Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You've Got Beer Mail (Part 1)

It's amazing how, once I started writing my Brewtal Truth column for Decibel Magazine, so many people started contacting me about their own love of good beer. My fellow Decibel scribe, Etan Rosenbloom, was one such person. After a few email exchanges, I proposed that he and I do a beer swap, since he lives in Southern California and might have access to some hard-to-get beers that I might not ever see up here in the PNW.

I touched on this very subject (beer trading) in my latest Brewtal Truth column in the March issue (which you can buy here), but I figured it would also be cool to detail the trade itself in a blog post. So, here you'll find Etan's notes on our first swap. The next installment will be my take.

Etan's take:
There is something sexy about illegally sending beer across state lines in unmarked packages. Sending Adem that beer—my first swap—was the naughtiest thing I have ever done. And there's also something appealingly old-school about it, especially for a metal dude. The internet globalizes music, but beer still has an element of regionalism—there are some beers you just can't get without swapping. It's the closest I'll ever get to those forgotten days of demo tape trading.

Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale
High hopes for this one. Lost Abbey is one of those breweries that, like the Profound Lore label, always comes up with beers that intrigue even if I don't particularly like them. And while a hot-off-the-presses bomber would probably have melted my tastebuds, Adem was right to warn me that this wasn't the freshest bottle. An over-long life in Adem's refrigerator all but killed what little carbonation this cherry-infused sour had, and sanded down the edges of the beer's fruity funkiness. Ghost of its former self. Although to be fair, after not enjoying New Belgium's Lips of Faith Transatlantique Kriek (a similar-tasting cherry lambic) last night, I realize that this just might not be the style for me.

Three Floyds Dark Lord (2008 vintage, black wax)
The Russian imperial stout is DEFINITELY the style for me. The label alone on this particular bottle sold me -- you really think a beastly monster in the middle of a war campaign would drink anything but the blackest, heaviest, maltiest stout imaginable? The beer oozed out of the bottle into my tulip glass. Looked more like tar than anything imbibable. It coated every air molecule within half a foot distance with cocoa and roasted coffee; they use pungent Intelligentsia beans to brew this shit, and it sure as hell smells like it. And oh my, how can a beer so evil taste so luscious? The Dark Lord hides its 13% ABV and vestigial hoppiness in massive, complex malt combinations. Strong chocolate and coffee, sure, but strong hints of caramel and vanilla too. Nothing unexpected in the profile, but every flavor I've come to expect in this style was deepened and brightened beyond belief. I paired my Dark Lord with some nice sharp New Zealand cheddar which just enhanced its creaminess all the more. I live for such indulgence. All hail the Dark Lord.

Bring on Swap 2.0.


Graeme said...

I'm not huge into the gueuzes/lambics/sours/etc, but surely the beer should be able to stand a bit of aging? Don't know Lost Abbey or New Belgium (I live in Quebec and the selection of non-Quebec beer here is pathetic) but I have a bottle of a Belgian gueuze in the fridge that has a 20 year shelf life. Unibroue's Quelque Chose--another cherry beer that I think is supposed to be some sort of lambic/sour thing--also has a ridiculous 20+ year shelf life.

AT said...

Well, by his own admission, Etan says that he's not a huge fan of the style, so it may have just been that. The beer's only 5.5% ABV, so that may have been a factor. I dunno.

Todd said...

The Lost Abbey special beers, like the Red Poppy, Cuvee de Tomme, and Angel's Share, are known for a lack of carbonation. It wouldn't have mattered how old that beer was, there were never any bubbles present.

I was in Lost Abbey's "Patron Saints" club for a year. The final beer was two 750s of the Angel's Share (I also bought an additional two). I've opened two of those bottles, one the night after it arrived, the other a year or more later. Neither were carbonated.

After that year, I was in the "Patron Sinners" club (all limited release beers). Almost every beer I received over the two years I was in that club was completely uncarbonated.

Carbonation is a major issue with Lost Abbey limited releases. At one point, Tomme Arthur posted a lengthy apology/excuse on the beeradvocate forum.

AT said...

There you go. Mystery solved. I had a bottle of Angel's Share that I tasted for a limited edition beers story I did for All About Beer last year, but I don't honestly remember what the carbonation was like.

curt said...

damn I'm thirsty now!!!!!!!!!!!

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