Monday, January 26, 2009

The Beer Geek's 2008 Quaff Notes

- Written by Mark "The Beer Geek" Zahn

The past year really provided some fantastic brews. In the following few lines, I'd like to share with you some of the more interesting beers my palate enjoyed.

The Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse is a superb brew. Basically, it's a light-colored Weissbock with some big-time strength - something like 8%. Awesome banana-clove aromas and nice 'n hoppy too, with plenty of noble hops. This beer is a collaboration between Schneider-Weisse of Germany and the Brooklyn Brewery (New York).

The Black Butte XX Twentieth Anniversary Porter from Deschutes (Oregon) was absolutely delicious. This beer is a jacked-up version of the Black Butte Porter with massive amounts of roasted coffee and chocolate malts - aged in whiskey barrels, if I remember correctly. Extremely smooth with very little alcoholic warmth for such a high-octane brew (over 10% ABV).

Next on my list is Ommegang's Hennepin Farmhouse Saison (New York). A very refreshing beer perfectly suited for the summer months. Light, spicy yet sweet, fruity, citrusy... and on and on. There's so much going on in this Saison, I recommend you try it for yourself.

The Hop Trip fresh-hopped pale ale from Deschutes (Oregon) was once again fabulous. This brew is packed with fresh whole flower hops - the bittering is piney, citrusy, yet soft. A very enjoyable sweetness in the malt backbone. Truly a nicely balanced beer that is low in alcohol. Nice and rich with a beautiful crown when poured properly.

The next beer that was thoroughly pleasing in every respect, is Sierra Nevada's Torpedo (California). We enjoyed this IPA on tap at the Owl Club in Roseville - wow - went down like cotton candy. This beer is very smooth with a quite delicate balance of wonderful aroma hops and mild malt sweetness. The whole hops they put in that Torpedo contraption also give this beer a fresh piney/citrusy floral aroma & flavor. Extremely smooth for a 7% IPA.

Finally, I'd like to recommend the Allagash Four (Maine). This bottle-conditioned Belgian Quad is brewed with four different malts and four types of hops. It's very rich and complex with lot's of dark fruit flavors, some sherry notes, and some brown sugar flavors as well. The hop bitterness is mild with the flavors definitely leaning towards the malts. Remarkably smooth body for such a big beer. At 10%, the alcoholic warmth is there, but not overpowering.

If you get a chance to try these beers, let us know what you think. Cheers!