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Notes of a Beer Nerd: Cigar City Brewing Bolita Brown

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Who's down for a game of Bolita?

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at timperial@beerblotter.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 2/22/2011

Brewery: Cigar City Brewing LLC

Location: Tampa, FL

Beer: Bolita Brown Double Nut Brown Ale

Web: http://www.cigarcitybrewing.com/

Presentation: 750 ml – Blown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2009

Style: Double Nut Brown Ale

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 9.0%

IBU: N/A

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Vessel: Snifter

Recommended Serving Temp: 45 degrees

Commercial Description:

Bolita was a type of lottery popular with the working class citizens of the Ybor City district of Tampa. Bolita means, ’little ball’ but profits from the illegal (and often rigged) game were anything but little. In the 1920’s Tampa native Charlie Wall was the undisputed kingpin of the Bolita racket.

Our Bolita is a Double Northern English-style brown ale that has a complex malt forward character with notes of chocolate, toffee and hints of roasted nuts in the finish. Bolita pairs well with Baklava, Big Band Music, Cool Evenings and robust cigars.

Food Pairings: Pork, brownies

Cheese Pairings: Camembert, Asiago

Music Pairing: Sun Ra

Beer Advocate: A- (4.09)

Rate Beer: 98 (3.76)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Background.

I have been saying for a while now that The Bruery and Cigar City are the two most exciting new breweries to open in the past 5 years.  In the case of The Bruery, I have relatively strong access to their beers and can speak with experience.  With CCB, I am forced to go completely by word of mouth, publications and ratebeer/beeradvocate ratings…until now.  Thanks to the overwhelming kindness and social grace of Jess and DSR, the better 2/3 of Beer Blotter, I was gifted with this bottle after they toured NYC in 2009.  I had been waiting for a special occasion to open it.  When I received a god-awful bill from a recent ER visit I made, I decided that I’d substitute “special occasion” with “extreme desire to escape reality”.  Let’s see if they live up to the hype.

Appearance.

Just after opening the bottle, at a very cold temperature mind you, a bit of foam formed and began to slowly creep over the rim of the bottle.  Out of fear of losing some of this rare brew to the table top, I quickly filled my snifter.  A lively head rose up but I was able to get a good pour and not overflow the vessel.  Bottle-conditioning success!

The fluid itself is a gorgeous mahogany color, and when held directly to the light it appears slightly toward a very dark, murky amber.  Light does not pass through and though it is evident that the carbonation is strong, it is nearly impossible to see any rising effervescence.

The head is tan in color and fairly light in density.  It falls somewhat quickly from its initial heights but leaves behind immense globs of lace, eventually settling into a soft, brownish-tan wisp.  As I revel in the appearance, from a top view, I’m reminded of being on a beach, right at the point in which the crashing waves dwindle and recede.  A froth of salty water resting upon dark, drenched sand, awaiting the next gravity fed barrage of the mighty sea.  If I could shrink myself down and anxiously submerge my feet in these cool sands, I would not hesitate.

Odor.

The scent is surprisingly vinous and estery…almost tart.  It takes a deep waft and some searching to find the nuts and malts beneath, but they are there.  The full experience in the nose – that being the combination of the before mentioned attributes – is actually really enjoyable, though my first impression is that this was not intended by the brewers.  Though, upon further reflection, this is a Cigar City beer and there is no doubt that, in its current state, this would pair effortlessly with a cigar.  Even still, as this is my first and only experience with this beer, I ponder the role that travel and age may play here.  It may require a trip to the Southeast to truly know.

Had the label come out and told me that this beer was aged in wood I would feel much better about everything, but really, if it isn’t, and this isn’t the intended scent, maybe it should be because it’s amazing!  It’s full of cherry notes and brown sugar, strawberries and rhubarb, pie crust and sugar cookies filled with jam.

Nuts and chocolate, again, can be found, but much deeper than the rest.  The moment that they are found, it all comes together in a holiday-like harmony that really sends me to another place and time.  It’s a magical experience.  Very, very much unlike most brown ales, there is no subtlety to the nose.  It bursts out of the glass like an overly perfumed grandmother.  In this case, I want to rest my shoulder on granny all evening long.

Mouthfeel.

The MF is on the high side with respect to carbonation, which slightly inhibits my ability to gauge anything in this category.  Through many sips I determine that it’s above average in body but not overly cloying or oily.  It’s spot on for a double brown ale.

Flavor.

It’s in the flavor that the nuts and chocolatey, roasted malt characteristics truly shine, but that only really holds true when the beer is colder.  In that stage the flavor is much reminiscent of Nutella.  When you couple that with the fruity nose, well, quite literally… it’s like enjoying a Nutella dipped strawberry, which, let me tell you, is simply stupendous!

The grains do not present any acridity or chalkiness and it all goes down smooth and sweet.  As the beer warms the experience has much less of a yin and yang effect and the flavors seems to devolve more into what was experienced with the surface scents.  The maltiness is pressed to the aftertaste and it all transitions into something very Belgian in nature.  If there was ever a time that I’d bet wood was involved in the production of this beer it would be now.  Strawberry bubblegum screams the loudest, but a woody, earthy flavor rests below.  That may be my palate misinterpreting the nuts since they are rare in this context.  The booze really brightens up here and plays yet another role in my (spiked?) barrel theory.

Amidst all this seeming mayhem, there is not an ounce of me that is disenchanted by any of it.  In fact, I can’t get enough.  It’s a chameleon of a beer.  What strange shade will I see the next time I blink?

Aftertaste.

The aftertaste is an afterthought for most of my time with this beer.  It’s all sweet and just slightly acidic, but with warmth there is a lasting, cocoa powder graininess that gives the impression of a chalky dryness that isn’t actually there.  This is probably the worst part of the entire experience of Bolita Brown but that is a bit of a misnomer because the whole experience is grande.  There is no doubt that I want to continue to the next sip.

Summation.

It’s been a long time coming, this foray into the realm of Cigar City, and whether I “compromised” the product or not, I really enjoyed my time with it.  I have great hopes that the time will soon come that I have full access to CCB’s product line.

If you like Cigar City Bolita Brown, you should try…

Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale; Smuttynose Brewing’s Old Brown Dog Ale; Lazy Magnolia Brewing’s Southern Pecan

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased by Beer Blotter with our own hard-earned money, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Unita Brewing Labyrinth Black Ale

February 4, 2011 1 comment

I've become lost in this labyrinthine world.

