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52 Weeks: Blind Lady Ale House, San Diego, California

November 19, 2010 1 comment

A glorious Double Jack in the foreground at The Blind Lady Ale House

Written by Jess R.

Week 41 of 52- still behind

The Blind Lady Ale House

3416 Adams Ave.

San Diego, CA 92116

(619) 255-2491

Rank: 4.5/5

Type of Establishment: Ultimate Beer Bar, First stop of many during San Diego Beer Week

Visit: A whirlwind trip from Seattle to San Diego, we have been anticipating this trip for months. San Diego Beer Week was nearing its end, and we were there as it went out with a bang.

Saturday morning: With the sun shining, we arrived at Blind Lady 15 minutes before it opened at 11:30AM in the highest of spirits. What awaited us?

 

Beers on Tap (at time of visit):

 

Flights of New Belgium beers including,

Trans-Atlantique Kriek

Biere de Mars

Sahti

Belgo IPA

Eric’s Ale

La Folie

Alpine Brewing Co. beers,

Nelson IPA

Bad Boy Double IPA

Duet IPA

Captain Stout

and Green Flash Beers such as,

Le Freak

’09 Grand Cru

Silva Stout

Black Freak

Super Freak

Grand Mantis

along with

Firestone Walker Union Jack Double Jack

There are so many that I am missing. All were top-notch beers. This list was to die for.

 

Bottle List:

 

Couldn’t get past the tap-list.

 

Food Options:

 

Since we were on a time crunch with so many places to visit and so many beers to drink, we did indeed skip the delicious looking menu options. The main fare is pizza with mainly fresh, local, organic ingredients. With ingredients from local markets to near by farmers, the Blind Lady Alehouse cares about the quality of their food and the community they serve.

 

Bar Opinions:

 

As I mentioned, we were anxiously waiting outside The Blind Lady Ale House, peering in the sun-reflected windows. As we waited we read the poster displaying all of the San Diego Beer Week events that had taken place inside these very walls. Mind-blowing stuff. We could only hope that remnants of these events were still on tap.

11:30AM on the dot and we walk in the front door. The space is open with sunlight streaming in, illuminating the wooden picnic tables. Third in line, I gaze up at the chalk board, enamored with the selection. As the guy in front of us took his sweet ass time, I looked around. A wall of old bottles and cans behind a glass casing, exposed brick walls and a ceiling displaying piping and shafts. I am loving the raw look of this place.

Our turn? Sweet! The wonderful and accommodating bartender was nice enough to let us mix up a flight with some Alpine beers and Green Flash beers. Of the Alpine beers we had Nelson Rye IPA, Duet IPA (made with Simcoe and Amarillo hops), Bad Boy Double IPA and Captain Stout.

My personal favorite of these brews was the Nelson IPA which is brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops. This beer is very light in color but upon first sip, the taste is powerful with a profile of citrus, pine and some funk. The hoppiness is balanced by this slight tartness. Even at the brewery, Nelson stole my heart.

Our first beers in San Diego stand before us.

This moment was the moment I fell in love with Green Flash Brewing Co. Of course prior to this trip I appreciated their beers, but not like this. The last two of the flight were Green Flash’s Silva Stout and Grand Mantis. Later on this trip, a bottle of Silva Stout was procured and safely returned to Seattle via cargo.

Silva Stout smells like the sweetest milk chocolate but the taste lends to more bitterness. This beer is well-rounded and the word “calm” came to mind. Perhaps its because when you drink this delicious, thick stout, all of your worries just melt away as the sting of liquor sends the flavors down your throat.

Grand Mantis is a Merlot barrel aged Grand Cru. After reading the description, I had to get this beer. There is a tartness of cranberries with a date or fig-like flavor to follow. A complex beer is an understatement.

Also, a side note, the Blind Lady cares about beer, like really, deeply, truly cares. They use the 20oz honest pint and the Direct Draw System. From their blog:

 

Our Direct Draw System. Direct-draw is a term used to describe a draft system that places the kegs in direct contact to the faucets so they kegs are cooled by the same refrigeration source that cools the beer-line and the faucets. This means that the beer-line is not very long, and that the beer arriving in your glass has only recently left the keg.

