We've sort of had the (wildly successful) idea that in order to spur our writing, we should have themed months. Last month was craft beer classics. You'll see the last bits of that in the next roundtable we publish. This month is weird beer.
As it turns out, I've been sitting on a pre-Christmas beer diary that fits the theme.
We find ourselves sitting around a dinner table on a Tuesday night, as Christmas approaches and the holiday spirit calls for prolonged imbibing. Our cabinets bearing the weight of a beer collection in a constant state of flux - contracting first, then growing, a pattern that keeps repeating itself, as every beer drank seems to be an excuse to buy two more.
The truth is that we love to buy beer; the full closets and stacks of boxes might be proof that we enjoy buying it more than we enjoy drinking it. At some point that continued buying has to be justified by drinking. And so..
Crown Brown - Middle of the road brown, not too malty, not too sweet, not too roasty, not too brown, not too fizzy, stupidly drinkable, a nice gateway, or just a nice beer. And it's got a chick that looks like she came straight out of Leisure Suit Larry, so there's an added bonus if you're a 13 year old in 1989.
Monk's Stout Dupont - Green bottle, good bottle fonts, 5.25% ABV. You know how every bottle of Saison Dupont ever gets a little skunky? Same thing here. I find it endearing. But past that, there's tobacco-like roastiness, big full flavor, and chasing bean dip, bean dip. To reset my palate I had half a slice of wheat bread. Proof positive that a 5%-ish beer can be packed with flavor. Dark coffee, dark rich fruit, clean finish, Belgian in body but without the lingering esters. A winner through and through.
Mikkeller Hoppy Lovin' Christmas - I find it impossible to not buy every Mikkeller beer I come across. They're like candy bars. I need to try every candy bar ever. I need to try every Mikkeller beer ever. And here's Hoppy Lovin' Chistmas, with ginger and pine needles! What a nose! Orange and (slight) ginger, followed up by rich hoppy/piney magic, finishing silky and (again) rich. At 7.8%, this seems like an IPA, and drinks like one, too. Pine needles? If they're in there, they're subtle and meld perfectly. Warmer, malty balance comes out as well. More please, sir.
Bourganel Biere au Nougat - Nougat. Nougat? French people love Nougat*, so it's not surprise that they've finally brewed a beer with it. And boy is it in there. The nose is nougatastic, making everyone at the table take a sniff and go "oooh. oh.." and making us all think that we were in for a sickly sweet mess. And the beer is pretty sweet on front, but it doesn't finish that way. It is a sweet beer, kinda like a fruity candy bar kind of thing, and really, what else would you expect? The beer that comes to mind is Creme Broulet, but this beer isn't that overly sweet, cloying sort of thing. It's just a light nougat ale. Like nougat? Here's your beer. And you can finish a glass of it. 5%, too. And considering that Turrón is made with Nougat, it ties back to the Tió de Nadal! A perfect Catalan holiday treat, made in France. Whatever.
Dogfish/Sierra Life and Limb 2011 vs Life and Limb 2010 - 2011 - Big, sweet, hershey's chocolate, dryness of cocoa powder, finished milk chocolaty. 2010: Richer, sweeter? What's the maroon tootsie pop? The difference between wine and port wine? We went back and forth at the table about which one we liked better, and maybe the nose is better in the newer of the two? And maybe the flavor it better with older one? It's too bad we didn't buy enough to try again next year. If you're sitting on this, don't be afraid to keep doing so. When I write notes filled with questions does it help anyone?
Stone Vertical Epic 11.11.11 - What talked me into this beer was Rod saying "we saw what was in it and bought it." I'm not an Anaheim Chilies and Cinnamon kinda guy, but I can't say that it didn't get my attention enough to buy a bottle. I'm not a chili beer fan. I'm just OK with cinnamon. My writing is better with an editor. The nose of this one is not chili peppers, it's green peppers, and maybe a hint of cinnamon. As for the taste.. wow. There's a spiciness there, but it fades fast, and the spicy cinnamon aspects fill out the back. It's a six person bomber, interesting enough to drink in small doses, but too much to take on for more than one serving. I didn't finish my serving, and there was more in the bottle. We moved on.
Boulevard/Deschutes Smokestack Collaboration No. 2 White IPA - Coriander bomb. Menthol. Perfect beer for people with a chest cold. Cough drop.
*I don't know anything about French people. I don't know any French people. If you're French, please send an email, I think it's time for me to have French friends.