Archives of a Beer Nerd – Fifth Installment
Yup, we plod on. The journey continues, down the beautiful path of beerdom, through the expansive pages of Timperial’s beer journal.
Introduction: Just in case you are new to the blotter, here is the link to follow if you need an explanation of what in the hell this column is all about. In a nutshell, the archive is a time machine that takes us back a few years to the initial days of my beer journaling. I’ve drank a lot of good beers through the years, and I’d like to share my thoughts on how they tasted. Hopefully I’ll whet your appetite and you will give these beers a try for yourself. If I’m lucky enough to make that happen for you, please tell us about your experience and how it tasted in your words.
The last installment left us in the waning days of 2007. Let’s pick up with a beer that was enjoyed on the day after Christmas.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales (Milton, DE) – Golden Era Imperial Pilsner
9%. The label says that it uses all continental pilsner malt and noble hops in a Czech brewing tradition, or in the Reinheitsgebot tradition? Translucent yellow color and minimal head consistent with the style. Nice carbonation though, when coupled with the alcohol and hop spicy, citrusy bitterness tingles the back of the tongue. Hops are also present in the nose, as well as a cereal smell. Malt is also present. This is a really, really good beer. I didn’t really expect greatness from a pilsner, though I should have known from the brewer. It’s amazing what one of the best American brewers can do with classic ingredients.
Timperial Commentary: I remember this experience quite well actually, because it made a serious impression on me. I was truly taken aback that I liked a pilsner. From that moment on, I have tried each and every imperial pilsner that I have found, and have enjoyed almost all of them. Who knows, had I not taken a crack at Golden Era back in ’07, maybe I would have never given the rest a chance and missed out on a lot of excellent beers.
Unibroue (Chambly, Quebec, Canada) – Terrible
10% abv limited dark ale. Very dark indeed. Black, tan head, light barely makes it through on the edges. It smells fantastic…Belgian yeast, raspberries, nuts, candy. It’s pretty cold and the flavors are still glorious. No one thing is standing out, glorious like all Unibroue treats. Candied or dried fruits most notable. As it warms, a more defined date or fig flavor emerges. The alcohol really comes out and burns in a wine-like way. Very sweet, very, very good.
Timperial Commentary: This is another one of those situations where I am so thankful that I write this column, that I periodically sift through my archives. This is precisely why I write notes about beers that I drink. There is no doubt that I have a profound respect for what Unibroue does. In fact, just this past Monday I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with three bottles of Quebec’s finest. The thing is, I have totally glossed over Terrible lately, mostly because I couldn’t remember if it was good. Next time I’m in the bottle shop, I’ll be sure to pick one up.
Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR) – The Abyss
11%. 22oz wax dipped bottle. 2007 reserve. A stout brewed with licorice and molasses with 33% aged in oak and oak bourbon barrels. This is one of the blackest beers I have ever seen. No light passed through. The color of the head is amazing. Burnt, bronzy, red color…dissipates fairly quickly leaving wispy in the center and bubbly near the glass. It smells very meaty, coffee and licorice. I see the reason for all of the hype. This is the best stout I have ever had. Slightly warming but no evident alcohol despite the abv. Very smooth, coating aftertaste. Perfect in every way.
Timperial Commentary: Wow! This was, apparently, a very big moment for me. “This is the best stout I have ever had.” That line is impossibly loaded with ways to be interpreted. Nearly 3 years later, I can admit that I don’t remember writing that, so I can only make assumptions like anyone would. Over the past year of Beer Blotter’s existence, I have always been known as Timperial Stout. Why? Because imperial stout is my favorite beer style, and it just works so well in conjunction with my real name. I do know that that has not always been true (that impy stout was my favorite), and that it was actually a fairly recent realization for me, but now it seems that I can directly trace the ascension of my love for the style in my history to this experience with The Abyss in early ’08. I still have a bottle of the ’07 in my cellar. I always knew that it would have to be a very special occasion for me to crack that bottle open, but now…an occasion may not exist that it worthy enough.