Aug 14 2008 11:58 am

this website has fish AND beer

Just wait till winter rolls around.  It will be beer all the time.  Even the beer people (read: Yaniv) will demand fishing in January.  But before the next fishing post, one more from New Mexico, I’m going to slip something in under the radar about beer.


Mr. Grand Poobah, aka “The Judge”, because of his BJCP credentials, has been selected to sit on World Class Beverages new Panel of World Domination Hegemony Selector Committee, or PWDHSC for short.  The PWDHSC has been charged with evaluating, ranking, and writing a brief description of each of the fine craft beers in World Class Beverage’s large portfolio.  They’ll put these on a website.  They’ll have “shelf talkers.”  They’ll “educate the ignorant” so that they’ll “grow the category.” 


Whatever.  The bottom line is that Ryan gets a bunch of free beer and he’s a sharing kind of guy.    


Yaniv and I arrived at Ryan’s otherwise well appointed suburban abode to find a sterile white tile chamber of BJCP judging magic.  Filtered water, small pieces of bread, a computer, notes and textbooks, a rather large enema apparatus, Ryan was ready to get down to business.  According to the BJCP, beer is always best tasted completely naked and shaved.  Eyebrows too. 


We started with Abita’s Strawberry beer which sucked.  It was a diacetyl bomb.  Their Purple Haze was flawless but boring.  North Coast’s Red Seal Ale was great as usual.  It was my daily tipple when I lived in North Carolina and those were good times.  The bitter, resinous, piney hops overpower the fairly dry malts but that’s fine.  It makes for a quick sipper.


The Wychwood I had on Cask in London last summer was way better than the stuff we had in a bottle the other night.  Though that’s hardly a surprise: fresher is usually better when it comes to beer.  Their Hobgoblin was still quite nice with a fairly hefty darker malt component but a bit on the dry side in the finish, just a shade harsh.


My favorite beer of the group was also from England: Sam Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale.  On the strong side for a British beer, 6.0% abv, that’s sadly almost average for US craft beers.  I love this beer because it’s distinctive without being overwhelming.  It has the distinct Sam Smith fermentation character, what I think of as almost a bit musty.  Not funky really in any way, but there’s something on the edges.  The rich, caramel malt character supports a hefty but restrained hopping rate.  The beer has a substantial body, but still finishes crisply.  I love this beer.


Rogue’s Hazelnut monstrosity smelled nice, but could step down the hazelnut flavor a shade or four.  Bell’s Cherry Stout was as aggressive as always with blades of super sour cherries slicing up the thick, roasty malt gel.  Avery’s Karma Ale was confusing.  A Belgian?  Really?  A bit too subtle for me to tell.  Old Coast Old #38 Stout was very fine.  Not much of a dry stout, but a great stout nonetheless.


Will the real Belgian, or French-Canadian, please stand up? 


Unibroue’s Don de Dieu shoots his little golden hand into the air and shakes it all around.  “I’m Quebecois!  I’m Quebecois!  I go to Stone Harbor New Jersey in the summers!  I love TJ MAXX!  But for not being Belgian I’m about as Belgian as you can get!  I put mayonnaise on everything!”  Indeed little guy.  You’ll get your own country one of these days.  In the meantime, keep up the good work.  You’re a fine example of a strong Belgian Pale Ale.   


Then there was Samichlaus.  The king shellacker.  The 14% abv is hidden as well as 14% can be hid, but you can still tell it’s there.  It’s “warming.”  It tastes like burning.  Super Nintendo Chalmers.  I ated the purple berries.   


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