Monday, June 6, 2011

Bella Vista takes over Devil's Den

Ahh, Philly Beer Week finally begins. I put up my schedule the other day and so far I've kept to it pretty well. While this post is going to concentrate on the Devil's Den event, my first beer of beer week was actually at the Kite & Key. It was the Troegs Scratch 42, Razzmadizzle, a chocolate raspberry dubbel as far as I know.
Man, look at those colors. Just a great purplish red cast to it.  Huge raspberry nose with a little bit of chocolate in it. Reminded me of those chocolates with the raspberry syrup-like substance in the middle. You know what I mean? First sip had chocolate up front followed by raspberry notes and finishing with chocolate. I though it was delicious, pretty unique, and an excellent way to start off Philly Beer Week. Kite & Key had a whole bunch of other great stuff to try as well but I had to be on my way. I'll be back there this afternoon (Monday) around 4:45 to try something else.

After that, my wife picked me up and we drove down to Devil's Den. The Bella Vista event hadn't started yet so I got a glass of Unibroue Raftman. No picture as I forgot to take one. Very smoky nose, almost bacony. Flavors weren't too smoky though. Caramel, sugar and finishing with just a little bit of smokiness. The smoke did linger a bit, leaving my mouth tasting a little like a fireplace, but it really wasn't too bad. Pretty good if you like smoked beers but that's a big if of course.

Finally, they started putting on all the fancy tap handles and the event began. Thanks to PhillyTapFinder I had a good idea of what beers to expect and all but one of those was put on right away. I started with the Cigar City / The Bruery collaboration, Marron Acidifie, as I figured the bourbon barrel stouts I was planning on drinking would mess with its flavors if I did it last. Plus it would let us see if Jo liked it without ordering her a whole glass.
Smelled like sweet vinegar (again, better than it sounds). Super strong aroma as I could smell it from a good foot or two away. Very smooth flavors. Dark fruit, caramel, a lot of sourness and finished with a little leather and vinegar. The caramel and vinegar notes were the two major pieces of it and they combined really well. I'm curious how this will age because if the vinegar becomes too prominent it may be unbearable. Hopefully it will coalesce into something amazing instead. Now, though, it was tasty enough that Jo got a big glass of it so that's a good sign for everyone else looking to try it.

Up next was the Central Waters Peruvian Morning, a bourbon barrel coffee stout.
Smelled like coffee with just a hint of bourbon in it. Lots of coffee flavors with the acrid edge pleasantly dulled from the barrel aging. Slight hints of vanilla but no bourbon at first. As I drank more, the vanilla slowly became the major flavor with just a little bit of sweetness from the bourbon barrel. Really tasty and possibly my favorite of the night.

After that I got a glass of the Bavarian Barbarian Twisted Steel, the bourbon barrel version of Steel Drivin' Stout.
Sort of smelled like tangy wood. Very unique. The base beer had a lot of caramel notes in it compared to most stouts, so the bourbon barrel version was really interesting. Tangy, creamy, almost tasting like vanilla sour cream but in a good way I swear. The tanginess and the sour never cross into spoiled milk territory and so the whole thing just remained really different. Who knows why the flavors ended up the way they did but man it was certainly different and good.

Rounding off the night, I got the Williamsburg AleWerks bourbon barrel porter.
Very bourbony sweet nose. Tasted quite a bit hotter than the other two bourbon barrel beers but it wasn't too far overboard. It almost had that sweet bourbon flavor and balance but some alcohol heat would appear just at the end. The good thing about that is as I drank more, the heat subsided and I was left with a nice glass of vanilla, roast and bourbon. The brewer was there and he said they tapped the barrel into the keg earlier that week (possibly the night before) and so it didn't even have time to condition like they usually do which affects the carbonation plus the bourbon flavors were probably higher as a result.

All in all, this was an awesome way to kick off Philly Beer Week. I got to try quite a few great beers, met Mike from Bavarian Barbarian again, a brewer from Williamsburg AleWerks, and a couple of my buddies. Bella Vista put on a lot of awesome kegs, more beers than I could try, and was an example of the awesome beers available during Philly Beer Week. And this was just the first event of the weekend! I went to four more between Saturday and Sunday with the craziness continuing the rest of the week. Look for my Saturday and Sunday write ups soon and look for me at London Grill for the Deschutes dinner tonight (Monday.)

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