Figure 1 handfulHops, hops, and more hops! It is a dream come true for a hophead like me. I was thrilled to participate in the hop harvest in Leelanau Co, Michigan this fall. Picture me on a lovely autumn morning, sitting in a tractor, harvesting hops, and later sharing a draft of delicious, locally brewed Michigan IPA.

Here is how you harvest hops. You may recall from an earlier post  that hops grow as vines trained on 18-foot tall strings, strung in parallel rows, each of which is secured to permanent overhead wire tracks. Fig 2 TractorThe rows are spaced just right to enable the specialized tractor, which looks like a preying mantis, to grasp the top of the vine, clip the cord from the wire, and gently deposit the vine into a bin.

When the bin is full, it is driven to the end of the field and the vines are loaded into the Hopfenpfluckmaschine (literally, hop plucking machine).

The Hopfenpfluckmaschine!!

The Hopfenpfluckmaschine!!

A master of wheels, pulleys, and German mechanical ingenuity, the Hopfenpfluckmaschine strips the vine from the string, separates the ripe hop cones from the vine, spits out mulched green vine, and pours the hops into a bin. The bin fills with green gold — fresh hops.

Some of these hops will be rushed to a brewery to make their fresh-hopped harvest ales; some will be dried as whole hops, and the rest will be dried and made into pellet hops, sealed into vacuum packs and refrigerated.

Dan Wiesen and a LOT of hops!

Dan Wiesen and a LOT of hops!

I was riding the tractor with Dan Wiesen, harvesting Cascade hops in this 9-acre field; the field also had Glacier hops and Vojdovina hops, but not yet ripe for harvest. Dan, a handsome man in his late 50’s, owns or manages almost 120 acres of hops in Leelanau County, Michigan. He is increasing his facilities and equipment so he can harvest and process hops for other growers as well, because the demand for Michigan hops is growing, and so is the acreage devoted to it.

Dan and his partners are responsible for bringing commercial hop farming to this part of Michigan. They established Empire Hop Farms in 2008, at about the time hop prices were skyrocketing due to a warehouse fire in Yakima, Wash, that destroyed a significant portion of the harvest–the Pacific Northwest grows most of the commercial hops in the US. Dan reasoned that hops might do well in Leelanau County because, like Yakima, it is at the 45th parallel, and it has a climate suitable for growing fruit trees. (I can also attest to the fact that these features are also shared with Tettnang, Bavaria, one of the major hop-growing regions of Germany, which is also noted for its apple orchards.)

Interestingly, Dan’s true passion is apples, and he considers himself first and foremost a fruit grower. Long before hops, Empire Orchards was noted for its abundant apples and cherries. Dan was not born into a farming family, but his passion for fruit cultivations led him to study agriculture, and he has always been intrigued by applying the latest and newest ideas in fruit production. Visit one of his apple orchards and you will see carefully pruned and trellised trees, bearing huge, perfect fruit, which would make any German apple grower proud. Dan used the same approach in hop farming; rather than being intimidated by the unusual growing pattern and harvesting needs of hops, he merely took a workshop with MSU (Michigan State University) and jumped right in. The farm now grows an extensive variety of hops, including Nuggett, Fuggles, Brewer’s Gold, Simcoe, Magnum, Osiris, Empire, Williamette, Cascade, Crystal, Centennial and Vojdovina. Business has been growing exponentially.

Dan’s 29 year old son Alex Wiesen has taken up the challenge and now has a major role in the farm. Alex clearly knows his craft, and his craft beer. (I can attest to this, having shared a few pints with him in Glen Arbor.) Although Michigan will never produce the volume of hops that the Yakima valley does, the goal of Empire and other growers is to meet the needs of the microbreweries in their area, who appreciate locally grown hops that are fresher and more readily available. It is not unusual to see the brewery trucks waiting for bins of fresh hops as they come off the Hopfenpfluckmaschine! Both New Holland’s Hopivore and Founder’s Harvest Ale use Empire’s fresh hops. Other breweries that rely on them include Shorts, North Peak, Right Brain, Perrin Brewing, and Saugatuck.

