Have you ever had one of those months? A month in which your Federal grant money* runs out, the bill collectors come calling, you find yourself in a forest lean-to somewhere east of Manitoba with nothing but a hatchet, two pieces of French toast, a Greek-Pashto translating dictionary/thesaurus, and a bottle of Stewart's, and you're somehow on the no-fly list? A month where the only sounds you hear are the frenzied pounding of your heart while you desperately search for an opening in the ring of mutant fungi surrounding your crashed interceptor, and the thin, detestable whining of noisome flutes accompanying the rhythmic undulations of unknowable blasphemies, ceaselessly writhing and flailing around the nethermost bubbling blight at the center of all the worlds? A month where the fish ain't biting, the birds ain't singing, and the jam ain't pumping, probably because of the oceanwide bloom of lethal dinoflagellates which is only narrowly being kept in check by your unsung efforts with a colander and an eggbeater?
You have? Wow. That's terrible. Gosh, we've just been busy with other stuff here at the Lab. I had to build a Lego model of Fallingwater as if it were designed to Sauron's specifications, for one. That took a while. But finally, with sheepish grins and shifty eyes, we're creeping back to the bench. And waiting thereon is one I've been looking forward to for a while: Malta Hatuey.
Now, it's pretty much self-evident why this qualifies as a Weird soda. It's named after the sound of loogie-hawking. That's pretty darned awesome, as well as Weird. It further describes itself as a "non-alcoholic cereal beverage", and is adorned with a drawing of a stern-faced native American. He looks really, really unhappy, and a bit sad. If I were to guess as to his thoughts, they might be something like
"Alas. Not only have my people been ravaged by smallpox, cheated, lied to, and forced from our ancestral homeland...now I am associated with Malta Hatuey. This is a #@%$-fest of truly EPIC proportions."
The ingredients list includes barley malt, fructose, corn syrup, "mellomalt", caramel malt, and hops. I have no idea what "mellomalt" is. My mind keeps trying to associate it with Mallomars, which is (hopefully) incorrect.
Color: Dark, dark brown, and mostly opaque. Kind of thick. Dense foam.
JAT: "Looks black to me."
Scent: Like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, except with beer instead of milk.
JAT: "Smells bad. Bleeeaaaahh."
LAT: "Smells kind of like molasses. Molasses root beer, actually."
Taste: Well, it's definitely malty.
Me: "Want to taste it?"
LAT: "Errrrr....wellll...uh...I don't know. Is it toxic?"
I give him some.
LAT: "It tastes like...actually...it doesn't taste like much. It tastes like a more bitter molasses, that only lasts, like two seconds." *smacks lips repeatedly, pauses, smacks lips again* "Hmmm." *Smacks lips*
JAT: "Ah...bah! bleaaah! Bleeeaaaah!" *goes to bathroom*
K-i-C: "Smells like blackstrap molasses." *sips* "Tastes like patent medicine. Mmmmm, nutritious."
In a remote, mountainous region, in a facility constructed of basalt and rough-hewn cedar, wizened alchemists are even now combining coffee, caramel, Whoppers, motor oil, beer, sawdust, cinnamon, and amaretto in their attempts to create the Philosopher's Stone. This is a byproduct of that quest.
Quaff rating: 2. I'd be pretty unlikely to seek this out. Bitter, strange. But then, I'm beginning to think that malt beverages aren't my thing.
Cough rating: 2. Definitely a grimace, but not a gag.
*National Quaffing Institute Grant EWW-12722, "Investigation of Relative Gustatory, Olfactory, and Spectrographic Parameters of Carbonated and Non-Carbonated Beverages and Their Impact on Pleasure/Pain Psychological Dynamics in Recipients", principal investigator Quaffmaster, T.