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April Beer Club

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Beer club was yesterday! For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers and acquaintances at a local BYOB for good food, optional libations, and general merriment. Since the last beer club was sparsely attended, we ended up back at Couch Tomato for some excellent pizza, strombolis (having had both, I would recommend the stromboli over the pizza), and some sort of weird greek plate. Better weather means better attendance, and we had a rather fantastic selection of beer to work our way through:

April Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each are below. As per usual, I'm going almost purely from memory, and this was from last night, so take these notes with the appropriate shakers of salt. Or call it a sacred text and analyze it like the Zapruder film. I'm not here to tell you what to do. I am here to write indefensible notes on beer, so let's get to it:

  • Kaedrin Crom Approved - So it appears that this is doing ok, but I really feel like my challenges that lead to a clogged keg and having to transfer it to another keg really ruined this beer. Ok, perhaps ruined isn't the right term. This has a fantastic, tropical fruit hop nose. The taste definitely feels a bit oxidized, which I unfortunately makes sense and definitely detracts from what I was going for. I'm giving it a B, but the really disappointing thing is that when I first kegged it, I was thinking this was A level stuff. Oh, well, lessons learned, onwards and upwards. My next batch of this beer will be great.
  • Adroit Theory New Zealand Rye (Ghost 179) - I heard about this Virginia brewery a while back and have been curious to try their beers. A regular beer club attendee got down there last weekend and picked up a few beers to try. This one was a pretty solid rye DIPA, more malt and spicy rye than hops, but it also clocks in at a hefty 11% ABV and didn't feel like it at all. It was very nice. B+
  • Crooked Stave St. Bretta (Autumn) - Absolutely delicious beer, funky, light sourness, juicy fruit, really fantastic stuff, along the lines of the Summer (which I've had before)
  • Flying Dog Supertramp - This had a sorta berliner weiss feel to it, but not quite that tart, and while you could get some cherry character out of it, it also had a weird aftertaste. I just never got into this beer. C
  • Modern Times Blazing World - Dank, piney hops with a nice, hefty malt backbone, this is very nice. Just about in line with anything I've had from Modern Times, who seem pretty fantastic. B+
  • Intangible Ales (Pizza Boy) Acidulated Hive - One of Pizza Boy's Intangible Ales label beers (not sure why this is listed as a separate brewery), this is a great little saison. It reminds me of Saison Dupont, except with a lightly funky addition (I don't get much honey out of it, but it does perhaps remind me a bit of funky version of Dupont's Bier de Miel). Well worth seeking out B+ or A-
  • The Lost Abbey Lost & Found Abbey Ale - A pretty standard dubbel that is overwhelmed by raisiny flavors. Nothing bad here, but also nothing particularly special. B-
  • Adroit Theory Lux (Ghost 132) - This is labeled as a wheatwine, and unfortunately, it falls prey to a saccharine, sticky sweet character that would be cloying if I were trying to drink a whole bottle. As a sample in a situation like this, it was fine, but it's not really my thing. C+
  • Central Waters Bourbon Barrel La Petite Mort - A beer I've already reviewed, and it was just as good, if not better this time around. In fact, I think I'll bump it up to an A-
  • Oskar Blues Bolivia Newton John - A relatively low ABV coffee stout (6%), this is obviously not in my wheelhouse, but it seemed like a very well executed coffee stout. B
  • Weyerbacher Sunday Morning Stout - Another coffee stout, this one is an imperial stout that's also been aged in bourbon barrels. This is much more my speed, though again, I never really connected with it as much as I'd like. The coffee seems very well integrated, and the barrel aging adds a nice richness to the proceedings, even if I felt the barrel character was a little too light. Still, while not quite KBS level, it's on the same playing field, and you won't have to jump through many hoops to get ahold of this stuff. B+
  • Bonus Review: Boxcar Brewing Nitro Stout - After beer club, we walked over to Boxcar Brewing's new brewpub and had some stuff there. I grabbed this Nitro stout, a Dry Irish Stout, that might be my favorite thing I've ever had from Boxcar. Now that the brewpub is open, I'm hoping for good things from them... they're the brewery most local to me, but I've always been somewhat underwhelmed by their brews. This was really nice though. B
And there you have it. A fantastic selection this time around, and I am, of course, already looking forward to the next iteration...

Television show pitch: A police procedural about a tiny, 3 inch tall (you might even call him "petite") French-Canadian detective named Mort. He uses his diminutive size to spy on unsuspecting criminals and has an amazing success rate. His partner is a talking Chihuahua named Nacho who is only slightly taller than Mort and in the pilot episode, he's only three days away from retirement. Of course, that means that... Woops, as I was typing this, the NSA was analyzing it on behalf of CBS, who has just offered to buy the rights for the "La Petite Mort" show for $3 million. Those guys sure love their police procedurals. So you're going to have to wait and see what happens to Nacho in the pilot episode.

So I'm rich now. I'll see you later, suckers. In the meantime, check out the tie-in beer (eat your heart out, Ommegang), already made by Wisconsin's own Central Waters (in collaboration with the awesome sounding Chicago bar Local Option). It's a bourbon-barrel-aged, Belgian-inspired Weissenbock. And I thought my stupid pitch was weird:

Central Waters La Petite Mort - Bourbon Barrel Aged

Central Waters Local Option Bourbon Barrel Aged La Petite Mort - Pours a deep, dark brown color with a finger of off white had. Not getting a lot out of the nose. Hints of bready yeast, fruit, and bourbon. As it warms, the nose opens up a bit. Taste has lots of caramelized sugars, maybe even some bready toastiness, an almost nutty flavor too, hints of fruit, with that bourbon and oak coming through towards the finish. Mouthfeeel is well carbonated, medium to full bodied, but only a hint of richness from the bourbon barrel. Relatively dry, which doesn't usually work well with bourbon, but the balance is on point here, so nothing is overpowering. Overall, this is good, really good, and a really nice change of pace too. It grew on my as I drank, too, which is always nice. Solid B+ material.

Beer Nerd Details: 9.05% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/7/13. Vintage 2013.

Central Waters is a brewery I should probably check out more often. Nothing in the immediate pipeline, but their stuff seems available enough around here that I'll certainly pick some up at some point.

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

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So here we go, tapping that hotbed of beery goodness, Wisconsin. In all seriousness, these Central Waters folks have quite the reputation, most especially for their bourbon barrel stuff, which, you know, goes a long way here at Kaedrin. They're also apparently one of them green-powered eco-hippie breweries. My eyes kinda glaze over when I read stuff about that, but from what I gather, the fine folks of Central Waters have invented a race of solar-powered, sentient robots to do all the brewing. The people of Wisconsin are quite industrious and may indeed be architects of the robopocalypse. That, or I have poor reading comprehension. Anywho, let's drink some beer:

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine - Pours a deep amber color with minimal, whitish head. Smells full of bourbon and caramel, with heaping helpings of vanilla and oak. The taste follows the nose pretty well - tons of rich caramel malt flavors, lots of intense, boozy bourbon, along with a little well-rounded vanilla and oak. Some fruity notes open up as it warms. Very sweet, but not quite cloying. Mouthfeel is full bodied, thick, a little light on the carbonation (though not too light at all), a bit of sticky booze in the finish, and a pronounced warming effect from the 11.5% ABV. Overall, pretty much everything you could want from a bourbon-barrel aged barleywine. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.5% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 8/11/12. Bottled in January 2012.

Nice first impression of the solar-powered wizards from Wisconsin, definitely hoping to get my hands on more of their stuff.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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