A few rather interesting, off the beaten path beers for my challenge!
Arbor Demetrius Barrel Aged Sour Double IPA, 7.5% ABV: Yes, folks you read that correctly! A Sour IPA. And admittedly, I was more than skeptical when I first gazed upon the curious label of the 750ml bottle. But with a shrug of my shoulders, I dove in...
The result? Absolutely, without a doubt, one of my FAVORITE beers of the challenge. Wonderfully balanced. Telltale hop notes of citrus, herbs, and spice seamlessly meld with the sour profile of hay, horse blanket & barnyard. This is a dicey combination that in less than an artisan's hand could go repulsively wrong. But these guys nailed it. And the key is this: Neither component is heavy handed, and their diligent use of restraint is what results in the refinement of Demetrius.
I can only hope I get to drink this again someday. Cheers to Arbor.
Hitachino Nest XH (Extra High), 8% ABV: Classified as a Strong Belgian Brown, XH is aged in Shochu (distilled Sake) casks. I must disagree with reviewers who claim to smell or taste sake in this beer. In fact, it more resembles an English Ale more than anything. Pleasant caramel malt aromas mingle with a medium sweetness on the palate and a mild, yet lingering bitterness from the use of Chinook hops. What results is a pleasant, and drinkable English-style brown ale. In fact, one experienced taster commented that it reminded him of Fullers ESB but with more body and sweetness.
Now, you may vehemently disagree with me to your heart's content, and surely if I was blind tasting this for an exam, I would surely fail by guessing incorrectly. But as one who has blind tasted wines and beers for years now, I must stand by my palate.