When I tasted Baron Bohemian Ale for the first time I have to admit, there was a bit of an unfair contest underway. My previous tipple had been the luxury double-chocolate stout from Young’s. As I said, not really fair. Although I’m weighing each one up on the strength of its own merits, I have to say this one did not hold a candle, for me anyway.
The best qualities of this beer were color and aroma. On the nose, I detected hazelnuts, which boded well. In appearance like dark maple syrup, liquid caught the light prettily, without cloudiness. In the glass I saw lots of shiny bubbles, very clean looking. Just a sip wasn’t too bad.
In fact, at first I tasted very little of anything. Then with a deeper sip there was a fizzy quality, dark nuttiness again but overpowered by a bitter finish.
It is important here to stress that if your palate dislikes a particular flavor, then no matter which brand selected from a commercial beer or wine rack, chances are not favorable for the bottle in question. So, saying that, someone else might really like the Baron because he enjoys a dark-colored ale with nutty and slightly bitter qualities. He might also be the kind of person who enjoys a 2008 Shiraz while I turn my nose up. It’s just about taste.
I sip wines again soon, but beers will return. (Beer bottles look nice with wine charms around their necks too by the way).
In honor of my brother who loves beer and because I find beer interesting myself, I have been looking out for new ones to try. Though not right for the wine rack, often their bottles are pretty enough to fit in with many vintner labels. As for Young’s Luxury Double Chocolate Stout, its worthiness in my books has more to do with flavor.
An appealing appearance does lure the eye, for sure. A curvaceous bottle; rich purple and gold coloring on the label: all good stuff. What really hooked me was the idea of double chocolate luxury. A very nice man at the liquor store said this would be dry by very nice, and he was right.
I swirled it as he recommended. Tiny bubbles coated my glass (I used a wine glass for lack of beer or stout glasses). On the nose came very distinct aromas: beer and cocoa. One was not blended with the other, they seemed to rise in equal partnership. On the tongue, when swirled, the two emulsified so that ale emerged on entry while cocoa provided the finish. Sure enough, the man was right: dry, yet rich at the same time; like dark chocolate versus milk chocolate. Not creamy, yet so satisfying. I have a new favorite beer for Christmas (until next time I try something made with chocolate).
Whenever something interesting involving wine or beer is to take place at a location not a million miles away I feel especially curious and long to go. I won’t, of course, though I might send big little brother Geoff if he has time. You may remember I posted a photo of him singing some months back. He loves beer, especially those he hasn’t tried before. I sent him the link to Portland’s 2010 Ale Festival in hopes he might get the chance. Since he’d be visiting from near Vancouver, BC, a hotel would be required so no fears about driving under the influence. Thus I might live vicariously through Geoff.
Event organizers set-up a big clear-top tent over Pioneer Courthouse Square, kept warm with several gas heaters and a giant Christmas tree which just fills people with a glow. December 1-5th are the critical dates, a Beer and Brunch taking place on the final day.
One special touch I thought was quite nice sees designated drivers receive a free bottle of Crater Lake Rootbeer. Classy.
Participating brewers include Alaskan Brewery Co. with their Barley Wine (do you store that on the wine rack?) and Vertigo Brewing with La Nina Coffee Porter and a chocolate variety also.
On second thoughts, I may have to get my passport sorted out and join bro’. We could call it a joint birthday gift to ourselves (we are the same age for three days in December close to Christmas. Our poor mom.)
For the coolest extra credit assignment in the world I had to tour a brewery. I also had the option of touring a winery but due to time constraints I could only manage the Fish Brewing Company tour in Olympia. Either way, I’m in the presence of wonderful beverages–plus I can also use the wine cube for storing beer. See how resourceful and creative I am?
Anyway, the tour guide was the insane brewing know-it-all head brewer who went into so much detail it made my head spin. I was awed by his ability to describe every single process down to the molecular level. There were times when I felt like I needed to go back and take another chemistry class in order to process the information accurately. Perhaps the most confusing part involved his description of the filtering processes which incorporate several products and equipment at various times to ensure the wort or unfermented ale is strained to golden perfection.
One surprise were the hops pellets which looked like rabbit food but smelled like the sweet essence of ale. The hops are responsible for imparting aroma, flavor, and bitterness to the ale since it would be far too sweet without them. I enjoyed smelling the different varieties the brewing company uses, though it was hard to stifle a giggle as I imagined a rabbit feeding on them.
After the tour came to an end, I hopped across the street like a bunny ravenous for more hops–but this time in a fermented beverage form. I decided to try the award winning Fish Tale Organic India Pale Ale. One thing I have to say is that this beer is “hoppy” but delicious. I’m looking forward to trying more Fish Tale creations as I find the effort that goes into them to be top notch. Of course, I hope they don’t mind my using wine charms
on my beer glass!