If you followed me on social media last week you know it was pretty epic week of beer and food. Let’s break it down real quick:
…and raise you Rosso e Marrone!
The events at Saratoga Beer Week have been pretty hit or miss. Some are just bar crawls with no actual beer specials, some serve readily available beers but you get to take the glass home, some feature shelf Vermont beers and somehow try to make an event out of it, some center around truly awful Olde Saratoga beer. The entire week is definitely promotion driven with a lot of fluff and BS. However, Pig Destroyer Jon and I did want to get up there for at least an event or two to show our support for the beers we love and support for events that we think are actually worth attending. Without at doubt, Henry Street Taproom definitely has the most interesting events going on for the week.
Knowing that Remarkable Liquids was tapping a bunch of great kegs there on Tuesday night and Oskar Blues was going to tap a keg of Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Mama’s Little Yellow Pils last night, it was a no brainer to go and get the best offerings from both nights. To my surprise, there was a last minute change to the lineup and the Founders Rep was also in the house, providing arguably the best best tap list in all of Saratoga that night, possibly the Capital Region.
It was nice to hear that the OB barrels at Henry Street were slated to appear at Night of the Barrels, again lessening the blow of not being able to attend the rescheduled event in March (in additional to getting a growler of Night Shift’s NotB offering, Snow, this past weekend). The wine barrel-aged Pils was the main reason why I was there, so I found an open spot at the bar and immediately ordered a pint, much to the surprise of the bartender, given its $12 price. Yes it was steep, but when else was I going to get a chance to try this?
Its appearance did not vary much from traditional Mama’s Little Yellow, but the white grape in the nose was evident. On first sip, the wine barrel dominates the taste with a slow transition and follow up of malt and hops in the backend. It’s sweet wine at first with a bit of tang before the moving on the tradition pils experience. This is delicious and extremely balanced, and what I imagine when I think of the wine hybrids that Sam Calagione attempts and instead produces absolute train wrecks. Seek this brew out, if you can.
The next beer was Oskar Blues Chaka, a collaboration with Sun King I’ve had my eyes on for a while but have yet to get my hands on (it’s in a unique resealable Alumi-Tek Bottle if you ever seen one). This is a very big (8%) sweet Belgian Pale Ale, one that I don’t think that has been brewed in a while so I imagine any hops in this beer have been long gone. It was tasty enough, but for the style it was too malty and sweet. I’m interested in trying this again when it’s brewed fresh.
The next beer was Founders
All Day IPA “Definitely Not ‘All Day IPA’” IPA. I hold all sessionable IPAs to the standard of Lawson’s Finest Liquids Three Penny Especiale, and while the 4.7% ABV Not All Day IPA was tasty and extremely chuggable, I could have used some more hop flavor (but there aren’t many IPAs I haven’t said that about).
We rounded out the night by splitting a couple of glasses of both the 2010 Oskar Blues Ten Fidy and the Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti break, both outstanding Imperial Stouts, and the Biscotti the first time I’ve seen this tapped in the area.
If your looking for something above the status quo to do for Saratoga Beer Week, Henry Street is absolutely your best bet. And one of my biggest complaints in my last stops, the “Cold as the Rockies” serving temperature of their beer, seems to have been fixed. As these beers kick (and surely they will soon) they’ll be replaced with some great beers from Sixpoint for their cheese pairing today with R&G cheese and some even better Brett beers tomorrow with Jeremy Irving from Remarkable Liquids. Check them out!
Had some Breakfast Stout leftover from Christmas, given the opportunity to compare it against Wake-N-Bake I figured why not. Not going to get into the details here, but I’m surprised I actually prefer the Wake-N-Bake. FBS is much, MUCH sweeter than W-n-B and I admit, I’m a dark roasted coffee fanatic (in my beer and my coffee mug) and W-n-B just has a much more dark roasted coffee aroma and flavor to it. Founders almost feels like the girl version of a coffee imperial stout compared to Terrapin’s. Granted Founders also has chocolate in it, but it comes of as more of a sweet milk chocolate than dark chocolate. Makes me want to put FBS through a french press with some nice roasty Sumatra instead.
BCBS Available in the Capital District
— OK, last one for the day. Savemore Beverage just posted they have Bourbon County on their shelves. As far as I know, none of the other big bottle shops in the area have announced likewise, but I’m sure they’ll be following suit soon enough. With FBS on the shelves, too, could be a good time to stock up. For me? I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Bourbon County Cherry Rye.
Shh, don’t tell anyone but Founders 2012 Bolt Cutter is drinking mighty fine this year. Can’t wait to have it with some age on it. (Well, technically, I kinda have to.)
