Showing posts with label school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label school. Show all posts

Friday, October 14, 2011

Beer School: Sh$t you have never tried before

Sometimes you don't need a theme for beer school. Just a room full of beer geeks, some good cheese and lots of unique beers. This was the order of the night at Clive's Classi c Lounge.

You know it will be a challenging night when the first beer is an abbey style dubbel. This is how it started, with Sierra Nevada's Ovila Dubbel. I thought it was a tad thin for a 7.5%ABV dark abbey style ale. There was just enough plums, raisin and spiciness to make things interesting.

Next up was the Pepe Nero by Goose Island. A black saison is an under-explored beer style. Break the mold and bring it on. Both the nose and taste was elegant with old coffee, yeasty bread and roasted bananas. The Nero was an unexpected crowd favourite.

This is my favourite brewery from Portland. Not because of their beers, but the name is great. Captured by Porches does a great job of being an ecological brewery. They brew with organic ingredients, their bottles are reused and not shipped very far. Their offering was a dark rye beer called Roggenbier. The taste was very rye like; rye is hard to describe without making reference to itself. It's flavour was very dry, ashy with toasted rye bread.

Thanks to Michael Lewis for bringing two bottles of 2008 Abyss by Deschutes. Once you have tasted one wood aged Imperial stout, you have tasted them all. They are all good, the Abyss is no exception. Massive are the favours of licorice, molasses, treacle and bitter sweet chocolate. A glycerin/thick mouthfeel made they brew almost chewy.

HUB Galactic imperial red ale boasted an IBU count of over 100. Oddly the hop profile was not overpowering. Don't get me wrong, the hop flavours of sweet tangerine, cotton candy, pine and flowers were very apparent. There was enough malt to counter this hop assault - barely.

The Rodenbach Grand Cru is the benchmark for all Flanders sour ales. You might think sour beer, yuck! Once you try a sour, you are forever hooked. Everyone loves sweet and sour sauces at Chinese restaurants, there is a good reason for that. The Grand Cru smells of sweet sherry, toast and good balsamic vinegar. Each sip is astringently tart with sour cherries which yields a balsamic sweetness. Every mouthpuckering drink was a delight. Truly a great end to a challenging beer night.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cascadian Dark Ale Beer School

Everyone has their own thoughts about the origins of the Cascadian Dark Ale/Black IPA/American Style Black Ale. The following is the story I told the left4beer beer school class last month. All were polite and didn't disagree; perhaps they were worried that I would not share the epic selection of beer.

The first appearance of the Black IPA is accredited to the Vermont Pub and Brewery with their Blackwatch IPA in 1994. Things really got rolling in 2003 at the Oregon Brewing Festival. This is when John Maier (Rogue) first released the Skull Splitter schwarzbier. In December of the following year, Phillips Brewing created the Black Toque India Dark Ale. The exact designation of the Cascadian Dark Ale is a bit of a mystery, but its thought that Matt Phillips first coined and really used the phrase. Until recently this was not an officially recognized beer style. In 2011, the Brewers Association added it to their beer style guidelines as the American Style Black Ale. Their guidelines are used to judge beers at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. At this moment there is not a BJCP beer style, but a proposed one is on facebook.

To start off a night of Black IPAs, you gotta go with the Skookum. The nose is hop forward with pine, citrus but there is added roast and light chocolate. Pine vapours hit the palate first before the liquids arrive. Your tongue is washed with large doses of citrus and pine with malts that are lightly roasted with chocolate. In case you were curious the mouth feel, it was medium to full, like most Phillips beers.

The next beer of the evening was canned. The Back in Black IPA is a perfect example of new ideas. A new beer style (Black IPA) and a newly rediscovered format, the aluminum can. Inside is a beer almost as black as the can. Overall it was very smooth with molasses, roasted pine and bitter dark chocolate flavours.
The invention of the two piece aluminum beer can was attributed to the Adolph Coors company in 1959. Maybe I will save this history lesson for another posting.

The beers just got better and better. Bump in the Night is a brewmasters reserve for 2011 by Full Sail. This was lighter than the rest but still had lots of flavours. Lots of roast, berries and slight honey on the rose. The taste was cool with menthol, bittersweet chocolate and hints of berries. At the end it was all dry cocoa and berries.

The great looking bottle of the Succession by HUB was the next in line. This thing delivered a wallop of hop goodness. Pick any PNW hop flavour and it was there: pine, citrus, floral and even cotton candy. All this and an ample dose of roasted chocolate and espresso; what is not to love about this beer.

An imposing gargoyle greeted us as we opened a bottle of Stone's Self-Righteous ale. The numbers on the side are massive: 90 IBUs and 8.7%ABV. We were not scared. Ouch, we should have been wary. The hops were very apparent and leaned towards the tropic fruit area with back up from citrus and cotton candy. This brew is teeming with flavours; all of them good. Nothing was left out: bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, berry esters, molasses, citrus and cotton candy. The Self-Righteous just tasted a lot bigger than the rest.

Everyone had a great time sampling great beers that originated from our part of the world. Not sure about the next beer school. The Pilsner edition did not go well. Hopefully the 'All About Wheat' edition will do better in July.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Winter Warmer Beer School at Clive's

Beer is fun; beer school is more funner! I have never been passionate about grammar. A group of fellow passionate beer drinkers gather for regular lessons at Clive's Classic Lounge. This months topic was winter warmers. While there is no official BJCP or GABF style for the winter warmer, it does not stop breweries from producing stronger, malty beers. Usually they are officially classified as old English ales, strong American ales or bocks. They tend to be are sweeter/maltier, higher in ABV and might be lightly spiced. They are the perfect brew to take the edge of the winter chill.

As always mixologist extraordinaire Shawn, set us up with a cheese plate pairing and floor show. Shawn took my dare seriously and sabered a corked bottle of Les Trois Mousquetaires weizenbock open with a kitchen knife! No spillage; I wonder if he found the cork yet? As always there are no photos. This is not for confidentiality, it is because I always forget to snap off a few shots.

This nights line up was a great selection of winter warmers: Samuel Smith Winter Welcome, Ninkasi Sleighr, Les Trois Mousquetaires weizenbock, Hopworks Abominable Winter Ale and Elysian Winter Bi-Frost.

Needless to say everyone had a great time and are looking forward to the next topic: Imperial Stouts. Many had fun filling out their 33 Beers tasting books.

Lineup for the Imperial Stout school:

-Driftwood Singularity

-Eel River Raven's Eye

-Laguinatas Cappuccino Stout

-Jolly Pumpkin Dark Down Stout

-Great Divide Yeti Oak Aged Imperial stout (must find a second bottle)

-Homebrew from John at Basement Breweries. I might bring my own bottle hopped imperial treacle stout

-Mikkeller Beer Geek Weasel Highland Park. Yes this is not a typo, but only a small sample.