Monday, December 14, 2009

Beer Camp: Excursion #1

This past weekend was the first ever Beer Camp (well at least the first in Houston). What's Beer Camp you ask? It was run by a non-profit group called Live It Big an organization that helps charities raise money. This event specifically was for Friday Harbor, a charity that helps house cancer patients and their relatives when they come to Houston for treatment. For this event, the folks at Beer Camp asked Kevin Floyd of Anvil Bar and Refuge to host and moderate the beer tasting. The tasting consisted of 20 beers, 70% of them were not available in Houston. Most of these are pretty hard to find, highly rated brews that make a beer nerd like me giddy. So of course I went and it was a really wonderful time. The beers we tasted are below with some very brief tasting notes (after that many big beers, my palate started to fail).
Ommegang Hennepin - A 7.7% Saison from Cooperstown, NY. Cloudy hazy yellow, citrus notes, specifically lemon, white pepper, citrus peel, a little alcohol, very dry crisp finish. A wonderful example of the style
Lost Abbey Red Barn - A 6.7% Saison from San Diego, CA, Not Available in Houston. Much darker golden color than the Hennepin, clearer not nearly the haze. Citrusy, breadier, slightly sweeter. Very effervescent.
Lost Abbey Devotion - A 6.25% Belgian Pale Ale, again not available in Houston. Golden color with just a bit of hazyness. Sticky and floral, a little fruity. Hoppy up front, much hoppier than the nose. Smooth finish, very drinkable.
Southampton Grand Cru - A 9.5% Belgian Strong Ale, although we do have some Southampton brews in Houston, this isn't one of them. Almost an orange color, cloudy with bits of yeast in the glass. Syrupy smell, alcohol, concentrated fruits, almost smells like an orange liquor. Full syrupy mouthfeel, spicy, some alcohol boozy notes, caramel, candied sugar.
Ommegang Three Philosophers - A 9.8% Quadrupel with Cherry Lambic. Caramel colored, notes of candied sugar, sour tart cherries, caramel, dark fruits, hides the alcohol relatively well. Surprisingly well balanced. I've always enjoyed this beer.
Ithaca Excelsior Brute - A 6.5% American Wild/Sour Ale from New York. Not available in Houston. A pale hazy straw color. The nose is funky, tart, horse blankety, yeasty, grape. The mouth is more of the same, with a startlingly dry finish due to the champagne yeast used in the beer. This is a good sour ale, but there is not much complexity, it hits you with a wave of sour and funk, the just finishes bluntly and crisply.
Weyerbarcher Riserva - A 11.5% American Wild ale with Raspberries from Pennsylvania. Not available in Houston. Pours a ruby color with notes of sour and tartness, funky notes. Slightly sweet, fruity, syrupy, very effervescent, almost like pop rocks.
Ommegang Rare Vos - A 6.5% Belgian Dark Ale. A burnished copper color with a nose full of residual sugar, caramel, dark fruits, raisins, figs. The mouthfeel is more of the same, candied brown sugar, slightly sweet, plums, very good.
Stone Vertical Epic 09.09.09 - A 8.9% Belgian Strong Ale. Has been available on tap, but not in bottles. Syrupy black with a thick tan head. Roasted malts, dark fruits, plums, raisins, coffee, and caramel. Thick and tongue coating, bitter malts, candied sugar. Very good and surprisingly smooth, want to try this again on 12.12.12.
Dogfish Head/Three Floyds PopSkull - A colloborative 10% American Brown Ale, not available in Houston. An old bruin aged in Palo Santo with Botanicals. I was really looking forward to this beer, but not only myself but most of the folks in the room, couldn't tell the difference between this beer and Palo Santo Marron, still a good beer.
Dogfish Head Burton Baton - A 10% IPA aged in Oak. Pours an orangy copper color with thick tan head. Orange peels, bourbon-y, hoppy grapefruit. Very nice, I love this beer.
Stone 13th Anniversary - A 9.5% American Strong Brown Ale. Chestnut rich brown color. Very hoppy, with notes of hazelnuts, roasted malts, almost syrupy. Very hop forward brown ale. Again I've enjoyed this on in the past, very good.
