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Last Weekend's Beer, Today: Northeast Edition

Michael Donato, November 30, 2015 -   

A long Thanksgiving weekend makes for lots of time to drink and lots of people to drink with, even if your family is sick and you’re one sneeze away from being laid up yourself.

Thanksgiving

Maui CoCoNut PorTeR
Chimay Bleue Grande Reserve
Goose Island BCBS Vanilla Rye (2014)
Brooklyn Insulated Lager
Sixpoint Global Warmer

I prefer Kona’s Koko Brown, or the recently discovered Oskar Blue’s Death By Chocolate to the Maui coconut, but it’s still a tasty beer. The coconut is perhaps more restrained here, but still apparent enough that you have to like coconut. The Chimay was good, and exactly what you’d expect. If you like the regulars, you’ll like the grand reserve. We paired it with some soft Chimay cheese, of which I wasn’t a fan. 

BCBS is nearly 14% and a bomber. Drinking that by yourself, even on a weekend, is tough and as such I hadn’t had a chance to crack open this 2014 Vanilla Rye so it was accidentally aged more than I'd meant to. Thanksgiving seemed the perfect opportunity to pass it around and enjoy it, and it was well worth it. Rich bourbon-y flavors, the vanilla still strong. Clearly very boozy but not overpoweringly so. Brooklyn’s Insulated Lager is perhaps hoppier than some would like, but not me. This tasted very much like a hoppy pilsner, just a darker malt base. Had some sweet cocoa nuts that I dug. I almost took the rest home with me. 

The Global Warmer was my nightcap when I got home. It’s one of my favorite beers and this was the first I’d had of it this winter. Hoppy enough for an IPA, but amber enough to have some interesting and tasty malt flavors to go with it. 

Black Friday

Sierra Nevada Celebration
SweetWater Hash Brown

It’s Celebration season again. I insinuated last week that Thanksgiving marks the end of the harvest season, and Celebration always seems to be one of the last ones on the market and one of the top Thanksgiving beers. You can’t go wrong.

SweetWater’s new to NY/NJ, and the Hash Brown is my favorite. I’m a sucker for quality browns and this is a hoppy one. I think this beer is better balanced than the straight Hop Hash, which is a very dank IPA. 

Saturday

Greenport Harbor Otherside IPA
Ballast Point Grunion
Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest

I like a lot of Greenport’s beers, and they’ve recently started bottling which makes it a lot more more accessible if you don’t live out on the North Fork of Long Island. The Otherside itself isn’t anything special, though. Typical bitter and piney IPA. It's one of those that I wish I hadn't bought a six-pack of. 

The Grunion IS special. To call this a simple pale ale does it a disservice. It’s hopped, aggressively, with Calypso and Mosaic and the flavor comes off much different than I was expecting. Both hops are fruit-forward, but there’s a little bit of earthy or spicy complexity there too. Ballast Point makes so many hoppy beers it’s not surprising this one is so good, but it feels overlooked.

The night finished with a Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest. It’s a solid example of the style and I wanted something simple.

Sunday

Sierra Nevada Narwhal (2014)

I seem to have acquired a backlog of imperial stouts. Like with the BCBS bomber, it’s hard to decide to just have a 10-12% beer with dinner. I put them in the fridge and tell myself , 'When I have a couple quiet hours, I’ll sit and enjoy this beer.’ because Imperial Stouts are so full-flavored I feel like they need my full attention. However, I have a toddler and I have a better chance of a case of Heady Topper accidentally arriving on my doorstep than a few quiet hours to sip contemplatively at a beer, so it’s time to start drinking these.

Narwhal was very good. Decadent, even next to the piece of cheesecake I had with it. Not as abrasive as some can be, perhaps merely being 10% helps with that, or perhaps it was the year of age. I prefer my beers a little mellowed, so I’m glad I waited on this one. No complicated bourbon barrel flavors, just your delicious coffee and chocolate stout malts dialed up to 10%.

Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd and has a 3-year vertical tasting planned for Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

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