The beer is Weird And Gilly, a delicious IPA by Singlecut beersmiths out of Astoria, New York. I assume the name is a reference to David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust”, specifically that “Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly and the Spiders From Mars,” where Weird and Gilly are references to Bowie’s real-life bandmates Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey.
I can’t be sure though, because while I did reach out to SingleCut Beersmiths with a few questions, asking if Weird And Gilly was a Bowie reference was not one of them.
I meant to, I really did, but I’m a guy with two kids, a wife, a sore back, a non-award winning podcast with my brother, and full-time job. So in a day where I talked to a doctor about my daughter’s bone age, and to a daycare director about a bite mark on my son’s wrist, and answered far too many questions via text message from my wife about what days I have off from work for spring break, I emailed SingleCut Beersmiths to ask about Weird And Gilly.
I asked about the hops used. They kindly declined to reveal that information, understandably so as the bottle states that the recipe includes “an entirely original combination of PNW hops.”
I asked how often they brewed Weird And Gilly, as I was nervous that I was about to tell everyone about a fantastic beer that they would then not be able to get for another six months. They said they brew it about once a month. Crisis averted. They also sent me a lovely photo of the beer.
But I forgot to ask about David Bowie. In my defense, my brother’s ex-girlfriend had just released a six song EP in which three broken-hearted songs are almost certainly about him. So after exclusively listening to that and nothing else for 48 hours straight, to say that I had a myriad of other lyrics racing through my mind that day would be an understatement
Juicy as a beer descriptor is what “hoppy” was a few years back, in that it is a word that doesn’t tell you much.”
But come on, what else could Weird And Gilly be a reference to? On the SingleCut website, the description for Weird And Gilly starts with “some cat from Japan…”, another reference to Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” lyrics. Hopefully everyone is now thoroughly convinced.
The Singlecut website also uses the word juicy to describe the beer, except they spell it out: “J-U-I-C-Y”. And so even though juicy has become the buzzword found on too many new beer labels and cans, I can respect it, partly because spelling is important, but mostly because putting punctuation between capital letters furthers my Notorious B.I.G. reference.
“What Notorious B.I.G. reference?” is something you might be wondering right now. And that would be appropriate as I have yet to reference Biggie, but rather have only referenced the reference. Which is weird I admit, but patience, please.
Juicy as a beer descriptor is what “hoppy” was a few years back, or maybe what “malty” still is, in that it is a word that doesn’t tell you much. All beers have hops (okay, most beer) and malts, and now some beers, maybe too many, add actual juice.
What does juicy mean? Does it smell like juice? Does it taste like juice? Does it feel like juice? I’ve seen it used for all three. In fact, I have probably used it for all three. I have a lot of regrets, and to be honest this probably doesn’t crack the top 500 or even the top 50,000 for that matter.
But we can do better. For example, what type of juice does it remind you of? Does it feel like a specific type of juice or taste like a specific juice? Because right now the main juice in my house is no-sugar-added, organic apple juice for the kids, and I pray that no one ever brews a beer that reminds me of that juice because that juice is thin and terrible.
I will do my best to describe this beer without using the word juicy.”
And as with most things, such as when it is appropriate to drink champagne, smoke L’s, or own a hot tub, we will look to Biggie Smalls for guidance. Obviously, the song of choice for today’s life lesson is “Juicy,” a song that comes as close to touching the sun of lyrical flow perfection as any rap song.
You know what word Biggie never once utters in that entire song? This might be a silly question because the world is made up two types of people: people that know every single word to Juicy (these are the best people) and people that are like which song is that/never knowingly heard a Notorious B.I.G. song (not the best people). Regardless, the answer is juicy. He never ever, not once, says juicy.
Reading Shea Serrano’s The Rap Yearbook, I learned that Biggie’s song samples the track “Juicy Fruit” by funk/soul group Mtume. And that’s what we have here in my glass of beer: juicy fruit. Not the stick of gum – because that is not very good. I’m talking actual juicy fruit. Except we don’t have that at all. We have beer. And from what I can tell, this is a beer without any juice or fruit added.
And so with all that in mind, I will do my best to describe this beer without using the word juicy. I am not saying that I will do a good job at this, but at least I am trying.
This beer, like the rhymes of Biggie and the outfits and ideas of Bowie, stick with you and you want more.”
Weird And Gilly, much like the tangled web of musical references above, is a beer you can’t see though. There’s a finger of almost white head and then a beer that is yellow-orange around the edges, where the light gets through; the color of a grapefruit rind.
The beer is still a foot away and I smell it. Bring it close and damn that is a tropical aroma. Guava, grapefruit flesh, pineapple, and passionfruit. Notes of a tangy sweet something, like a Sourpatch Kid and wet wood, or maybe just fresh sourdough (I’d much rather reference Good & Plenty candy as another nod to “Juicy Fruit” and “Juicy” but I am not convinced Good & Plenty gets the job done here).
The taste is the smell and the smell is the taste, like maybe this beer poured in a glass is the key to perpetual motion. The front is all big and sweet and acidic, foreshadowed by the aroma, and the flavors literally swell in your mouth. The finish is a mix of tangy citrus and fruity hop and grass bitterness, almost reminiscent of a dry hopped kettle soured beer but with the tart to bitter ratio flipped. I immediately want that dry-hopped sour comparison back because frankly it’s not right; there is nothing sour about this, and maybe tart is not quite right either. But there is a tang. And so I’ll leave it so we can all ruminate on something.
Bottom line, this is still an IPA. The finish and aftertaste dry out on the tongue in the bitter way an unripe pineapple might. And damn if that acidic, over-ripe, tropical twang isn’t still burnt into the tongue lobes of my mouth brain.
The feel is tricky. The carbonation is fine and soft and blends nicely with prickly tang of the bitterness in the flavor. It drinks easy but feels substantial in the way an oyster might feel substantial if you’re patient. If someone asked me after I had just finished a glass, I would say it was thick and delicious, and then I would order another, take a sip, and think that it feels surprisingly light compared to my memory of five minutes ago.
This beer, like the rhymes of Biggie and the outfits and ideas of Bowie, stick with you and you want more. But alas, glasses get filled up only to be emptied, and the bottle I poured this glass from is now dry. Soon all, or maybe just most, of SingleCut’s bottles will be dry as it appears they are making the switch to cans for their recent releases. Cans are in. Juicy is in. And Singlecut is really nailing it.
And if you don’t know, well, you get it, now you know. (That was another Biggie reference, for those of you that didn’t get it.)