Black Lagers Matter: 100th Blog Post!

To my devoted fans, my new fans, and future fans, welcome to my 100th blog post.  You didn’t think I’d make it here, did you?  Well, I’m happy to say, the time has arrived.  In honor of such a momentous occasion (in my head at least), I felt it only right and proper to do a beer review.  This one is partially in honor of my heritage, my fondness for dark beer, and of course, because my freakin’ awesome wife bought not just the beer, but the container in which this marvelous libation dwells (though soon, it will have a new home, in my stomach).  As her Valentine’s gift to me, she bought me a ceramic, 64 ounce growler from Barley Creek Brewing Co. and filled it with one of their year-round favorites of mine:  Angler Black Lager.  Below is the review:

barley_creek_angler_black_lager

Angler Black Lager

On the docket:  Barley Creek Brewing Co.’s Angler Black Lager

Growler filled:  2/13/17

Poured into:  Lone Eagle Brewing Co. craft glass

Sight:  From a long way off, you’d swear the glass held the darkest stout in the world.  But come closer.  A more attentive inspection screams walnut hardwood or if you want to get esoteric, bistre (sooty brown) with reddish-orange highlights.  The head, though short lived is a quick-forming beige cap.  Lacing is braille-like and delicate.  The cap recedes into a swirl of suds and a small conclave of bubbles on one side of the glass.  The body is dark enough to prohibit the detection of bubbles rising to the surface.

Aroma:  Malt is definitely the star here, as this beer yields an aroma of darkish baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder.  There’s a slight suggestion of roasted coffee, and an earthiness that reminds me of either tobacco or leather.  Either is fine.

Taste:  Closely mirroring the aroma, is a malt-driven brew.  Chocolate, sweetish malt and a hint of brown or pumpernickel bread.  The slightest trace of caramel.  There’s a roundness here that’s appealing.  Only on the end do the hops make an appearance in the bitter balance to all the smooth, dark malt flavors.

Mouthfeel:  The commonly held misconception is that dark beers are heavy.  Well, some are.  But this?  This is light, elegant, and dances on the tongue, a medium- on the body.  Fine carbonation.  Crisp, smooth finish– just like a lager should have.

Overall:  Is it an imperial, barrel aged stout with vanilla, coffee, cocoa nibs, and blessed by a priest?  NO.  This is a fine example of a beer style that receives way too little attention in the beer world:  Schwarzbier.  For those that love lagers, for those that love German beer, for those that love dark beer, for those that love session-able beer (5.2% abv), this beer is for all of you.

Suggested food pairing(s):  banana chocolate-chip pancakes (beer with breakfast anyone?!), coffee-encrusted flank steak, smoked wurst, sharp English or Irish cheddar, chocolate-pecan terrine

 

 

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The Key of L# (sharp): Freewill’s Key Lime Lambic

Free_Will_Key_Lime_LambicOn the docket:  475mL bottle of Free Will’s Key Lime Lambic

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn stemmed craft glass

S:  A nearly lemonade-golden yellow, slightly hazy body spills into the glass, with only the faintest stark-white head.  Tight clinging to the outside rim, consisting of small and medium bubbles.  More bubbles lazily rise to the surface from the bottom of the glass.

A:  Green with envy?  This one boasts boatloads of limeade, tartness, and a hint of funk.  Fairly one-dimensional, but very fragrant and refreshing aroma.

T:  If you’ve ever eaten key-lime pie, with that mandatory meringue topping, imagine that with a spritz of carbonation and the tartness of a sour lime candy, and you have yourself Freewill’s lambic.  The malt and hops are overshadowed by the puckering citrus.  Crisp.  Let this one warm just a tad in order to experience the subtle malty sweetness, which shows up oddly enough, on the finish.  Want a little less twang?  Pull air through your mouth as you would with wine, the aeration softens it up.

F:  Light to medium-light.  Tingly, biting carbonation does a major scrub-job on your tongue.  Awesome for a hot day.  Try this over a gin/vodka gimlet.  Long finish that morphs slowly from citrus to just a hint of grainy sweetness that emerges on the lips.

O:  Certainly tart and sour, but flavor-packed and refreshing.  Noted on the website, all natural flavoring and no back-sweetening (post brewing).  Perhaps a beginner or intermediate sour beer, and a definite must-try for Key lime pie lovers and sour fruit candy eaters.  Warheads anyone?

