This month’s session is hosted by The Barley Blog, and the topic is “Happy Anniversary”, where we’re all popping the cap on a very special beer and giving it the review treatment.
Avery is one of my favorite brewers these days. It’s got a lot to do with the Maharaja and the Czar and their other gigantic beers. Even their normal beers are pretty good. I dunno, I just like Avery. Maybe it’s the foil around the cap that gets me? This session was a perfect excuse to open one of my cellared bottles of Avery Fourteen. That’s the 14th anniversary beer from our friends in Boulder. This beer was bottled in 2007.
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I popped it today, and it’s a hell of a beer! The label says 15°P and 77 IBU, as well as real chocolate used in there. The nose was subtly chocolate at first, with more of a general stout smell to it. But the initial flavor was massively chocolatey, with tons of hops to back it up. An awesome bitter-sweet combination. The aroma really develops as the beer sits in the glass for a while. So much so that it even made my next beer, a porter, smell chocolatey. Cool. And don’t forget that there’s a big hop bitterness punch in there, too.
I can’t say enough about how great Flying Dog is in their reaching out to the beer blogging community and their marketing programs to get the word out about their beers. Part of this is a pre-release of upcoming beers. Coming soon to a beer store near you is the Flying Dog Garde Dog Biere de Garde style beer. Biere de Garde is a beer style of French origin made for the warmer weather of Spring and early Summer. I got mine the other day, and tonight I tried it out. I like it, and I give it an A-. It’s going to be a great warmer weather beer, perfect for a late afternoon on the porch enjoying a warm Spring breeze, watching hop rhizomes grow in the front yard. It is light and refreshing, but not boring at all. Something you can enjoy and share with your friends. Very nice beer.
I am going really upscale tonight for fine dining. Aimée is very late in her pregnancy (actually coming up on 41 weeks) and is turning to early-pregnancy-like cravings. Today is soft pretzel. I went out and got some frozen soft pretzels, called Super Pretzel. Just the plain old soft pretzels. Cooked in the toaster oven in four minutes. Easy as pie. And perhaps as tasty as pie. Better in some ways. Paired with some organic yellow mustard and a Sierra Nevada ESB. Sometimes simple is good.
The Brewer’s Association is organizing a big beer and food even in Washington DC called Savor. It’s coming in a few months, May 16 and 17 to be exact. Many of the greatest brewers in the country will be there, showcasing their beers and sharing the joy of matching those beers with food.
Participating breweries include Flying Dog, Avery, Russian River, Allagash, Dogfish Head, Smuttynose, Stone, and a ton of others.
This is a huge event, with great speakers lined up too. Garrett Oliver, perhaps the biggest name in beer and food pairing, will be there. You can see Jim Koch, Sam Calagione, Randy Mosher and others speak in intimate salon sessions.
And there’s a ton of great food being served. Dozens of appetizers, soups, skewers, and sweets made to highlight a variety of beer styles are going to be there, provided by the same caterers that congress uses!
Basically, if you can make it to our nation’s capital city in the middle of May, you owe it to yourself to make it to this event. There are three sessions, one Friday night, one Saturday afternoon, and one Saturday night. It’s $85 for a session, which is a bargain to get to hobnob with today’s stars of the brewing world. Plus, it’s a great excuse to go see some great history in Washington DC’s famous museums and monuments. Not to mention the brewpubs in and around DC.
Tonight I had a social interaction that was in perfect parallel with an exquisite beer and food pairing.
I had a 1988 Chevy S-10 that I had at some point intended to use as a project truck that would eventually end up as a kick-ass off-road monster. In reality, it ended up being a big pain-in-the-ass monster. Finally today, thanks to Freecycle, I am free from the truck.
I’ve made a real point this season to get my hands on as many winter seasonal beers as I can. It’s been really fun trying all the different ones, to see each brewer’s individual take on what it means to be a holiday or winter beer. Some have been similar to each other, and some have been unique to themselves, but none have dissapointed. As I taste each one, I imagine a food that would go great with each beer. A lot of times it comes up with the old standards: barbecue, or stew, or mexican, or whatever old normal thing you’d think of with a beer. Tonight I found myself somewhat inspired.
Many would pair wine with thanksgiving – I pair beer. Some say that this whole “beer pairing” thing is getting to be overdone. I say it is just getting started. Steve Koch from Stone brewing proved it earlier in the year when he defeated the sommeliers in a “pair-off”. It reminds me of Steven Colbert in the “guitar shred-off” he had with some guy from some band I never heard of before or since (it was actually the Decemberists – no offense to their fans).