I’m an avid traveler and an avid beer drinker. So when it’s up to me to pick the topic for the June edition of The Session, I’d hope I could blog about the time I was in Kenya and visited the Tusker Brewery (more specifically, East African Breweries, Ltd.). While I didn’t make it to the brewery in Nairobi, I did wash down some grilled zebra and giraffe with Tusker Lager!
While studying in Russia, I attempted to visit the Baltika Brewery in St. Petersburg with my classmates, but tours weren’t offered at that time. Considering the director was assassinated after my semester abroad, it’s possibly for the best.
So the farthest brewery I’ve been to is Allagash in Portland, Maine. The city is picturesque, though not so the business park the brewery is situated in. I was actually there to interview Karen and David Geary, the once-married still-owners of the D. L. Geary Brewing Co. I think their London Porter is one of the best out there, but I’ve written sufficiently about them.
So back to Allagash. Brewer Rob Tod (that’s me pictured with him) started Allagash a decade after Geary’s in 1995. As such, Allagash was an early adapter in brewing Belgian styles here in the US. My sole familiarity with them before visiting Portland was their flagship Allagash White. Next to Hitachino Nest White, it’s still my favorite Witbier. And finding it on tap for a mere $3 was the bargain of my stop in town. But I also discovered their bourbon barrel aged triple, Curieux, which I’d focus on today, except it was the subject of my Session #24. So where does that leave me? Apropos of a guy who blogs at BeerOdyssey.com, I’m partaking of a brew day with buddies Greg & Ryan and amid our homebrew tastings, we’re popping the cork on my Allagash Odyssey pulled from my Beeradise.
Before I get into my notes about Odyssey, I should note that the kitchen I’m in is rife with a hoppy aroma that contradicts with the Odyssey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. This beer is a 10.4% ABV wheat beer that’s been aged in both new medium toasted oak barrels (as such, part of Allagash’s excellent barrel-aged series) and part aged in stainless steel for half a year. On tap, I recall it having a much more billowy, wheaty character, but this 750-ml bottle presents a much roastier, toastier flavor. I've noticed that Allagash beers on tap are generally more subdued than bottled. The bottled Curieux is more bourbony; the bottled White is corianderier. In fact, I dare say I’m enjoying today's Odyssey more. Must be that it’s a new barrel and I guess “medium” toasted indicates toastier than standard toasting (though less so than charred oak).
Does it remind me of some lobster bisque I had back in Portland, Maine? No, main-ly because I don’t dig on lobster. But it’s a great reminder of the zymurgelogical wonders that Rob Tod conjures up and that, even if I can’t track down a bottle of his new Gargamel (a 375-ml corked beer that doubtfully tastes like Smurfberries), at least I know his brett’ed Confluence has made its way to the Bay and that I don’t have to make another 3,203 mile trek to drink fresh Allagash.