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at timperial@beerblotter.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 2/3/2011

Brewery: Uinta Brewing Co.

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Beer: Labyrinth Black Ale

Web:http://www.uintabrewing.com/

Presentation: 750 ml – Blown Glass Bottle – Corked & Caged

Vintage: 2010

Style: Imperial Stout

Barrel: Oak

ABV: 13.2%

IBU: 56

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Vessel: Snifter

Recommended Serving Temp: 45 degrees

Commercial Description:

Enter the Labyrinth, a multi-dimensional black ale. Discover the complex intermingling of black licorice and toasted oak. Seek the subtle hints of bittersweet chocolate. Explore pairing Labyrinth with flavorful cheeses and rich desserts.

Food Pairings: Game, Gelato, Chocolate Cake

Cheese Pairings: Brie, Gouda

Music Pairing: David Bowie

Beer Advocate: A- (4.08)

Rate Beer: 99 (3.78)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Background.

I’ve explained this many times before in this column, so I’ll make it brief.  Uinta, by sending their Crooked Line to Seattle before any of their standard beers, is playing a hand that has become very familiar to us beer geeks.  Send the trendy, extreme beers first when attempting to enter a new market and build up a reputation.  Then, slip in the standards and lay down more of a foundation.  Labyrinth is one of four beers in the Crooked Line and it’s an imperial stout.  You know full well that Timperial Stout had to try it.  Here we go!

Appearance.

They should call this a black ale.  Oh, wait…  Yeah, this is black alright.  It’s about as devoid of transparency as a brick wall.  I think I could ignite a fist sized chunk of magnesium behind the glass and not even know that anything was different in the room.   I held it up to the light and the room went black.  I think you get it.  Labyrinth is impossibly black.

The head rose up on the pour with just the vigor that I would expect from a high gravity stout that has been bottle conditioned.  Actually, now that I think about it, that expectation took a bit of subconscious calculation.  I’d expect a high gravity stout to have a very minimal head and a bottle conditioned beer to have quite a large head, so I figured it would about split the difference, and it did.  As it somewhat quickly receded, some thin lacing layed in its wake.

That head is very much the color that you would expect from a beer so jet black.  It’s espresso colored.  It’s a very dark tan, near brown with auburn highlights.  I just described my ideal head on a beer.  It’s so beautiful and inviting I can’t wait to sip!

Odor.

A deep inhale at the mouth of the glass forces a massive smile to my face.  The odor speaks of an amazing imperial stout.  It’s so deep and roasted and complex and sweet…  The first thing that comes to mind is a very high cocoa content chocolate bar put into convection and sweetened generously.  A flourless chocolate torte perhaps?  Definitely something baked and dry.  Brownies might be too sweet to apply here.  The licorice is faint but detectable and works magnificently.  Vanilla bean seems to be involved as well.

The oak combines with the base grain and the hops to form the scent’s backbone and bring realization to the experience – this is in fact a beer and not a melted desert.  There is some earthiness, some damp wood and a little bitter coffee.  The whole experience is a bit frantic as the sweets and the not-so-sweets are constantly struggling for supremacy.

Mouthfeel.

Oh how silky smooth it is!  It’s not the most viscous impy stout I’ve ever had but it’s close.  Labyrinth coats every corner of the mouth with its essence and has absolutely no reservations about it.  This beer is a big, bold bully and any lingering flavor that may have existed in my mouth prior to it’s arrival has been sent packing, tail between its legs.  I slight swishing of the liquid stimulates enough carbonation frothing to sting my cheeks, or maybe that’s the booze.  It’s a pleasure to be drinking this tonight.

Flavor.

Upon my very first taste of Labyrinth I felt I had a serious winner.  It’s thick and robust.  It has a bitterness, but it’s mostly sweet.  It’s a beast of an ale, not doubt.  But, after subsequent sips, and as the beer warms, I’m becoming less and less attracted to it.  It’s highly astringent and the booze is somewhat painful.  I do very much like the chocolate cake notes and the oak has infused itself marvelously.  Those two elements are not to be overlooked.  I think that the licorice is somewhat harsh and the overall grain bill may be too heavily weighted toward black.

The label on the bottle does suggest that Labyrinth is better at cooler temperatures.  I don’t know why I always ignore these precautions.  I guess, ultimately, I don’t think that a beer should be hiding in the foggy, fault-hiding chills.  Let that shit breath.  Let my taste buds work in their ideal temperature zone.

As I push deeper and deeper into the bottle I begin to think that I won’t be able to finish it.  I couldn’t tell you the last time that that happened.  There continues to be flashes of the greatness that this beer has to offer (chocolate, oak) but they are fleeting at best.  A medicinal quality begins to appear, but it’s mostly just this weird earthiness and some metallic, off flavors.  I feel somewhat like I’m eating a piece of rain-soaked bark with a rubbing alcohol chaser.

Aftertaste.

This area is two parted.  In the forefront, there is a booze laces acidity that is really burning the inside of my mouth.  Just as it sounds, it’s uncomfortable.  The second part is a chalky bittersweet chocolate dusting that isn’t exactly bad but I’d much prefer a sweeter finish.  It’s all pretty acrid and it lingers for some time.

Summation.

I feel terrible because I probably shouldn’t have reviewed this beer but I needed to get a review in and based on the beeradvocate.com and ratebeer.com ratings I figured this would be a treat. Maybe I’m just a bit off today.  I’m going to give this beer one more try someday soon.  Maybe I just got a bad bottle or bad batch or something.  Uinta deserves better treatment from me than this.

If you like Uinta Labyrinth Black Ale, you should try…

Full Sail Brewing’s Imperial Porter; Deschutes Brewing’s Abyss; Goose Island Brewing’s Bourbon County Stout

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops

October 27, 2010 1 comment

It's a secret...

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at timperial@beerblotter.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 10/20/2010

Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Beer: Black Ops

Web: http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/

Presentation: 750ml – Blown Glass Bottle – Corked and Caged

Vintage: 2009

Style: Imperial Stout

Barrel: Bourbon

ABV: 11.6%

IBU: N/A

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Vessel: Tulip…ish

Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees

Commercial Description:

Brooklyn Black Ops does not exist. However, if it did exist, it would be a robust stout concocted by the Brooklyn brewing team under cover of secrecy and hidden from everyone else at the brewery. Supposedly “Black ops” was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented with Champagne yeast, creating big chocolate and coffee flavors with a rich underpinning of vanilla-like oat notes. They say there are only 1,000 cases. We have no idea what they’re talking about.

