Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beers that helped us through the holidays.

SO this posting is a bit long overdue. Dave and I went to NJ for the holidays and got to try a bunch of beers that mainly don't get distributed out on the West Coast.  And you know how all the stress of the holidays can go and how long it takes to get settled back into your routine. AND it was quite a stressful vacation with my family, so we ended up drinking and trying a bunch of beers to help keep our sanity. But these are ones worth mentioning. These will be a bit random, but definitely worth writing about.

We tried:
Dogfish Head Theobroma- 9% Chili Beer
Dogfish Head Squall IPA-9% Imperial IPA
Dogfish Head Fort-18%- Fruit Beer
Brooklyn's Monster Ale- 11.8% English Barley wine
Stoudts Double IPA- 10% Imperial IPA
Harpoon Leviathan- 10% Imperial IPA
Weyerbacher Riserva- 11.4% American Wild Ale
Ithaca Flower Power IPA- 8% IPA

Great Divide Titan IPA- 7% IPA

Samuel Adam's Utopias 2009- 27% American Strong Ale

Dogfish Head Theobroma- This beer is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder, cocoa nibs from Askinosie chocolate, honey, ancho chillies and annato. The recipe is based on a chemical analyssis of pottery fragments found in Honduras. It's the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink. It poured a clear bright orange with some lace. It smelled like honey, smokey malts, chili and a hint of cocoa. It tasted light bodied, which was very unexpected. The cocoa was more pronounced in flavor than the chilis- the chili flavor really came out on the end of your tongue. Overall, it was like a flavorful light and crispy malt. It was definitely fun and interesting to try but I am not sure I would want to drink a whole bunch of it.  It was good for the holidays though- and I wonder how well this will age. It does call for a chocolate pairing though, so I managed to score a few bottles for our meetup's Beer and Chocolate pairing Feb 4th and Feb 5th.

Dogfish Head Squall IPA- This beer is a bottle conditioned version of their 90-minute IPA. It is dry hopped with Palisade, Amarillo, Simcoe, Cascade, CTZ and Willamette hops. It poured a cloudy copper red. It smelled quite floral, piney, citrus, pineapple, and hoppy. It tasted citrusy,  mixed with burnt sugar, roasted malts, a hint of spice and it was very dry and bitter at the end. The alcohol was pretty well hidden in this beer for 9%. It was interesting to have the balance of malty flavors with this IPA.

Dogfish Head Fort- This beer is apparently the world's strongest fruit beer. It has over a ton of Oregon and Delaware raspberries that were closed in, slowly, over a 2 month primary fermentation. It poured a beautiful deep red with a hint of orange. It smelled like sour raspberries and alcohol. It tasted sour and tart- huge raspberry flavor, malt, a bit reminiscent of a cordial. There is definitely a warming from the alcohol in this one, but it is 18% after all. This is my type of dessert! It is definitely one of my top favorite beers that I have ever tried, but I am partial to sours and raspberries. Plus my mother insisted on keeping the house a nice chill 60 degrees and when asked to change the temperature up, she said "Put on a sweater" to my sister. Then when she responded saying "I am already wearing one", my mother said, "Then put on a cashmere one". Hence why this warming was so welcomed (did I mention there was snow outside and it was freezing).

Brooklyn's Monster Ale- I actually didn't know this was barley wine until after Dave poured it for me and I tasted it. It poured a golden amber hue. It smelled like malt, brown sugar and a hint of citrus. It tasted like caramel, malt, raisin, alcohol and had a bitter finish. For some reason it just didn't seem as balanced to me as other barely wines that I have tried. It was a bit too much on the bitter side for me for a barley wine.

Stoudts Double IPA- This baby poured a beautiful orange gold sunset color. It smelled very hoppy, a tinge sweet, pine, citrus, grapefruit and alcohol. It tasted pretty hoppy, pine, citrus, a hint of orange, malt, and ended in a dry bitter finish. All in all, it was a pretty good double IPA.

Harpoon Leviathan- This IPA was another one a bit on the malty side. It poured a crystal clear amber. It smelled like hops- pine, citrus, malt- caramel and alcohol. It tasted pretty much as it smelled- hops, pine, grapefruit, malt, caramel, toffee and ended bitter. I did enjoy this one with the balance of the malty side to it.

Weyerbacher Riserva-Over a year in the making, this beer is fermented with Brettanomyces yeast and aged with red-raspberry puree in Oak barrels for over 1 year, then bottle conditioned in champagne bottles. Sounds promising, yes? It poured a murky deep red color. It smelled like tart raspberries and Brett- so good so far. It tasted sour! Raspberries, oak, a bit vinegary. But overall a good pucker in your mouth raspberry sour.

Ithaca Flower Power IPA- This beer poured a clear golden orange. It smelled of hops, malt, citrus and very floral. It tasted of pine, orange, grass, floral with some caramel malt undertones. It was pretty enjoyable actually. I have never had any of Ithaca's beers before so this seemed like a good one to try. I look forward to trying more the next time I am back on the East Coast.

Great Divide Titan IPA- Can you tell someone in our family likes IPA's? I was looking forward to trying this one because it is from Colorado's Great Divide Brewery and I have never had any of their beers before either. It poured a beautiful copper red. It smelled of pine, wood, grapefruit with a hint of caramel. It tasted like citrus, pine, grapefruit, wood with some moderate bitterness. It ended on a caramel malt finish with some bready tones to it. I would have this one again.

Last but definitely not least, Samuel Adam's Utopias 2009. My father-in-law was dead set and lucky to find and bring one of these babies for us to share over the holidays- and with all of the holiday stress-boy did we need it! We had tried it before at GABF 2009- we went back a few times in line for a few servings (especially because it's $200 a bottle).  We definitely  were fans then but after drinking so much beer in one day, sometimes your palate gets a little tainted.  Plus it was the strongest beer in the world for a while at 27% but as I have been told over and over by Dave, there are stronger beers now out there. I guess I should say it's the longest running one then. It poured a very clear mahogany with no carbonation (it is basically a beer liquor anyways being 27%). It smelled like alcohol, bourbon, vanilla, mixed with some raisin. It tasted like a beer liquor- alcohol, bourbon, sweet vanilla, maple syrup, prunes, figs, malty and nutty. Overall absolutely delicious. We managed to score one for our 1 time meetup of Strong Ales, Barley wines and the Strongest Beer in the world on March 19th. You won't want to miss out on that one!

All in all, tasting beers all day that we can't get at home is my kind of holiday. Especially if it's a stressful one. It definitely made staying up until the 'older folks' go to bed to finally have some peace and be able to relax a bit easier knowing there was good beer to be had. I think we will go to Mexico for Christmas next year.

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