The Night Squirrel

18 Nov

I’m a notorious night owl.  Have been my whole life.  I remember thinking that I was missing out on stuff when I was a kid when my parents put me to bed at 9:00.  Not sure I was.  It just felt like it.  I fear that my 2 ½ year old daughter is just like me.  But tonight?  Tonight she crashed early and the wife fell asleep on the couch watching some program on quantum physics (there is a joke in there somewhere).  What’s a confessed night owl to do?  Laurelwood’s Vinter Varmer it is!  Found this little puppy at my local Fred Meyer the other night.  It was newly out on shelves, I missed it last year, and I have a goal to try as many winter seasonals as I can.

First off, I gotta say that I love the squirrel.  I don’t find many of the Laurelwood labels particularly inspiring, but this one does it for me.  That little fucking squirrel makes me want to drink this beer!  Let’s pop the top and get down to business!

The beer pours a copper/red color with a very striking tan head (can tan be striking?  It is here.) that sticks around for a good minute or two.  The immediate smell is caramel and biscuits, but there is a nutty aroma and something else…some spice…allspice, maybe?  A clear hop aroma at the back end, but it is faint and could be the spicy I am getting off of the beer.  I taste.  Wow.  Sweet hits the palette immediately, but the bitter…oh, the bitter!  This is well balanced.  The beer is somewhere between heavy and light, as it sits in the mouth but is not outright chewy.  The bitter stays with you, but in a really good way.  Your mouth alternates between malt flavors and hops as you sit there after a pull on the pint glass.  I like this.  I could drink a few of these.  Too bad I only bought one.  It reminds me of a hoppier brown ale.  Michael and I brewed a Hoppy Brown this year, and I feel like this is what I was hoping it would be.  Not that ours was bad, mind you.  This one is just more like what I was hoping for on our try.  Guess the pros at Laurelwood are a little better versed in this brewing thing, huh?  Rock on, Vinter Varmer!

Food Pairing: Maybe it’s the way that it reminds me of a Brown Ale, but this thing is screaming for a big, beautiful Blue Cheese-Bacon Burger.  Tangy blue, pepper bacon, caramelized onions and some 80/20 ground chuck.  Onion rings as a side would be proper.  If you got a fryer, do ‘em up right.  The batter is no problemo, and onions are cheap, cheap, cheap, my friend.  If you aren’t in to that, get ‘em takeout.  But for God’s sake, make the burger yourself.  If you need a recommendation on the rings, the Country Cat makes the best ones in town.  They are like shoestring fries only better.  Because…you know…they’re onion rings.  In a pinch you can just hit up Burgerville.  Regardless, the burger is the show here.  No plans to make it this weekend, but I am keeping this one upstairs for future consideration.

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