 

We only had time for a flight and a Firestone Walker Double Jack – so good, so fresh. But during our experience, we drank amazing beer, chatted up the bartender who explained why she moved to San Diego and why she loves the area. We even came to own some free swag ( lovin’ the free stuff).

I parted The Blind Lady Ale House with hopes of another visit and with the intention to find a better beer bar in San Diego.

 

The Hop Brief: Green Flash Brewing West Coast IPA

November 17, 2010 3 comments

Warning: Face may implode.

Enjoyed on 11/15/2010

Brewery: Green Flash Brewing Co.

Location: Vista, CA

Beer: West Coast IPA

Web: http://www.greenflashbrew.com/

Presentation: 12 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2010

Style: American Style India Pale Ale

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 7.3%

IBU: 95

Hops: Simcoe, Centennial, Columbus, Cascade

Malt: N/A

Commercial Description:

 

This West Coast-Style India Pale Ale is extravagantly hopped, full flavored, medium bodied and copper-colored. A menagerie of hops is combined throughout the brewing process to impart specific characteristics. Hops used include Simcoe for a unique fruitiness and grapefruit zest, Columbus for strong hop pungency, Centennial for pine and citrus notes, and Cascade for floral aroma.

 

Beer Advocate: A- (4.17)

Rate Beer: 99 (3.87)

 

Timperial’s Notes:

 

Background.

Green Flash is, unofficially, a member of the San Diego IPA Masters Club (SDIPAMC).  The only reason that they are not official members is because the SDIPAMC doesn’t exist.  I just made it up, right then.  But by golly it should exist.  There is something in the warm air down there, or maybe it’s the water…who knows, but San Diego county seems to have an endless supply of IPAs come out of it, each one better than the last.  I think I’ll just let the numbers tell the tale.

All of the following rating are courtesy of www.ratebeer.com

Green Flash (Vista, CA) West Coast IPA: 99

Green Flash Imperial IPA: 99

Coronado (Coronado, CA) Idiot IPA: 98

Coronado Hoppy Daze IPA: 97

Stone (Escondido, CA) IPA: 100

Stone Ruination IPA: 100

Alesmith (San Diego, CA) Yulesmith Summer IPA: 100

Alesmith IPA: 100

Ballast Point (San Diego, CA) Sculpin IPA: 100

Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA: 99

Ballast Point Big Eye IPA: 98

Karl Strauss (San Diego, CA) Big Barrel Double IPA: 97

Karl Strauss To The 9s Imperial IPA: 96

Port Brewing (San Marcos, CA) Hop 15: 100

Port Brewing Wipe Out IPA: 99

Port Brewing Mongo: 99

Alpine (Alpine, CA) Exponential Hoppiness: 100

Alpine Pure Hoppiness: 99

Alpine Nelson IPA: 99

Alpine Duet: 99

And I didn’t even get into the Pizza Port IPAs.  It’s just plain ridiculous.  It’s clear that SD is IPA Valhalla.

 

Appearance.

 

West Coast IPA pour an extremely cloudy (chunky even) orange tinted amber with a big rocky head formed of varying sized bubbles.  The foam takes quite some time to settle, leaving generous globs of lace in its wake.  The lace and head are stark white.  About a millimeter or two of foam remains atop this bitter masterpiece throughout.

There is an obscene amount of particulate suspended in the solution.  I’d imagine that, most likely, the floaters consist of tiny bits of whole leaf hops that were left behind after dry-hopping.

 

Odor.

 

The nose is full of hop resin.  Pine and citrus seem to weigh in with equal parts.  Much to my delight, there is a sturdy framework of sweet, biscuity malt at the core of the hop mountain.  The hop scent is very pungent and earthy.  There is some muskiness, like wet wood or mud.  It garners images of a harvest on a rainy day.  Clearly there is no fresh hops within, but the profile portrays the guise exquisitely.  There is a small amount of skunkiness to the odor as well but all of the attributes coalesce to better allow me to appreciate the highlighted spice of the style.

 

Mouthfeel.