Food Pairings: Grilled meat, ice cream, brownies

Cheese Pairings: Aged Gouda, Cheddar, Parmesan

Music Pairing: Small Black from Brooklyn

Beer Advocate: A- (4.25)

Rate Beer: 100 (4.00)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Background.

Being from Philadelphia, I have had pretty much every beer that Brooklyn makes.  Well, at least the ones that were available before I moved to Seattle three and a half years ago.  In PA, there are some very odd laws based around beer.  As a consumer, you have to buy any beer that you want to take home with you from either a bar (six-packs only) or a distributor (full cases only).  You cannot buy beer at a grocery store, convenience store, etc.  There are a few bottle shops around that sell individual bottles, but they are few and far between.  With this in mind, many larger breweries end up producing “variety” cases, almost exclusively for PA consumers.  Most of the time, these include 4 different six-packs, but sometimes there’s even more variety.

Brooklyn was one of the breweries that offered the variety case and I purchased it quite often.  For me, this was one of the few variety options where I liked every beer, even the lager, and that fact stuck with me.  I have always respected Garret Oliver and Brooklyn since those burgeoning days of beer nerdiness.  As that nerdiness reached full bloom, I abandoned the variety case all together and exclusively shopped at the bottle shops, despite the inconvenience.  Those days allowed me to find Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout.  To this day, that beer is one of the beers I most miss from the East coast.  It’s just like what you think it would be like, chocolatey, sweet, smooth and warming.

Once I heard that the brewery that made one of my favorite East coast stouts was doing a limited run of bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, I flipped out.  But, alas, I quickly excepted the fact that I would probably never get a chance to try it, being so far away from the distribution area.  But then, the other 2/3 of beerblotter took a trip to NYC.  I said to them before they departed, “If there is one bottle that you return with, for the love of god make it be Black Ops!”  Yadda, yadda, yadda, here we are today.

Appearance.

This monster pours with a huge head of brown and a slight hint of clay color.  It should go without saying that the liquid itself is oil black.  As the head dwindles, which takes quite a while I may add, there is some serious lacing left on the glass that seems to be caramelized or heated to crystallization on the inside of the glass.  It’s a sight to see!  The head never does fully dissipate, leaving an impressive 1/8 of an inch to the very end.

Odor.

The scent is outrageously smooth and complex.  Notes of bourbon, pretzels, vanilla, white cookie or white cake batter, wood, tobacco and a medicinal booziness exist.  As it warms, there is a sense of saltiness that is produced in the nose, possibly a suggestion from the pretzel connotation, or possibly the other way around.  Maybe the scent really is of salt and the baked, malty notes bring pretzels to mind.  The world may never know.  Also uncovered: Burnt sugar, creme brulee, brown sugar, rum, almond biscotti…did I mention that this is complex?

Mouthfeel.

This is smooth without being too cloying or syrupy.  The champagne yeast is not as active as I suspected it would feel in the mouth, but it must play a massive role in the body, which is super unique.  The use of champagne yeast in beer is rare, but it has produced fantastic results here.

Flavor.

Many of the bourbon flavors are realized on the tongue, which I feel is unique – I generally just get the odors.  The dark, roasted malts seem to be most prevalent near the end of the flavor profile.  They impart a chocolate nib bitterness, but there is no dryness to be found.  Vinous and a bit juicy (read: not drying) with an intense mouth watering nature, but not overly sweet.  It’s perplexing how the flavor lingers forever and is not dry but it’s simultaneously not very sweet.  Many of the flavors associated with the scents listed above come and go as the liquid washes over the taste buds.  The experience is like eating a slurry of every desert ever made, and it’s awesome!

Aftertaste.

There is a whole butt load of booze in the aftertaste, which makes it a bit challenging to pinpoint the subtle nuances.  There is definitely some licorice in there, I did get that.

Summation.

This beer was shared amongst the three beerblotter members, and each one of us was completely smitten by it.  It is, without a doubt, one of the best bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts we have ever had.  This beer is not easy to find, especially on the West Coast, but hear me now: do WHATEVER you must to get this!

If you like Brooklyn Black Ops, you should try…

Deschutes Brewery‘s The Abyss; Big Sky Brewing‘s Ivan the Terrible; North Coast Brewing‘s Old Rasputin Anniversary Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Nøgne Ø Peculiar Yule

August 20, 2010 1 comment

Peculiar indeed.

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at beerblotter@gmail.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 9/19/2010

Brewery: Nøgne Ø

Location: Grimstad, Norway

Beer: Peculiar Yule

Web: http://www.nogne-o.com

Presentation: 16.9 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2008

Style: Winter Ale

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 6.5%

IBU: 30

Hops: Chinook, Cascade

Malt: Maris Otter, Munich, crystal, and chocolate malt

Vessel: Tulip

Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees

Notes From the Bottle:

This holiday ale draws its inspiration from Glogg, a Norwegian spiced beverage enjoyed hot in the winter. Like Glogg, it goes well with nuts, dried fruits or cookies, but we recommend serving Peculiar Yule at proper cellar temperature of 55F.

The name Nøgne Ø means “naked island”, a poetic term used by Henrik Ibsen to describe any of the countless stark, barren outcroppings that are visible in the rough sea off Norway’s southern coast, where the brewery sits.  The founders gave Nøgne Ø a subtitle – “The Uncompromising Brewery” – a plain statement of their mission: to make ales of personality and individuality.  Brewing in traditional styles but thoroughly inspired by the boldness of American brewing, these Norwegian brewers fearlessly chart their own course.

Food Pairings: Chili, smoked meats, roasted turkey, nuts, dried fruits, cookies, raisins, gingerbread

Cheese Pairings: Monterey, Pepper Jack

Beer Advocate: A- (4.02)

Rate Beer:  91 (3.45)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

One great advantage of cellaring beer is that, if you are in the mood to drink a winter beer in the dead of summer, you can.  I have the itch and I’m able to scratch it – lucky me.

