Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Tuesday Tasting: Bending Some Beer Rules
Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we sample some beers that break a few rules.
I'll admit that I've been tasting some different beers during the last few weeks and neglecting my responsibility to report the finds. Different? Yes, in more than a few ways. For the most part these are beers that make you stop and think. Maybe not beer the way your Dad would think of beer. Perhaps different in a good way, sometimes not. Different in a memorable way and I still have a few in my fridge waiting their turn.
Foothills Sexual Chocolate: A couple of weeks back at the Flying Saucer in Charlotte they tapped kegs of this North Carolina giant 9.75 alcohol by volume Imperial Stout from 2008 and 2009. This is an impressive beer. Rich, full bodied flavor really only starts to tell the story. In this case I was more than a bit surprised by the side by side vintages. The 2008 was rich and creamy, with a very nice cocoa bitterness. The 2009 was a solid beer, if just slightly thin when compared to the '08. It leaned a bit more towards coffee and toffee notes. I would gladly order either of these beers.
Hophound Amber Wheat: This beer under the Michelob brand is a seasonal that pours a slighly cloudy amber color. It has some standard wheat aromas, but is on the sweet side thanks to a malt kick and 5.3 percent alcohol by volume. I did not think it delivered on the promise of the "Hophound" name, but it is not a bad effort from the Anheuser-Busch InBev brewers.
Orlando Blackwater Porter: I made a stop at this organic brewery that oddly enough is located in a very industrial section of town near downtown Orlando. This was a dark brown brew with a small, sturdy head. Nice subtle roasted coffee notes and an overall smooth flavor. Not extremely complex, but does every beer have to be complex?
Southampton Publick House IPA: This Long Island beer is a bit of a throw back for me to the time when IPAs had some balance and were not so chock full of hops that one or two could destroy your taste buds. In fact, up against another IPA this one almost had a sweet edge, suggesting a nice malt balance.
Sierra Nevada 2009 ESB: Labeled as the brewery's "Early Spring Beer" seasonal, this brew is perfect for the first warm days of the year. Nice crisp hop flavor. Overall light and refreshing.
North Coast LeMerle Saison: This Belgian style farmhouse ale is one of the more interesting beers I've tasted so far in 2009. Nice straw gold color, with an inviting floral aroma. The taste lets you chase it around your mouth, never quite pausing in one place for very long. There is a good hop base to the beer, but the influence of the yeast shapes this beer into something special. The brew weighs in at 7.9 percent alcohol by volume.
Surly Bender & Surly Coffee Bender: In the space of just a few hours in Chicago I was introduced to Surly Bender, an oatmeal brown ale with nicely formed coffee and cocoa notes in a smooth package. Then I ran into the seasonal Surly Coffee Bender, which comes at you with a full bodied coffee flavor that delivers all of the java you really need. If you find yourself in the upper Midwest trading area for Surly, grab one of their beers.
Southern Tier Oak Aged Cuvee II American Oak Impressions: I did not realize what I was in for when I cracked open this brew. The first aroma is a nice vanilla note, but the flavor is a straight on taste bud crunching hit of raw oak. If you want to know what barrel age beers can be on an extreme level, this is a good place to start. At 11 percent alcohol by volume, these folks are not holding much back.