Seeing there was at least one of the chrissy beers available, I thought I should start on it. Still, even this gave a fight not to be drunk as it wasn't pouring very well. Once James sorted it out and gave me the other half of my taster of it. The Nogne O God Juls is a really good example of a chrissy beer, but probably more of my slant with a bit more chocolate over the dark fruit flavours to go with the spice in it. Best of all, once it warmed up the chocolate flavour only increased.
Keeping with the spice and sweetness, I next moved onto the North Coast Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Ale, but this time with some caramel instead of chocolate. I remember trying a heap of North Coast beers while I was in the US a few years back, and all of them on tap had this incredible creaminess. Having this beer on tap just proved it was a one off at the brewery, and just annoyed me more when the barman at North Coast wasn't able to explain to me how all the beers came out so creamy.
Seeing I just wanted a quiet one I just had one more after that, and having recently been interested in trying the Moylan Hopsickle, I decided to try their Imperial Stout from the bottle. there was quite a range of flavours going on in this beer, especially while it was cold. There was a bit of a floury/dusty smoke in the sweet malt on the front of the tongue. This evens out on the midpalate before hops drive it home with a fair amount of bitterness on the back...well comparative to the style anyway. Definitely an American version of the style, also shown with the big 10% alcohol in it,and was feeling pretty tipsy once I had finished it. Luckily I picked up some food at this time, and seeing there was an ox tongue cooked in beer, hops and hickory, I gave that a go. Not as good at the black pudding I would normally go for. Growing up on deviled ham spread as a kid, there was a similar flavour and feel from the tongue meat, but was a bit disappointed not to get more of the flavours from what it had been cooked in. The imperial stout went alright with it, but Stass had a beer that went much better than mine with it...yep, a smoke beer.
This is the good thing with James and the staff in general at Josie Bones, you can go in there with no idea what to drink (well, they have to expect it with a beer menu as long as it is, to see people get confused over what to try), and you just give them a few words in flavour or even what you feel, and they manage to pick a good beer to fit your mood. I would call them beer psychologists in a way.
Anyway, Stass had managed to do this with James, and he had come back to him with a Brasserie Dieu du Ciel Charbonniere. While it is a smoke beer, it is definitely not as harsh as many others I have tried. in comparison, I would say the level of smoke is similar to the Aecht Schelenterla Rauchbier Weizen, but in a dark ale malt instead of wheat. Therefore the ham/meaty taste in it is not overbearing at all, and balances well with the sweetness in the malt. This is a good beer for anyone that has only tried a couple of smoke beers and is still finding an appreciation for the flavours in it.
Stass also got onto some Moondog beers. The Pumpkin Porter was on tap and has that density and full mouthfeel that I have become use to with this brewery, and with it a floury/dusty malt that also seems to be their style with darker beers. Of course, there is not much in terms of flavour when it come to the pumpkin part, but have to say, it help mellows out the dusty malt to make it a bit more easy to drink, and seems to thin it out a little on the tongue. No wonder this beer has become their staple...if a brewery like this could have a staple beer in their range.
Which brings us to the Moondog Skunkworks cognac barrel-aged IPA. The hops in this is pretty big when cold, especially in flavour. The aging must has settled out the hop bitterness to some degree (hey, there is still quite a bit of hop bitterness anyway). I'm not too sure what cognac tastes like, so can't really say how much of it comes through. As it warmed up the hops dropped off and a warming aspect came over the beer more, but not sure if that is from it, or just how these boys roll with alcohol in their beers.
Mick also tried a Saison from a brewery in Nowra, NSW. Luckily for them I can't remember the name of the brewer, as it wasn't a good example of a Saison. Firstly, the citrusy malt front was way too cloying and sweet for the style, and then there was this really weird orange juice chemical tang in aftertaste that just killed it completely.
After the Nogne O, Joel needed to step back from having too much flavour (it's ok, I don't get it either) and James again did the trick with a Brewdog Alice Porter. It kept some of the chocolate notes but with a baltic style, it much lighter on the tongue, perfect for 'lagerman' Joel.
The only other beer I recall from the night is Nicolette's Kristal Wheat beer from the oldest brewery in the world, and I remember it mostly because for the smallest person at the table, she had the biggest looking beer of all of us. Seeing she doesn't like the overbearing bubblegum that can come through in some German wheat beers, so going for this once meant the bubblegum was at a good level and the flavour is clearer and crisper than a Hefe (and maybe not as bloating either).
So, it was a nice relaxing day-after-birthday celebration with just a few good beers and mates...a bit different from last year. Luckily it was a quiet one, as the Goat chrissy party was on the day after, and that was not a quiet one...and had to work the next day after it. Still, The Grand's chocolate tart is amazing, along with the pork...and the gnocchi...which we had with the Brooklyn Brewery Local 1...which I am happy to say I had before the Corona someone thought would be really funny to buy a round of...and supposedly there was tequila in there as well. Anyway, I ended up with a Cooking with Beer book out of the kris kringle (the dessert beer recipes certainly got me excited) so looking forward to trying out more beer and food combos in the new year.