Cat and I were looking through our Beer Cellar at all of the specialty beers and beers not sold in North Carolina that we had accrued on our numerous sojourns of the past six months or so. We realized that we had some beers that had gotten mixed in that were not optimal for aging. Either the ABV was below 7.5 or 8% or they were hoppy and we didn’t want to lose all of the hop aroma that makes them distinguishable. Either way we decided it was a great opportunity to fill the fridge with these beers and have a get together with a few friends and discuss the different beers we wanted to enjoy, and in true Charlotte Beer Couple fashion, we threw in a few that could have sat in the cooler for a long time and a few fresh beers. So we invited a couple friends over, Cat fired up the pizza stone and we proceeded to make some craft pizza, we actually use craft beer in the dough!
Who was in attendance, you ask? Great question! Charlotte has some fine palates when it comes to beer and the team we assembled represent some of these fine folks. Anyone who drinks (as a group) a 3 Liter bottle of New Holland Dragon’s Milk deserves to be classified as a beer guy!
NICE! Happy Birthday Rick!
On the top step, he isn’t that tall, is Robert. Left to right in the middle are Willis, Dave, then Rick. I enjoy sharing some good beer with these guys and the conversations that ensue from them are pretty radical.
So Cat started cranking out some awesome pizzas as we tried the first of our beers- a Kolsch from Ballast Point that I kind of spoke in a negative light of after getting home the other night from paying $13 for a six pack that was labeled “Pale Ale” on the can. Sorry Ballast Point about that- I love your Hoppy and your Dark Beers but I wasn’t expecting that to be a Kolsch. We started out with that beer because it is an easy ice breaker to the session of beers to come. A good Kolsch and a good amuse bouche of beer.
The next beer that we sampled was Augustiner Brau Maximator. This is a German Dopplebock. Another friend of mine, Rich from Atlanta, is known to buy everyone sitting at the bar an Augustiner. He always spoke of the Maximator, which is not available in North Carolina for no known reason other than the distributor doesn’t carry it. So we were in Virginia a few weeks ago and saw it, so we bought it, of course! The overwhelming consensus was dried fruit, cherry, raisin, prune, etc. We all agreed there were nice hints of caramel and that the beer was very smooth with a nice uniform flavor because of the lager style. Excellent suggestion, Rich!
Next up…. Heavy Seas and Devil’s Backbone Land Ho!!!!! This collaboration beer is RARE in North Carolina, as is any Devil’s Backbone beer. I have read of them winning more awards at GABF than beers I can actually get my hands on to try. So when we saw it in Maryland, we grabbed it! Across the board we all agreed it was a complex dark lager (Black Pilsner to be exact). Lots of roasty flavor with hints of chocolate or coffee that dissipate immediately finishing in a crisp refreshing manner. Very unique and well brewed beer.
Next we sampled the Dead Guy Ale from Rogue. Everyone familiar with craft beer has had this beer but we wanted to reintroduce our palates to something we were comfortable with. THEN we tried THE BEARD BEER!!! A very limited amount of bottles of this American Wild Yeast Ale made their way into North Carolina. There are probably some still available as many people’s curiosity does not overpower their reservations of a beer brewed with yeast that had grown in a human beard! But not just any beard, this is the Brewmaster of Rogue, John “more hops” Maier. He has had his beard since 1978 and has brewed over 15,000 beers since then. As the bottle suggests, it is no wonder the perfect yeast for brewing lives in his beard. And the beer…. a very easy drinking farmhouse style ale. Very light in color with hints of Banana. Very refreshing and surprisingly great!
At this point we are getting REALLY excited about the evening. More pizzas to balance the beers as they are poured. What is next? Only the Stone Lucky Bastard! With the Hops and IBU’s classified, one can only guess what this beer may be like. Hint: Stone = Hops and a good amber color most of the time. This beer was pretty easy drinking with a great flavor with hints of malt. I got some pretty nice hop flavor but not everyone thought the hops were pronounced. We all agreed that it was rich, caramel, and spicy. Several people thought the hops were exactly what you would expect from Stone while others thought it was less hoppy. This beer (per Stone) was supposed to be enjoyed by the end of January. Therefore my aging of the beer might have dulled the hoppiness. In conclusion we all loved the beer, yet had somewhat different flavors and aromas from tasting it. Pretty typical of Stone if you ask me.
