I posted about a beer tasting party that I had last year. I had a blast and people learned a ton about beer. I also learned how much I love doing this sort of thing. Well, some time has passed, and I’m almost a year older. In fact, I am a year older. Wednesday (17th) was my 30th birthday, and I had to work. Fortunately, my wife and some friends planned an epic bash for me on Tuesday. We partied like it’s…well, let’s just say it would have been a nice last night on planet earth.
I’m writing this with the hope of inspiring more intentionality about sharing beer with neophyte friends. Something as simple as the difference between a lager and an ale sparked some interest at my party. With the exception of one or two other people, I was really one of the only craft/import beer lovers. It’s a unique opportunity to expose some people to the sheer beauty of the beer world. We had some magical stuff happening that night, and I wanted to share the list. We can all see that it’s not a cheap venture, but it’s certainly a beautiful one.
At this tasting, I did a bit more pairing than at the one last year, so I have included specifics with the particular beer and explained why they went together. Some pairings will be a hit and others might fail miserably; we had fun either way. The following list in my selected tasting order:
1. Black Tuesday. I knew that this would be the biggest and strongest beer that we tried, which is not normally what you want to drink first. I’ve had it once before while drinking some other selections when I interviewed the Bruery, so I didn’t want to miss it this time. We enjoyed it with a very nice coffee rind cheddar called “Barely Buzzed” (purchased at Whole foods). The beer seemed like it would link up nicely with the coffee rind of the cheese, which becomes very nutty toward the middle. Dark beers tend to be slightly acid, as does cheddar. We spoke about the beer, the style, and I explained some facts about Stouts. After this beer, we ate something to cleanse the palate and take a break so that we could be ready for our first beer in the series.
2. Weinhenstephaner Hefe. This is a light and finely carbonated beer that I think would be a nice introductory beer and a sort of aperitif for the food and beer to come. Andrea made kimbap, Korean picnic food that is similar to sushi but without any fish. The seaweed paper adds a touch of delicate fish flavor to the food, which seemed to match nicely with the delicate tones of the wheat beer. People loved trying a beer from the oldest licensed brewery in the world.
3. Pilsner Urquell was the first Pilsner in the world, not the first lager…but still (Ur=original; quell=source). The touches of hop and snappy bitterness of this beer also did well the with the kimbap that Andrea made, and people also responded to the bready depth of our second German beer.
4. Delirium Tremens is a classic beer, and this was one of the favorites. It’s a delicate but delicious beer. People weren’t quite to the point of seeing the pink elephants on the label, but they were well on their way.
5. Trappist Triple was a homebrew creation of mine that came in a 12.5% ABV, which is pretty big even for the style. However, the alcohol is well masked behind of touch of sweet sourness and citrusy tones. I’ve also found that I got some butterscotch tones (diacetyl), which are actually very pleasant in the beer.
6. ESB was another homebrew of mine. At 7%, it’s still big for an ESB. Plenty of those raw sugar qualities found in the British counterparts, low carbonation, and English hops made for a very British version of the style. Perhaps a little less malt depth than some British versions but still very good.
7. Old Brewery Pale Ale from Samuel Smiths is classic British Pale Ale all the way. I love this particular version, and many at the party did as well. I explained a bit about the Yorkshire squares and the beer itself while people sipped away.
8. Green Flash Imperial IPA is a huge piney and citrusy (lots of grapefruit) beer. It’s a West Coast IPA all the way. I made some Thai style chicken kabobs to match with this brew. Lots of Thai food has citrus, spice, some sweetness and lots of depth. I figured that an IPA would link nicely with all those qualities. Also, there was a smoky char (caramelization) that did nicely with the caramel touches in the brew. Lovely match.
9. Lindemans Kriek. Of course I’m not a fan of this beer all the time but I still enjoy the sweeter versions on occasion. German Chocolate cake is my favorite, and a friend made a homemade one for me. I figured the sweet cherries and chocolate would be a match made in heaven. The coconut was easily handled by the depths of the Kriek. It seemed to be a crowd pleaser.
10. St. Louis Fond Gueuze was the next beer on the list. Having sipped a fruited lambic, I figured I would let people see what the beer was like naked, so to speak. Although not a lambic proper, this one is pretty close. I think people were a bit shell-shocked by the stark difference in the Gueuze and the Kriek. Still, some people thought it was wonderful. My personal feelings would have me drinking this about 95 times out of 100 against a fruited lambic.
