There is something to the old saying "The suit makes the man."
Slide into a fine suit and immediately you feel differently. You stand a little taller, put your shoulders back, and have a crispness to your walk; a little swagger. Professional athletes generally show up at the stadium dressed like they could be headed to a boardroom – not just into some pugilist's stadium for football or indoor track with hoops for basketball.
It certainly makes sense. Players are on camera from the moment they leave the bus or the parking lot. ESPN's NFL Countdown spends the cuts to commercial checking in on arriving athletes. They even critique each player's style in the manner of a testosterone-fueled Joan Rivers, turning stadium tunnels into concrete runways.
But it is not just the attention of the camera. Athletes believe in a connection between how you look and how you play. Deion “Prime Time” Sanders said it all: "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good."
While Silicon Valley hoodies and casual dress have taken hold in many offices, there are still plenty of businesses where sharp, classically, professional dress is the norm. Lawyers, bankers, C-level executives, Barney Stinson, politicians, and brokers all still rock the suit.
Sometimes, how you dress up the man matters. This is true for beer, as well.
The finish is vanilla and caramel with some earthiness that left me ready for another pull.”
Firestone Walker knows how to dress up a beer.
Their Proprietors Vintage series is sold in a firm and distinct individual box. The bottle feels solidly rooted into the packaging, and opening one presents it as a special gift to yourself. The bottle is labeled with heavy paper that provides for the beer's providence with a flourish of information. You are meant to be impressed with these beers before you even open them.
The Proprietors Vintage is a series of barrel-aged vintage strong ales with the anniversary editions being a blend of various styles and years. Three of the component beers have been released by Firestone Walker so far: Parabola, an Imperial Stout, Stickee Monkee, the Central Coast Quad, and Bravo, an Imperial Brown Ale.
Bravo was released in bottles for the very first time this year. This oak bourbon barrel aged ale came in at 13.2% alcohol by volume and presents a deep brown with a slightly reddish hue. During the pour into a bulbous snifter, wafts of nougat and cream are crowded by strong bourbon riches into the air. It rests uneventfully in the glass with no head retention.
The first sip is a bit deceiving, with a toasted nuttiness that never returned for me. Oak and strong ale flavors then take center stage and muscle the palate. As the Imperial Brown Ale warmed, it started to work more like a Barleywine in its round overall mouthfeel, and in that heat from the booze. Yet Bravo never reached the silky full body and intense depth of flavor of its sister ale, Parabola. The finish is vanilla and caramel with some earthiness that left me ready for another pull.
Bravo is a great beer dressed and presented in a premium package that lends itself to being sipped when you want to have something special.
Objectively, the slick packaging doesn't make the beer taste any better, just like a sharp suit doesn't make the man any smarter or better at his job. On the other hand, it does show that the brewers care enough about the customer as to give them something to make it feel a little more special and in that sense, it makes the beer.