I love the Pandora effect. You know what I'm talking about; you set up a Pandora station around a particular band, and the intuitive wonder that is the Music Genome Project recommends other music you might like, based on the characteristics of that seed. Usually, the results are bands you've already heard of, and probably bands you already like. Every once in a while, though, something truly magical happens - a seed from Band A points you to music from Band B. Band B makes music that is, conceptually, nearly identical to Band A, but does it so much better that it makes you wonder why you ever listened to the band A in the first place. This is the Pandora Effect.
The Pandora Effect is not exclusive to music. That same basic process, one thing leading you to a better version of itself, happens across a wide range of experience. It's always exciting for me when the Pandora Effect pushes me one step closer to the Platonic ideal of something I love. While I may never find the perfect form of Forms, it's always fun to get a little bit closer to perfection.
Recently, I had this experience with beer. You may recall my less than positive response to Shiner Ruby Redbird. The idea of a refreshing summer brew with the luscious flavor of grapefruit and the zing of ginger is surely enticing, and I'd been eager to try it. This, of course, made the let-down all the more deflating. But the comments section provided the spark for a Pandora Effect moment.
Frequent EoW commenter and local beer gadabout SirRon recommended I give Left Hand Good JuJu a shot, and I'm glad he did. This beer is pretty much everything I wanted Ruby Redbird to be. Since then, every time I hear someone talking about Shiner Ruby Redbird, I urge them to ditch it and go get some JuJu. It's kind of like the spring of '04, which I spent admonishing all those Franz Ferdinand hangers-on just to go pick up a Gang of Four record, already. I like to think I acted as the conduit for many a Pandora Effect moment.
This beer is, as the bottle says, "a refreshing frivolity." The ginger that was so absent in Ruby Redbird fairly leaps out of the glass, here. It's not a super sharp ginger, more like the rounded and savory ginger kick you get in Thai food, of which this beer is strikingly reminiscent. There's a slight buttery quality, but not too much to overpower, coming across more as richness than an overt flavor.
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A crisp and biscuity malt flavor creeps around the ginger, giving it a platform on which to shine. Just enough hops keep the potential sweetness in check, and the spicy notes from the ginger play well with the reasonably active carbonation. The light texture (a similarity shared by Ruby Redbird) helps keep the beer very hot weather-friendly, along with the bright and spicy ginger.
Since my Pandora Effect moment, I've kept a fairly steady supply of Good JuJu in my fridge. I'm planning on making a shandy out of it, introducing the grapefruit notes that were supposed to have been in the beer that led me here. I think a glass of Good JuJu and Jarritos Toronja sounds like a swell idea, and an immensely refreshing cookout beverage. So, thanks Shiner Ruby Redbird and SirRon, for helping me drink my way outside of the cave, just a little bit.