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Archive for the ‘Style: Smoked Porter’ Category

The Stone Event at Blind Tiger

March 25th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Green Flash, Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Style: Chile beer, Style: IPA, Style: Smoked Porter, Style: Stout, Style: Strong Ale

Note:  any characters with similarities to persons living or dead (cirrosis?) is purely not a coincidence.

You go to enough beer geek events and you start wondering what “Piano Man” might have sounded like had Billy Joel hung around some of these creepy events stocked with some truly depressing lifeforms.  The events never start as late as nine o’clock on a Saturday, usually more like two in the afternoon on a Wednesday when the regular crowd shuffles in:

No man is ever making love to his tonic and gin (a spirit?!), but I always see this obese man with a minuscule Beetlejuice head atop his body stick his schnoz all the way into his tulip for a good minute before imbibing.  The mulleted Irishman at the bar may be named John, but he’s no friend of mine, in fact, his only friends seem to be a coterie of mental ward patients only allowed off Shutter Island for special craft beer events.  He’s never quick with a joke, and I doubt he smokes (would F up his palate), but he sure will bitch about the over-maltiness of a Double IPA.  Davy’s not in the navy but it looks like he eats gravy for every meal (what pairs well with that?) and he brags about being the first in line at every Captain Lawrence release (”I know Scott”).  The fat fat fat Italian lady doesn’t discuss politics but she sure will bitch at you if you get a bar seat before her (perhaps she’s…eternally pregnant?) and after five pints will start ranting in Italian.  Most of the guys aren’t real estate novelists–most likely in computers, or unemployed–and though few women would have them they have no time for a wife because there’s fucking wild ales to drink!  The tiny scraggly Asian quickly gets stoned on samplers of bourbon-barreled stout and never makes eye contact with any one, instead preferring to keep his nose in sci-fi pulp.  Then there’s the guy who looks like Jerry Garcia and wears shorts no matter the weather and the skinny ginger dweeb always passing out business cards for his crappy beer blog and the (male) Indian slob with bigger tits than Dolly Parton.

And the bar looks like a carnival (of side-show freaks) and the smelly British bloke is surely homeless yet he likes to brag about having surpassed 2000 reviews on Rate Beer…all these folks are sharing a drink called loneliness, well I guess it’s better than being a Trekkie queer.

I said Bill I believe these dorks are killing me, as the smile runs away from my face, well I’m sure I’d be full of more cheer, if I wasn’t into such fancy beer.*

Honestly, I always expect the worst and trod carefully when I go to beer geek events but the Stone one at Blind Tiger last night was stupendous–perhaps because I got a coveted bar seat in the mob scene, perhaps because I actually had an attractive girl with me (a site rarer than a bottle of Midnight Sun M amongst this crowd), perhaps because I quickly got loaded and entered my Stoic state–and I had some great offerings. Like most beer connoisseurs Stone was one of my first “idols” but, sadly, you get to a point where you don’t think they can impress you any more, you almost forget to drink them even.  I was wrong to ever be so blasphemous.

Chipotle Smoked Porter and Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean (cask)

Stone’s 5.9% ABV smoked porter is one of the best in the biz and I was curious to see what these additions would do to an already great beer.  A lover of spicy foods, the chipotles added a terrific zing to the brew which tickled my uvula and tingled the area behind my sternum as it went down.  Just liked Cigar City’s mindblowing Hunahpu’s Mayan Imperial Stout which is aged on pasillo and ancho peppers, I just love how these rich, maltier beers taste with a little chili heat.  (A-)  As for the Vanilla Bean, it had one of the best aromas I’ve ever encountered, just a luxurious and creamy vanilla smell, but unfortunately the taste didn’t quite stack up and was surprisingly mild in flavor.  (B)

Double Dry Hopped Double Bastard (2009)

Now I’m not exactly sure what double dry hopping means, but I do know that Stone’s highly limited, tap only Double Dry Hopped standard IPA has surged into the Beer Advocate Top 100, so I was intrigued to try this effort and it totally delivered.  A gorgeous ruby red grapefruit color but an incredible floral smell.  Kinda skirts the ground in between DIPA and barleywine, like a slightly aged Dogfish Head 90 Minute.  Whatever the case, an amazing beer.  (A)

Ruination w/ Simcoe and Amarillo (cask)

This DIPA was straight danky and just like pure liquid hops.  As I was drinking this, coincidentally, a vagrant passed by the open bar window smoking a spliff.  I gotta say, the joint paired well.  (A)

