I have to laugh when I reach in the magic fridge, hoping for something extraordinary – because I need it, dammit! – and pull out a plum in the form of a New Belgium Lips of Faith Series bomber bottle of beer.

Lips of Faith, as fabled a beast as Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster.

But, to be specific, what we have here in our sweaty grip is New Belgium’s Blackberry Barley Wine Ale.

Yippee! Jackpot!

What a kind thing to do, brew a 10 percent lip-sticking barley wine with blackberries, the tartest of all berries but the gooseberry. The blackberry has a rich, lush flavor that is in full flower here, sending delicious berry chills up and down my always-susceptible spine with each sip. 

Back when I was a homebrewer, I thought barley wines were outrageous enough on their own, but now I see the error of my ways. I wish I would have thought of a berry barley wine back in the day. 

And I do not specify blackberry for a reason. It would have depended on what was in season or available when I was brewing. Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry – I think I stated them as the come in season. I could see any one of them – or all of them – in a barley wine, each bringing its own character to the table.

But I do believe the blackberry is a perfect accompaniment to the deep sticky malt richness of a barley wine. Yes, deep, very, very deep!

And bright, so bright my mouth feels like it could be living independently of me. 

Or, wait just a minute! What the…

Is that Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger” inside my mouth?

Blackberries and barley wine. Does the combination cause hallucinations?

I hope so…