At beer tastings, I often try to be a good ticker and take notes. Invariably, conscientiousness is diluted as the evening progresses.
So, here are some of my scribbled notes from the Strong Beer Tasting at the Brickskeller of a few nights ago. And the word scribbled is appropriate: a result of high alcohol beers with my Catholic school whacked knuckles poor penmanship.
The photo is of John Eugeni, brewer at Clipper City. He brought a firkin of 2007 Below Decks Barleywine, dry-hopped with the English varietal East Kent Goldings. The evening's cask was in fact the only one of that vintage that the brewery had dry-hopped.
Brewer Travis Tredrow of Capitol City in Shirlington used Kölsch yeast in the fermenter and caramelized ginger-- and malts-- in the kettle for his tasty Biere de Garde. Travis is a ukulele picker and an apple pie aficionado, host Bob Tupper told us.
Tom Flores, brewer at Brewers Alley, takes a no-frills approach to his beers. His Scotch Ale—his winter seasonal—he calls simply that. The grist is pale malt augmented by caramel malt, Munich malt, and a touch of roasted barley. It's a sweeter ale with a full depth of purple fruit.
Some of the brewpub's beers are now being bottled—by Wild Goose Brewery—and distributed throughout Maryland. Tom observed that you'd be more likely to find the 6-packs in the Frederick Maryland area, home to the brewpub.
Every winter—in addition to the Scotch ale—Tom brews a special batch of a strong ale. He racks it exclusively into firkins, and taps one, and only one, each new moon. Thursday 7 February is the next such lunar occurrence. With his usual succinctness, Tom calls the beer New Moon Ale.
Vintage 50's brewer Bill Madden was in London last year for Mark Dorber's farewell party at The White Horse on Parson's Green.
Dorber was the pub's long-time cellarman, celebrated by beer writer Michael Jackson and other's as a foremost expert on cask ale and its service. Dorber led Bill on a tour of the pub's cask cellar.
Upon his return, Bill was inspired to begin a regular program of cask ale at his Leesburg, Virginia brewpub.
As well, he had been delighted by some of the more-ish Old Ales he tasted. So he brewed one himself, and brought a cask of it to the evening's tasting. Olde Abomination began its fermentation at 22 °P and finished at 6.8 °P. (Degrees Plato are a measure of fermentable—and unfermentable—sugars in a beer.) That's a relatively high terminal gravity, and the beer was indeed sweet—deliciously so—redolent of toffee, butterscotch, and Concorde grapes.
Bill was wistful when he talked about the recipe: English Pale malt, English Crystal malt, a small amount of English Chocolate malt, blackstrap molasses, and First Gold hops. Bill likes English hops—in particular First Gold. Due to the current hop shortage in the US, those may be the last Bill will be able to acquire for awhile.
Earlier posting on the evening's tasting.