Empire-Hops-FestivalOn October 4, 2014, Empire held its first Hops Festival. The festival featured live music, local food, and of course local beer made with Empire hops. In spite of the weather, it was attended by over 1000 patrons! I hope to be able to attend next year’s festival, which should prove to be even bigger. It looks like Michigan hops are coming into their own.

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by Jaime Jurado

Jaimi Jurado

Jaimi Jurado

Ed: Contributor Jaime Jurado is Director of Brewing Operations at Abita Brewing Co.
We’ve asked Mr. Jurado to contribute based on his vast knowledge and  insights into
the making of beer and the industry. Your Beer Network receives no money or incentives
from Abita, and are grateful for Mr. Jurato’s contributions.

When you visit breweries, ask for a taste of the water used to make the beer. It’s no different
from asking for a taste of the base malt used in the company’s brews in that it lends a little
character of what makes the beer. You’ll enjoy the experience as you next appreciate the fresh
beers.

What makes Abita beer special is the water of our brewery wells, from where it’s brewed. We
enjoy a proliferation of local springs and the centuries’ old tradition of pristine water here.
Abita Springs was treasured by the Choctaw. It’s easy to appreciate our local history of the
purity and beauty of our water when you visit….starting at the bronze Abita Princess statue at
the Abita Springs trailhead of the Tammany Trace, and end at the brewery visitor center. The
statue captures the Choctaw maiden poised to drink from the bubbling spring. The reputation
of the waters had spread and the Choctaws settled near-by so that the princess could drink
from the spring and be healed. The Choctaw named their settlement Abetab Okla Chitto which
means ‘large settlement near the fountain ’and later settlers followed and anglicized the name
to ‘Abita’. We don’t add or remove anything from our well water. We put it through a simple
stainless steel filter to remove any tiny pebbles, and that’s all.

It’s the character of a brewery’s water source that is particularly important to the beers it
produces. Water also affects the perceived bitterness and hop utilization of finished beer. It adds
flavor directly to the beer itself – as water is the largest single component in finished beer, and it
provides micronutrients as it dissolves the milled malts and takes the ‘mash’ through temperature
rests we brewers dictate. The effect of brewing water on beer can be characterized by six main
water ions: Carbonate, Sodium, Chloride, Sulfate, Calcium and Magnesium. But this is not the
right place for a technical treatise on brewing water.

If you look at Plzn, Burton-on-Trent and Dublin, you see native waters that are extremely
divergent….with Plzn being truly ‘soft’ and Burton being very ‘hard’ and Dublin being roughly
in between both brewing waters. In the US, one can find close native water approximations:
Portland, OR and Durham, NC are quite close to what Plzn offers. Shiner, TX reminds me of
what Dublin offers. I don’t really know of any local American brewing waters that are close
to Burton…even in Europe the closest might be Vienna…yet even that falls short with sulfates.
Adding calcium carbonate or calcium chloride to get water with key parameters close to Burton-
on-Trent is called, “Burtonizing” and there are distinct attributes that such brews have.

IMG_3107Throughout the history of American brewing, breweries respond to pressures we experience,
and now from our local sources of water. We have states in the midst of extended droughts, and
breweries within these areas work with a laser-focus to reduce the amount of water consumed
to make a barrel of beer. Breweries relying on city-supplied tap water invest in activated carbon
and other treatment to remove chlorine compounds used in civic water distribution in order to
provide bacteria-free drinking water. Breweries with their own wells, a minority by all accounts,
take care and prudence to get samples analyzed and scrutinize the data to know what’s in their
wells.

