On November 15, 2010, you can enjoy some of the most amazing, and limited, beer produced by the California brewer. We were ecstatic to see that they will be bringing Life & Limb back to Seattle!
Here is the post from Brouwers’ website. Don’t miss out on the toast at 6 PM:
The Beer Line-up is looking good for the 30th Anniversary Party on Monday the 15th.
Fritz & Ken’s Imperial Stout
Charlie, Fred, & Ken’s Bock
Jack & Ken’s Barleywine
Our Brewers Reserve Oak-Aged Ale
Life & Limb Strong Dark Ale
Organic Estate Ale
The Nationwide toast is at 6pm, this Monday, November 15th.
I have been dubbed Timperial Stout for one simple reason: I love my beers deep, dark and mysterious. Lucky for me, the people over at Brouwer’s Cafe have created a night to honor that holy opaque beverage we call stout. I’d be remiss to not mention it and provide my take on how one would work up a game plan for such an event. I’ve posted the list below, that was so thoughtfully provided by the folks over at Seattle Beer Week. In this case, it has proven very helpful that two members of the SBW collective get a paycheck from Brouwer’s. After each selection I have provided some commentary. I’ve tried to be brief, but you know…I love this stuff.
Allagash Black is delicious and unique, but it’s not all that rare so I’d skip it here and get a bottle at the bottleshop if you’ve never tried it.
Avery Black Tot on the other hand…pretty damn rare. This is the third release in Avery’s Barrel-Aged Series and is an imperial oatmeal stout aged in Gosling’s rum barrels. I’m sure this wont be cheap, but I’d bet it’s worth every penny.
Avery Czar is, in my opinion, one of the best regularly available imperial stouts out there, but for this event, “regularly available” = “skip it”.
Avery Meph Addict is Avery Mephistopheles with coffee added. I have never had (or seen for that matter) this one, so rare…yes. The original Meph is a beast of a brew. I recommend you tread lightly with these fellas, they are over 15% abv.
Avery Mephistopheles – See above
Beer Valley Black Madness – I’m either unaware of this beer or this is a mix up on words. Beer Valley makes Black Flag Imperial Stout and Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale, but I’m not so sure about Black Madness. The SBW site lists “Black Madness” again for the Firkin-Firkin event at Elysian, so I could be misinformed, or not informed at all as the case may be.
Big Sky Bottleworks 11 is going to be showing up at special events at Brouwer’s for a few years to come now I’d assume, considering the beer was made and kegged exclusively for them (Bottleworks, Brouwer’s, same difference). Never-the-less, it’s a very intriguing beer with some intense sour and vinous notes. Worth a taste if you missed out on the bottles.
Big Time Old Rip – Bill Jenkins knows how to make a beer folks. If you don’t make it to the U-district with much regularity, you may have never had this one. Go for it, drink local.
Boulevard Nitro Dry Stout – Boulevard out of Kansas City, MO has been doing a lot of experimenting lately. They seem to be really making things happen, and everything that I have had of theirs so far has been quality. They are still fairly new to the Seattle market…I can’t say that I’ve seen a lot a kegs come through. I would never get this because I don’t like dry stouts, but if you are into Guinness, Murphy’s, Beamish, Moylan’s Dragoons, etc, check it out.
Chuckanut Export Foreign Stout – The words “Export Foreign Stout” are not very commonly used, but they basically indicate a “bigger” stout, built for long journeys on boats and such. Considering the many recent accolades being tossed in Chuckanut’s direction, when I see that brewery name on something I want to try it. Seems like a great starter to the evening to me.
Dick’s Woodford BBN Oak Cream Stout – I, sadly, don’t know a lot about this one, but the words “oak” and “cream stout” get me excited. Worth a try, and possibly a bit more manageable in the abv category.
Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout – This one is extremely high on my list of best beers on planet Earth. ‘Nuff said. Oh, except beware of the strength – 18%.
Double Mountain Imperial Chaos is a draft only imperial stout from the impressive folks down in Hood River, OR. I’ve never had this one, but I have continually been impressed by 2x Mountain. I think I’ll be trying this one.
Elysian Dragonstooth Stout – One of the best single stouts in Washington, if not the country. Very underrated in this area, possibly due to its permanent availability and therefore lack of hype. Even still, I wouldn’t get it at an event like this. Get a bottle at Whole Foods and take it home.