I might be alone on this one, but even in the heat of August, the idea of cuddling up by a fire and drinking a rich beer sounds pretty amazing.  Now, if that fire was in a cozy cabin in the icy Scandinavian Tundra, well, now I’m really getting excited.  With beer, we are able to close our eyes, sip, and let our imaginations expand.  In this case, enjoying this Norwegian brew in Ballard, Seattle’s Norwegian center, seems to allow my imagination to expand just a little bit further.

This bottle is from ’08, the first year that Shelton Brothers imported it into America.  I’m not completely sure that it was a good idea to age this, due to the fairly low abv, but I guess we will soon find out.  But before we get to that, let’s get a little bit better of an idea of what this beer is all about.

First, the brewery.  Nøgne Ø was founded by 2 homebrewers in 2002.  The story behind the name is right on the bottle and can be found above, but how do you pronounce it?  I long thought that it was pronounced “nagano”, as in the city in Japan.  I thought that because that was the way that the Stone Brewing reps that I met pronounced it.  I figured that they would know since they had recently collaborated with Kjetil Jikiun, head brewer.  Well maybe I miss heard but it’s actually “nir-gneh-err”.  Good to know.  Now, how you pronounce Kjetil Jikiun, you’re on your own with that one.

The founders started their brewery as a mission to show the Norwegian people what real ale is all about – to essential bring American brewing creativity to a demographic that only knows and drinks macro lagers.  This is a very respectable undertaking indeed, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on quite as well as they may have hoped.  70% of the roughly 20 different ales that they make are exported.  I don’t know how much of that comes to the U.S. but I do know that Kjetil Jikiun is highly respected by many American craft beer brewers and aficionados.  Hopefully, for now, that is enough to satisfy the aspirations of Nøgne Ø.

Though American brewing may be a strong source of inspiration for many of Nøgne Ø’s beers, one reason why I am so excited about this one is that it plays tribute to a piece of Norwegian culture, while still utilizing boldness and creativity (obviously, two of the clear hallmarks of American brewing that the founders intended to incorporate).  The honest truth is that there isn’t very many breweries in Scandinavia that are worth a damn.  Maybe that’s my opinion because a large majority of them aren’t “American Craft” enough for me.  The land, the climate, the people, the culture, on the other hand, is all so beautiful and intriguing to this ill-traveled American.  Drinking beers from Nøgne Ø allows me to have a deeply profound experience with a little piece of that far off world, and that is such an enormous reason why I love beer in general.  Beer allows us to taste far off (some more that others) lands.

Now, Peculiar Yule.  Some may know this brew by a different name – Underlig Jul is the original Norwegian name.  As you may have inferred from the bottle notes, the inspiration of this brew is a Scandinavian version of mulled wine.  According to Wikipedia, the traditional spices used in Glogg are cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and bitter orange.  The spices used in Peculiar Yule are ginger, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves.  Sounds like Masala chai tea spices to me, which I just so happen to be very fond of.

Now on to my experience with the brew in question.

When I cracked the lid, foam came gushing out of the opening and all over the counter.  This is not a good sign.  The bottle was not disturbed in any way and was refrigerated for the last few days.  Let’s hope that I didn’t spoil it by aging it.

After all was settled, Peculiar Yule filled my glass with a very dark brown, near black fluid possessing a breathtaking tan head that never dissipated and left very small traces of lace.  The chocolate malts played their role in the hue.  Light is unable to pass completely though, but it does make it far enough to show me the lively carbonation suspended within.

Maybe this doesn’t smell or taste exactly like the brewers intended, but all the more “peculiar”.  I’m thinking that the intensity of the spices and the illusion to wine has covered up any off flavors that may exist here.  PY is wine like indeed, vinous and slightly tart in both nose and flavor.  In gathering the aroma, it becomes most apparent why this is best enjoyed at cellar temperature.  When cool, all that really comes out is a mishmash of quelled spices.  After warming quite considerably, placing my nose deep within the tulip glass nearly brings me to tears.  It’s truly sublime and outrageously complex.  Layer upon layer of stratified spices become individually recognizable.  There is still a lot of wine recollection, but the malts are now standing taller.  Sweet chocolate and cinnamon has been sprinkled on candied ginger, coriander and cloves nipping at their toes… Yeah, my imagination is working overtime.  There is something in that southern Norway water.

The mouthfeel is slick.  The carbonation that previously appeared heavy has mostly subsided, leaving so many attributes that continue to bring the wine aspect home.  I can’t seem to pinpoint what exactly it is, but all I think about is wine until well after the swallow when I get a bit of deep malty chalkiness on the very back of the tongue.

At the very moment the brew engages my taste buds, the ginger and cardamom scream for attention.  There is a unique interplay between the ginger’s heat and the cardamom’s cool that, well, reinforces just why these two spices play well together.  Chai tea is definitely on the mind initially.  Late in the flavor profile I’m greeted by a dark, roasted maltiness and a slight tartness.  Yet another contradiction with positive results.  It seems a fairly short description of the flavor when written, but within those words there is a very distinctive, unique, complex beer that I feel very lucky to have before me on this night.

At this point I can really feel the warmth of the flames…smell the charred wood…hear the crackling sunder…  If I could sit by a fire with the good company of the folks from Nøgne Ø, I sure would have a story to tell them.  A wild tale about one summer night in Seattle when I was transported to a cabin deep in the white Norway winter, warmed by Peculiar Yule.

If you like Nogne O Peculiar Yule, you should try…

Anderson Valley Brewing Co.‘s Winter Solstice; Short’s Brewing Co.‘s Nicie Spicie; Saint Louis Brewery‘s Christmas Ale

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Introducing: The Hop Brief

Hop Leaf

In just a few short months I’ll have been writing my Notes of a Beer Nerd (NBN) column for an entire year.  In that time I have not reviewed a single pale ale, IPA, or imperial/double IPA.

Why is that?  Is it because I don’t like hoppy beers or that I don’t feel that they are worthy of a review? GOOD GOD NO!  I love all things humulus lupulus!

Now I wouldn’t say that the larger classification of “pale” ales includes any single style that I would consider my number #1, most favorite style of all (I am Timperial Stout for a reason), but there is no other style that I crave more on a regular basis.

