Well, not dead, but back from utterly shameful neglect of this blog. No excuses. I haven’t stopped drinking good beer. Untappd shows that I have had 392 unique beers since the beginning of February. I haven’t stopped taking pictures, having almost choked my iPhone. I haven’t stopped taking notes, though I cut way back. That’s still related to burnout from becoming a beer judge, but it’s more that I never got un-distracted from the blog. Often I don’t want to take notes, I just want a good beer! (Pity.)
So let’s talk about some good beer!
Boulevard Rye on Rye on Rye 2017
They start with a rye ale, age it in first-use Templeton rye barrels, then age the results in another round of first-use Templeton barrels. Rye Cubed! The initial aroma is like a shot of good rye, as it should be. Massive malt base, cake and dark rye and spice cake with vanilla and caramel, with alcohol coming over the top. The appearance is cloudy medium dark amber with golden highlights and a generous off white bubbly head with good persistence. The flavor starts with a high rich malty sweet blend of cake and dark rye bread with vanilla, caramel, treacle, and distinct oaky notes. There is no apparent hop flavor, but medium low bitterness prevents the sweetness from becoming cloying. It finishes sweet with lingering whiskey and cake. The body is medium with significant alcohol heat. A light syrupy note grows more pronounced. There is no astringency despite abundant dark malts.
Overall? Wow. Simply wow. You have to like rye whiskey, big sweet beers, and alcohol heat. You almost need to sign a waiver that you’re not driving, this is 14.6% ABV.
Crooked Stave St. Bretta
Brettanomyces Citrus Wild Ale
First sniff: citrus & funky brett over a medium malty-sweet base. There is an aroma of candied orange peel, and a boozy note emerges. In the glass we see clear golden straw with a generous foamy white head of medium retention. [As an aside, I’ve seen “good retention” defined as a head that loses half its height in one minute. For me “medium” approaches that, perhaps 30 to 45 seconds.] The flavors give a complex, fast sequence of impressions: lemon juice, funk, tart orange peel, tartness that tingles in the back of the throat, then a little sweetness, finishing dry with a long tart aftertaste. Did I mention tart? It takes the place of bitterness in balancing the malt. The mouthfeel has just below medium body, and the impression is of astringency coming from tartness. The carbonation is medium, and there is no alcohol heat (nor should there be, at this strength.) This is a beer that rewards attention, offering lots of elements that integrate around a tart and funky center. The funk is quite restrained, the tartness is less so. I would have called this sour a year or two ago, now I call it–drum roll–tart. 5.8% ABV
Ommegang Bend the Knee
The latest in the Game of Thrones series, the aroma starts with flowery hops and medium stone fruit, along with a Belgian style yeastiness including light clove and pepper. The base is medium bread-and-biscuit malt with a light nectarine emerging. The pour is cloudy gold with a coppery tinge and a medium high foam stand of moderate persistence. The flavor is of medium high bready malt with a hint of sweetness, joined by floral and fruity hops with an earthy undertone. Medium bitterness comes in to balance that sweetness and the beer finishes dry. Floral and fruity hops and bitterness persist through a long aftertaste. The body is medium with medium high carbonation, and an initial creaminess is replaced by moderate carbonic bite. Very good beer, hoppier than a Belgian Golden or Wheat Ale, leaving a surprising bitterness on the aftertaste. It’s just a bit harsh, perhaps appropriate for Game of Thrones.
The pour releases a wonderful aroma of medium high cake & biscuit malt with medium high earthy hop aroma and hints of spice. There is a restrained bourbon note, growing “boozier” as it warms. The beer is clear light amber with a generous foamy, almost rocky head the color of buttermilk, very persistent. The bourbon flavor is less restrained, medium high over rich malty sweet cake. This is followed by floral and earthy hops and medium bitterness to balance things out. It finishes medium sweet with a long bourbon and caramel aftertaste, but always enough bitterness to keep things well away from cloying. Bitterness grows sip to sip, approaching medium high. The body is medium high, with matching carbonation, a foamy creaminess and mild astringency coming in. You feel medium alcohol heat. They call this an Imperial India Pale Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels. I would not have thought ”IPA” as the malt is rich, reinforced by bourbon sweetness. However, bitterness builds to justify the IPA label. I would call it extremely tasty and a beer to sip and savor. It’s also a bit dangerous. My impression was around 8.5% ABV but it’s actually 12.4!