Then there was Belgium. We can not exclude Belgian Beers as they are unique and fun. So we sampled Trappist Rochefort 6. This is a Belgian Trappist Ale that is a great introduction to Belgian Ales. What is the difference between a Trappist Brewery and an Abbey? Good question! Trappist is run by Monks, Abbey is created to model a Trappist Brewery without the Monks. The beer was a slightly fruity, slightly yeasty, slightly sweet, slightly everything well balanced beer. Overall good but underwhelming.
Maybe the highlight of the night, Dos Cocoas from Terrapin! This is a re-release of the number 4 beer in Spike’s Side Project Series at Terrapin. By popular demand they remade this beer. Thank Goodness! Chocolate Heaven!!! This is an amazing Chocolate Porter that several of us said tasted like Liquid Bliss without the peanut flavor. If you see this on the shelf- buy it, then email me and I will give you my address. Easily one of my favorites of all times! One person said it tasted like those chocolate oranges they sell around Christmas time. Killer Beer, Spike! While we are talking about Terrapin- they are now available in Virginia! And if you see the Recreation Ale- UM, BUY IT! It is the best Pale Ale I think I have ever had!
What is the Dank Tank and where can I find it???
Well that is the tank that didn’t need to be removed during expansion because it wasn’t in the way. Nick, the Brewmaster, was allowed to keep the tank, provided he only used it for SPECIALTY brews. Since that is his passion he obliged and we have The Dank Tank!!! You can visit the Sweetwater Brewery next time you visit Atlanta as it is located just outside of the Downtown Atlanta area. As you can see by the picture they were brewing “Some Strange” when I took this picture in March. I was on the brew floor filling 25 casks of tasty suped-up beer with Nick and some other friends! Some Strange….. A Black IPA! Love these? Do you? This beer had amazing balance between the roasty dark flavors and the hops. Neither was overpowering. I would actually call this a perfectly balanced hoppy dark ale! We all loved it and wished we had more to enjoy. Awesome brew, Nick and company!!!
Next up was Blue Mountain Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Hollow Imperial Stout!!!! The only regret I have is not finding any of the batch that got infected and turned sour called The Sour Devil!!! I looked everywhere! Anyone got any extras laying around? That would have been amazing!!! But the brew that the brewery INTENDED for us to get originally is pretty epic anyway! We all agreed the beer was in the Bourbon Barrels for long enough but not too long as it gave it a nice bourbon flavor without overpowering the beer. I love a good Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout so long as you are still aware that it is a beer you are drinking. Otherwise give me a Woodford Reserve on the rocks and some SEC Football and I am happy, not long now until football! Anyway we all liked this beer and considered it to be a drinker and not just a sipper. Bourbon hit you up front and then subsided as you got to also enjoy the taste of this smooth finishing subtle chocolate stout. Cat said it made her sad to drink it because then it was gone. I loved that line and thought it was a perfect description of saying good bye to this beer we brought back from up north.
The last beer we sampled was Brew Dog’s Tokyo! This is an 18.2% alcohol beer that would be illegal to sell in the great state of North Carolina. Thank goodness our friend Ryan brought this back from his Ireland trip! This is a Scottish beer brewed as an American Imperial Stout. If you are confused, that’s alright. I was too! This beer starts out ultra sweet and finishes strong on the alcohol but smooth. 18.2%! I expected it to climb off the table and kick me in the face! Didn’t happen. Much smoother than that. Several people said they tasted mincemeat, like the pie. Cat and I both compared it to a Port Wine, A fortified sweet wine one would serve with dessert. This started a discussion as several of our friends were unfamiliar with Port Wine. Thank goodness we were able to pull a bottle out of the fridge and give everyone samples! Then we realized we had some left over cupcakes!!! The night before our good friends Mitch and Ally had an engagement party and Cat made the cupcakes, chocolate and Kahlua!!! Now everyone understood the correlation between the Tokyo and the Port Wine.
I just want to say THANKS on behalf of Cat and myself to our friends for coming over and sampling some beers, the breweries for the amazing beers they made, and the readers for following us and reading our posts! Keep drinking local, keep drinking craft, and keep making a difference; one can (o.k. or bottle) at a time! Without you guys the craft beer movement would not exist! Cheers!