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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Random Wednesday Tasting

The evening's line up
The busier I get on the weekend the more I seem to appropriate the random midweek tastings I manage to be a part of, either as a host or as a guest.  They are not completely stress free or without their challenges.  Generally I prefer to help my wife out with our daughter before I leave which can make for a late start.  I also generally have work the next day so staying alter and well hydrated during the tasting is an absolute priority.   The last and most important challenge to a mid-week tasting specifically if it's remote is monitoring my alcohol intake so that I can safety drive home.  With my daughter asleep my regular pick up system is disabled which would leave me with walking or taking a cab if I was unable to drive.

Woodcut No 3
One week's midweek tasting started via a text from my buddy Scott.  He had just received a growler of Masala Mama from KeefD, a guy I’d traded with before, as part of a Darkness/Black Tuesday trade.  Having enjoyed this beer before I knew I needed to get over there and by there I mean the insanely awesome showroom.   Also at the tasting were Ryan, Steve and Kerry another guy from their office.  I looked at this as a great opportunity to open one of my bottles of CBS.  Being fellow BAs I knew they would appreciate the awesomeness that is Canadian Breakfast Stout, but more on that later.    

Woodcut No 4
After a quick dinner we headed to the showroom for some awesome beers.  Kerry had just picked up a Woodcut No 5 from Odell’s so Ryan decided to bring out his Woodcut No 3 and 4 to have a mini vertical.  Scott brought the Masala Mama, Steve shared an awesome Firestone 13 and I bought the CBS as well as a Hop Harvest II from Postsmouth.

Deciding to start with the Woodcuts first we cracked open the Woodcut No 3 an 11% Oak Aged American Strong Ale.   This was probably my favorite of the three.  The oak really came through and was not overpowering.  You can tell on all the Woodcut series that they are using regular virgin barrels with a medium toast to age it and not spirit barrels.  With all the big bourbon/whiskey/rum aged beers out there it’s nice to see a regular oaked version. It’s really held up nicely over the last couple of years.

Portsmouth Brewery Hop Harvest II
Next came the Woodcut No 4 which is described as an Oak Aged Double Märzen – Style Lager at 11%.  I have to say I am not a fan of the tread of “doubling” certain styles of beers, like märzens, and then aging them in barrels.  I personally didn’t think that the treatment worked.  The malt and the oak came through as somewhat combative in both the aroma and the taste.

We ended the Woodcut run with the most recent offering in the series Woodcut No 5.  The base beer for No 5 is an 11.3% Belgian style Quad (Quadrupel). This beer/bottle might have been infected.  It was near still on the carbonation front and gave off an off aroma similar to buttered popcorn (DMS). There is nothing more frustrating that paying big money for a beer (above $20) and having it be off.  We recommended that Kerry keep additional bottles at room temperature to see if that could help increase the level of carbonation.

Firestone 13!
Next it was on to IPAs.  I’d brought the Hop Harvest II to break up what I was sure going to mostly be big stouts and malt bombs.  I’d recently split an Octoberfest from Portsmouth that was such a DMS bomb we ended up drain pouring it so going in my expectations were high.  It ended up being a pretty good beer. It wasn’t overly/harshly bitter and it ended up refreshing my palate.

After that we cracked the lid on the growler of Masala Mama.  While a very solid beer it wasn’t and pleasing as the last time I had it.  I’d ended up reviewing it last time and noted “Yup this is a solid IPA, not overly bitter and well balanced. Bonnie says that is "ooh smooth" and for the most part I agree. It reminds me a lot of Furious in taste and appearance which is not a bad thing.” I don’t know if I would quite agree with that for this round but it was still a very solid IPA that I was glad to get another glass of. 

CBS Bitches!
Up next was Firestone Walkers 13th Anniversary Ale. Having never had the opportunity to try it myself I was pretty jazzed that Steve had decided to open his Firestone 13.  Not only is it hard to come by these days but it happened to be one of his favorite beers. The beer pour a nice ink black color with a nice level of carbonation and head for a 2 year old beer.  Too many breweries are jumping on the barrel aging bandwagon and have no idea how to truly put together a wonderous barrel aged beer. Blending is truly an art that Firestone has mastered.  Nice, rich and complex just a beautiful barrel aged beer.  I’ve already picked out the prefect beer to share with him the next time we get together.  

For the final beer of the night I opened up a bottle of Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout or CBS.  I’d wanted to try this beer since falling in love with Founders Breakfast Stout on a business trip.  The main obstacle at the time had been it was draft only and only once a year, that all changed this year when they decided to release it for the first time in bottles as part of their Backstage Series.  Thanks to my regular trading partner Meagan and a couple of other quick trades I was able to secure a couple bottles.  It too pours a nice black color with a tan head.  The aroma is a wonderful mixture of maple, coffee and whiskey.  The taste is also an incredible mix of maple, vanilla, bourbon, oak and roast.  It is perfectly balanced.  I was a little concerned that Steve and Scott might not dig it due to the coffee component but they also loved it.  It was a great finish to another great night of midweek tasting.



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