Quick Take: If you are expecting KBS with maple syrup, don’t. This is a boozy hot beer with a singular purpose of hitting the tongue with earthy sweet, syrupy malt and sugar. Although too decadent and young for me to really enjoy, I think some age would do wonders for it, it’s a beer rarely seen and one you should have if you get the chance. Just be sure to keep your expectations in check and you’ll probably find an enjoyable, but not mythically fantastic, beer that belongs next to the slew of other great Founders classics.
Quick Take: While initially disappointing, Abyss ultimately won me over as a subtle but layered exposé on the stout. It’s a beer that seemingly requires a high level of contemplation and analysis, which means the non-beer obsessed will likely admire it (or outright dismiss it) more than truly enjoy it. While I am thoroughly impressed by what Deschutes has crafted, I can’t say I would choose to drink this over other highly-rated stouts.
Ah 2014, a year of much stuff, many things, and plenty of beer. It is the year that I transitioned from a purely video beer blog to a Web site featuring beer and brewery reviews, taking on a major commitment to the beverage that I love. This commitment will continue into the new year with plans for more brewery and event reports/reviews, plenty of thoughts on brews both new and aged, and a few new features I hope to get off the ground.
But now is the time to reflect on the beers of drinking past, and to that end I’ve compiled the list of my favorite beers of 2014. These are beers that not only impressed me with their quality over all other beers I had last year, but are the ones that I will be looking forward to in 2015 as well.
I walk the mean streets of Lititz, PA with a bottle of Prairie Bomb in my pocket, a cold wind at my back and a mission to have Bourbon County Vanilla Rye in my gut by the end of the night. Can’t think of a better way to spend a Wednesday afternoon. I push through the double doors into the Bulls Head Pub and find it is busier than usual, already half-full of like-minded regulars. Regulars might be a bit generous as the promise of draft BCBS along with its Coffee and Vanilla bottled brethren has dredged up all the flexible work schedule casual and enthusiast beer drinkers from across the region.
I sidle up to the smooth, lacquered bar top that I’ve sidled up to many times before and peruse the tap list. A coaster absently spins under my nervous fingers. It’s an hour and a half until the Bourbon County event kicks off, but there are worse places to kill time. The Bulls Head is one of the top beer bars in the North East (made official by CraftBeer.com’s user-voted Great American Beer Bars competition) and a British style pub, meaning no T.V., plenty of room temperature cask beer, bar only ordering, and a partially British menu to match. The décor follows suit; dim lighting, a mix of high top tables and booths, and wood covering every surface like a forest exploded. Just about every element of the bar was brought over from England to be as authentic as possible and it all adds up as one of the best places in PA to get some fish and chips with your craft beer.
After that butt-kicking that was the Untappening, I took it a little easier this past week. Or so I planned. I had a pretty big beer on Wednesday (full review coming up soonish) and a beer-filled and rather painful football Sunday (being a Philly sports fan, I’m used to it). Thankfully, the sting of loss was soothed by the salve of new to the area big beers and a couple long journeyers via Kentucky and Maine. Big thanks to all the sharers for kindly including me on the pours. Here’s the most noteworthy of last week:
Avery – Tweak
Location: DBR Manor
Style: Imperial Stout
Original Comment: Bourbon, coffee, malty RIS aroma. Syrupy, medicinal body/finish. Sweet, heavy malt and mild coffee, choco, char. Needs age
Additional Comment: Booze and syrupy thick malt dominates Tweak, weighing heavily on the delicate touch of char, coffee and tobacco. Usually, I don’t consider those flavors to be delicate, but the medicinal alcohol is such a bruiser that everything else is dainty in comparison. I like the base beer, Mephistopheles, and the additions make it even better, but the bump up in alcohol makes this tough to drink young. This has potential to be aged into perfection, backing off the heat and blending into a luxurious coffee RIS with bourbon, deep, dark sweet malts and char. It’s a theory I plan on testing. As it stands, the balance is so firmly slammed down on the boozy heat side that the small pour I had is enjoyable, but enough.