Friday, November 18, 2011

Sharing Beers

It's been a while but I finally met up with my friend Craig at his new house this past Wednesday and we availed ourselves of a few beers. When he lived up the street from me we were doing this a little more often but he lives in New Jersey now so I have to change states and who wants to do that? Okay fine, me, but still it's harder to get there but totally worth it.

We started with one we've talked about opening ever since we met the first time early last year, Big Sky Olde Bluehair, a bourbon barrel barleywine.
Fruity and leathery nose with some hints of oak. Nice aroma. At first, the taste didn't quite follow unfortunately. The beginning was a bit harsh with some sharp alcohol and nothing else. The finish, however, was all smooth vanilla with none of the alcohol present. Craig and I both thought it may have just started too cold and as it warmed up we were proven correct. The harshness faded into the same vanilla and dark fruit as in the finish. The only negative to this one was that it just lacked complexity as it was very two-note. I mean, the two-notes were delicious so it wasn't a big deal, I just feel like it could have been more.

After that, we opened up my offering, Ommegang Bourbon Barrel Abbey. I picked this up when Jo and I visited Cooperstown last March and couldn't believe my luck that it was available then.
Nose was full of vanilla, oak and bourbon. I'll admit I spent a while smelling this. Started with vanilla and some bourbon, but lacking heat and just delicious. Some slight sour cherry notes followed and finished with a lovely vanilla creaminess. There were glimpses of the base Abbey ale underneath the vanilla and bourbon with some malt and some of the caramel sweetness. This was pretty excellent and a great example of bourbon barrels complementing a beer and not overwhelming it. Too bad I only had one but hey at least I had one, ya know?

Next was Odell Woodcut 4, an oak aged Imperial Marzen. Yes, odd combination but hey I didn't brew it.
Very oaky nose with a sweet underside. Wow, this is just all oak. So much wood. As I was drinking it, there was this hint of a delicious beer but the massive oak overpowered it for me. I'll say, Craig really enjoyed it so maybe I just don't like pure oak in my beers. Not undrinkable, just too much toothpick.

Last was a Hanssens Scarenbecca Kriek. This was a surprise from Craig.
Considering the first three beers were all barrel aged this was a really nice change of pace. Smelled really good, authentically cherry. Tart and inviting. Sharp sour cherry flavor but at first slightly watery in the finish. Luckily the cherry slowly became the whole flavor and the wateriness faded making it really enjoyable. Some hints of mustiness but nothing too strong. Mostly just cherry. I was worried at first that the Brett had sapped all the sugar out of this, hence the watery finish, but the cherries were strong enough to overcome that and this was a great way to finish the night.

As usual, a great set of beers were shared between the two of us. It's kind of funny to do this on a random Wednesday night, but when you have a cellar like Craig has it's bound to happen. Now that he has all of his bottles on shelves, it's pretty amazing to see. Before it was all crammed into boxes so it wasn't quite as impressive but now it's just wow. Of the four we opened today, the Bourbon Abbey was by far my favorite though the Olde Bluehair and Scarenbecca were both quite good too. And Craig liked the Woodcut even if I wasn't a big fan. Just a great night I hope we replicate a bit more often.

No comments:

Post a Comment