 

West Coast IPA feels wonderful in the mouth.  It’s not to thin and not too syrupy.  Actually, I’m very impressed with its density.  It feels much more like an imperial IPA

 

Flavor.

 

The bitterness in the flavor is intense, but the above IBU stats already said that.  Personally, I find it to be a bit much, but I am thankful that there is a lot of hop flavor here to seduce my thoughts away from my impending facial implosion.  Grapefruis, most likely from the Simcoe, is most easily pinpointed, and is most prominent on the back of the tongue and in the back corners of the mouth.  Yeah…it’s pretty much all citrus, and it’s the adjoining bitterness that forces thoughts of grapefruit, or of bitter orange.

There is a malty, sweet component to the flavor, but it is nearly all relegated to the aftertaste.  I’m mostly impressed with how intensely bitter this is, yet somehow I’m left feeling excited about the complete picture that this beer paints.  It’s as complex a single IPA could be.  Or, possibly more aptly, it’s the most complete, rounded example of an IPA that I can think of.  No one element unanimously blows me away, but each characteristic is well composed and the layering of it all has been executed adroitly.  This is a superb example that all brewers should study.

 

Aftertaste.

 

The bitterness wants this beer to finish bone dry, but somehow the lingering sweetness combats most impressively.  I’ll give it a high B grade, mostly because there is balance amidst the 95 IBUs.

Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.89

Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.94

Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.97

Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.70

Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.86

Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.90

 

Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.26

 

Top 25 Breweries to Check Out at GABF, Part 3

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment

It gets a little crazy at GABF

Yes, that’s right, it’s time for the third and final installment of my Top 25 Breweries to Check out at GABF.  Just in case you missed the first two installments, click here for part one (first 10 choices) and here for part two (next 8 choices).

My final 7 choices begin now, and remember, these are in no particular order.

Flossmoor Station – When I think of Chicago area breweries I immediately think of Goose Island, Three Floyds and Flossmoor Station.  Oddly though, I have never had a single beer from FS.  I know them only by reputation.  Since they are technically a brew pub, they utilize their smaller scale and constantly experiment, more often than not, with positive results.  If I were going to GABF, I would be strongly inclined to check them off my list.

Stewart’s Brewing Co. – These guys are from Bear, DE which really isn’t that far outside of Philly, but oddly they don’t have a very strong distribution in the area (at least they didn’t when I lived there).  If things haven’t changed in a big way, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a decent amount of Northeast residents that are unfamiliar with Stewart’s completely.  They are extremely low-key to say the least.  I remember seeing them at some of my first ever beer fests in PA like Kennett Brewfest and Philly Craft Beer Fest and wondering who they were and where they came from.  Quite a few festivals came and went before I actually was brave enough to try their product and, once I did, I was appalled that I had missed out on so many opportunities.  From then on I never passed them by, and was never once disappointed.

Odell Brewing Co. – It wasn’t until Odell started their Woodcut Series back in ’08 that my radar picked these guys up.  This past May saw the 4th release in the line, an oak aged lager.  All four have a 96 or higher on ratebeer.com.  From what I understand, their standard offerings are pretty darn solid as well, especially the IPA.  Working with wood, a lot of hops, brett…these guys might be on the trend train, but I want on board.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. – You know that other massive American-based brew fest, The World Beer Cup?  Yeah well it’s huge and Firestone Walker has won the Champion Mid-sized Brewery three times now.  As far as I know, that’s unprecedented.  It’s quite clear, these guys are one of the best around when it comes to making beer.  Union Jack is probably my favorite single IPA in the world.  Double Jack is easily in my top 5 favorite double IPAs in the world.  Abacus is very possibly my favorite all time barleywine.  Their anniversary beers are outstanding, Parabola, I mean come on… If I didn’t put these guys on the list somewhere I would have to kick my own ass.

FiftyFifty Brewing Co. – I would imagine that there is a few of you out there that read Draft Magazine.  You know, the Playboy of beer.  Beer porn.  Anyway, do you know the section called “What’s In a Name?”  That is where I first heard of FiftyFifty.  Though I can’t exactly recall the details of the story, I remember being intrigued.  I also liked the imagery and design that they evoked through their labels and website.  As it turns out, they make a killer imperial stout, or so I gather.  It’s a 100 on ratebeer.com and it won bronze at last years GABF in the “Other Strong Beer” category.  Obviously, Timperial Stout wants to take a stab at this one.

