Bring out The Gimp! If you’ve ever seen Quentin Tarrantino’s film Pulp Fiction, you might understand why Bruce Willis’ and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters might cringe at the utterance of that phrase. And so we can forgive them if Sweetwater Brewing’s The Gimp A Wide Open Old Ale is a beer they’d rather avoid. The rest of us, though, would do better to try it.
The Gimp is part of the Sweetwater’s Dank Tank series of specialty brews, and they actually do have a bizarrely decorated, dedicated conditioning tank for these beers. The Gimp is an old ale in style, closely related to a barleywine in truth. This one is formidable indeed at 10.3% alcohol by volume. I bought a few bottles back in March for a very reasonable $5.99, and I’ve aged this one for almost six months from the bottling date.
Sweetwater says about the beer on the bottle:
A wide open Old Ale, The Gimp gags up Alc. 10.3% by Vol. and is bred to be stashed in a Dank dark cellar only to be brought out for your most “special” guests! This full-bodied Gimp gives off sweet scents of caramel and toffee and, as legend has it, warm undertones of malt and alcohol balanced by low voltage doses of hops delivering a SHOCKER you’ll actually want to receive.
Don’t keep The Gimp’s leash too tight, as he will mellow with age and become more experienced the longer he stays locked up in the cellar. Bring out The Gimp!
Sweetwater The Gimp A Wide Open Old Ale pours to a dark ruby color with a thick creamy head and a wonderfully bready malty nose. Taking a sip the beer is as big in mouthfeel and body as the nose promised, packed with notes of fresh baked bread, caramel, dark fruits of cherry and raisin, and in the finish a decided peppery hoppiness and big alcohol warmth. The hops are not overpowering here as they would be in many an American barleywine, but the very peppery character is very interesting indeed, and along with the alcohol they certainly serve to leave this malt monster very dry indeed. It could easily have aged for a few more years, and if I can find more I will do just that.
At this strength, you could call this an old ale or a barleywine. The big emphasis on malt instead of hop (though again the latter is definitely present) strengthens Sweetwater’s case for the former. Certainly a sipping brew, and mine was the perfect treat on an unseasonably cool 73 degree August evening here in Georgia. Oddly enough, it made the perfect aperitif to a strange August Sunday dinner of roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread stuffing, and mixed veggies. Hey, we’ve had plenty of Thanksgivings in the seventies here before……why not?
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.