Monday, April 4, 2011

Russian River at Capone's

I reserved a bottle of East End Gratitude at Capone's back in late January and had not managed to make it there to pick it up.  Once I read about the Russian River event on April 2nd, I figured that would be a good day to make my way over there and finally grab it.  While Pliny the Younger was available for the event, I decided to try  to avoid some of the crowd and arrived two hours after opening instead.  I was mostly interested in trying batch 1 Consecration anyway so it seemed like a good idea.

When I arrived, there was still a decently large crowd so I got my Consecration Batch 1 and stood out of the way for a while.
Because Consecration doesn't come out on a set schedule, people instead refer to its vintages as batches.  Batch 1 means that it was the first batch (at least as far as I know) available to the public.  I'm not sure how old the batch is but I'd guess at least 3 years.  Very sour and tart with a bit of apple in the aroma.  First sip continued in the same way and was very enjoyable.  I found this batch to be sour but without being in your face like fresh consecration.  Very easy drinking at 10% and probably a result of the aging.

After that, I went into the bottle shop to pick up my bottle and hoped that the bar would clear out a bit.  Lucky for me, it did and so I got a seat at the bar.  I ordered some wings (love their wings) and a glass of Pliny the Elder.
I've talked about Elder a couple times now so I won't go into much detail, but suffice to say it was tasty.  The hops were a little muted this time but who knows if it was just because of the food or if the keg was a little old.  Doesn't much matter though.

While drinking that and eating the wings, I started chatting with a few of the guys around me.  It started because I noticed one guy had a growler from Town Hall and I was curious which beer it was and then continued because it turned out the guy next to me also writes a blog.  I chatted with him about it and it seems he writes it for similar reasons to me although more people read his.  Yet again, I was also shown just how generous most people are that are involved in the beer scene.  I got offered samples of quite a few different things just because.  I wished I had brought something but it didn't even occur to me before heading to Capone's.

It started with Short's Key Lime Pie.  Short's is a brewery based out of Michigan known for making bizarre beers.  Peaches & Cream, PB & J, and Strawberry Milkshake are just some examples.
Weird freaking beer.  Smelled like lime and tasted like a whiskey sour without the whiskey.  I can't imagine what drinking an entire bottle of this would be like and I'm not sure I ever want to find out.

Following that, though, was a beer I never expected to be able to try, Town Hall Czar Jack.  John, the dude who shared some with me, needed some real ammo to trade for this and giving a decent sized sample to a complete stranger was awesome of him.  Czar Jack is an imperial stout that was aged in Jack Daniel barrels.
Very sweet nose.  Nice body.  Someone called it chewy which is a good descriptor.  Let me just say first that the flavor was awesome.  Sweetness, chocolate, and notes of a molasses like flavor most likely from the Jack Daniels barrel.  No hint of alcohol or heat, just delicious sweetness.  Some vanilla appeared as I drank more making it even more enjoyable.  Very good and worthy of the hype.

Next someone (turned out to be a really nice guy named Alan although don't quote me on his name) came by and offered up some of Town Hall Port Odin.  This one was a Baltic Porter aged in port barrels.  Catch on to the naming scheme yet?
Unlike the Czar Jack, this smelled pretty strong.  Syrupy sweet with hints of a port fruitiness.  Unfortunately, the flavor was not as good as the nose.  Port, dark fruit, and chocolate were the main notes but the port slowly overpowered everything.  I like port, but not quite like this.  While good, it didn't quite do it for me and I'm not sure I could finish a whole glass.  Town Hall also had something called Port Frost which is their imperial stout aged in the port barrels and I wonder if the port wouldn't be quite so overpowering making it easier to drink.

Finally someone offered me a sample of Troegs Scratch 27, their chocolate stout named Cocaoabunga.  Lucky me.
Very pleasant chocolate aroma.  Not huge, but inviting.  Tasted like chocolate milk.  Delicious, delicious chocolate milk.  The chocolate is mild but readily apparent which makes a good combination.  They re-brewed this as scratch 41 but it sold out in a weekend so I never got a chance to try it even then.  Was hoping to find it in Philly, but missed the keg that was on draft during the Craft Beer Express and haven't seen it since.  Nice to finally get a chance to try this one and cheers to the random guy who was pouring it and didn't mind me having some.

What was supposed to be a simple trip to Capone's turned into an awesome afternoon.  The batch 1 Consecration was tasty, but the highlight was the Town Hall Czar Jack.  Of course, Town Hall is a small brewpub in Minneapolis that doesn't bottle their beer (as far as I know) so I'll probably never have stuff from them again, but hey Czar Jack was awesome so I'll live.  Met a few new people, picked up my East End Gratitude (awesome bottle for it), and had some tasty wings.  Just a great day chatting with some really nice strangers.

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