Lady Of The Woods

There once was a man from Nantucket. He brewed great beer. The end.

So yeah, I need to work on my dirty limericks. In the meantime, here’s some spectacular beer from that great brewer in Nantucket:

Cisco Lady of The Woods

Cisco Brewers Lady Of The Woods – Pours a bright, almost glowing straw yellow color with a finger of bubbly white head that quickly subsides. The smell is filled with funky Brett, musty earth, a little more traditional Belgian biscuit and spice. Taste is very sweet, plenty of Brett funkiness, some earth in the middle, even some welcome but well balanced oak, but then that vinous Chardonnay character starts to assert itself too, finishing of with a big fruity bang. It’s tart, but not super puckering or anything, actually struck that balance really well. As it warms or maybe just as my palate adjusts, that big tropical fruit character becomes even more well blended into the rest of the flavors. Mouthfeel is light, bright, and refreshing, with a little pleasant acidity. Just compulsively drinkable stuff. This is a really impressive beer, among the better American Wild Ales I’ve ever had and it makes me want to revisit Russian River’s Temptation and due a cage match to see who comes out on top. In any case, this one’s a winner. A

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/11/13.

Well, I guess this means I need to seek me out some more of that Cisco goodness. Everything I’ve had from them so far has been their basic, regular line up. Pale Ales, Belgian Wits and the like. Nothing bad, per say, but nothing that would indicate greatness like Lady of the Woods. There’s a whole series of “Woods”, sour beers aged on oak, and then a series of Brewers Reserve series that also shows some promise (yeah, a promise to lighten my wallet – zing!)

Tired Hands Speed Round

In case it hasn’t been clear from the frequent posts about Tired Hands, I’ve been spending a lot of time there. This was partly brought on by the fact that I’m redoing my kitchen and thus have had times when I had no way to cook anything, but it’s also probably due to the fact that Tired Hands is pretty fantastic. As a brewpub, they basically have a constantly rotating list of offerings (with only two consistently available). As such, I can’t really keep up with everything, even as often as I’m visiting, but that won’t stop me from trying. Here’s some thoughts on some recent visits. Many of these are 4 ounce pours, and I didn’t take detailed tasting notes for a bunch of them, so pedants might want to take this with a grain of salt. Let’s get to it, shall we?

  • Tired Hands Weedeater – This is a Double IPA made with Galaxy and Amarillo hops. Yum.

    Tired Hands Weedeater

    Big citrus and floral aromas and flavors from the hops, very well balanced, light carbonation and creamy texture with a nice, clean finish. Great stuff, though I feel like I’m grading on a curve at this point. I think I may prefer FlavorAroma to this, but that’s a tough bar to clear. A- (Beer Nerd Details: 9.3% ABV on tap. Drank out of 8 oz glass on 12/6/12.)

  • Tired Hands Westy13 – Described as a dark saison, this is a beer that’s really grown on me. I’ve had it 3 times now, each time a 4 ounce pour, but each time feeling like I could easily put down a couple 8 ounce glasses. Which, at 13% ABV, makes this a dangerously drinkable beer.

    Tired Hands Westy13

    Big, bold, rich malt flavors with that saison yeast contributing an uncommon fruitiness and peppery character that’s similar to, but distinct from most Belgian Strong Darks. Really nice caramelized dark fruit flavors too. The mouthfeel is rich and smooth, not as heavy as you’d expect, but not quite as dry as its namesake (tough to beat the mouthfeel on Westvleteren beers) Big, complex, delicious beer. The last keg kicked this week, but it will be coming in bottles soon enough. A- (Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV on tap. Drank out of a 4 ounce glass on multiple occasions.)

  • Tired Hands Earthbound – A straightforward but very well done pale ale, nice citrus/pine hop character, went down real easy. I think this might have fared better if I hadn’t just had FlavorAroma, which was just superb. B+ (Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a 4 ounce glass.)
  • Tired Hands Good Good Things – A rather weird combination: a sour IPA. Very juicy but also extremely acidic. It’s like the sourness and the hop character teamed up and just started blowing things up. It’s an interesting beer, but I think I can see why most sours aren’t hopped up wlike this. An interesting experiment, but I’m ultimately glad I only had 4 ounces of it. B (Beer Nerd Details: 6.2% ABV on tap. Drank out of a 4 ounce glass.)
  • Yes, Yes, Yes, Killing The Ego – Another uncommon take on a dark saison, this one incorporating maple syrup and cacao nibs. Alas, those components did not come on as strong in the finished product as I might have hoped. A fine beer, not quite what I’d expect from a saison, even a dark one, but it was certainly a pleasant drink. B (Beer Nerd Details: 5.8% ABV on tap. Drank out of a 4 ounce glass.)

