Hello again!  So, it’s about 90° out and deliciously sticky, so I’m feeling lazy and am skipping the intro to the second half of this epic beer tasting.  For those of you who joined me for part one, you know the deal on this anyway; for those of you who didn’t (I won’t hold it against you, really, I won’t, I promise!) click here.

Brews Number 10, 11, & 12

Brews Number 10, 11, & 12

10. Black Cauldron Imperial Stout / Grand Teton Brewing Co. / Idaho, US / 8.0%

This adorable seasonal comes in a tiny 12 oz bottle wrapped neatly on the neck with silver foil.  With a completely opaque dark-as-night pour with no head, this brew completely fits the Russian Imperial Stout bill.  On the nose was a savory chocolate aroma; bready and sweat meat, like a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and Virginia ham.  The creamy, liquor-like taste boasted malted ice cream with pretzel bits, while the bitterness of the hops complimented the chocolate like a fine espresso- coffee with a bite.

11. Siberian Night Imperial Stout / Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. / Ohio, US / 9.0%

This Imperial poured slightly clearer and with a big bubbled yet small head.  I smelled creme brulee, Starbuck’s coffee (coffee with the bold, burnt characteristics of Starbuck’s signature blends), and a slight twinge of licorice.  The brew is very bitter and bright (full of carbonation for an Imperial Stout) as it meets the tongue.  The licorice twinge comes out in a touch of Sambuca.  Again, there is a savory breadiness to the brew, with a buttery undertone, and a little bit of liquory flame.

12. Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout /Bierbrouwerij Grand Cafe Emelisse / Kemperland, Netherlands / 11.0%

This surprising Russian Imperial stood up quite well for itself.  The pour was pitch black with a creamy milk chocolate flavored head.  True to the RIS form, this stout was very chocolate oriented in both smell and flavor.  On the nose was a deep, dark chocolate fudge ripple, while the taste was that of a slightly burnt piece of Hershey’s chocolate found in a S’more sandwich at a Summer night cookout.  The great thing about this brew was that it was a great example of the Russian Imperial style itself, without all the extra bells and whistles.

Brews Number 13, 14, 15 & 16

Brews Number 13, 14, 15 & 16

13. La  Maline (Belgian Dark Ale) / Brasserie Thiriez / France / 5.8%

With a beautiful dark cherry brown color and big bubbled head with milky lacing, this sour beer actually worked for my palate.  I’m normally not a sour beer connoisseur, but this brew had just the right balance of sour with the normal Belgian dark fruit flavors.  The nose was the first thing that clued me into the impending sourness of the beer, with hint of citrus and lots of date.  My tongues first glance of this beer was super sour, but that waned as I let the beer sit in my mouth.  This is a deliciously done Belgian brew; dark and fruity, drinkable and filling with tender sour notes.

14. Grand Crüe / Sixpoint Craft Ales / Brooklyn, NY / 12.4%

Grand Cru is a term that comes from the wine world, and knowing as such, I expected a lot from this brüe… I mean, brew.  Dark copper in color, the beer smelled of boxed red wine or red grape juice.  The smell even reminded me somewhat of that popular Nuvo drink- marketed as the World’s first Sparkling Liqueur.  On the taste was grape jelly mixed with cheap alcohol.  I was somewhat disappointed with this brew, and I believe that to be because it was so hyped up to me.  Basically, the Grand Crüe was nothing to write home to Mom about.

15. He’Brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah (13) / Schmalz Brewing Co. / California, US / 13.0%

Now here’s a brew that, from the start, I knew what I was getting into.  Boasting 13 hops and 13 malts, this was to be one BIG beer journey.  Again, I faced another gorgeously colored brew- dark cherry stain with tan lacing.  The nose caught a sweet, thick, buttery bread smell, perhaps Challah (for our Jewish friends)?  There is an über sweetness to the gulp that burns all the way down with lots of caramel and butterscotch flavors.  Sadly, the hops are lost behind the multiple bready malt flavors, however, this is still one tasty drink.  I would have liked to see more hoppiness to balance out the sweet intensity to this brew, but not having the hops did not ruin the brew.  Mazel Tov!

