This past Saturday was Fight Night, which means its a good night to sit down and have a couple of beers. Unknowlingy there was a theme to the beers I had on Saturday.
Sam Adams Griffon's Bow: The second beer I've had from Sam Adams small batch series, this one is an oaked blonde barleywine. Notice that its oaked and not barrel aged. It weighs in at a hefty 11.5% and pours an orangish golden color with a quarter inch of just off white head. The nose is perfumey, notes of honeysuckle, pineapple, toasted malts, and maybe just a hint of oak. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, a good level of carbonation, slightly sweet up front, almost but not quite cloyingly so. Honeysuckle, melon, but finishes dry. Some alcohol, white grape juice flavors, an oaked white wine characteristic. There is a lack of depth to these flavors though that keep it from being really really good. Instead its ok, something worth picking up, but not one I would go out of my way for again.
North Coast Grand Cru: A new beer to the Texas market from a brewery that we've had in the state for a long time and one that makes some outstanding beers. This is a bourbon barrel aged beer made with agave nectar and weighs in at an even heftier 12.9%. It pours a hazy pale golden color with a thin white head. The nose again is perfumey with notes of honey, melon, pale malts, more oak on this one then the last. There are more phenolic notes of alcohol in this beer than the last as well. Great level of carbonation and again sweet up front, melons, honeysuckle. A rich beer, but its very bright, nothing is lost in its richness. Effervescent almost. This has an almost ice wine character to it. It finishes very dry. As it warms notes of peaches, vanilla, nectarines, even a slight tartness that rounds its character out. There is so much depth to this beer its unbelievable. I really enjoyed this one, and I think this is what the Sam Adams beer was trying to be. They are both very similar styles in certain respects, Sam Adams version was almost there, North Coast's was there and then some.