Old Guardian (2007)

Old Guardian was my first ever “favorite” beer and the beer that made barleywine my first ever “favorite” beer style.  Lately though I found each yearly release of Old Guardian to be a little “hot” (could you calm down on the scare quotes, Goldfarb?) and hoppy.  Thus, I was psyched to try a three-year aged version, probably the oldest version I’ve ever had.  This old friend had matured wonderfully into a silky, malty, cordial-like drink.  Lovely.  (A+)

Arrogant Bastard Aged in Bourbon Barrels

Gotta say, did not see this one coming.  How could such a glorious beer aged in bourbon barrels not be startling?  It was startling, just startling in the wrong way–this was easily my least favorite beer of the night.  The bourbony flavors simple did not meld well at all with the legendary strong ale.  (B)

Imperial Russian Stout (2007) and Imperial Russian Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels (2008)

Despite all the amazing beers I had last night, comparing an already monumental imperial stout now aged and/or bourbon barreled (!) to everything else I had was just not fair.  Not much else to say.  Both were as good as you could imagine, probably better.  (A+ and A+)

So I batted 16 for 16 last night and tried every single Stone offering, not to mention the swell Green Flash tote Le Freak (a very spicy, yeasty saison) (A-/B+) and Pallet (sic?) Wrecker (a tap only rarity that is one of the best DIPAs I’ve had in a while) (A).  I stumbled home and may or may not have watched three straight hours of “Life” on my DVR pretending I was on a drunken safari (”Look out, ostrich!”)

*I’m not exactly Al Yankovic but I’d love if someone musically talented out there could write this song.

Dark Horse Brewing Co.

May 20th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Dark Horse, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Grade: B regular, Style: IPA, Style: Smoked Porter, Style: Stout

My good buddy Aaron over at The Captain’s Chair thought I’d do well to try some brews from Marshall, Michigan’s acclaimed Dark Horse Brewing Company, and being that we don’t get any in NYC, he kindly sent me a nice little passel of them.

(My usual caveat to those readers that skim over the beer review parts and simply read this blog for the humor, insight, and perversion:  skip this post*)

Plead the Fifth Imperial Stout

12% ABV bottled

From their limited Holiday Stout Series, I unfortunately did not love this much-adored beer.  But I still liked it quite a bit.  I found it a solid but unspectacular Russian Imperial Stout with a predominantly roasted malt flavor accented by a slight chocolate sweetness and a smidge of hops bitterness.  I did love its smooth booziness and I gots to tip my hat to any 12 ouncer of beer that can put me down for an evening.  Hope to give this brew another try in the future to hopefully find out if I’m missing anything.

B+

Fore Smoked Stout

ABV unknown and Dark Horse ain’t telling…

Another from the Holiday Stout Series, I solidly enjoyed this one.  Smoked porters and stouts are often a tricky exercise in brewing and all too often I find them poorly balanced in one way or the other.  Either far too smokey or far too sweet.  This one wasn’t.  It was very smokey, obviously, like a piece of BBQed meat, but well balanced with sweet tastes of licorice and chocolate malt.  A nice mouthfeel and quite drinkable, but I must admit, the smoked beer I drank immediately after this one I enjoyed a bit more…The Captain’s homebrewed smoked porter.**

B+

Crooked Tree IPA

6% ABV bottled

I’d had a worldclass IPA to-be-named-later previous to this one, so maybe that distorted my palate, but I still suspect that this is just a good, but not great IPA.  It smells fresh and fragrant but the taste is just too bitter and unbalanced.  Salty even with next to no citrus profile like you’d expect.  Nevertheless, it’s a nice drinking single IPA and I could polish off a tub of these in a night.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

B

All in all, none of this troika of Dark Horses floored me, but I dug them all and could tell this is a brewery with some chops and inventiveness.  I hope to try more of their intriguing brews in the future.

*And come back tomorrow.  I’ll have a tale.

**Suck up alert!  Send me more!

Captain Lawrence Pleasantville Smoked Porter

June 19th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Captain Lawrence, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Smoked Porter

6.4% ABV poured from a growler

I lied somewhat when I said that the horrid Amstel Light was the only beer available at my aunt and uncle’s place during Father’s Day. There also happened to be a full growler of Captain Lawrence’s delicious smoked porter in the house. Say what? You see, my relatives live in Pleasantville, NY, a little upstate from the city. I’d been a fan of Captain Lawrence’s Liquid Gold for the past year or so, but hadn’t realized that the brewery was located in Pleasantville until just a few weeks ago. Thus, I thought I could kill many birds with one stone (and get plastered before an uncomfortable family gathering) by visiting the brewery early in the afternoon before the Father’s Day festivities. Unfortunately, the place is only open on Fridays and Saturday. Drats.

