Sunday, March 28, 2010

Camp Beer: Excursion #2

Today was the day, a day I have been excited about since I received the announcement that Camp Beer II was going to occur. You may remember how awesome Camp Beer I was. Well Camp Beer II promised more of the same. The Camp Beer events are part of the Live It Big charity that assists small and start-up charities to grow by raising money for them throughout the year. They also host a Cocktail Camp. The Idea behind Camp Beer is to bring to the beer lovers of Houston, hard to find and very sought after beers, many not available in this city. The event is hosted by Kevin Floyd, beer man and co-owner of Anvil Bar and Refuge. He put together the list of beers for the tasting, organized it, and was in charge of telling us a little about each one, along with answering any questions the folks may have about beer in general. For this Camp Beer there were about 20 or so folks, getting the opportunity to taste 21 beers. Below are my notes on the beer tasted in the order we tasted them (unless stated otherwise these beers are not available legally in Texas).

Uncommon Brewers Siamese Twin: This first ale from a Santa Cruz California was our only beer to be packaged in a can. This was an unusual 8.5% Belgian Dubbel style ale brewed with keffir lime, coriander, Thai spices, and lemon grass. It poured an orangish color with a slightly off white head. The nose was of lime, spices, pale malts, and yeasts, even some lemon grass. The mouth was not as promising as the nose was. Medium bodied, crisp, clean, but sweetness, slight burn and grainyness. Some off flavors here that may be from the all the different spices not coming together in a cohesive manner.
Russian River Temptation: This was the first of 3 different Russian River beers we were able to taste. A blonde ale aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces and weighs in at 7.25%. It poured a hazy blond with a good size white head. Sourness on the nose, oaky, yeasty, some wineish notes as well. Sour tart and effervescent on the mouth. Slightly acidic, finishes very dry. Really enjoyed this beer, as a wonderful example of what wine barrel aging can do to a beer.
Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze: Due to my limited contact with Lost Abbey beers this was one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. A gooze (essentially an unflavored lambic ale) that weighs in at 7.0% it pours a hazy golden color with a small white head. Sour yeasty smelling that was shockingly sour on the first sip. Medium mouthfeel, sourness of course, notes of white pepper, lemon citrus notes, good blend of light malts, some sweetness as well that along with the counteracting sourness creates a wonderfully balanced beer. Very enjoyable.
Southern Tier Pumking: The first of many Southern Tier beers we tasted during this session. This one is an Imperial Pumpkin ale that weighs in at 9.0%. It pours a bright orange color and smells of pumpkin, let me reiterate that, it smells of PUMPKIN! And pie spices, although from the label I can't tell that they used any or not, but it reminded me more of pumpkin bread than pumpkin pie. There is some alcohol here, but its not over the top, instead adding a nice pleasant brandyish flavor to the brew. Very enjoyable brew, that I hope I can find next fall.
Dogfish Head Fort: The first beer from Delaware's Dogfish head, is also the first beer that is available in Texas. A brew made with raspberries this one weighs in at a robust 18.0%. It pours an amberish color and smells of tart raspberries. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, but its very sweet, fruity, raspberries, tartness, strong notes of alcohol. This one is meant to age for 3 to 5 years and this one was about 2 years old and definitely needed some more time. This has never been one of my favorite DFH beers but it was interesting to try one aged.
Alesmith Anvil ESB: A huge fan of this San Diego area brewery, but never have had the chance to try their bottle conditioned ESB before. It pours a nice coppery color with a good creamy off white head. There is some caramel notes, earthiness, malts on the nose that leads me to believe this is definitely going to be a English style pale ale. The mouthfeel is way overly carbonated leading to me not being able to discern many more flavors, maybe some caramel, some earthy floral hops, but not any strong flavors. My tablemates and I wonder if the bottle is bad. I will look for this again to see if it was just one bottle or if this was what was intended.
Bear Republic XP Pale Ale: A second beer that's available in our city, this is an Exception Pale Ale that weighs in at 5.4%. It pours a light golden color with a thin white head. Citrusy hoppy nose, caramel, malts. Earthy hops, some citrus notes, some sweet caramel and malts on the tongue. Very smooth, tasty, and incredibly drinkable, almost sessionable.
Russian River Damnation: A beer that I am familiar with, I was none the less excited to try it again, this is Russian River's take on the well known Duvel. It weighs in at 7.75% and pours a pale golden color. The flavor is just as I remember it, light lemony scents, bready yeasts, grassy, candied sugar. Crisp, clean, oranges, spices, some corriander flavors from the yeast. Great beer.
Ise Kadoya Genmai Ale: This was a beer that I was extremely excited to try. The brewery is based out of Japan and after many years of making other things (soy sauce and miso mainly) they decided to get into brewing. This particular brew is a Pale Ale made with brown rice and weighs in at 5.0%. It pours a cloudy coppery with a thin white head. There is a brown rice hint to the nose and I wish that I could say it lived up to my admittedly unfounded expectations, but it did not. Both in flavor and smell myself and tablemates couldn't get over a wet cardboard or urinal cake smell to the beer. Disappointing.
