I recently visited San Francisco on a business trip and made it a point to stop at a few of craft brew pubs I'd heard a lot of good things about. Luckily, the conference I was in town for was held at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco.
Earlier this week I attended an interesting event in Waldo... Waldo Pizza hosted a tapping partying for the 2009 Schlafly Imperial Stout. In addition to your pint of bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout fresh from the keg, Gary from Schlafly was handing out tasters of 08, 07 and 06 vintages of the same beer. It was a very casual event in a dinning room/bar where the beer nerds mingled amongst the regular crowd of diners.
Last night I was lucky enough to get an invite to the release party for Boulevard's newest Smokestack Series beer, the Imperial Pilsner. This beer is a collaboration between Steven Pauwels of Boulevard and Jean-Marie Rock of Orval. The style is something Rock had experimented with some thirty years ago in Belgium. Pauwels invited Rock to attempt to recreate the beer at Boulevard and have it released as a one-off limited release Smokestack Series 750.
Boulevard's long awaited collaboration beer with Jean-Marie Rock (Orval's brewmaster) is finally hitting the store shelves next week. To celebrate the release of their first ever collaboration, Boulevard is throwing a party in Lawrence and you're all invited. The event will be held at the new Oread Hotel at 1200 1200 Oread Avenue in Lawrence, KS. The party starts at 8pm in the hotel's Bird Dog Bar.
Thanksgiving has passed and we're into the month of December. As we bid farewell to the Oktoberfest and Pumpkim Ales of fall, we can finally look forward to Christmas and the seasonal beers that have already started hitting the shelves. Last year my girlfriend and I managed to do 25 Christmas beers in 25 days. It was a daunting task but we managed to complete it just in time for Christmas. My goal this year isn't quite so lofty... I'm planning on doing twelve to fifteen different Christmas beers that run the gamut from Winter Warmers to IPAs and nutmeg spiced beer.
Tonight I went to the third installment of Barley's Beer School series in Overland Park, Kansas. The event featured Jean-Marie Rock, the head brewer at Orval, and Steven Pauwels of Boulevard. The purpose of the event was to shed a little light on the collaboration beer that Rock and Pauwels are working on, but that's another post entirely... Toward the end of the evening the servers brought around bottles of Boulevard's newest Smokestack Series beer, Harvest Dance. I'd first heard of this beer a month or so back and it sounded really interesting. The beer is being called a wheat wine, which sounds a bit like a barley wine so be prepared for everyone to draw a line between this beer and a barley wine. After sampling the beer I don't think it's a fair comparison. Barley wines usually have a lot of toffee, dark fruit and rich syrup flavors. There isn't much of that in the Harvest Dance, it's really much lighter than a barley wine. Now, when I say lighter it's important to keep in mind that this is a +9% beer... so it's definitely a sipper.
Nowadays it seems like everyone is a beer expert. I realize that may seem a little ironic coming from someone who has a blog dedicated to analyzing beer, but what I mean is this: Now, possibly more than ever, people are expanding their awareness and vocabularies when it comes to talking about craft beer. It's fairly likely that you've heard someone mention a specific hop variety or initial gravity when referring to their beer. While most of it just seems like minutia to me I certainly don't think it's a bad a thing to know more about what you're drinking... says the man with the beer blog. It can a fine line between being well informed and coming off as pompous so I thought I'd contribute to everyone's beer vocabulary in the best way that I can, by (hopefully) setting the record straight on some commonly (mis)used German words that have made their way into our Biergrespräch. That's beer dialogue if you're taking notes.
Boulevard's recent announcement of their Seeyoulator Doppelbock got me thinking about the naming conventions associated with Doppelbocks. As you may, or may not, know - Doppelbocks tend to have names that end in ATOR, for example: Maximator, Celebrator and so on. You can thank Paulaner for this, they started the tradition back in the 1700s with their Salvator beer. Nowadays Doppelbocks are less about fasting your way through the Easter season and more about drinking a big beer with a cool name that ends in -ator. There are plenty of good Doppelbocks out there, and most of them stick to the naming tradition, but I thought I'd come up with a list of names that end in -ator which I'd like to see on a beer label.
Yesterday I had my first taste of Boulevard’s long awaited Tank 7. The name would seem to imply that this beer is a top secret project brewed in a clandestine manner… but really, it’s just a farmhouse style ale. You be thinking, “Wait a minute, Boulevard already has a Saison don’t they?” They do, it’s part of the original Smokestack Series. You might also remember the limited release Saison-Brett that came out earlier this spring. What’s so special about the Tank 7 Saison then? Well, that’s a good question…
I don't consider myself an adventurous beer drinker, and I'm certainly not an authority on the subject. I've only been drinking beer for about five or six years but I do know what I like, and I can be a little particular about the styles of beer I drink. I don't think I'm a snob when it comes to beer but I suppose I can see why one might think that... After all, I do tend to write about the beers I like and I don't drink multiples of the same beer at home very often. I try not to be picky when it comes to beer, I just enjoy drinking what I appreciate and think is good beer. Here is the first draft of my top ten most enjoyable beers. It's not just a 'top ten' list of beer, it's more about the experiences I had with each beer.
I like most beers, but I wanted to make sure this list wasn't just a top ten of beers that I like to drink. Rather, it's a list of ten specific times when I drank specific beers. I do think your surroundings have a big impact on how much you enjoy eating or drinking something, so I've taken that in to account when compiling my thoughts. For example, I've enjoyed many bottles of Schlenkerla's Rauchbier at home and with friends but none of them have been quite as good as the first time I tried it in Bamberg at Schlenkerla's biergarten. That's really the only criteria I used, other than the taste of the beer of course. This is ultimately a list of my favorite beers so that is the deciding factor in my ranking process... Sure it was a lot more fun to drink in Iceland but the craft beers in Kansas tasted a little better.