He Said/She Said #2 – Troegs Scratch #28 (2010 Troggen Roggen), Eve’s Cidery Bittersweet Cider & Alaskan Brewing Company’s 2009 Smoked Porter
Welcome to stage two of the He Said/She Said beer review journey. Again, I have joined forced with Lee Norman Williams of Hoptopia. If you haven’t checked out his site yet, do so. Now. Your palate will thank you.
Our night started out with a 12 oz bottle of Troeg’s Scratch Beer #28. (Blogger’s Note: The linked up website shows the thought process behind Troeg’s Scratch Beer series, however, the brew described is actually the next in the series, #29, and has not been released yet.) #28 has affectionately been code named “Troggen Roggen” and is a Roggenbier, or German Rye beer. Neither Lee nor I had ever partaken in this style brew before, so we were both excited to delve into Scratch #28.
The brew poured golden and full of sediment. Lee immediately got collard greens cooked with bacon on the nose, while I got a whiff of natural clay (the kind you would find as a kid playing in the muddy dirt). Instead of bacon, I smelled super salty pork rinds. Lee rounded out the aroma with cloves and a bit of rhubarb crumble.
We agreed that the brew was very effervescent and tingly. Lee noted that it was super bitter, but that the intense carbonation (up there at the level of big champagne bubbles) balanced the bitterness very well. He also tasted grilled bananas, which, paired with the cloves he smelt, as well as date and golden raisin undertones, caused him to compare this Roggenbier to a light abbey ale. He also called out sharp, sour black current and gooseberry undertones. I found a tiny taste of citrus at the turning point of the swallow- as if adding a powder packet Crystal Light Grapefruit-ade to a bottle of water- watered down, sugary grapefruit hints. I would drink this beer again but am not a huge fan- it’s definitely not at the top of my list. Lee, on the other hand, really liked Scratch #28, stating he could easily drink more than one.
We moved on to Bittersweet by Eve’s Cidery. While cider is NOT a beer, they are often close to beer in complexity and fermentation and are sometimes found in the beer aisle. While the bottle says that this cider is 10% ABV, that is on the high end of the spectrum for ciders, which usually top out at about 8%. While some ciders are full of sediment, this cider poured clear and golden, like a champagne style apple juice.
Lee smelled suntan lotion with aloe, wet gravel, the marshmallows from Lucky Charms and melted butter on this cider. The obvious aroma for me on was fresh rain in an apple orchard- a clean, crisp, organic apple smell. Also among the nose was gasoline. Lastly, a smell that brought me back to my childhood, was the scent I would get upon opening one of those huge Popcorn Factory popcorn tin full of buttery popcorn, cheesy popcorn, and caramel popcorn.
The massive, soda-like bubbles on Lee’s tongue complimented the lemon Jolly Rancher taste. The clean, refreshing apple juice base gave nothing of an alcohol content away. I thought it tasted more like green apple Warheads than of lemon Jolly Ranchers. Whatever the case, the large carbonation and clean citrus taste lent the cider a palate cleansing vibe, much like a sorbet in between courses. Lee compared it to a French table cider, stating that, although the cider is decent on its own, he would like it better with a large meal- and any kind of large meal at that.
Last, but certainly not least, we popped open a 22 ounce bottle of Alaskan Brewing Company’s 2009 Smoked Porter. At 6.5% ABV, this brew poured out a beautiful russet rust color with lots of creamy head. Lee even commented on the head, (uncommon for Hoptopia), stating that it looked like a gorgeous root beer float.
Lee’s first reaction to the nose was “really, really, really smoky burnt bacon.” From there he added candied carrots, chipotle, roasted red pepper, and red pepper flakes. I took thickly burnt charcoal and overdone steak fillets marinated in teriyaki and soy sauces as well as sesame oil.
Both of us agreed that our taste buds were assaulted with an onslaught of ash upon the first sip. Lee described it as “chewing sketching charcoal” and ashy and volcanic, like cindered rock. The beer overwhelmed us both with its hoppy bitterness and lack of any sweet malted flavors. To me, it was almost as if the beer could be made smoky due to roasted hops and could forgo malts altogether. Lee thought that the brew will be far to overwhelming for some people- even including the most seasoned of beer drinkers. As an avid smoked beer fan, I was not completely sold on this porter. While the ashy and bitter tastes were definitely amazingly extreme; the two giant tastes compete with each other, leaving no room for the tiny complexities that I love so much about smoked beers (chocolates, caramels, spices, oh my!)
While Lee admitted to liking the Smoked Porter, he said that he would have to be in a specific frame of mind to order it. I liked it a lot but the dual flavors were so intense that I would nurse the brew all night (not always a bad thing!) Even with the lower alcohol content, this beer is one for sipping.
As they say, two heads are better than one, and, well, three beers are better than two. I couldn’t have asked for a more diverse and complex set of brews to taste on this He Said/She Said (Part Deux!) extravaganza. Lee and I both had a blast doing this tasting. Again, we hope that you can walk away from reading this a few beers smarter and ready to talk about what you taste in your drinks in the following nights to come.