IPA is, without a doubt,  my go-to style.  After a long day of work, I most often want to sit down and relax with something herbal, piney, citusy… you know, something with some serious IBUs.  Anytime I’m at a “yellow beer bar”, I’m looking for a beer, any beer, with a respectable portion on alpha acids.

I think you get the point.  Despite what you may think, I really do heart hops.

The main reason why I don’t write about hop forward beers is that I find it to be very difficult to expand on the experience with any worthwhile composition.  When I write NBN, I try to fully express the various waves of perception that my senses experience amidst my enjoyment of a highly complex beer.

In my view, hoppy beers are very rarely complex, or rarely complex in a way that I am able to deconstruct and adroitly verbalize.  Content escapes me.  Most often I feel as though I’ve reverted back to a time when my beer knowledge was fledgling at best.  “This tastes…hoppy…and lacks balance.”  End of review.

The most unfortunate part about it is, as I said earlier, I heart hops.  I drink IPA’s all the time.  I really enjoy hoppy beers.  Shouldn’t I be able to share these experiences?  Perhaps I should view it as a challenge.

The Hop Brief will be dedicated to this aspiration.  It may be painfully curt in the inception, but here’s hoping for growth, both as a writer in general and as a beer reviewer.

As always, Beer Blotter desires your thoughts.  Taste something different?  An adjective strike you that would be more appropriate?  Think that my taste buds are straight up worthless? Shoot us a line.

Look out soon for The Hop Brief.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Big Time Brewery & Alehouse Old Sol Wheatwine Ale

The old sun breathes life anew.

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at beerblotter@gmail.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 7/19/2010

Brewery: Big Time Brewery & Alehouse

Location: Seattle, WA

Beer: Old Sol Wheatwine Ale

Web: http://www.bigtimebrewery.com/

Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2010

Style: Wheatwine

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 9.75%

IBU: N/A

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Vessel: Oversized Wine Glass

Recommended Serving Temp: 50 degrees

Notes From the Bottle: The labels on Big Time bottles have a very DIY feel to them.  This isn’t surprising considering that they only sell the bottle in-house.  The website offers the following information:

Old Sol Wheatwine Ale, our summertime barleywine style ale, introduced in 2002, Old Sol is available on tap and in bottles to go.

The 2003 Old Sol won a GOLD MEDAL at the Great American Beer Festival. This summertime version of Barleywine made with 46% wheat and Warrior, Simcoe & Amarillo hops will be a sure winner.

OG 23.6 Plato 1.100 SG 9.75% by vol. 7.75% by wt. Brewed on the Lunar New Year, tapped on the Summer Solstice.

Food Pairings: Shellfish, chicken, salad

Cheese Pairings: Gorgonzola, Limburger, Feta

Beer Advocate: A

Rate Beer: 89 (3.52)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Wheatwine is a strange animal.  The style is still very new, and no one seems to know quite what to make of it.  The specs, more often than not, require a malt bill that is nearly 50% wheat and an abv ranging from 9% to 14%.  When it comes to competitions or indexing within beer rating websites, wheatwine is often lumped into the barleywine or strong ale category.  Even though it seems that large beer festivals like GABF are permanently expanding the number of categories up for vote, wheatwine has yet to be added.  Something tells me that it won’t be long until this exciting style has its day in the spotlight.

That something is the fact that wheatwines seem to be gaining trendiness by the day.  More and more breweries have been making them, and if you were to take a look at some of the community run sites like beeradvocate.com or ratebeer.com, you’d probably be surprised that it didn’t catch on much earlier.  Unlike ratebeer.com, beeradvocate.com actually has wheatwine as a category, and lists 70 beers.  That may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t when you take into consideration that other not-so-popular styles like rye beer, old ale, and rauchbier have 322, 248, and 125 entries respectively.  Also, a large percentage of the beers listed under wheatwine are variations on the same beer, one-offs, or brewery only draft specialties.  But, my point that this style should have caught on earlier isn’t solely based on the fact that it’s an untapped resource.  Even more so, it’s the ratings that have been acquired by the wheatwines that do exist.

There are very, very few wheatwines on beeradvocate.com that are rated lower than a B.  ratebeer.com’s number system may offer a bit better of a perspective, but like I said earlier, they don’t recognize the style on its own, so it takes a bit of digging.

Smuttynose Brewing out of Portsmouth, NH makes, most likely, the longest standing, most widely known wheatwine in the States.  In fact, other than the beer reviewed here tonight (and one mentioned later in this article), the entire Beer Blotter collective has only ever had one wheatwine…that of Smutty.  Smuttynose Wheat Wine is a 95 on ratebeer.com.  The much talked about collaboration Oatgoop, between Three Floyds Brewing of Munster, IN and Mikkeller of Denmark, recieved a 98 on ratebeer.com.  General stalwarts of the style, New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole and Terrapin Gamma Ray are rated 91 and 90 respectively.  Point being, the people like the wheatwine.

Just a year ago, it seems to me that it would have been very safe to say that there was only a handful of breweries in America making the style.  Most likely, a good percentage of the craft beer lovers out there are not all that different from us,  and have only tried one or two different wheatwines in total.  In the last few months, more and more brews have been popping up in the style.  Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City, MO just recently added a wheatwine to the Smokestack Series called Harvest Dance.  It received a 97 on ratebeer.com.  Locally, Black Raven Brewing of Redmond, WA just made a wheatwine for Malt and Vine‘s (a Redmond based bottle shop) third anniversary.  Only three ratings exist so far on ratebeer.com. – not enough for a score, but I can tell you first hand, it’s delicious.  I was lucky enough to taste this little gem the day it was released.  The 9% brew was enhanced with the addition of California orange peel, black pepper corns, local nettles, and a distinct sour quality.  Quite possibly, Black Raven is so far ahead of the game that they are already throwing curve balls at the competition.

Just today (yesterday as you read this), there was a report on the front page of beernews.org that Duclaw Brewing out of Baltimore, MD will be releasing a wheatwine called Misery.  They just keep coming and coming.  You won’t get any complaints from me.

Enough about the rest, lets talk about the best…well, for tonight at least.  The beer on the menu this evening is brought to you by Bill Jenkins of Big Time Brewery.  ***Attention all, this is a name that you need to memorize.***  This guy can brew a beer!  Yes, Bill is a celebrity in my eyes.  I dare you to make a list of the best breweries in WA that doesn’t include Big Time.  Yes I know, it is nearly impossible to get their beer outside of the University District brewpub, but that’s the charm of it, right?