Port Brewing Wipe Out IPA: Another brew that I was looking forward to, and this one did live up to expectations. Weighing in at 7.)5 the beer poured a pale golden color with a good white head. Grapefruit on the nose with very little malt backbone. Medium mouthfeel, this one is all about celebrating the hops. Great amounts of grapefruit and citrus peel, almost sticky. I could sit down a big bottle of this and be extremely happy.
Mayflower IPA: The placement of this beer in the tasting was an excellent choice by Kevin to highlight the differences between a West Coast IPA and an East Coast IPA like this one. Weighing in at 7.0% just as with the Wipeout its a completely different beer. Copper colored with an off white head, the nose is of sticky malty caramel, earthy floral hops. The mouthfeel is a little fuller, more malty, more balanced, but still achieving a slight hoppy resiny finish. Very good well balanced IPA.
Russian River Salvation: This was our last brew from Russian River, a dark Belgian beer. Weighing in at 9.0% its a rich dark brown beer with a white head. Malty, sour cherries, figs on the nose. Candied sugar figs and malts flavor this full bodied brew. Easier drinking though than I would have expected. Some sweetness, with figs and raisins, concentrated dark fruits. Good example of the style.
Three Floyds Moloko: This one is an 8.0% milk stout that pours a pitch black with a tan colored head. The nose is of dark roasted malts, some sweetness as well. The mouthfeel is creamy sweet malts, roasted coffee, coco, sweetness, very drinkable, hides the alcohol very well. A very drinkable beer.
Southern Tier Java: An 11.0% stout made with Blue Mountain coffee this beer pours a dense black with a good size head of cafe colored foam. The nose is of raisins, figs, coco, coffee. The mouthfeel is lighter than expected, creamy. Notes of raisins, figs, coffee, really great coffee flavor here. There is not a lot of burnt malt or burnt coffee flavors here that one has a tendency to get in a lot of coffee stouts. Done very well, maybe one of the best that I've had.
Foothills Sexual Chocolate: A coco infused Imperial Stout that weighs in at 9.75% abv 85 IBU's. Again pouring a pitch black with an almost reddish tinge to the tan head. The nose is of coco, malts, dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. The brew starts off really well with dark bitter chocolate notes, roasted malts, espresso beans, but the beer finishes very acidic that I didn't really care for.
Southern Tier Hoppe: An imperial extra pale ale this one weighs in at 8.5% and poured a pale yellow. Very hoppy citrusy nose. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, flavors of green or fresh hops, pale malts, citrusy, bitter grapefruit pith. I'd call it a good IPA.
Southern Tier Creme Brulee: The last Southern Tier of the tasting. It weighs in at 10.0% and pours a very dark black with ruby red streaks. The nose...holy cow the nose, its smells of fresh baked cake, chocolate, vanilla, breadyness. The first flavor? Its LIQUID CAKE! Medium bodied, notes of vanilla, chocolate, creamyness. Its sweet, but its not cloyingly so. This would go so well with ice cream its ridiculous. Wonderful beer and after the ones I've tasted tonight I really need to get some Southern Tier beer.
Bell's Expedition Stout: This is my first run in with this Michigan brewery. Although I am familiar with their work, I've never had the chance to try their beers so I was pretty excited to do so at the tasting. This one weighs in at 10.5% and pours a very dark black with a cafe colored head. Dark chocolate, malts, raisins, on the nose. Full mouthfeel with some alcohol burn. Flavors of coffee, chocolate, raisins, roasted malts, creamy chewy goodness. A very good solid Imperial Stout I really enjoyed this one.
Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout: An oak aged stout weighing in at 9.0%? Yes please. This one pours a black with a taupe colored head, smelling of roasted malts, vanilla, oak. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, strong flavors of whiskey here. Although the label makes no mention of this being whiskey barrels that the beer was aged in, the folks at my table all agree, that there was. It was almost too strong, but still made for a pretty good beer.
Dogfish Head World Wide Stout: Another beer that I have had before, and frankly wasn't that excited about as my first time wasn't all that enjoyable. It pours a very dark brown almost black. Its portish on the nose, hints of vanilla, coco, raisins, malts, alcohol. Full bodied mouthfeel, raisins and figs, an almost sour tang at the finish. Sipping this, treating this beer like a port, I actually started to enjoy it this time around, which makes me happy that I have another bottle aging.
Surly Darkness: The last beer of the night, and of course the one I was really excited to try. I've heard lots about this brewery from Minesota, but never had the chance to try much from them other than quick tastes at GABF. This of course is their Imperial Stout that weighs in at 9.8%. It pours a dark deep black. The nose is of malts, chocolate, coffee, malts, smells like a package of whoppers. The mouthfeel is full, and it tastes like whoppers! Wonderful creaminess, chocolate, rich malts, vanilla. Rich, delicious, smooth, easy drinking for what it is. I really like this beer.

Another great event hosted by Cathy and her team at Live it big. Thanks to her and Kevin for an awesome evening of great beers. Can't wait till the next one. Not only are these fun for tasting beers, but they are great ways to meet fellow beer lovers in Houston. It was nice to meet all those folks today.


SirRon said...

Good read... made me thirsty... thanks for sharing.

Steve said...

How did you get that written up so fast? I'm just going point my summary of the event at your blog. It was a great time, good to see you again.

Barleyvine said...

Definetely a great time. As for the post just decided to go ahead and get it done. Took me longer than I thought it would though.