15 January 2007

Wee Alec isn't Heavy, he's my brother (Jason's Review)

Okay, lame title, just couldn't help myself.

Unlike the others at the beer round table, I was a Broad Ripple Brewpub virgin. What can I say, I tend to party downtown instead of uptown. But the Brewpub, along with Brugge, gives me great reason to stray north. First, the Brewpub looks exactly like a brewpub should. Several areas, dark woods, classic in design. Second, it's a non-smoking facility. Normally, I'm prepared to smell like an ash tray after an evening of drinking. But much to my surprise, I didn't. So the lovely wife didn't make me shower before I passed out in bed. Third, the Brewpub's menu caters to the vegetarian lifestyle without forgetting about us carnivores. The nachos were excellent. And finally, with the Brewpub being the oldest in the city, it has a long history with its beers and brewmaster. Spending an evening with Kevin and discussing his beers was almost as much of a treat as drinking his beers.

As the late comer that evening, I started with what everybody else was having, the ESB. And I finished the evening with the IPA. Both were very tasty and worthy of a future review. I elected to review the Wee Alec Heavy, "a full bodied ale" with a 7.7% ABV. Now I should start off by saying that when I first joined HBG, I preferred my beers like my lovely wife preferred her men: dark. But in recent weeks and months, I've been moved to the light side of the foam. That is to say I've been craving hops. And I have been enjoying hops in many different forms.

I'm not going to go into great detail with the descriptions that Chris and Jim have already laid down very well: dark brown in color, smooth in feel and taste, notes of caramel, perhaps some raisin. Unlike Chris, I think the amount of carbonation was perfect. All of the beers at the Brewpub lean towards the English side with less bubbles and not as chilled. I think that allowed the flavors to stand out.

There was something else in the beer that the others didn't pick up. Both in scent and in flavor, I caught similarities between Wee Alec and a peaty scotch. It's hard to describe other than it was earthy in nature and produced a sting in the aftertaste. It also left a hint of alcohol in the scent. Why was I picking this up? It might have been because I had some peaty scotch not to long ago (which, honestly, I'm not a fan of). Or perhaps recent desire for hops and away from malts has left my taste buds open to other, more hidden flavors. I don't know. But what I found was probably the better parts of scotch. It certainly wasn't unpleasant.

In the end, it is a very satisfying beer, best consumed during cooler temperatures. It's a good warm-me-up beer that would probably go great with Shepard's pie or beef stew or a barley soup. I give this beer a 4 mugs rating and recommend it to any who enjoys darker beers. And get it soon. My understanding is that there is only a couple more weeks left before they replace it with a barley wine.

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