16. Hitochino Nest Commemorative Ale (aka Celebration Ale) / Kiuchi Brewery / Japan / 9.0%

As I went to open this adorably bottled brew, it foamed out all over the entire table and continued to spill out of the bottle for about two whole minutes.  The bottle conditioning on this ale really did it’s work!  My nose got really excited for this super spice-rack of a brew, stating “Coriander FTW!” (That’s “For The Win”, for all of you out there not hip to the trends…)  My tongue went right along for the ride with my nose, starting with sweet vanilla and then meeting up with cinnamon (the bigger spice on the taste).  This ale is very drinkable and bright; something about spices always screams holiday to me, which goes right along with the “Celebration” theme.

Brews Number 17, 18, 19, & 20

Brews Number 17, 18, 19, & 20

17. Sea Hag IPA / New England Brewing Co. / Connecticut, US / 6.2%

Before I even opened this brew, I knew I would love it due to the adorable can alone.  Cloudy and gold with a tiny white head, I could tell that this would be a proper yet malty IPA from it’s aroma of pine forest and bread and butter.  With a generously malty and sweet undercurrent, this brew is savory with a well stated hop taste.  There is a great balance to Sea Hag that leads it to be very drinkable with just enough taste to be a great compliment with food.

18. Union Jack IPA / Firestone Walker Brewing Co. / California, US / 7.5%

Crystal clear and pale golden amber give way to big white lacing on the Union Jack IPA.  With an odor of marble bread spread lightly with butter or perhaps, even, a spiced cheese spread such as Alouette, this brew is creamy and bready with sharp, bitter hops on top.  Drinkable, refreshing and flavorful, this brew is one of, if not, my favorite IPA.  Two thumbs way up on this one.

19. Gubna Imperial IPA / Oskar Blues / Colorado, US / 10.0%

While paler and a tiny bit cloudier than the Union Jack IPA, Gubna is an Imperial IPA, meaning that it is hoppier and stronger in ABV.  Smelling of lemon scent Pinesol, melted butter, chicken noodle soup and orange peel, the savory citrus of this brew both conflicts and intrigues me.  While I was sipping for taste, the smell of chicken soup was so strong it was almost impossible not to think that I was drinking chicken soup.  Gubna is bigger and more hoppy than the Sea Hag IPA, but just as well balanced and drinkable.  Another strong IPA example on this momentous night, and another brew that I would recommend.

20. La Rouge Flamande (Flanders Red Ale) / Brasserie Thiriez / France / 5.8%

The last beer of the night was also the most sour, which, as I have previously stated, is not my favorite style of beer.  Brownish copper and a bit cloudy, my nose screamed in alarm at the aroma coming off La Rouge, “SOUR SOUR SOUR SOUR cherry”.  It reminded me of those baby bottle candy pop things I would have as a kid where the nipple of the bottle was a hard candy pop and the body of the bottle held that sour candy powder in it for dipping (sounds SO terrible now that I look back as an adult, but I LOVED those things!)  I actually really enjoyed this brew; although it was definitely sour, it was not overwhelmingly so, with a sweet and tangy SweetTart like dichotomy of cherry flavors.

So that’s it on this epic tasting journey, folks.  I hope you had as much fun as I had but without the wicked headache that I sported the next morning.

Remember- this was done by a trained professional- don’t try this at home.

Okay, I lied.  I’m not trained, nor am I a professional.  And yes, you should try tasting beer anywhere you would like.  Just remember that I did not actually DRINK all of these brews, but tasted them and then spit them out into a spittoon instead of swallowing (glamorous, I know, but it’s what the wine people do as well.  You cannot truly taste the brews if you’re getting drunk off of them, too!)

So, go to your favorite beer store, pick up a few beers you’ve never tried but have been dying to taste, and settle in for a fun night of experimentation- and always remember to share your finding and thoughts with all of us other beer geeks out there.  Cheers!

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