We’ve been having some fun around these parts lately. From tasting some amazing beer and enjoying good beer with good company to brewing up some tasty brew, we’ve had a decently full month.

Allagash… And Others

One of the best beers I’ve tried in the past month is “Les Deux Brasseurs” – a collaboration between Allagash and De Proef. The label described it as 100% brett fermentation, and this beer did not disappoint. It was very funky with earthy and acidic qualities – very intriguing. It was an awesome brew from start to finish.

Another Allagash creation I tried recently was a cask-conditioned version of their Curieux at The Porter. I found the bottled version of this brew to be absolutely awesome, so I was a bit disappointed when I tried this interesting-sounding variety. Unfortunately, the cask did little for this beer. The low carbonation and slightly warmer serving temperature made the beer taste too sweet and too alcoholic. I think the lack of suds was the worst. Slightly warmer serving temperatures usually do great things for a beer, but the whiskey quality in this brew is strong enough (from its aging in bourbon barrels) that the warmer temperature mainly accentuates the strong taste of ethanol.

Two other really nice finds this past month include Struise Black Albert – a complex and dry “Belgian” imperial stout – and Victory Wild Devil – an absolutely amazing version of their Hop Devil that is fermented with brett (wild yeast). The Black Albert is good but is probably not really worth the exorbitant price ($13 for a 33cl bottle). The Wild Devil, on the other hand, is worth every single penny I dropped for it. I would (will?) buy another.

I still have some other great brews to get to: Stone 13th Anniversary Ale, Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, Great Divide 15th Anniversary Ale, and Smuttynose Baltic Porter among others.

The Fellow Homebrewer

This past week, my family was treated by a visit from a friend of mine from high school. He and his wife came over for Thai food and beer. I had him taste the three brews I currently have on tap, and he in return brought some of his own homebrew to taste.

His brews were really good. First up was a Belgian IPA that was very smooth. It didn’t have the harsh bitterness or clashing combo of licorice esters and over-the-top perfumey hops that I’ve found in some examples of this growing niche style. He brought two bottles – the same batch but dispensed from the keg a few months apart. Interestingly enough, the “older” bottle was a little softer with hop flavor and much stronger in peachy esters. Both were good.

The second brew he brought was an amber ale – like a strong and extra rich Irish Red or “80 Shilling” Scottish Ale. I think it was big enough to perhaps be most at home in the style of American Amber, but that style is so broad that it can include some serious west-coast style hop-bomb interpretations… It had an amazingly rich malt character that I’d love to emulate (I asked him for the recipe).

His third brew was another beauty: an 18-month-old Raspberry Imperial Porter. Even after 18 months, it had an intense raspberry aroma and strong flavor, too. The combo of raspberry on the front with bitter chocolate in the finish was really marvelous.

Hump’s Farmhouse Table Beer

Yesterday, some friends came over to brew some beer. We cooked up a low gravity Belgian-style table beer. I actually got wicked efficiency (no doubt because it was such a small amount of grain compared to all of my other recent brews – the weakest of which has been 6.2%), so the beer should end up around 4.0%abv (whereas I originally planned for less than 4). I may “water” it down a little with an orange and lemon peel tea. I meant to add fresh orange and lemon peels to the boil but completely forgot (doh!). After sampling some later this week (once fermentation is complete), I’ll decide if that sort of citrus character would complement/improve the beer.

Hump’s Old Humperdink Barleywine

Next month I will cook up a big, bad-ass American Barleywine. I’ve got a ton of Zeus leaf hops, nearly 20 pounds of malt, and some dry malt extract (to fortify the mash and insure a silly gravity brew – and to use as a yeast starter since I’ll need a really big population of the little boogers to thoroughly attenuate this monster). I’m hoping that this big brew will be drinkable in time for Christmas.