Booze, Nostalgia and RPGs: Redstone Meadery Honey Wine with Vanilla Beans and Cinnamon Sticks

My dork résumé is long and varied. Much more so than its professional counterpart. Band, debate, drama...the list goes on and on. For the purposes of this article, we're going to focus on the RPG bullet. I haven't been much of a gamer since I had kids of my own; the little bastards always want to rip the controller from my hands, and we all know that they're just going to get me killed. That, and my wife doesn't want them to see all the violence, although I keep telling her it's just cartoon violence; that doesn't count.

When I was younger, though, I was obsessed with RPGs. I'm talking about third through fifth generation console RPGs in general, and the Final Fantasy franchise specifically. Sure, we dabbled in Dragon Warrior and its ilk, but FF was always our bag.

In an odd display of youthful patience, we would often have collaborative quests, taking turns behind the controller over long stretches of time. We would play for hours, days, weeks. We would make solemn pacts with friends, vowing only to play a quest when we were all gathered. We kept those pacts. I'm pretty sure that several friends in South Bend, Indiana, where I grew up, still have FF cartridges somewhere in a closet, unfinished quests waiting patiently for our next reunion.

I recently reconnected with one of those friends via Facebook, and we soon found ourselves reminiscing about the days of yore. He recalled a massive argument we'd once had about the proper pronunciation of Lich, a minor boss in the first FF game. I don't remember who argued in favor of which pronunciation, though I'm sure it grew heated. In retrospect, it seems very much like some of the drunken arguments of my adult life.

Had we been such misguided youth as to be getting smashed and playing Final Fantasy for hours, I think it only appropriate that we would have been drinking mead. It's what Beowulf downed before sending Grendel and his mother back to the pits of hell. Certainly, it would have fueled us in battle against Tiamat (whom we once killed with a banish spell -- Zap, Zap: Tiamat has been banished to the fifth dimension -- much to our surprise and delight).

Appropriately, Redstone Meadery's Vanilla Beans and Cinnamon Sticks Mountain Honey Wine pours a glowing, honeyed gold. There's no head, because it's not beer, and it's not carbonated. It does have a slight haze to it, and the overall appearance makes me think of Sauternes.

The aroma is thick and rich, heady like the heat of 8-bit battle. Honey comes on strong, with a slightly cloying sting. Cinnamon, with a slightly musty edge, comes behind. Notes of earth and leather follow, making me question why I'm putting this in Brew Blog. No matter; onward, ye hordes!

Tongue-coating and syrupy, it tastes a bit like a spoonful of frosting scooped straight from the little tub in the top of a tube of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. An almost apple-like sweetness comes on next, rolling in a bit of booze, but is quickly beaten back by a parry of cinnamon. It's a bit like the holiday section of a Yankee Candle store in my mouth.

Waves of sweetness, variegated and surprisingly different, are the main thing here. It's actually a little bit difficult to imagine this as the liquid courage that fueled one of the greatest warriors in all of mythology. Given my most recent battles in Final Fantasy (there is, indeed, an app for that), though, I can certainly see it as sufficient fortitude for my battle against Lich. His name rhymes with ditch, but after trouncing him with great dispatch a few weeks ago, I've come up with a different mnemonic.

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