What’s that? Another Heavy Seas beer event revolving around smoked meat and specially crafted cask ales? Yeah, it was just another one of those days.
As you can see, the food was awesome as always. Nothing better than getting in a line to get your plate filled with ribs, coleslaw, pulled pork, potato salad, and enough sauce to drown the entire plate. There are always great assortments of cheeses and the brewery keeps offering these bacon bbq wings that always fit the theme of the event. The real treat of this event was the collection of cask/real ales they provided. Cask or “real ales” are beers allowed to naturally carbonated in barrels without added carbonation. This makes them smoother and easier to drink. Expert brewers like Heavy Seas are able to condition the cask with added ingredients to play with flavors and create different sensations. I really enjoy these events because I see some stuff that I may never be able to find again. I have seen beers with peppers, pineapple, brown sugar….the list goes on because the possibilities are really endless.
Ideas for casks can come from anywhere and sometimes they come from polls sent out over twitter. Not too long ago, Heavy Seas tweeted out a simple poll that allowed voters to select hops and ingredients to add to a special cask of loose cannon for this event (I see my bacon suggestion didn’t make it in, sigh). The added citra hops and orange peel made the already fruity Loose Cannon amazingly orangey and citrusy. It was so luscious that it started to make my mouth water. Following it up with a nice pulled pork sandwich just kept me wanting more of the beer. The grains of paradise and oak added a dry peppery finish that kept the beer from being too acidic. Fantastic combination.
The golden ale was used in two special casks that had fruit added. Golden ales are good blank canvasses for other flavors, so they really let the brewer play with the ingredients. One of the casks had a crazy amount of dried cherries and honey. It was really crisp and tart, and I was lucky enough to get some from the bottom of the barrel which really made my mouth pucker from all the cherries. The one featured above took this clashing of beer and food to another level. These parts may seem random but you could really taste everything down to the marshmallow. The strangest part was that there was no coconut in the beer, but it made me think there was because I associate it with the mixture of flavors in the cask. The beer gave me great memories of enjoying Ambrosia with its gooey tangy combination of apples, citrus and sweetness. To be clear, the beer is not chunky, it just has a fantastic rich flavor.
For the record, I love any IPA that has spent some time in oak The dryness makes the hop flavors mellow and the oak helps the esters and piney aspects of the beer. This beer had a very pronounced grapefruit note as well. This is one of the new releases from Heavy Seas and it was awesome to get to try it on oak cask. I was not able to try the regular draft because it ironically was kicked before this cask. Even with no original point of reference, I can still say this was a fantastic beer, and anyone who gets the chance to try the Big DIPA, should.
Now this gets a little weird, in a good way. This was the Heavy Seas Black Cannon (Black IPA) with several spices common in Thai cuisine. When you first look at it, the color concerns you because you wonder if there is any soy sauce in it. There isn’t, by the way. The beers flavor really does take you on a journey to that slightly bitter robust pad thai we all enjoy. It has the bitter spices working with the beer to enhance the flavor without letting any of them dominate. This went great with the food because it was like a sauce being added to the meat as you continued to drink it.
Imperial chocolate stout in bourbon barrels? Fine. Bourbon vanilla beans? Yes, please. Cinnamon and oak aging? Why not? Habanero… Hmmmm. Not as far out there as you might think. These flavors do work well together. Cinnamon and peppers are used a lot in Mexican desserts and hot chocolate. The combination sounds odd but if the flavors are balanced properly, they cinnamon’s spice can be brought out by the pepper. This beer was the best cask at the event by far. It was like balancing tastes on a knifes edge. At first you taste chocolate and bourbon, then you get that nice vanilla and oaky flavor. After that you get some cinnamon and you think, “oh wow that was nice, I didn’t really taste the peppers.” That’s when they get you. You get some nice peppery flavor mixed with the cinnamon as a finish. The peppers don’t get spicy at first, but the more you drink, the more you notice they light burning sensation that is crescendoing in your mouth. However, the heat level never gets overpowering, so you can keep sipping it without ruining your palate. This beer must have taken a lot of effort and I can’t thank the brewers enough for giving us the chance to experience.
So another successful event and I can’t wait until the next one. Everyone should always keep an eye on their local brewery because many of them try to have events like this. If you get to attend an event, you might get to try something as awesome as this special Siren Noire cask. I will be in California this weekend, so, I hope to have some great west coast beer stories to share with you (Please let there be Pliny the Elder, PLEASEEEEE).
As always, Cheers!