November 10, 2011

Beer & Cider Tasting

Beer & Cider Tasting!


November 12

3 – 6 PM

The Beers:

Meantime India Pale Ale (England) $10.99 – This is a nice, creamy, amber-colored IPA. It’s very classically made – meaning, this resembles the original IPA’s. Nice aromas of hops and orange peel. This is delicious. Flavors of spicy hops, caramel, a little earth, fresh hops. It has a nice long finish that has a pleasing bitter note to it that IPA’s should have. Bottle-conditioned. Not pasteurized. Uses Fuggles & Goldings hops. 7.5% alcohol. Food pairing – hot foods and spicy friends. Awards -, 93 points

Chouffe Houblon Dobbelen Triple IPA (Belgium) $8.99 - These little gnomes on the Chouffe bottles aren't playing around - they are helping make some of the world's best beer! Aromas of clean fruit, yeast, fresh bread, jalapeño, hops, citrus and malt. Flavors of grapefruit citrus, plus lemon. Tropical fruits such as pineapple, toast, minerals and baked apples. Nice balance to the bitterness. 9% alcohol gives this some warmth. Crisp, dry, fruity finish. Unfiltered, non-pasteurized, bottle-conditioned. Awards - Beer Advocate, A- points;, 99 points

St. Bernardus ABT 12 Strong Brown Ale (Belgium) $9.99 - One of the WORLD'S GREAT beers! Traditional Trappist Monk-style Belgium ale. Dark in color. This is smooth, creamy and big - it's a full-bodied beer with a great feel, aroma and taste! Aromas of caramel, figs, raisins, bananas, toasted bread - it's a warming aroma! Flavors of figs, malt, baking spices, raisins, poached pears, a banana dessert torched in rum. Long, long finish. This is so complex it is hard to figure out! Blend of Alexis and Prisma malts, roasted malts and Target and Styrian Goldings hops. 10% alcohol. Awards - Gold Medal, 2006 World Beer Championships; Beer Advocate, A;, 100 points.

Bosteels Brewery Kwak Special Amber Ale (Belgium) $9.99 – This is a beautiful Belgian ale that is rich and has a slight sweetness to the malty characteristics in it. It pours with a beautifully rich, fluffy head in the glass. Aromas of plums, caramel, fresh bread, bananas, cherries and dried fruit. Full-bodied, rich and almost lush. Flavors of caramel, honey, ripe cherries and fresh bread. 8% alcohol. Awards -, 94 points

Orkney Brewery Skull Splitter Ale (Scotland) $12.99/4-pack – This is a dark amber ale, but it is not a stout or a porter. Aromas of chocolate, caramel, molasses and maybe cherries. Flavors of brown sugar, chocolate, caramel and molasses. This has a pleasing mouthfeel. It’s creamy and smooth. 8.5% alcohol. Awards -, 95 points

Porterhouse Oyster Stout (Ireland) $4.99 – This is called oyster stout for a reason. It’s actually brewed with fresh oysters. This was first done in 1929 in New Zealand. At this time, “nourishing” stouts and “milk” stouts were quite popular. Also, in pubs in the 18th and 19th centuries, fresh oysters were a common food and stouts were much more popular than pale ales. The pairing is a natural one. “Not suitable for vegetarians” is the motto for this beer! This is smooth drinking and has a definite sea air aroma to it. It’s a deep, dark brown with a nice white head on it. Aromas and flavors of coffee, chocolate and salt water. Nice complexity and layers to this. Good long finish that continues to subtle salinity trip. 5.2% alcohol.

The Ciders:

Apple cider was the most popular alcoholic drink in the American Colonies and it continued to be so in the USA through at least the 1840’s. Prohibition just about killed off hard cider production in America. It remains a popular beverage in France, England and elsewhere. It is slowly re-emerging in the US.

One of the great things about cider is that it is tasty and LOW in alcohol. It’s refreshing. Great to drink on a warm day – cider is not just a Fall beverage. In fact, hard cider was a means to preserve the calories in apples for the year AND to provide a save beverage to consume – think about how nasty and polluted so many populous areas in the US and Europe were in much of the 18th and 19th centuries and into the 20th.

Interestlingly, it was beer’s increasing popularity that started cider’s demise in the US in the 1800’s. It’s a bit ironic that the emergence of the US microbrew industry has sparked a resurgence in cider’s popularity.

Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut 2009 (Normandy, France) $12.99 – This has a carbonation that is much akin to Champagne. Lots of fine, soft bubbles. It has a golden color and aromas of sweet apples. It should have that…’s made with 6 varietals of “cider” apples. The apples traditionally used to make cider are not the ones we typically eat. “Cider” apples are less sweet and more tart than eating apples. The cider has a light dryness to it. It has a soft feel to it. Medium-bodied. When you first open the cider, it has a mustiness to the aromas. This passes soon as the cider starts to react to being let out of the bottle. It’s crisp and refreshing. Has a subtle smokiness to it, as well as hints of fresh bread. 5.5% alcohol. Organic. Awards -, 96 points

J. K. Scrumpy’s Solstice Cider (Michigan) $7.99 – This is a LIGHTLY spiced cider that Scrumpy only makes in a small amount to enjoy in the Fall. It has a little cinnamon, vanilla and a tiny drop (a speck) of maple syrup. Enjoy this chilled or warm it for a festive drink. This definitely smells like apples. Flavors show more of the spice aromatics and vanilla. Medium-bodied. Delicious! 6.9% alcohol. Organic. Awards -, 97 points

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