Friday, April 11, 2014

#221: Brewery Ommegang » Adoration Ale (Belgian Strong Ale)

Winter cherishing...

The Brewery: Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY)
The Brew:  Adoration Ale (Belgian Strong Ale)
Availability:  Bottles, draft (Seasonal, Limited)
ABV: 10.0%
Rating: 9.2/10
Location: Home
Found: Fingerlakes Beverage Center

Looks like this one got a write-up this winter, but never made it to the blog. I was on a single-bottle kick early in the winter, wanting to pack as much various flavors into our limited space as possible (now no longer an issue with the a dedicated beer fridge!).

While Ommegang has become a pinnacle of Upstate New York brewing, I can be a bit hot / cold with their releases. I either love them or am underwhelmed. I recalled enjoying Adoration from a case a group of friends picked up for me a few years back, but hadn't seen the limited ale in a while, so I snagged a bottle to see if my palate still concurred.

Adoration starts off with a malty, spiced nose with hints of juicy orange. A deep amber body topped with fizzy, off-white head adds to the dignified setting.

The taste is beautiful and elegant - not too carbonated, perfectly malty, backed by a wonderful blend of spices. Smooth orange and tangerine flavors are augmented amidst a plethora of spices - mace, coriander, grains of paridice. It's sweet, a little sticky, and fairly wet. I'd love to see how this one ages.

Overall, a fantastic winter alternative to the tired all-spiced ales, that is beautifully boozy and smooth.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#220: Evil Twin Brewing » Imperial Biscotti Break Natale - Pretty Please With A Cherry On Top (Imperial Porter)

The Sweetness...

The Brewery: Evil Twin Brewing (Denmark)
The Brew: Imperial Biscotti Break Natale - Pretty Please With A Cherry On Top (Porter)
Availability: Draft and 22 oz. bottles
ABV: 11.5%
Rating: 9.1/10
Location: Home
Found: (Gift!)

My partner was gifted this sweet beast by her sister and hubby (owners of The Enchanted Badger) back in March. After a somewhat bitter day, we figured this would be some sweet reprieve. While I haven't yet enjoyed the standard Imperial Biscotti Break, we did crack into an Imperial Doughnut Break early this year.

Visually, it's pretty standard imperial porter affair, but get within inches of the glass and your nose is met with amazing aromas - it's sweet and tart, with a definitive zing of cherry and soft roasted coffee. There's something else in there as well that I can't quite put my finger on.

My palate is quickly met with a creamy, sultry mouthfeel and mellow chocolate notes. Mild, juicy, and somewhat tart cherry flavors provide a bold taste experience. A tasty, desert inspired brew that's slightly silky, supported by lively, but not prickly, carbonation, and pleasant growing esters further through.

Overall, a wonderful beer from wonderful people - sweet sugars fall into smooth dark bitterness. Yum.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

#219: Brouwerij Strubbe » Ichtegem's Grand Cru (Flanders)

A high-end, Belgian sour adventure...

The Brewery: Brouwerij Strubbe (Belgium)
The Brew:  Ichtegem's Grand Cru (Flanders)
Availability:  Bottles, draft
ABV: 6.5%
Rating: 9.2/10
Location: Tap & Mallet (Rochester)

After my cousin's birthday, with kids, we decided it was time for the adults to unwind and headed to Tap & Mallet for a few rounds. Round #1 was Shmaltz's He'Brew Jewbalation 17, which I completely through it had a write up for, but C'est la vie.

Recalling a few other recently wonderful Grand Cru experiences, I decided to b-line it to Strubbe's Ichtegem for the second round.

The brew starts off with an potent nose of earth, funky cherry, and vinegar. The flavor is tart, with an unusual and blanketing mouthcoat. Every note seems to counter the next from a dry mouthfeel, augmented by sweet notes of sugarcane to herbal and savory spices peaking through determinedly astringent sour fruit flavors.

Ichtegem continues into Belgian extremes with notes of vinaigrette, red wine, funky raspberry, overripe fruit, all laced with a mild acidity and bitterness. This is wild Belgian style in expert hands.

An overtly complex and challenging, yet rewarding brew. Adventurers, sign up here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#218: Brooklyn Brewery » Hammarby Syndrome (Spiced Amber)

Brooklyn heads to Stockholm, pays homage to ancient Swedish beers...

The Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY)
The Brew:  Hammarby Syndrome (Spiced Amber)
Availability:  Bottles, draft (limited)
ABV: 8.0%
Rating: 8.8/10
Location: Victoire

On my way up to see my cousin for her birthday last month, I had a chance to stop into Rochester's Victoire on East Ave for a bite and a pint with my partner and one of my best friends in the area. After some serious decision difficulty between the Bison Meatloaf sandwich and the handmade Belgian Sausage (and happily moving forward with the former), I picked up a flight of 3 Belgian-style favorites, but made room for the oddly monikered Hammarby Syndrome, from Brooklyn's Brewmaster's Reserve series.

