next day. We consoled ourselves with the only real tools in your toolbox immediately following a political loss: the warmth of friendship, and the different but no less vital warmth of alcohol.
That boozy group hug turned into a squad of fellow travelers who stayed organized to make sure we didn’t feel that way again. It hasn’t always worked — there have been losses, friends, let me assure you — but it’s been a productive group of smart people. And it was all thanks to the beers at my local watering hole. More or less.
Only the wonkiest of wonks are, at this point, able to fend off the bone-weariness brought on by this election season. It isn’t false equivalence to say that all sides are feeling it. And I don’t know about you, but no matter which way Tuesday goes, I’m probably going to really, seriously require a beer. I’ll most likely be at home anyway, so make it a strong one, bartender.
I might go a couple ways with my election night drinking regimen. One is the voodoo doll route. Drink beers from the states you want to tip right or left. Looking at FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast, there are about 15 states that are really hugging the line between favoring Clinton and favoring Trump, and there are some good beer states in there. Iowa, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Michigan and, yes, Wisconsin.
So maybe you have a 9 percent ABV Great Lakes Blackout Stout (Cleveland, Ohio) or the even more scarce 11.4 percent Black Note Stout from Bell’s (Kalamazoo, Michigan) stashed in your basement. Liquid Soul (9.2 percent) was an autumn 2015 release from Wisconsin’s own O’so Brewing, an exceptionally silky pour. If you have any left, now’s as good a time as any. Avery Brewing (Boulder, Colorado) has its Demons of Ale series — Mephistopheles Stout (15 percent, Samael Oak Aged Ale (16.3 percent) and The Beast Grand Cru Ale (16.8percent) — and all of them show up as singles in many of Madison’s bottle shops. Drink them thoughtfully, and hope that your mojo impacts your target state in the mystical way you desire.
And though it’s not the highest ABV of the bunch, you could really channel some Wisconsin energy with the new Spotted Cow Grand Cru from New Glarus. It’s essentially an 8.5 percent ABV imperial version of the ubiquitous namesake brew, with additional flavor from the traditionally witbier ingredients coriander and orange peel. I’m not sure what to make of it, having only just picked up a four-pack, but it’s on store shelves now.
Perhaps you want to theme your political drinking on a root pun, like oh I don’t know, pork BARREL spending maybe. Barrel-aged beers are almost always going to be among the heftiest sips on the shelf. The Bruery’s Smoking Wood (13 percent) is the closest I can get you to a barrel-aged beer that is both fairly accessible and kind of porky. If you can still find a bottle by the time this column appears, try to grab a Collage #2 from Deschutes and Hair of the Dog, the latter of which doesn’t distribute to Wisconsin on its own. It’s a blend of four different barrel-aged beers, and it comes in at 14.3 percent. Hair of the Dog is known for its excellent barrel-aging program, and you aren’t likely to see it very often otherwise.
A similarly stupefying blend of barrel-aged beers was just announced from collaborators (and now brand-mates under the Duvel-Moortgat umbrella) Firestone Walker and Boulevard. It’s called Collaboration No. 6, and will hit the Kansas City retail market with its 12.5 percent wallop on Election Day. You’ll have to swing down to Illinois (or points farther south on the Mississippi) for your best shot at this one, since neither brewer distributes to Wisconsin. But giving some of your beer dollars to another state is a fine way to counteract the selfish pork barrel political mindset.
Or you know what, don’t have a reason. Practice your own little fairness doctrine, settle in with your laptop or the TV remote, and open up whatever has the biggest ABV in your fridge regardless of its state of origin. For me, it’s a bottle of the Bruery’s 18.6 percent Black Tuesday. If any Election Day merited that beer, it’s probably this one. Vote sober, Madison, but feel free to start drinking as soon as you get home.