Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beers at Sabrina's

Just before Thanksgiving, some friends of mine decided that their cellars were getting too large. To try and start to fix the issue, they asked on twitter if people wanted to go to a BYOB and share some beers and have dinner. I had nothing to do that night and Jo didn't care about eating dinner alone so I figured why not. After some back and forth, we decided on Sabrina's in Fairmount as I figured it wouldn't be too busy as it's mostly a brunch place and it's informal enough that they wouldn't mind us sitting around drinking forever.

After ordering some food and settling in we decided to start with Deschutes The Dissident, the one sour Matt brought along.
Smelled a little alcoholic though it's apparently 11% so not too surprising. Lots of vinegar in the nose too. Started with caramel, vinegar, and some sharp oak from the barrel and finished with a decent amount of alcohol burn. Kind of continued that way through the whole glass. It was pretty decent but I was a little disappointed in it as I had high expectations. The oak and alcohol were just too much for me and overwhelmed the rest of the flavors. The beer was pretty looking though.

The second beer we opened was one I brought and was a Coronado Barrel Aged Barleywine, aged in brandy barrels. This was definitely my favorite of the night.
Tangy sweet nose, a mix of the sweet barley wine and the brandy barrels. Sweet fruit up front, caramel, and a light touch of more caramel in the back. Very smooth with the brandy blending with the sweet barleywine incredibly well. Just really delicious.

And then we come to the funniest beer of the night, Weyerbacher Black Hole. This was apparently lost in Steve's collection over the years and none of us had any idea what it was. Even the bottle didn't have any information. So, to twitter we turned and asked Bill, their marketing guy, what the heck it was. His response was hilarious. "Wow you found Black Hole! Porter... not gonna be good now. Keep it sealed, don't drink!" Wow, thanks Bill! So, yeah, lots of confidence in a 7 year old 7% porter. But, it was there so we opened it anyway even though he said we shouldn't.
Chocolate and roast in the nose though mild. Get some roast on the first sip that lingered but that was pretty much it. Just empty at this point. So, yeah, this is a life lesson for everyone. Don't forget about bottles in your cellar because they won't just keep getting better.

Hoping to remove the ancient Black Hole from our palates, we opened up the Three Floyds Baller Stout that Matt brought. This is a blend of Three Floyds Dark Lord, Surly Darkness, Mikkeler Beer Geek Brunch Stout, and De Struise Black Albert.
The blend sounded pretty interesting as all of those beers are good individually but unfortunately this was my least favorite beer of the night even including the Black Hole! It wasn't even that I thought it could be good and I just didn't like it, I just thought it was a terrible beer. Bizarre nose. Maybe old coffee mixed with some smokiness and then alcohol smothering it all? I really couldn't tell. The body almost had an oaky bite to it which isn't possible considering it wasn't oak aged, but that's how I felt. Just really, really sharp and off-putting. It's possible it was the hops from one of the beers mixing with the coffee from the Beer Geek Brunch and the sweetness of the Dark Lord. Just a downright mess in my opinion. Oh well.

Next was another beer I brought, Jester King Farmhouse Black Metal Imperial Stout. This was sent to me by my buddy from San Diego, same as the Coronado from earlier.
Huge burnt nose, a few stops past roastiness. Body had a bit of cherry fruit, roast, and then finished with more of the burnt malt flavor. This really wasn't for me as I found the burnt malt flavor just too much but, unlike the Baller Stout, I didn't think it was an outright terrible beer. Other people may really enjoy the burnt roastiness of it.

Only two left! Of course, we somehow forgot to include any more of Steve's bottles at this point but he didn't seem to mind. The last two were brought by Matt. First was Hill Farmstead Twilight of the Idols, a porter.
I don't know if this is the same base as Everett, but it was still quite a good porter. Roasty nose. Some roast at first followed in the body, then a dose of vanilla and coconut followed. Kind of continued that way though the flavors blended together a bit as I drank more. I really liked this, delicious stuff.

And finally the last was from Stillwater and was Folklore: The Tale of Van Winkle. This is a saison aged in bourbon barrels, specifically Pappy Van Winkle ones.
Vanilla, caramel, and bourbon nose. Basically all bourbon, no saison. Body was similar, all bourbon, caramel, and vanilla and nothing else. Thin but the bourbon flavor was at least clean and smooth without heat. I'll admit, though, my palate was kind of dead at this point so maybe I only noticed the bourbon since it was the strongest flavor. At this point who knows but at least the bourbon flavor was enjoyable. This is an expensive 375mL bottle so it was nice of Matt to share.

So that was our bottle share at Sabrina's. A couple really good beers, a couple polarizing ones, and then some terrible ones. It's a shame about the Baller Stout since before it was released, it seemed like it could be good, but, phew, was it not. The Coronado was surprisingly awesome though so that was cool. Also Sabrina's really was a great choice to share some beers. We were there for two and a half hours and they didn't seem to care at all. I wouldn't do it during brunch but dinner time worked out super well. Thanks to Matt and Steve for suggesting it!


  1. Your dead palate did not deceive you on Folklore: The Tale of Van Winkle. I had one this past weekend and it was mostly bourbon with little or no base beer character present at all. I certainly had no problem drinking it (I like bourbon, after all), but it was a real disappointment...

    Sounds like you had a fun night though, and at least some interesting beers, even if all weren't super successful...

  2. Well that's definitely good to know regarding the Stillwater Van Winkle. If that's what he was going for, good for him. But I still prefer my bourbon beers to have a little more going on than just bourbon flavors. Does take some skill to make it not an alcoholic mess though.

    As far as the rest of the stuff, totally. I've found at bottle shares there are always winners and losers. And sometimes the losers are still pretty good, they just get overshadowed during the night! Sample size also matters which is why I really like limiting things to 3 or 4 people. Otherwise, you just can't get the full effect.