Monday, November 21, 2011

2007 Deschutes Abyss

This is definitely becoming the season for the Russian Imperial Stout boys and girls, and I can think of no better way to toast, or flip the bird to (if your a summer person as is yours truly) the coming of the dark months, than with the legendary Deschutes Abyss.  This has been the week of popping the aged ones, as I've dug into a Boulevard Imperial Stout that's been down for a couple of years, now this one, and a couple more lined up for the holiday weekend. 

This is a 2007 Vintage I obtained in a trade about three years ago (released January 2008 [approx 350 BBL]).  A bit hesitant to pop the cap, but here goes...

Splendid carbonation despite its age.  The dark mocha head stands proud, but eventually yields, leaving a choppy ring of froth around the glass.  Black through and through with no light penetration. 

Aromatically complex with profound sweet and dark chocolate notes that fuse with dark cherries, black licorice, peat, and a profound barrel-aged smokiness that has A+ stamped all over it.

Flavor is precise with more sweet chocolates, cocoa nibs, roasted coffee beans and a nice smack of smokiness.  As it warms a few plum and raisin notes appear, as well as the molasses (as noted on the label), that adds new and welcomed elements to the palate.

The Abyss is not as hefty as one might think; lying somewhere between medium and heavy.  Smooth as silk with that smoky edge that keeps everything interesting, and with a near total lack of alcohol heat that is astonishing because of the 11% of ABV hidden inside.

A stylistically perfect, flavorful, highly drinkable, and no worse for the wear beer for the ages.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Marshall El Cucuy No Estrellarse y Arder.

Once again the El Cucuy is haunting the land, and while slowly sipping this monster, I'm realizing that it tastes better than ever.  The Cucuy's fusion of bitter and sweet is worthy of the Wallendas highly entertaining balancing act, but also walks the death-defying fine line between excess and perfection ala' Philippe Petit. 

Here's my 12-11-10 review:

A medium pour results in a prolific and serried tan head. The froth melts slowly, leaving a thick and rolling covering with an almost unbroken sheet of lace. Black in color and impervious to light.

Sharp oily and resinous hops immediately to the nose. Very distant caramel malts and subtle pine notes exist. Not a lot going on aroma wise. After my first sip I can tell this is a Black IPA (ABA) of a different color. Smooth and creamy with a sweet malty and dark chocolate core which is wrapped nicely with hops. A little dark fruitiness appears for a second. Medium to full bodied and has a bit of lingering alcohol heat which is in no way a distraction.

It's easy to tell a lot of care and attention to detail went into the creation of this beer. The near perfect mix between sweet and bitter makes this, without a doubt, the best beer of this style I have had, and one of the best beers overall I've tried in quite a while. Congratulations to Marshall for upping the ante on excellent Oklahoma brews with this one.

....Ok, I will admit that life doesn't hang in the balance with this brew, although a few too many might cause you to crash and burn .  Nevertheless, it's really damn good, and like Mr. Petit, it gives the finger to convention with the utmost style.  Try one, but don't try this. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Boulevard Nommo Dubbel

I think it is fair to say that Boulevard is a brewing powerhouse.  With an ever expanding lineup that covers a lot of territory style-wise, a staple brew (Unfiltered Wheat) that approaches sales stats in the SA Boston Lager/ SN Pale Ale range, and with some fine experimental brews thrown in for good measure, it becomes hard to find fault with these Kansas City beer giants, and that is why my fridge is consistently stocked with a sixer of a year round standard, a Smokestack or two, and often a Limited release ready and waiting. 

The head on this one isn't as unruly as many of the other Smokestack brews, but still has a substantial and slowly disappearing, froth.  The dark brown body is penetrated by some red coming in from the edges.  The aroma floating from the goblet consists of banana, clove, licorice, a hint of rum booziness, and spice cake.   Tastes of sweet bread, grapes, banana, grain and a hint of hops with an aftershock of fusel alcohol.  Fairly satisfying, but a little thin in body.  Has a dry finish.

While I realize the Dubbel is often overshadowed by it's bigger brethren, due to no discernible stylistic faults of its own, I still have to say this is one of the weaker of the Belgian Smokestack brews.  However, you must keep in mind, even a status quo Smokestack runs right in the middle of the "craft" pack, always biting at the heels of the big dogs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jumping Jesus on a pogo's Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet!

Living in Oklahoma going on four decades has given me the opportunity to realize the best this state has to offer, as well as the worst this state has to offer.  The cost of living is so low that you could sink it in the middle of Lake Hefner and not see its peak, and the economic downturn has not been as disastrous here as in many other places.  On the other hand, the state of our health care system (mental health included) is abysmal, and despite being the buckle of the Bible belt, we have one of the highest divorce rates in the country.  We also suffer from an epidemic of political ignorance, a fact that is most apparent when you realize a majority of our population has been brainwashed into voting against its own interests (this political paradox and lack of education on issues only adds to the issue I am about to disccus regarding our archaic beer laws).

As far as entertainment goes, my beloved home OKC now has the Thunder, and an exciting restaurant scene is beginning to thrive (despite the efforts of ABLE) along with a growing entertainment district.  We have a number of good beer bars in the metro that really try to keep local beer geeks happy, but the more discerning and educated that group of geeks become, and the more that group grows, the more challenging it is going to be to keep them satiated, because let's just face the facts folks, Oklahoma's beer selection is abominable, bordering on embarrassing.  If it weren't for the local breweries that have come to the rescue in the last few years, this would definitley be a beer wasteland.   

You are probably wondering where I am going with all of this, and what got me on this soap box.  Well, today I am reviewing the last beer of my most recent Texas haul, and lamenting the fact that it is back to the waiting game for a new brewery to come in-state or an existing brewery to expand its offerings here if I want to experience something different.  Sometimes I think it could be worse, (can you say Alabama or Mississippi), but when I travel out of state it really brings home the fact of how Oklahoma's beer selection is stagnating, and one could easily argue, diminishing.  With those thoughts in mind I'm going to pop the cap on this ABA, hopefully thoroughly enjoy it, and leave all the BS behind for a bit.

Hoppy Feet has a big fluffy and airy tan head that dissipates slightly then chills in place with one finger of froth on top and a thick swath of lace left clinging.  Black in color with thin crimson edges at the light.  Smells of malts, some melon, herbal hops, and a distant mintiness.  Tastes a bit grainy and sweet with more melon goodnees (quite subdued), distant black licorice sweetness, and oily hops.  Mouth-feel is medium and thinner than expected but not to the point of weakness.  Dry and slightly rough going down but drinkability does not suffer.  Not the best ABA I've tried, but a damn fine example that I would revisit often if it were readily available. 

Well I guess it could all be worse. I could be content to sit back, maybe watch a little Mork and Mindy on channel 57, maybe kick back a cool Coors 16-ouncer, but I'm stoked that I've developed a taste for the good stuff and this one is making me realize how a good brew can really change perceptions to the positive.

The El Cucuy is back on the scene and chilling in the fridge, keeping a magnum of Boulevard Nommo company... but not for long, and I'm realizing that just because the beer selection here sucks, it could always be worse, and we should be thankful for what we have.

....That being said, don't become overly content because trouble is just around the bend as I'm getting word that Sally Kern has found the true reason behind this weekend's earthquakes.  There is definitely something wrong with the soil, and it sure ain't fracking!