Firestone Walker Parabola 10 is my number one on this list. I will scratch and claw to get it. It is a 13% imperial stout that was blended from all sorts of different barrels, vintages, what-have-you. It’s probably least rare this year then ever before in its existence, but still, very rare.
Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin is a fairly traditional oatmeal stout with a really great name. Decent beer by one of the premier breweries in America. I’d look for it on another day.
Full Sail Imperial Stout – Full Sail might be one of the largest breweries in the North West, but they still make really good beer, especially those in the Brewmaster Reserve series. This is not Black Gold, so it’s not barrel aged, but it’s a great beer. Worth getting on any other day, but there are better choices on this list.
Glacier Jack Daniels Impy Stout – Glacier is without a doubt one of Alaska’s finest. Sadly, even though we are the closest neighboring state, we don’t see all that much of their work. If this is in any way even close to matching the quality of their Big Woody Barleywine, this will be amazing. Get it!
Great Divide Espresso Yeti – Yeti, like Avery Czar, is one of the best regularly available imperial stouts out there. The espresso version is not as good in my opinion, but it’s a must try for all coffee junkies.
Green Flash Espresso Stout – I think this might be a keg only one-off brew. Sounds rare. Green Flash makes great beer. I’d go for it!
Hales Machete – This puppy is brewed right down the street from Brouwer’s. I give them a big “f%&@ yeah!” for the name but I think I’ll have to skip this one, only because of better options.
Hitachino Espresso Stout – This is the best espresso stout I have ever had, but you can get it in the bottle pretty easily. Not appropriate for this event.
Laughing Dog Dogfather – This is one of the best beers to come out of Idaho. I will skip it only because I still have a few bottles in the cellar, but it’s worthy of a purchase.
Left Hand Oak Aged Imperial Stout – This one is released annually in the bottle, and can sometimes be found during the “off-season” at local bottle shops. This beer is really freaking good, but get a bottle.
Lost Abbey Serpents Stout is Tomme Arthur’s idea of a Belgian stout. If there is an actual Belgian brewed stout out there that is this rich and delicious, I have yet to find it. Alvinne Podge is about as close as I can think of. If you have never had this beer you need to get it. This is fairly commonly available in bottles so I’d skip it here.
Mad River BBN Export Stout – A quality California brew, but not up to par with some of the competition.
Moylan’s Ryan O’Sullivan – I don’t often think of this beer when I ponder the great impy stouts of America, but I should. It is a high quality brew, but yet again, a bit too common for this event.
Odin Sour Stout – believe it or not, I have yet to taste the nectars produced by Odin. I know, it’s crazy. I don’t know much about the sour stout but I must admit I’m intrigued. This night just might be my first dance with Odin.
Oskar Blues Ten Fiddy – One of the very few, if not only imperial stouts released in a can. That’s pretty damn cool, and it’s delicious to boot. If I was at Brouwer’s on a regular day, I’d get it, but not tonight.
Port Brewing Old Viscosity – This beer is great, but not as good as its older brother. Go with the older.
Port Brewing Older Viscosity – Regular readers will know that I’m mildly obsessed with this beer. It’s chocolate covered pretzels to a T. Get this and be like the stout fella above…meditate for a bit – you will go places. I will most likely only get this one late in the evening, well after my better judgment has evaded me. This is only because I have had it a bunch of times already.
Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper is a good impy stout, but it’s a bit thin for my liking. I’d skip it.
Porterhouse Nitro Oyster Stout – This is a low abv dry Irish stout. Sorry but…not interested.
Porterhouse Nitro Wrasslers 5x stout – Sorry Ireland, your stouts are boring.
Sierra Nevada Fritz & Ken – This was recently reviewed glowingly on this site by yours truly. It’s a damn good beer with a damn good story to tell.
Southern Tier Jahva – This is a member of the ST Imperial series, which should read “AMAZING”! Easily one of Beer Blotter’s favorite breweries in the world. Their stouts are impeccable. This one is just slightly less impeccable than the Oat below, so get that one.
Southern Tier Oat – See above.
Stone I.R.S. – This beer is very unique. I have never had an impy stout with such a strong tobacco flavor, which is a good thing in my opinion. Like Ten Fiddy, I’d order this in almost any other situation, but not tonight.
Victory Storm King – You might have heard that this was the first impy stout I ever tasted. I owe it a lot. Luckily for me, it’s one of the country’s best, so I started off on the right foot. I’d get it if I didn’t already have a bunch in the cellar.
