Thursday, September 23, 2010

When Two Rivers Collide: Consecration and Damnation

1. Lancaster Brewing Co. Milk Stout (D)

2. McNeill's Brewing Warlord Imperial IPA (D)
3. Russian River Consecration (D)
4. Lagunitas Brewing Co. IPA (D)
5. Southern Tier Harvest Ale (D)
6. Northcoast Brewing Co. Scrimshaw Pilsner (D)
7. Russian River Damnation (B)

"With impetuous recoil and jarring sound
Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
Of Erebus. She opened, but to shut
Excelled her power; the gates wide open stood.

-John Milton: Paradise Lost

Very rarely does both heaven and hell find their way into the same post for me. Surely I have been explicit enough describing the most beautiful brews served in a snifter, but to have the most damned ones served also, well, there must be a story behind that. If there was such a story, I would happily title it, "When Two Rivers Collide."

Let's talk about P.O.P.E. first. The Pub on Passayunk East has to be the darkest beer bar that I have ever been to. The only light that lit the menu came from the room next to where we were sitting. But there must have been a torch somewhere, because low and behold, what was written in pink chalk on the draft board? Russian River Consecration. It was the priciest beer on the list, but I thought back to a few months ago when I was able to indulge in RR's Pliny the Elder and Supplication, both on draft. So when the sour beast is in your face, reach your hand out and make a new friend. There is nothing but fantastic things to note about this brew. It was plum red. It had absolutely no head. It was tart in every sense of the word. There was a bit of vinegar behind it, but mostly I was just pounded by the currants.

This seems like a great place for an except from one of my favorite poems.

MORNING and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries-
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries--
All ripe together
In summer weather--
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy;
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye,
Come buy, come buy."

-"The Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti

Now onto how "Paradise Lost" found its way into this post and into our other river's channel. Damnation. RR Damnation is a pretty sweet Belgian Strong Ale. Lots of fruity notes, very light in color. I was able to get full view of this brew at the well lit Terrace Taproom. Served out of RR's (tion) cage-corked 375 ml bottles, they also provide you with a novel written down the side. It is a smooth operator with a dry finish.

Cheers for now friends. Happy Fall.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Poem, A Story, Another Season upon us.

1. Sly Fox Brewing Standard Porter (D)-Handpump
2. Weyerbacher Brewing Co. Double Simco IPA (D)
3. Coronado Brewing Co. Mermaids Red (D)
4. Sixpoint Brewing Co. Righteous Ale (D)
5. Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven B.V. La Trappe Quadruple (D)
6. Brasserie Lefebvre Blanche de Bruxelles (D)
7. Avery Brewing Co. IPA (D)
8. Lost Abbey Brewery Avant Garde (D)
9. Ithica Beer Co. Flower Power IPA (D)
10. Victory Brewing Co. Wild Devil Ave (B)
11. Elysian Brewing Co. Avatar Jasmine IPA (B)
12. Founders Brewing Co. Dirty Bastard (B)
13. Cigar City Jai Alai
14. Green Flash Hop Head Red

"Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields,
the gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth
and you walk under the red light of fall
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain
The sharp, gentile chill of fall.
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn
The night that brings the morning of spring
Come to us, Lord of Harvest
Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us..."

**Autumn Equinox Ritual

I love the change of seasons, but losing the summer's heat and the hours of light into the 9 o'clock hour becomes harder to do without. Whether it is through the autumn imagery that is ignited by the prose that started this blog post, or just knowing that a pumpkin ale has just been tapped, I guess that you can find bits of love any time of year.

These past two weeks had me sampling some great styles of beer. I often devote entire posts to IPAs and stouts, but, fortunately, family and friendly places offered me their harvest. Porters, Double IPAs, Reds, Ryes, Belgians and Scotch Ales all, thankfully, fell into this list.

Here's the tale of La Trappe. It's big. It's a quad and it's way too drinkable. Jules and I were at Terrace Taproom a few weeks back when this beer was on. It was a Wednesday night. We were only looking to enjoy a beer or two. But there it was. I put down my finished pint of Mermaid's Red, and through the lacing across the glass, the Trappist tap actually smiled at me. I said to myself, "No." And as I was about to order another, and the bartender says, "La Trappe is a bad motherfucker," Jules says, "I'll have one." And that was it. It poured a beautiful dark amber into a pretty sweet chalice. Toasty malts laced with sweet fruits. I figured 10%, I'll sip it for an hour. It's a ten minute walk home and it's early. It was a nice end of the night drink.

There were no dragons slayed that night. Nor were any moats to crossed.

Cheers for now.