First of all, I have to say that a birthday party is not the best occasion for tasting beer. There is too much else going on, particularly when only 3 of the 27 people are into craft beer. Still, some excellent beer was poured. We more or less led with Burton Baton, and that was as good as ever. OTOH, it was worth the price of admission to see a friend’s face when he first tasted Le Freak. “Incredulous” comes to mind.
He brought me a 6-pack of Flying Fish Exit 16, a Wild Rice Double IPA (perhaps the world’s only wild rice double IPA!). That seems particularly appropriate as Exit 16 of the New Jersey Turnpike used to be my exit to get home to Hoboken. (Now I’m more of an Exit 18 kind of guy.) It’s very dry, and they say it showcases the hops. Well, the hops are strong in the center and the finish, though the nose has a dry maltiness rather than a hoppiness. This is very sippable, if that’s a word, subtle rather than commanding, very nice.
I followed that up with something new to me, Green Flash Trippel. I already know they do a great job with hoppy ales, well they do a fine Belgian-style as well. This is something that deserves to be savored rather than somewhat lost in the shuffle of a big party. I wrapped up the night with another offering from my friend, Brooklyn Sorachi Ace. That was a great choice for winding down at the end of the night, a generous saison, crisp and fresh.
There were other libations at the party, though I left them to others. Hornitos Plata Tequila made for some excellent shots. Dirty martinis featured Russian Standard vodka, very well received. There were mundane beers as well: Blue Moon with the requisite fresh orange, and Molson Canadian. I have to say that either of those would be acceptable in a pinch, and those who like Blue Moon can be easily led to Weissbier and its relatives. The red wine crowd–my tradition–was well represented, with good malbec and cab and California red blends. On the white side there was a nice torrontes, and a Dr. L. Riesling which I enjoy when in the mood for white (which I was the next day). A bottle of chardonnay disappeared along the way.
Then last night I returned to the beer fold with an old favorite, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid. It’s an excellent combo with Italian food. The caramel notes complement the tomato sauce and the hops cut through the cheese and garlic so that the food plays off against the beer. I think of “food wines” but less so of “food beers” and this is a reminder that I underestimate the beer. The hops even produce a puckering similar to the tannins of a good red wine. Another present from my friend at the party, a pair of Spiegelau goblets that will see excellent service. All in all, a great weekend.