Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Best Things We Drank: March 13-19

This edition of Best Things runs the gamut from light, spring-is-just-around-the-corner beers to dark, event/holiday-driven beers.

Since at this time of year, no matter where you live, you're probably itching for Spring to spring we'll start with the springy-ist of the Best...two goses.
  • Anderson Valley GT Gose - Anderson Valley has really done of great job of remaining relevant with their line of goses. This version, "reminiscent of a classic cocktail, our GT Gose showcases botanical flavors and aromas of lemon peel, juniper, lemongrass, and grains of paradise, with a juicy lemon-lime tartness and a slightly peppery finish" was great when we first tried it last year, on draft then. This year it's joined the others in cans and we're thrilled to have a portable, lower ABV gin and tonic in beer form.
  • Modern Times Fruitlands (Passion Fruit & Guava) - Modern Times has entered this market with guns ablazin' and this crushable beer adds to the track record of delicious beers we've had from them. Starting with a pleasant fruit aroma, followed by a moderate saltiness, we hope that it is available all summer.
 
Then a couple of beers showcasing those hops that we love...
  • Burnside Isomer IPA - Last week we bopped on down to Burnside for the official rebranding celebration and were able to try this super drinkable for 8% beer. Ekuanot is a newer hop we're not familiar with and we can't say for sure yea or nay on Meridians but in this combo Burnside has created, we're happy with both.
  • The Commons Mr. Irrelevant - Anyone familiar with The Commons knows that in their six years in business they have never commercially made an IPA. When we heard that we had, we were eager to try it. It came as no surprise that the talented brewing team had created a superbly balanced IPA.

And finally, the darkest beers...
  • Bell's Kalamazoo Stout - Last week was, of course, the first amateur drinking day of the year and while green beer and Guinness may have been sold in unfathomable quantities we were more concerned about drinking something we actually enjoy. Thus, when we went out, to a location we knew would not be overrun by said amateurs, we fully enjoyed the roasty yum of this Midwest favorite that is better than Guinness by miles in our book.
  • Alaskan Brewing Barley Wine Ale (2013) - Barley Wines can be a tough cookie if they're young and still hot but they can also be great. This one, drank during part II of our Girl Scout cookies and beer pairing, was a bit hot yet after 4 years but it was great enough with Toffee-tastic Girl Scout cookies that we couldn't leave it off the list.

There you have it. Now the only questions are what will you be drinking this weekend, where and with who? Because beer is just better with friends, ones you already know or ones you might find during the shared enjoyment of a delicious drink.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beer & Girl Scout Cookies Pairing Year IV, Part II

Last week, on Pi Day, we dove in to part II of this year's Girl Scout cookies and beer pairing. On the docket were:
- Thin Mints
- Caramel de-Lites/Samoas
- Do-Si-Dos/Peanut Butter Sandwich
- Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties
- Toffee-tastic (gluten-free)

Since our venue happened to have 2013 Alaskan Brewing Barleywine on tap and previous years had taught us that chocolate cookies, which were most of what we had in front of us that day, went well with darker beers like this Chris had to go for it. Although four years old, the beer retained a boozy profile that ended up working well with the Thin Mints, the mint negating that booziness and the beer amping up the mintiness of the cookies. Another big boy - the 18% Dogfish Head World Wide Stout - also found a companion in the Thin Mints. Mag, not one for big beers like these, found Half Acre Daisy Cutter pale ale to be a nice complement to this staple of the cookie line up.

Samoas, a cookie some of our pairing group love and others really don't, can be challenging to pair both because of the overt sweetness and the coconut. Here we found Cascadia Ciderworkers Berry's combination of blackberry, blueberry and cranberry to be quite complimentary to the coconut, to such an extent that the caramel and chocolate flavors nearly vanished. The big Dogfish Head stout also paired well with the overt sweetness of the cookie and the 18% ABV balancing one another.

Switching from chocolate to peanut butter, the Cascadia cider also went nicely with the Tagalongs to provide a peanut butter and jelly sandwich flavor combination. Working off of our love of coffee and coffee beers we opened a beer from a new-to-this-market brewery, Modern Times, their Black House coffee beer. Presenting a strong roasty aroma and flavor it enhanced the peanut butter qualities of this cookie, muscling the chocolate component to the back seat. Once again, diverging from a similar flavor profile and towards a complimentary one, the Half Acre Daisy Cutter hit the mark.

The other peanut butter cookie, Do-Si-Dos, went best with Modern Times Black House, the combination being reminiscent of a cup of coffee and a slice of toast topped with peanut butter. Sounds like a good way to start the day, right? Chris happened to have a Golden Road 329 (lager) open and while the beer itself was sweeter on its own than he would prefer it actually worked with this cookie, confirming Craft Beer & Brewing's recommendation of a malty lager.

Finally, the sole gluten-free cookie of the bunch, Toffee-tastic. It's a cookie that we unanimously like on its own, in large part because of its strong butteriness. It was due to that butter profile (similar to Trefoils) that it worked with and was balanced by the Alaskan Barleywine. With the Modern Times coffee beer it was similar to enjoying an iced coffee and a butter biscotti. And for the an all around gluten-free experience we recommend Magner's Original Irish Cider. The apple-toffee combo played off one another, each enhancing the flavors of the other.

Huge thanks to Chris for procuring the cookies, especially the out of market ones, and being an eager participant along with Mag and the many friends who helped consume All. These. Cookies.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bomb Shelter Beer

Bomb shelters aren't something many under 40 have much of a frame of reference for except perhaps being akin to preparing for a zombie apocalypse. They are a real thing, the majority of which are probably only known to a small number of people. One in Portland was "discovered" by a friend who showed up at an estate sale and kindly shared a couple pictures he snapped while there.


This particular bomb shelter is located in SW and belonged to a prominent, local radiologist. It contained, among other things, some bottles of Widmer beer in brown paper bags. My friend was able to acquire those bottles and over the weekend invited some folks over for the opening of one of them.

A Festbier at a mere 5.2% ABV wouldn't be an obvious choice to age and might be regarded with some suspicion but I've had 20-year-old beers before that turned to be quite good. This one was coming on 28 years old and we figured as long as this didn't foam over upon opening it was probably fine. Not only did it not foam over, there was a pleasant "fsssss" as it was uncapped letting us know that some carbonation remained.


Poured into glasses, it gave off a raisin aroma reminiscent of a fairly sweet beer, sweeter than it actually was and it wasn't unpleasant to drink. Overall, quite impressive for a low ABV beer to have aged so well for such a long time. Nice job, Widmer! And big thanks to Paul for the invitation to try this rare beer.