Friday, 25 December 2009

2009 Christmas beer: a real-time tasting

It's not all been trawling through brewing records this Christmas. Beer has/is being drunk.

As a special treat for the holiday, and to take advantage of the web's possibilities, I'll be posting about what I drink real time. Exciting or what? You'll be able to see if I keep to Christmas drinking plan.

11:45 Beer Geek Breakfast
I've just popped a Mikkeler Beer Geek Breakfast (Speyside edition). I'm matching it with my usual breakfast: a handfull of pills. The roastiness squared of coffee plus roast malt holds up well to the plastic chemicaliness of the tablets.

The beer's OK. Much better than the last Beer Geek Breakfast I tried. Mike emptied most of his into Keizer's Gracht. I did finish my share, but through clenched teeth. This one's positively pleasant in comparison. A bit astringent/sour from all the dark malt, but nothing too annoying.

Just wondering if, as there's already some whisky in the beer, I need to have an Islay with it. Decisions, decisions.

12:30 Hoppin' Frog BORIS the Crusher I'd planned this for present-opening time. But that happened while I was still in dreamland. Watching Dolores slave away in the kitchen time is what the clock is showing currently.

I picked up this bottle when I was in the USA for work. $8.99 it cost me. Mmm. This is a real surprise. Good mouthfeel (from the oats, I guess) and lots of dark chocolate. Quite restrained compared to the Beer Geek Breakfast. The malt chocolatey sweetness and subdued roastiness combine with the clinky-clink noises from the kitchen into a gestalt of inordinate simplicity and elegance.

As this Stout lacks any intrinsic whiskiness, I've paired it with the Ileach. (The cheapest Islay whisky Ton Overmars sells, just 25.99 for 70 cl.) Yummericious, in a combining-drinks-too-early-in-the-day sort of way.

13:30 De Molen Rook en Vuur
I did not pay for this beer. I did not pay for this beer. That's the disclaimer out of the way. Another Stout, but one with a twist. Or two. (Twister - that's really Christmassy. When else does anyone play Twister?) Smoked, and chillied. That would usually be enough to have me running for the hills. But I trust Menno. And his beer. There's a very delicate lick of flame on the tongue, but not a roaring fire. The smoke is subdued too.

Fire and smoke fit perfectly with the rain that's slowly melting the snow away outside.

We'll be having our starter soon. Not salmon as I'd predicted, but portobello mushrooms with goats cheese, pine nuts and bacon. It looks very nice.

I did not pay for this beer. I did not pay for this beer. Just in case you missed the first disclaimer.

15:30 Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA
Bit slow there, wasn't I? The Rook en Vuur was a bit too one-person sized. You must be very disappointed.

After all those heavy Stouts, I've gone for something light and zingy. Should match the police car chase programme on the telly perfectly. Shit. Andrew's changed channels. Now it's a Hitler exploding the earth doomsday device programme. The beer actually matches better with that. I can already smell the duck, so I need to hurry.

It's nothing like as crazily hoppy as I expected. A bit more grapefuity than I like, but OK. Grapefruit, orange. You know something. It may match the food quite well. It might. It could have. But I'll be drinking wine with the main course. If I value my grillocks.

I'm off for dinner now. I'll be back in a hour or so for post-prandial meanderings.

Gave the kids a taste of the DFH. Lexie ran for the toilet. After spatting it out he said: "Blergh! That was horrible. Sweet and bitter." Andrew just did the sucking lemon thing. And gave me a look. "That's how it's supposed to taste. Sweetness and bitterness in perfect disharmony."

19:35 the Ileach
Over a game of Pharoah, I switched to whisky. If I were being nasty, I'd say: to take away the nasty taste of the DFH. But I didn't think it was nasty. Just not what I wanted to drink. Courses, horses, that sort of crap.

"Dad, no, not alcohol. You're taking drugs again. Really, don't."

I feel like the dad in those old temperance posters. "Daddy, please don't drink." My kids have never said those exact words to me. "Dad, no more beer." "Daaad, not a jenever. You know what mum said." Those I've heard.

Time is drawing on, this joke is wearing thin, my family craves attention. Peace and love, peace and love. Man.


rod said...

top man - I haven't started yet, but I shall be banging on the door of the Coach in Greenwich Market at midday for a pint of Bruggse Zot. Or two. said...

your blog is amizimg!!!
We do love beer!!! A lot...
Merry Christmas.