So there you have it. Always something interesting going on at Tired Hands. Up next for me is their Singel Hop Saison, Motueka (another New Zealand varietal), which just went on tap this week. Some other upcoming stuff sounds interesting, including Falco’s Nerd Flight (IPA brewed with Galaxy, Amarillo, and Falconer’s Flight hops), MotherAnimal (a barleywine conditioned on coffee beans), and Good Yule (a strong “holiday saison”, whatever that means).

BBQ Beer Club

Tonight was beer club, a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together once a month to share good beer, a good meal, and good company! We typically congregate at a local BYOB, and this time we hit up Jimmy’s BBQ. It’s not gonna blow away folks used to spectacular BBQ, but for us unwashed Yanks, it was solid stuff, and quite frankly, our options for good BBQ up here are somewhat limited. As usual, a good time was had by all, and we had quite a nice selection of beers available:

Beer Club Beers for August 2012

(Click for bigger image)

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer are below. Naturally, these were not ideal conditions, but then again, what were you expecting? It’s not like this BBQ place had a sensory deprivation chamber that would allow us to truly evaluate the beers in an objective fashion. And even if it did, that would take all the fun out of it. Stop being such a Nazi, dude! In any case, here’s some impressions of each beer (in order of drinking, not necessarily the order of the picture above):

  • Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager – Lager lover Paul brought a growler of this stuff, which made a nice starting beer for me. It’s pretty standard golden lager stuff, perhaps a step above the typical BMC macro stuff. Not particularly my thing, but again, a nice start to the evening. B-
  • Sixpoint Righteous Ale – An interesting take on the Rye beer, one that actually emphasizes the rye (as opposed to a lot of hopped up versions, which certainly have their own allure). There is a healthy hop presence, to be sure, but it leans towards the more European earthy, pungent, almost spicy character that actually complements the rye quite nicely. Really quite nice. I’d like to try this under better conditions, but for now, let’s leave it at a very solid B+
  • Kaedrin Simcoe IPA – My homebrewed IPA went over well, as usual, though I’m getting a little worried, as I only have a couple of these left. It is starting to show it’s age a bit – much more piney than it’s initial incarnation – though it’s still quite nice. Definitely something I’m going to attempt to replicate sometime this winter. Solid B+ material here (maybe higher at it’s peak).
  • Kaedrin Trappist Tripel – This was my second batch of homebrew, well over a year and a half old. A tripel style beer, it definitely came in a little higher than expected at 9.5 to 10% ABV, and that booze certainly takes on a too-prominent position in the taste. Definitely too much of that fusel alcohol flavor in this one, though it’s not completely overpowering. That being said, it was an interesting beer to try in the beer club setting, and I actually think the age is doing it some favors. Perhaps another year will mellow this thing out a little more? I’ve got about a dozen of these things left, so I think we’ve got plenty of time to find out. For now, I’ll say B- or B
  • Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier – Full disclosure, this thing had been sitting in my fridge for well over a year, and whatever you may think, a 5.4% ABV wheat beer isn’t exactly aging material. That being said, it was fine, though in the context of beer club, it was kinda overshadowed by other stuff we drank… When fresh, I gave it an A-, and I think it still remains one of my favorite Hefeweizens…
  • Firestone Walker Wookey Jack – A beer many of my fellow blogging travelers have been enjoying, and I have to say, I see what they’re talking about! Of course, it’s no Society and Solitude #2, but as Black IPAs (or Cascadian Dark American Black whatevers you want to call it) go, it’s a solid, perhaps even top tier entry. Very nice pine tree nose, with a taste that is more hops than roast, but with both elements present and prominent. Apparently also made with Rye, which adds something different to the mix, but which I wasn’t really looking too strongly for… It’s a beer I’d love to try again sometime, but for now, B+ it is! Thanks for bringing this one Danur!
  • Duck Rabbit Porter – Um, well, yeah, it’s a porter! As the style goes, it’s a solid entry, though it’s not something that wowed me like, say, Everett. Still, I’m sure it could fill in for my go-to cigar beer, Founders Porter. Duck Rabbit is most certainly a brewery I need to familiarize myself with further though. B
  • Russian River Supplication – So I really enjoyed this the last time I had it, and I’ve been trying to experiment with sours at Beer Club, so I brought this one, and hoo boy… I absolutely adored this beer this time around. Not sure if it was because my palate had already been exercised by the BBQ and preceding beers, or if I just got a particularly good bottle (Batch 7) this time around, but man, this thing was spectacular. Fellow beer club peeps were also blown away by this beer, and I could hardly blame them. It really was quite eye opening, and it stood right up to the strong flavors we’d already been imbibing for a bit. I have to say, this time around, the sourness was less pronounced and better integrated into the beer, which took on more of an oak aged character. It’s something I’m going to have to revisit again sometime soon. I give it an upgrade to an A right now, but honestly, if I get another bottle that’s this good, it could vault itself up into the hallowed A+ pantheon.
  • DuClaw Soul Jacker – A blend of DuClaw’s Black Jack stout and their most excellent Devil’s Milk barleywine. Indeed, that barleywine character, full of hop flavors (but not a lot of hop bitterness), dominated the taste. There was a very light roastiness, which added some interesting complexity. I really enjoyed this, but it also sorta made me crave the regular old Devil’s Milk barleywine. I’ll give it a B+ and leave it at that.

