What happens when you’re an avid beer reviewer and own a generous, rare, and delicious selection of beer but live in a city apartment with the heat of summer setting in and a head cold that just won’t let you get to those reviews?
The real question is… what happens when you’re ^THAT^ man’s girlfriend?
This weekend Hoptopia and I did what any normal couple does on a long, holiday weekend… we cleaned out a closet to become a “beer cellar”. Some call these types of projects “Spring Cleaning.” I call it “the Jackpot.” See, Lee had a lovely little bug (and we ladies always know how men act when they’re sick, amiright? High five!) So, sad panda for him, he couldn’t taste beer- like, literally, his taste buds had gone on strike. I, on the other hand, was simply suffering from a moderate case of allergies and a half chewed off arm (long story). This fortunate turn of events brought about the need for someone to taste and write about twenty (that’s right, folks, TWENTY!) of Lee’s strange and illusive brews in an attempt to clear out room in the refrigerator to save the more fragile brews, such as pale ales and saisons, from a skunky fate.
It was a dirty, terrifying job, but somebody had to do it…
And that somebody was me. Armed with six tumblers at a time, the know how on what order to taste the brews in to save my palate, and a spit bucket for my sanity, I set to work.
1. Fruli Strawberry Beer / Brouwerij Huyghe, Belgium /Fruit Beer / 4.1% ABV
Pouring an opaque amber-red with no head but a white layer of lacing, The Fruli beer smelled of a strawberry sugar lollipop. It reminded me of the flat, circular sugar pops the bank used to give me when my mom would make a transaction at the drive through- the receipt would always come back with a lollipop on top. Taste-wise, the brew was more like the liquid center of a strawberry flavored Halls with a slight medicinal menthol-like bitterness. Fruli Strawberry Beer surprised me on how much I actually enjoyed the brew- the fruit taste was not overwhelming nor horribly off-kilter or artificial. While it wasn’t my favorite, I wouldn’t say no.
2. Siamese Twin Ale / Uncommon Brewers, California, US / Dubbel / 8.5%
“Uncommon beer for uncommon people,” boasts this brew’s can. The Siamese Twin Ale is brewed with coriander (not so uncommon), lemongrass, (getting weirder) and kaffir lime leaves (ding ding ding ding ding!). The fizzy golden copper brew smells like ginger ale with a hint of fresh rain. It tastes earthen- like sandy dirt and dust, clay and Playdoh. There was also a slight menthol taste on this brew which left my mouth feeling a bit numb. While I’m normally a fan of experimental beers, this one was not my flavor.
3. Frambozen Raspberry Brown Ale / New Belgium Brewing, Inc., Denver, US / Fruit Beer / 6.5%
Frambozen is derived from the Flemish word for Raspberry, a flavor which, on this brew, New Belgium did not disappoint. The cherry wood colored liquid immediately gave off a raspberry tang to the tongue while it smelled of compost and peat. It is surprisingly sweet with a slight sour twist- too tiny for that of a Flemish Brown. The Frambozen is very drinkable for the fruity drinker.
4. Monk in the Trunk / Jupiter Brewing Co, Florida, US / American Amber / Red Ale / 5.5%
This Florida native came to me direct from my buddy down in Tampa, DosBeerigos. With sporadic carbonation and no head, I was worried that the brew might not have traveled as well as planned (although it was exquisitely packed). The nose gave off a slightly bready, earthy and weedy malt flavor. A surprising hoppy bitterness met my tongue; very refreshing but with a sour bite that was, luckily, offset by some great fizz.
5. Oberon / Bells Brewery, Inc., Michigan, US / American Pale Wheat Ale / 5.8%
Bells is a brewery that has not failed me yet, and Oberon is a great example of that. With a nose like the beach in the bright summer sunshine (sandy organic seaweed smell), this brew walks the delicate line of balance between hops and malts. The sweet caramel malt undertones support this tiny, bright, fizzy hop beer- great for any summer day.
6. Porterhouse Red / The Porterhouse Brewing Co., Ireland / English Pale Ale / 4.4%
Sadly, this beautiful looking dark amber brew smelled and tasted more than a bit off, forcing me to the conclusion that, somewhere along the line from Ireland to Lee’s hallway, this brew had skunked. Let’s have a moment of silence for my fellow Red…
7. Dr. Klankenstein / Sixpoint Craft Ales, New York, US / Stein Beer / ABV Unknown
To illustrate how lucky I am that I got to try this specialized, one-off production brew, there was no label to be found on this bottle. A true stein beer, this was made by heating rocks to insanely high temperatures to heat the beer for fermentation purposes. The clear, caramel colored beautiful brew boasts a large head that subsides to a milky layer of lacing. On it, I smelt lemon peel, fresh baguette, and a slight grass and pine. These were all reflected in the taste- sweet and hoppy with sweet peanuts and lemon iced tea. This flavor pairing made me want to drink this brew at the local baseball game.
8. Black Raspberry Reserve / Sly Fox Brewing Company, Pennsylvania, US / Fruit Beer / 8%
One of the more beautifully colored brews of the night, the Raspberry Reserve poured maroonish and clear, the color of R39 gel (for all my fellow lighting nerds out there, that’s my favorite gel color- Exotic Skelton Sangria). The delightful “pop” of the cork on this brew gave me the idea that the carbonation would be ever present. After the head subsided, the top of the liquid housed pretty little bubbles that I could have stared at for hours- slowly conjoining with their fellow peers. Otherwise, the beer was exactly what it said it would be- black raspberry preserves on the nose and taste.
9. Wrassler’s XXXX Stout / The Porterhouse Brewing Co, Ireland / Irish Dry Stout / 5%
The first in my line of stouts for the night, I had high hopes for XXXX (while also baring in mind that this was the brother of the skunked Red Ale). Smelling more like a rauchbier (no complaints here!) than a stout, I smelled burnt earth where the rain washes out a fire pit after cooking hot dogs. Wrassler’s tasted very salty and dry, like carbon charcoal without the ashy-ness. As a stout lover and rauchbier enthusiast, this beer gets a thumbs up in my book!
At this point I needed a Tostitos break to recharge my palate. On here I will do the same. Take a hot second, chew on what I’ve given you, dip it in some salsa; make it your own. Stay tuned for brews 10-20! Cheers!