|Not the Eye of Sauron; that's Monongahela Rye red!|
They'd invited me down because they were dumping some barrels, and wanted to let me get a taste and see what I thought. I was curious to see what they'd done -- with help from Michigan State University's Artisan Distilling program -- on coaxing good wood character out of small (15 gallon) oak barrels in 6 months. It's been a subject of some controversy in craft distilling, but I've been impressed with what these guys have been doing so far -- their white whiskey is one of the better ones on the market, IMO -- so I was optimistic.
We tasted from six different barrels, four of them that were going into the vat you see Herman dipping from above. Those four were significantly different; one of them extra-spicy, one quite sweet, and one distinctly floral. The two others were tasting particularly delicious, and they're considering a small release -- distillery sales only -- of single barrel stuff. I encouraged them to do so; that's how you make a name.
Did I mention it was bleeding hot? That's when we decided it was time for a cooler drink (although as Davey Crockett said, rye whiskey will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter), and Coop made up a couple whiskey sours. Wow. They were delicious and tart and WHAM. Just the thing. You need to own this drink, I told them: too many people think of whiskey sours as 'granny drinks,' and they're anything but. We drank some more. Then I left. It was really hot.
|NCBC's brewhouse (heat is not visible in this picture)|
First up was the Trauger Pilsner. At 4.4%, it makes a nice session drinker, and is just about good to go: not overly hoppy, a nice malt character, but a slight greenness, an off-flavor. An early batch, so I suspect that will clean up soon. The County Line IPA -- yes, of course they have one! -- was good, hoppy but not overdone, which probably means they'll be bumping up Da Hops on this soon as the geekerie squeals in dismay (so get some now before it's scorchingly bitter). And then there was the Tribute Tripel, which I thought was the best beer I tasted: not heavy, a good orange creamsicle kind of character from the yeast, and didn't taste like 9.3% at all. One to look for.
Whew. It was hot. So I said good-bye, and headed home.