Suggested food pairing:  Summer salad with blood or mandarin oranges and arugula, jerk chicken, Thai, Vietnamese or Indian food, and sure, Key lime pie with a homemade graham cracker crust.

Clear Your Schedule: Weyerbacher’s Sunday Morning Schedule

On the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Weyerbacher’s Sunday Morning Stout (with coffee and whiskey barrel aged), best by date:  2018 (could easily age for longer)

Poured into:  6 oz. wine glass

Aroma:  No words, just feelings.  This is what dreams are made of.  A voluptuous melange of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, oak, and bliss.  The hops are in there somewhere, but I think they’re laying low and letting the other elements do the heavy lifting.  There’s a definite boozy presence that gets thicker as the beer warms.

Sight:  Inkwell-black body with a khaki and orange hued head that builds and dies just as quickly.  All that’s left of the cap exists as a wispy ring and microscopic bubbles.  Carbonation activity unknown, the body pulls in all the light around it.  Lacing is delicate and grid-like.

Taste:  Even on the chilly side, this beer exhibits a twang of roasted coffee and the barrel-aged characteristics of wood, caramel, vanilla, and light spiciness common to good American Whiskey.  Some chocolate comes through as well, but just a hint.  The most important piece of this puzzle asserts itself as dark roasted malt.  Like the aroma, the alcohol comes across easily, though not in a “hot” manner.

Feel:  Rich, oily, astringent.  Finely attuned carbonation, capable of keeping this beer in the air, so to speak.  You always go back for another sip, and then another… but beware, this Imperial Stout weighs in at 11.3% abv, so be sure to actually do the Sunday Times Crossword with your beer, lest you end up needing a nap on the couch.  Finish is long and warming like the whiskey it got to know in the barrel.

Overall:  On par with the often acclaimed barrel-aged imperial stouts heralded on Untappd and BeerAdvocate, but easier to acquire (depending on your geographic region).  I still feel this one flies under the radar.  Love them or hate them, Weyerbacher is capable of producing pleasurable drinking experiences in their high abv offerings.

Food pairing:  Nutty or earthy cheese, beef stew, Cannoli, vanilla ice cream, or, as a cocktail beer (on its own)

A Howling Good Time: Rusty Rail’s Wolf King Warrior Stout

Wolf_King_Warrior_Rusty_RailOn the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Rusty Rail’s Wolf King Warrior Imperial Stout (brewed with coffee and oatmeal) bottled:  01/27/16

Poured into:  Stemmed Innis & Gunn logoed tulip

S:  An opaque walnut brown-black body that sports a khaki head, thick, creamy and full.  No lacing.  Head sticks around for a while before doing a vanishing act, residing as a small ring around the rim.

A:  An initial aroma of bittersweet chocolate and coffee greet the nose.  Added to this is a soft, breakfast cereal note, bringing me back to simpler days when my mother made me oatmeal on the stove.  Also present is a faint longer of anise and just a twang of pine and alcohol.  It reminds me a bit of an Export style stout, a style I enjoy.

T:  At the outset, one gets roasted coffee (as you should!), dark malt, dare I say chicory, and some sweetness.  There is certainly bitterness present, both from the roasted component, and the hops.  There’s also some citrus and pine from the hops, further deepening the complexity of its flavor.  As it warms, the 8.2% abv sticks out its tongue at you.

F:  Medium-light, with a slight astringency from the roasting of the malt and the addition of the coffee.  There is a creamy aspect, but a fine prickly sensation is left from the bubbles. The finish persists until drying off while leaving an unctuous, oily feel on the palate.

O:  This beer fights for your attention, tooth and claw.  You can’t help but take notice.  I think this is somewhat of a hybridization of styles– an Export/Foreign Stout meeting up with an Oatmeal Stout, has a drink of hard alcohol with it at a bar, and then collaborates to come up with a unique brew.  This isn’t such a strange conclusion, as the coffee originates from Costa Rica.  Mouthfeel could be a bit fuller, but overall, flavorful and easy to drink.  Decent offering from an emerging brewery.

Note:  The monogrammed object is my personal “Decapitator” by Corckcicle, a device one can use to remove the cap from the top of a 12/22 oz. bottle of beer.  Through this process, the cap is left nearly unscathed and unbent.  Does not work on capped 750 mL bottles.

S:  4  A:  3.75  T:  3.75  F:  3.5  O:  3.75

Suggested food pairing:  milk chocolate, nutty/earthy cheese, barbecued short ribs, mild chili