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 near the end of January, 2008. I had just tried my first ever Abyss. Let’s see what new and exciting things I tasted next.
Photo credit: Hallam
North Coast Brewing (Fort Bragg, CA) – Cru d’Or
8%. Belgian style through and through. There is not much head present (bottle cap fitted). When cold, it is very bland, but as it warms…flavors burst forth! It has a light brown color and great clarity. The odor is of yeast, plums, an almost medicinal alcohol, but very pleasant. Nice sweetness…the maltiness comes through, drying the palate. I find this to be a nice Belgian, though it could use more carbonation.
Timperial Commentary: Does this beer still exist? I completely forgot about it until I read this in my journal. I do remember really liking this beer and getting it again in 2009. It’s a seasonal, I remember that, but what season? You got me. I also remember someone telling me that this beer did very well cellared for a few years. I clearly don’t have any down there.
I was able to find the beer on NCB’s website, but only by searching specifically for the beer by name. If you scroll through all of their beers listed on the main “beers” page, it is not listed. Maybe it has been retired. That would be sad.
Victory Brewing Co. (Downingtown, PA) – Golden Monkey
9.5%. This beer pours with a clear, golden color and a minimal head. It’s a tripel Belgian style ale brewed with spices, and that is exactly what it tastes like. It smells like a white ale with nutmeg added. It has a strong alcohol effervencence…very sweet and spicy, though a bit drying a few moments after the sip. The flavors really linger. This beer provides major memories of home. What a great winter beer…warming and tasting of Christmas.
Timperial Commentary: Oh man…Golden Monkey really does remind me of home in PA. It especially reminds me of For Whom The Beer Toales (our Chicago correspondent), who absolutely loves getting the “monkey on her back”. I am reminded of having beers at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown, which was just a few blocks from where I lived once upon a time. That’s a must visit in Philly if you ask me. Great beer, food and live music.
I totally neglect this beer! I think I’m going to have to race out to the bottle shop right now and get some, crack it open, inhale, and enjoy the roller coaster of emotion.
Kiuchi Brewery/Hitachino Nest (Ibaraki, Japan) – XH
7% Strong ale matured in oak casks used for Shocyu (distilled sake). It pours a very cloudy, effervescent amber, brownish color. There is a lot of sediment on the bottom of the glass. The head is thin and wispy, with slight retention. The nose is full of sour yeast, probably a result of the oak. There is an odd, soapy aroma present as well. Earth and sour in the flavor. Maybe it’s power of suggestion, but I get a cherry cough drop after taste. Kiuchi’s ingenuity and uniqueness continues to amaze me.
Timperial Commentary: Kiuchi is one of those breweries that can do no wrong in my mind. The only beer that I have ever tried by them that I wasn’t highly impressed with was the Nipponia, but I can surely respect it for its historical nod. Sorachi Ace hops are the big fad right now, and Nipponia surely plays a role in that. In reading my review, XH sort of comes off as being spoiled or infected or just plain gross. I mean, a sour, earthy, soapy, cough medicine beer…that sounds terrible. Oddly though, I’ve had this beer several times since my initial review and I really like it. It’s powerfully unique. I’d love to see more breweries attempting to use sake barrels to age beer.
P.S. XH stands for Extra High. Impress your friends.
***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns or comments***
Enjoyed on 10/20/2010
Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Beer: Black Ops
Presentation: 750ml – Blown Glass Bottle – Corked and Caged
Style: Imperial Stout
Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees
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)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
Week 25 of 52
6504 20th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98115
Type of Establishment: Pub
Visit: A lazy, summertime, Sunday evening called for a cold beer at a new bar. We found the perfect one for ultimate relaxation.
BEERS ON TAP —>
North Coast Old Rasputin
Hale’s Cream Ale
Mac & Jack’s Amber
Rogue Dead Guy
Three Skulls Blood Orange Wit
Maritime Pacific Hefe
Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Georgetown Manny’s Pale Ale
Diamond Knot IPA
Boundary Bay IPA
Hacker Pschorr Munich
Diamond Knot Possession Porter
It’s all explained, in detail, below. Read on.
Just over five and a half miles north of the Beer Blotter home base, in the beautiful neighborhood of Ravenna, lies a wood-clad fantasy land that we have never before visited. On this day, we changed that.
So here’s the deal – the building is owned by a guy. The guy owns Third Place Books. The bar beneath Third Place Books is called The Pub at Third Place. The Pub at Third Place is owned by a different guy. The restaurant attached to Third Place Books is called Vios Cafe. Vios Cafe is owned by the same guy as The Pub at Third Place. Vios is a Greek restaurant. You can order food from Vios while at Vios. You can order food from Vios while at The Pub at Third Place. There is a small “library” in The Pub at Third Place that has books. Third Place Books has books. Third Place Books has really nice wood shelves. Vios has really nice wood furniture. The Pub at Third Place has really nice wood EVERYTHING! Do you follow?
This place is amazing! This place is beautiful and majestic! This place defines comfort! This place epitomizes the Northwest! This place may have once existed in The Shire!
