Whatever You Say #22

brownThe reader will have to forgive me a little; it is my wonderful lass’s birthday and so I have indulged her with drinks and such; here are the Outboard Brain notes (with some editing.)

First to the Rogue Alehouse at Flanders, where the girlfriend has a hazelnut brown for her birthday. I have the Charlie 1981 which is an IPA but seems to stride the line b/t the NW IPAs and traditional ones. Very strong nose. Pine at end but it shows up late in the mouth, creating room for the malts to give an almost pale ale impression, until, bullfighter like, it whips the sweetness away for the pine flavors.

Hazelnut brown has a smooth, pudding-like quality in the nose. Tasty but whoa, it’s got a silkiness that is what helps make it so drinkable. I’m glad I stole tastes of that beer while I could.

cherry lemon quadNext up we’re off to the Cascade Barrel house where she’s having the Cherry Lemon ¬†Quad…and so am I (there is still a theme here, people.) I think she may’ve stopped reading the description of the quad at ‘aged in Makers Mark barrels’.

This beer is really something special. Cherry, whiskey and then a hint of lemon at the end-this is why people made and love sour ales. A slight sense of sour is sharp at the end of the nose but it’s just there for show, window dressing to a wonderful brew that I wouldn’t mind having anytime.

Canned Goods

Drinking from a can is different. The metal radiates cold in a way that glass doesn’t; I can feel it in my nose, almost smelling the chill. Other senses are blunted; I can’t see what I’m drinking at all, until I’ve set the can down and seen what collected in the rim and certainly the scents of the beer are not what a sip from a glass would provide me.

The tab touches my nose, gently scraping the middle part between nostrils and for some reason the perspiration of the can stays on my fingers a little longer, as though the beer wants to make any impression it can, knowing it’s being cooped up. The last sip always out of reach because of the barrier between the opening and the edge of the can.

But cans are good. Light. Excellent protection against spoilage. Evoking the nostalgia of the 1970’s, when my Dad would open pull-tabs of Lucky or Rainier or sometimes just ‘beer’ beer.

And you can’t shotgun a bottle.

However, party antics aside I have had the opportunity to try some brews in cans this week and here are my impressions:

cansI got the Oskar Blues Old Chub Scotch Ale because I’ve recently made a Scotch ale and I wanted a basis for comparison. It’s a pretty malty beverage, with a lot of caramel flavors in it. I hesitate to suggest that it would go well as a dessert beer but perhaps as a counterbalance to really spicy meals; with Thai food I can see this as a very nice fit because it’s sweet, but light.

One major strike against it: it comes in those plastic six-pack rings, which are notoriously unfriendly to sea life. That’s just how I roll, baby.

I have to confess that I purchased 21st Amendment‘s Bitter American in part because there was a monkey on the can. All these years of beer experience and I want the one with the monkey.

First, they hopped this pretty well-despite drinking from the can, I can still get a hint of pine. It’s not much but it’s enough that makes me think maybe our senses are a little sharper than we give them credit for. The beer is light enough that I can clearly see to the bottom of the can.

The hops do tend to run away with this beer though. They finish strong in the mouth and there isn’t a lot of midrange there for me to pick up. But if you like a piney finish, then I have to say, this is a solid beer for you. It’s good enough that I’d be interested in trying it on tap, just to see how it changes. They say it’s a session ale and I have to admit that this is the kind of beer I can see drinking a few in a row with the peeps down at the local.

Finally, the Monk’s Blood, also from 21st Amendment. I was actually turned onto this beer by a buddy and I’ve always been pleased by this ale. It’s a belgian dark and while that means that at first blush it’s sweet, the brew quickly descends into a slightly tart ale, with, as promised on the can, hints of fig, vanilla, oak and even a bare touch of cinnamon.

I have to keep in my mouth a bit to pick all this up, which goes against how I’ve seen (and drank) beer drunk from cans for my entire life. Maybe that’s why really complex ales tend to be in bottles; people are inclined to drink those slower due to cultural influences.

But this brew is really good and raises up all the signs to ask you to slow down and taste it; high alcohol, conflicting flavors, a mideval script to read instead of drink. Slow down and see what I’ve got to offer, it says. It’s worth it.

Sink the Bismark taste

Somebody got to have some Sink the Bismark. And then write about it. It is clearly a hard life.

I always tend to wonder (during these stories) what the point of making, say 100% ABV beer is. Because that’s where this is going. We’ll all have eyedroppers of alcohol and wonder what those crazy people who talk about ‘pints’ are thinking.

That said, sometimes you just gotta be crazy. And healthy competition is a way better reason to innovate than a need to kill people (or sink a huge boat, as necessary as it was.) So why not?

Also, a report on canned beer. I’m not sure that ‘best’ is really the word to use in a subjective Universe of beer drinking but what the hell, it gives me something else to link to AND a way to lead into Friday’s article.