So, I mentioned the wonderful beer bar, Volo. Here's how it went:
Visit 1: Lisa and I stopped and tested the waters. Our kind waitress let us know that they do three five-ounce tasters for five bucks--not a bad deal. Hence we tried the following Canadian items, trying to get a feel for what the good breweries were:
Church Key Biere de Garde: I was not a huge fan. It had a weird aromatic element that reminded me of perfumed lotion or soap. Aloe?? Weird.
County Durham Signature Ale: This was citrus-y and light, served at a good, warm temp. Pretty nice ale; pleasant dry hop character. Cask dispensed.
King Pilsbock: This was very
well-made. It reminded me of some of Randy's Hellesbocks. Very balanced, rich, malty, precise, totally uncloying, brightly hoppy while still being teutonically restrained. Basically, I was impressed.
Church Key Holy Smoke: I thought the chocolate malt character over-ran the smoke character, but it was an interesting beer nonetheless.
Mill Street Coffee Porter: Good beer overall--very nice coffee aromatics. The palate was less exciting.
Wellington Imperial Sout. Nice aromatics; a little thin on the follow-through. Seemed to need more crystal malt.
This was just me, grabbing a couple beers before noon to help get me through a day of over-wrought students and dodgy musicals that turned out to be better than expected.
Hoegaarden Forbidden Fruit: Had never had this and was really pleased. 8.5% a.b.v. Correct glass; good temp again. Lacy, poofy head. Medium amber color. Beautiful, soft, malty palate; light spice; just overwhelmingly mellow. I loved this beer.
Rochefort 6: Had only had this once before and it sounded good and was reasonably priced--less than it cost in a liquor store in Boston anway. Delicate amber color; gorgeous head. It's spicy but subtle, with some appley aromas. Soft, enveloping palate; very dry finish; relatively bracing and surprisingly hop balanced.
This was the bad one. I got completely hammered with an assortment of undergraduates, most of whom were also seriously compromised.
Jenlain Blond (6): This was mediocre. I had never had a Jenlain. They had three varieties and this was the one I arbitrarily requested. It was pleasantly light, but also a little sweet. Basically unremarkable. Oh well.
Scotch Irish Sargeant Major's: Whatever exactly this beer was, it was very nicely balanced and briskly hoppy, with a nice little tea-like quality. Very English-tasting and fun-to-drink. Nice hopping and worth looking into.
Achel 8: Better than I remembered. Had a marvellous, pronounced spiciness and a yummy appley fruitiness. All this was balanced by a slight tartness. A beautiful beer.
Somewhere in here I also sampled some Canadian wheat beer, helped Lisa out with a Duvel, borrowed a sip of Megan's Rochefort 10, and had a half pint of that lovely 8% Pilsbock from the day before.
Great Divide Hercules: Connor and I wanted to try Philips Amnesiac, for the sake of trying a Canadian IIPA, but they were out. I was annoyed not to try a beer from either Philips or Granite, which are supposed to be amongst the best Canadian craft breweries. Anyway, this was the best substitute and I'm not complaining. I had had this once before. It was absolutely awesome, with a HUGE earthy hop character and a drop-dead gorgeous nose. 85 IBU and 9.1%.
Scotch Irish Tsarina Caterina '05: This was an imperial stout. At this point in the evening I was completely destroyed but I did write that it was "good
." I think it really was, and that it was much better than the other imperial above. I also recall that I thought it needed more of the big, dried fruit aromas I expect from Old Rasputin and other distinctive new world imperial stouts. Still a well-made beer though.
Back at the hotel, utterly shattered, I also had some random bottled IPA that I think might've sucked, but I don't remember.
The next morning was unpleasant.