11. Sour ESB was next on the list. I figured we could do a line of sours, and people would get an idea of how wide the world of beer could be. In fact, there were comments about the surprise from the possibility of a beer tasting like the Gueuze or this one (mission accomplished…now they are aware). This was a homebrew of mine. I used the same ESB as above but used some carrot and beet sugar that I had made, and I used a sour yeast mix that I had. It’s drastically different from the original. It goes to show you how great the effect of yeast can be. In this case, it was 5 yeasts and two bacterial strains.
12. Duchesse de Bourgogne was next on the list. I don’t know that a ton of people really appreciated the Flanders style sour. A few did, but it was certainly part of an epiphany for all. I don’t think most people knew what they were getting into when they agreed for me to host a beer tasting party, but they certainly got a full range of experience.
13. My Funky Valentine was another of my homebrews. I brewed a sort of chocolatey type porter and used some sour yeasts strains that I had–hence the name. Chocolate and funk? Maybe the Chet Baker reference doesn’t fully work, but the beer seemed to just fine.
14. Small Monster, yet another homebrew, was number 14 on the list. I made a huge Imperial Stout…more on this beer in future weeks. Anyway, the first runnings of the three mashes were devoted to the Imperial Stout and the second runnings still resulted in the 9% ABV beer, which also used a nice sour yeast mix. I’m excited to watch this one change. Lots of stout flavors without the typical fullness. Turns out that I got two good beers for one. I’m going to do more small beers, if you can call them that.
15. Abita Double Bock. I decided to save this one for a later date because the evening was starting to wane and I wanted to taste this on it’s own merits. There was still plenty to come.
16. Old Chub by Oskar Blues is a great Scottish/Scotch Ale. I actually did two pairings with this beer. Caved Aged Gruyere cheese and Robusto, a 7-month gouda, worked beautifully with this beer. The briny caved aged was very nice with the smoky peatiness of the Old Chub, while the malt sweetness complimented the Robusto. This was a hit.
17. Smoked Marzen Bamberg was up next. I would have liked to have some nice barbecue or smoked pork to pair with this brew but went with it straight up. This was certainly a unique beer for a lot of people. I think someone said it was like drinking a campfire. There was more to it than that, but now they can say they tried it.
18. Quadruple that I brewed was also on the night’s menu. Mine weighs in at 15% ABV and has herbs de Provence in it, which has receded a bit with time. I’m don’t intend to brag when I say that I think this is a very good beer and people really seemed to enjoy the slight herbalness of it.
19. 2010 Bigfoot from Sierra is a brash beer. It ages beautifully, but it’s pretty hoppy and youthful in its fresh form. It’s so hoppy that when I tried some 2004 a couple weeks ago, it still had a very notable hop presence (although the malts were becoming very nice. To cut the beer, I paired it with a solid blue called Saint Pete’s Blue (Whole Foods has a great cheese selection). The two were wonderful together. Someone asked me how I came up with such a good pairing (they thought it was spot on). I told them that experience, trial and error, and Garrett Oliver from the Brooklyn Brewery were key factors.
20. Murphy’s Irish Stout was next on the list. I had to have something dark and wonderful to get past the Barley-wine and blue; this seemed to do the trick. I’ve always like Murphy’s better than Guinness and made a stew using it, so I decided to share this beer rather than the more ubiquitous stout. This is currently my wife’s favorite, so I wanted her to have a blissful time.
21. Eis Oatmeal Stout. In preparation for another beer that I’m currently brewing, I experimented with Eisbocking my strong Oatmeal Stout. It went into the freezer at 11% and emerged as a big beast. I’m thinking I jumped it up to about 17%. Either way, this beer was the answer to the opening salvo of Black Tuesday. It was my way of saying that the night started and ended with some big exclamations. People thought it was big and strong. By that time, who knows what anyone could actually taste. At any rate, this was the end of the night when it came to beer.
Overall, I had a great time, and I think people learned a great deal about beer. It was just by telling them about it, it was by having a financial investment in it and sharing the beer with them. I’m not saying that we should all go out and have a beer party, but maybe share a beer or two with people who are new to the beer world. Wouldn’t it be cool if they were hosting their own beer party sometime?