Beer in the future, in some places, may have to integrate aggressive policies such as using
reverse osmosis to purify brackish waters. While I know of no brewery actively pursing the
utilization of what is described in the recent link, the exploration and publicity comes as little
surprise:

http://www.opb.org/news/article/purified-sewer-water-is-the-secret-ingredient-in-hillsboro-homebrew-competition/

The comprehensive water footprint of making beer starts at the water used growing of its raw
materials, grains such as barley and wheat, and hops. Our farmers are working increasingly at
quantifying and optimizing water consumption in crops which may augment natural rains.

With all the attention that hops and malt enjoy, it’s always good to remember that water is the
 heart of beer.

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From the Good Doctor Westbrook…

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Part 1: Fresh from the market

indexSummer has come to an end, and it is time to enjoy the bounty of the land. Farmers’ Markets are in full swing, homegrown tomatoes are everywhere, and local apples are appearing in the supermarket. The season is beginning for Octoberfest and pumpkin beers, but first let’s take the time to enjoy those wonderful seasonal fruit beers.

I have never seen such a proliferation of fruit-based crafts as I have this year. Though a few of the larger breweries have seasonal fruit offerings which they release every year (e.g. Abita’s Strawberry Harvest Ale), this year it seems that even the smaller brewers are doing so, too. They are taking advantage of locally grown produce, adding it to their standard ales or wheats, or even creating new styles. Since these beers have limited production due to the availability of fresh produce, they may only be available for a short time, until the crop is gone and the barrel is empty.

Preconfusion?

Preconfusion?

This was the summer of fresh produce for Breaker Brewing Company, my local brewery in Wilkes Barre, PA. BBC wholeheartedly embraced seasonal produce, brewing many offbeat, fruit and vegetable-flavored beers. Even though I made several trips to the brewery, I wasn’t able to try them all, as some of these small batches were completely gone before I got there! And please do forgive me if I get some of the details wrong, since there were so many on draft at one visit I had to taste 7 at one sitting. Not surprising that things got a bit hazy for me.

Two BBC offerings stood out in originality and flavor.

Minefire Blackberry Jalapeno, at about 5.5% ABV, is a wonderful craft beer. It has a flavor complexity that is really outside of the box. It does not taste like hot peppers, as you might expect; instead, the peppers act like bittering hops. Additionally, there is a background of toasted malt that adds another level of complexity. This beer already has a number of local followers, including myself. When it’s on draft it is my first pick. This is gold-medal quality!

Tomato Sour IPA. The brewers have been experimenting with sour beers, including a sour pear, but this tomato sour really blew me away. It isn’t red, and it sure doesn’t taste like tomato juice, but it’s a nice, mellow sour that pairs very well with food. The only downside is that it has a slight, unusual aftertaste that makes it less than perfect–but not bad for the first vegetable beer I have ever tasted (pumpkins excluded). What next? Carrots are in season, and they contain a lot of fermentable sugar. Why not a carrot cake ale, with walnuts and raisons?

Other fruit beers included:

The Beer Doc and Breaker's Chris Miller

The Beer Doc and Breaker’s Chris Miller

5 Whistle Watermelon Wheat. This is a light, summer beer on BBC’s wheat ale base, and this is the second year it has been released. Because it is finised with the addition of fresh watermelon, the taste depends primarily on the flavor of the watermelon itself. Last year’s was a bit sweeter than this, and the 2014 release has more hop character, but all told it is a good, refreshing, low alcohol (4.2%) summer drink. I wrote about this ale in YourBeerNetwork last summer, “The Best Summer Beer You’ll Never Taste.” The pic to the right shows me tasting the watermelon wheat with Chris Miller, co-owner and brewer.

Laurel Line Lemongrass IPA, at 4.5% ABV, was quite nice, with an herbal flavor that complimented the hops. Last year’s version of this tasted like lemonade, whereas this release is much more grownup.

There were two citrus-based IPAs, the Orange IPA and Daybreak Grapefruit IPA, both at about 6% ABV. I’m not clear how they were made, and I believe both were based on their I Love PA ale. The grapefruit paired well with the IPA taste, probably because grapefruit is, after all, one of the characteristics of American hops. It was a pleasant drink. On the other hand, the orange ale was not inspiring and I wouldn’t order it again.