The beer was created in celebration of the Brooklyn's New Carnegie Brewery in Stockholm, Sweden and a nod to the local Football team (Stockholm Syndrome... Hammarby Syndrome... get it?). It's a unique Amber Strong Ale, brewed with spelt and spruce fonds - both paying homage to ancient Swedish brewing.

The beer itself is a deep, glowing amber, topped with a ring of white head and emitting pleasant aromas of fruit, especially strawberry. On to the palate, it's deep, dark fruit flavors with a mild earthiness and esters, backed by prickly carbonation. Notes of grain, sweet malt, and soft caramel are in there as well. More flavors of pecan, spice, and faint peach continue to swirl, but never dominate

Overall, it's elegant, rustic, and subtly intricate. Recommended for those with a delicate palate looking for complexity without shock value.

Monday, April 7, 2014

#217: Anderson Valley Brewing Co. » Gatlin Damnosus (Sour Barrel-Aged Barleywine)

An unforgiving brew of devilish tartness and bourbon decadence...

(I should wake up more before determining that pictures are in focus)

The Brewery: Anderson Valley Brewing Company (Boonville, CA)
The Brew: Gatlin Damnosus (Sour, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Barleywine)
Availability: Draft Only (Limited)
ABV: 8.8%%
Rating: 9.4/10
Location: Owl House (Rochester)

Over the weekend, I played in Hiroshima Vacation at Bug Jar as part of our final run shows. Rochester usually means Tap & Mallet or Owl House, and since this time brunch was in order after a lovely night over, the latter was up.

We arrived with a half hour before they could serve, so I was happy to have some extra time to peruse their always impressive draft line. However, this time around, an 8.8% sour, Bourbon-barrel aged barleywine was a no-brainer, even for first thing in the morning.

This beer was every bit as insane as I was hoping. Served up in an 8 oz. glass, Gatlin Damnosus is a hazy, grayish dark brown with a thick, creamy off-white head. Notes of sour grapes, sweet booze, and oak emanate from the glass.

Unabashed, irreverent flavors burst across my palate inducing a spine-tingling double-take. This is complexity and atradition at it's best. Exotic blends of sour cherry, ripe pear, toffee, butterscotch - all rich and decadent with woody, earthy undertones and a mild dryness. Further through there's apple skin, vanilla, and an ever-more pronounced rich bourbon flavors. It's honestly like 4 beers in one ally vying for attention.

Overall, for the adventurous enthusiast only.  An mildly astringent, booze fueled experience that I'd love to see in bottle form.

#216: Bell's Brewery » Third Coast Old Ale

For the love of American Barleywines...

The Brewery: Bell's Brewing (Kalamazoo, MI)
The Brew: Third Coast Old Ale
Availability: Draft & Bottles (Seasonal, Limited)
ABV: 10.2%
Rating: 9.5/10
Location: J Ryan's (Syracuse)

On Friday, some friends and I headed up to Syracuse to catch Lemuria, a trio from Buffalo whom I booked 4-5 years ago, but haven't been able to see since. Any Syracuse stop for me usually involves J Ryan's and their 69 taps. We decided to roll in before the show instead of after for some sandwiches, cross-cut fries, blaring jukebox tunes, and amazing beer. With draft offerings like KBS, Expedition Stout and other numerous Bell's offerings, it was a tough call until I saw Third Coast listed. I'm a sucker for any old ale / barelywine, especially on tap and furthermore if I haven't had it yet, as with this case.

Third Coast is highly aromatic and full of rich, complex flavor. Inviting dark fruit and sherry aromas start things off, furthering into deep, dry flavors. A plethora of enigmatic tastes are woven between ripe fig, esters, soft red apples, burnt caramel, raisin notes that is all quite dry for a barleywine. There's an intriguing sweetness that peaks through for just a moment in the middle of the sip.

Overall, an impressive sipper of an ale that can be aged for years to come. Highly recommended to anyone seeking a complex, palate exciter.

#215: Bacchus Brewing » Cyclhops (Single Hop-Ale)

Our first stop to a local staple...

The Brewery: Bacchus (Dryden, NY)
The Brew: Cyclhops (Single Hop-Ale)
Availability: Draft only (limited)
ABV: ? 
Rating: 8.7/10
Location: Bacchus Brewing

My partner and I found ourselves with an extra hour to kill after running some Saturday errands and figured we could make it out to Dryden before Bacchus closed up for the day. We're both well versed in Bacchus' offerings from the taps downtown, but getting it from the source is always just the best.

In addition to their familiar year-round beers coming of fresh and delicious, we were pleasantly surprised by a new brew, their single malt, single hop Cyclhops with Vienna malt and  Galaxy hops.

Served up, it's a hazy yellow pour with a touch of white head. The nose is dank, earthy, and wonderfully hoppy. Deep, full flavors of pine flow down the hatch, offer a refreshing, but nicely bitter experience with a mild dryness on the finish and a heavy mouthcoat. Not too much citrus, but plenty of rind and pine. Even with just a taste, there's a long finish on this one.  Easy cake-taker for our growler fill of the day!