Walking Man Black Cherry Stout – Beer Blotter finds this beer to be like soda. If that sounds good to you, hop on board. Not so much for me, but I do love Walking Man.
Waterstreet Stout – Skip is gone. I have little faith.
In summary, since that was probably a bit of a task to read, I offer my top 5, in order of importance.
5) Double Mountain Imperial Chaos
4) Avery Meph Addict
3) Glacier Jack Daniels
2) Avery Black Tot
1) Firestone Walker Parabola
***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 4/20/2010
Location: Chico, CA
Beer: 30th Anniversary – Fritz & Ken’s Ale
Presentation: 750 ml – Brown Glass Bottle – Corked and Caged
Style: Imperial Stout
Recommended Serving Temp: 55 degrees
Notes from the bottle: Fritz Maytag, owner of San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company, is regarded as the godfather of the craft brewing movement. Fritz agreed to guest brew this very special ale with us in honor of our 30th anniversary. As a nod to the robust black ales that seduced both Fritz and Ken in the early years, we bring you this Pioneers Stout, a rich and roasted ale, perfect for aging, and worthy of your finest snifter. Enjoy!
Food Pairings: Smoked meats, chocolate, deserts
Cheese Pairings: Gouda, brie, swiss
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 100 (3.93)
The Brewer’s Association just released the 2009 top 50 craft breweries list (based on beer sales volume, craft is defined, straight off the BA site below***). Sierra Nevada can be found in the 2 position, right below the Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams). Anchor Brewing anchors in at 20. Collectively, that’s some serious volume, but that need not mean that we should look down on them in any way. In fact, since the list, by definition, only contains “small, independent, and traditional” breweries, it’s all the more reason to celebrate them.
These breweries pretty much started the craft brewing scene in America, and they are led by excellent and respected brewers, business men and spokesmen. Their success did not come over night and is, without a doubt, very well deserved. Beers like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Anchor Steam are known and enjoyed by almost every American that has ever tasted a non-Bud/Miller/Coors beer. That is incredibly impressive. It can be really hard for us beer lovers to imagine, but everyday, there are people out there having their first ever pale ale or steam beer and thinking to themselves, “wow, this is flavorful!” Chances are really high that those people picked up a Sierra Nevada or Anchor product. A lot of breweries with significantly less market share often rely on these bigger guys to create such experiences for potential customers. These are the brewing companies that have been making converts like us for about as long as was possible in this country.
The Sierra 30 series of collaborative brews is a true who’s who of the “pioneering brewers” of the craft community, and in our opinion, a highly notable milestone – a milestone that came at just the right time, when collaborative brewing is seemingly at its peak. It shouldn’t surprise you at all that these trailblazers are mingling with the trendsetters. The 5 men involved in the project are Ken Grossman, Fritz Maytag, Charlie Papazian, Fred Eckhardt, and Jack McAuliffe. A total of 4 beers will be produced, each a unique style brewed with various members of the collective, in celebration of Sierra Nevada’s 30th anniversary. This stout is the first of those 4 to be released and was crafted by Ken and Fritz, as the name suggests.
If you are not familiar with these gentlemen, shame on you, but that’s ok, we are here to educate.
Ken Grossman is the man behind Sierra Nevada. ‘Nuff said really. He started as a homebrewer, studied chemistry and physics in college, owned his own homebrew shop, and once creating Sierra Nevada brewing in Chico, CA, almost single handedly put hoppy American beers on the map. Nowadays, when the world thinks of American craft brewing, they think of highly hopped beers first and foremost. We can thank Ken for that. Some of his more recent stamps on the craft brewing world came with the production of the Harvest Series and Torpedo Extra IPA. The Harvest beers are some of the first and only 100% estate-made ales. This means that all of the malts and hops used to make the beer were grown and harvested on the breweries property. The Torpedo IPA employs a revolutionary device conceived, designed and developed at the brewery called a “hop torpedo” to dry-hop the beer.
Fritz Maytag is the great-grandson of the founder of the Maytag Corporation (yes the washing machine people). In 1965 he bought the Steam Beer Brewing Company in San Francisco and revived it. It was later renamed Anchor Brewing. Anchor is often thought of as being, along with New Albion Brewing Co. (which was founded over 10 years after Fritz bought Anchor), amongst the very first ever American craft breweries.