Ballast Point Brewing Co. – The San Diego beer scene is a force to be reckoned with.  Stone, Green Flash, Alesmith, Port/Lost Abbey/Pizza Port, Alpine, Coronado…I’m out of breath.  All of these breweries make amazing beer and It’s really impossible to dispute that.  If you were to fish for one thing that seems to tie all of these breweries together, it would be hops.  Every one of these breweries, with the exception of the Belgian style based Lost Abbey (but Tomme’s other labels pick up the slack there), make stellar IPAs.  Ballast Point makes at least three and each is more stunning than the last.  If you find yourself in dire need of a little IBU boost at GABF, take a gander at BPB’s booth and see if Sculpin is a flowin’.

AleSmith Brewing Co. – I shudder a little bit when I think about Alesmith, in the very best way possible.  I love this brewery so much.  I wish everyday that Seattle would distribute their product, though all it really takes is a trip to Portland for purposes of stocking-up.  I love Alesmith so much because I very passionately enjoy a lot of their beers.  I’ll never forget the first time I tried, well, most of the beers that I’ve tried by them.  The IPA is, like I said above, from San Diego.  There’s just something special about those SD IPAs.  Horny Devil is so perfectly Belgian with its fantastic sweetness and remarkably balanced spiciness.  Old Numbskull is all that you could ever ask for in a barleywine.  And Speedway Stout my friends…to drink Speedway Stout is to have a religious experience.  I can tell you that there was a large period of time when I was very quick to answer any brave soul willing to ask me what my number 1 favorite beer of all time was with, Speedway Stout.  Now I’m a bit more cautious to answer that question but, if I was forced to at gun point, my answer would be Goose Island Bourbon County Stout.  Possibly if I were to get a hold of the barrel aged version of Speedway, that answer would be different.

Well that about covers it.  If you are going to GABF this week, damn you, I am super jealous.  Please do your very best to enjoy each and every minute of it.  Visit the breweries that you know and love, but also visit the breweries that you have always wanted to try but couldn’t for whatever reason.  I am very hopeful that my musings can be found valuable to you in some way.  If you have other suggestions for our readers, please do not hesitate to post a comment.  If you end up checking out a brewery that I recommended and you have an opinion on their product, good or bad, let us know.  Safe travels to you all.

52 Places: Empire Ale House, Mount Vernon, WA

August 4, 2010 1 comment

The entrance to the Empire.

Week 27 of 52

Empire Ale House

314 West Gates

Mt. Vernon, WA 98273

360-336-9944

Rank: 4/5

Type of Establishment: Ale house. Good beer, good food, plain good.

Visit: This past Saturday, during and after Bite of Skagit 2010.

BEERS ON TAP (16 handles)

Deschutes (Nitro) Obsidian Stout

Boundary Bay Oatmeal Stout

Bear Republic Rop Rod Rye

Deschutes Mirror Mirror

Georgetown Manny’s Pale Ale

Dick’s Brown Ale

Skookum Amber’s Hot Friend

Scuttlebutt Imperial Red

Deschutes Miss Spelt Hefe

Lazy Boy Porter

Boundary Bay IPA

Guinness Stout

Odin Freya’s Gold Kolsch

Glacier IPA

Green Flash IPA

Two Beers Blonde

BOTTLED/CANNED BEER:

Negative.

FOOD OPTIONS:

Empire has a full food menu, much like what you would expect at an alehouse.  My eyes, like always, went straight for the sandwiches.  There was plenty to choose from, all of which appeared to be delicious.

BAR OPINION:

Just over 61 miles north of the Beer Blotter home base, within the small but beer-filled boundaries of Mount Vernon, lies a comfortable, brick-walled ale house that we have never before visited.  On this day, we changed that.

First question…have you ever heard of this place?

