Blaisedell, the poet, had said to him, “You love beer so much. I’ll bet some day you’ll go in and order a beer milk shake.” It was a simple piece of foolery but it had bothered Doc ever since. He wondered what a beer milk shake would taste like. The idea gagged him but he couldn’t let it alone. It cropped up every time he had a glass of beer. Would it curdle the milk? Would you add sugar? Once the thing got into your head you couldn’t forget it…
The waitress, a blonde beauty with just the hint of a goiter, smiled at him. “What’ll it be?”
“Beer milk shake,” said Doc.
Well here it was and what the hell. Might just as well get it over with now as some time later.
The blonde asked, “Are you kidding?”
Doc knew wearily that he couldn’t explain, couldn’t tell the truth. “I’ve got a bladder complaint,” he said. “Bipalychaetorsonectomy the doctors called it. I’m supposed to drink a beer milk shake. Doctor’s orders.”
The blonde smiled reassuringly. “Oh! I thought you was kidding,” she said archly. “You tell me how to make it. I didn’t know you was sick.”
“Very sick,” said Doc, “and due to be sicker. Put in some milk and add half a bottle of beer. Give me the other half in a glass–no sugar in the milk shake.” When she served it, he tasted it wryly. And it wasn’t so bad–it just tasted like stale beer and milk.
“It sounds awful,” said the blonde.
“It’s not so bad when you get used to it,” said Doc. “I’ve been drinking it for seventeen years.”
Steinbeck, John. Cannery Row. Penguin, NY. 1994.
John Steinbeck was surely awarded the Nobel Prize solely for this section of writing.
Also, here is a recipe for an actual and tasty beer milk shake:
4 scoops good quality vanilla ice cream
½ cup whole milk, chilled
4 tablespoons chocolate syrup
18 ounces milk stout beer (recommended: Left Hand Brewing Company Milk Stout, chilled
4 mini salted pretzels
Take the vanilla ice cream out of the freezer for 10 minutes or so to soften. Once barely softened, add to the blender 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream, the milk, chocolate syrup, and the chilled stout, pouring slowly so as not to generate lots of beer foam. Add the pinch of salt and blend to a smooth consistency. For a thicker consistency, add more vanilla ice cream.
Pour the milkshake into 4 glasses and float 1 mini pretzel on top of each glass.