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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Tasting: Ten Beers for The Ages

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we recall some great beers sampled in the last couple of weeks.

The life of a drink's journalist can be challenging. There's always a festival to attend, a sample to be tasted, an interview to complete and a deadline looming. Even your down time is spent "researching" new products. It's difficult to pass up a great beverage you know to try something that you have never had -- just so you can feed your blog or have something new to mention to an editor. The stakes are high. That product you have never tried can be a disappointment -- or it might be something to rave about. It is a gamble.

I will admit, there are benefits. The last couple of weeks are a great case in point. I've had some truly outstanding brews. Some sent to me as samples. Others I picked up at a great little beer shop in Asheville, N.C., called Bruisin' Ales, while a few were enjoyed with friends.

Brooklyn Local 2: I became a Grandfather two weeks ago when my daughter Brittany and her husband, Mike, had a daughter, Adelaide. After my daughter returned home from the hospital, she broke her nine month beer fast with this dark Belgian-style ale. This is a beer with a number of layers, thanks to several varieties of malts and hops, along with honey, sugar and citrus peel. Nice and tasty, with a smoothness that hides the 9 percent alcohol by volume. Kind of like a liquid Christmas fruitcake.

Samuel Adams Triple Bock 1994 and 1995 Vintages: To celebrate my Grandfatherness, my brother-in-law Darrin Pikarsky cracked open his private stash and brought out some 15 year old classics from the Boston Beer Co. I was amazed by the 1994 vintage. The maple syrup was still fresh and inviting. The beer poured dark brown and slightly cloudy, but most of the bottle was consumable. It had a sweet nose and overall was enjoyable. The 1995 was a bit thick and the alcohol quality was a little more up front. It had a fig and cocoa note. The cork on this one cracked on the way out and I think we just caught this bottle before it turned. Still very nice after 14 years in the blue bottle.

Duck-Rabbit Paul's Day Off: As the story goes, Paul Philippon the brewmaster at North Carolina's Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, took a few days off so the other brewers decide to have fun making what they call a Farmville dark ale that is "unfiltered, unpasteurized and unsupervised." The beer is brewed with seven different malts and is aged in oak barrels that formerly held 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. The result is an immediate vanilla hit and a whiskey nose, but this mellow as the beer opens. Nice multiple layers of malt richness, some fudge and wood. A real nice limited edition beer.

Scaldis Refermentee 75th Anniversary Amber Ale:: Golden amber color this beer is bright and fruity. Nice head bursts from the bottle and reduces down to a firm lacing cover. The 12 percent alcohol by volume content is clear, but not overpowering. Overall a great bottle to share with a couple of friends.

New Belgium Mothership Wit: This organic wheat beer is one of the more interesting wheat beers I have tasted in some time. Light yellow cloudy color, with a zesty citrus flavor bed. Slight hint of spice, but mainly crisp, clean and refreshing.

Pike Tandem Double Ale: This 7.5 percent Trappist-style ale is a dark, flavorful and rounded brew. There is a slight hint of the coriander used in the brewing and this has an overall semi-sweet chocolate note.

Pike Monk's Uncle Tripel Ale: This 9 percent alcohol by volume ale uses Westmalle yeast ands pours a nice golden color with a lacy head. There is an overall fruity background flavor to this brew with just a hint of honey.

Upstream Oak-Aged Tripel: Who knew they brewed beer like this in Nebraska? This beer pours a hazy reddish brown with a slightly citrus nose. The oak is clear and upfront in this beer. A subtle background sourness rounds out the package.

Cascade Apricot: Ripe apricots are added to a gueuze that has been on oak for eight months to form this brew. Hazy golden color, with a thin white head. Nice sourness that has clear bright spots from the fruit. A nice summer time treat. Lots of subtle oak character.

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