Weekend in Vermont: Beer, Beef, and Light Firearms

June 9, 2010

Mr. JK has a second home near Bellows Falls, Vermont.   The house is the oldest home in the county.  It has a fully modern kitchen, a pool, all sorts of grilling and smoking devices,  and it is situated a stone’s throw from the Connecticut River.  Mr. JK tries to organize a ‘Boy’s Weekend’ in the spring and the fall, and invites friends, colleagues from work, random passerby on the street, etc.  The 2010 Spring Weekend was a few weeks back.  Unfortunately, everyone Mr. JK invited crapped out on him except for the V-Man and me, so it was just the three of us.

Being in Vermont is wonderful, but getting to Vermont is a royal pain in the ass.  For reasons that no one can adequately explain, the V-Man and I left Jersey City at about 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon, with Mr. JK taking the train to New Haven.  We were going to pick him up there when he got off the train shortly after 4 p.m. and continue on to Vermont.  That plan did not survive first contact with the enemy.  The V-Man and I hit the Merritt Parkway at which point we came to a dead stop.  We never got above twenty miles per hour, and even though Connecticut is a small state, it takes forever to cross it if you are constantly braking your car.  Things got so bad that I picked out a fat bald guy smoking a cigar in his Audi convertible, and told the V-Man that I wanted to grab the tire iron from the trunk and beat the crap out of “that smug asshole.”  The V-Man is as even keeled and as level-headed as anyone I have ever known, and even he thought it was a pretty good idea.  Good God, we hated that guy, smoking his stogie with his stubby pink fingers, while he jibber-jabbered on his cell phone, no doubt locking in another obscene bonus with our bailout money.* Read the rest of this entry »


Schlafly Grand Cru and Reserve Imperial Stout

June 9, 2010

I received these two bottles from Schlafly Brewing as part of my haul from the NCAA Tourney Boxes of Beer pool.  (Be sure to sign up for the World Cup Edition here).  First up was the Schlafly Grand Cru. This poured a beautiful cloudy golden color with a fluffy white head that is retained to the bottom of the glass.  It is very aromatic with yeast, apple and pear, and some spicy alcohol as well.  At 9% ABV, this is a sipping beer, and a very enjoyable one at that.  There are some faint hops in the flavor, but the predominant notes are yeast, herbal spiciness and orchard fruits. This is an excellent beer, 8.5/10.

As good as the Grand Cru was, the highlight of the package was the Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.  Opaque with ruby highlights, and a rich cappuccino colored head, this has a strong vanilla aroma, along with roasted malts.  Chocolate and toffee are the predominant flavors, but there is a strong vanilla aftertaste, presumably from being aged in the bourbon barrels. The bourbon and oak flavors really come through and balance the 10.5% ABV.  I would love to get my hands on some more of this outstanding beer.  I would drink some now, and lay some down to age, as this a complex beer that might improve with some cellaring.  Even without cellaring, the Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout gets a 9.5/10 from Tilting Suds, as high a grade as I have ever given out.


A Tale of Two Bourbon Cask Aged Imperial Stouts

April 5, 2010

I spent an enjoyable afternoon this weekend at the Blind Tiger Alehouse in New York.  They recently had an event for Dick’s Brewing Company from Washington State, so more than half the taps were given over to Dick’s beers.  This is not a bad thing, as most of the beers I tried were superb, with special focus on the cask conditioned IPA and the Dry-Hopped Mountain Amber.  Both were hoppy and flowery, and as smooth drinking as they come.

The first beer on the board that I noticed was the Imperial Stout aged in a Bourbon Oak Cask.  I decided to try that one last, figuring that it would be a strongly flavored beer that might blow out my taste buds, leaving everything else tasting thin and lifeless.  While I was working my way through the other beers, a keg kicked and they tapped the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, which is also aged in oak bourbon barrels.  As I could now do a side by side comparison, my beer dorkiness was at an elevated level.

First up was the offering from Dick’s.  My drunkenly scribbled notes start off with “Holy Shit! Fantastic!”  This beer was smooth as silk, with perfectly balanced vanilla and oak in the aroma and the taste.  A fantastic beer, as good as I have had in ages.  9.5/10.

The Goose Island was not quite as good, though if I had not just had the Dick’s to compare it to, I’d probably give it the same superlatives.  The same oak and vanilla flavors were there, but they were overly aggressive and overpowered any subtler flavors this beer may have had.  Do you remember how Nigel Tufnel’s amps went to 11? The Goose Island Bourbon County Stout may “go to 11″ but I am giving it an 8/10.


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