Phew! I think this may be one of the best rated beer clubs evar! Only one real B-, and that’s not a particularly poor rating. Usually, despite all the fun we have, there’s at least something in the C or D range, if not an outright F (apparently someone forgot to bring a 3 year old San Miguel lager, smuggled from the Phillipines, that they’ve been meaning to get rid of – this surely would have opened some eyes in a bad way, but I guess we’ll have to wait for next beer club for that… experience). Not that I’m complaining (about this gathering or, for that matter, previous gatherings with not so great beer – it’s not like I have to drink a ton of bad beer or anything!). As always, I’m already anxiously awaiting the next beer club meeting!

Oh yeah, I should mention, we actually didn’t get to all the beers in the pic above because we’re not all total alcoholics, you know? I did manage to take home the Duck Rabbit Milk Stout though, so I’m sure you’ll get to hear about that at some point…

Notes From Philly Beer Week

So Philly Beer Week is here, and of course, I’m too lazy to get my butt into the actual city proper, but fortunately, there are plenty of events out here in the burbs. On Saturday, I actually hit up two locations, the first being Pinocchio’s, who had a bunch of Firestone Walker stuff on tap. It wasn’t a big event or anything, though earlier in the day, they had tapped a keg of Velvet Merkin, an apparently very rare (at least, ’round these parts) and very unique bourbon barrel aged oatmeal stout. The base beer is only 5.5% ABV, but the angels must be damn thirsty, as the barrel aging seems to raise it up to around 8-8.5% or something. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that folks would be lining up outside the place before it opened to get a taste of this stuff, so I missed out.

So I had to make do with a glass of Parabola (I know, boo hoo, right?), another bourbon barrel aged stout, this one clocking in at an impressive 13% ABV (it was, uh, the only thing I had for a few hours on Saturday). Unfortunately, I seem to have neglected the picture of this one, so you’ll have to use your mind’s eye to visualize from these scintillating tasting notes, hastily tapped into my phone one handed as I browsed the bottle shop’s wares:

Firestone Walker Parabola – Pours a black as night color with practically nonexistent head (there was a ring of brownish stuff clinging to the side of the glass, but not much going on with the rest). Smells of strongly of bourbon, chocolate, caramel, vanilla and oak. Taste is full of that same rich caramel, vanilla, bourbon and oak, with some chocolate for good measure. Mouthfeel is rich and velvety, low carbonation, but enough to keep it from being cloying. I had no idea this thing was 13% as I was drinking, but I kinda felt that way at the end of my (fortunately small) glass. Overall, fantastic beer, something I hope to get some more of at some point… A-

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV on tap. Drank out of a small snifter-like glass (I’m guessing 8-10 oz).

