Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Another beer?

‘Try this’ says someone, pointing out a tall bottle. Someone else chips in, ‘this is gorgeous, I would normally run a mile from such a beer’. Amongst the bottles on the table, little fellas, 330ml, the one that holds Goose Island’s Juliet is twice the size. Into the glass it goes, hazy and ruddy faced like an angry farmer, soft cloud-white foam on top. The nose is sour and vinous, the famous horse blanket aroma, a hint of hedgerow berries in the background; grapefruit, peachy, tart and tangy on the palate but this is Chicago rather than Brussels; a beer with wild yeast, a beer aged in cabernet barrels with blackberries. Absolutely wonderful. The same brewery’s Sofie is spritzy, soft and creamy. ‘Another beer.’ Anchor Bock, not had this before. Hands up who remembers blackjacks? A dark chewy retro sweet, aniseedy, prone to turning the tongue black. The aroma on this beer takes me back to the corner shop, jars of bon-bons, chocolate limes and blackjacks. The taste is an alcoholic dandelion and burdock, who thought a mere beer (mere beer?) had the power to take one back to childhood. All very in search of lost time. At the White Horse, the tasting of US beers brought in by James Clay and marshalled by the good people of RnR continues. I like the contrast between the IPAs from Goose Island and Flying Dog. The latter has a rugged hop sack character, is a bittersweet symphony, pungent and earthy and has a long train ride of a finish; the former has a softer more mellow citrusy nose, a sherbert like sweetness on the palate, but still manages to come up with a dry bitter finish. Which one is best? Depends on the mood and the moment, which brings me round to Orval, the beer that for me is a beer for all occasions, which then brings me to Goose Island’s Matilda, Orvalish and citrusy. Raging Bitch next, Belgian-style IPA, fragrant and floral on the nose, ripe, peachy, apricot and spice in the mouth, soothing bitter and fruity finish. I had it not long ago and didn’t enjoy the high Amarillo note in the finish; it’s not there this time. And to finish: Gonzo Imperial, coffee, cocoa, soot, smoke and bitterness, luscious vanilla, I bet this looks good in an ice cream float; then stand by your beds for beer sambuca: Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout, spirituous, mocha, rich, Herculean, ‘now I am become death, a destroyer of worlds’. And with that out into the night, refreshed and replenished I went.

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