Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sampling Session -- October 8, 2011

Another superb sampling session at Lefty’s place in the hills above Kyoto. Twenty-one beers, great early autumn weather, and a party-crashing hornet made it a memorable day.

Two of the more unusual beers were from New Glarus: 1) Raspberry Tart and 2) Wisconsin Belgian Red. I had picked these up on a summer day trip with my daughter from the Twin Cities to a pizza farm in Wisconsin (no, they don’t farm pizzas – but rather make them with fresh ingredients they raise). I found these bottles in a gift shop located in the tiny town of Stockholm, WI (pop. 100) and brought them back to Japan. The Raspberry Tart offered a strong pie-like and jam aroma. It blended sweetness and tartness unlike any beer I’ve ever had. In fact, Lefty commented that it was really not at all like beer. The Wisconsin Belgian Red was redolent of cherry cough drops with touches of menthol, pomegranate, and cinnamon. Lefty found it reminiscent of a Kriek. Again, not quite like a beer, but truly delicious.

Jolly Pumpkin’s beautiful gold Bam Bière saison - 4.5%) was refreshing and and complex. Funky with a Brett yeast character and a dusty lemony aroma. It held subtle citrus and herbal grassy flavors. This was apparently enough to attract attention from an Asian giant hornet, which dove in, swam around, and slowly expired. These are dangerous insects, and we kept our distance.

The real treat of the day was a blind sampling of four vintages of Orval. The highest average rating was for the 2007 version, with 2008 and 2010 coming in second – with exactly the same average scores –, and two bottles of 2011 (served at different times, as a sort of control) third. All were great, and it’s clear that this beer ages well.

Deschutes The Dissident (2008) featured a somewhat lactic attack of red berry and yeast (some Brett nuance) and dirty, dusty cherry flavors

BrewDog Abstrakt AB:03 had aromas of dry strawberry and raspberry with intense dry berry and bitter wood flavors Lefty felt it was strange and even somewhat abusive, with an interesting strong fume finish

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace’s aroma was of varnish tempered by cocoanut butter. It was very sweet, with honey and lemon. The mouth feel was soft and smooth.

Average Ratings: High to Low (50 points possible - three raters)
42.33   Orval 2007 (Belgian Ale) 6.2%
42        Orval 2008 (Belgian Ale) 6.2%
42        Orval 2010 (Belgian Ale) 6.2%
41.66   New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red (Fruit Beer) 4%
41.33   Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere (Saison) 4.5%
40.66   Deschutes The Dissident (Sour Ale/Wild Ale) 10.5%
40.66   Surly Furious (IPA) 6.2%
39.33   Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (Saison) 7.6%
39        Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA (Imperial/Double IPA) 12%
38.66   BrewDog Abstrakt AB:03 (Fruit Beer) 11%
38.66   New Glarus Raspberry Tart (Fruit Beer) 4%
38.66   Orval 2011(Belgian Ale) 6.2%
38.66   Orval 2011(Belgian Ale) 6.2%
38        21st Amendment Hop Crisis! (Imperial/Double IPA) 9.7%
36        Tallgrass Oasis (ESB) 7.2%
34        Green Flash Grand Cru (Belgian Strong Ale) 9.1%
33        Revelation Cat Woodwork Series Reference (Imperial/Double IPA) 11%
32.33   Caldera Kettle Series Vas Deferens Ale (Belgian Strong Ale) 8.1%
32.33   Cigar City White Oak Jai Alai (IPA) 7.5%
32        21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA (IPA) 7%
26        Duibusson Bush Amber

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