So I hung out at the shop for a while, shot some shit with the locals and beermongers, picked out a few bottles to take home, grabbed a piece of pizza and and glass of water to calm myself down, then I headed over to Wayne, PA for the Main Line Jazz and Food Fest, where Teresa’s Cafe (one of my favorite beer bars) was doing a big Tröegs tasting. Wayne ave was closed off for a block or so, and a bunch of local restaurants and other businesses set up tents and tables and whatnot, along with a live jazz band playing on the stage. It was a pretty low key, family friendly affair, but the weather was gorgeous and beer was flowing like wine!

Ironically, my first beer was not even a Tröegs – when I spied some Sierra Nevada ExPortation (a porter aged in barrels over at Russian River), I had to make sure I got some, as it was my first sour revelation and I thought I’d never see the stuff again (it was a one time Beer Camp brew, though perhaps they’ve made more batches for beer week). It was excellent, though I think some of the other sours I’ve had this year might outrank it (stiff competition though). If you get a chance to try some, you totally should.

Ad this point, I hunkered down for some dinner, and ordered me a Brotherly Suds, a special Philly Beer Week collaboration between Victory, Sly Fox, Yards, Iron Hill, Stoudts, Nodding Head, and Tröegs (who hosted the brewing session). It apparently started out as a Vienna lager… but then they used a Kölsch yeast (i.e. an ale yeast), American hops (Centennial and US Tettnanger), and rye. It seemed more like a Kölsch or British Pale Ale to me, though. Unfortunately, I came away a bit underwhelmed:

Troegs Brotherly Suds 3

Brotherly Suds #3 (Tröegs Scratch #67) – Dark amber color with a finger or two of head. Smells a bit like a British pale ale, lightly fruity, some grassy, earthy hops. Taste has some nice complexity, some delicate fruit and hop flavors, maybe some light spiciness, but it’s all rather muted, and it’s got that British pale ale or Kölsch feel that I don’t usually care for. Mouthfeel is nice, surprisingly light bodied. Overall, it’s ok, but not my thing… I probably shouldn’t have drank this after the ExPortation – it actually would have made a nice walking around outside beer, but not so much as a complement to dinner. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 4.6% ABV on tap. Drank out of a pint glass.

And finally, after dinner, I headed back outside for some browsing and Jazz and walking around and whatnots, picking up a cup of Tröegs Perpetual IPA, something I’d not had before, and which was excellent:

Troegs Perpetual IPA

Tröegs Perpetual IPA – Apparently the reason I hadn’t seen this before is that it was a limited seasonal brew, only available in august. Tröegs has recently just moved to new digs, and their expanded brewing capacity means they can now turn this into a year-round brew. Pours a golden orange color with a little head… Huge hoppy pine in the nose, with a little grassy citrus too. Taste has that same huge piney, resiny flavor, a little grassy citrus, and a mild, pleasant bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, light to medium bodied, and very easy to put down. Conditions were probably not ideal here, but it was a really nice walking around outside beer. I’ll give it a provisional B+, but it’s on the A- bubble…

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a fancy plastic cup.

Well, there you have it: lame, unreliable notes from a day of drinking and merriment. I’m still not sure how many other events I’ll hit up this week, but I’ll definitely be going to a Hill Farmstead event on Saturday (also at Teresa’s)…

Sanctification

One of the great things that Russian River does is make their bottle logs public. The batch number is clearly labeled on each bottle, and you can then look it up in the log and see all the details from the brew date to the strains of yeast used. Interestingly, a lot of their beers have evolved over time, using similar, but distinct formulas.

This particular beer is interesting and distinct from the rest of Russian River’s offerings in that it is completely, 100% fermented with Brettanomyces. Brett is a wild yeast strain that is apparently the bane of winemakers’ existence, but when used properly in beer, it can impart an earthy, funky character that many find pleasant. Most wild beers are primarily fermented with typical ale yeast strains, then dosed with Brett (and usually additional bacteria) later, but in this case, it was Brett all the way. Indeed, looking at the bottle logs, it appears that the particular strain they use is called “Dr. Dre Brettanomyces”… I have no idea what they’re referring to there – perhaps it’s a house strain they’ve stumbled upon? – but I’m pretty sure it’s not available commercially!