Lets gather in the experience of Old Sol.

Old Sol fills the glass with a beautiful, clearly filtered, orange-tinged amber that looks ever so inviting.  The carbonation is clearly minimal here, and the head, or lack there of, is right inline.  What foam does develop on the pour is stark white and leaves a faint bit of lacing on the inside of the glass after each sip.  A ring of white persists, in conjunction with the slightest cirrus cloud of a wisp.

The odor is very fruity, sweet, and boozy.  Belgian style ales come to mind immediately.  Notes of mango, nectarine, peach, banana… where it not for the malty scents at the core I’d sense this was a fruit juice before me.  The malts are light and biscuity with a dash of caramel and vanilla.  The wheat is doing things that I’m not entirely used to it doing, and I like it.  So many of my experiences with wheat beers have been with unfiltered beers.  Most often these brews are jammed up with suspended yeast that, inevitably, steals a lot of the subtle fragrances of the wheat itself.  I finally feel like I am spinning, arms outstretched, through the great wheat fields that dominate the Mid-Western states of this great country, and it’s a good feeling.  This thought may be just what sparks thoughts of a barnyard scent lingering deep within the nose.

The most elegant characteristic of this beer, and for that matter – this style, is the mouthfeel.  “Velvety” seems to be the word of choice in the style guidelines, and I’d have to agree.  The carbonation and alcohol seem to hibernate all the way until the swallow, which leaves only the viscous, sugary, syrupy, mouth-coating, wheaty goodness at the forefront for ultimate enjoyment.  I’d be lying if I said it was hard to swallow, but sometimes I just want to revel in the moment and let the fluid glide around my mouth for ages.

Honestly, as odd as it sounds, the taste of this beer is the least exciting.  I know, that sounds ridiculous, but it by no means takes away from the marvelous and unique experience that this beer provides..  What can I say, wheat is subtle.  I’m also a tea drinker, so I know and respect subtle.  The Belgian thoughts creep back, but then quickly subside when the wheat strikes.  Infused sugars dominate, with a bit of spice and banana essence that seems to be a constant extract of the malt in question, or possibly the yeast.  With great warmth, some bubblegum flavors make their presence known.  There is another bizarre attribute found post-swallow – the flavors remain but the sweetness if so dominant that a dryness competes.  I want more but I don’t need more.  Confused, I’m fearful of a hangover, but I’ll take it in stride.  All for the joy of sipping down the next big thing in craft brewing.

If you like Big Time Brewery & Alehouse Old Sol Wheatwine Ale, you should try…

Smuttynose Brewing Co.‘s Wheat Wine; New Holland Brewing Co.‘s Pilgrim’s Dole; Boulevard Brewing Co.‘s Harvest Dance

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Great Divide Brewing Co. Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

June 25, 2010 1 comment

Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at beerblotter@gmail.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 6/23/2010

Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.

Location: Denver, CO

Beer: Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

Web: http://www.greatdivide.com/

Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped and Foiled

Vintage: Bottled on 3/15/2010

Style: Imperial Stout

Barrel: Oak Chips

ABV: 9.5%

IBU: N/A

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Vessel: Snifter

Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees

Notes From the Bottle: Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout is a new addition to the Yeti clan. A generous infusion of Denver’s own Pablo’s espresso adds yet another layer of complexity to this beer, combining with the vanilla oak character, intense roasty maltiness and bold hop profile to create a whole new breed of mythical creature. It’s official, you can now have Yeti with breakfast.

Food Pairings: Breakfast burrito, eggs Benedict, hash browns, cheesecake, creme brulee.

Cheese Pairings: Gouda, brie, swiss

Beer Advocate: A-

Rate Beer: 100 (4.08)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

The combination of coffee and beer has an unclear history. When it was and who it was that first combined the two alludes me.  Though the amalgam of two of the worlds most loved brewed beverages seems like a painfully obvious invention, it is by no means a traditional fusion for brewmasters.  In fact, one just may consider coffee imperial stouts to be yet another page in the ever-expanding history book of the world’s extreme beer movement.

The “obvious” tag comes with the natural flavor components of the two core ingredients of this style, and how they compliment each other.  The thick, treacly black nature of stouts comes from roasted and chocolate malts that impart a bevy of flavors upon the brew, most pertinently: coffee accents.  Coffee on the other hand, coats the mouth in a blanket of oils and astringent bitterness.  In many cases, deep stouts leave the bitterness of the hops far too hidden in the depths to play a substantial role, but the addition of coffee breathes life back into the bitterness component of the beer.

The “coffee flavor” will always stand above the rest in such a brew.  The best brewers will find a way to bring complexity to the stage.  It is the mouthfeel, the sweetness, the chocolate, the roasty elements that support the coffee that will separate your run of the mill coffee infused brews from the all-time greats.  The original Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti is one of the most masterfully created imperial stouts I have ever had, so we already know that the backbone is strong with this one.  Let’s see how perky the espresso version makes the palate.

She pours the color of fresh black top with a timid head that quickly settles to the familiar “wisp and ring” that I describe so often.  While that froth lasts, it’s a sight to behold.  So rich and luxurious.  Reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate or a dark roast espresso or mocha’s foam.  A mild clinging to the walls of the glass exists, but mostly in sporadic clumps, like arms of lather reaching for freedom from the vessel’s confines.

The scent is deep and complex.  As the brew warms, the coffee becomes more and more overpowering, but prior to the bean’s reigning supreme, there is a very earthy undertone.  May the hops actually be discernible?  These smells of freshly tilled earth and hop farm, entwined with coffee, lend the impression of what may be the scent of raw coffee beans.  Perhaps I’ve been transported to the fields of a Colombian Coffee farm.  I can see the workers gathering and harvesting without rest.  Just imagine the bean’s long journey to Denver and their careful roasting.  Do you think they ever thought that they would end up in a beer?

A lot of chocolate sweetness is able to cut through it all, which is a relief.  I feel almost as though I can smell the oily nature of the fluid that the beans secreted.  The boozy scent is mostly hidden until she warms quite drastically and a medicinal quality emerges.  The melding of this medicine, dirt or earth, coffee… seems to fuse into a perfume of fermented dark grape or cherry skins.  Very intriguing.  My mouth waters.

