Festival of Hops
Sunday, January 24, 2010
One unfortunate side effect of being cash-poor but house-rich is that I haven't been able to try different craft beers as often as I'd like: expensive hobby. But I did pretty good budget-wise this month, so yesterday I called up Markie and Matt and we went to the Festival of Hops at the Muddy Pig. Lots of hoppy beers at $8 for 3 5 oz tasters.
I had three flights and sampled the more interesting stuff that Markie and Matt ordered. Here's what stood out:
Flying Dog Snake Dog — I didn't like their Doggie Style APA, but I can usually count on Flying Dog, and this IPA was really good. Where some other IPA's are content to hit you over the head with hops, this beer had all sorts of fun stuff going on.
Furthermore Knot Stock, a peppery American Pale that I'd love to try alongside some venison or my brother's famous prime rib. Probably not sessionable but much better than the overwhelmingly peppery Rosee D'hibiscus that I had in Canada.
La Trappe Isid'or. Nice of the Pig to have a Belgian Pale in the mix. I'm a sucker for this sort of thing, but luckily not everyone is. I traded my Rogue Yellow Snow (decent but not exciting) for Matt's taster of this.
21st Amendment Back in Black. Markie had this, according to Beer Advocate it's an IPA (and I'm sure they're right) but yesterday afternoon it tasted like an unusually smoky black lager.
Boulder Mojo. I had a taster of Bell's Hopslam to start, and I'm not sure any beer I had topped that, but this was a nice IPA in the same general taste area. If it's cheaper than Hopslam (and how could it not be) I'll probably give it another go.
New Holland Existential. I don't think I could finish a bottle of this Imperial-ish IPA, but this is one of those beers (like Rauchbier) that everyone should try just because it's so weird. It took us a bit to figure this out, but the overwhelming impression we had was of butterscotch and I didn't even know a beer could do that.
(Note to self, avoid these beers: Rogue Mogul and Founders Cerise. I think I've ordered both of these beers before too, and both times I could barely finish them. Bah.)
My mom was in town last weekend, for a house-hunting trip that got canceled at the last minute. But since she was around I tried to show her some of the cool places.
We had lunch at The Blue Door Pub, which at around noon on a Saturday wasn't nearly as busy as it was the first night I'd gone there. I had The Blucy (blue cheese and garlic) and she had a Frenchy, which was like a Juicy Lucy version of a French Dip.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that they still had Lift Bridge Biscotti, a really neat (and delicious) Belgian Dark Ale that I'm looking forward to trying again at Winterfest on the 6th. I'd made a special trip to the Pig with Barry a few Thursdays ago to see if they had it, only to have our server say he hadn't even heard of it.
After driving around looking at the exteriors of some of the candidate houses, I took my mom to the Gnome. She's much more of a wine person than a beer person, but she ended up liking the Wittekerke and stuck with it. I had a Rogue Menage a Frog tripel (which of course was good), then my first Hopslam of the season, and I finished up with Kwak so that my mom could try that against the Wittekerke.
(The Kwak didn't come in the fancy glassware, which is always fun to look at, but that's probably the last of those I'll get anyways. I can get beers that I like more for less than the cost of a Kwak.)
In which I remember that it isn't winter
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Yesterday I had a Lion Stout while I was over at Ben's killing time before a movie (one that I didn't get to see: yes, Dark Knight tickets are still selling out).
That beer was much too sweet (+dry = cloying) for me, but it was complimentary and it's from Sri Lanka, so it gets a pass even though it's far short of awesome. Hurrah for decent Asian beers!
If you really want to talk disappointment, once I got home I poured myself a Rogue Chocolate Stout. The aftertaste is great and the beer only gets better as it warms up, but there's too much roastiness on the front end, something too too close to coffee for me.
The moral here, I think, is not that these are bad beers (the Chocolate Stout is apparently a Big Deal), but that I need to stick to my seasonal beer snobbery instead of drinking dark stuff in the middle of the summer. I had extremely high hopes for that Chocolate Stout, and it's clear now that it will never meet those hopes, but I can see having a glass of it at some cold winter happy hour, maybe.
Project Runway Happy Hour returns
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Yesterday Our Bold Hero, Ben, and eventually Markie met up at the Happy Gnome for a pre-Project Runway happy hour. I had a Pauwel Kwak, a Belgian Strong Pale Ale from Brewery Bosteels: it was good — orange and creamy and mellow — but I admittedly would not have paid $8 for the beer if its special glass didn't look so cool. And now that I've had it, I probably wouldn't buy it at the liquor store unless it was on sale.