Russian River Sanctification

Russian River Sanctification – Pours a cloudy golden yellow color with a finger of white head. Smell is very sweet, almost like… bubble gum? It’s actually quite nice, whatever that aroma is… The taste is very sugary sweet, with a funky tart lemon character coming out in the middle and drying out in the finish. It’s sour, but not overpoweringly so, certainly a lot less than Russian River’s barrel aged sours. Mouthfeel is heavily carbonated but light, crisp and refreshing, and finishes dry. The tartness restrains drinkability a bit, but it’s still quite an easy going beer. It would actually make a great introduction to the world of sours. Overall, very well balanced and approachable, but still complex and interesting. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.75% ABV bottled (375 ml mini-magnum). Drank out of a tulip on 4/28/12.

Russian River continues to impress, and I’m always on the lookout for something new from them. Here’s to hoping that bottles of Beatification make their way over here someday soon…

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja

Back in the day, when I was still trying to wrap my head around the daunting complexity of the beer world, I put together a dorky list of beers I should try. It was based on recommendations from friends and things I read on teh internets (because that’s a trustworthy and reliable source, right?) Anyways, this was one of the beers suggested to me (by frequently mentioned beverage compatriot Padraic), and in true Kaedrin fashion, I picked up a bottle about two years later, and here we are:

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja – Pours a dark amber color with a a bit less than a finger of whitish head. Smells funky, with some Brettanomyces character and that twang that makes me expect sour flavors, but there’s also some malt sweetness peeking through. The taste is very sweet with a tartness emerging in the finish. It’s not super sour, but that twang is there, along with some of that barnyard Brett character. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied. The sourness makes it more of a sipper, but it’s not heavy. Overall, quite solid, a nice example of the style. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/21/12.

Yeah, so I’m, uh, still working through that list of beers I made in 2010. For the most part, I’m not actively pursuing the list (rather, the list of stuff I want to try that resides in my head has grown exponentially – I should really post a most wanted list or something), but I’ve actually made a great deal of headway. One of these days I’ll pick up a bottle of Rodenbach, as was also suggested to me way back when. I do not forget these things… it just sometimes takes a few years for me to get to them.

Noel De Calabaza

Ok folks, coming down the homestretch here. Only two holiday beers left to review. This one is an Belgian style ale aged in oak barrels with wild yeast to give the beer a bit of a sour twang. I didn’t realize that last part when I bought it (beers that say they’re oak aged generally make me think of bourbon barrel aged stuff, not sour stuff, though both seem to happen frequently), so that wild ale twang sometimes catches me by surprise. This was my Christmas night, done with all the festivities, vegging out on the couch beer, and despite the unexpected wildness, it fulfilled its duty well enough:

Jolly Pumpkin Noel De Calabaza

Jolly Pumpkin Noel De Calabaza – Pours a dark brown color with some amber highlights and a white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. The aroma is full of vanilla, oak, sugary sweetness, and a twang that I normally associate with sours. And yes, there is a bit of a tartness to the taste, though it’s not nearly as prominent as it is in a lot of sours. The taste has a lot of sweetness and fruitiness along with some spiciness (peppery? Not notably Christmassy, but it’s there…) and that wild twang emerging in the finish. The richness of the base beer’s flavors can clearly hold their own with the sourness, a combination I usually like better than beers that are super sour. The mouthfeel is strong and full bodied, a little acidic, but well matched. Overall, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but I’m enjoying it… B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/25/11.

I don’t really know what style to call this one. BA calls it a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but it seems more like an American Wild Ale to me, so that’s what I’m putting it as. In other news, Jolly Pumpkin is a brewery I should really become further acquainted with.

