What do you get when you add a bottle of luscious Campo Al Mare, a bottle of meaty, spicy, peppery Cote Rote, 2 bottles of stout, 1 bottle of imperial porter, various sips of other stouts and belgian beers, and 1 1/2 glasses of champagne in one evening? A monster hangover. And a headache that makes your vision blurry. Yep, that was me this morning...and half the day. But I bounced back, and after a cold Peroni and the Saints game, I was back in business. Stay tuned for tomorrow's entry.....
As to the beers of last night, I met my friend Becca over at the awesome Avenue Pub for some night time libations and good conversation...and the "Best Fish Sammich Ever." It WAS freaking delicious, and you better believe I'll be back for more. Thanks Brandon.
Side note: Guys, the divide and conquer method does NOT work on picking up women. It just looks desperate and transparent. And don't say when we want to leave "Oh come on, chill out. We're having a good time here!" Oh no. Where's the door?
Coopers Best Extra Stout: ABV: 6.3% This little dark fella I had before I headed over to the Avenue after closing Cork & Bottle. Thought I might as well get started early.
The Extra Stout dates all the way back to 1862, when Thomas Cooper started producing it along with his famous Sparkling Ale. Turning away from boring old stonemasonry, he decided he and his brother John should enter the beer business, and they began delivering their brews to their customers by horse and cart. Wouldn't that just be fantastic to have a big horse and buggy roll up to bring beer to your front door? (A courier service in New York tried something similar to this in the late 90's: sub horses for cute guys on bikes with bright orange courier bags filled with wine, beer, movies, and other goodies...didn't work out so well.) Now in its fifth generation, Coopers is one of Australia's most famous breweries. (God save us from Foster's beer)
This bottle-conditioned ale pours out nice and dark, not black, but a rich intense brown. And to my pleasure, smelled different from anything else I have reviewed so far. I love that, and its what makes this challenge so interesting, that back-to-back experience where aromas and flavors are in constant comparison. It really helps you understand the strengths and weakness of each brew (if there are any).
There is a singular predominant aroma in this beer and it is....toffee. Tons and tons of toffee. Freshly made, right out of the boiler or oven. And for several minutes, it's hard to get anything else. Then, after about 30 minutes, I sniff and say "Wha?" Meaty and peppery notes have emerged ever so surreptitiously. Wait, am I drinking Syrah or a beer here? I look at my glass, take another whiff, look at my glass...I am completely befuddled, but there it is. I tell you folks, I am constantly being surprised on this journey, and it is ever so much fun.
North Coast Old Plowshare Organic Stout: ABV: 5.7% Now maybe it was because I was starving and this was my nourishment....but I drank this beer down with no hesitation or hang-ups. This, my friends, is what you call an easy-drinking stout. It has a fairly low ABV, so it's not gonna hit you like the full steam engine of an Imperial. (Thank goodness for small favors, as I had already been through my fair share of wine earlier.)
At first, and I was surprised by this one, I unmistakably got orange and citrus. This note remained particularly strong in the bottle, but blew off immediately in the glass. To make sure I was not imagining things from hunger, I of course passed that baby around the table. Sure enough, everyone else got it too. I liked this note! Faint citrus on a stout reminds me of adding lemon to a cream sauce like alfredo. It perks up the blend and aroma, and is a fantastic burst of freshness from the weight of the sauce, or in this case, the stout. Well done, North Coast!
But the minute that beer goes in a glass, the citrus evaporates, and the beer explodes with intense aromas of chocolate, specifically Hershey's syrup. Becca called that one, and she was right on the money. Hershey's syrup people. Exactly. Bouncing around the chocolate are nice floral notes, with touches of earthiness and herbs.
All in all, a pleasant beer I would recommend if you are doing a night out on the town, want a nice dark brew that won't land you on your patootie, and allows you to go back for more or drink the night away. Also just a nice beer for nights at home, watching a game, or hanging out with friends. And that Organic thing will score big points with the ladies.
Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter: ABV: 7.8% I have been wanting to try this beer for awhile, one because I love Hunter S. Thompson ("brewed to honor the life of...") and two any beer that claims to launch an "assault on your taste buds" is screaming out my name. And so my final beer of the night at Avenue Pub was this Imperial Porter.
What am I expecting? A porter like nose of caramel, dark cane syrup or molasses, maybe some herb....Well boy was I in for a SHOCK. It smelled like....an IPA. I am so surprised. Lots of very fresh hop aromas. And the palate is the same! Floral aromatics are literally jumping out of the glass. I imagine little hop creatures putting ladders on the side of the glass and climbing out by the hundreds. Raspberries and fresh fruit are wafting out of the glass. As it warms the dark semi-sweetness emerges. It literally smells like if you poured dark molasses over a bowl of fresh fruit instead of honey.
I tell you guys, when I first smelled this I had to do a double take. I looked at the bottle, and it flashed through my brain that the fellas at Flying Dog had accidentally put IPA in the Gonzo bottle. If I had been blind smelling/tasting this out of a black glass with no indication of color or eyes closed, I would have guessed incorrectly. At least for the first 15-20 minutes. Its only after it warms that darker notes arise. The majority of the weight actually emerges on the finish. This is where you get your mouthfeel and you determine this is most definitely NOT an IPA. But its a trickster that one. And it was fun to drink. But if you are out there thinking the Imperial Porter is going to be a monster beer chocked full of dark aromas and flavors....well, you'd be wrong.