Bottom Shelf Beer: Leinenkugel's New Big Eddy Wee Heavy

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor you don’t have to.


Bottom Shelf research director Emily and I share a very small and happy home, which I clean. The weekly chemical-bathing of the apartment isn't my job in a strictly defined sense, but our chore patterns have evolved in such a way that it makes sense for me to knock off work a little early on Fridays to get things tidied up for her return home from a week of actual work-work (as distinguished from my various housebound cons). In return, she washes the towels and manages the electronics; sometimes I make meatballs. It's a good system.

Since cleaning the joint every Friday isn't in my official job description, from time to time I'll push it off to Saturday; once I let it slide entirely and we suffered a full grimy fortnight between vacuumings. It wasn't a big deal. Emily never complains or makes me feel guilty. She just grins, bears it, and tries not to stick to the floor. (She'd LOVE to clean the place herself on the weeks I don't get around to it, but for some reason I find that emasculating. I do the Windexing around here, missy!!!)

But even though I didn't have any reason to feel guilty about failing to clean last Friday, I was a little bit sheepish about failing to fail to get lunch-drunk with my friends Stupid Max and Stupid Nils while she was at work. So I was almost relieved when my walk home was interrupted by a driver who was too busy messing with her phone to see me, forcing me to stop even though I had the right of way and she was entering a busy intersection with her head down. It was fake-harrowing, because while nothing even close to painful happened, it could have. That lady will kill someone someday, but she didn't come within 10 feet of tousling my hair on that day. You know, the day when I was drunk and the house was dirty.

So this feckless driver didn't give me the alibi of being dead, but she did give me a little something to rant and rave about when I got home. I decided not to tell the story, though, because as desperate as I was for a diverting tale of vulnerability and imperilment, the only way to make it interesting was to exaggerate. "Some lady was playing with her phone and rolling through the light when it was my turn to go, so I stopped and waited six seconds" isn't a tale worth telling on the day you bring home roses and raises, never mind the day you bring home Schlitz breath and a $40 lunch tab.

I could have gone with the standard "Some lady almost killed me!"—we all hear that one several times a week, yet I never see anyone almost die—but I've recently sworn off exaggeration, for it is the laziest and lowest form of deceit. If you want to craft a truly original yarn to present as fact, be my guest. The truth is almost always boring and rarely provides good cover for chore-shirking. I'm not opposed to the loftier manners of lying, but I'm through with common exaggeration.

As part of my jihad against exaggeration, I'm trying to avoid beers that stretch the truth: red ales that are really copper-brown, stouts that pour thin, spring beers that show up in March, that sort of thing. I realize this calls for a lot of dunderheaded literalism on my part, but when I commit to a cause, I commit wholeheartedly.

You always hear about how down-to-earth and legit Wisconsinites are, so I gladly accepted a couple free bottles of Leinenkugel's new Big Eddy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, the second in the Big Eddy series (following a Russian Imperial Stout). Wee heavy is a classic and respected style of Scottish beer, and the Scots are reputed to be just as forthright as the Wiscos, so I was expecting this beer to shoot straight, whether that meant being simultaneously wee and heavy or perhaps just a wee bit heavy.

It turned out to be the latter. It's a strong and complex brew for sure, but the 9.5% ABV didn't daze me and the eight kinds of malt didn't confuse me. This beer is quite serious of purpose—though not overly so for the style—but it's also just plain pleasant to sip.

When you pour it into a glass the head comes on fast and fizzy like soda pop, but it doesn't stick around as long as I'd have liked; the surface was completely tranquil within 20 seconds. But I'm more of a beer drinker than a foam drinker, so that doesn't detract much. It's a deep and pretty brownish-red color, and it smells like a giant malt orgy with a lot of caramel and dark fruit augmented by a little bit of smoke and oak. The alcohol is masked by the more pleasant flavors, which include hints of brandy and chocolate soda.

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Wee Heavy is truthfully advertised! Oh, and it's good beer too.

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