(It's a very small thing, but I'm generally fairly bored with the conical pint glasses you see everywhere. Give me tulip or even just nonic.)
I followed this up with a Rogue Latona 20th Anniversary, a delicious American Strong Ale that was correctly described as earthy. Mind you, I can't quite conjure up what that tasted like (besides "good"), but I remember agreeing with the Gnome's description at the time. I believe there was dry-hopping. As I told Ben, I've added this to the list of Rogue beers I like.
(So far Brutal Bitter and Old Crustacean are the only Rogue brews I remember that I haven't liked, but I'm sure there's one or two I'm forgetting. And I'm probably willing to put up with more from Rogue than I would from some random other brewery. See: Juniper Pale Ale.)
I also tried Ben's TyranenaScurvy, an IPA "brewed with 30 pounds of orange peel," whatever that means. It smelled like orange, and while Ben (still recovering from oral surgery) thought this was another Applejacks beer, I could taste the orange at the end, and something right before that that was very loud and sharp. It's hard to tell this sort of thing off of a sip, but I don't think I like that beer very much.
At Barry's I gave in and let Jenna make me a vodka cranberry. It was very good, and apparently not that strong, because I had sobered from slightly to well below the legal limit by the time Project Runway was over.
Yesterday after work I went to the poorly-advertised Ola Dubh event at the Gnome; they didn't start serving it until 7 pm (at first my server didn't think they were doing it at all) so in the meantime I had a Rogue Old Crustacean Barleywine, an OmmegangRare Vos, and a Flying DogGarde Dog. I was warned away from the Rogue Love Hop, which is apparently too subtle to follow the likes of a barleywine.
The barleywine wasn't spectacular, or maybe just not accessible. Tasted just like alcohol to me; I think I actually prefer the Sierra Nevada barleywine. Rare Vos was good as usual, and Garde Dog was a farmhouse ale with some nice grassiness. I mentioned my weekend beer misadventures and Barry and I joined together in praise of Springboard.
Dave had a Flat Earth Black Helicopter oatmeal stout and wow did I hate that beer. Or as Marge Simpson might say, "coffee."
The server said that they have one or two bottles of Rogue Brew 10,000 cellared. I'm going to try to convince some people to split a bottle next month. It's very expensive, like $35. But it has Paul Bunyan right on the label! Next month, when my entertainment budget isn't shot to hell from hours at the Gnome.
(Actually it would be much cheaper to buy that retail, if I can find it.)
HarviestounOla Dubh was interesting, a strong Imperial porter (apparently based on Old Engine Oil) that had been aged in malt whisky casks from the Highland Park distillery. Jenna said she couldn't taste the whisky but that came through very strong for me. We sat next to the distributors and one of them came over and answered our questions about the process and waxed on about Scotch. He said that the quality of the whisky that had been in the casks makes a huge difference, which sounds plausible.
He also hooked us up with a different batch of Ola Dubh Special Reserve (16?), which I remember being good, smoother... but my taste buds were probably well and truly fried by then.
That stuff must have a huge punch, because after two glasses I was .12 and stuck reading in the car for several hours. I got home very late and I taste whisky this morning.
On my way up north this weekend I stopped at Spirits of Nisswa — possibly the last good liquor store if you're heading up north&mdash and picked up a mix-pack of New Belgium and a growler(!) of Rogue Dead Guy Ale.
The New Belgium mix-pack had 1554, Fat Tire, Mothership Wit, and Mighty Arrow. I discovered that I don't really care for Fat Tire, which I've had many times before but never been so disappointed by, and Mighty Arrow was a standard pale. There's not much those can do from what I can tell.
I enjoyed the subtlety of the 1554, which didn't destroy my taste buds with its coffee taste, and I ended up really liking the Mothership Wit, albeit not quite as much as I like Springboard.
Do not attempt to finish a growler alone on an empty stomach. I probably won't be able to have Dead Guy for a while now.
Drink a beer for each scene with unnecessary Jack-flesh
Friday, May 2, 2008
I usually try to have a special beer on Lost night: this week Ben brought over some New Glarus, and I had the Hop Hearty IPA.
Verdict: meh, ho-hum IPA. I'm not sure my assessment can be trusted though, because for some reason I drank this beer straight from the bottle instead of using a glass.
You could also read that last sentence as: for some reason I think that pouring beer into a glass makes it way better, rather than just slightly better. It makes it classier though. New beers do taste better if there's some solemnity to the initial sip.
I also had Rogue Dead Guy Ale, which is probably my favorite Rogue beer and possibly one of my favorite beers.