Review of New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole (New Holland Brewing Company)
Poured from the tap at The Marlay House, 2.27.2013

Beer was also handed out free of charge to weary travellers when the Wayfarer Dole was established in England. A Pilgrim’s Dole of ale and bread can still be claimed by all wayfarers at the Hospital of St Cross, Winchester, England. This is said to have been founded by William of Wykeham, (1367-1404), and was claimed by Emerson, the American essayist, when visiting Winchester.

Frey, Scheetz, Sheidy. 2008. The History of Beer [webpage]: http://people.cs.pitt.edu/~mehmud/cs134-2084/projects/Team4/history.html

A day of utter office bollocks has ended with me feeling so sore as to ignore my usual social anxiety and retreat, alone, to the pub. Don’t get me wrong- I’m at pubs all the time, and I would be at pubs with even greater frequency if not for the usual demands of adult society, but through a combination of having excellent friends who also like pubs, living in an area ripe with pubs, and an almost paralyzing inability to hang out with myself, I don’t usually opt for a table for one. But work strife generally makes for boring conversation, and I didn’t feel like reliving any of the details anyway; it would all boil down to the same dull and pitiless conclusion (update yer resume! look for something else! job hunting can’t be as bad as dealing with this bullshit every damn day!) that would leave me momentarily energized before abandoning me to inertia. But I just couldn’t go home yet, not without bringing it all with me, so I pulled into one of my favorite public houses for respite.

I tend toward ales more than lagers, and most days I prefer the darker end of the spectrum. Guinness was my gateway drug, my escape to the rich world beyond the rule of insipid advertising that led to the El Dorado of taste (-Ice!, -Ultra!, -Extra Gold!, -Light!, -Lite!, -Ice Light!, and possibly the most vile of them all: -Lime!) In my youth, this seemingly endless plague of mediocre descriptors kept my friends and I contented and amused as we senselessly debated the merits of one over the other. Our tastes slowly evolved (Grolsch! St. Pauli Girl! LaBatts! LaBatts BLUE! Molson? Killian’s RED!)- within the limits of our distribution area and wallets. Good times, all, but friends change, tastes change, and most fortunately, the industry has changed, allowing a steady growth in the production of quality brews mostly devoid of empty promises. Which is how I find myself now sitting at a cozy wee table staring curiously into a glass of barleywine.

The seasoned palates over at BeerAdvocate review this as a wheatwine, as does New Holland themselves, though they do also refer to it as a “barleywine-style ale” so as to confuse us folks who tend to flunk the written. Barleywine is a sweet, malty ale that came about in 19th century England and has a high gravity akin to actual wine, which pisses wine off no end. According to Homebrewtalk.com, wheatwine is a more recent American invention that adds wheat malt to the barleywine recipe, thus making it “Similar to American barley wine, but with a grainy, bready flavor and a distinctive fluffy mouthfeel.”

This is a lovely looking drink, deep ruby in color with a modest but pillowy looking head. It smells sweet, but a bit naughty; maybe molasses, raisins and HOOCH. It’s velvety and pleasantly viscous, and those malty tones ring throughout. The full body of this ale is comforting. I’m not getting any bitterness, just a complex aroma and the gently lingering aftertaste of caramel and…uh…fruit leather? Shut up. At 11.4%, it’s easily helping me forget that my job sucks donkey balls. The head has evaporated somewhat, but a light, lacy blanket remains present… and looks a bit like Iron Maiden’s Eddie. Like, Powerslave Eddie. I’m going to try to get a picture.

I might take this opportunity to remind you about the 11.4% alcohol and the I Haven’t Had More Than A Cup Of Weight Watchers Zero Points Soup Today. I’m going to need the pub pretzel and mustard. The cheese plate would be a better pairing with the ale, but with the day I’ve had, I might end up hopelessly trying to cut my wrists with the cheese spreader.

During most of the drive to the pub, I debated whether or not I could muster the nerve to sit at the bar with the Real Players, but I’m glad I chose to sit at this table with the bar ahead of me and a panoramic view of the rest. Off to my right, on the other side of an open mahogany wood divide sits The Businesswoman, tapping away on her laptop. I can’t see what she’s drinking, but she seems both focused and happy. I’d be happy too if I could do my job from the comfort of a bar, safely away from the ceaseless misery that my office breeds.

It’s getting harder to type. I think the keypad on my iPhone is getting smaller. The letters may actually be moving away from my thumbs.

Two middle-aged gents sit at the bar across from me; one is drinking a very nice-looking amber and lamenting that his son acts out whenever his girlfriend stays over. His denim-jacketed mate has offered what I’m sure is sound advice, but I’m distracted by his beautiful pint of Guinness. All I heard was “point and shoot,” which I can only hope refers to a Nikon and the threat of an embarrassing Facebook post.

Next to them reside another pair of middle-aged men -motorcycle men- discussing lawyers, girlfriends and home life, and one’s apparent distress that “you can’t get to the attic for the teddy bears.” I can’t tell what they’re drinking and I don’t really care, because that quote has sent my Dole-addled brain into Imagination Land.

I’ve got a blissful buzz; this delicious, silly beer-wine-wheat-thing with the great name has momentarily succeeded in making me forget that my job is irrelevant, my co-irkers miserable, pouty, oblivious, conniving, spelling-deprived cogs in a reward-less, ungrateful, cannibalistic corporate machine who probably still love to drink things ending in -Lite.

Beer gone, now. Some of The Marlay players have changed, and so too, I hope, shall I. But for now, my greatest challenge is the drive home and the prospect of having to somehow cook dinner when my fingers are made of boiled spaghetti.

Overall, and with nothing to compare it to, I give New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole 4 out of five Foamies, both for the beer’s character and it’s effectiveness in helping me overcome my day. Recommended, friends and wayfarers.

About Mara

From a small country called Nu Yawk, now residing with less and less resistance in a big city called Atlanta. When I'm not completely overwhelmed by my reading library and Netflix queue, I manage to indulge my love of hiking (or, in my case, "rugged walk-falling"), my love of beering, and my love of drifting off during social occasions to fret over how I'm ever going to read everything and watch all of the things I keep putting in my Netflix queue. I love to write, but I hate writing. I am mortified that I just added another blog into the world. After death comes nothing, so I might like to be Claymated for further adventures.
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