This past week was another week dedicated to craft beer. Which one? Well depending on the time of year, place you are located, and people you associate with….any week can be a long celebration of craft beer. American Craft Beer Week just happens to have a few websites dedicated to it; you can always be your own celebration. Perhaps that was a little too crass. I do think there is a point buried in that sarcasm….beer weeks are simply what you make of them. This “craft beer renaissance” has afforded the average consumer countless shops, bars, and breweries to purchase quality American craft beer from, and there is no real method for celebrating a beer week except that you kinda have to drink.
Many people want to know how to celebrate such an event and they can even be intimidated as though their is some snobbish ritual that needs to be obeyed, but really there isn’t. Beer drinkers like me will try to do something special every night but that doesn’t mean you have to go out every night or have a beer with every meal. Check the internet, check bars in your area, there will be information on special releases, tastings and events for you to choose from. It’s all up to what you consider interesting. I personally decided to have some fun this year by dipping into some of my reserved bottles because I have a lot of them and after a while aging beer seems stupid if you don’t drink any of it. I will go through three of the beers I enjoyed the most over the week and I will leave you with some nice beer pron shots at the end of the post so you don’t get bored with my descriptions.
I will go more into detail on aging beer another time, but I will just say that the general rule of thumb is to age beers that are above 7/8% and that don’t have a lot of hops because the flavor erodes. Higher alcohol content aides preservation and you need to age in a cool dark place. Anyway, first beer: Heavy Seas Greater Pumpkin: Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale
This is a fun beer put out every fall by the Heavy Seas Brewery out in Baltimore. The beer starts out a huge pumpkin spicy malty mouthful with a generous kick of bourbon at the end. It’s very sweet and the bourbon adds a nice twang of fruitiness to it, and these characteristics made me decide to put a bottle down for about 8 months to see what would happen. The beer really changes a lot. The booze mellows and becomes a nice back flavor. The reduced sweetness lets you really taste all the pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, clove and allspice without having them be overpowered. It’s a drier drinking experience that doesn’t knock you out because of the boozy bourbon. I like the juxtaposition because I can see merits to aging this beer and merits to enjoying it right away.
Avery Odio Equum Aged 7 months
This is a sour beer, which can be a little off-putting for some people. The beer uses natural yeasts which can create a very acidic sour taste ( the usual culprit is called Brettanomyces or Brett for short). This beer adds to that by using red raspberries and spending a good amount of time in cabernet savignon barrels. This creates a very rich sour beer that reminds me a lot of raspberry juice. The seven month aging was just not enough time. I have heard that aging sours will reduce the acidic flavor while actually smelling more acidic than before. I just didn’t give it enough time for this to take effect. The beer is still fun to drink with its nice seedy fruit flavor mellowed by a nice wine finish. Again this isn’t an exact science but at least I didn’t ruin it.
Rogue Voodoo Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale
I know what you’re thinking….is it chunky? No. This was not aged but I just had to write about this beer. It tastes like the ingredients mentioned in the title. I have encountered many beers like this that claim to taste like maple bacon, blueberry muffins, peanut butter and jelly…and for the most part these names aren’t misleading. The beer starts with a rich chocolate malt flavor, the peanut butter flavor follows in the middle and finishes with a hint of banana. Nothing was overpowering, just a nice smooth balanced drinking experience. It’s the beer I want to drink while I’m watching a movie. You might not see it in stores, but you can actually order it from the Rogue website in a pack with their wonderful maple bacon brown ale.
These were just some of my favorite choices from the week. I had a fantastic drinking experience and I am looking forward to the next awesome beer week in August thanks to DC Beer Week (see you don’t even have to wait a year for the next beer week). As always, these choices of beer reflect my preferences and shouldn’t be yours if it’s not what you like. Some people don’t like having their beer taste like an after school snack, some people just want a simple brown ale. That’s why you need to go and try to find things that you like. Cheers!
P.S. I just bottled my latest beer so stay tuned for another brewing post soon!