Marathon Beer Tasting on College Ave. Oooh... Yeah...
Beer 1--Russian River Sanctification:
This is an all-Brettanomyces beer. Cool concept. Pale gold. 6.5%. Nice lambicy, flowery nose. Kier likened to salad with bitter green aromas and slight vinegary-ness. Wet straw. Palate is a little uneventful, but it's dry and delicately funky in the finish. We enjoyed this. Bring on the brett. Russian River can brew Belgian styles; also try "Damnation" if you haven't.
Beer 2--Hanssens Oude Kriek. This is one of our favorite lambics. Beautiful color--not all that red for a kriek--certainly devoid of pink. Kind of a cedary amber color. Aromatics: Sour pie cherries; old wood; very, very slight fecal thing when severely agitated; acetic acid; dirt and arugula; slight dairy thing; wet redwood/old deck;
Staggering palate: Quiveringly sour; big cherry thing in the finish; grabs the back of your tongue; papaya-esque, enzymatic face-eating deal; definite passion-fruit; other tropical fruits, like kumquats or loquats (we can't agree on that). It's a puckery, complex joy to drink.
With his first big sip, Kier choked momentarily and said, "yeah, that's the stuff." Note that it mellows in a way as it warms. We've concurred that this virtually supercedes all other Krieks. Cantillon Kriek is great, but less complex. Oud Beersel is awfully good, but not as complex or as funky; the current Boon is a joke by comparison. Parenthetically, at $8.49 a bottle this seems irrationally cheap--it's cellared three years at the brewery before release. How -do- they do it??
Beer 3--Hanssens Oude Geuze:
Can it get better? Maybe. Pretty golden color. Nose opens up with a barn-yardy/paddocky thing. Tiny bit of uric acid; freshly cut green apples; pineapple; mealy chestnuts (?); kiwi; tangerine; a little of the wood/deck thing too; little stinky cheese component.
Palate: Little tannic twinge in the very end of the finish; scrunchy dryness; really quite acidic overall; pretty grapefruity in its tartness; Kier notes a sorrel sharpness; Michael Jackson, in absentia, mentions that it's rhubarby--we agree.
Kier says it has legs--it is a little more viscous and palate-coating than the Kriek. I've had these together before. Last time I thought the Geuze was slightly more engrossing overall; this time, it went the other way. I thought the Kriek was a little more perfectly balanced. (Trina liked it better than the Kriek.)
Beer 4--Fantome, La Gourmande: This is a part-spelt Saison beer. We're mixing in a little Humboldt Fog goat cheese, just to see what happens. Herby note to the nose: oregano? thyme? mint? grass? At any rate, a very complex greenery thing. Herbes de Provence? Dried herbs, not fresh; also some pepper. Light, ultra crisp palate. This is just spectacular with the Humboldt Fog, which is now one of my favorite cheeses. It's a rich, funky goat cheese, with a layer of ash, interesting rind, and a melty layer by the rind. Quite decadent.
Beer 5--Brasserie Dupont, Biere de Miel: Wonderful, fat, honeyed nose, with an herbal component. The palate has a first strike of honeyed richness, then dries into a snappier, Saison-esque thing. The finish is rich, honeyed, and earthy. This is a wonderful beer and, in a slightly more corpulent way, goes well with the Humboldt Fog too.
Beer 6--Poperings Hommel Ale: Just as a supplement, Kier and I shared this. No, Trina too. Main point is the bright crispness, and the minty hop aroma. Yummy stuff. Smaller bottle, thank god.
Note on cheese: At this point, we're breaking and having bread, Prosciutto di Parma, little teeny Santa tomatoes, soft Tuscan pecorino fresco, Le Berger de Rodastin (a soft, really runny sheep's cheese), and Goat Monte Enebro ( a firmer, but still very moist cheese, surrounded by some sort of ashy mold). This is fun.
Beer 7--An interlude: This is just Kier and I drinking an Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Ur-Marzen. This is the supremely smoky Bamberg smoked beer to end all smoked beers. Kier hated this before, but he's come around, admiring its "little smokies" aroma. The nose is a mix of old wet campfire, walnutty tannins, Munich maltiness, and smoked Gouda. Very meaty nose followed by a nice, tightly articulated malty center.
Beer 8--N'Ice Chouffe: Deep amber--tending toward sepia. Spiced with curacao and thyme. 10% a.b.v. Limited edition, 2003. Been in bottle a while, obviously--18 months? Heavy, herby, spicy nose. Fairly perceptible alcohol. Crab-apples; mace; nutmeg; citrus. Big, malty, nutty body. As it warms up, it gets really creamy and rich; there's a mixture of bright orange and some deeper, red-winey fruity-tannic elements in the palate. Some roast malts in the nose too. Big, spicy, earthy finish, with a mixture of malt and lingering, citrusy brightness. This is a really fabulous beer. I need to make something kinda similar and age it a good long time.
Beer 9--Gouden Carolus Noel: Year unknown. 10% a.b.v. More toward deep amber than sepia. Licorice; mace (?); cinnamon glaze; almondy nuttines; macaroons; house-extracty character (Jeremiah and I were obsessed with the almond extract quality of the Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emperor a year or so ago); tiny mintiness in the nose. Huge, creamy palate; distinct sweetness barely balanced by some underlying hops; lingering, coconutty finish. This is a pretty yummy beer, slightly more balanced than the grand cru I had had before.
This was a kick-ass beer tasting. I thought we managed to maintain a remarkable focus, considering the number of beers and their strength. Kier says, "fuckin' A, let's go bowling."