Thursday, November 15, 2007

Winter Warmers

Last night, I had a couple of friends over. We brewed what I hope will blossom into a magnificent barley wine. To stay toasty, we sampled two monstrous beers:

  1. The Beer: Old Numbskull
    The Brewery: Alesmith Brewing Company of San Diego, California
    The Style: Barley Wine
    ABV: 10%
    Brewer's Description: Bottle conditioned.
    Old Numbskull is AleSmith’s first barley wine offering. You may find the name "Old Numbskull" curious. Barley wine has its origins in England and tradition is to begin the name with "Old": Old Nick, Old Sampson, Old Jock, etc. Tongue-in-cheek is often the spirit in naming a barley wine. After drinking a glass or two, you may agree that Old Numbskull feels like a fitting description. It also reminds us of the Three Stooges, one of the greatest comedy teams of all time, so it's meant to bring a smile even before the first taste. Exotic fruit aromas, along with clean ethanol, caramel, honey and toasty notes are
    present in the nose. At five months of age, the Numbskull flavor begins malty and the hops become more evident from the middle to the finish and linger nicely in the aftertaste. The aroma notes also show themselves in the flavor.
    Color: Deep ruby with red hues, small white head.
    Aroma: mango, grapefruit, alcohol, sweet malt
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Medium-full mouthfeel with soft carbonation. Sweet caramel maltiness in the front, followed by bread toffee. Fades into papaya, passion fruit, dragon fruit, and some plum notes.
    Finish: Finish turns to bitter grapefruit peel, citrus oil, and pines. Lingering bitter finish in the sides of the mouth.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Portland, OR. An outstanding barley wine, and an outstanding beer in general. I really enjoyed the rounded flavors that melded together on this one. Initially this brew is extremely sweet, but the citrus/pine punch comes in to keep the beer from being excessive. Sure to warm your core on brisk holiday nights. Highly recommended if you can get your hands on it!

  2. The Beer: Allagash Curieux
    The Brewery: Allagash Brewing Company of Portland, Maine
    The Style: Abbey Tripel/Wood-aged beer
    ABV: 11%
    Brewer's Description: Allagash Curieux is a unique beer that was aged for 8 weeks in Jim Beam Bourbon Barrels. In July 2004 they brewed a batch of the Triple and placed it in Bourbon barrels from Kentucky. December '04 bottles labeled as 11% ABV.
    Color: Poured a cloudy gold
    Aroma: Sour, sweaty, funky, vinegar, wood chips
    Taste/Mouthfeel: Ample carbonation dances on the tongue. It quickly subsides and gives way to a puckering punch of sourness. The body is peppered with strong notes of cedar, sawdust, and oak. Suggestions of juniper, pine needles, spruce tips. Perhaps just a touch of mint.
    Finish: Dry and sour. Leaves the mouth puckering. Some hints of bourbon and some stiff alcohol.
    Notes: Bottle purchased in Portland, OR. This beer was certainly an experience. I'm glad to have tried it, but I could do without taking this little taste-bud assault in the future. Truly unlike any other beer I've tasted, I think I would have enjoyed it more sans barrel aging. The wood and the sourness (from Brett, I'm guessing) really overpower the crisp and estery notes of the tripel struggling to get out.

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