Finally, the Chocolate Mint Ale, included because it is a fresh herb beer. This one was not to my taste. It was a light colored ale, and the flavors just didn’t work with the malts or the alcohol level (I’m guessing it was at least 6% ABV). On the other hand, when I mixed it 50-50 with their Old King Cole Stout, as suggested by the bartender, it was really very nice. My suggestion? Next time brew it as a chocolate mint porter, with lots of dense malt, and a splash of vanilla. You got it — Girl Scout Cookie porter! Just in time for cookie season.

Addendum:

Since I wrote this review Breakers has produced two ales made with fresh Mosaic hops, as well as a Sour Pear and a Cranberry Ginger Ale, both very nice. Also of note, they have started to offer their ales from a firkin (small keg), steeped over fresh fruit. They set up one firkin each weekend. These are nice if you like fruit tastes in your beer, and they usually sell out before the weekend is over. I’ve had the Lunch Pail Ale over blueberry, Lightheaded IPA over apricots. A nice way to highlight fresh local fruit, and a big hit at the brewery.

images

Coming up: Fruits, Sours and Oak

Also available from Dr. Westbrook: 

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PIC OF THE…. FOREVER!!

by admin on September 28, 2014

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Chase Cutting

Chase Cutting

Hard to say if this one is more a review of an ale or a review of the reviewer…. sigh. In any event let’s just cut to the chase.

I recently sang the praises of Clown Shoes, loving the name, the labels, the humor, and, of course, the beer.

So I was pleased to pick up a 22 of their Ride the Lion Wee Heavy Ale. Yes, tediously, once again, this takes me back to my days in Scotland when my virginal bloom concerning beer was happily removed by Caledonian Heavy. I’ve written enough about this, linking back to all my pieces about this type of brew, but I mention it again to underscore my enthusiasm level when I see a label reading “Wee Heavy.”

As I tend to do when the tasting is more than a pint, I had a pal over to share this with me, a guy who likes dark, complex and, as he puts it, “long” mouthfeel beers, ones who’s flavor notes hang on and offer up plenty of activity well after the swallow.
This poured nicely, a reddish brown, a little cloudy, with a short white head appearing as I pressed the point with the pour.

The twist on this tasting started with the nose. Big, sweet, caramel? So much so, I checked the bottle for what turned out to be the fine print telling me the obvious. This was aged in bourbon barrels, the nose, and everything following, propelled by a jet fuel 11% ABV.

This caught me off guard, as I’d just had a meal and was not expecting to dive into anything so NOT “wee” in it’s heaviness. First sips were, indeed, heavy with vanilla and butterscotch, sure signs of bourbon barreling. It was tasty but, for me at that moment, a bit much. Bringing some balance to the occasion, my pal happily found it formidable with that great length he was looking for.

photo credit: beerinmybelly.tumbler.com

photo credit: beerinmybelly.tumbler.com.

With a purito and conversation, I forged on, trying to orient myself and be reasonably objective. I wasn’t tweaked in, given my predisposition to have been drinking a non barrel aged Wee Heavy, to compare it to a favorite of mine, Thirsty Dog’s Wulver.

But as it warmed… probably more correctly observed “as it had a chance to breathe” the heavy bourbon vapors leveling out, I found this to be a delicious brew. Everything lightened up, presenting a great balance between the malty goodness we love in a Wee Heavy, with that hint of sweet aroma and undercurrent of bourbon and oak. My friend also noticed changes in it as the session continued, but based on the intoxication of the cigar smoke and the high alcohol level (felt almost on the first sip this particular night), I can only remember all of his notes were favorable ones.

