Monday, January 4, 2010

Santa's Big Helper - Three Floyds Alpha Klaus

I've been trying to maintain a top 10 beer list for the last year or so to keep track of my favorites and how my tastes keep changing. Without question, Three Floyd's Brewery's Alpha King is squarely in my top 5 and cemented my strong interest in the brewery's unusual and quirky offerings. They don't know how to make anything taste ordinary, and thank FFF for that. I recently tried their Christmas "porter", the Alpha Klaus, while visiting the Map Room, one of the great beer pubs in the U.S., right here in Chicago. This one's jet black with maybe a bit of chestnut on the nose. It pours an elegant white-grey head, believe it or not, and is uber-concentrated.

My friend described it as tasting like a chocolate Alpha King. That's dead wrong. It's nutty with perhaps a hint of a coffee note with a strong hoppy, barley, grainy finish that's the signature "oh wow, that's different" moment you expect from Three Floyd's. The taster is left with something to think about at the end before diving into the next sip; and you cannot wait for the next roasted malt-turned-grainy sip.

It stands atop any Christmas offering I've had this year, towering above boring, overly-malted, flabby offerings from Goose Island, Great Lakes, and Anchor. There's a new reason to regret that "it" only comes once a year.

HOLY WATER, DRINK, OR POUR DOWN THE SINK: Overall I've had better porter styles, like the Tyranena Dirty Old Man rye porter, a mind blower. Compared with other porters, I would lean toward a very strong "Drink" rating. On the Christmas scale, however, it's solidly holy, complete with halo.

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