Russian River Supplication

Russian River’s head brewer, Vinnie Cilurzo, is an interesting guy. He started out in the winemaking world, but was apparently so taken with the fact that you could start drinking beer within a few weeks of brewing that he switched over to beer (ok, it probably wasn’t that simple, but it sez so on this bottle of Supplication, so I’m sticking with that story). Perhaps to further taunt his winemaking brethren, Cilurzo started playing around with weird wild yeasts and bacterias when making his beers. Take Supplication, which is a brown ale aged in pinot noir barrels with cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. Those critters certainly add a nice, complex sourness to a beer that would already be pretty flavorful. They’re also an anathema to winemakers, who apparently think Cilurzo is a nutbag for using stuff like Brett. It’s rumored that those folks won’t even enter Russian River’s brewpubs for fear of picking up some sort of bug that they’ll inadvertently bring back to their winery, infecting their wine (apparently these are hearty little creatures that are difficult to get rid of).

The irony here is that this beer was aged for well over a year before being bottled, so it looks like Cilurzo hasn’t completely escaped his winemaking roots. But this series of beers that he’s created (all aged in old wine barrels of various styles) is quite interesting, and I have to wonder if we’ll see more coordinated wine and beer collaborations in the future (another brewery that mixes expertise from both the wine and beer worlds is apparently Firestone Walker, a brewery I need to become more acquainted with). Ok, enough babble, onto the beer:

Russian River Supplication

Russian River Supplication – The cork for this was really jammed in there. I normally don’t have any issues opening corked bottles of beer, but this one took some coaxing. Pours a really gorgeous clear amber brown (copper?) color with a finger of quickly disappearing white head. The smell is filled with sweetness and funk. You get some of that wine and cherry character along with the typical funky Brett aromas. Sourness hits immediately in the taste, followed by cherries and a dry, red-wine-like finish. The sourness is really the most prominent element here, but it’s well balanced with the other elements. Mouthfeel features the characteristic twang of sour beers, but it’s compulsively drinkable. A wonderful beer, probably favorite of Russian River’s sours (that I’ve tasted so far). A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked mini-magnum). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/4/11. According to the label, this bottle was from batch 006X2, brewed on 11/7/2009 and bottled on 1/5/2011 (so it was not quite 2 years old when I drank it).

Well, I’m either getting the hang of this sour thing, or Supplication really is just that good. I will no doubt continue to dabble in the world of sour beers, though it doesn’t look like I have any in the pipeline right now, so it may be a while.

Consecration

One of the frustrating things about reading beer blogs is that people often talk about rare or hard-to-find beers. This isn’t really a slight against anyone – as I’ve grown in my beer nerdery, I’ve certainly been guilty of this from time to time, and it really is nice when you finally find a beer you’ve been looking for. So I’m used to seeing this from the beer bloggers out there, but when the brewery itself starts taunting you, well, that’s a whole other story.

On the label for Russian River’s Consecration, they mention a beer they made for the Toronado’s 20th Anniversary (the Toronado is apparently a famous San Diego beer bar):

When we made the Toronado’s 20th Anniversary Ale, we had no idea that it would turn out to be one of our favorite barrel aged beers we would ever make. With that said, we have always wanted to make a dark barrel aged beer using 100% cabernet sauvignon barrels, but we never were inspired. That is, until we blended five different beers to make the Tornado beer, the tobacco flavor from the dark malts blended nicely with the fruit character that developed in blending. So, with Consecration we set out to make a barrel aged beer using all Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Now, we are not saying this is a replica of the T-rooms anniversary beer, after all, a beer like that can never be duplicated, and, there was no fruit added to that beer as there is with this one. All we are saying is that it gave us great inspiration to brew Consecration.

Fortunately, Russian River knows what it’s doing, so while I’ll probably never get to try that Toronado beer, I do get to have some of the beer it inspired. Consecration is a wild ale brewed with Brettanomyces, then aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with currants added. Sounds pretty spectacular, no?

Russian River Consecration

Russian River Consecration – Pours a dark brown color with some hints of amber shining through in the light. Small head that subsided quickly and cleanly. The smell was full of red wine and sweet malts. Tastes starts sweet with an almost immediate sourness that continues through the entire taste and dominates the finish. That quick, puckering escalation in the finish makes for a kinda neat punctuation. The sourness is the most prominent element of the taste, but it’s also reasonably well balanced. Unfortunately, I’m not getting a lot of that red wine character in the taste. Carbonation is a little lower than usual, and the body was in a medium-low range (I was kinda hoping for something a little richer in flavor, but that’s clearly not what RR is going for here). I don’t think this was quite as well executed as Russian River’s Temptation, but it’s certainly a worthy beer if you’re looking for a sour… B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml mini-magnum, caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 4/23/11*. According to the label, this bottle was from batch 004X1, brewed on 3/29/2009 and bottled on 2/2/10.