This guy is slated to hit shelves on November 19th. Check out the story here.
Photo courtesy of Jon’s crappy Instagram account.
Jon and Danielle were spending the weekend up at Moreau Lake and while I couldn’t stay the whole weekend, Elise was at a wedding shower so that means I had a free pass to head up there with Kuma to enjoy a few drinks around the fire. Jon said he ended up having a shitty night so I’m glad I didn’t stay.
The lineup for the day:
- Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery – Peach Jack
- Maui Brewing Co. – CoCoNut PorTer (Thanks Chris!)
- Hoppin’ Frog Brewery – Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin
- Brewery Ommegang – Scythe & Sickle
- Avery Brewing Company – Maharaja (Birthday beers from Elise)
- Founders Brewing Company – Dry Hopped Pale Ale
Jon actually grabbed this Scythe and Sickle at Ommegang well before it hit shelves in our area and we were drinking this the weekend after. If you have already read my rant about this beer on All Over Albany I apologize, but I feel this needs to be said here.
When you read the reviews for Scythe and Sickle a lot of them have the same thing to say, or at least allude to it: “You can really taste the Belgian yeast in this.” What they mean to say is “You can really taste the Ommegang yeast in this.” And that’s the biggest problem that I have with all Ommegang beers these days. If you lined 100 beers up I could easily pick out the one Ommegang beer out of them. They all have this same common flavor profile due to using this only one yeast strain in their beers and after years and years and years of drinking Ommegang (they’re really where I started getting fanatical about craft beer) it’s getting kind of boring. That’s a shame since this Scythe and Sickle deserves a 4+ rating but unfortunately I just can’t give it that rating while being that bored and uninterested in the brand in general.
I want to see Ommegang do something truly different and out of their comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a huge risk, nationwide release or anything. I want to see them experiment, do some small batch, brewery only release or even something as small as a brewery only on tap release. I would drive out there for something like that in a heartbeat, and I’m sure there are plenty of locals who would appreciate a beer like that as well.
This dovetails into my complaint that we really don’t have much in terms of beer in the area that worth trading for. If I want to trade for something across the country, I generally have to drive up to Vermont and get some Heady Topper, Lawson’s or Hill Farmstead. The two big craft breweries of note in New York, Southern Tier and Ommegang, really only brew what they ship mostly nationally and they do nothing in terms of brewery only releases. Ithaca used to have some sours that were worth trading, but that’s still 3 hours away, one single style of beer compared to the multiple styles of beer I could acquire in VT, and since they no longer have a coolship their sour program is kind of up in the air (yes that was an open-air fermentation pun). My best chance in NY right now is to get my hands on some of the Captain Lawrence sours (congrats on the big wins at GABF this year, btw) and to hope that Peekskill starts up their barrel aging and sour programs and they start bottling some day. That’s kinda sad.
A little Founders Double Trouble before starting the short work week.
Birthday Beers: The Aftermath
- This isn’t everything we drank that night at The Ruck, but it’s most of the big ones. Jon, Dave, and Nuzz all broke out some gems for the night. I’m missing another BCBS and a few others from this pic, but you get the drift: it was pretty fucking epic.
This is without a doubt my favorite part of the BCTC experience. Belgian after Belgian after Belgian gets old pretty quick (for me) these days so it’s good to take a break from it all and start drinking something different. That plus walking around meeting new people who are willing to share a beer and food, dropping in on other friend’s camp sites, watching the movie and the fireworks all make for a really great night.
We started the night drinking some really great beers, eating a shit ton of brats in sauerkraut, and ended the morning around 6AM drinking pretty much anything that still had liquid in it (several times I was chugging a magnum of Jameson, ugh). Yes, we were “those guys” who were being complained to “take it down a notch”. Yeah, that didn’t really work out, and pretty much all of the other stragglers that were still up at any of the campsites within earshot (and further) came over to hang out and kinda just made things louder. Honestly this was the best time I’ve ever had at BCTC and I thank all who were there to hang out.
Thanks to Mike, Jon, Scott Jr., and Adam for sharing!
The lineup of the night:
- King Henry – Goose Island Beer Co.
- 2008 Bourbon County Brand Stout – Goose Island Beer Co.
- Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout – Goose Island Beer Co.
- Juliet – Goose Island Beer Co.
- Curieux - Allagash Brewing Company (not pictured)
- Imperial Milk Porter (Stranahan Whiskey Barrel Aged) – Cigar City Brewing
- Frangelic Mountain Brown – Founders Brewing Company
- Three Penny Especiale – Lawson’s Finest Liquids
- Bourbon Barrel Backburner - Southern Tier Brewing Company (not pictured growler)