25 November 2009

Left Hand Fade to Black

Feeling very much in the mood for a dark beer that was a) local, and b) I hadn't tried yet, I settled on the just-released Fade to Black from Left Hand (producers of an excellent Milk Stout). Thick, creamy tan head over jet-black ale, it's marketed as a "Foreign Export Stout" and comes on strong with a full and slightly syrupy nose. The taste couldn't be less syrupy though: rich dark malts balanced with a nice hop bitterness and some dark fruit notes, it finishes incredibly smooth. Really is kind of like a much, much better and smoother Guinness Extra Stout (just saying this brings back memories of dank London clubs and a half-warm bottle between my fingers).

24 November 2009

The Lost Abbey Lost & Found

I'd heard The Lost Abbey talked up but hadn't seen any for sale back east, so was glad to see it at Liquor Mart here in Boulder. We picked up some Lost & Found and popped it open, and it's definitely a winner: a nice subtle fruit and ale nose, thick creamy head and an excellent mouthfeel. Lots going on, good malt body and nice hop balance – never hoppy but a great slightly bitter counterpoint and finish that completes the beer excellently. Definitely glad to have had a chance to taste.

17 November 2009

Allagash Curieux

Milltown had a tasting with Allagash last week, and so continue to have on tap several beers not normally found on draft, including the Curieux. Barrel-aged (in Beam barrels) and incredibly smooth, Curieux is a real treat – a bit of the traditional Allagash spice followed by vanilla and a great finish. Get a pour if you can.

16 November 2009

Seattle: Elysian Brewing Company

Elysian Brewing Company is one of those brewpubs that is sadly uncommon in most parts of the country: rather than the beer being a gimmick to accompany so-so bar food, at Elysian it's the reason to come. The food's quite good, too – very nice grilled corn cakes to start, and the house-made black bean burger was excellent – but it definitely takes a back seat to the beer.

I'd been to Elysian before on my previous trip to Seattle and made my way through most of their regular beers (indeed, Elysian bottles and sells their beers all around, and many of their stand-bys are also on tap at other local pubs), so decided to take a trip through the seasonals. I was served well by this decision, as there were three sour beers on tap (my current semi-obsession, beer-wise), reviewed below in order.

Haleakala Hibiscus Sour Ale: Mild sweet nose, full body, tart edges. Carbonation mild owing to wild yeast, finish a perfect blend of tart, sweet, sour, bitter. Hops there but only as balance. Very refreshing and easy-drinking, gets a bit more sour when warm. A real winner and it turned out to be the best of the bunch.

Sour Power Flemish-style Wood Aged Sour Ale: Very, very smooth. More sour in the nose than the taste, and not overly woody - definitely wood-aged but all the good and none of the bad elements of the process. Kind of wished it was a bit more sour, but still solid.

The Trip III Dark Sour Blend: Super-sour nose, low carbonation, porter-style dark body with a great smooth and sour taste and finish. So sayeth the note: "The 3rd beer in collaboration between Elysian and New Belgium, 70% Dark Lager brewed by Elysian and aged sour ale (Foudre 13-30%) brewed at New Belgium.

Pacific Northwest Food Adventures

Plenty of pictures of the food I ate in Seattle and Vancouver already up on Flickr; I'll be posting write-ups of those and others through the week.