I think Brett beers are supposed to age reasonably well, but I have to wonder how this would have tasted if I got it fresh. In any case, sours still aren’t my favorite style, but I’m beginning to come around a bit. I have a bottle of Russian River’s famed Supplication in my fridge right now… something I’m hoping to pop open in the near future. I’m expecting a little more out of that beer than the Consecration.

* Yeah, I’m really, really behind on some of my reviews. Wanna fight about it? Expect some more old reviews in the near future as well.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp

Before tonight, I have a vague inkling of what Sierra Nevada Beer Camp was – a sorta Willy Wonka-esque contest with the prize being a tour of their brewery, along with a chance to brew your own beer (collaborating with the other winners and the Sierra Nevada staff). Apparently you win by entering a creative video explaining why Sierra Nevada should pick you to attend – so I would never win! And until now, I was pretty sure I’d never actually get to taste any of these beers either, but imagine my luck: on the same night I got my hands on Pliny the Elder, I spied several Beer Camp beers on tap. Most excellent:

Sierra Nevada Exportation

Sierra Nevada ExPortation – So Beer Camp #25 was a Baltic Porter style beer brewed in honor of Philly Beer week by some Philly beer geeks who won a spot a Beer Camp. It was called Philadelphia ExPorter. Now I’m not sure what genius (not being sarcastic here, whoever had this idea is genius) is responsible, but someone had a brilliant idea: Hey, let’s take this Baltic Porter over to Russian River and have them age it in some Pinot Noir barrels. Fuck. Yes. It pours a nice opaque black color with a finger of tan head. The smell is outright twangy. The funk almost, but not quite, overwhelms the typical roasty aromas. In other words, it’s fantastic. The taste has a similar profile: funky sourness almost, but not quite, overwhelming roasty Porter flavors. Relatively full bodied, but a smooth and easy to drink mouthfeel. The thing that’s most amazing here is that, well, I’m not a huge fan of porters, nor have I truly acquired a taste for sour beers. And yet, this beer is almost perfect for me. It’s like the two styles cancel out the things I don’t like, and amplify the things I do. Amazing. And keep in mind that I had just drank a glass of Pliny the Elder, so the bar was set pretty high here. The only bad thing about this beer is that I will most likely never get the chance to drink it again (unless I head back over to that bar in the next couple days – certainly a possibility). A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.3% ABV on tap. Drank out of a pint glass on 6/23/11.

Sierra Nevada Hop Smack

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp #48: Hop Smack – This one has a less clear provenance. It’s not even listed on the Beer Camp site, nor does it appear on Beer Advocate. I did find the RateBeer page, but it only has one review! Basically, it’s one of them American Black Ales (or whatever the hell you call them)… actually, it said it was a Double American Black Ale. My experience with the style is limited, but since ExPortation was so awesome, and since I was unlikely to ever even see this again, I gave it a shot. It pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a finger of head. Smells surprisingly hoppy – almost no roastiness getting through to the nose. The taste is almost wholly like a DIPA. Sweet, hoppy, and bitter. At first, no roastiness at all was apparent – if you blindfolded me and made me taste, I probably would not have guessed that it was an American black ale. As it warmed up and I got to the bottom of the glass, I got the faintest hint of roastiness out of the beer, but it wasn’t much. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a terrible beer or anything, it just doesn’t seem like a particularly good take on the style. That, or my palate was obliterated by the likes of Pliny and ExPortation (both very strongly flavored beers). I’ll give it a B-, as I was disappointed, but I suppose others might find more to like.

Beer Nerd Details: 8.1% ABV on tap. Drank out of a half-pint glass on 6/23/11.

There was another Beer Camp beer on tap, but it seemed like a plain old Pale Ale. Don’t get me wrong, I would have tried it, but after having a DIPA, a strong sour beer, and a Double ABA, I think that would have paled in comparison (pun intended!)