Monday, August 13, 2012

Sharing Some Beers

I trekked out to the wilds of Collingswood, New Jersey last week to share some beers with a buddy. When another friend had to cancel after injuring himself playing basketball, we changed what we were going to open and instead decided to compare a normal version of one beer to the barrel aged version. We thought it would be interesting to see how much barrel aging can change a beer. Turns out quite a bit.

We started with the normal version of Flossmoor Station Hi-Fi Rye, a rye barleywine. Flossmoor Station is a small brewpub outside of Chicago for the curious.
Hoppy, hoppy nose with some spicy rye and a light earthy bitterness. It's a few years old at this point so the hops have definitely aged a bit. Medium feeling body, neither thick nor thin. Started with some lightly sharp rye up front and then some sweet caramel in the back. The finish was still a little bitter and that kept it from being overly sweet. Tasty beer. As a side note, you can't see it, but the bottle was sealed with the most ridiculous amount of wax. It was so tough I actually ripped part of the metal cap apart.

The next beer was the bourbon barrel aged version of Hi-Fi Rye.
First, notice the huge different in color between the two. This one was so much darker. Smooth bourbon vanilla nose, no hint of the rye or earthy hops. Much thicker, almost syrupy with just a little carbonation. Started with a small hit of alcohol, quickly overcome by caramel, vanilla, toasted oak, a little chocolate, and, of course, bourbon. Incredibly complex and quite different from the base. As you drink more and get used to all the extra flavors, a little bit of the rye and general spiciness appeared showing off the original beer. I thought this was pretty great and liked it a bit better than the original.

The last beer we drank was the Deschutes and Hair of the Dog collaboration, Collage.
This was an interesting beer and an interesting blend. Here's the description from RateBeer.
Deschutes Brewery and Hair of the Dog Brewing join forces to weave The Dissident and The Stoic and Fred and Adam into an artistic collage of cask-aging alchemy. Damn. Beer is fun!

Conflux No. 1 - Collage is the second release in the Deschutes Conflux Series. These beers were brewed in March of 2010. One hundred percent of these beers spent two years aging in a variety of oak barrels: Rye Whiskey, Cognac, Sherry, Pinot Noir, Bourbon, used American Oak, new American Oak and new Oregon Oak.
Definitely a crazy mix and it shined through while drinking it. The major component, at least to me, was the sour Dissident. There was a ton of vinous sourness in every sip. As I drank more, I got hints of grapes, more sourness, some bourbon, some leather, red wine, and then more bourbon. Now, was it good? Well, I enjoyed it but I can totally see it being off putting to some people. The base sourness that all the other flavors wrapped themselves around just made for a different experience every sip. Really glad I got to finally try it though.

Another exciting night sharing beers with Craig. Always a good time even if I have to leave the city for it. Hopefully next time Eric won't bust his ankle the night before and he can make it too. Though the last time the three of use were together I almost fell asleep in the elevator at work the next morning. But that totally won't happen again. I swear!

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