I love having friends that have beer! And what’s better is I love having friends that have Whiskey! And what’s better still is I love having friends that have beer and whiskey that I can’t get, and they are willing and eager to share. So it went last time I went into my local bottle shop, Brewforia. This little story begins with me bringing in a couple ungettables to Brewforia to share.
Jim and I were both sent some beer from the folks over at Old Dominion Brewing. A pretty nice stout and a very good and unique pale ale. These beers are not distributed in this neck of the woods, so I decided to bring a few bottles to Brewforia to share.
The Hop Mountain Pale ale was a real treat. It was bright and refreshing. But then someone mentioned an earthiness to it, which I thought gave it body and provided an interesting flavor when mixed with the malt backbone. This brew was very well balanced between the maltiness up front and the hoppiness towards the back side. Not hop forward, but nice and hoppy nonetheless. This was a very good pale, and one I would recommend any time you get the chance. Nice too is that it comes in 12 oz bottles, and at 6.6% it isn’t quite sessionable, but it isn’t an evening killer either. Just be reasonable with it and it will treat you fine.
Next we opened the Stout. And this had very good flavor, especially for a 6.1% ABV stout. Again, not quite sessionable, but not too overwhelming either. This brew was a bit of an enigma, because it is dryhopped with Vanilla Beans and Oak chips, yet is says it is their Oak Barrel Stout, however there is never any mention of barrel aging on the label or the web site. So I don’t know if this brew ever spent any time in a barrel or not, but the bottom line is it was tasty. A very inky black stout with a thin off white head, good coffee and chocolate nose, and the brew itself has a huge malty backbone with a slight hoppiness to keep it from tipping over with no hop presence. Its mouthfeel was medium bodied with a bit of a slick feel on the tongue. The flavor was good, you could definitely taste the vanilla and the coffee and chocolate on the roast of the malt. It too had an earthiness quality that it shared with the pale ale. After a time I realized where I had tasted this flavor before…Home Brews. Now, before you go getting all concerned that these beers weren’t as good as I’m saying they are, it wasn’t a bad quality and incorporated nicely into these beers. I’m just wondering if they spent enough time in the clarifyer. Or perhaps the brewer intended for this character to be in these beers, because it did play nicely with the malts and hops and overall flavor profile. Whatever the case, these were good, solid brews. Another nice thing is the stout comes in 12 oz bottles. Hard to find a good stout in the smaller vessels.
After we partook of these brews my buddy Rick knew I was looking for some Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. When we were in Oregon a couple weeks back I kept looking for it, and finally when I was at Belmont Station in Portland I asked if they had it. They informed me that Ballast Point didn’t distribute in Oregon, so I was aced out. So when Rick pulled out a bottle of the ugly fish IPA, I was quite excited! This was a well made brew with just one slightly strange flavor in it. First it was very well balanced between maltiness and hoppiness. with a nice hop linger on the back side. There was a rather strange flavor about mid palate however. My buddy Rick says it tastes like creosote, you know that oily tar they put on railroad ties to make them last forever. If I tried really hard I could pick that out a little bit. To me the flavor was of latex , or like you were chewing on a balloon. It was only there for a half a moment then it vanished, blending into a very pleasing flowery and fruity hop finish. But as I drank it that flavor kept asserting itself across my palate. Not to the point that I couldn’t finish it, but I definitely don’t think I will go out of my way to find any more Sculpin.
Finally, just as I was about to leave, our friend Ryan comes up to the bar and says, I’m glad you are here, I have something in my car I want you to try. I thought, ok…this might be my lucky day. In comes Ryan with a mostly consumed bottle of Rowan’s Creek Bourbon. Again another ungettable in Idaho. Unfortunately Idaho doesn’t import anything from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, makers of Willett, Rowan’s Creek, and my current favorite Noah’s Mill. So this was a completely new bourbon for me, and one I was very eager to try.
This was a very good bourbon with good oily legs and a nice slick mouthfeel. It was 101.5 proof or 50.75% ABV. High ABV to be sure, but it was so mellow and smooth with a smoldering burn that enveloped you in its arms and didn’t let go for a couple of minutes. It had a sweet flavor of pears and apple with a nice vanilla backbone and oaky finish. This is another great bourbon from KBD and if you see this one pick it up. Comparing it to the Noah’s Mill, it was much more mellow and easy drinking and had a fruity thing going on, where the Mill is all finish and oak and leather and tobacco. Very good bourbon.
So that was my mini ungettables meeting at Brewforia. This week I will be going to the real thing put on by my buddy Chad at Bier Thirty. Can’t wait to see what I’ll get into there!