I’m looking forward to trying this again, but this time, letting it sit for a bit so I can pleasurably bathe in the entire draft. Oh… and predictably, on the label there’s a warrior woman with a great mane of red hair and a sword charging through the woods at you atop a ferocious lion. Y’know, standard fare. I won’t say she has a face vaguely suggesting clown makeup, but y’know…

nb : Always read the fine print.

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Craft Beer, Hops, and the Beautiful Blue Danube

Craft beer in Germany? Craft beer in Austria? Why, I ask, would anyone bother, since the beer is already so good? In the US, the craft beer industry grew up as a grass roots movement, a reaction to the predominance of lower quality beer offered by large brewing conglomerates. By contrast, beer in the German-speaking countries is consistently of high quality, with many unique, regional beer styles. What, then, is the driving force for craft beer in places where the beer is so good? Because, thanks to US influence, craft beer is becoming an international trend, with consumer demand for small-batch, artisanal beers. It has become a “destination drink”, one that you seek out, like a fine wine from a small vineyard. American breweries have begun to seek out international markets; for example, California’s Stone Brewing Company recently announced plans to site a brewery in Berlin. It is no surprise that breweries like Austria’s Ottakringer are anxious to participate in this trend.

The Beer Doctor and Brewmaster Martin Simion, at the Ottakringer Brewery.

The Beer Doctor and Brewmaster Martin Simion, at the Ottakringer Brewery.

And here we are at the Ottakringer brewery in Vienna on a private after-hours tour, with Martin Simion, the new craft beer brewmaster. Martin, an energetic young man, has us running up and down multiple flights of stairs, from the now-defunct wooden barrels in the basement, up to the mash tuns and bottling area. He was almost apologetic for the large size of the brewery, but as he points out, Ottakringer is the largest brewery in Vienna, and it makes a lot of beer. We reach the well-appointed tasting room and start sampling.

The brews are glorious! We tasted everything from their lighter Helles, to the Dunkels, and Pils, and everything in between. Later, we had dinner with Martin and his girlfriend Carmen at the Apostelkeller, a wonderful old place tucked away in a cellar, which featured live music (strolling accordion and violinist), excellent Viennese food, and lots of Ottakringer to wash it down.

I asked the question that has been on my mind since we got to Europe — how can mass-produced lagers taste so good… especially in comparison to their American counterparts? The answer, according to Martin is simple– the German Beer Purity Laws of 1516, still in force in most of German-speaking Europe, which stipulate that beer can only contain malted barley, water, and hops. Ottakringer goes one step further, ensuring that it brews only with the highest quality, Austrian ingredients. No corners are cut, no additives or alternative grains are used. This sounds remarkably like the US craft beer philosophy.

The new Artisanal Beer unit at Ottakringer, in its final stages of completion, June 2014

The new Artisanal Beer unit at Ottakringer, in its final stages of completion, June 2014

Martin will be following the same philosophy as the master brewer of the new “craft beer unit” at Ottakringer though he prefers the term “artisanal beer” since the brewery is too large to brew “craft” beer according to standard definitions. He will, however, be brewing beer in small batches of 100 gallons. This enthusiastic young man is a good choice for the position. He has an excellent background for the job, having learned his trade at the Munich-Weihenstephan Technical Institute, one of the premier brewing schools in the world, and then working as a brewer at the Viennese landmark brewpub, 1516. Martin’s tour took us to the nearly-completed Ottakringer artisanal brewery, scheduled to produce its first beer (an American-style session IPA) in time for the annual Ottakringer summer beer festival in July, which we would miss by a week. Note the architecturally stunning cylindrical glass building, built to the same size and shape as the adjacent brewing tanks. The location will have a beer-garden feeling, and will feature events with local bands and guest brewers.

Can “The Lands Where Beer Began” challenge their 500-year old traditions and produce new styles to fill this demand, yet stay within the Beer Purity Laws? I have no doubt that the new wave of brewers like Simion will make excellent beer in the American craft styles. But can the Austrian and German palates learn to enjoy these beers, with their emphasis on ales, high alcohol levels, and flavorful hops?