Alesmith 2004 Old Numbskull - A 11% aged barleywine from San Diego. Not available in Houston. Pours a burnished copper with a good sized off white head. Brandy notes, caramel, toffee, treacle. S mooth and rich mouthfeel, very malty, caramel, sweet, but not cloyingly. Wineish notes as well. Really liked this one, huge fan of Alesmith, was happy to try this beer especially an older vintage.
Mayflower Porter - A 5.5% Porter, not available in Houston. A nice reprieve from the higher alcohol beers. Poured a dark brown with ruby colored highlights. Coffee, robust roasted malts, good bitterness from the hops. Good beer.
Troeg's Java Head - A 7.5% coffee Stout, not available in Houston. Thick black syrupy. Some coffee notes on the nose, but it underwhelmed a bit on the taste. Good roasted malts, a really good export stout, but not a great coffee stout.
Southern Tier Moka - A 11% American Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout from New York not available in Houston. I have to say this was probably my favorite beer. Poured a dark rich brown with ruby highlights, chocolatey and coffee on the nose. The mouth was like chocolate milk. Just an amazingly tasty, scary drinkable beer for 11%.
Southern Tier Iniquity - A 9% Black IPA not available in Houston. Very black beer, that didn't have a lot of roasted bitterness. There was some maltyness to the beer, but not burnt malts like the color would indicate. Good hoppy brew, but not overly so, and not as much as I would have expected from the alcohol and it being an IPA.
Smuttynose Russian Imperial Stout - A 10% RIS from New Hampshire, not available in Houston. Pitch black with a thick dense head of glass coating foam. Alcohol, roasted malts, dark fruits, raisins, notes of coffee. Tongue coating, some acidity, burnt malts, toffee. Very good RIS.
2003 Alesmith Speedway Stout - A 12% Imperial Stout, not available in Houston. This may have been a little past its prime. Its dark rich black, syrupy, concentrated, a little off.
Three Floyds Dark Lord - A 13% Russian Imperial Stout. This was the one I was waiting for, for those that don't know this one is incredibly hard to find, and is most definitely not available in Houston. It has a huge cult following and is one of the higher rated beers on sites like Beer Advocate. Its released once a year with the full expectation to age well over a long long time. It pours a very dark black almost like oil. Big huge nose of roasted malts, and syrup, toffee, coffee. The mouthfeel is very syrupy and thick, highly viscous, with lots of residual sugar almost cloyingly sweet. Lots of alcohol. There's a lot going on here, toffee, coffee, burnt malts, alcohol, dark dark rich concentrated fruits. Its definitely a sipper and honestly a bit over the top. Its a beer that right now I wouldn't rate that high, but one that I would have great expectations for in a few years.

Well that's it. It was a lot of beer and of course a lot of fun. It's always nice to drink for charity and I'm glad I had the opportunity to attend. The next event will probably be in March. Special thanks go to Kevin who did an outstanding job discussing the beers and answering any questions the attendees had.


Dave said...

Did you take any photos from Beer Camp? Sounds like a great time and a respectable beer list to boot. Sounds like a great event.

beer_chris said...

Nice rundown. I agree on the Southern Tier Moka. That was easily the best beer at the tasting and ranks (for me) as one of the best beers I've had, ever. The AleSmith Numbskull was probably my second fave, but I'm ready to pack the cooler and drive to Southern Tier to load up with as much Moka as possible.

One note on the Dark IPA - Kevin didnt mention this, but I found it really interesting that this normally west coast style was coming from an east coast brewer. I REALLY enjoyed the typical Atalantic coast light touch with hops in what would be a huge, hoppy beer from one of the NoCal/Oregon breweries. In addition, the use of debittered black malt also made it much lighter than it would have seemed. A really interesting change of pace. I wish we got more dark IPAs in Houston, it's such an underrated style.