11% ABV bottled
It’s always exciting when a new brewery penetrates (huh huh, he said “penetrates”) your market and Nectar Ales was no exception. I still don’t quite understand what’s going on with this brewery despite the fact that they’ve been a California staple for some twenty years. They seem to be different from but still affiliated with Firestone Walker–the highly acclaimed and still-not-available-in-New York brewery–who seem to own Nectar Ales but not exactly brew Nectar Ales. (Maybe some smarter cookie can elucidate things for me.) Any how, Black Xantus was their first ever limited release “big beer” and was much desired…until it was released and became one of the more hotly debated beers of the year. Pretty much no one thought it was a masterpiece everyone expected it to be, but many still thought it was damn good. Just as many, however, thought it was swill. Everyone, though, pretty much agreed it was way overpriced (some $15 in my neck of the woods–though if everyone still bought said “overpriced” beer then it wasn’t overpriced now was it?)
I was still excited to try it, even with tempered expectations, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Yet another bourbon barreled Russian Imperial Stout–the style du jour of this era and thank god for that!–this one has your typical buzzword tastes of bourbon, vanilla, dark roasted coffee, and a bitter chocolate finish. It’s a liitle too boozy, a little too thin on the mouth, and lacking a certain richness, but I still enjoyed it a lot. I wouldn’t say to rush out to “overpay” for some, but if you see it on tap or want to split a bottle with a hobo, I’d said it’s worth trying.
A few days later at The Pony Bar–which has now passed Rattle ‘n’ Hum on the Hardest NYC Bar At Which To Photograph Taps and Beers list (though dig the artistry in the above shot!)–I had the semi-fortune to get to try Nectar Ales longstanding flagship beer Red Nectar (with it cute-as-a-button hummingbird tap handle). This may be a craft beer “classic” but like many of the forefathers of the industry, most beers that have been around for twenty years just aren’t going to intrigue a modern palette that much any more. A nice enough 5.5% amber ale, minimal hops, a little creaminess, incredibly drinkable, easily forgettable, and I’ll probably never have another glass for the rest of my life. Looking forward to try some other Nectar Ales though.