Developing their consumers’ taste for hops is going to be the biggest challenge that Simion will face. Most beer drinkers in German-speaking countries are used to noble hops, such as those grown in Tettnang. Noble hops are bitter because they are high in humulene– which is responsible for their antibacterial properties–but low in beta acids. They don’t have the aromatic compounds responsible for the flavors that we love in IPAs: fruity, floral, citrus, pine. Ironically, noble hops were bred over the centuries to remove these flavors; American hops were bred from English hops to increase these flavors, and they are relative newcomers on the beer scene. There is no European tradition of their use.

Aromatic hops are an acquired taste, like juniper (gin), or peat (single malt). But once that taste is acquired through good experiences–often accompanied by good music and good times–you will seek it out. Worse yet, I’ve heard a few brewers say they don’t care for the taste of American hops; if that is the case, I imagine these poor souls will have difficulty brewing a good IPA, if they don’t enjoy the flavor themsleves. There is nothing more unpleasant that a badly-hopped, or over-hopped IPA. On the other hand, there is nothing more delightful than a good, hoppy ale where the flavors are in balance with the malt and alcohol.

We tried a few bottled IPAs during our European trip to see how they fared. Progusta is a craft IPA from the Bräufactum label, the artisanal subsidiary of Radeberger, in Saxony (noted for excellent Pilsner.) This is a heavy, malt-forward beer, 6.8% ABV, with an unfortunate hodge-podge of noble hops and some Americans: Magnum, Hallertauer, Mittelfru and Citra. It was bitter, and not well-rounded. As Rick put it, “drinking this beer is a lot of work. And even the name is a bad choice, it sounds like a medical condition, not a beer you want to drink.”

The Hopfenstopfer (nb This website is written in German) label, from HäfnerBräu in Bad Rappenau, did somewhat better. Their Comet IPA, at 6.8% ABV, is much more palatable. It boasts 55 IBU, but these are mostly noble hops (Hallertauer Comet, Hallertauer Saphir, and Hallertauer Taurus), resulting in a taste that is primarily bitter, without much citrusy taste; furthermore, it’s a bit on the light side. But it was smooth and much easier to drink than I expected.

Dark Red Temptation, with authentic Bavarian pretzels

Dark Red Temptation, with authentic Bavarian pretzels

The Hopfenstopfer Dark Red Temptation, on the other hand, was well put together. It is a double IPA, at 9.0% ABV and 50 IBU, hopped with Hallertau Taurus, with some Cascade hops used for aroma (I presume dry hopped). The Cascade added a great deal to the flavor. It’s heavy, with dense malts, giving it a red color, but we really liked this one. It went well with food, especially the traditional pretzels.

So Martin, the competition is not bad at all — yet.

Since I finished this article, Simion’s first artisanal beers have been released. His Session IPA was brewed with Amarillo, Citra and Centennial hops, with an ABV of 4.3%, and it was advertised to be “brewed with Love and Music.” Martin reported, “we started pouring our Session IPA… I expected it would be much more difficult to introduce people to those beers but they enjoy it straight away!”  Next up — a Belgian Blond.

I look forward to seeing how these beers fare. And I leave you with a tune that will stick in your head for a week, the sound of Vienna. Click the link for the Blue Danube Waltz, in its most memorable rendition:

Blue Danube Waltz

Also available from Dr. Westbrook: images

 

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So I’ve got this guy…. Matt at Havana House West, in Bath Ohio. I sometimes buy cigars there and have done a piece on a terrific beer/cigar pairing I did at their other location in Warren, Ohio. We’ve also been privileged to post their fun and informative “Vice Picks” series of videos as Videos of the Week (oddly ensconced in our Beer Dinner archives). So when I drop in, we often chat for a bit. Matt, also of eclectic tastes, will turn me on to a an interesting brew from time to time.

