Archive for November, 2009

Lambic Style

Today I sampled the 3 lambic style beers I have been aging in corny kegs for the past year. These came from a single 15 gallon batch, and two of the kegs were inoculated with the Wyeast lambic blend while the third was a custom blend of a variety of bugs. One of the Wyeast kegs does not seal real well so it was not surprising that it had a nice thick pellicle. The two that were sealed well had no pellicle at all. The taste in this case was inversely related to the appearance…the two without the pellicles were not as tasty (funky or sour) as the version exposed to some level of oxygen. Hopefully one of the side effects of taking samples will be the introduction of some oxygen to help add to the funk in the two “clean” versions.

FOBAB and other things

FOBAB

I attended the afternoon session of FOBAB (Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers) this past weekend. What a great time. Hundreds of beers from 50+ breweries, all of which were aged with some sort of wood, be it chips, barrels, foudres, etc. I was excited to see that Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage, Alaska actually sent 4 beers this year. Their imperial stout has been my favorite at the festival the previous 2 years and everything I have had by them has been delicious. This year, however, I agreed with the judges that the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout was the best. It really is a delicious bourbon-barrel aged imperial Stout. Outside of those two, the rum barrel coconut porter from Maui Brewing was also terrific. Not over the top in any way and all the flavors blended perfectly. Older Viscosity from Port Brewing was also quite good and I was glad I got to try it this year as they ran out last year before we got to that table.

One other beer I really enjoyed was the barrel aged Alt beer from a brewery in Indianapolis. It seemed like an unusual choice to bourbon barrel age, so I gave it a shot. This was a really well balanced beer, probably made the way more of the entries should have been….it tasted decidedly like an Alt with a hint of oak and bourbon. Very nicely done.

The highlight for me though was the large selection of wild/sour brews that were included in the festival. Of particular interest to me were all of the New Belgium beers (particularly the Love and Le Terrior) and the Jolly Pumpkin Lambicus. Really special beers and I still can’t figure how none of them managed to medal in the wild/sour category. All three are really sour, so maybe the judges were looking for more balance, but still, these are terrific. Hopefully the Jolly Pumpkin beer will make its way in bottles to Chicago so I can have more than the 3 ounce pours at the festival.

The biggest disappointments to me were the Surly entries. The barrel aged Darkness had a really strange off taste, almost like soda. Additionally, I didn’t really care for the barrel aged Smoke…..I really love Surly beer so it was extra painful to have to pour them out. The other big disappointment was that so many of the beers were ridiculously over the top with the bourbon/oak flavors. The beers should not taste like bourbon with a shot of beer in it….nor should it taste like one is chewing on a tree branch. Hopefully the feedback from the judges reflects this so that the brewers can make adjustments for next year.

Other Things

We had Surly Darkness on draft Monday night and wow, it’s really good. I am not sure if I like it more than Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, but it is really good. I think the Darkness is a little thinner (though still quite thick) and the high abv is a bit more evident. I think we might need to make a trip to Darkness day next year. Actually, while waiting for Darkness to be tapped we also enjoyed Furious and Surly Wet…both of which are very good, and very hoppy beers. I still wish Wet had a bit more hop aroma, but this was their first attempt at a wet hopped beer and it is really good.

Lastly, I managed to score a few goodies last night as well….a 4-pack of 2009 Founders Backwoods Bastard, a couple 22oz bottles of 2009 Goose Island BCS *, and Jolly Pumpkin Parcela, which is their pumpkin beer. I am looking forward to giving these a try in the upcoming weeks.

*I am not too happy about the price increase in the BCS….last year I could generally find a 4 pack of 12 ounce bottles for $21.99…steep but it is a really good and undoubtedly expensive beer to make. The price this year is $12.99 for a 22 ounce bottle. In changing the packaging from 12 ounce 4 packs to 22 ounce singles they effectively increased the price from about $0.46 per ounce to $0.59 per ounce – a 28% increase. I would think the decrease in packaging costs switching to 22 oz bottles (less glass per ounce, fewer crowns, and no carrier) would have mitigated the need to raise the sales price, but apparently not. I guess I will be waiting for sales before buying any more of it, and apparently so will a lot of people since there is still a good bit of 2008 BCS on the shelves.