Every vacation has it’s to-do lists- remember to pack this, don’t forget to turn that off, pay the bills, etc., but a two month vacation has this extra little item called, “oh crap, I need to clean out my refrigerator or my house is going to smell like a********* when I get back.” What better way to accomplish this than to have your friends over to do it for you? In my case, my refrigerator also contained copious amounts of beer (more beer than food, to be honest) that I’d been saving for just such an occasion. A snippet of the beer menu for you:
Boulevard's: 21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Ale, Sixth Glass Quad Ale, and Seeyoulator Dopplebock
Upstream Grand Cru (aged 3 years)
Russian River Consecration (aged 1 year)
Biere de Yarde w/ Brett (homebrew by Mark S. & Patrick H.)
Schwartzbier (homebrew by Joe W.)
New Glarus Enigma, Berliner Weiss and Old English Porter
Great Divide Yeti, IPA, Scotch Ale
Others: Great Lakes, Left Hand, Sierra Nevada, Three Floyds, Lake Louie
The highlights for me were easily the sour beers (yes, I’m on the sour beer bandwagon. Love.): the Grand Cru from Upstream was fantastic and I had to fight the 3 year-old in me going, mine, while sharing it with my friends. Aged in chardonnay barrels for a year, it’s the perfect white wine lover’s epiphany beer. A cloudy golden ale with little head, it’s all sour, fruit and citrus in the nose, while light, crisp and tart on the tongue. The oak and buttery (not dialcytl) flavors from the chardonnay barrels paired with the apricot fruit flavors balance out the acidity of the citrus and tart sourness. Big fan.
And what Upstream’s Grand Cru will do for white wine lovers, the Consecration from Russian River will do for the red wine fans: aged in oak pinot noir barrels with currents, Consecration has the bold fruit flavors of a pinot combined with the tartness of a sour. Ruby red in color with little head, the oak and dark fruits are prominent in the nose, with sour cherries, currants and raisins dominating the palate. I could and would drink this beer every day for the rest of my life, given the proper budget and availability.
Also notable in the sour category was the Bier de Yarde from Mark and Patrick. No, that’s not a typo folks: intended to be a bier de garde, there was a bit of a mishap where the mash for this beer ended up all over my front yard. But hey- it still needed to be boiled, still needed to be lautered- what the heck? Mark added some brett and it actually turned out quite nice, though not terribly replicable (please don’t start dumping your mash in my yard).
It saddens me that Boulevard is leaving Wisconsin- they sure make some fine beers. They also have one of the most beautiful breweries I’ve ever visited (and are some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet). The only beer from above that I hadn’t had the opportunity to try before was the Anniversary Ale and to be honest, didn’t really expect to like it (you know, that whole not liking hops thing- see Supertasting post), but wow! Brown and cloudy in appearance, it’s relatively subtly hopped and oh-so-smooth. The balance between the malts and the hops is perfect and it’s really wonderfully fresh tasting.
My final love affair of the evening: Great Divide’s Yeti. God I love this beer. There is nothing I want more on a cold winters’ night in front of a roaring fire than this beer. Almost black in color with a nice, dark brown head, this beer is all coffee, chocolate and strong roasted malt flavors. It has a big velvety mouthfeel and a bittersweet chocolaty and roasty finish. It’s the perfect winter warmer.
I will have to restock my fridge upon my return, of course- hopefully with some nice New Zealand beers (I’ve already been promised a case by Luke Nicholas from Epic Brewing Co [you may know him from the Discovery Channel’s Brew Masters series. The Portamarillo will be included!]). But how to get it all home….