Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Week 1: 40 Beers for 40 Nights

With everything that has happened with Brian Williams and now Bill O’Reilly (Can you believe he makes things up!?!), I feel like as a journalist I have to be 100% honest here. I drank my Monday beer on Sunday night and then pretended I drank it Monday when in fact, I took Monday off. Here’s why: I had just poured Sunday night’s beer into a pint glass when Lauren walked out of the elevator. “You know, Sundays are not part of lent right?” She said. “If you count all the Sundays, it adds up to 46 days.” Good thing I married a priest, or I’d be very confused when I hit 40 days 6 days before Easter. Anyhow, the beer had already been poured and it was a damn good one too (more on that in a moment) so the damage was already done. There. I feel better now.

Now for this week’s selections:

WednesdayWeez, Maine Beer Company (American Black Ale 7.2% ABV) – I wanted to kick things off with a beer I had never had from one of my favorite east coast breweries. Maine Beer Company makes a relatively small number of beers churning out just 13 different brews on a regular basis. Their American and Amber Ales Pepper and Zoe are top notch as are IPAs Lunch and Another One. They have a Double IPA called Dinner that I look for every time I go to a place that sells Maine, but thus far have been unsuccessful. I picked up Weez while looking for Dinner. Coincidentally, today was the suggested drink by date on this particular bottle that had been sitting in my stash for a couple of weeks. Weez pours very dark like an espresso and smells both roasty and toasty. It’s very hoppy at first, then you taste that roast to finish. Another stellar beer from a brewery that so far, can do no wrong.

ThursdayPalate Wrecker, Green Flash Brewing Company (Imperial IPA 9.5% ABV) – I am not taking any risks the first two days. I’m following up Maine Brewing Company with San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing which also churns out a smaller number of fantastic brews. Its West Coast IPA is one of the best beers you will ever taste and perhaps the best widely available West Coast IPA. Palate Wrecker is a seasonal brew for those who like to get punched in the face by their beer. It’s Green Flash’s hoppiest beer using six pounds of hops per barrel. This is not an introductory beverage. Those still warming up to IPAs will hate it. It has a citrus smell. I also notice a little bit of a grass scent, but you don’t really taste either of those aromas through the bitterness.

Friday Commodore Perry, Great Lakes Brewing Company (IPA 7.5% ABV) – A streak of risk aversion continues with this IPA from Cleveland’s best brewery (note: I have never had any other beers from Cleveland). Commodore Perry, presumably named for the 1800s Navy Commodore who presumably had a connection to Ohio, is a fairly unremarkable IPA. It’s Great Lakes’ year-round IPA and pales in comparison to some of their more complex seasonal stuff. That’s not to say that I wouldn't pick this out of a line-up. This beer fills the role of a great stand-by, easily available, better than average IPA.

Saturday Jack D’Or, Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project (Saison/Farmhouse Ale 6.4%) – This is my first venture into uncharted water. I found a wide selection of Pretty Things at a dumpy grocery store on Manhattan’s Upper West side which has an above average beer selection. Here’s the problem - and I didn't realize it until I tried this - I don’t like saisons. They just aren't my thing. People who do rate this beer very highly so I will take their word for it. I want to give Pretty Things another chance because I dig its story. It’s just three people in Somerville, Massachusetts who brew their beers at a bigger nearby brewery. Expect one of their other selections to appear in the next few weeks.

Monday – Pliny The Elder, Russian River Brewery (Double IPA 8%) – So much for saving the best for last. What can I say about Pliny the Elder that hasn't already been said? For many, it is the holy grail of craft beers. People wait in line for it for hours. It’s barely available anywhere east of California. It has perfect ratings from Rate Beer and Beer Advocate. It’s textbook scarcity marketing, but it also lives up to the hype. Pliny is currently tied with another beer as the best beer I have ever tasted. So, when you have an opportunity to drink Pliny, you take it. It doesn't matter if it’s 8am or you are in the middle of your work day. If someone offers you Pliny, you drop everything and you drink it. Which brings us to Sunday. I had given my friend Tony media passes to a Craft Beer festival I couldn't attend. I only asked that he bring by some Pliny that he obtained on a recent trip to California. He arrived Sunday afternoon with a cold bottle and we split it on the spot. Pliny mixes bitter and citrus flavors better than pretty much every beer that tries. It smells delicious. It tastes delicious. It has an incredibly smooth finish. In a way, it’s good that it’s not widely available because it might ruin everything else.

Tuesday – Spotted Cow, New Glarus Brewing (Cream Ale 4.8%) – Much like Pliny, this beer is tough to find. It’s only available in Wisconsin where it practically comes out of the faucet in most people’s kitchens.  A Manhattan bar owner used to haul truckloads of it to New York, but he got busted. It’s become sort of a cult favorite among Wisconsinites and Green Bay Packer fans. Truth be told, I only love it because I can’t have it. I know a guy (thanks Jeremy!) who can get some every now and then.  It’s a cream ale and a fine one at that, but how fine can you really get with a cream ale? When it comes to overall quality, this is by far the lowest beer on this week’s list. But it’s one of my favorites to drink.

On tap next week: Another rare cult favorite. Will it live up to the hype?

No comments:

Post a Comment