This Week In Beer
Or, I guess, These Weeks In Beer. Yes, I missed, another posting this past week, but hopefully that will be the last time for a while. I don't plan on talking about my personal life too much here, but currently I'm employed at my family's restaurant/ice cream parlour/home made chocolates store, so last week was just a little bit batshit insane. Not a ton of time for drinking beer, let alone writing about it. I did manage to escape the asylum for one day on Wednesday, and make it into the city to go to the Brooklyn Brewery's annual tap attack at the Blind Tiger. I think I actually started drooling when I first saw the draft list for this shindig, so as soon as I sensed an opportunity to actually have that day I off, I had to make it happen. Over the course of around 5 hours I managed to make my way through the following beers:
Oishi (3.9% table version of Sorachi Ace)
Brooklyn Wild One (!!!)
Blunderbuss Old Ale
2008 Black Chocolate Stout
2007 Monster Ale
The Wild One was unquestionably the highlight of the night. It started life as a batch of Local 1 that didn't come out quite right, and so away it went into bourbon barrels for 9 months, and it was dosed with brettanomyces, and it emerged from bottle conditioning a transformed brew. I'm of the opinion that there aren't nearly enough bourbon barrel aged wild beers out there, as both barrel aging and funk/souring can easily overpower a beer, so the both of them together keeps any one from becoming too dominant, and results in a flavorful, complex brew. I had also been looking forward to the Blunderbuss, a Brewmaster's Reserve release from about three years ago, as it had blown me away at another Brooklyn event a while back. It was still drinking nicely on this night, but sherry notes from some oxidation have started to take hold of the beer and assert themselves a bit. In addition to the great taplist, I really enjoyed most of the food I had at the Blind Tiger (special shout outs to the chicken, bacon, and cheddar sliders and the cajun mac n cheese), and you can expect to see me recounting some more trips to the Tiger in the near future.
The weekend prior to this I was at another awesome event put on by a Brooklyn based brewery, this time the Beers For Beasts beer festival/Humane Society fundraiser put on by Sixpoint and Beer Advocate. The event, held at the Bell House, featured almost 50 Sixpoint beers, many of which draft only specialties brewed just for the event, as well as food from several food truck vendors and a burlesque show (hooray!). I volunteered to work the event, and had a blast even as I was schlepping kegs and pouring beers for guests. There were some very... experimental beers present, but I found myself favoring, by and large, the more traditional offerings available. The imperia IPA, coffee porter, and imperial stout were all standouts, along with the slightly more exotic Golden Lily (strong Belgian pale beer brewed with Lily flowers, orange peel, and nutmeg among other ingredients) and the awesomely named Hang Out with the Lang Out (farmhouse ale fermented with both saison and lambic yeast strains and a kiwi tincture added post fermentation). There were also a couple beers that probably shouldn't have made it past the proverbial drawing board, such as Konichiwheat (wheat beer with wasabi powder added) and Green Paper Thaiger (brewed with lime leaves, ginger, toasted coconut, caramelized onions, basil, and chilies... why God, why). The food was uniformly tasty, and included milkshakes made with the unfermented wort of Sixpoint's brown ale. It shouldn't be a shock that the burlesque show went over well in a crowd full of drunk beer nerds. This is the second year for Bears for Beasts, and it's definitely a bit of a more relaxed vibe compared to the slightly more formal BA fests in Boston, and I can't wait to be back volunteering next year.
While life was a little to hectic to put together a blog post last Monday, that doesn't mean I was too busy to crack a beer for Cellar Monday. I decided to go for something a little bit different and grab a brew that is actually from a fairly recent release, but has just been being stored in my cellar, rather than something I've put a bit of age on. The Captain Lawrence release I went to back in December was certainly one of the better beer outings I've been to, and I was long overdue to actually enjoy one of the bottles I grabbed there. I did get to sample all three beers offered while waiting on line in the brewery, and I decided to start with the brew that jumped out the least for me that morning, the Barrel Select Cherry. Incorporating cherries into a beer is a bit more of a delicate art than some other fruits, because the flavor you get from them tends to be a lot more subtle and subdued, the fruit flavor won't mask any glaring flaws in the base beer. That challenge was illustrated here as I thought the cherry was very much buried in the flavor profile, and the vinegar like sour and oaky aspects of the beer came through a bit too much. It's a shame, because there was a very nice cherry aroma to balance things that just didn't translate.
I decided to stick with the recent release theme for this week's CM choice and go with another beer from a recent release, Southampton's Black Raspberry Lambic. This beer was brewed in the framboise style, and aged in wine barrels for almost two years. This was one of the featured "other" beers at Southampton's Russian Imperial Stout release party, but once the brewpub opened and the beer started flowing, this was all anyone could talk about, and with good reason. Quite simply, it's the best American produced wild/sour beer I've ever had, and probably a top 5 all time beer for me. The fresh raspberry and bright acidic tartness are both incredibly vibrant, but neither dominates the other, each leaves plenty of room for the other to shine. At the same time, some subtle, darker fruit flavors creep in to add depth to the beer (the brewery just states that Black Raspberry Lambic was aged in wine barrels, but I'd be shocked if most to all of it was not some kind of red wine barrel). It's right up there with Cantillon Fou' Foune as far as best use of fruit in a beer, and everything else plays off it wonderfully. This is the rare beer that I've tried, and may actively seek to trade for more of, because it's just that good.