Tuesday, October 7, 2014

#277: Perennial Artisan Ales » Aria & Saison De Lis

After a lovely wedding of one of my earliest Ithaca friends and few hours destroying my fear of rollercoasters at Darien Lake, my partner and I made our way to the fantastic Blue Monk in Buffalo. This, my second time at the Belgian-inspired gastropub, I had far more time and flexibility than the first while I was on tour.

When I'd checked out their online menu, which has been updated just two days prior, there were a few Jacks Abby that were must-haves, but alas they were gone. However, I immediately shed my woes at the site of a variety of  Perennial Artisan Ales on the list.

Perennial Artisan Ales » Aria (Belgian-Style Ale w. Brettanomyces Bruxellensis)
ABV: 7.20% | IBU: 20 | Rating: 8.7

My first foray into Perennial kicks in with a fragrant nose of white stone fruits emitting from a hazy, honey-colored body, topped with thick, lacy head.

A sweet, soft flip of funk starts of the gentle palate experience. Lightly carbonated with primarily clean mouthfeel that's just every so slightly augmented with a rustic dryness. Warming flavors of green tea with honey and lemon threaded with mild notes of peach make for a delicate palate pleaser.

This brew is crafted with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, providing soft, earthy and funk notes that give Aria a twist of complexity, but don't yield much sourness or dips into the extreme. A solid first experience from Perennial Artisan Ales.

Perennial Artisan Ales » Saison De Lis (Saison brewed with Chamomile Flowers)
ABV: 5.0% |  Rating: 9.1/10

It's rare that a non-Brett beer will beat a Brett beer as follow up with my palate, but here's that case. This Saison/Farmhouse brewed with Chamomile Flowers is a downright winner.

De Lis' hazy golen body and plentiful, lacy head reals you in, quickly followed by aromatic citrus and floral notes backed by firm yeasty, bready notes.

On to the palate, this is one tasty beer, bursting with flavor. It's mildly tart and plentifully floral, with soft notes of banana bread colliding with boozy esters, despite the low ABV.

Further through the glass, vegetal notes start to creap through the refreshingly crisp tartness & bitterness along with a hint of rosemary and chamomile. A unique, recommended brew.

Monday, October 6, 2014

#278: Port Brewing » Old Viscosity (Imperial Stout)

Port Brewing » Old Viscosity (Imperial Stout) | ABV: 10% | Rating: 8.8

I picked up this bottle of Old Viscosity online in 2013 or late 2012, after a highly colorful review of how thick and intense of a dark beer it is.

Old Visc pours up jet black as expected, crowed with a voluminous mocha head. The nose is unexpectedly milky for an oak-aged brew, full of oak notes as well with a touch of vanilla and cocoa.

Onto the palate, it's a bit more straight forward than the initial verbose description, though still a solid beer nevertheless. It's silky up front, easing into a deep, dark bitterness. The carbonation is far livelier than expected from a barrel aged brew. Roasted malts, mild coffee, and soft cocoa notes are present as well. Further through, distinct molasses and chocolate ice cream notes appear.

Overall, not as chewy as I'd expected, but still a weighty brew that is packed with dark bitterness.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Coming soon!

It still amazes me how vastly different the brand selection can be just a few cities over, even in the same state. Lunch at Blue Monk in Buffalo, meant a must-stop just a few blocks down to Village Beer Merchant, which last time didn't disappoint with finds like Madame Rose, Backwoods Bastard (draft) and other notable brews.

This time around, it's my frist pass at The Wild Beer Co., Maine's lauded Lunch, and the classic Leipziger Gose. Posts coming soon...

During checkout, I noticed an empty case box from BFM in the window and had to inquire if they had any in stock. My memory quickly blurred at the two other BFM offerings, when this 2006, Cuvee du 7eme anniversary ale came to my attention at a fantastic price. This will be an adventure at 8 years, but well worth it. Story coming soon...

Another enjoyable bottle share...