If you are like me, and I think you might be, you most likely rely on ratebeer.com/beeradvocate.com, beer blogs and beer knowledgeable friends/acquaintances to inform you of the great beer destinations of this land.  ratebeer.com does have Empire in their system, but there are only 2 reviews (both are respectable).  beeradvocate has only one review of Empire and it yields a “B” rating.  Not really enough to catch my eye.   None of the blogs I read regularly ever seem to mention Mount Vernon.  None of my friends have heard of this place.  I only heard of it though talking with Dickerson Distributing reps at work.  Empire carries LBB beers.

As I’ve come to realize, Mount Vernon should be on every beer lovers list of “must visit” destinations.

Dickerson and the owner of Empire, Bruce Springer, both had a hand in the creation of the beer garden at Bite of Skagit this year, which was, literally, right outside the doors of Empire on Gates St.  I was pouring for both LBB and Skagit River Brewing, along side Flyers Restaurant and Brewery, so I was unable to really gather in the full experience, but the Bite is basically a street fair with a lot of food.  Live music and, of course, beer played a role as well.  It was a beautiful day for such an event and I had a blast talking to all the people who didn’t simply come up to me and say “I’ll have your lightest beer.”

Meeting and “working” with Bruce was a true pleasure.  He was extremely accommodating to all of my needs and offered me a free lunch from the Ale House for attending and pouring.  This was definitely not expected or necessary, but surely telling of his nature.  You might now be thinking that I’m writing this glowing review of Empire as quid pro quo, and I couldn’t blame you for it, but you’ll have to take my word for it when I say that this place really is fantastic (and honestly, I think you already get that feeling by seeing the impressive  tap list).

Decisions, decisions.

As you enter the front door, the bar is straight ahead, taps directly in your line of sight.  Briefly after your eyes recover from the surprise of the options at hand, they follow the bar as it continues perpendicular to your line of sight and then takes a hard 90 degree turn toward the far rear wall.  Between the front door and the bar there is a high top table with stools that seats four.  Another high top sits to the right of that one.

Here is where you must choose your destination.  Do you scooch up a stool at the bar or one of the high tops, or do you grab one of the four booths along the perimeter of the ale house to the right as you enter?  If you go the booth route, you will be flush up against some very rustic brickwork.  This could be quite comfortable, or…yes there is yet one more option, maybe you choose to climb the steps to your left as you enter and relax in the sofa lounge that overlooks not only all the action within Empire but all the action outside on Gates St. through the open windows.

No matter how you proceed, comfort and good service will greet you…oh, and good suds as well!  Oh my god, and good food too!

During my pouring duties I had a BBQ pork medallion sandwich with mango chutney that totally rejuvenated me and increased my capacity to continue to answer the same questions over and over again.  The cessation of the Bite allowed me to pull up a stool within Empire at the gorgeous bar, which seats about 14.  The woodwork of said bar is so nice that I was slightly afraid to place anything on it without a coaster or a barrier of some kind.  If you read my review of The Pub at Third Place, you probably know about my affinity for wood in bars.  Highly enjoyable.  The Glacier IPA played a serious role in my enjoyment as well, which is often hard to find in these parts.

60+ miles is no joke with alcohol in the system, so I limited myself to one, but I plan on returning very soon.  Not only is Mount Vernon a must visit because of Empire and Skagit River Brewing, but because there are two other world-class ale houses within city limits.  Due to its proximity to Empire (one block away), I stepped into Porterhouse Pub, just to catch a glimpse of the tap list, and was not disappointed.  Had I realized at the time that Trumpeter Public House was only one more block away I would have slid in there and scoped it out as well.  I hear it’s just as impressive.

It seems like you could make quite a day of it up there in tulip country.  I highly suggest you make it happen.

Events for Week of May 24, 2010

Catskeller in Tampa, FL- put it on the list!

Sorry I am late! We are back from a whirlwind trip to DC: “Hello” Pizza Paradiso, Brickskeller, Old Dominion Beer, Stoudt’s Brewing Co….but we are back to Seattle and ready to blog. Thanks for sticking with us during our trip!

