Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blue Dog Wealth of Riches

Sometimes I think I may have issues with my obsession getting the better of me, but then I just shrug and get over it. This past Saturday was definitely one of those times when I decided to head out to Chalfont, PA to go to the Blue Dog tavern. First, if Google maps is telling you it's going to take two hours by public transportation, it's probably right. Second, if you are going to the suburbs and Google maps says you need to walk a mile from the train station, there probably aren't going to be sidewalks and so people are going to look at you like you're a psycho when you're walking down the side of a road on the shoulder. Oh and some of the sidewalks do this.
Yep, they just randomly stop in the middle of nowhere. It's like the town was teasing me. Of course, after walking on the grass and side of the road for like 5 minutes, the sidewalk randomly reappeared next to some corn or something. Not sure what the corn was doing there, but, well, suburbs.
Or maybe it's just really talk grass and not corn. Who knows. All I know is I had to jump a small river to get here because for some reason the sidewalk wasn't next to the road.

After a slightly harrowing walk down the side of road and about 25 minutes, I finally made it to the Blue Dog. I'd heard a lot of good things about it and was excited to check it out. As you walk in, the bar is on your right and it's a relatively large horseshoe with a lot of seats. On the left are tables and the restaurant portion. Honestly, it looked like a general suburb tavern if you know what I mean. Not a bad thing, just what it reminded me of. The bar was quite busy when I arrived but luckily a seat opened up pretty quickly.

I started with a glass of Founders Cashew Experiment, a bourbon barrel aged something or other brewed with a ton of cashews. It appeared in Philly during beer week, but I never managed to get to a bar that was serving it.
Maybe I expected too much after what people were saying, but I wasn't nearly as impressed as I wanted to be. It smelled good with a nice caramel sweetness. First sip was all bourbon without a ton backing it up. No burning alcohol at least. Near the end of the glass, I started to get some hints and flavor of cashews which gave it a nice extra dimension but, for me at least, it wasn't apparent enough through the whole glass to make it my favorite.

After that I decided to get a sampler. It helped that whoever was sitting in my seat had already gotten nearly the same thing as I wanted so I just crossed off the fourth thing on the paper and replaced it with what I wanted.
From left to right (and the order I drank them) we have: De Struise Pannepot, Lagunitas Gnarlywine 2008 and then 2010, and finally Founders Devil Dancer.

I started with the Pannepot. Smelled of plums and raisins with some sweetness. Flavors were mostly caramel and dark fruit, following the nose. It's weird. I'm always excited to drink Pannepot but it's often disappointing when not aged a little. The flavors are so close to being great, but the finish is slightly flavorless. The nice thing is that as it ages, that issue goes away and the whole beer rounds out nicely.

Next was the '08 Gnarlywine. Interesting nose that I'm not sure I'm a good enough writer to actually describe properly. Sort of a floral quality with a sort of dead hoppiness to it. Nice caramel flavors with the floral hoppiness following. No bitterness at all just the aged hop quality. Definitely aged quite well over the three years although I don't know if I'd age it much longer than that.

The 2010 Gnarlywine was similar to the '08 but, well, fresher. The hops were less floral and more hoppy and fresh. The floral hoppiness and caramel were still the major flavors, but there was a small amount of bitterness to raise them up a bit. I actually enjoyed the 2010 more, I think, although they were both quite good.

Finally, the Founders Devil Dancer, a 12% monster triple IPA. Didn't really go with the other three I ordered but I'd never had it so whatever. Okay, before I start, let me say I know my description is going to be weird but it's the truth. Basically, it smelled like a bag of weed and tasted like it too. And, honestly, it wasn't a bad smell or flavor, just so bizarre. I realize it's a result of whatever hops they use but man what a coincidence.

Well, after that drinking experience, I needed something to cleanse my palate so I ordered two glasses: a 2010 Founders KBS and a 2011 KBS.
People claimed to be able to tell a big difference between the two but honestly I could only find some small ones. Maybe it's the five previous beers I had, maybe I'm just not as refined. Who knows.

The 2011 had a lovely coffee and bourbon nose. Very impressive flavors. Coffee, chocolate, roast and some bourbon and vanilla. Really well blended with the coffee being the major one. The 2010 had a little more chocolate in the nose than the 11 but otherwise was pretty similar. The flavor was also pretty similar and just as enjoyable so I'm quite fine with the fact that they were basically the same.

Up next another big change in flavors, Founders Blushing Monk.
Just like the bottle I opened recently, the nose was super raspberry. Flavor followed with a ton of raspberry sweetness. For some more useful comments, just go look here.

I was given a small pour of The Alchemist's Heady Topper after the Blushing Monk. It's a small brewery up in Northern Vermont that just opened a canning line specifically for their double IPA. I thought Heady Topper was tasty, not too bitter, but that the Hill Farmstead Abner I had Friday night was better. Good luck to them though and thanks to the owner of the Blue Dog who shared some.

I honestly didn't know what to try next as nothing was really calling out to me, but I hadn't had it in a while so I got a glass of Dogfish Head World Wide Stout.
Smelled of plums and sherry. Tasted of cherries and chocolate, but with a weird flavor underlying both. Sort of like it was dirty or something. Maybe I was getting tired at this point and the flavors were too much for me considering it's 18% but not terribly enjoyable. Probably a bad choice really.

The last beer I had of the day was quite good and that was a 2009 Founders Backwoods Bastard, a scotch ale aged in bourbon barrels.
Nice sweet caramel nose with a hint of coconut. Tasted of caramel, hints of bourbon, and a slight bit of coconut. I've had it fresh before and it tasted like Malibu but this time with age on it the coconut flavor was much more pleasant. I got this just because there wasn't much left I wanted to try and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Should have skipped the World Wide Stout and just gone straight to this. Ah well.

So that was my ridiculous trip to the Blue Dog in Chalfont. Honestly, it was basically worth it because of the KBS vertical and getting to try Cashew Experiment, but I don't think I'll be making it again even if I have a ride. The tavern was very nice, the sandwich I had was tasty, and the beer was good but there wasn't enough to distinguish it from other bars for me to spend that much time on travel. If I lived near there, great, but I don't and there are other places in the suburbs I would rather go if I'm going to leave Philly. Still, I did have a good time and I was lucky enough to get a ride home which was nice so it was worth the one visit.

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