The potential extinction of the steam beer style was one of the main reasons Fritz got into brewing. His Anchor Steam kept the style alive and continues to be made and enjoyed by many today. Since very few breweries make steam beer, or if they do they don’t call it steam beer, many people mistakenly think that Anchor Steam is just the name of an Anchor beer and not a style of its own. Steam beer, also known today as California common beer, was developed in the San Francisco area and is basically defined as a lager fermented at ale temperatures. Though most small breweries may not want you to know this, California common yeast is often used to create their “lagers”, which are often not actually lagered due to the extended amount of time required to complete the fermentation/conditioning. This is due to some pretty simple economics: the longer a beer takes to complete, the longer it takes up precious time in the tanks, the less room you have to make more, the less money you make, etc, etc. These beers would technically be considered steam beers, but it appears that Anchor owns the rights to the word “steam” as it pertains to beer, so…California common beer it is, were these breweries to feel so inclined to use said naming moniker.
It goes without saying that these two gentlemen have an extensive amount of experience between them. When all that knowhow comes together…well, it seems that no single beer could possibly live up to the expectations, but if there were one style that Timperialstout might think could pull it off, it would be an imperial stout. Let’s see how they did.
Just as you would have expected from a robust stout, the pour fills my glass with a blackness that the brightest sun couldn’t penetrate. The kind of head that I fantasize about grew from that blackness with impressive gusto, built of an array of various sized bubbles, small near the surfaced of the fluid, crescendoing toward greatness at the apex. The color of the froth varies along with the bubbles; a stunning rust at the base and an inviting mocha on top. In time, the cap shrinks but stays remarkably sturdy, a good half-centimeter right to the very end, ever maintaining the same properties found on the initial pour. All bubbles: big, small, and everything between, shrink proportionately but remain stacked and multicolored. Lacing is present, but the majority of the glass stays transparent. The legs are most impressive. A tilt of the glass, and then a correction leaves a frothy wake slowly sliding back to meet the fluid. I am reminded of that last bit of an ocean wave, the seas bubbly fingertips reaching as far up the beach as possible before being reeled back to mother.
The scent possesses all the complexity of the world’s greatest stouts. We are off to a very good start. A couple of brewing masters are behind this? ‘Tis evident indeed. What I am experiencing so far makes my heart skip. It gives me goose bumps. This is why I’m Timperialstout. This is why I write. This is why I work in the beer industry. I’m extatic!
The complexity in the nose is overwhelming. Where do I begin? The roasty scents are most prevalent when it is a bit less than room temperature. Hot, charred pretzels, cocoa beans, devil’s food cake, and a lot of anise are noted. As it warms to very near room temperature, a lot of fruitiness unfolds. There is an acidic note, similar to what you might find in coffee, with a little dab of mocha to back it up. Some bitterness and a distinct organic scent is present, like recently upturned earth. A slight hint of alcohol is detected as well.
The mouthfeel is silky smooth and coating. The flavors mingle and get comfortable. I can’t say that I had the patience to allow for much time to pass between sips, but the flavors seemed to linger eternally. The aftertaste is like eating chocolate cake with chocolate icing right after brushing your teeth with a pasty, all-natural anise flavored toothpaste. Sounds weird, but it works well for me, evoking thoughts of warm pajamas, the company of family, and the holiday season. The alcohol is out to play at this point, no longer hiding in the cold, and if I hadn’t long ago accepted that inevitability when tasting impy stouts, it may be off-putting.
My experience with this beer was so wonderful on so many levels. That is why I have chosen to share my thoughts with you. My greatest hope is that you search out this beer, take it home, and have a deep experience with it like I have. While gazing, sniffing and tasting, allow your mind to briefly escape from the stresses of everyday life. Think of the men who created it and how lucky we are as beer lovers to have lived amongst them and tasted their creations. Think of the ingredients used in the product and how they may have came to be tended and harvested. Think of the waters of California that steeped those ingredients and what they may lend to the flavor and consistency. Think of the value that you hold in the relaxation you’re now swimming in. Take a deep breath. This is beer at its best.
One final note – please take a look at the sierra30 website linked above. It is beautiful and informative.
***The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewer’s Association: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewer’s brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
If you like 30th Anniversary – Fritz & Ken’s Ale, you should try…
The Lost Abbey’s Serpent Stout; Green Flash Brewing Co.’s Double Stout; Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro’s Imperial Oatmeal Stout
Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard earned money at a local bottle shop.