Cutting to the chase:

Chase Cutting

Chase Cutting

This time it was a goody, shared with a friend, a 750 ml of Belgian vintage sour cherry Kriek Lambic from the Zenne Valley, imported by Vanberg & Dewulf. Brewed in 2011, bottled in 2013 after being aged in Oak and Chestnut casks, I got to crack open one of 9867 bottles issued, sharing it with a friend.

From the brewer:

Lambics are truly the “wines” of the beer world. Just as wines vary by season, soil, climate, and aging method, lambics (unlike any other type of beer) vary by season, brewery location, barrel size and woodtype, and length of aging.
With wines one talks of “gout du terroir” because the land (terroir) so influences a wine’s flavor. With lambics one must speak of “gout du tunneau” because each cask (tonneau) produces a lambic that matures and tastes different. Thanks to this variation, a lambic’s character comes not only from the base beer made by the brewer but from the casks selected and blended together. And because lambic is lightly sparkling, the flavors and nuances developed through cask aging can be fully tasted and appreciated; not masked by intense carbonation, like in gueuze, which is highly sparking but much less complex….

The beer you hold in your hand reflects the specific conditions present when it was brewed and during its years of aging in cask. Those conditions cannot be replicated and this beer can never be made again. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience…

unnamedTo be fair, there are many beers crafted today, particularly barrel aged ones, that are subject to many of the same variables that the brewers refer to above as being unique to the lambics. But that being said, we take no issue with recognizing the singular and delicate shifts that come in the production of a premium lambic.

This one poured super dark, deep red, almost purplish in the glass, true to the brewer notes, presenting minimal carbonation.

The nose was fruity and musky, which intrigued me, as I’m one of those people who likes stinky cheese, fish, and Belgian sours.
At first sip, the flavor was of very tart cherries, with something “brown” as an undertone. I’m thinking this is the oak and chestnut of the barrel, as “dark and woody” makes far more sense as the source of, what would be viewed in deconstructing most other beer styles, a subtle molasses and/or caramel presence.

I started by sipping, and as I was jotting down a couple notes, my friend suggested, first, that this would be excellent with food, and if you drank some down, without exaggerated respect, as you might any other beer, it offered different flavor notes.
I agree about food pairing with something like this. We had a sour cherry Cerise accompanying a sweet and savory dinner salad at a Founders Beer Dinner and it was wonderful. The Cerise presented more natural sugars, but here, the lack of sweetness and the tartness of  the LambickX– qualities that could cut through any spices– would welcome a food pairing, though I think this truly special brew merits one’s exclusive attention.

I then, as he had done, took a real draw as opposed to respectful tasting sips, and a nice bitter appeared on the middle of the tongue. This decision also either triggered my palate, or at least ran concurrent to the appearance of a sour musk, becoming more reflective of the nose and a significant component of this brew for the rest of the session, absolutely winning the day for me.

Very happy to have had the opportunity to try this, knowing, by their own definition, the next one is likely to be markedly different. Every time an adventure… a $30.00 adventure, that is. Well, you buy a nicer bottle of wine every now and then, yes?

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BEER CLINIC :: Old Friends and New Beers, from Local to Global

by Dr. Carol Westbrook 08.30.2014

This summer we visited two of our old friends in the Midwest: Constant Springs, in Goshen, IN, and The Map Room, in Chicago. Back when I lived full time in the Midwest, we were regulars at both of these bars; now, as tourists we visited with high expectations–and we were not disappointed. Constant Spring hasn’t changed much since we left […]

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FROM THE YBN EDITOR’S DESK :: My Dinners with a Porter, a New “Martini,” and a Ketchup Bottle

by Harvey Gold 08.13.2014

Had an interesting time at favorite watering hole The Lockview the other night. First off, I ordered a Black Butte porter from Deschutes Brewery out of Portland, Oregon. We’ve had some very nice offerings from these folks of late, big fans of their Inversion IPA. This one, at 5.2% makes for the rare session porter. Here, in […]

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