That greatly disappointed me because the new brewery (only open since 2006) just placed 5th on Beer Advocate’s top 50 American breweries list. Yet, living just 31.8 miles away from it, I still rarely see their beers any where in Manhattan. In fact, I’m not even positive they bottle their beers. All I have ever discovered is the Liquid Gold on draft which increasingly more and more local bars are stocking. I was tipped off though that their smoked porter was phenomenal so I emailed my uncle early in the week and ask him if he could make a run to the brewery and pick up a few bottles of it for our dinner.

When I arrived at my uncle Les’s house on Sunday he quickly apologized. Seems Captain Lawrence doesn’t sell bottles at their brewery. He regrettably mentioned that all he could secure was a growler of the brew. That merits an apology?! Are you fucking kidding me?! I wanted to hug my uncle. It was one of the greatest things ever purchased for me. My very own growler.

I’ve always wanted my own growler. For those that don’t know (and you can read Beer Advocate’s lengthy and excellent explanation here), a growler is this giant half-gallon (64 ounce) jug, for lack of a better word, that looks like something that should have the label XXX on the side of it. You fill your growler with draught beer fresh from the brewery, greatly serving the beer-guzzler-on-the-go. Finish the half-gallon of beer off, wash out the growler, and then you can return to the brewery where you got it for cheap refills. As far as I know, The Whole Foods Bowery beer room and The Ginger Man are the only places in Manhattan that sell growlers of beer, but I may be wrong.

Look at my growler above. So medieval, so MANLY. Captain Lawrence’s own note on the growler claims “…this is how beer was MEANT to be tasted.” I could not agree more.

Of further amusement, my uncle seems to believe that Captain Lawrence’s brewmaster has like a Monday through Friday day job and then just arrives on Saturday afternoon to brew some WORLD-CLASS beer and shoot the shit with locals in the tasting room. This is clearly not true. In fact, Captain Lawrence’s brewmaster, Scott Vaccaro, majored in Fermentation Sciences in college at the University of California at Davis. Is that not the coolest major in the world?! Thus, the man most certainly knows what he is doing.

Any how, I was ready to crack open my growler and start chugging it with our Father’s Day meal but, unfortunately, or fortunately, my uncle Les noted that I should just take my growler home, claiming the beer looked a little too dark for him to drink and insisting that there’s no reason to open it since I couldn’t finish it all in one sitting…blah blah blah. We may be related but he obviously doesn’t know me that well. I could have finished that growler by myself in a few hours. Heck, I would have liked to have finished the growler in a few hours, washed it clean with hot water and ran back to the brewery for another fill-up before going back to Manhattan.

Any how, I did cart my growler home on the Metro-North. After a day of having it in the fridge, I could resist no long and had to pop the top. Let me firstly state that a growler is goddamn heavy. Luckily I am incredibly buff and an arm wrestling enthusiast but I’m not sure most men have enough strength to even upright the full growler in order to pour it into their pint glass. You should not be ashamed in asking for help.

Pours dark like STP. Smokey, obviously, with tastes of rich chocolate, coffee, creaminess and nuttiness. Hints of black licorice which is my favorite part of this beer, making it very unique. Yum. Absolutely delicious.

I’m usually wishy-washy on porters because, though I love the taste of them, they are often avoided by me because after one I feel unable to drink for the rest of the night. They are so hefty and potent. After a single porter, my stomach doesn’t feel like adding any more beer to it while my mouth is so overwhelmed that I can’t drink anything else. But this is a surprisingly drinkable and refreshing smoked porter. Stone is maybe the only other brewery that makes a smoked porter I like as much as this one. The flavor stays in your mouth and your tongue well after you’ve swallowed a gulp. And you do gulp this beer it is so amazing. So complex. Don’t drink this one too cold or you’ll miss out on its subtleties. It can be enjoyed at near room temperature, maybe just a little chilled. A beautiful, unique beer. Not for everybody, not for “amateur” drinkers, but I think this is one most beer enthusiasts will adore.

I can’t wait to hopefully find and try more Captain Lawrence beers. It is surely one of the most exciting American breweries around nowadays.

And now I have an empty growler. Time to start a jug band.

A