Monday, June 16, 2008

Odd Notion - Defying Classification: Magic Hat Odd Notion

Next up in from the Magic Hat family (I was passionately reminded that this is Vermont! beer, not Canadian . . . won't forget that one), was Odd Notion. This beer sort of makes me think of Elvis Costello. How do you classify him? Was he a punk rocker, as on This Year's Model? A pop craftsman as featured on My Aim Is True? A crooner destined to woo Diana Krall and forever be subjected to her laconic jazz warbling? It's a tough call but keep it in mind when considering Odd Notion.

It pours like a Stout, dark and dense. It initially drinks like a brown ale, revealing its complexity slowly. It has the biting finish of a Lager. This is all perplexing. Well, maybe it's just the alcohol. Truth is, the Hat has managed to create a stately hybrid that is great on its own but will drink well with most foods. Speaking of which, I've got leftover Argentinian steak to attend to. Where did Shaun hide the opener?

This Circus Boy Is No Freak Show

As Shaun alluded to earlier, his travels to the Windy City were fortuitous, allowing us to have a beer summit at my crib. Nothing ordinary was brought to the table, as Shaun supplied some tasty brews from Magic Hat, which proudly hails from his home state of Vermont. First up was the Hat's Circus Boy Hefeweizen. I went through a serious Hefe phase back in '01-'02 but my interest quickly faded after they all started tasting like Lemon Joy to me (not that I drink such things, but would it were . . ).
Enter Circus Boy. This beer renewed my interest in the style because it doesn't have that overwhelming sour citrus flavor that can ruin a beer experience on a hot summer day. Circus is restrained and smooth with good lager-like density. The kicker is that it has a hit of lemon on the finish, but it's not overpowering. Apparently they use lemongrass in the brewing process to cut down on the harsh citrus finish all too common to Hefes. Now I have a new summer beer to enjoy that doesn't seem better suited to cleaning my dishes. For that, a tip of the Hat.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fat Squirrels store their nuts all winter just for us

For the June installment I was fortunate enough to be able to enjoy Mark's selection in Chicago with Mark in person. I took some vacation time and we met up to go to a mutual friend's wedding. So I was able to meet up with my best friend and perform our tasting in person.

Mark gave me two selections from New Glarus brewing company from New Glarus Wisconsin.

1) Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale:

There are two things that stand out about this brown ale that are different from others I've had. One is that it's actually carbonated. It's lively on the tongue and proves that brown ales don't have to be served flat. The second is the floral scent and taste to it. It has a tropical flower smell and taste to it that backs up the carmel maltiness.

This is a brown ale that your girlfriend would like yet you and your boys won't mind drinking it outside in daylight where people will see you. It's a refreshing beer so when you stroll down the patio through the sea of heffewizen's with your dark brown ale you can stand out in the crowd without needing to carry a glass of water alongside it to stem off the heat of the summer.

Pros- Unique Brown ale that is actually carbonated and refreshing.

Cons- The bartender may accidentally try to put fruit in your beer or convince you to get a heffewizen like everyone else on the patio.

Verdict- You now have two types of beer you can drink this summer!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

All Hail the Dark Lord


I had the rare opportunity tonight to do something truly special in the world of beer. I had the opportunity to taste to 2004 Russian Imperial Stout from Munster Indiana by a small but revered brewery know as Three Floyds. Named...The Dark Lord.

The name is steeped in lore of people waiting in line for 1 bottle sold only on 1 day of the year and then sold for hundreds of dollars like a fine bottle of wine.

A beer hailed world wide as a perfect example of the word Beer. A beer that more fully embodies the type than any beer in the world...ever.

So here is my review.

This beer is a singular experience. This is not something you would want to experience on a daily basis or have with food in a casual setting. That would be a waste. This beer is the equivalent of sky diving for the first time. This is something you do for the experience. Not something that everyone gets or would agree with. Like single malt scotch or Kobe beef. Some people get it and appreciate it for the experience and history. And some people will not.

This is an amazingly complex beer. It has a sweet molasses taste that can only be taken in sips. But you want to sip this beer and savor it. You want to review it in your head a little at a time and pick out every flavor and every nuance. You have a sweetness that starts but does not dominate or end in an alcoholy abiss. This beer lingers on all the strength and does not succumb to overdoes of alcohol or contaminated yeast. This is something you sip from a brandy snifter rather than attempt to drink from the bottle or something as course as a pint glass. This beer takes you to the moment when you hit terminal velocity on your first sky dive where you start breathing again and realize that you aren't falling...but are flying.

This is a great beer.

The highs- Makes you feel superior to other earthlings who have no idea what is possible.

The Lows- Once you drink this beer you will compare all others and find them wanting

The Verdict- Don't drink this unless you are ready to accept the consequences