When I first heard about Aardwolf Brewing, based out of Jacksonville, I will admit I thought they made the aardwolf up. Like it was some sort of inside joke, the fusion of an aardvark and a wolf not entirely unlike a jackelope.
The aardwolf is apparently a close relative of the hyena, living in southern and eastern Africa. The aardvark quality comes in its diet, preferably termites and insect larvae, and eating them with a long, sticky tongue.
How a brewery in Jacksonville decided on this for the name of their business I will never know. Not until I hear from them, of course.
Edit – Astute reader ‘James’ deserves a shoutout for the follow-through for this one: Aardwolf, in its native Afrikaans, means ‘earth wolf.’ This name, when translated into Latin, becomes Humulus lupulus, which just happens to be the scientific name for the plant from which hops are cultivated.
I also don’t get much of a chance to get their beers where I live. So at the recent Maple Bacon Coffee Porter event at Funky Buddha, I jumped at the chance to try my first Aardwolf beer, The Dude White Russian Imperial Stout (Imperial Milk Stout, 9% ABV).
The name, for those of you astute enough to enjoy the Coen Brothers, is a clear reference to The Big Lebowski. Jeff Bridges’ character, The dude, spends pretty much the entire movie getting pushed around ad drinking White Russians.
Edit – According to Aardwolf Brewing, they never actually called this beer ‘The Dude’ at all. Somehow, the moniker randomly appeared on the marketing materials for Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter day. That being said, they like it. Come on, who wouldn’t?
The White Russian, for those of you astute enough to know mixology, is a variant of the Black Russian. That drink is vodka (because Russia) and a coffee liqueur, usually Kahula. A White Russian adds cream to the mix, and it’s quite tasty indeed.
Knowing that, back to the beer. I don’t know why, but I was a little afraid of this beer and I really shouldn’t have been.
It’s one of those stouts that you give to people when they tell you all stouts are heavy and they can’t handle them. This one isn’t heavy, just incredibly flavorful.
It has the cream qualities of a White Russian from a liberal dose of lactose, light and creamy and wonderful. It also has a good coffee roasted flavor, not excessively bitter but rich and dark.
It’s also not very heavy in alcohol, which is a refreshing change for a beer named after an alcoholic drink. Some breweries love to age it in spirit-soaked wood, knocking the ABV out of the park. And Aardwolf didn’t, which is wonderful. Keep it low, let the flavors do the work.
Well, for my first Aardwolf beer, it was quite something. Something good, of course. I can’t wait to have more, and I promise this time I’ll know what an aardwolf is just a bit better.
Drink Florida Craft,