Gary Gillman said...

Good taste notes on Rook & Vuur. Capsicum was used in some 1800's Ontario porter brewing, and surely that came from contemporary Britain where we know all kinds of things were added to porter in the 1800's, not always licitly.

In fact, chile used correctly can be an enhancer to beer, as in this De Molen case clearly. I have had American craft beers made with a touch of chile that were superb, especially where the chile was smoked or blistered. The connection to porter seems close due to the history of smoky malts.


First Stater said...

Ron, I've 2 De Molen beers sitting happily in the cellar. A porter and a stout, both with you name on the labels. Which would you suggest for this occasion. As a disclaimer I paid for both.

Merry Christmas to all.

First Stater said...

I've heard 120 Minute called quite a few things but light and zingy is a new one.

Gary Gillman said...

A last Christmas beer-tasting note, and one to complement the SUABP taste: St. Bernardus Christmas on draft, tasted at Gingerman in New York tonight. The beer was malty with notes of dates, red wine and mince pie spice. Very good and hardly showing the impressive ABV.

Other beers tried were a success in some cases, not others. Two beers, APAs, while in exemplary condition, had such a powerful green pepper/sauvignon blanc-like taste I found them impossible to finish.

Top of the league was Brown Sugga, a barley wine from Lagunitas in CA. Also, Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter on cask, a letter perfect replication of a XXX Victorian stout down to the pronounced and firm non-floral bitterness. It was much more bitter than any other example I've had recently of strong porter, and welcome for it. And finally, a German hefe weizen, I can't recall the name, with a silky lemony complexity.

Gingerman is my favourite beer bar in New York but hopefully there will be time to essay Rattle and Hum or Blind Tiger.


Tim said...

Wow. Ron, you're a prolific pisshead.

Any idea the age on the 120 Minute IPA? I bought a few bottles a couple years back to see if the "Ages Well" claim on the label had any merit. After a year only the faintest whiff of hops remained. Two years and it had devolved into syrup much too sweet for me. Thankfully I opened each one in the presence of unsuspecting beer drinking company so there was no need for it to meet the drain.

Beer Sagas said...

Merry Christmas! And thanks for a great blog.

I liked your idea of posting your comments in real time. I might pick it up some day...

Rod said...

My De Molen Christmas beer trail starts today (got sidetracked yesterday by Meantime Scotch and IPA, and Fuller's Golden Pride......) with Bloed, Zweet & Tranen. More tomorrow!!!

Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, I had a slight preference for the bottled St. Bernardus Christmas over the draught. Both cracking beers, mind.

Ron Pattinson said...

Rod, you can't go wrong with De Molen at Christmas.

Matt said...

I've been mainly drinking Fullers 1845 but also tried
King's Five Generations -
pdf - for the first time. They're both perfect for a snowy Christmas: amber, fruity and what I think of (probably wrongly) as a Victorian-style bitter.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, thanks, if I get the chance to try the bottled one I'll report anon.

Today I had two beers at your favourite NYC beer bar, Blind Tiger, after a 3 hour walk in the rain. Victory Braumeister Pilsener led off. It was superb, kind of a cross between Michelob draft circa-1970's and very fresh Pilsener Urquell.

And, proof that a APA can be balanced and excellent: Sumttynose IPA from MA. While US hops are clearly used, this brewer gets it right: notes of orange rind, perfume and mint - no catty taste or raw green peppper - combined with some top quality pale malt for a delicious, moreish pale ale.

On cask they had a porter I hadn't heard of called Shawnee London Porter, 6.5%. I had just a taste and it reminded me of Fuller's porter, good of its type but after the Flying Dog Imperial Gonzo Porter on cask at Gingerman last night, not quite what I was looking for.

The other casks were Dogfish Head 120 minute, too strong to try mid-day, and Aventinus Eisbock served from a pin on gravity, which again at 10% ABV or more seemed too much for the mid-day.

I hope to get back and try those plus Schlenkerla Rauchbier on draft.

A fine BLT for lunch rounded out an excellent visit.


Rod said...

"Rod, you can't go wrong with De Molen at Christmas."

Hate to disagree with you, old chap, but you can - my bottle was infected. Cabbage and butter - paedacoccus. Oh well, like you, I didn't pay for it. Today, I'm trying the Jong & Onbedorven......
Has a billy goat on the label, so (unless it's a little Dutch joke) I assume it's a bock.