And your events for the last week in May.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Green Flash Gravity Cask: Peekskill, New York

6:00PM- 12:00AM@ Birdsall House

They will be tapping two gravtiy casks from the Green Flash Brewing Co.: American ESB at 5.6% ABV and an Imperial Red Ale at 8% ABV.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Goose Island Beer Dinner: Beavercreek, Ohio

7:00PM- 9:00PM @ Spinoza’s Gourmet Pizza and Salad

This menu includes an amazing five course meal paired with beers from Goose Island Brewing Co. This menu is ridiculous and Matilda is a beer not to be missed.

1. “Summertime” German-Syle Kolsch paired with House-made Soft Pretzel with Roasted Garlic Aioli
2. “312″ Urban Wheat Ale paired with Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Roasted Yellow Pepper-Cilantro Pesto
3. “Sofie” Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale paired with a salad of Mache Lettuce, Chilled Wild-Caught Sea Scallops, Honey Roasted Pecans, and Lemon Caper Vinaigrette
4. “Matilda” Belgian Style Pale Ale paired with Hearth Baked Pizza with Pesto, Lump Crab, Pine Nuts, Goat Cheese, and Roasted Chilies
5. “Pere Jacues” Belgian Style Abbey Ale paired with Strawberry Cheesecake with Belgian Chocolate Sauce
6. “Night Stalker” Imperial Stout (part of the Goose Island limited “Heavy Weight Beer Collection”)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Southern Tier Brewery Night: Tampa, Florida

7:00PM-9:00PM @ Datz Deli

Southern Tier is considered one of the top ten breweries in the US of A by all three authors of bb.com.  Go to this now, stat! Check out this tap list, its unspeakable:

MOKAH Chocolate Coffee Stout- 1 of 3 in Tampa
JAVAH Coffee Stout
OAK AGED UNEARTHLY Imperial IPA- Very limited
Inequity Imperial Black Ale
HOP SUN
BIG RED Imperial Red
HOPPE Imperial Pale Ale
BACK BURNER Barley Wine- Very Limited

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Belgium Beer Festival: Cinncinati, Ohio

11:00AM- 10:00PM @ Catskeller

Flights will be available of full pours by the glass. The draft lineup will feature all Belgian-style ales, most from Belgium and some others produced outside of Belgium but inspired by the traditional style. Beers on tap include: Urthel Samaranth; Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet and Huyghe Delirium Tremens.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Night Flights: Florence, Kentucky

6:00PM-7:00PM @ Party Town

Ok, this place is called Party Town and each week at least eight beers are available for you to try at a cost of two dollars.  This Friday from 6-7pm you will be joined by the best brewery in St. Louis, Missouri: Schlafly. Schlafly’s Quadrupel, Grand Cru, Export IPA, and a blend of their bourbon barrel aged Barleywine and Pale ale will all be on tap.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

San Francisco Giants’ Brewfest: San Francisco, California

3:00PM -6:00PM @ AT&T Park

In addition to a ticket to the game in the Brewfest section, this $20 ticket package includes entrance to the private pregame Brewfest party in Lot D from 3pm-6pm, with complimentary samples of delicious regional and world beer styles provided by the participating breweries.  Come to this first time event and be a part of beer history!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brew At the Zoo: Baltimore, Maryland

1:00PM-7:00PM @ the Maryland Zoo

Animals and alcohol- done and done. Brew at the Zoo and Wine, Too! couples food and beverage with music and fun! Tickets are required and include unlimited beer and wine tastings, a commemorative tasting glass, 3 live bands per day, and access to food, snack, artisan, and commercial vendors.  Tickets will be for sale online VERY soon. Buy early and save!

Monday, May 31, 2010

*We will be camping this weekend, see you on Tuesday!*


Preparing For Bacchanal: Dear Barleywine, a beer time capsule

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

The Barleywine Bounty: 14 for 2014

We here at Beer Blotter have full hearts. Sure we do. We love that mushy stuff.

Over time we have accumulated a bevy of wonderful fans and colleagues in beer. We want to give each of them a chance to tell their wonderful stories and share their great love for the beer they wrap their hands around each evening.