The mouthfeel is very creamy and epitomizes body.  This is yet another quality of imperial stouts that separates the men from the boys.  No skimping on grain bills here.

At this point the booze is very recognizable, but the intense bitter of the coffee competes with considerable mettle, and my mouth is ecstatic to play host. The oils of the coffee are as coating as I’d assumed they would be, and thus the flavors linger with no premonition of dissipation.  In fact, the flavors seem to improve with the added heat of my mouth.  I need more!

Ultimately, if forced to choose, I’d prefer the uninfringed original version, with its natural complexities, but this is very nearly the best coffee beer I’ve ever had.  My excitement was palpable when I first read that Great Divide would be treating their Yeti with various additions.  The chocolate version is well worth a taste as well.  If you like an imperial stout as much as Timperial, these are not to be missed.

If you like Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, you should try…

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel‘s Peche Mortel; Southern Tier Brewing Co.’s Jahva; Alesmith Brewing Co.’s Speedway Stout

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Victory Brewing Co. Storm King Imperial Stout

Storm King: Bringing the best out of PA beer.

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at beerblotter@gmail.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 5/22/2010

Brewery: Victory Brewing Co.

Location: Downingtown, PA

Beer: Storm King

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

Presentation: 12 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2007

Style: Imperial Stout

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 9.1%

IBU: N/A

Hops: American whole flowers

Malt: Imported 2 row

Vessel: Snifter

Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees

Notes From the Bottle: Emerging from the deepest shades of darkness, a rolling crescendo of flavors burst forth from this robust stout.  The thundering, hoppy appeal of Storm King subsides into the mellow subtleties of roasted malt, exhibiting an espresso-like depth of character in its finish.  An exquisite blend of imported malts and whole flower American hops merge harmoniously in this complex ale.  Discover the dark intrigue of Storm King, as it reveals the rich, substantial flavors that it holds within.  Cheers!  Signed - Bill and Ron, the brewmasters of Victory.  Best enjoyed by 7/2012.

Food Pairings: Smoked meats, chocolate, deserts

Cheese Pairings: Gouda, brie, swiss

Beer Advocate: A-

Rate Beer: 100 (4.06)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Seattle Beer Week has gotten the best of me.  My event schedule, whether it be for my own pleasure or at the will of my employer (which is still pretty damn pleasurable I must admit), has ensnared all of my availability over the last 10 days.  Near the beginning of the week, when my energy level was high, I was able to pump out my guide to Stout Fest.  I had great hopes of drafting a similar guide to Sour Fest, but time did not allow.  Now that SBW is over, though I’m a bit sad to see her go, I can finally breath.  I can get some sleep.  I can remember what it’s like to wake up without a hangover.

I had a lot of really, really good beers from all over the country over the past week.  I met a lot of really great people in the industry.  I met a lot of beer lovers.  I think I’ll look back on SBW 2010 with very fond memories.

The night of this tasting was one of great reminiscence.  A night to mull over the greatness, to enshrine the memories created over the previous days.  Not only that, but to reminisce on the beginnings of Timperial Stout.  To take a time machine journey to a young man’s first sips of imperial stout, that precious beverage that would inevitably endow him with a nick-name.

Incase you haven’t put the pieces together, Storm King was the first imperial stout I ever tasted.  Downingtown, PA is just a small hop, skip, and jump from where I grew up.  To put it lightly, Storm King is my monarch.  He has had a large hand in molding me.

This one has been aging in the cellar for 3 years now, and a classic imperial stout just seemed right for such an evening of recollection.  It was not a hard decision.

The King pours opaque as one would imagine, with a head of mocha that rises much more than expected on a vigorous pour, but still very little than an inch off the inky fluid.  The bubbles subside in a few minutes to a mere ring and wisp, leaving a small bit of residue on the glass walls.  The slightest bit of light makes it through the edges, but in the depths… there is no escape for the brightest illumination.  Consider the “dark intrigue” discovered, without a single sip.

The odor is overwhelming me with its complexity.  There is so much going on I don’t know where to start.  Adjectives like deep and distinguished come to mind.  Ironically, this brew seems to be built for the mature palate.  It posses a combination of tobacco, smoked peat, and baker’s chocolate, with a bit of a medicinal quality as well.  The alcohol is quite present.  I’m reminded of smelling vanilla extract with its warming sensation deep in the nose.  Age seems to be flying its flag quite predominantly here.  Hops may be the producer of a bit of earth and medicine, but no traditional alpha characteristics can be found.

I just may bundle this brew in with the Arcadia Impy Stout for its ability to drop you in the red-hot coals of a BBQ.  Smoke rises from the feet of a magician named Bill Covaleski.

Once the holy liquid hits the tongue, all preconceptions previously communicated from the nose are solidified into truth.  A common slick and soft mouthfeel puts me at ease right from the get go…ahhh, that’s my impy stout, thank you friend, you’ve been missed.

Though this monster has clearly been bequeathed with malty mischief, there isn’t a lot of sweetness.  Like I said, this is for the veteran palate.

Though no bit of the fluid should suggests a chalkiness, the flavors speak of ingesting the work of mortar and pestle.  If a mocha could be solidified, then ground down to dust and fermented, this would be the result.  Barrel aged, peated scotch may be akin to the Storm King as well, I can’t help but mention that infiltrating thought.

Post-swallow I’m a bit cotton-mouthed under the tongue, but the back corners of my mouth are moist with confusion.  What aftertaste lingers?  I think of devil’s food cake, but the sweetness is extracted.  A very high cocoa content perhaps.   A bit of clinging, oily black coffee or espresso.  Have I smoked a cigar recently?  Have I breathed deeply beside the bonfire for a bit too long.  My mouth could be burnt without the pain.

Smoke signals sent high above the treeline convey my peace with the world at this moment.  I’ve been rejoined by an old friend, and in good company I transcend.

If you like Storm King, you should try…

Arcadia Ales‘ Imperial Stout; Stone Brewing Co.’s Russian Imperial Stout; Founders Brewing Co.’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Weekend Column: Introducing….Archives of a Beer Nerd

The mighty archive.

By: Timperial Stout

On August 31, 2007 I started a beer review journal.  It’s a college ruled, 100 sheet marble composition book.  I figured that, since I was more often than not drinking a lot of really exciting beers, I should document some of the flavors (or lack thereof) and my enjoyment of them (or lack thereof).

