Posts Tagged spice
It’s that time of year, when the leaves are about done changing color, the heat of summer and fall has subsided and my favorite brewery of all time releases their star seasonal: Deschutes Jubelale Festive Winter Ale (6.7% abv).
This wonder in a bottle poured very dark amber in color, with a thick cap of sudsy tan head. Aromas were fruity sweet, with caramel, raisins, plums and a hint of spice. The taste was mild and malty at first. Then the fruitiness kicked in, a bit tart, but the warmth from the alcohol and the malts took over quickly to calm it down. The middle is just as mild, with medium-light body and light carbonation, which carried through to a malty finish, punctuated by some warm spice and dark fruit flavors. Simply put, this is a great beer from my favorite brewery and all I need to get in the mood for the winter holidays. I love this beer.
Every year on the first Monday of September is the celebration of the achievements of American workers and the contributions they make to the country as a whole. We each celebrate in our own way. I, for instance, cracked open this lovely beer from Port Brewing Co. Shark Attack Double Red Ale (9% abv) poured dark amber in color with tiny bubbles and a thick cap of foamy off white head. It smelled surprisingly malty sweet for a double red, given the amount of hops advertised on this one. There was only a hint of hoppy aroma, some dark fruit in there and a sweetness not connected to the malts, as well. It tasted rich and malty right off the top. The hoppiness came through right after that, with the fruitiness from the aroma and a bit of spiciness toward the middle. With medium body and light carbonation, it finished mostly hoppy and a bit dry. Good for a hoppy non-IPA.
There comes a time in every beer drinker’s journey when stars align, worlds collide and things match up as if by Kismet. Now, this may be overstating a bit, but how could I pass up an opportunity to try a release by my favorite brewery that involves one of my favorite games/pastimes as a youngster with one of my favorite pastimes as a grownup? Answer: I couldn’t. Enter Ninkasi Critical Hit Barleywine. As an infrequent fan of barley wine at best, I was skeptical for only a second before diving right in, due to the theme of this particular barleywine.
This nerdy beauty poured dark amber with medium white head that characteristically does not stay around long. Aromas included bourbon and plum, with some spice and maybe a little apple coming through. The taste was strong, with lots of malt up front, followed by what I could only identify as grapes. It had medium mouthfeel, with little carbonation felt mostly toward the back of the throat. Whiskey flavors came on after the malt, turning to more of a spiced wine flavor. It finished somewhat spicy, with whiskey trailing at the back of the throat.
Even though it was a little tart and un-beerlike for my general taste, I very much enjoyed the complexity that this brew gave me.
I hope everybody had a very merry Christmas. I certainly did. I got to try out a new place in my hometown. It is called Barrelhouse 101 and the 101 is meant to indicate that they have over one hundred beers…on tap! I thought this was great news and I had to try it.
As you can see, the outside resembles a firehouse or something on a dock. It’s also colored a little like a funhouse, with very bright blue and yellow walls, with an all but neon-colored door. Walking in, the interior gave a very industrial vibe as well, with high I-beam rafters and big halogen lights you might find in a factory hanging from the ceiling. The bar area felt a bit cluttered and crowded with tables fairly close together, not to mention close to the bar itself. I appreciated it, though, as most brewhouses are cavernous warehouses of equipment with just a tasting room. Of course, this place does not brew its own beer, so that may have something to do with the layout…
The kitchen area to the left was cool, with a red studded leather wall to separate it from the main dining area. It gave it a kind of retro diner feel, though I don’t know that is what they were aiming for. At least it was festively decorated, with all of their stockings hung along the length of it. The patio area, on the other hand, wasn’t much to look at: fairly small and narrow, with not much to look at but the street. At least it had heaters to help cut the beach wind chill.
They have pretty great food, but who cares about that, right? The beer selection was enough boggle the mind and confuse the eye. I was able to pick one out of the crowd, though: Institution Ale Company Restraint Maple Brown Ale. I thought it appropriate for the holiday weekend I had just celebrated. It poured a deep red-brown color, with a sudsy white head that really stuck to the glass. It had mild aromas of roasted malt and chocolate. Despite the name, no maple came through on the smell. The taste was also mild and smooth. It started with the roasted malts, moving to bitter chocolate. The finish was equally mild as the chocolate lingered.
Despite my hope for a semi-sweet holiday beer, this one underwhelmed a bit:
I was going to stop there, but I was getting on a train home in an hour, so I figured I’d have another look through the prodigious selection. I am very glad I did, as I found a beer Ninkasi let me (and the rest of their followers) know about on Instagram and it was called The Devil Went Down to Oregon Imperial Dark Rye. This is a collab Ninkasi did with Devils Backbone Brewing and it is far more appropriate for the holidays. It poured dark red with medium white head. It smelled sour, with hints of malts and a very slight sugary smell. There was also some spice to make things interesting. The taste was smooth, which surprised me for a rye. The malts came through in the beginning, with the rye spice showing up toward the middle. Medium carbonation helped break up that spice, but it came right back. It finished smooth, with the spice persisting afterward.
I enjoyed this one, despite the spiciness. Call it my Ninkasi bias:
A great place to check out if you are in the Ventura, CA area.