The long weekend not only gives you an extra opportunity to drink in general, but this one specifically gave me two extra days to drink as I normally take Mondays off and spend Fridays at the ballpark. I did neither of those things over the weekend, and found the experience rewarding.
10 Barrel Joe IPA
Almanac Pumpkin Sour
Lost Abbey Framboise de Amorosa
Drake's Aroma Coma IPA
My brother in law normally comes over to help the wife while I'm at the park, so this time we actually got to hang out when he came over on Friday. he loves sours, I'd just gone to the beer store, and so the stars of the night were the sours.
That's not to say that Joe -- once named Sam for the simcoe, amarillo, and mosaic found within, until another brewer blocked that action -- isn't a good beer. It's easy drinking, fruity, and hoppy, and you can get it in California for seven or eight bucks a six pack. Gotta give it a try if you're around.
But no, the pumpkin and raspberry sours were the highlights. And the pumpkin was particularly important to me because recently someone pointed out to me that they thought Almanac didn't have enough fruit in their sours, and that it was all just different versions of the Dogpatch. As much as I like their beers, it felt like a valid criticism... until I had the pumpkin. Because their best beers do have taste. The pumpkin is full of pumpkin porter and bourbon barrel tastes, and then finishes sour, and is a great beer. Does Almanac sometimes fall into a rut? Maybe. But I've heard they hired a new blender, and that this fall's Blueberry will be his first. If you've fallen out of love with Almanac, try the Pumpkin and Blueberry before you stop having them forever.
The Amorosa... what can I say. My Beer Man gave me from his private stash and it blew me away. Five star sour. It had depth, but it was also sour. It had fizz, but it also had raspberry. It was thick and thin, it was bright and meaty. It's thicker in taste and mouthfeel than the greats from Cantillon and Drei Fonteinen, but this effort from Lost Abbey belongs in the pantheon. In might, for instance, beat the similar efforts from Cascade.
The end of the night was destined for a let down after those two, but Aroma Coma worried me plenty beyond just being a poor choice at the end of the night. I've had it twice this year and been underwhelmed. There's no aroma, which is just weird, given the title. It's brighter than it's been in the past, but there just wasn't enough going on for me to have to circle this time on the calendar again next year. When I started getting into craft beer, I had to have Green Flash West Coast IPA, Firestone Walker Double Jack DIPA, and Drake's Aroma Coma. Double Jack will always have a place in my heart, but none of the three is in my top five any longer.
Firestone Walker Easy Jack Session
Off Color Dino S'mores Russian Imperial Stout
Took my three-year-old son to the game on Saturday, and since we got on the field early, I had to leave right when he woke up from his nap at 2:30. He managed to watch most of batting practice ("So many fly balls, dad"), mill around through the Mariners a bit ("Where did the green Giants go, dad?"), and then walk the concourse with me ("I want a monkey please dad") before we settled into the suite for the game. Cake, hotdogs, and a movie on the iPad got him through the six innings he didn't watch, while I settled in for a blowout and some Easy Jack. As far as I'm concerned, Easy Jack is the perfect baseball beer. So easy to drink but not devoid of flavor. And it doesn't blow out some part of your tongue where you're just wagging it for something else at the end of the night.
Still, when I got home exhausted at 11 with an awake kid and passed him off to the wife, I wanted something different all the same. So I cracked that Off Color Dino S'mores and immediately knew I had rewared myself for a daddy job well done with the correct beer. You smell marshmellows. Maybe some chocolate, but mostly marshmellows. What a smell to start your beer experience. Of course, then it's a ton of choclate nibs and thick mouthfeel, but the Dino pulls one last trick that makes it a great beer instead of a really good one: enough bitterness to finish the taste you just had, clean it up, and make you want to dive back in. What a beer. What a day.
AleSmith X PA
Modern Times Fortunate Islands w/ Grapefruit Zest
Shady Oak Barrel House Funkatronic Brett IPA
Tahoe Recolte Du Bois (Apricot) Barrel Aged Saison
If Easy Jack is today's perfect game beer, then X was yesterday's. Easy Jack adds a little more fruit and complexity, but X is super easy to drink, and it's the perfect beer to pour as you're firing up the grill. There's no sniffing and smelling and swirling while you're contending with the bonfire you've created because nobody could find the charcoal chimney thing. There's no "I taste mango!" when you're furiously cutting up heirloom tomatoes and avocadoes and pickles to go on your wagyu worcestershire patties on dutch crunch rolls. There's just, lemme drink this beer and eat this excellent food and be happy that everyone eating with me is hale and hearty and smiling today.
Of course, to follow that up with a beer like the Fortunate Islands with the zest in it is almost perfect. I'll take this beer over the Grapefruit Sculpin because it's less sweet, less syrupy, less shandy. You lose some of the wheat complexity that you get with a normal Fortunate Islands, but you gain some sweet grapefruit kick you in the ass that's nice for day drinking. If you think the grapefruit sculpin was aight for a bit but are looking past it on the beer aisles these days, don't looks past this one.
The Funkatronic is in all of my beer trades just because it's easy to like, unique, and doesn't have great distro. A brett mosaic IPA, you get funk and pepper and fruit all in one. Some will crinkle their nose. Others will line up for more. You'll see your local brewer try this style eventually, if you haven't already.
And bro-in-law was over again, so we finished with a sour. This one was a barrel aged saison, so the sour was more tart, not face-puckering, so he thought it was only aight. But I really liked that you got the brett pepper and funk on top of a smooth apricot saison, and then it finished sour. Next to the funkatronic, it was remarkable how similar and different the two beers were. Apricot is a thick, meaty fruit, and finishing with the barrel-aged tartness makes a big difference. This is not a sour for those that like the sourest of sours, but it is a good beer.
Drake's Aroma Prieta
Against the Grain and Stillwater Saison
It wasn't flat! It wasn't flat! The picture in the header is my Aroma Prieta, and I was just happy it wasn't flat. I had had a growler and two beers -- one from the brewery itself -- and they'd all been flat, so when I poured the beer above in a free moment Monday, I was ecstatic to see a nice head. Even when it receded I wouldn't call the beer flat. So with proper fizz, you're talking New Zealand hops on top of a decent base beer (Aroma Coma), which is necessarily another star or so of value. If you have the choice between the two Drake's seasonals, pick the Prieta.
By the end of the weekend, I dunno any more. My sense of this Stillwater saison built off of the mosaic Rico Sauvin IPA by Against the Grain is that it was too sweet. The saison helps pepper it up and does clean it up at the end, but the body is super sweet and, late Monday night that's all I was left with. Syrup.