Editor's note - The title of this review comes from a somewhat dreadful film released in the early 1990s starring Charlie Sheen, and from the fact that this was our second visit to Hot Shotz. Our apologies for this lame attempt at humor, but the title just seemed to fit.
And so, to the reviews--
In tribute to the excessive use of the letter Z in Indianapolis bars and restaurants - including two bar/restaurants I'm quite fond of - I will be using the letter Z in the place of the letter S in my review. Let me know if that gets annoying really quick.
I'm not zure whoze idea it waz to revizit Hot Shotz - but I'm zure that it waz a good one. Our bartender, the highly regarded Hanz, treated uz very well once again.
Firzt came a zample of Tröegs Nugget Nectar - a beer Hanz pulled from zomewhere behind the bar. Thiz one waz by no meanz bad - but it zeemed like a more watery verzion of Bell's Hopslam - all of the bitter hop bite without the creamy full balance the Hopslam providez. Next up from the zecret zelection waz Highland Tasgall Ale, a beer whoze flavorz were obzcured by the fantaztic BBQ zauce that came with a really great pulled pork zandwich. I don't know what I mizzed here, but that zandwich waz worth it.
Finally from beer geek friend Tamre came New Holland's Night Tripper Imperial Stout - with a zweet and punchy noze with notez of pine and rubbing alcohol, and a dead black color, thiz beer provided an aromatic warning that it wazn't to be toyed with. A ton of alcohol on the front faded to pine - with the obviouz coffee and chocolate notez that ztoutz generally provide. Thiz beer reminded me of hard alcohol ztolen from my parentz' ztazh when I waz much younger - overpowering, and not the experience I expected with that firzt zip.
Alright enough with the Z's already.
And now, finally, we're at the beers for review.
Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine - A pumpkin-orange colored body supports half a finger of head. A bitter hop bite on the front of the tongue sticks with you in a way that makes the beer seem almost chewy. A hint of apple comes in on the back - but this one is hard to pin down. My notes say "I just don't know". But I did give it a score. 2.5 mugs. I've had other barleywines that I've enjoyed more.
Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru - As I put my nose to the glass something hit me immediately - the smell of Herr's Heinz Ketchup flavored potato chips. The body had an apple cider look with a bit of oil slick for a head. Taking a sip, the ketchup chip element went away, leaving a taste not unlike a sour sweet tart - but without the sweet. Mouthfeel was watery, but upon taking a drink the tongue collapses upon itself. This is a sour black hole of a beer that has it's own gravitational pull and sucks your face in through your mouth.
The last thing I noted was "taste like a doctor's office smells." Looking at my handy wheel o' beer, I'd say this one has a very high astringency.
The question I like to use in ratings is, "Would I buy this again?" - and I think I would as a one-off. I liked it for no particular reason at all - perhaps it was just that it was so different than the usual selections. 3.34 Mugs.
Despite what I suspect may be fairly average scores from the rest of the Knights, before we left Hot Shotz we all noted that we needed to visit more often - once a year isn't nearly enough. We know the beer selection is on point, but the food was really the star of the evening for me.
It's always a treat to go to Hot Shotz. The beer selection is always great, the food is delicious, and they have one of the best bartenders in the city to boot (the beloved Hans). The last roundtable was, of course, no exception.
My night started with Jim's current favorite, Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout. The last time the Knights were at Hot Shotz, so long ago, I had the very same beer. I liked it then and I like it now. The intense blueberry aroma is not replicated in the flavor; instead, it is mellow and tres drinkable.
To our surprise and delight, we sampled a couple brews that were brought in by our friends Hans and Tamre. The Tröegs Nugget Nectar was a smooth, highly drinkable IPA and was followed by a Tasgall Scotch Ale from Highland Brewing Company, also good. Tamre brought us some New Holland Night Tripper, an Imperial Stout that was warming and chewy.
For our reviewed beers, the Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru reminded me of apple cider vinegar. The taste was sour at first, but that sourness dissipated and turned dry. I think this would benefit from a pairing of food, fruit or cheese perhaps, yet there was something I couldn’t quite identify that made me return repeatedly to the glass. 3.15 mugs
Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine – This had a complex aroma that initially reminded me of the mango soap in my shower. As it warmed, though, I got bubble gum and fruit in the nose. I can’t say I am a huge fan of barleywines in general and the ones I do like have been aged, so I may like this in a year or so. 2.5 mugs
Being in the midst of the season of Lent and quickly approaching Easter, a word comes to mind:
And believe it or not, beer geeks have a calling to sacrifice themselves for the common good, probably because we have a deep philosophical connection with the centuries of monks, Trappist and otherwise, whose practice of self-denial and sacrifice went hand-in-hand with the production and consumption of those delicious suds we all enjoy.