In preparation of Beveridge Place Pub’s Barleywine Bacchanal, a couple of our most favored contributing friends wrote monologues to their beloved – barleywine.

The muse…..14 bottles of recently released Barleywine. The goal…..to lock them away in February 2010 – and open them in February 2014. After 4 years of aging, I just hope we are invited to the uncapping.

Lets see the list:

Anchor Brewing Old Foghorn

Sierra Nevade Bigfoot Ale

North Coast Old Stock Ale

Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws

Alaskan Barleywine Ale

Marin Brewing Old Dipsea

Lagunitas Old Gnarlywine

Stone Brewing Old Guardian

Green Flash Barleywine

Great Divide Old Ruffian

Deschutes Mirror Mirror

Midnight Sun Arctic Devil

Flying Dog Horn Dog

Victory Old Horizontal

Damn that looks good. So, lets lend an ear to our friends and see how inspired they were:

To be locked away in youth…

A Letter

Dear Barleywine,

I write you this day with hope that you find my words, within yourself merriment, and that these words touch you deeply with the purpose steeped upon them.  The seasons have changed, brought bitter airs and quelled growth – ever bare, and within myself spawned yearning for warmth.  An engulfing fever, submerged so to leave no piece of thy depth unwrapped.  Might we emblaze the year’s provisions? Not lest our souls, and heart be abandoned.  The steam of my exhale, the burn of my blood aches for infusion with your essence.  I thirst for the remedy that lies in you, O impassioned elixir.  Might we meet today and churn glowing red from this dead place?  Might our tangling force back the encroaching destitution?  This season I ask of your hand in melting this glacial encasing, and that together, each Winter passed, our allegiance advanced, tactics tempered, passion prospered.  Will we be merged now my sweet nectar, and age together with graceful longevity?

With all my allegiance,

Timperial

…brought to maturity in the cool, dark confines…

A Poem

To break a young stallion takes patience, and time

Strewn flora, trot leaves wake scented with herb and pine

A steady handler calms the wind’s stir, strives to bring sweetness forth

Within of the eye of our student, great tales of a deeper worth

A bond is born in one moment’s blind plunge, foreseen in dark tomb

By hand interwoven in mane, violence seized, froth of realized womb

Only to be reborn from this earth, maturation sees that glimmer sprout

Complexity developed within, to be shared and savored without doubt…

…a time capsule locked and buried...for warmth in the frostbitten air of Winter 2014.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Victory Brewing Co.’s WildDevil Ale

Victory Brewing Co.'s WildDevil Ale

Enjoyed on 1/31/2010

Brewery: Victory Brewing Company

Location: Downingtown, PA

Beer: WildDevil Ale

Web: http://www.victorybeer.com/

Presentation: 750 ML – Brown Glass Bottle, corked and caged

Vintage: 2009

Style: Belgian Style Wild IPA

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 6.7%

IBU: N/A

Hops: Whole flower American hops

Malt: Imported, 2 row German malts

Vessel: Snifter

Recommended Serving Temp: 45 degrees

Notes from the bottle: “It’s arguable that our menacingly delicious HopDevil has always been ‘wild.’  Though the India Pale Ale style that he represents was born in Great Britain, we approach the style with German malts and whole flower American hops, making a unique ale of him, indeed.  But what has made him truly wild is a change of yeast.  Brettanomyces yeast has given many a Belgian ale its soulful character of sharp tang and deep funk.  Fermented completely with Brettanomyces, WildDevil features the greatest flavors of Europe and America combined.  Floral, aromatic hops still leap from this amber ale, but a whole host of new flavors are intertwined with the citrus and pine flavors of these hops, making WildDevil a sensation that is wild, worldly and wonderful!”

Bottled on: 6/11/2009

Flavor will continue to develop for some time to come.

Food Pairings: Anything spicy, salads

Cheese Pairings: Blue, cheddar, feta

Beer Advocate: B+

Rate Beer: 94 (3.66)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Victory Brewing has a very special place in my heart.  The brewery is about 15 miles from the house I grew up in.  I have been to the brewery/brewpub many times.  I love everything that they do and I have a huge respect for founders Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski.  Though I would be lying if I said I grew up on craft beer (more accurately – lots and lots of Rolling Rock, back when it was brewed in Latrobe and, of course, Yuengling lager from Pottsville), but I can say that Victory taught me a lot about craft beer once I started getting into it, and for that I owe them a lot.

