Bigger Badder Blacker on a Monday Night

25 Jan

It is a rare event that I go out on a Monday night for a beer.  As in: I have a three-year old rare.  But occasionally something comes up and piques my interest enough for me to cash in some hard-earned “points” from the wife for a weeknight beer.  Last night was one of those nights.  Miranda had come across an ad for the Bigger Badder Blacker Beer Week at Belmont Station and passed it along to Michael and I.  Normally I read these with interest but resign myself to the fact that I will talk about making it the following weekend, always forgetting to do so.  This time though?  This time I saw that they were pouring Barley Brown’s Turmoil.

Now I see beers on menus that I want to try all the time.  That doesn’t mean I rush out at the first opportunity to try them.  Why was this different?  Well…Michael and Miranda, over the years, have constantly regaled me with the story of their trip to Baker City and an awe-inspiring tasting of the Turmoil from several years ago.  That night the brewer, Shawn Kelso, took some time to talk with them and also share some Chaos (aged Turmoil) that was slated for that particular year’s GABF.  Michael has raved about the Turmoil and Chaos ever since and claims it is his favorite CDA/Black IPA of all time.  Consequently, it was important that I made an honest effort to see what all the fuss was about.

We managed to work our way through a few of the dark beers on the menu.  Here is a list of what was tasted:

Barley Brown’s 13: This is basically a version of the Turmoil without all the hops.  There is also some licorice added in at the end of the boil.  This was a really great beer.  Dark, sweet, and roasty.  Miranda’s favorite.

Barley Brown’s Turmoil: Well…Mike was right.  This was awesome.  Seriously awesome.  Probably one of the most balanced beers I have ever had.  The nose was incredibly resinous and floral (reminded me of the nose on a Blue Dot) and the flavors were extremely well balanced.  I could have drank this all night.  I wanted more.  Call it a CDA or call it a Black IPA, I don’t care.  Call me convinced that this is the best beer in that “category” that I have come across.  This beer would have to be considered for my Top 5 of all time (yes, I make Top 5 lists).

New Belgium Lips of Faith Clutch: I liked the sour notes that came from this blend of dark sour wood beer and a stout.  Not my favorite of the night, but a solid choice should you decide to have one.

Flat Tail Owd Ruddy Barrel-aged Oatmeal Stout: Not a whole lot to say here except this was good.  Especially when paired with the Rasberry-Chocolate bar Miranda bought earlier.  I only managed a few sips of Miranda’s pour.  Had everything I would have expected from a barrel-aged oatmeal stout.  We will be down in Corvalis in a couple of weeks to check this place out, so I might have to have one at the source…you know, to get my own…

Mikkeller Tequila Barrel-aged Imperial Stout: This was a whole lot of complex, let me tell you!  All the familiar trappings of a stout, but with some serious spiciness, herbal notes and a hint of the roasted agave.  The beer was pretty heavy and sweet, so a 25 cl pour was more than enough for me.  The complexity though…wow.  There was a lot going on here and I really enjoyed the glass I had.  Miranda wasn’t sold on this, but I think she let the word ‘tequila” influence her impression.  It was in her head!  You could tell when she smelled it and tasted it that she was thinking of some god-awful shot of Hornitos she did while tailgating at a Beaver’s football game this fall (bet you didn’t know she did that, huh?)  Highly recommended if you want to be challenged by a beer on this menu.

Mikkeller Peat Whisky Barrel-aged Imperial Stout: Ok, do you like the smoky quality of peat?  Love you some Lagavuilin?  You drink Scotch neat all the time, you say?  No?  Then stay the fuck away from this thing.  Michael ordered this and I had two small sips.  It took 10 minutes for the peaty/smoky flavor to leave my mouth.  It was like I licked the remanants of a bbq grate after a cookout.  Holy hell it was overwhelming!  Mikkeller does some bold things, but this was just waaaaayyyyy too much for me.  Mike liked it, but he is weird and likes all kinds of shit that makes Miranda and I gag.

Evil Twin Soft Xmas: So here’s the deal.  I see the description on the beer and it says “For Christmas they dropped some vanilla & sour cherries in their dookie. Charming!”, and I immediately return to my 12 year-old roots and encourage someone to get this.  Hee hee, a shit reference!  Isn’t that clever?  Miranda obliges, we all taste, and I then realize why nobody should ever listen to their 12 year-old self when ordering a beer.  Awful.  Just awful.  The nose had a mustiness to it that almost smelled of rotten fruit.  The taste was not much better with the sour cherry drowning out any sign of a roasted malt profile.  Bad Brian!  Stupid Brian!  Don’t ever do that again…who am I kidding?  This will happen again.  Probably sometime this week.  Ask my wife.  It’s inevitable.

Deschutes Black Butte XXI: “Past it’s prime” was the consensus among the table.  Too astringent and the alcohol dominated the palette.  This was a disappointment, because we all love this series from Deschutes.  Guess that means we should drink the ones in our cellar/fridge this week, huh?

We also got to chat with Shawn Kelso while we were there and I must say, he a cool dude.  He is clearly humble about what he does and truly appreciates when people express gratitude for his work.  I have met a few brewers and more than a few chefs in my day, and I can say that they are not all like this.  And I have to say that my exposure to his beer (limited though it may be) indicates that he is also one talented MoFo.  Ten Barrel is really lucky to have picked this guy up.  Also, I am lucky to have talked to him because I now know that you can get a full pint of Fred (HOD) at Sassy’s.  Don’t ask me how Shawn knows this.  Also…don’t ask me if I plan on verifying that information.  Like this weekend.  Possibly Friday.

I am sure his beer will still be on tap at Barley Brown’s for a few more weeks/months(?), so if you want to see what he is capable of, you may need to plan a road trip weekend.  I am pretty sure they blew the keg of Turmoil  on Monday night (Michael, Miranda and I did our part, believe me) and who knows how long the 13 will last.

We had a great time and I highly recommend you head on over to Belmont Station for a few tastes of the great selections that will continue to rotate on all week.  Who knows?  You might meet someone fun and learn more about beers, Baker City, Boise, coffee, free condoms at the Jupiter Hotel, and scythes than you ever thought possible.  Cheers!

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