January 18, 2010

Thinning the herd

When your "beer cellar" is capable of holding, oh, say around 300 bottles, and it's packed to the gills to the point where you have overflow piling up in boxes on the floor, well, if you have a fiance like mine who doesn't like to see piles anywhere, there's only one course of action to take. Thin the herd.

So I invited a few local, friendly beer geeks over. Nuthin' fancy. No grand pairings. Just a simple open-season on the Beeradise. True, I made some suggestions by chilling down a bunch of bottl
es, but almost anything in the malt vault was fair game. In the end, eight of us killed 15 bottles (OK, a bit more including something akin to homebrew but more potent). Not just 15 bottles, but bombers and 750s and we even closed out the ceremony with a magnum. I believe the beers ranged from 9-18% ABV. Here's a rundown of what we polished off, maybe some notes, and my personal score out of 10. Because they were hand-picked, it's no surprise many were highly rated.

Goose Island's Demolition (Belgian Golden). I appreciated how light it was=9
Southern Tier's Pumking (pumpkin ale). I agree it's the best pumpkin beer there is. You'd swear there's even graham cracker crust=9
Boulevard's Somestack Series Double-wide (2IPA). Proof a great IPA can even come from Kansas=8
Blvd's (Somestack) Seeyoulator (Doppelbock). Aged on cedar? To a wood fan like me, super tay-stee=9
Rodenbach's Vintage 2007 Vintage (Oak-aged Sour). I'm not all about sours, and Rodenbach is often over the top for me, but this was easier to get into=9
New Belgium's La Folie (Oak-aged Sour). This bottle was handed to me by New Belgium co-founder Kim Jordan herself back in '07. For that I gave it an extra half point=8.5
Blvd's (Smokestack) George Brett (Saison). Why do people think that merely adding Brettanomyces makes it complex? Further proof "horse blanket" is not a flavor I condone=4
Odell's Woodcut No. 1 (Oak-aged Old Ale). You never know what will happen when you get into a discussion with a liquor-store-owning beer geek in Wichita. For me, it meant obtaining this glorious bottle. It substantiates that the best part of wood-aged beers is the wood (not a particular spirit or wine). Oaktastic!=10
Odell's Woodcut No. 2 (Oak-aged Strong Ale). Picked this bottle up in Denver, first. I liked it, but way to sweet (and I'm a sweet-tooth)=6
--Interesting side note. Of the 8 people who tried both WC#1 & #2, it was an even split. 3 guys and 1 gal preferred No. 1 and the same for No. 2. Ain't subjectivity great?
Nogne O's Sunturnbrew (Smoked Barleywine). Made me want to slow-cook an entire forest's worth of animals just to see what would pair the best=9
Dogfish Head's Fort (Framboise). 18%! It burns, oh, it burns. Not even the raspberry patch's worth of raspberries could save it. Shoulda waited several years?=4
Church Brew Works' 2000 Triple (Triple). Pittsburgh's Church Beer Works is easily the most remarkable brewpub in the country in terms of appearance. This subtle triple is also praiseworthy=8
Charleville's Triple Wit (Witbier). 8
Bluegrass Brewing's Horse Piss (piss lager). Truth in advertising. Picked this up in Kentucky, just because. I threw this in the mix as a test to make sure our palates still worked. Regrettably, they did=1
Alltech's Lexington Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale (bourbon-aged). Most bourbon-aged beers are based on Imperial Stouts or something where the flavor is predisposed to mask the bourbon notes. By using a lighter, golden ale as the foundation, the beer becomes a pedestal for the fresh barrels culled from just down the road. A boilermaker in a bottle=8
Anchor's Our Barrel Ale (Barrel-aged Strong Ale). Now that Anchor's entree in the barrel-aging world has a year on it (it debuted at the start of last year's SFBW), we opened this one last. Despite being a magnum and the fact we were all schnockered, it went the quickest=10

The 8 imbibers other than myself were Jesse Friedman of Beer & Nosh, Gail Williams & Steve Shapiro of Beer By Bart, Damian Fagan, Jason Henry, Chris Cohen who, once he moved to SF, is on the accelerated beer geek path, Eric Cripe of the Jug Shop and a veritable Certified Cicerone (TM), and toward the end, my own Half Pint.