Getting caught up on my blogging after a loooong ten days or so of action-packed stuff. First up was the Dock Street Truffled Old Ale release; we got an advance tasting at the Four Seasons on January 23rd (Craig LaBan got an even advanceder tasting, and wrote this). I took the train down, endearing myself to my green friends, I'm sure, and walked over to the Four Seasons from Suburban Station...and then started really wishing I'd worn something nicer than the old nylon windbreaker I'd pulled on over sweater and jeans.
The Swann Lounge at the Four Seasons is more upscale than you'll usually find for a beer launch, but Rosemarie Certo is doing this to prove a point; the same one that the original Dock Street brewpub proved not 100 yards from there* in the 1990s. Beer is the people's beverage, to be sure, but beer is protean: it can effortlessly go from washing down chicken wings at trestle tables as commentators cry the latest play of the game to pouring luxuriously into ballooned wine glasses as jazz floats above the conversations of the rich and well-dressed. Why not go upscale? Beer is certainly not diminished in its role as social leveler when it becomes 'fancy' or 'extreme,' any more than it is demeaned by going light and getting gulped by the gallon. Beer is all things to all people; or at least, it could be...and that's the point of this.
But enough bibbling (that's the drinking version of babbling) about what 'beer' is or can be; this beer was, as I noted to Scott "Dude" Morrison (who is back brewing at Dock Street, in case you live under a rock, or don't read Uncle Jack's blog), full of the flavors of the wine barrels it briefly aged in, and unctuous from the truffles (Yes, I actually immediately thought and used the word "unctuous"; I blame all the whiskey reviews I've been doing). I didn't get a lot of that earthy, stanky truffle character...but as Scott said, you can easily overdo that, especially in a beer (I kind of thought that the truffled mayonnaise served with the frites they put out for the tasting was a little overdone...but only a little). They took 12 ounces of truffles (which was, trust me, ridiculously expensive), shaved them, and then left it in vodka for the alcohol to pull the flavor out, an essence of truffle, which they then put in the aging beer. (Is all this legal by strict ATTTB standards? Honestly, don't know, and certainly don't give a damn.)
They're going to be doing three more of these "Four Seasonals" beers, and I'd say they're off to a good start with this one.I'm looking forward to the others, and when I go to the Swann Lounge to drink them...I'll dress a bit better. The beer deserves that.
*The space at 18th and Cherry is now the Public House, and it looks reassuringly like the old Dock Street -- minus the brewery, of course, and the big backbar mural -- while offering a decent selection of taps. I did stop in on the way back to the train, and sank a quick, well-kept pint of Yards IPA. It was good to be back at that long bar; really good, actually. Great memories at Dock Street, and I missed the place.