For our latest review, which took place at Locals Only (as Jason has already noted), we were joined by Scot, who is the author of the excellent blog, 64th and Broadway, Barcelona. You might be familiar with Scot's blog because it was featured in last week's INtake article on local bloggers. Scot is an avid fan of independent films, so if you enjoy hanging out at Key Cinemas, then 64th and Broadway should be a daily stop for you because Scot often posts thoughtful and insightful reviews of the films that he sees.
I've known Scot for several years. We became acquainted through our mutual love for the Beautiful Game. We suffered together through the U.S.'s disappointing World Cup appearance this past summer and are fans of rival Major League Soccer teams. Despite our differing team loyalties, we do get along quite well. Before the review, I knew that Scot had a healthy appreciation for good beer, so it was no surprise that he joined us at Locals Only. He was a great guest. I think that I speak for the other Knights of the Beer Roundtable when I say that Scot has an open invitation to join us for future reviews.
On to the beers. Last Thursday, unfortunately, was a slightly disappointing beer night for me. This is not to say that the beers we reviewed were poor; rather, the beers simply didn't sit well with me. In fact, the best beer that I had was my warm-up beer, which was an Anheuser-Busch product, Bare Knuckle Stout. Bare Knuckle is a dry, Irish-style stout made in the mold of Guinness. I suppose that A-B decided to make a foray into the stout market based upon Guinness's burgeoning popularity here in the United States. I must say that the producer of the "King of Beers" has done a fairly good job with Bare Knuckle, which I found to be smooth with that classic milky finish that a good dry stout has. Bare Knuckle's flavor isn't as heavy as Guinness's, which has more coffee-like notes. But if you're looking to try a stout for the first time, Bare Knuckle would be a good stout with which to start.
From the Bare Knuckle, we stepped up to the high octane stuff. At Chris's behest, we went with Stone Brewing Company's Ruination IPA. I didn't protest at all because I love Stone's products. They release a Russian Imperial Stout every year that is heavenly, and they have just released their yearly batch of Old Guardian Barley Wine, which never disappoints. But up until Thursday, I had not tried the Ruination IPA.
So we broke out the snifters (actually, I think they were wine glasses) and poured. Like any good IPA, the Ruination was sort of a coppery-gold hue. The nose on this beer was phenomenal--very, very fruity, with a bit of grapefruit. On second whiff, however, I got a big old dose of...bubble gum. I loved it. The flavor, however, belied the nose. I was expecting a bit of sweetness, but the Ruination is extremely dry. Like other IPA's, it's heavy on the hops, with an almost pine-like taste. The first half of the glass was very pleasant, but as I drank more, the beer became overpowering. It almost got to the point of making me nauseated. Perhaps this happened because, next to Renee, I am probably the biggest lightweight of the group (about which I get constant grief from the other Knights). Ultimately, I wimped out and turned the rest of my beer over to Jason. So I'll give a dual rating here. If I could do nothing but smell the beer, I'd give it 5 mugs. But the flavor knocks it down to 3 mugs for me.
As for the Sterkens Hoogstraten Poorter, what would beer geeks like us do without a Belgian ale to review? Locals Only owner David generously furnished us a free bottle of the stuff (and it was a BIG bottle), which we split between us. I agree with Jason's assessment of this beer as being a virtual clone of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles, which, as I noted in an earlier review, was just not my thing. I did, however, have a good laugh at the vaguely homoerotic label for the beer. 3 mugs for the beer; 4 mugs for the label.