Sat 19th January

January is a rather sad month for the beertaster. Not that there isn’t anything festivalwise, but at least, not very much interesting.

So, one has to search for opportunity oneself. Thus, when Carl Kins, of GABF and MGBJ fame gave me a mail, enquiring if I would be interested in an American beertasting, I didn’t hesitate long. With the reinforcement of William Roelens, one of Belgium’s most revered beerbloggers – and his inseparable good lady – it was a promise for interesting things.

Carl had been talking about beers from Lost Abbey, as well as from Russian River. Not exactly the kind of thing you wave away – unless you’re in serious trouble with your tastebuds. Myself, I am well-versed in this kind of thing: you don’t go there empty-handed, so before leaving, I plunged into the cellar, grabbing left and right: mainly USA titbits, and a nice Bamberg speciality.

Carl, true to his word, came collecting me at the Kortrijk station, and then we moved to the paternal Kins’ home. As usual, we didn’t dally long. Now Carl had been given beers from Tomme, and since I’ve been at the receiving end from that esteemed wizard myself, I wasn’t exactly surprised to learn that the quartet were exactly the same as those bestowed on me. Seen the quality of Red Barn ale, Avant Garde, Lost and Found, not to mention Angels’ Share, I couldn’t care less. