Recently, we held our third meeting. The theme for this meeting was local/New England Beers. This is what we had show up (in order):
The People’s Pint Tap and Die Malt Liquor
Sebago Lake Trout Stout
Pennichuck Pozharnik Brewer’s Reserve
Thomas Hooker’s Old Marley Barleywine
Troegs’ Flying Mouflan
Recently, we held our third meeting. The theme for this meeting was local/New England Beers. This is what we had show up (in order):
I was informed via the Alström Bros’ twitter account that they were enjoying a Russian River Consecration on tap at Deep Ellum. Consecration is a 10% Wild ale that has a very deep, dark fruit malt characteristic. It’s rare that Russian River products make their way over to MA, and would recommend any serious beer geeks attempt to jump over and give it a try. I know I certainly will want to give it a shot.
UPDATE: I confirmed via phone that they did, in fact, have some on draft, but it’s been kicked.
Also, with Cantillon in town this weekend, the classic Belgian lambics/wild ales are flowing freely from most of Brookline/Allston’s beer bars. Publick house has St. Lamvinus on tap currently (unless it’s been cashed in the past 24 hours, which is possible) and has a wide selection available from their cellar. Deep Ellum also hosted a Cantillon event recently and is likely to have some rare offerings. Anyone interested should call or check the websites for updates.
Tastings, tastings and more tastings! This post is just a list of the beers we’ve consumed over the course of three days. t= tasting
Ommegang Rare Vos (t)
Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence (t)
Ommegang Ommegeddon (t)
Cantillon St. Lamvinus
Dieu Du Ciel Peche Mortel
Stone 2006 Double Bastard Aged in Brandy Barrels
Stone Arrogant Bastard Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard
Nøgne ø Saison (t)
Nøgne ø Dark Horizon V.2 (t)
Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire (t)
High and Mighty St. Hubbins Abbey (t)
High and Mighty Two-Headed Beast (t)
Lost Abbey Angel’s Share aged in Bourbon Barrels*
Mayflower Audacity of Hops (brewed exclusively for the CBC ’09)
Dogfish Head India Brown Ale
Avery Maharaja on Cask
For those of you looking to purchase craft beer at stores, the area stores (Wine Gallery, Publick House Provisions) have been flooded with good beer. Here are some hilights:
Avery Barabant Wild Ale aged in Zinfandel Barrels
Cantillon St. Lamvinus ($40 a bottle!)
Victory Wild Devil
Nøgne ø Dark Horizon V.2
Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
Stone – Nøgne ø – Jolly Pumpkin Holiday Collaboration
Schlafly Reserve 2007 Barleywine and Imperial Stout (tons of this around for some reason… good stuff, but weird timing)
Among other things… these were just the things I noticed on the shelves that I hadn’t seen any other time.
*= One of the most wonderful beers I’ve ever had
Sorry for the posting hiatus – Masters Thesis = No time for beer posting or meetings. Earlier this evening, I just got the email telling me my thesis had been accepted by the University, and I’m officially done… now, it’s time to celebrate, craft beer style!
Well, the Craft Brewer’s Conference is in Boston right now, know what that means? It means this is an absurdly good week for beer! I had received an email from a fellow club member on Monday night after saying that I wanted to go to the Jolly Pumpkin/Nøgne ø/High and Mighty tasting at the Wine Gallery on Thursday asking whether I would want to go to anything else. Yeah, at that point, I hadn’t looked at BeerAdvocate’s Beer Calendar. This week might singlehandedly drain my bank account!
Yesterday, a friend and I met at Deep Ellum at 4:30 for the express purpose of cask Maharaja – something that didn’t disappoint. I really like this DIPA, very deep, citric, and full bodied. That was the only beer I had while my buddy had a few more. One beer he had was brewed by Mayflower exclusively for the conference – The Audacity of Hops. This beer was described as a “highly hopped belgian style tripel,” although the end result was more like a higher octane Belgian wheat ale. The first thing that came to mind was a Weinstephaner with a bit more of a kick. Regardless, a tasty brew. His other beer was a Dogfish India Brown… one of my old standbys. It was interesting to have one on draft, it’s almost a porter! The roastiness is definitely brought out a lot more.
Next, we levitated over to Sunset Grill and Tap for the Stone Event (see what I did there? har har…) 12 Stone Brews on tap, some of them extremely rare – Arrogant Bastard aged in Bourbon Barrels, 2006 Double Bastard aged in Brandy Barrels, 2008 Old Guardian in Red Wine Barrels… it was nasty! I personally couldn’t get away from the first of those. Having originally ordered one of the 06 Double Bastards, I switched with a friend because the vanilla flavor is one of my all-time favorites. We actually did a side-by-side tasting of OAKED Arrogant Bastard and the bourbon barrel variety, and while the Oaked is more well balanced, I preferred the bourbon on this occasion – call it the tastebuds being excited over the vanilla.
We definitely dorked out last night. I have to say, the more you get into craft beer, the more you see brewmasters and company owners as rockstars. It blew my mind when the day started by Dan Paquette and his wife, other wise known as the fine folks behind Pretty Things Ales, sat down next to us at Deep Ellum. More than that, Dan had confused my buddy for someone at the conference and reintroduced himself! While the two of them did meet recently at a tasting, my friend wasn’t a brewer or anything. At Sunset, it was awesome to get a chance to give Mitch and Greg from Stone a handshake. We also met their MA distributor, who seemed like a cool guy as well. That place was apparently the who’s who of brewing. The Alstrom Brothers were there, Dan and his wife had traveled over to join the festivities, the Allagash crew was there, Harpoon, etc. My twitter account notified me that apparently Tim and Amy (a.k.a Here For the Beer) was there as well. I would have liked to talk to them for a sec, I really like what they’re doing (after all, what could be sweeter than running a little pub in your bed and breakfast and video blogging from some of the best beer bars in America.) Anyways, awesome night! Tonight, we’re doing the tasting over at Wine Gallery, then I’m joining a friend from out-of-town for some wonderful craft brews at the Publick House. Tomorrow, I’m supposed to hit a Short’s Brewing Company party at the Roadhouse. I’ll keep on posting.
Recently, we took another tour of the Sam Adams facilities. Believe it or not, after 9 or so tours, it still can be interesting. This time, the brewery was loaded with barrels, storing some of their previous beers – and some experiments. For example, did you know that Sam Adams brewed a batch of Geuze back in 2003? Yeah I didn’t either. They also had barrels of Utopias from 2006, Millennium and Triple Bock from various years, among other things. The “tap” test revealed that these barrels were all full. Contrary to previous visits, they were marked with laminated sheets of paper for identification. In the tasting room, there were a couple new experiments flowing in addition to their Boston Lager and White Ale (which, among the other comedies that were occurring in the tasting room, such as employees breaking pitchers and spilling beers… yes, it was an off-day for the Sam Adams family, their White Ale was almost all foam when poured into the pitchers) they had a “Maibock” and an “Irish Stout.” Due to our proximity to St. Patrick’s Day, we were served the irish stout. I was less than pleased with this beer. To me, it tastes just like the roasted malt they hand out on the tour, is very light and hollow on the tongue, and offers little. Unfortunately, I’d say C-. I did notice there was also another triangular tap handle that I’d never seen around Sam Adams. Upon further investigation, Sam Adams has recently brewed a variation of their Irish Red entitled “Boston Brick Red” that was locally distributed. All the proceeds from this beer go directly to a few select Boston charities. Yes, they do have this on draft at Doyle’s. They’re also beginning to offer specials at the store and discounted prices – $10 on select T shirts and whatnot. I’m sure they have more information available either on their website or for sure at their tap room. That’s all for now!
I’d just like to say congrats to a wonderful brewery that has blazed trails with it’s canned products: Oskar Blues. In a world dominated by bottles, not only do they prove that it’s still possible to release an amazing product in a can, but also that you can get an Imperial Stout in a can! Their Old Chub is one of my no-brainer go-to beers, Dale’s Pale Ale is ridiculously delicious, and the Ten FIDY is an amazing imperial stout. I wanted to give a quick shout-out to them for their amazing progress – last year, their sales went up 64%! Keep on a’growin’ Oskar, we love you!
The Article – Courtesy of Beernews
This past weekend, we took a detour over to CBC for lunch and, obviously, a couple beers. I thought I’d share my thoughts as to the beers we drank. First, Pat ordered the Big Man Ale. While not stating much on the beer menu, this beer would fit into that ambiguous category of “American Strong Ale.” The nose was a small bit of sweetness, some hoppy spiciness, and some creamy malts. After a few tastes, I figured out what this beer reminded me of – if you take Stone’s Double Bastard and cut the ABV in half, this is what you end up with. That being said, it’s a delicious beer that’s well balanced while maintaing a hop-forwardness that’s hard to deny. This isn’t to say it’s like regular Arrogant Bastard – instead of the sharp bite that was present in AB, this beer had a nice creamy malt backbone that supported it. Bottom line: loved the few tastes I had of it and would almost assuredly order one of these myself next time I’m over there in the winter. I’d say an easy call for B+. I can’t overstate the importance of a nice creamy maltiness to these beers which keep them well balanced and angle them away from hop bombs.
I ordered their Colonel upon seeing the word “Barrel Aged” next to it on the menu. This beer was advertised as a porter, and was every bit of a solid porter. The nose was sweet vanilla, oak, and dark malts… perhaps a slight hint of bourbon; you could tell from minute one that this beer had spent more time in an American Oak vessel than a stainless fermentation tank. The first taste is surprisingly devoid of those things present in the nose; you get some solid coffee, dark roasted malts, and dark chocolate. The sweetness creeps in a little bit on the tip of the tongue from the oak and imparts a nice vanilla flavor. As the drink warms up, the dark chocolate takes over, leaving a huge bitterness on the back of your tongue. However, in this day in age where most every brewery offers some barrel aged beer, this beer is just ok. To be honest, it’s the only aspect which detracts from the beer, but not in the way you’d think – it doesn’t make the taste worse at all, it merely hasn’t been barrel aged enough (in my opinion.) I think perhaps another month in the oak would have added that nice creamy taste which would have mellowed the super bitter dark chocolate notes. This is usually purpose of barrel aging – to mellow the flavor and add another flavor that can only come from a bourbon barrel. That being said, I’d say the Colonel is an actual B, but could easily work it’s way up to A- or a solid A with some more time in the barrels. Some other beers, like Southern Tier’s Cuvee #2 could do with less time in the oak barrels… that’s all the beer tastes like! It’s like liquid barrel!
(Edit: I’ve learned that this porter has been secondarily fermented using the taboo Brettanomyces yeast strain which adds a certain degree of sourness, bitterness, and astringency. Now that I know that, I can see where the uber-bitterness comes from. My review still stands at a B, but I just thought I should add this small detail.)
All in all, this was a good trip: the food was delicious (and yes, they have amazing French Fries,) the beer was solid, and the atmosphere was chill. I could see where this place would really fill up later in the day on the weekends. If this place didn’t take about an hour to get to via the T, I’d be there more often for sure.
Well, our second meeting was great! A lot of fun. Of course, what begins as a fairly tame group of people sitting around talking about how the beers taste devolves into a bunch of howling fools telling their favorite bar stories. That being said, we had a great time and tasted some wonderful beers. I think the best thing about our meeting was the “flow of the meeting.” The beer and order of beers is as follows:
Sam Adams Imperial Stout
Brooklyn Local 1
North Coast La Merle Saison
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales Calabaza Blanca
Founders Centennial IPA
Stone IPA (Non-ruination)
Founders Double Trouble DIPA
Stone Double Bastard
We started with Brooklyn’s Local 1. This is the first time I’ve tried it, and I really loved it. It’s got the traditional belgian blond taste and mouthfeel and it’s very smooth. Garrett Oliver and the crew over at Brooklyn must’ve worked really hard at perfecting this one. We next moved into something with a bit more of a bite – the North Coast La Merle. As someone who has only dipped their feet into the world of Saisons, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It had that “bite” that I like so much that’s present in the industry standards like Saison DuPont and Hennepin, but, the most surprising thing about this beer was the sour hint at the end. After the main taste goes down, a little hint of sour remains – a sour that’s undetectable until there. Overall, wonderful brew. From there, we opened our bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca. This beer was summed up by one of the members of our group very well – it had a very floral taste (in a good way.) This beer continued with the sour taste, but very tastefully. At this point, we then crossed “the pond” and delved into the world of the American IPA. We started with the industry standard – the Founders Centennial. I loved this beer, it, much like the Smuttynose IPA, has a wonderful balance between the malt and hops. Followed that up with the Stone IPA to throw a little west coast contrast in. Way more hop forward on this one. The Double Trouble followed, and was, in my opinion, the winner of the evening. Such a strong hoppy beer but just amazing! The only outlier of the group was the Stone Double Bastard. This is not to say that it’s a bad beer – indeed, it’s one of my personal favorites. Also, the Sam Adams Imperial Stout was just kind of a novelty, if you will, to begin the evening. The Imperial Stout was definitely not in the style of an RIS as it was advertised, the nose is very solvent and the taste was relatively hollow. When it warmed up, very dark fruit and anise, things you expect out of an aged barleywine or strong ale, but RIS? I don’t think so. There wasn’t even any roasty malt like Old Rasputin or Storm King, just dark fruit. Weird, huh? With that, I’ll leave you for now.
Recently, Beernews.org posted a trailer of the upcoming “Beer Wars.” As you’d expect, this is a documentary about the craft beer industry on their struggle against the big behemoth “macro-breweries” (yeah, I didn’t want to use that term either.) This movie is likely to be the film equivalent of the article in the New Yorker, which was excellent (see my Dogfish Head “Brand X” post for a link to that wonderful article.) I am excited for this movie to come out because, in a lot of cases, these films and documentaries can have an actual effect on the industry. For example, and I’ll use the most famous example and one that everyone knows – think the movie “Sidewise” and it’s effect on Pinot Noir sales. Or perhaps you’d prefer the effect of “King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters” on Billy Mitchell’s Hot Sauce company. Seriously though, I’m excited to see whether this doesn’t give mainstream America a good look at the world of craft brewing and perhaps tilt the scale even further in our direction and encourage more small breweries to pop up across the nation. In case you’re wondering, this movie features plenty of interviews from your favorite craft beer characters: Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head,) Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn,) Jim Koch (Sam Adams,) Greg Koch (Stone,) etc. Rumor has it, the Alström Brothers, those wonderful gentlemen in charge over at BeerAdvocate.com, appear in this film. So, support both the film industry and the craft brewing industry and come out on April 16th for the release of Beer Wars!
Beer Wars Trailer (Courtesy of Beernews.org)