Best Week Ever.

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:

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Vermont Camping: July 2013 Edition

Vermont Balloon and Craft Festival

Just a short couple of days in Vermont on our last trip but we made the most of it while we could. We stayed at Elise’s favorite state park, Mount Philo, again and lucked out with the weather the whole weekend.

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The Bier Abbey First Anniversary

Thursday marked the the Anniversary of the opening of The Bier Abbey and was celebrated with a bunch of laughs, great food, and a pretty amazing lineup of beers. Joining the celebration was the crew from Remarkable Liquids (who are coming up on their anniversary this month) as well as Brian Ewing from 12 Percent imports and Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Evil Twin Brewing.  I had a lot of fun trying to capture all of the shenanigans that night, let’s check out the pics!

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Beer tasting with Evil Twin, Emelisse and Stillwater at The City Beer Hall

Espresso Stout by Bierbrouwerij Emelisse
Tap List at City Beer Hall

I feel like we’re coming fresh off the last Remarkable Liquids event at the Lionhart Pub, but even still, Jeremy was able to bring down some new kegs that even the most discerning beer nerds (read: pain in the ass tickers) from Fourteen Stone Drinking Crew wanted to come out and try.

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Oskar Blues and Founders at Henry Street Taproom

 Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Mama's Little Yellow Pils
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.
Henry Street Taproom Tap List 2/20/13
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?

Founders All Day IPA

Things were a little fuzzy at this point.

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.
Oskar Blues Chaka
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).
Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break
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!

Fourteen Stone Drinking Crew #3

Another great get together with the crew, with some of our recent hauls, some beers Richard brought back from his trip to Seattle and Bill’s birthday beers. This was our first tasting since I finally cleaned up the basement enough to have some beers down there. I have a few stools, a nice 8 foot kitchen prep table I’m using as a makeshift “bar”. The beer cellar is repaired, we’ve got this nice water jug/dump bucket system going (although I really want to get a glass rinser but I don’t think that is in the cards for a while) and I should have a couple more glass racks installed in the ceiling by week’s end. Plus the card table, surround sound system, and the dart board that folds into the ceiling I’ve had for a while now. I’m pretty happy with how the man cave “tasting room” is shaping up.

So after a pretty successful night of running around with Mike, we went back to Chez Fuj and met up with the rest of the guys and a couple of friends of Bill’s from NJ. The lineup for the night:

  • Tsunami Stout by The Pelican Pub & Brewery
  • Madame Rose (2012) by Goose Island Beer Co.
  • The Cowboy by Evil Twin Brewing – pretty much locks in my hatred of smoked beers
  • Oude Tart by The Bruery – delish, like all Bruery sours
  • Meadowlark IPA by Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project – absolutely fantastic. Glad Bill brought this one to share, been meaning to try it for a while/
  • Curieux by Allagash Brewing Company – long time fave since first having it back in May. Richard hadn’t had it yet so I broke this one out from my Birthday Beers from Elise.
  • Hop 15 Ale by Port Brewing Company
  • Horny Devil by AleSmith Brewing Company – meh. Other than Speedway Stout and their IPAs not much has impressed me from AleSmith.
  • Survival 7-Grain Stout by Hopworks Urban Brewery – very solid, just like the IPA goofybear sent me
  • Sled Dog Trippelbock by Wagner Valley Brewing Company
  • Beer Hop Breakfast by Mikkeller
  • Black Hole Barrel Aged Bourbon by Mikkeller
  • Femme Fatale Brett by Evil Twin Brewing – Can’t get enough of this beer, really. Evil twin is killing it.
  • Rye Hopper Ale by French Broad Brewing Co.
  • Declaration by Backlash Beer Company
  • Fat Scotch Ale by Silver City Brewing Co. – Dave’s 500th unique Untappd beer
  • Tripel Threat by Cambridge Brewing Co.
  • Luscious by The Alchemist Pub & Brewery – my 500th unique Untappd beer
  • Head Hunter IPA by Fat Head’s Brewery
  • Winema Wit by The Pelican Pub & Brewery (Oregon)
  • Gandhi-Bot by New England Brewing Co.
  • Vampire Slayer by Clown Shoes
  • Aphrodisiaque by Brasserie Dieu du Ciel
  • Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery

Other than Luscious, which we only incidentally opened because of Untappd, I don’t think any beer stood out as the clear “best beer of the night” or anything. A lot of really solid beers here, of all different types so it’s tough to compare. Fat Head’s never ceases to surprise me with that IPA, same with that Meadowlark. Black Butte was great, as was Curieux, Oude Tart and Madame Rose. No complaints here.

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Richard acting a damn fool.

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Dave showcasing pretty much how everyone felt by the end of the night morning.

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