Plenty of beers have stories behind their names or labels, but few as brazen as a brewer’s heartache/break-up story splashed across the label of Double Mountain My Little Runaway. The Belgian-inspired cherry ale arrived at my desk last week from Hood River, Ore. in a 500 mL bottle with an unusual label. A sketch of a young woman in a black dress with arms crossed stared at me with a look of…confrontation? fear? defiance? wistfulness?
Then, I read the poem. It begins: “As I walk along, I brewed a beer for a love gone wrong…” and, after a few more heartsick lines, finishes with “maybe, maybe this beer will bring you home my way, my little runaway.” Ouch. Was this really a beer brewed by the brokenhearted? A sentence on the side of the bottle reads: “Some beers last forever, some go away, some move to Florida, let’s see if this one stays.”
I wondered if this was all a joke, or whether this beer was really the brewers’ equivalent of standing outside a woman’s apartment in the rain with a boombox. I asked the brewery for a bit more context. Double Mountain’s marketing coordinator told me via email that, yes, the beer was brewed in the midst of brewmaster Matt Swihart’s breakup with an ex. The beer was intended to evoke a bittersweet end with sweet cherry, the sour addition of a bit of Devil’s Kriek, and hop bitterness at the finish. The poem on the label is intended to be sung to the tune of the classic Del Shannon song “Runaway.” Bizarre overture or touching tribute? Jury’s out.
As for the beer itself, it’s just as complex as a long relationship. Vanilla and cherry on the nose give way to an effervescent, lightly sour sip full of pink cherry flavor punctuated by piney hop bitterness on the swallow. Story aside, it’s worth picking up.