That is why, for your entertainment and education, we at Hoosier Beer Geek sacrifice our livers and credit scores by consuming as much beer as possible. That’s right: we do it for you, our loyal readers.
In the benevolent brother(and sister)hood of beer geeks, we also tend to sacrifice our stash in order to further spread our gospel of beergeekdom. That is why people like Hans and Tamre share their beers with us, and in some ways, with you as well. As we write about these beers, you get to taste them with your eyes and your mind.
Certainly, this isn’t the best way to “consume” beer. If you want to fully experience the balanced hoppiness of the Tröegs Nugget Nectar (an Amber Ale that pretends to be an IPA), the deep, earthy tones of Highland’s Tasgall Ale (a Scotch ale that is more than a wee heavy), or the schizophrenic flavor profile and Sammy Terry-like label design of New Holland’s Night Tripper Imperial Stout (chocolate, coffee, malt…all the flavors are invited to this party), you’ll need to procure some bottles for yourself…or really buddy up with some beer geeks.
For me, the sacrifice continues as I sacrificed my taste buds in order to review Cantillon Brouscella 1900 Grand Cru for you. Why I feel the need to continuously taste these lambics, I don’t know. Maybe I’m hoping that someday I’ll magically enjoy these sour concoctions. I had high hopes as the nose was very apple ciderish, but I couldn’t get past the Lemonheads-like reaction that I had to this with each taste. Here is how hard of a time I had with it: I couldn’t finish it. So obviously I didn’t sacrifice myself that much. Perhaps it is the fact that these lambics I’ve tried have been unblended. That Frank Boon Gueuze I had last week was definitely better for me. I will give this beer a 1.0, as I would probably drink this over Chelada. But what kind of personal hell would that be if those were my only two options?
In comparison, the Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine seemed like heaven to me. If lambics are the real champagne of beers, what would that make barleywines? Some sort of red wine, I’d guess. I like red wines. And I am growing very fond of barleywines. Much like red wines, barleywines seem to improve with age. The 2008 has a lot of floral notes that overpower the malty notes. So I’m giving this a 2.75 mug rating right now, with the understanding that this will certainly go up if allowed to age a year or more. If you buy a bottle now, I’d sacrifice time and let it sit in a cellar for a while. You will be rewarded, I am sure.
Ah, the Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru. I thought when I first stuck my nose in the glass that I was in for a sour cider-y brew. What I got when I tasted it was like vinegar. It had a wine-like finish, and I know there's more to this one, but I just couldn't get past the sourness. It reminds me of A-1 in that I couldn't taste it without the lymph nodes in my neck shrieking for mercy. I gave up after wincing through two thirds of it and moved on to the next beer. If you could see me now you'd see me sporting two downward pointed thumbs and blowing a raspberry. Maybe some day I'll appreciate this style, but there are plenty of other styles to explore in the meantime. ¼ mug
Stone's Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine. This I can get excited about. I think that the barleywine style might be growing on me now that I've had a chance to sample a range of them. This one in particular had an interesting blend of hops and caramel. It was bite-y enough (if you'll pardon the stretch I'm going to for this reference) that reminded me of the largest of Homer's opossums who had taken up residence in the monorail. I wasn't as sensitive to the alcohol flavor that some folks mentioned (perhaps due to the super-sour lambic reviewed above), but I certainly felt it, even from this one sample. Of course, I had participated in a ritual bloodletting earlier in the day, which might have something to do with that. 3.3 mugs
As the aggregator of our reviews, I bring up the rear and have very little left to say that hasn't already been said by my compatriots. Consequently, I'll simply supply my ratings--
Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout. We're not officially reviewing this beer, but if we were, I'd give it 4.25 mugs.
Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru - 2.5 mugs. I have a feeling that this beer would be fantastic with the right food pairing.
Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine - 2.5 mugs. This sucker needs at least a year of cellaring, if not more.