We went back to The Growler & Gill on Saturday for their “Extreme Beer Tasting.” What the owner said was that these were brews at the extremes of what is being done with craft brewing. They certainly were an unusual lot. My sister-in-law was adventurous and bravely went through the tasting. My wife, who isn’t much of a beer drinker, had a Malbec while we worked on the beer.
The first was Dogfish Head Immort Ale. This was termed a “Strong Ale” and at 11.4% ABV I’m not inclined to argue. It was very rich with a hint of sweetness and smokiness. Very good, and I have a bottle in my fridge right now.
The second was indeed at the fringes, a Kombucha Ale (I believe called Mava Roka) from Beyond Kombucha in Astoria, Queens. Apparently Kombucha is usually an Asian herbal “tea” with reputed health properties, and fell foul of the FDA because of its definite alcohol properties typically between 1 and 1.5% alcohol. The FDA said basically you have two choices: reduce the alcohol content below 0.5%, or call it an alcoholic beverage. Beyond Kombucha went the adult beverage route. I forget, but I think this one is about 6% ABV. It’s weird, kind of like a ginseng tea with hints of grapefruit and I-don’t-know-what-all else. However, it kind of grows on you. I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it, but I wouldn’t avoid it either.
The third was from Evil Twin, specifically Evil Twin Brunello Wine Barrel Aged Justin Blåbær (I looked it up) which is a Berliner Weissbier. I don’t remember it very well, I’m afraid. It was good, as most Evil Twin brews are. An interesting thing about them is apparently there really isn’t an Evil Twin brewery, instead the (evil) genius twin is a gypsy brewer, based in Copenhagen, producing small batches in cooperation with various local breweries. This one came from North Carolina. As it happens, at this moment I’m sipping an Evil Twin Hipster Ale, labeled as an American Pale Ale, but it has more hops than many an IPA, a slight smokiness, and some hard-to-describe distinctive flavor that must be a function of the variety or varieties of hops; very nice. There was a strange hint of olives on the end which somehow worked well.
The fourth was Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout. The barley is placed over a peat fire as with a Scotch, and it has hints of both whiskey and smoke, then a good shot of chocolate. Very much worth a repeat.
The final one in the tasting was an Imperial IPA which sounds almost innocent, Brewdog Hardcore IPA. OK, so it doesn’t sound that innocent. These are the guys who have that TV show, the ones who worked with Stone to brew a beer on the train between San Diego and L.A. This might be a typical IPA, except for one minor detail. You know the bitterness scale, I.B.U. The scale ran from 0 to 100, and it was thought that anything beyond 100 would be too much to drink. I guess Brewdog didn’t believe this, and this stuff rolls in at 150 IBU. It really didn’t hop my face off, but you *do* have to like hops. If you find it, give it a try.
Back at our table we had Bavarian pretzels and a spinach & artichoke dip, second time around for both of those, and they’re very good. Meanwhile I, the non-vegetarian, tried their Buffalo wings, and they were quite good, hot but not to the sweat-inducing level.
I also had a Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout, which tastes much like that sounds. A good stout similar to the Dark Horse but without the peatiness.
I picked up a mixed six (for which you get 10% off) which includes an Immort Ale, a Dogfish 60-Minute IPA, the Evil Twin that I’m drinking right now, and a couple of others that are lurking in my fridge. One I already had is a Dogfish 90-minute IPA, and I want to taste those two side by side, maybe tomorrow.
I want to go back there Thursday of this week (4/3) for their tasting of New Jersey beers.
All for now.