Can you tell I liked it? With this inaugural visit, I immediately placed it in my top 10 bars in Seattle. I can’t believe I didn’t visit this place ages ago!
The moment I approached the door (the freaking door!) I knew I loved it. Look at the picture above and tell me that’s not inviting. It looks like it should be the entrance to a grand tree house mansion of some kind. Once I opened the door and stepped in…it was all over. My mouth dropped and all of my senses tingled. I felt like a visitor in a Hobbit Hole. So much elegant wood, from floor to ceiling, back to front, top to bottom.
I headed straight for the bar and pulled up a very comfortable, leather-clad stool with a back. I was immediately greeted by the bartender and I ordered myself a Boundary Bay IPA. Honestly, I was surprised that the beer wasn’t delivered in a wooden mug. I soon came to realize that the bartender was the only one working the entire establishment, which wasn’t dead by any means. He was on top of his game, yet incredibly relaxed…tis the way of The P@TP.
Just behind me, a large bookshelf full of classics, reference books, atlases, board games; all sorts of goodies to keep the lonely drinkers occupied. Obviously, this element plays allusion to the bookstore just above. On the top of the bookshelf sits the one and only item in the bar that doesn’t belong: a big screen T.V. showing a baseball game. Luckily the sound was off, and since my back was facing it, I was able to keep its intrusion in the very back of my mind. In place of the play-by-play – the soothing tunes of Blonde Redhead – pretty much perfect for the mood of the place.
Most of the gorgeous wooden tables that fill the “dining” area between the bar and the front door are designed for anywhere between 2 to 6 people, with the exception of 2 epic banquet tables. One in the very front as you enter (slightly fenced off from the rest of the room) and one in the back, behind the bar toward the bathrooms (also a bit removed from the main area). These tables are long and thin and seem to be a single piece of wood cut from one massive, gnarled tree. The one in the front seems to seat 8 and the one in the back, 12. My goal is to one day visit P@TP with a large group and eat at one of these tables. Quite possibly I’d nibble on some Lembas bread.
Speaking of food, I didn’t partake in the Mediterranean delights offered via Vios, but the menu looked good enough to lure me back in the near future. Babaganoush anyone?
Ultimately, words can’t describe the serenity of this place. To be wrapped up in wood like that, well, it’s something you have to experience for yourself. Head to Ravenna, buy a book upstairs, take it down to the bar, grab a local cold one and sip while you read in a wood cabin forged from the mighty forests of the Pacific Northwest.
Enjoyed on 12/7/2009
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Location: Escondido, CA
Beer: Old Guardian (the OG)
Presentation: 22 Fl. Oz. (650.6 ML) – Brown Glass Bottle
Style: Barley Wine Style Ale
Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees
Notes from the bottle: “Ingredients: A whole buncha Barley, tons o’ Hops, Water & Yeast.” Also, an enormous amount of text from brewer Greg Koch that I’d rather not type. Interestingly, the content is mainly about the current (at the time it was written) building of the Stone Bistro. There is also mention of the “just over a hundred” Stone employees. The current homepage of the brewery states: “Happy Holidays from all 278 of us at Stone!” Yes, Stone is a force.
Bottled on: “Limited Early 2007 Release”
Flavor will continue to develop for some time to come.
Food Pairings: Dessert of any kind
Cheese Pairings: Pungent ones such as Blue, Gorgonzola, Limburger
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 99 (3.97)
I believe this is the last of the very few beers that I brought with me from Philadelphia when I moved here. It’s a bit sad that it will be gone after tonight, but it’s been refrigerated for far too long and I was really beginning to worry about its seal’s integrity. From what I’ve gathered, extended stays in the refrigerator can dry out the rubber on the inside of the bottle cap and cause the seal to be compromised. I’m not exactly sure how long that takes, but I’d rather not toy with the great OG. No worries after tonight, I now have a real cellar for cellaring. Let’s get into it. She pours a glowing amber, near tangerine hue. A stunning clarity and a surprisingly plump head for the age. A not entirely strong pour brings about a nice tan cap of varying sized bubbles that leaves a dense lacing on the glass. That’s from all the unfermented sugars. This one is really sticky, and that is just what I love. The scent is of salt water taffy I think. Maybe a bit of cotton candy, slightly metallic in there too… with hops just squeaking through in the end. Nearly three years of aging and the hops have more presence than natural preservation, yeah… “tons o’ Hops” indeed. The mouthfeel is so smooth and delightful, honey coated. A slight prickle from the carbonation is more present just after the pour and while slightly colder. Hop bitterness is definitely there still. When you age a beer for several years you sort of expect that bitterness to fade, and though I surely love malty sweetness, beer perfection to me is malt and hop extremes coming together on the battlefield and bringing balance where it shouldn’t exist. This OG’s malt vs. hop square-off is no doubt being won by team barley, but the hops are fighting for their lives. To me, that shows serious class, and brewing skill. It’s Stone, I’m not surprised. Alcohol burn is minimal. No off celery like flavors that I so often get from barley wines, especially the younger ones. It’s a great Monday night!
Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard earned money at a local bottle shop and aged to perfection all on my own.