HopDevil was probably one of the very first extremely (at least you could use that word at the time) hoppy beers I ever had.  Storm King was definitely the first Imperial Stout I ever had, and I distinctly remember being amazed by the high abv of V-Twelve (you guessed it, 12%).  The most exciting thing for me is that now, with many, many craft beer experiences under my belt, my respect and admiration for Victory has only gotten stronger.

I think it’s probably pretty safe to assume that HopDevil is Victory’s highest selling offering.  If I’m wrong, it is, without a doubt, one of their most recognizable.  It’s a really delicious IPA, and a great name, great logo, and great advertising surely doesn’t hurt the cause.  The fact that Brewmasters Bill and Ron decided to experiment with this beer says a lot about these men and the brewery they started as a whole.  It speaks of an extreme “ballsiness,” to an almost self-destructive level.  It’s moves like this that are the reason that you and I heart American craft brewers.  Innovation without fear of failure.  In another segment of culinary production and marketing, a slue of corporate suites would have never allowed for such marked brazenness.  Muddy your bread and butter with dirty sock (Brett).  Risk abandoning and confusing the common Victory drinker.  Blasphemy!

It’s moments like this that reaffirm the brilliance of the brewing community that is now.  The culture, the figureheads of a movement that we are truly and intensely lucky to bear witness to.  Our job here at Beer Blotter is to remind you of this as often as possible.  We have been gifted the knowledge of our fortune.  Beer Blotter is a beer missionary.

And the word we preach…today it’s Victory WildDevil.

The calmest, most patient among us would pour a glass dominated by creamy head.  The bottle conditioning surely makes for a lively solution.  The stacked, tiny bubbles slowly subside from a firm white wall to a rocky cumulus cloud that lathers all glass in its wake with a sticky fog.  Foreshadowing of a sweetness in taste to go along with that of the view.

The brew beneath the mountains is a most gorgeous orange tinted amber that carries a slight haze.  The fluid plays forum to dancing carbonation that rises with great frequency from the depths.

If I were blindly smelling this brew, it would be the hoppy aroma alone that would betray all belief that what lied before me was an Asian sweet and sour sauce.  But, the hops are fully present.  Therein lies the characteristic that propels this beer far into the realm of groundbreaking.  Genius Insanity.  Idiot Savant.  The mad scientist’s experiment gone right.  This is why Victory Brewing resides amongst gods.

The layers of complexity are many.  My mind reels with every draw.  There is candy sweetness, Brett funkiness, pine, citrus (namely grapefruit), a bit of woody pineapple rind.  Earth wrapped in cottoncandy.  A rainbow on a rainy day.  Technicolor bursts beneath dense cloud cover.  It’s perplexing.  Even within the sip, the start is so impossibly far from the finish, and the aftertaste is yet another beast entirely.

The entrance is accompanied by the scent and interacts with the tongue bits that speak of sweet and sour.  The swallow is packed with hoppy bitterness that has no place mingling with its predecessor.  No doubt a startling partnership, but with pleasant results.  That bitterness lends a momentary drying effect, but it’s in combat with a sweet tartness that makes your mouth water.  It’s stupid to be honest.  This beer is one big contradiction after another.  Wholly enigmatic, yet ever so uniquely delicious.

To imbibe this beer is to have a religious experience.  The Beer Blotter Mission is singing hymns tonight.  Go out, find this beer, sip, regain your senses, sip again, and sing with us.

If you like Wild Devil Ale, you should try:

Green Flash Brewing Co.’s Le Freak; Stone Brewing Co.’s Cali-Belgique IPA; and Allagash Brewing Co.’s Huge Malone

Disclaimer: A good friend of Beer Blotter and fellow Pennsylvanian, with great knowledge of my affinity for Victory, very graciously gifted me this bottle after a recent trek back to the homeland.  For this I am truly gracious.  Thanks Erin!

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