Here’s twenty beers we’ve recently sampled that I believe are well worth your palate.
Lost Abbey Witches Wit: Another delicious beer from Tomme Arthur and his minions. Light (4% ABV) and clouded yellowish bodied with a rocky white head. Nose of lemon detergent and coriander with a great spritzy bite. Refreshing, crisp, and highly quenching. This is a superb Belgian-style wit. Highly recommended.
Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam: This is a hybrid of styles. A farmhouse ale meets a witbier. Poured a soapy straw hazy body with a swirly white head. Spicy, sour flavors great for the winter month, and light enough for summer, too. Another worthy offering from Dexter, Michigan’s finest. Recommended.
2007 Upstream Batch 1000 Barleywine: From Omaha’s Upstream Brewing, the Batch 1000 weighs in at a hefty 10.2% ABV. Pours a thick orange-amber body with a small wispy white head. Nose of potent boozy caramel, honey, raisins and cookie dough. This beer was definitely hot and slightly oxidized. It didn’t age well in the short time it had been cellared, but it was interesting nonetheless. I’ve been to Upstream in Omaha and there are definitely some great beers there worth checking out. Recommended.
Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout: From Baltimore, Maryland’s Clipper City Brewing comes this subsidiary brewery’s extreme series’ stout. Deep black-brown in color with a minuscule swirling head, the Peg Leg will have you hopping around to the tune of bright alcohol plumes and coffee, chocolate, caramel, and toffee notes. Perhaps this beer would make for a great cigar beer, if I smoked.
Fantom Printemps: Does the brewer at Fantom make anything that isn’t funky and fabulous? A friend told me about a visit to the brewery where he encountered the brewer milking a cow next to the brew set-up. This is not hard to imagine after sipping on the Printemps. After the cork flew out of the bottle upon removing the cap, unprevoked, nearly taking out my face, the Printemps (“Spring” in Francois) gushed with carbonic enthusiasm. Beneath the monstrous white effervescent head resided a deep murky amber-copper body that eventually calmed to a soft, bubbly beige-tan lather. The scent of ripe cheese lingered above the glass, while the mouthfeel was a clinging back-of-the-mouth sort of presence. Lots going on in this wondrous Belgian brew. Highly recommended.
Olfabrikken Jule Ale: This Danish ale brewed with coriander and cinnamon as well as a buttload of NW Chinooks possessed one of the greatest noses to date. A chestnut, pater hue was the body with a small off-white swirling head. Flavors of candy, cinnamon, and sticky hops korraled with caramel malts. Visions of sugar plums danced in my head. Olfabrikken never ceases to amaze me with how well they can utilize Pacific NW ingredients to make some of the most fabulous beers I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. Highly recommended.
Struisse Aardmonnik – Earthmonk: This particular Flemish sour oud bruin is a sour vinous beer. With a murky, drab brown body and absolutely no head, the nose is much like a Rodenbach Grand Cru. Vinegary, sweet, and uber-tart. This No. 7 batch sells at about $2/ounce ($20 for 11.2 oz), making it one of the most expensive beers around. At 8% it is boisterous and astute brew with a defiant flair. Granted, for the price, there are far better choices out there, but this particular beer is quite interesting.
2007 New Glarus Belgian Red: This beer is always a hit when it shows up at a tasting. With its ruddy ruby red-brown good looks and its indescribably fresh tart cherry nose, its ecstacy in a bottle. Each sip is a journey into a world of creativity and imagination that takes ownership of your perceptions of what beer can be. One of the single greatest American beers I’ve ever tasted, this Lambic-style gem exudes personality and a multidimensional attitude that most fruit beers can’t even come close to. Highly recommended.
Stone Vertical Epic 7/7/7: Last year’s Epic from Stone brewing has held up quite nicely. A bright golden-copper-orange body with a small white head and ginger, cardimom, citrus nose precursors a whirlwind of flavors that develop within the glass. The ginger is subtle and no where near over powering. The cardimom delivers a chewy spiciness that offsets the often distracting ginger. The grapefruit peel and orange peel nicely complement the citrusy NW hops and Belgian yeasts and result in a prickly candied treat. Recommended.
Port 2nd Year Anniversary: Nothing with hops shall be executed half-way with Port Brewing. This bohemoth IIIIPA poured a turbid orange ruddiness and enough legs to rival conjoined millepede twins. The nose itself delivers enough hops into your system to make the temples blush with a dose of alpha resins. Maybe even hoppier than the Hop-15, the 2nd Year is an odd pairing of hop flavors that doesn’t quite work like the 15 does. It seems this beer is an alpha bomb, not an alpha king. Simply an overdose of hops not well constructed. Still, worth a palate dismantling, Recommended.
