Last night I was lucky enough to partake in a beer tasting among a group of friends. We ran the gamut of beer styles and vintages. I’m going to touch on a few highlights and disappointments of the evening.
Cigar City - Marshal Zhukov
This is a Russian Imperial Stout to the fullest extent possible. Zhukov is by far the thickets most viscous beer I’ve had. This probably comes from the backstrap molasses used in the brewing process. The head alone is darker than some stouts themselves. As far as taste, I was all about this one. You are immediately hit with some great coffee and dark chocolate notes leading into a sweet almost barrel aged taste in the middle. This isn’t as pronounced as a Dark Lord by any means. On the back end the coffee flavor really shines through in the smoothest way possible. This description is pretty on par with most Russian Imperial Stouts; however, the thickness and epic mouth feel really tie this beer together in an unique way. Marshal Zhukov is a sipper to say the least. Grab a bomber and share it with a group of friends or during a ground war in Russia.
Mikkeller - Koppi Tomahawk x Guji Natural Coffee IPA
The always batshit crazy Gypsy Brewer extraordinaire Mikkeller decided to brew a IPA with coffee. This either sounds like a fantastic idea or horrible mess to most folks. I fall on the fantastic idea side of things. I’ve had this on tap and out of a bottle a couple times. I had previously enjoyed it very much. The bitter hop flavor of a IPA blended and lead right into a faint but delicious coffee bitterness and aftertaste. This time though, it wasn’t as exciting. The coffee has almost completely faded out from the brew at this point. I had a bottle only a few months ago and the full flavor profile was alive and kicking. This was a disappointment for such a unique beer to be brought down to this level. I would say wait for a new batch to come out before picking one of these up and if you have one sitting around, drink it as soon as you can. I hope you will still have some coffee flavor in yours.
Three Floyds - Barrel Aged Alpha Klaus w/cherries
Obviously this was one that we were all very happy our friend broke out to share. I’m not a big fan of Christmas ales and the such, but I do like a bomber or two of Alpha Klaus around the holidays. This being a barrel aged version with cherries I was extra excited to take a few swigs of it. Sadly this one did not do it for me. The cherry flavor was present at the front of the tongue like I had hoped. You can tell they used actual cherries and not an extract which i really enjoyed. The middle of the beer was mostly a muted brown tasting ale, almost like Alpha Klaus that was passed it’s prime. Even with that the cherry flavor would have been enough for me to enjoy this and chalk it up as a win. However, this is not something I can recommend because of the back end and aftertaste left behind. I was hit with my nemesis, rubbing alcohol acetone flavors. I seem to be very sensitive to this taste as others didn’t notice it as much as I. This flavor destroys a beer for me and makes me not want more. I’m not sure what would cause this, perhaps not aging long enough in the barrel and mellowing out the increase in ABV that happens from the barreling process? If someone has one it’s hard to say whether to crack it open now and or wait. If you wait the acetone flavor may calm down but the cherry will probably fade as well.
Cigar City/The Bruery - Dos Costas Oeste - Grapefruit Wood
Dos Costas Oeste are a series of collaboration Saison brews between Cigar City and The Bruery. There are four different varieties of wood they used for aging these in. Cedar, Grapefruit, Lemon, and Orange. They bottled all but the orange (which of course rates the best). It was good brew, not as great as I had hoped, but refreshing for sure. It was a little to carbonated for my liking. As a warning it was gusher! Think of those cellar series Stillwater beers, or champagne. The flavors were all there as far as Saisons go. On the front you could get the ginger used in the brew, as well as some citrus and coriander flavors. I got a fair amount of woody barrel taste in the middle. It finished dry and a tad bitter which was a pleasant surprise. That was probably from the grapefruit wood. I hoped for some tart sourness from the grapefruit but didn’t really get that much. I would say this is worth trying if you can get your hands on one fairly easily. It would be great on a hot summer day.
Goose Island - Pere Jacques Mini Vertical ‘09-‘11
Pere Jacques is a Belgian Dubbel brewed by the one and only Goose Island in Chicago. This brew is bottle conditioned and bears the traditional Goose statement of being able to age for five years. We started off with the ‘09. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste I was getting off this brew. The malts are the star of a Dubbel and they aged beautifully in this one. It had a great sweetness to it but was still crisp and refreshing. It was like a Dubbel stripped down to its core at this point. The ‘10 poured next and when compared to the ‘09 it was at least twice as dark! This really surprised us. 2010 Pere Jacques drank a tad thicker and less refreshing. The sweetness was ramped up and some spices came through more so than the ‘09. I didn’t enjoy this one as much. It was mostly a muddled mess of flavors. Next came the ‘11 pours. As far as color, this one was only a touch darker than the ‘10. It was also more carbonated and had more head that the previous two years. In comparison it was more like the ‘10 than the ‘09. The flavors were much more crisp and together though. It was just as sweet as the ‘10 but balanced out with a slightly stronger bitter presence on the back end. I would definitely say the 2009 was the winner, followed by the ‘11. It seems one should age for three or more years or just go fresh.
Tröegs - Flying Mouflan
Most know Troegs brewery because of Nugget Nectar, one of the most sought after brews every year. Flying Mouflan is their American Barleywine that comes out every spring. On the bottle you can read this description, “We classify this beer as pushing Nugget Nectar off the side of a cliff. It is bold and intense–think hops dipped in candied sugar and rolled in dark chocolate nibs.” from John Trogner. After reading this I was very excited to taste this one. Flying Mouflan drinks fantastically. There was a little alcohol burn, but this does come in at 9.3% abv so it can be expected drinking it fresh. I was impressed with the hop presence that shines through a relatively intense malt character. You get a great bitterness that just ramps up throughout. The back end is where the sweet malts creep in just enough to leave you wanting more. It’s like drinking a caramel covered hop that gets you nice and drunk. I would highly recommend to this any barleywine lovers. This may take Behemoth’s top spot as my favorite American Barleywine. I need to put down a few more before making that official though.
There were other beers drank, but I feel like this is a long enough post as it is. I want to thank everyone who shared awesome beers and laughs last night!
one more thing.. Turnabout pizza is so damn good