Memorial Day Weekend – Four Nights Of Imbibing

Did I really drink THIS much over Memorial Day Weekend, 2011? Here’s a brief recap of the weekend’s debauchery:

Sofie, Goose Island – this is a relatively light 6.5% Belgian blonde ale with 20% of it blended in, having been aged in wine barrels with orange peel. Light lactic tartness and funk, lemon zest and white pepper with a dry finish.

Quercus Vitis Humulus, Otter Creek – HUGE 12% American Strong Ale, aged on French oak with grape juice, fermented twice, first with lager yeast, then with Champagne yeast. Massive oak and sweet alcoholic grape flavors abound. A little “hot,” and overly-assertive; could probably use a couple more years in the bottle. Reminds me of Southern Tier’s Cuvee #3.

Consecration, Russian River – Sour brown ale aged for several months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with currants, 10% ABV. Quite tart, with definite vinous and balsamic character, soured dark fruits. Occasional notes of aged cheese. Time in bottle seems to have ramped up the complexity vs. when I last had this.

Thomas Hardy’s Ale 2007 Edition, O’Hanlon’s – Much like the Otter Creek beer tasted earlier in the evening, only the 11.7% ABV here was dialed down and more well-integrated. Dark fruits, musty barrel, notes of sweet tobacco with a relatively dry finish. Outstanding beer that will continue to mature in the bottle for the better over the next 5-10 years.

Beastie Barrel Porter, Barley Island – Porter aged in bourbon barrels. This was an odd “beast.” There was lots of barrel and bourbon, no doubt. Gushed a little upon opening and had some cheesy funk, so I think this picked up some bugs from the barrel. Whether this was intentional or not, I don’t know, but it did add complexity to the typical roasted coffee and chocolate overtones found in a porter.

Milk Stout, Left Hand – The benchmark milk stout. Straight up roasted coffee and chocolate with a soft mouthfeel. An excellent food pairing beer, it goes with anything from chicken wings to vanilla ice cream.

King Crimson, Peak Organic – A 9% Imperial Red, this was a surprisingly muscular beer. Good bit of pine and citrus hoppiness with a semi-sweet caramel malt backbone. Food-wise, this can probably go similar places as can a Double IPA – BBQ, blue cheese, spicy foods, etc.

Punch creations from Aniece @ The Blue Piano – I was able to try two very creative punches while I was at the Blue Piano Saturday night. The first was white wine-based and had a great light tropical-fruit sweetness. Served cold with chunks of fruit, this was very refreshing, and much more potent than it tasted – perfect for a hot 80-degree Miami evening. The second was again served on ice, with a sake and elderflower base. With chunks of cucumber and a cumin-pepper salt rimming the glass, this had a kickin’ spicy-savory dichotomy going on hovering above an unobtrusive sweetness. This was great stuff.

Chipotle Ale, Rogue – A straightforward clean amber ale brewed with chipotle peppers. With some pepper beers, you don’t get too much flavor or heat from the peppers, but with this one the beer base is so clean, it provides a clear stage for the smoky chipotle chilies; there’s no mistaking them.

Guinness Draft, Guinness Ltd – The old classic, a sessionable Irish Dry Stout with comparable caloric content to Bud Light. I’ll never rip on Guinness Draft – unlike Bud, it does have flavor, and I can drink a few of them in a purely social setting without worrying about getting drunk. Not a beer for contemplative beer geek-ery, but certainly a good one for social drinking.

St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat, McAuslan Brewing – Just as it sounds, a wheat beer with a hefty dose of unsweetened apricot both in the nose and on the palate. A perfectly good warm-weather beer, and one I will gladly drink at The Room when I don’t want to get drunk. 5% ABV.

Framboise, Lindemans – See above – a sweetened lambic that was on draft at The Room, and I’d never had it on draft. Therefore, I had to try it. Alcohol content negligible, tastes like a pink Sweet-Tart. Seemed a little more tart on draft than out of the bottle, which was nice. Obvious match for chocolate – or mix some of it with a bigger chocolate stout for a choco-raspberry beer cocktail.

Belzebuth, Brasserie Grain d’Orge – Alcohol content most certainly NOT negligible at 11.8%. Sweet orange up front and burns a little going down, like an orange-infused vodka. This has never been my favorite beer, but it’s not bad when sipped, in small quantities.

And there you have it. When’s the next 3-day weekend??

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