The time has arrived for another dip into the mighty archive. We pick up, oddly enough, on the same day that we left off last time, the 4th of October, 2007. It was a hell of a day for beer drinking. Let’s see what was had and how they tasted shall we…
Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA) – 11th Anniversary
Stone is king. Anniversary beers are prince. Black as death, hoppy as heaven. Boggled? Yes! When comparing the smell with the color, well…it’s confusing. The hop flavor is perfect throughout the sip. Maltiness is present, but quite. Drinks hearty but doesn’t feel overpowering. I really don’t understand this beer. Genius!
The above paragraph is the complete original review. I feel inclined to offer further commentary, in retrospect…so I will. 11th Anniversary may or may not be the original black IPA, I can’t say with much certainty, but I do know that it was one of the first on the market in the U.S. with any prominence. I can still recall how perplexed I was when I tried it. Jumping back a little further, of course, I had to purchase the sequel to 10th Anniversary, which was the first Stone Anniversary beer I ever had, and still the best to date (it was a double IPA and it was increadable). This beer (11th) was so good and unique that it not only spawned a permanent member of the Stone lineup (Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale), but has inspired countless craft breweries around the country to make their own version. Call it what you will, black ale of various names and prefixes, it was based on this one. Stone, like always, proves the game changer.
Brasserie Caracole (Falmignoul, Belgium) – Ambree
8%. Gorgeous amber, maybe a bit richer color, and lively carbonated head. Smell and taste coincide, kind of nutty. Coats the mouth in sugary goodness, taste lasts so long after the sip. I just want to bow respectful to the yeast. Many tastes, most hard to explain.
More commentary: I’ve now had this beer about 5 times, though the above review was written during my initial sampling. This beer is amazing. The brewery as a whole is amazing. Saxo, Nostradamus, Troublette, all great beers. The self-titled (if you will) amber ale, reviewed above, is my favorite. It’s not “kind of nutty”, it’s really nutty, in the best way possible. Like in almost all Belgian ales of any quality, the yeast really is the work horse, and this strain is best in class. Best enjoyed in the colder weather, bring this one as a gift to your next Thanksgiving party. You will impress.
De Proef Brouwerij (Lochristi, Belgium) – Reinaert Flemish Wild Ale
Triple fermented using 2 yeast strains (saccharomyces and brettanomyces). 9% abv. Golden color, nice crisp head, moderate carbonation. Nose of, you guessed it, wild yeast. Much different from all other wild yeast beers I’ve had, much lighter, no fruitiness at all. It’s a true homage to the yeast. I like this beer almost solely out of respect for the yeast. Needs something else to really make it sing.
Beer Blotter Belgium 2010: One Week Line Pops Up; The Gang Views In Bruges and Bottleworks 11th Anniversary
We leave in 7 days from the time this article goes to post. Wow. Its been quite a preparation and we are all ready to head out. Belgium – here we come.
With so much on the horizon, this past week kind of got the shaft. Traditionally we have celebrated the Belgium trip countdown with a bounty of posts about get togethers where we celebrate Belgian grub and grog in the Seattle area (mostly at home). But last week, we were sidetracked by our paying jobs and other wondrous beer celebrations. So, Belgian week took a hit.
First, Bottleworks hit the nail on the head. Its newest release, 11th Anniversary was an explosion of the full gamut of bottle aged flavor.
Bottleworks had a nice size supply of about a dozen cases of the 750 ml bottles of the new ale when we arrived at 4:30. By the time we had left at 6:00 – they were down to two cases. I’m fairly certain that supply was kicked by the end of the evening.
Matt Long presented the beer while standing atop the Bottleworks bartop. Long informed the crowd that he instructed to grab as many bottle age beers that he had laying around the brewery to blend this masterpeice. He did not disappoint Bottleworks’ owners, and certainly not their drinkers.
Bottleworks 11th Anniversary pours incredibly thick and oily. The immediate scent is that of cooked butter and crushed pretzels. The beer has an immense amount of flavor in its initial sip, including a surprising tartness that likely comes from the wine barrels that produced some of the ales blended into this monster.
While drank, the beer transforms several times. Its main ingredient, Big Sky’s Ivan the Terrible Imperial Stout is prevalent but it comes and goes, hidden at times by the other flavors blended into the finished product.
Each of our three samplers would give the beer a big thumbs up – kudos to you Matt Long.
The next evening, Beer Blotter grabbed a nice meal and dug in to dive back into a little Belgium culture for the evening. Now, we understand that In Bruges is probably the furthest thing from an actual Belgium experience, but there is little on the market that roundly succeeds at both entertainment and education – we’ll stick with this tale of assassins hiding out in Bruges.
In Bruges stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes. The movie begins as Farrell, a young assassin, kills a minor while attaching a priest. A big no-no in the assassin trade, Farrell is told to get out of dodge and is sent to Bruges to blow off some steam. Unfortunately, Farrell is not so much a fan.
This movie reminds me of how much I love Brendan Gleeson. Ever since he showed up in Braveheart, and then mastered the role of “Monk” in one of my favorites of all time – Gangs of New York – I had hoped for more in depth roles from Gleeson. In Bruges is his film.
I tend to believe that both Gleeson and Farrell were asked to be themselves in this film. Farrell’s intolerance and humorous disrespect for all things makes him quite the counter to the old wise, sensible and caring Gleeson.
Gleeson also gives us our only shot at real culture in the film. His desire to visit the historical landmarks of this amazing town gives you a reason to watch if planning a trip on your own.
During the stay in Bruges, the two visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood, to view the blood of Jesus Christ; the Groeningmuseum (art history) to view Hieronymus Bosch’s The Last Judgment; the Belfry Tower to have a gun fight; and the meticulous canal system of the city’s center.
Of yes – and they drink the beer. Gleeson’s clamoring for the “gay beer” of Belgium, as Farrell so eloquently puts it, allows us to get a view of some of the taverns of the town. Now, we do not expect that the two visited ‘t Brugs Beertje (Beer Advocate and Rate Beer’s Top Bar in Bruges) or Bierbrasserie Cambrinus (Ratebeer 93), but the venues certainly had the feel of a bar on the square in Bruges.
In any event, regardless of the drama, it got our hearts pumping for a little time off in Bruges. The movie has a great finish and we do not want to deprive you of that glory.
We are thinking about some flemish art, a westy at ‘t Brugs Beertje and a ride along the canals. That ought to do us right.
If you have anything to share about Bruges – or about Matt Long’s amazing 11th Anniversary beer – please shoot a comment below.