After all the traveling over the holiday season, the wife, child and I planned to stay home and do very little. So of course I headed to the beer store and stocked up. No driving, no heavy machinery in the yard, and help watching the kid -- but no, I didn't plan for debauchery, at least that's my stance. It just happened. Right.
Here's a bullet point list that starts Friday at happy hour and descends into madness Sunday night in front of Downton Abbey. DEBAUCHEROUS I TOLD YOU.
- Boulevard Reboot White IPA
- Lagunitas Sucks
- Almanac Bourbon Sour Porter
- Freigeist Bierkultur Geisterzug Gose
- Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale
- Strand Brewing 24th Street Pale Ale
- Cascade Brewing The Vine Aged Sour
- Reinaert Flemish Wild Ale
- Rogue Nation Brutal IPA
- Bourbon County Brand Stout Backyard Rye
Needless to say I didn't get anything done in the yard. Or on my long-term projects. Or on my fantasy baseball prep for the coming year. Or anything, really, at all.
And do I have a problem? This has come up in chats recently -- "when I see you check into five strong beers in a row, does that mean you have a liver of steel or you're not alone?" -- and it is a HUGE caveat on this. I make my wife and brother in law take part in my weekly beer expeditions -- the only beers I finished by myself on this list were the 12-ounce Dale's and the 16-ounce Gose (which sucked, by the way, ooh-boy did that beer suck, basically just slightly tart water yuck). I didn't wake up with a single hangover, for example, and I am now ready for my customary three days off. Mondays suck anyway.
Anyway, for a hum-drum do-nothing weekend, it had ups and downs. Boulevard's white IPA wasn't the best thing I'd ever had, but it did continue a trend: the smokestack series hasn't let me down yet. Lagunitas Sucks might not be as great as the last batch, but it's a really really good IPA still.
Cascade's sours are well-appreciated, but The Vine was both hit and miss in the same bottle for me. At first, the concord grape nose, the sweet beginning and the tart finish were very enjoyable. By the end of my glass, my palate was exhausted and I felt like I was drinking some sort of white wine monstrosity. Fatigue comes into play with some sours, perhaps that was it, but when you hit so hard on the 'adjunct' -- The Vine, a Northwest Style Sour Ale, "is a blend of soured Triple, Blonde Quad and Golden ales that have been refermented with the fresh pressed juice of white wine grapes. The beer spent more than six months of lactic fermentation and aging in small oak barrels" -- you get a lot of grape in the face.
But to sum up the report of my weekend, I had a choice. Do I talk about how much of a letdown the Backyard Rye was? How great that berry finish was, but how hot and sweet it was up front, how syrupy the thing felt? How, three BCBS in, I'm sure that they need to be aged to be better enjoyed? Or how I was bowled over by the Almanac sour porter?
You know, in all things, focus on the positive. I had a great weekend, full of some really good beer. The football was good. I spent time with my child, almost all of it fully sober. And I tried one beer that was really kind of amazing.
Almanac Bourbon Sour Porter
Appearance = 4/5
Dark brown beer plus a good finger-plus of tan head -- makes you think you're having a nice brown porter of some sort. The foam disappears quick enough to bring a hint of the wild/sour ale that you're about to have.
Smell = 4.5/5
Coffee, malt, sweet, roast, with a little bit of tartness even in the smell as it warms. Like you're smelling a porter but wait no, not quite.
Taste = 5/5
You'd think that a beer like this would begin porter and end sour, but no. This beer starts with roasted malts, moves into lactic sour, and then something very interesting happens... it fades to chocolate, vanilla and bourbon. It finishes like a bourbon porter! It's really a fascinating beer, and by the end I was sure of my approval. There's a lot going on, but this beer has such a long taste that it allows you to notice many different parts if you focus on different moments in the taste. At the beginning, when your beer is cold, you might like the roasted malts best. As it warms, you may appreciate how the sour notes come in and break up that taste. And then you're left with the warmth of a bourbon porter as you wrap it up.
Mouthfeel = 5/5
One of the best parts of this beer. Because it has both the thickness of a porter and the acidity and sharpness of a sour, you actually get greatness from different parts of the beer family. The thickness warms you, and gives the beer heft. The sharpness refreshes you and sets you ready to have more.
Overall = 4.75/5
Forget BCBS. Any weekend with one of these in your fridge is a good one.
Thanks to wiki-commons user Carl Fowler for the header image.