Thursday, March 16, 2006

Great Beers of Belgium

Recently, at the Washington, D.C. pub - R.F.D. - I was fortunate to participate at a beer tasting and signing for Michael Jackson's new edition of Great Beers of Belgium.

Host Bob Tupper began with a gracious introduction of Michael Jackson that reaffirmed, in my mind, why Mr. Jackson has been so important to the 'cause' of good beer, if you will.

Jason Oliver of Gordon-Biersch brought his Keller Pils, an excellent example of such - slightly sweet with a bracing finish, golden with a slight veil owing to its unfiltered nature.

Oliver noted that casked beer - ale or lager - is simply beer that is put in a cask. It's how a brewer prepares the beer that makes it keller bier - or its ale cousin, real ale.

Jackson noted that the kellerbier style is found in Germany only rarely, and then only in the four northern Bavarian counties called Franconia (a name derived from the name of its ancient conquerors, the Franks). By his reckoning, Franconian brewers are more experimentally adventurous than those in the rest of Germany.

Jackson was getting thirsty by this point, and noticing that the rest of us had received their samples, he bent close to the microphone and asked, "Am I going to get a beer?"

Sublimation Ale
Abbey Blonde
Brewers' Art
Steve Frazier, Volker Stewart
"exercise in restraint" filtered
deep golden, Pale malt, Perle, EK Goldings. Frazier noted that he prefers hops with savory and floral aspects rather than the US grapefruity. Soft with hint of spice.

Capital City
Mike McCarthy now Director of Operations for chain
Best bitter
Uses Simpsons pale ale malt and their "Naked Oats" malt.
Orange hue, hazy
First Gold hops - dwarf hop (tangeriney)
strong phenolics (anise)

Gentry Hamp, a brewster and co-owner of a 3 month old brewery in Georgia - the Savannah Brewery. She "loves the aroma of yeast" and worked at Mordue near Newcastle. Jackson mentioned the unique Geordie accent of area. She uses Brewlab yeast, as I had in Cleveland at Local Brewery and was to use at the now-closed Sisson's in Baltimore (although I'm certain that it was not the same strain.)

She brought a cask-conditioned version of her Best bitter brewed from Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter (premium malt imported from Great Brtiain) and torrified wheat. Unfortunately, the cask did not show well as she had wanted.

Old Dominion
Imperial Pils Spring Brew
Chris Frasier

Rock Bottom
Colin and Dean Lake
Belgian Brown with ginger.

Markowski not here (referred to as "the ghost")
Charley - asst brewer
Southhampton House
Abbey Double
good full flavor but not overweaning body.

Burton Baton
Andy Tveekrem
Lots of cinnamon, graphite, and 'biting into a branch'oak
Hommage to Ballantine's special employee-only beer - brewed big and aged in wood.
Very alcoholic. Uses a derivative of Ringwood yeast.

Barret Lauer of the District Chophouse brought his Bourbon Oatmeal Stout aged in Virginia Gentleman casks. He ages it 4-6 weeks in wood. The grist is comprised of oats and a small measure of peated malt.

Naked Fish
Bo Klemp
Chocolate Raspberry Stout.
When hearing of the ingredients - some sort of hazelnut praline chocolate coffee or something decadent to that effect - Jackson bleated: "I love it when you talk dirty."

More photos here.

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