Recently, Rhode Island has seen a couple breweries pulling distribution out of the state. This happens somewhat regularly, but it’s interesting to look at the specific breweries that do it and their reasons for doing it. While my last post was about breweries being bought up by larger breweries/companies or merging with other small breweries, this one is going to take on those who remain independent, but are still growing in both popularity and brewing capacity. Continue reading Brewery Growing Pains
I’ve had some aged beers recently and thought I might write a little about them. I will add that my beer closet is the perfect temperature. I put a thermometer in there and the temperature is always between 46 and 53. I couldn’t ask for a better place to keep beer. I just hope it doesn’t get much higher than 60 in the summer, though I don’t expect it to except on really hot days.
Tonight, I had Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Bluegrass Brewing. I happened upon these at Coastal Wine& Spirits in Branford, CT. I picked up a 4 pack because it sounded good, and was a 2006 bottling. With almost 3 years on the bottle, I have to say it was pretty good. It wasn’t mind-blowingly awesome, but it was good. I’m not a big fan of hot bourbon flavor in my beer, this had just enough. I think it was the stout part of it that didn’t do much for me. Regardless, it was worth buying the 4 pack. I gave 1 away as a gift and I’ve got 2 more. They’re tasty, but nothing special.
I have also recently had a Great Divide Hibernation Ale from last winter. It aged nicely, but seemed a bit lacking. I don’t know if they just need more age, but it had a bit more flavor fresh. I’ve got a couple more in the cellar. I’ll have to try another and decide if I really like it or not.
I also got to try the most recent Sam Adams Utopias, from 2007 I believe. This is one amazing beer. It’s different and nothing like a beer, but it’s still a beer. Lots of fruit flavors, like cherry, some maple, a little burn from the alcohol (no surprise, at 25%). Each sip had something different going on. Next time they release this, I’m picking up a bottle.
It probably isn’t fair to be reviewing this one on the heels of the Nikki’s Beer Dinner from last month as that was a tough one to beat. The Stouts and Porters Dinner at Julian’s on Sunday night was a great time and they did top it one way – entertainment.
In the middle of the dinner, they had a bunch of people from a Chinese dance school come in and do a little thing with a lion that ate and regurgitated some lettuce. It was accompanied by drumming. It was really fun and bought a nice new dimension to the dinner. In addition, Brian from Julian’s also attempted to wear a different color ruffled tux shirt with each introduction for the courses. Anyway, on to the review.
The first course found us drinking Buffalo Belgian Stout. I had tried this once before from the bottle at a warmer temp and it was quite enjoyable. It wasn’t nearly as good off the tap, unfortunately. It was served with chestnuts and cranberries, which actually paired quite nicely.
The second course was a salad served with Avery The Czar. The beer was awesome. It was the first time I had tried it. I found it a little odd that the strongest beer, at 12.2%, was served with the salad. It had a lot of depth to the flavor with some dark fruit and anise. The salad was greens, golden beets, herb encrusted pistachios, and crispy sweet potatoes. It paired alright with the beer. Neither over-powered the other, but I didn’t find them overly complimentary. However, I also didn’t find them to be so opposite that they went poorly together.
The third course is honestly slipping my mind right now. The beer was a whiskey barrel aged Ten FIDY from Oskar Blues. This was quite tasty and added a nice dimension to the Ten FIDY without giving it a strong whiskey/bourbon flavor as happens too often when beers are aged in those types of barrels.
Following that was an intermezzo. Again, the food is slipping my mind. The beer was Great Divide’s Oak Aged Espresso Yeti. This is easily one of my new favorite beers. I managed to try some of this at Track 84 on Thursday. It’s very tasty and has quite a bit of depth to the flavor. The espresso is muted enough that it’s not overpowering, but strong enough to really complement the other flavors of the Oak Aged Yeti. If you can find this, you need to try this beer.
Now onto the main course. As with all the Julian’s beer dinners, there were 2 options. Luckily, this time Susan and I picked different options. I opted for the crab corn butternut squash ravioli, which came with an oak aged Smuttynose Robust Porter. It turns out that this is actually called “JD” Oak Aged Robust Porter, the JD presumably standing for Jack Daniels. Boy was that beer strong with the whiskey flavor. Luckily, some of that flavor died off as the beer warmed, bringing out more of the porter flavors. The regular Robust Porter is one of my favorite porters. It’s very flavorful and has a great body. This rendition of it wasn’t really up to my liking as I’m not big on strong whiskey flavors. The meal was perfect, though, again, it wasn’t a perfect pairing. If anything, the strong flavors of this beer took a little away from the food. The other option was a roasted duck dish served with Hoppin’ Frog’s B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher, an oatmeal Russian imperial stout. I found my dinner to be better and the beer to be different enough that I was really glad I chose what I did.
Finally, we made it to dessert, which was also a choice of 2 options. I opted for a pumpkin creme caramel with a ginger cookie. The beer was Meantime Coffee Porter. This was the best pairing of the night. The beer is excellent, and the dessert had just the right flavors. It had a great consistency and the mix of pumpkin and ginger went well with the coffee flavored porter, which has a nice coffee flavor that is not overwhelming. The other option was a float made with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Again, I’m glad I chose what I did. It was the better of the 2 options.
Overall, this wasn’t the best pairing, but the beers were fantastic and the evening, as always, was a ton of fun. Many thanks to Brian, Mike, and the rest of the great staff at Julian’s. I wish I remembered those other 2 dishes, but I just can’t. If someone reading this remembers, feel free to post it in the comments.
