Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nodding Head Monkey Madness

Okay, before explaining anything, let me just drop this right here.
Have I set the scene? I think I have. And yes, the assistant brewer Fava is inside.

So this past weekend was another Second Saturday event at Nodding Head, this time named Monkey Madness. The theme for this was beers with lemongrass and ginger, following along from their world famous Monkey Knife Fight (or at least it should be world famous, best name ever). Along with two variations of that beer, they brewed a couple others using lemongrass to round out the lineup.

Since everything stemmed from Monkey Knife Fight, a gold lager brewed with lemongrass and ginger, I decided to start with it.
Really awesome nose actually. Nearly sweet but not too sweet with that slightly herbal lemongrass flavor. The latter is going to be a theme in my descriptions so you'd better accept that now. There's some breadiness from the gold lager base but the finish is all lemongrass. The base is actually pretty strong and while it doesn't blend perfectly with the herbal flavor of the lemongrass, it does make for a nice lead-in flavor. Really refreshing beer.

After that, I went with the strong version of Monkey Knife Fight, Gorilla Sword Fight. I forgot to ask, but I believe they just iced down the former to get the latter and didn't brew it any differently or anything. Also, if you think this name is clever, wait until I get to the next beer.
Lighter lemongrass nose but otherwise similar to the above. Much thicker body though. Less bready flavor, more of a syrupy lemongrass flavor throughout. The alcohol wasn't too noticeable either. I found it interesting that the base flavors were less pronounced with the lemongrass taking over.

The last of the Monkey Knife Fight trio was a lighter version of it named Capuchin Pin Prick. See, isn't that the best name? Also, I forgot to take a picture so instead here's a Capuchin monkey.
They look adorable, sure, but have the most vicious looking teeth. It's crazy. The beer, however, didn't have teeth and was actually the best of the three. Similar to the Gorilla, the lemongrass in the nose was lighter than the original. The body itself lacked most of the lager breadiness and instead had a much more pronounced lemongrass flavor. I really liked how the lemongrass took on a stronger presence and enjoyed the cleaner body.

After that I moved into the other two lemongrass beers. The first was a simple lemongrass saison.
I know it's sort of a cliche combination or at least seems that way to me, but lemongrass goes so incredibly well with saisons. The herbal spiciness of the lemongrass matches so well with the regular spiciness in the saison. And, this one was made really well. Floral vanilla and spice nose. Nice citrus start from the hops in the saison followed by the herbal and vanilla lemongrass flavor. This was probably my favorite of the day but I'm biased since I love the combo.

The last beer of the event was called Dark and Stormy Grog, their Grog (obviously) brewed with lemongrass and ginger and then mixed with a bit of rum before being put in a firkin.
Toasty lemongrass nose, pretty unique. My first thought was that it was kind of bizarre but in a good way. Basically like chocolate lemongrass. The grog base really shined through with bits of lemongrass here and there. Definitely an interesting experiment and tasty.

Now that I was done with the event's beers, I decided to try their newest concoction, Crosby Tears. If you don't know, Sidney Crosby is a hockey player on the Penguins that a lot of Flyer fans don't like too much. With the Flyers playing the Penguins in the playoffs, Nodding Head brewed this beer for the series and luckily the Flyers won or else it would have needed a different name. Apparently the beer is even going to be mentioned in the next issue of Sports Illustrated. Very cool.
Wheaty nose with some hints of an almost grape flavor. I may have been imagining the wheat notes though as I don't know what base malts were used in brewing it. The grape flavor, though, came from the grape concentrate they added because they wanted to get a little "whine" in it to match Crosby. Clever, right? Flavors were similar to the nose and after a few sips started blending together really well. While it may have started life as a joke on the Penguins, Crosby Tears is still another good beer from Nodding Head.

Just because I believe visiting Nodding Head requires ordering a Berliner Weiss, I ended my day with one. I've talked about it before though so other than saying it's magically delicious, I won't go into it here. I'll put up a picture though just because.
I'll say this Second Saturday was really well thought out and well themed. The lemongrass made its mark on every beer it was added to and worked in all of them. The Dark and Stormy Grog may have been odd but it was still pretty delicious. For me, the lemongrass saison stole the show with the Capuchin Pin Prick coming in second. And once again, the iced Gorilla Sword Fight showed that Nodding Head knows how to ice down a beer properly. I'm definitely looking forward to the event during Philly Beer Week next month. Should be quite awesome.

On a completely different note, my posts over the next two weeks will be pretty sporadic because Jo and I are heading to Belgium! Wooo! We have wireless at the Brussels and Luxembourg hotels so I hope to do some short updates then but I don't know about the middle days when we're in Bruges. I'll do my best though. Going to be an amazing time considering just in the first three days, we're going to visit Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Westvleteren, and De Struise. Amazing.

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