Having a really bad memory is one thing, but when there are nearly infinite amounts of beers out there to be tried (when you consider seasonals, new releases, etc.), there’s no way that anyone could keep their opinions on all of them in their accessible brain bank.  Thus, the beer journal, and it has indeed proved valuable on many occasions, and continues to do so.

In fact, I often will write my tasting notes in the journal for beers that I end up turning into Notes of a Beer Nerd.  It not only serves as a rough draft, but it remains my hand written archive.

How many reviews are contained in this archive so far?  I chose to only estimate.  I’ve only written on one side of the sheet, so 100 pages total, and I’ve completed roughly 2/3 of the notebook.  Some of the earlier entries have brevity.  The same goes for entries on days where I was tasting many beers back to back and had limited time to deliberate.  I’ll estimate 2.5 entries peer sheet.  That’s approximately 165 reviews.

I’ve found that the journal is actually quite fun to read, not solely for historical sake, but for pleasure as well.  I often find it interesting to observe how my palate has matured.  It’s also quite exciting to read some of the reviews that were entered after a few to many drinks, especially when I knew that no one else was reading.

Like I said, there have definitely been a number of brief reviews, as well as some that are…well… quite boring.  I’ll spare you those.  The rest, if I deem them worthy, will be periodically published in this column for your reading pleasure.

A few notes before we begin – Right from the start I decided that every entry would have the date the sample was enjoyed, the name of the brewery, the name of the beer, the location of the brewery, and tasting notes.  As the journal evolved I added bottle size and abv.  I have chosen to not make any changes to the wording, so expect fragments and the like, after all, I wasn’t expecting anyone other than myself to ever see these.  Lastly, since this was all hand written in a notebook, I do not have pictures, so I’ll try to find labels online for the visuals.

First ever entry (why not?):

Goes down like a Katana to the abdomen.

8/31/07

Great Divide Brewing Co. (Denver, CO) – Samurai Ale

Brewed with rice.  Very light yellow color, light drinking.  Supposedly unfiltered.  I can taste the rice but much more subtle than Hitachino.  Less bite, very east to drink.  I have never seen this beer before, must be new or a seasonal.  Very little carbonation.  Half way through, the rice taste begins to be lost, and the beer becomes a bit boring.  I respect Great Divide for making a rice beer, don’t know any other American brewer that does, but not the quality I have come to expect from them.

What a gem!

De Dolle Brouwers (Esen, Belgium) – Special Reserva

10/4/07

Brewed in 2006.  13% abv.  Apparently very rare, only 20 cases in Washington.  The epitome of complex.  Dark, reddish color, above average, though not really consuming carbonation.  Smells and tastes much like Three Philosopher, though with a Flemish red edge, more than a lambic one.  Sour initially and more dark depths at the end of the sip.  Dried fruit caramel maltiness.  So much going on and so good.  Don’t get any alcohol burn at all which is surprising with the high abv.  Would like another though I couldn’t drink a bunch.  Definitely worth the $9 for 12oz.

That’s all for now, but many, many more to come.  Feel free to post a comment and let us know what you think about the new column idea.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Simple Pleasures – Beer Desert

April 29, 2010 1 comment

Happy Birthday to me!

**Notes of a Beer Nerd is written by Timperial Stout, our resident cellar dwelling mammal. Reach out to him at timperialstout@beerblotter.com or write a comment below.***

Tuesday I celebrated my 30th birthday. Well, actually, I use the word “celebrate” loosely. The real celebration was about 2 weeks ago when the greatest friends and family a man could ever ask for threw me a “Dirty 30″ surprise party (thank you all so very much!).

I also just completed a long weekend away at Treehouse Point, yet another surprise provided by my wonderful girlfriend. Point is, I’ve already done a lot of celebrating, so Tuesday, the actual anniversary of my birth, was more or less comprised of a bit of self-pampering.

After a long day at the brewery helping out Rhett Burris of Burris Brewing cook up another batch of his delightful Jackrabbit Pale Ale, I stopped at Ballard Market on my way home and grabbed some ingredients for an epic Skooby-Doo style sandwich (you know, the kind that is so tall that you need to crush it down with both hands in order for it to fit in your mouth) and, of course, some tasty adult beverages.

A Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA paired very nicely with my turkey (and a ridiculously lengthy list of accompanying ingredients) sandwich. The scent of palisade hops that filled the air of the brewery earlier in the day made me crave this member of the Seven Wonders of the Hoppy World (doesn’t exist, but it should).

Honestly, the herbal and malty sweet balance of 90 Minute is so perfect that I believe it would pair nicely with just about anything.  I mean, if you told me I had to eat a shoe but I could wash it down with a 90m, I’d eat the hell out of that shoe.

The most exciting and noteworthy element of this pampering came at the very end of the night.  A simple pleasure, but a pleasure without a doubt – an ice cream float!  I took the simplicity to the extreme, using Rogue‘s Chocolate Stout and vanilla bean ice cream, both of which are very easily obtained at almost anywhere selling foodstuffs.  I decided to give it a little pizzazz and added a few fresh raspberries.

This made me think…surely, in the vast reaches of culinary creation, there must be countless ways to pair beer with ice cream and make it delicious.  With all the styles of both out there, what possibilities await us?  I did a bit of brainstorming and some research, and I thought I’d share a few thoughts.  Maybe the next time your sweet tooth comes a knockin’ you’ll whip up a beer float and tell us your thoughts.

Sticking with the stout motif, The imperial stouts of Southern Tier would be killer combos with vanilla, chocolate, or even fruit flavored ice creams.  Try Choklat, Jah*va, Mokah, Creme Brulee, or Oat.

How about fruit lambics and ice cream?  Just about any offering from Lindeman’s would be killer with vanilla.  A Cantillon Kriek or any of the New Belgium Lips of Faith beers would work wonderfully as well.

What about a nut brown ale like Troegs Rugged Trail?  A coffee flavored ice cream might go well with this one, or paired with a milk stout like Left Hand‘s.

A sweet barleywine like an aged Speakeasy Old Godfather or even an eisbock like Kulmbacher‘s could go exceptionally well with a mildly flavored ice cream.

Playing mad scientist with beer and ice cream seems like a darn productive use of time to me.  Beer Blotter suggests that you give it a whack and let us know what pairings work best.

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