Krusovice Imperial Czech Premium Lager: Kralovsky! This is the second beer I’ve had from this Czech brewery and it is the second one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Pouring a pale golden straw body with a small white head, this beer was spicy and well attenuated with nice dry, gritty finish. The water is hard but the finish is warm and well rounded. A breath of fresh air in this genre of brew.
De Dolle Reserva Oeurbier 2006: I picked this one up at Bottleworks in Seattle. It was smart for them to limit these to two per customer. I might have bought them all. A dark chestnut-brown body with a small beige swirling head introduced a funky sour dark fruit nose. Hints of cherries lingered in the background. The finish was an amazing sour, lively, and mildly musky desert in a bottle. Tres bien. Highly recommended.
Echigo Stout: From Japan came this (7% ABV) black bodied, slightly brown-amber opaque brew with a white speckled head. Coffee, chocolate, and chalky notes emitted from the brew. Overall, a pleasantly clean, crisp, bright, thin, and smooth offering. Recommended.
DeRegenboog t’Smisje Calva Reserva: Another mysterious beer from Bottleworks. Aged in Calavados casks, the 11% ABV beer was brewed with coriander spice and grains of paradise. A dingy orange-amber hue, the Calva Reserva offered a universe of complexities. Honey, rum, white pepper, maple syrup, orange, tannins and others came to light. My only regret is that I didn’t have more. We split an 11.2 ounce bottle five ways. Highly Recommended.
2007 Midnight Sun Conspiracy: This one-time beer was a great find at a small bottle shop off the beaten path. A Belgian-style black beer, the Conspiracy was a collaboration between Gabe of Midnight Sun and Ben of Hopworks (formerly of Pelican). Poured a deep, dark black body with a thick white head. Wonderfully nutty sweet, robust, chewy, the Conspiracy held up great. I wish I had more.
2006 Alesmith Speedway Stout: What an you say about the Speedway that can’t be sid before. Deep, dark, rich, bold with lots of coffee. A dessert, a breakfast, a meal in a bottle with the buzzing of racecars and caffeine circling your befuddled and enamored beer-lovin’ brain. Here is a beer that is up there on a pedestal with the likes of the New Glarus Belgian Red and Deschutes Abyss. If you haven’t had this beer before, drop what you are doing right now, and buy two bottles. Drink one now, and throw the other in your cellar. OMG! Highly Recommended.
2007 Hitachino Nest XH: The XH is a sake-barrel aged Belgian amber brewer in Japan by a German brewer. Pouring an amber-copper hazed body with a creamy tan head, the XH has a unique nose of mushrooms and sour candy. To call this beer complex would perhaps be somewhat of an understatement. There’s a lot going on here and you need to try it to see what I mean. Love it or hate it, it’s a one of a kind worth your palate. Recommended.
2006 Pike Old Bawdy Barleywine: I pulled this out of my cellar, delighted to discover that letting it age had undoubtedly improved the complexity and flavor profile of it fresh. It went from hot and hard on the edges to smooth and dynamic. An orange-copper body and a thick whitish head revealed notes of bubblegum, caramel, citrus rind, and juicy orange. This beer is one to be cellared and slowly quaffed for maximum pleasurability. Enjoy the body buzz! Recommended.
Black Butte XX Porter: Deschutes’ 20th Anniversary treat is an abysmally deep, dark Imperial Porter that plays more like a stout aged in bourbon barrels. A soft plush beige head covers this artfully constructed delight. Notes of peppery chocolate and boozy bitter sweet toffee. The XX is a great choice for your cellar, that is, if you can still find it.
Aecht Schlenkerla Weizen: The smokiness of this brewery’s beers vary from style to style. This one, the unfiltered wheat rendition, is undoubtedly the smoothest and most drinkable. Smoky malt character and sweet malt character meld to form a medium-bodied chestnut colored keeper. Unlike other richer renditions from Aecht Schlenkerla, the Weizen is one you won’t need to share, and is still appropriate for pairing with mild to sharp cheeses, chilis, and sesame crackers. Mmmm. Highly Recommened.
2007 Roots Organic Pinot Noir Barrel-aged Epic Ale: Here is the second batch of Roots’ gigantic Epic Ale. And, this particular one was aged in Pinot Noir casks. At around 13 or 14% ABV, this fantabulous monster of a beer poured a dark chestnut body with no head. A bold whiff of dark fruits, wine, sour tannins, and prunes is just the lead up to a hardy, decadent giant brew. Best if approached with the greatest of caution, the Epic is so smooth, it can be fatal early. With time this beer develops its profile of malts and hops and extreme alcohol into an amalgumation of textures and flavors unlike any other beer I’ve yet to try. Highly Recommended.