Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beer of the Moment - Hook Norton Twelve Days

One of the things I love about beer is that every beer and brewery has a story, and sometimes the story is as interesting as the beer itself. That is the case with the Hook Norton Brewery, located in Oxfordshire County, England. The brewery is one of the last remaining Victorian 'tower breweries' and they have been brewing at the site since 1849. Even more interesting, the brewery still employs the use of a steam engine that has been running for almost 110 years. It is believed to be the oldest running steam engine in England that is still used for its original purpose. And if that is not enough history and charm, they also have shire horses that deliver the beer in the local area. If I were visiting England, this would be high on my list of places to visit. For more info, see their wiki page, or this blog.

Obviously there is a reason for all of this talk about a historic brewery in England. They have released a special holiday beer, the Twelve Days. I'll be honest, I haven't been drinking a lot of English beers in the past few years. While I cut my teeth on beers like Samuel Smiths and Fullers, I have tended towards drinking more brash American beers, or funky Belgians. I really need to go back across the pond to sample a few more beers from this storied beer country. The Twelve Days is a dark English bitter, and it really shines with a toasted, nutty malt flavor that dominates the beer. As stated on the website, this beer would go excellent with some nutty cheeses. The Twelve Days would be considered mild by American standards, but it is delicious none the less. England has a long tradition of doing special beers for Christmas, and I hope to try a few more during the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beer of the Moment - Olfabrikken Kloster Jule

This is the first of what I hope will be several beer of the moments devoted to special holiday releases. First up is the Kloster Jule from Olfabrikken, a small brewery in Roskilde, Denmark. The brewery was started in 2003 by a couple of Danish friends who had a passion for strongly flavored unpasteurized beers. There was some concern in the beer world when Olfabrikken was purchased by Gourmetbryggeriet early this year, but judging by the taste of this beer, I think some of the concerns can be laid to rest.

The Kloster Jule is a belgian strong ale, that includes an addition of Danish sour cherries, candy sugar and licorice root. It is everything a great Christmas beer should be. The 9.5 percent alcohol gives it some warmth, the cherries add some tartness, and the malt gives off some nice chocolate notes. The smell and the taste are wonderful, and would be a great addition to the holiday meal table, or as an after dinner drink.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tis the Season

If you haven't picked up a bottle or three of the Highland Cold Mountain, you may be out of luck. I have heard sales have been strong, and several places are out. If you can't find a bottle, you can always go out and have it on tap. I have seen it at Barley's, Jack of the Wood and the Thirsty Monk. Speaking of the Monk, on Wednesday evening they are featuring the Cold Mountain Ale for their pint night, and you will get a chance to meet the brewer and take home a glass.

In other local beer news, Jack of the Wood had a Russian Imperial Stout on tap, a perfect beer to take the chill off the unusually cold weather this fall. Later in the season, Wedge Brewing will also be featuring an Imperial Stout, as well as a dopplebock. Sometime in December we should also see the annual release of Pisgah's Baptista, which is always a treat.

In celebration of the coming holiday season, I am hoping to do a few special 'Beer of the Moments' that will feature some holiday beers from around the world that I picked up at Bruisin' Ales. Of course, don't hold me to it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On Tap - Wedge Brewing

Lets say you have a dilemma. You and a group of friends want to go out for a beer. One friend chimes in that he likes lagers. Another says, oh I like dark beers. A third person claims his or her love of belgians. And you, loyal reader, like to drink locally made beer. Well, Wedge brewing can easily solve your problem. They currently have eight beers on tap. Two belgians, two dark beers, two lagers, and a pale ale and an IPA. You can't get much more variety than that.

One of the newer beers on tap at the Wedge is the Oatmeal Stout. The oatmeal gives the stout a bit of chewiness in the mouthfeel, and the beer is being run on a nitrous tap, giving it a Guinness like creaminess, although with more flavor than the ubiquitous Irish brew. This is a great beer to have as the weather gets cooler.

If stouts aren't your thing, then maybe a nice crisp lager will do the trick. The Helles Bock has been available for a couple of months now, and it has a nice caramel malt taste, making it a little more complex than your typical lager.

One of the belgians that Wedge has available is the Abbey Ale. The Abbey is a Belgian Dubbel, and the highlight of this style is the sweet malt character. The yeast for this beer also comes into play, giving the beer some fruitiness. This is a highly drinkable belgian style ale.

Other beers on tap at the Wedge include the Payne's Pale Ale, the Iron Rail IPA, the Community Porter, the Zatec Pilsner, and the Golem. Each beer is distinctive, and I am sure that you shouldn't have any trouble finding one that suits your taste.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Around Town

It's been awhile since my last post, but that doesn't mean that there isn't some good beer to drink around town.

Barley's has a unique brew from Brooklyn on tap upstairs. The Flemish Gold is a saison style beer that pours with a golden color, and has some nice spiciness to complement the overall sweet taste. This is a limited beer from their Brewmasters Reserve series, and only select locations from around the country are given a chance to sample it. Downstairs, Barleys features the return of the Red Devil from Pisgah, an 8 percent beer based on their Solstice, but with the addition of a ton of raspberries and cherries.

The Red Devil can also be found at the Thirsty Monk, in addition to another unique Pisgah brew. The Dancing Hobo has been in the making for over a year, and the folks at Pisgah threw everything at it. It is a whopping 13.5 percent, and has raspberries, orange and spices, and was aged with oak chips and fermented with a champagne yeast. The description even says that it was a kitchen sink beer, and it is defintely worth trying out this one time offering. Another good beer on tap at the Thirsty Monk is the Bell's Expedition Stout, a smooth, creamy imperial stout with some lovely roasted malt flavors, this is one of my favorite imperial stouts.

Bruisin' Ales has been able to land a great new brewery out of Florida. Saint Somewhere is located in Tarpon Springs, and they brew two belgian style beers that I have had the chance to try on my visits to my parents. They are both good, but in particular I like the Athene, which is an interesting twist on the saison style, with a flavor the reminds me of fresh apples.

And finally, be on the lookout for the Highland Cold Mountain Ale, which should be making its way into stores very soon.