Another landmark day comes to Beerdakari as I can share on here a two-day beer journey we used to celebrate the life and times of Stass.
Starting on Friday we had a collection of beers Stass had been keeping for a while and a few late inclusion to keep us going from 6pm to midnight. After trying to get the sequence of the journey right, this is how it progressed.
1) Rouge Mocha Porter - This was a late inclusion I made to the mix seeing I had tried the double mocha a year ago and so thought the original might be good to try. There is a decent porter lightness and sweetness and some slight chocolate notes as well. However, from the midpalate, there is a hoppy bitterness which I find not to be of the style, and may even be masking any coffee bitterness they may have been trying for in this beer. With a dry back and slight over-carbonation, it was a disappointing start to the journey (my bad...sorry).
2) Baird Morning Coffee Stout - Stepping up more into the coffee theme at the start of this journey, this beer has quite a strong espresso coffee smell which translates into flavour. It has a full body and sharp bitterness that is not to my taste, ending a bit dry/astringent. If you like a bitter coffee, this is a beer for you to try out.
3) Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique (2011 - 10%) - Was really looking forward to heading towards some sweeter flavours as the malt and alcohol character in the beers started increasing (yeah, only 3 beers in...) The sweet malt and alcohol smell definitely come through on the nose, and even at this stage felt the alcohol was a little too high. This translated to the tongue similarly as the familiar sweet malt character covers the front of the palate well and the alcohol starts to rise from the midpalate. However, it rises a bit too high and the beer becomes a bit too hot in alcohol. Not sure why they have tried to up the alcohol from 9.2% in the previous year to 10, unless they think people would like to age it, which is what I will now do for a few years with the bottle of this I have. Means I can collect a few more seasons of this brew before I do a vertical tasting.
4) Grand Ridge Supershine - Having been aged for a couple of years, this old favourite did it's classic thing of causing contentment to rise through my body through a good flow and balance of sweet caramel malt and warming alcohol. I was surprised to hear from those tasting with us that they were getting a sort of sourness from it after the initial sweetness, but maybe it is part of the transition from malt to alcohol that may do this, especially at 11%.
5) St Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout - Stepping back in alcohol, but stepping up in darker character, this 9.2% bourbon wood aged extra strong stout had a bit of a peaty smell and a mellow standard RIS flavour, with the alcohol rising appropriately for the style. It also sits pretty think on the tongue, which I do not have a problem with...at all.
6) Harveston Ola Duhb 16 - After the previous beer, this one really steps up nicely in the smokey character. It is very smooth and the alcohol is not too overwhelming. The whiskey aspect of the beer does not lead to an overly peaty smoke, so doesn't use Islay whiskey barrels to store this beer in.
7) Moo Brew Barrel Aged Vintage Imperial Stout (09) - I brought this bottle back for Stass from the brewer's stash at Moo Brew last year for his buck's party, so has had nearly a year to age even after I gave it to him. The problem of carbonation with the '09 batch reared its head (unfortunately there has been enough time between trying this vintage to have forgotten this aspect) as Stass opened it to pour out, and found myself swilling it quite a bit to try and let the carbonation break out of the beer before tasting it, as it causes the flavours to spike a bit too much across the tongue. Once it has warmed up and settled the familiar mellow malty flavours, with a touch of dark sweet fruit from the wine barrel aging that also seems to thin out the beer a bit, come back. However, there is definitely a higher bitterness at the back palate which is a bit too much. Yep, won't beat the '08 vintage.
8) Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout - Ok, another favourite that like the Grand Ridge gave me complete contentment as I let it roll around my mouth. I can only think from these two beers that mouthfeel must be a very important aspect for me with beers I enjoy, as the texture relaxes me into the beer to enjoy the flavours that go with it. In this beer it is dark chocolate, and in the supershine it is the caramel, so behind the feel of the beer, my sweet tooth still reigns. Such a well rounded beer with a slight bitter chocolate up front before the alcohol warms and the body thickens over the tongue. Ends with a touch of bitterness and alcohol to clean up.
9) Hargraves Russian Imperial Stout (12.3%) - Nearly made a mistake in leaving this one til last, but glad I corrected myself before that occured. While there was some classic malt and alcohol character to this, there was a great deal of bitterness that really took away from the style of the beer. I would even contemplate letting it sit for up to 5 years to see if some of that bitterness drops out enough the balance it.
10) Mikkeller Black (17.5%) - Phew, lucky we did leave this to last. What a great 'finisher' beer for this journey. Some interesting port character and some medicinal alcohol in the aftertaste with it being that high, but is just so mellow that even with the big alcohol content, it rises so warmly the beer could almost contain it. I must include some of the other drinker's were commenting on a 'mhehh, sort of coffee taste' at the back of the palate, which like the supershine 'sourness' I did not perceive. Maybe it was just the big roasted malt character coming through to much so as to try and keep some balance in the beer.
After sleeping off that journey and have to make ourselves stay sober for a go kart session the following afternoon (I came in 6th after spinning out badly a couple of laps from the end, but beat the birthday boy!), we got together at a bar in Carlton to exchange gifts (we decided to indulge Stass' coffee streak and get him a cold drip coffee maker), was happy to see a bit of a selection of beers to try out at Markov. Starting on a sweet and full Hawthorn Pale, I moved onto a classic American Pale Ale in the Sierra Nervada (that is for you Joshie!), a Schofferhoffer Weizen (would have preferred a dark wheat at that time) before an Alambra (?...yep, starts getting a bit dicey from here) that seemed easy drinking for a dark beer with just enough character to keep you interested, then retrying a 3 Ravens Stout, where I definitely got a lot more chocolate notes than I recall having tasted previously from this beer. Then some people tried to get me on port and muskat(?) which ruined the whole journey, and brought an end to the night for drinking (luckily we were getting kicked out of the bar at this time while trying to have a conversation about death and the whole body/spirit aspect of it all...ah drunken musings) and a couple of slices of pizza on Brunswick Street as I made my way home.
Some great news Stass and his missus Jess were able to tell everyone of the night is that they are now 10 weeks pregnant and so now all the dad jokes Stass come out with will become legitimate...poor kid.
So another phase of life as told through Beerdakari comes to pass...
PS: Must also mention it is also Iain's birthday today, so even though I didn't have a gift for him, was good to finally be able to share some news with the gang that made it to his brunch.
PPS: I should just start a new post for this, but could not be bothered (I'm really appreciative of anyone reading this stuff aren't I. Just proves I ain't doing it for you, even if you are welcome to view it). Stass and I have finally tasted our Sunday Roast beer now Michelle and Brendon have come back from overseas. The garlic beer they requested has been rounded off some with the addition of roasting it, also roasting sweet potato, and adding corn syrup for body, some rosemary for a slight saltiness and some hickory smoke for a dash of meatiness. We agree that if we did it again we would not use 21 pieces of garlic (though in this case had to be seeing it was the main emphasis behind the beer) and could back off on the sweet potato a bit too (even if it is needed much at all). We are happy to call this one a bit of a success for a first try. We also have out Scotch Ale ready for tasting against Team Harrod in the near future, and I have just put on my first ever gluten free beer for my cousin's, who have chose to go with the flavour of agave pancake syrup, and which I hope may mask a slightly strange flavour I get on the back of my palate from the sorghum malt. Hoping some residual sweetness will hold (and not get fermented out) out for this purpose...we shall see.