Last night I had one of the two beers from Great Divide that I have yet to try, St. Bridget’s Porter. It’s one of those that I thought was only available at the brewery or in Colorado. However, after stopping at Julio’s, and seeing they had some, I picked up a bottle. It pours a thick (for a porter) dark mahogany color with a small tan head. It smells of nice roasted malts with a slight hint of coffee. From the first sip, I knew this would be a good one. It’s more of those roasted malts with a nice coffee bitterness and a hint of chocolate in the back. It’s a bit heavy for a porter, but that doesn’t ruin it. It’s an awesome porter, one that I told Mike at Nikki’s that he needs to carry.
Tonight, I had a bottle of Flying Dog Double Dog Pale Ale. It’s a high intensity version of their Doggie Style Pale Ale, though it’s actually a double IPA. It pours a dark amber (and unfortunately, I got some chunks). It smells of malty sweetness, some fruitiness and a hint of hops. This DIPA is all about the malts, but it does a good job with it. It’s a bit fuller bodied than most in its class and it’s got just enough hops to balance the malts. It has a nice sweet fruity flavor with grapefruity hops. It’s nice and oily in the mouth and absolutely wonderful. This is a great DIPA.
I decided to crack open my 22 oz. bomber of Great Divide’s Hercules Double IPA tonight. At 9.1% ABV, this is a big beer. And with this big beer comes big flavor. Of the double IPA’s I’ve had, this one is definitely my favorite (at least of the standard flavor double IPA’s… Victory’s Hop Wallop is in a different class because of its super hoppiness). Anyways, this beer pours a nice amber color with a decent head (I probably would’ve had more head if it was a bit warmer when I poured it). It is also not cloudy like their Titan IPA. The smells are of mainly malty goodness, but there’s a bit of a piney citrusy hops scent as well.
The taste and drinkability are where it’s at. This beer is a perfectly balanced double IPA. The flavors up front are of the sweet malts, perhaps some caramel malt. Down in back, you get the tingle of the hops, piney and citrusy, like the scent. Though the alcohol content is high, you don’t know it in the flavor. It feels a bit thicker and heavier, but that’s to be expected. I have easily drunk most of this glass (and I still have about half the bottle left). This beer is pure pleasure. If you like IPA’s and you want to move onto bigger beers, this is a great start and finish (though I would still recommend trying more and more). I have definitely found my favorite double IPA.
So… I’m somewhat drunk… and all for “free” (I bought 2 bottles of beer). The Great Divide tasting at Nikki’s was excellent. My favorites… Titan IPA (of course, being my favorite IPA and all), Hercules Double IPA, Fresh Hop Pale Ale, Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Old Ruffian Barleywine.
In addition to the Great Divide beers, I was sort of initiated into the group of regulars… Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, Stone 10th Anniversary Ale, Wild Dog Oak Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter, and a couple others that I don’t recall (mainly because by the time I had them, my taste buds were shot). The Stone 11th Anniversary Ale was absolutely the best IPA I have ever had. It’s a “dark IPA”, so it was quite different, but it was extremely delicious. And the Oak Aged Gonzo was probably the best Imperial Stout I have ever had (yes, they call it porter, but it’s really a stout). I think I jumped into a new class of beers tonight. I need to start drinking more beer… I need more money though.
If you have any interest in beer and live anywhere near Providence, you need to go to Nikki’s.
My favorite package store will be holding a tasting of the beers by the brewer of my favorite IPA. Nikki’s Liquors in North Providence will be holding a tasting of Great Divide this Friday, September 21, from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. I will most definitely be there trying out their other beers.
I like beer, as can be seen by some of my previous posts and by the tagline of this blog. I am lucky to have Nikki’s Liquors nearby to fill my craft beer needs. I recently picked up 2 mix-a-6’s from Nikki’s with a bunch of beers I haven’t tried (and a couple favorites). I’m going to write about 2 of them. If you can find these beers at a package store nearby, you should try them. One is widely available, the other, I’m not so sure.
Anchor Porter, pretty widely available, is perhaps the best porter I have tried. It’s nicely carbonated, thick black, and all roasted malt with a slight bitterness to it. It’s about as perfectly porter as you can get before it becomes a stout. The only other porter I’ve had that was this good was Smuttynose’s Robust Porter. It’s very similar in flavor and thickness, with less carbonation. Both are amazing porters, both are a must try.
Oskar Blues Old Chub is an awesome Scottish style ale. It has a very carmel-y malty roasted chocolate flavor to it. It almost tastes like it was aged in oak barrels as it has that nice oak/whiskey flavor to it. I’ve had only a couple Scottish ales previously (from Sam Adams and Trinity Brewhouse). I’ve liked all that I’ve tried and this one was definitely the best of the 3. If you can find it, buy some. Don’t be put off by the can that it comes in. Cans do not equate to macro piss beer. In this case, it equates to a nice tastey powerful brew. At 8% abv, this isn’t for the lightweights (though one wouldn’t hurt…).
As I go through the rest of the beers in the mix, I’ll write more about them. Just for reference, the first 2 before these 2 were New England Brewing’s Sea Hag IPA, which also came in a can and, while good, was just your average IPA, and Victory’s HopDevil Ale, which is one of my favorite IPA’s (second only to Great Divide’s Titan IPA with Haverhill Brewery’s Leatherlips IPA coming in at a very very close third). Needless to say, my favorite style is the almighty IPA. Yes, I am a hophead.