Another successful, small gathering bottle share this past week. The Maine Beer King Titus Porter and GRIMM Action Adventure definitely took the cake, while Bell's Third Coast, He'Brew Funky Jewbelation (one of my on-going favorites), and 21st Ammendment's He Said were all solid condenders. He Said is likely my new favorite pumpkin related offering, especially the Baltic Porter, which retains all of it's wonderful traditional notes, but thicker and meatier with the pumpkin addition and no bombastic pumpkin pie spices. 

Here's a quick pick from the call-out ones from September's as well. Bay & Pepper Your Bretts from Against The Grain was world-class phenomenal and the easy winner. It came off spiced, funky, slightly vegital and unique & amazing.

Friday, October 3, 2014

#277: Allagash Brewing » Fluxus 2014 (Bier de Miel)

Allagash Brewing » Tribute Series: Fluxus 2014 (Bier de Miel)
ABV: 8.8% | Rating: 8.6/10

After a fun, productive day, which included picnicking, a walk along Cayuga lake, a stellar tasting at Myer Farm Distillers, was temporarily derailed by a slew of since resolved phone issues, it was time to get things back on track with a home cooked meal, finally watching Barton Fink, and cracking into this anniversary brew from Allagash.

Each year, Allagash, whom recently returned to Upstate NY distribution, brews a different, limited recipe under the Fluxus moniker, in celebration of the first beer they sold in 1995. This year, Fluxus is brewed with a blend of 2-row and vienna malts, spruce tips and honey.

Fluxus '14 starts off with an aptly honey colored body topped with lacy white head. A beautiful, soft nose of honey, mild spice, and almond follows with just a touch of sweet earthiness.

The taste is elegant, as par for many of Allagash's limited releases, held up by lovely, soft yet lively carbonation. Firm malts create the backdrop for the subtle sweetness from the honey and mild floral notes of the spruce tips to peak through. The nearly 9% ABV is expertly masked throughout.

For you honey buffs out there, the honey is less at the forefront than say, a Braggott, but still present.

Overall, Fluxus '14 may be a bit subtle for some in regards to the price tag, but for those looking for an elegant beer to slowly enjoy and relax into, this might be just your ticket.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

#276: Crooked Stave » St. Bretta (Winter)

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project » St. Bretta Citrus Wildbeer (Winter)
ABV: 6.8% | Rating: 9.5/10

After a successful week of recording, wrapping up the initial legwork of booking for Big Day In and a four evening fest around the Ithaca International Film Fest, I was in the mood for something special. Shortly after grabbing  and uncapping this winter edition of St. Bretta from the beer fridge, it was immediately apparent I'd made the proper selection.

This 100% Brettanomyces wild bursts out of the gate with a fruity, funky nose. Ripe, fresh berries slam with orange, must, and that unmistakable Brett aroma. There's even a hint of green apple.

After several enticing whiffs, my palate is struck by incredible, piercing flavors of tart grape and kumquat. This winter edition is incredibly sparking and bright for a dark beer.

Robust sour cherry and big green apple notes rise further through along with shy notes of lemom and a lively, dry finish. A hands-down, goddamn great beer and a must find for another round.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

#275: Avery Brewing » Twenty One (Imperial India-Style Brown Ale)

Avery Brewing » Anniversary Ale: Twenty One (Imperial India-Style Brown Ale)
ABV: 8.7% | Rating: 8.5/10

To celebrate Avery's last year at their Arapahoe Ave brewery (new brewery opening Jan 2015), these Boulder mainstays crafted an Imperial Brown, packed with Columbus, Chinook, Amarillo, then dry hopped with Amarillo, Simcoe, Chinook.

Served up in a tulip glass, Twenty One starts off with soft nose of gentle hops and rye bread. It's deep brown, barely translucent body looks inviting and warming on a cooling early fall evening.

The initial flavor is a bit understated. Rich flavors of thick, homemade breads calmly join with mild chocolate notes, all sewn with subtle sweetness.

Lively carbonation help Twenty One from getting too heavy and while the ample list of hops and 'India-Style' might imply a hop-forward beer, it conversely brings to mind more of an amped-up British style brew with mild threads of tropical fruit lending to the aforementioned subtle sweetness.

Overall, I was hoping for a bit more 'wow' factor, but Twenty One is an enjoyable, unique and robust brew that is full of rich character without needing to be overzealous.