Friday, January 15, 2016

Beer Friday #2

Don't expect music every week, just because I had Aretha in that first one. That said, I'm gonna hit you with some more this week; an old favorite rockabilly tune I just rediscovered on the InterWebs, which made me so happy, I wanted to share it.

Jack Scott (according to Wikipedia) has been called "undeniably the greatest Canadian rock and roll singer of all time", for what that's worth; he was from Windsor, across the river from Detroit. This song was only his second on a national label, and hit #11 on the U.S. charts...and it was a B-side. I had a box of my Aunt Carol's old 45s from when she was a high schooler in the 1950s: this came out a year before I was born. Good stuff, great sax. Have fun.

Yards Golden Hop IPA, 6.0%
I got this case from brewer Tim Roberts, part of a complicated trade of whiskey and beer we did just before Christmas. Golden Hop was brand-new at the time, and I had a draft while I was waiting. One thing I noticed right away was the aroma, a sweet blend of fruits: grapefruit, sweeter citrus (mandarine? clementine?). The hops are Amarillo, Mosaic, and Cascade; they're working well here.

I wanted the taste to be as good, but it's not, quite. I like it, and it's slowly disappearing from the garage (now that the cold weather's finally arrived), but... The mouthfeel is light, and the fruit character from the hops comes off as almost tart rather the flavorful intrigue the nose set me up for. There's a slightly medicinal pull to everything, strongest at the beginning. I do like that it doesn't blow me away with bitterness, but I'd almost like some more of it. It's just...not quite, and definitely not living up to the promise of the nose.

Verdict: Okay

Einstök Icelandic Toasted Porter, 6.0%

Time was, you wanted Icelandic beer, you went to Iceland. You know, it was a bragging rights kind of thing. Especially with the price of beers in Iceland; whoa, Nelly! But it was worth it, because not only did you get the beers (and the Untappd badge to prove it), you got to go to Iceland! Now it seems you can get Icelandic beers pretty easily, which is kind of cool, considering beer's only been legal in Iceland since 1989. My first trip to Iceland was because of beer: Ölvisholt Lava smoked imperial stout, to be specific, which was definitely worth the trip, but know, Iceland!

Iceland! Iceland!
So that's a roundabout way of saying I got this beer from a friend who knew I'd been to Iceland and wanted to share it. It's a "toasted porter" made with Icelandic-roasted coffee. Surprisingly, it appears to be bottle-conditioned (sediment stayed in place; the beer's pretty bright, if quite dark in color). I've been smelling it for the past 15 minutes while I opened it, wrote this, found the two pix (from the brewery and my last trip to Iceland, respectively), and got ready to taste...and it smells great. Dark chocolate, coffee, pastries, more coffee, flowing out of the glass, doing a Bugs Bunny grab-me-by-the-nose-and-drag-me-in thing. I give up; gotta have a sip.

Well, that's pretty good. Good mouthfeel, plenty of coffee and chocolate, and a nicely fresh character that's appealing in an imported beer. I like porter, too, and this is the kind I like: not a dark IPA masquerading as a porter. The hops are properly restrained. Finish is a bit sweet, but also has a hint of ashes, which is kind of cool coming from the land of volcanoes. The problem is that the whole thing's pretty sweet, and I'm having a hard time getting around that. I think this would be good with food (beef stew, chicken molé; desserts especially), but just at a bar, drinking? I want it dried out a bit more. I don't think this is a flaw, but I do think it makes it less than it could be.

Verdict: Okay

Spring House Session Pale Ale. 4.2%
I did mean to get this out earlier in the day, and to that end, I stopped at the Spring House Taproom in Lancaster on Monday, on my way home from the Farm Show, to get a beer. I do want to include a draft in each week if I can. But...then I forgot that I HAD taken these notes until I went out late this afternoon to get a draft beer to review and saw the you get a double.

A big Session Beer Project Thank You! to Spring House for calling this "session pale ale," the "session IPA" handle gives me the gripe. This is a bright, light pale ale, and I liked it. It's pale yellow, with a zippity nose of brisk lemon pith/zest and tropical fruit. A well-attenuated light body, but a nice grip; a bitter glove on the tongue that coats and holds the whole mouth...but the next sip opens it up again, fresh and tasty. Finish is clean, even a little fruit on it. That's an all-nighter. ($6 for a 20 oz. glass at the Taproom)

Verdict: Good

Cigar City Puppy's Breath Robust Porter Nitro
Cigar City is one of the most hyped American breweries going right now, and my experience with it has been a mixture of extremes: beers that are just boring, and beers that are just fantastic. When I saw this at one of my favorite local bars, the Hulmeville Inn, I had to try it.

It looks like you'd expect: dark, dark brown with a creamy tan nitro head. Smells like you'd expect: a bit of coffee, some baker's chocolate. But it's not what I expected in the mouth at all, given "robust" porter! This is sweet, smooth, and even a bit rich, like a whoopie pie in a glass. See the Einstök above; there, the sweet's not right, not full-on. This embraces the sweet, it knows it and goes with it. It's like the difference between a slightly sweet peanut butter and Nutella. Or those gross King Hawaiian rolls and a sticky bun. This is like eating a donut; if I feel like it, I'll have another and grin.

Verdict Good.

1 comment:

Sam Komlenic said...

My vote goes to Burton Cummings.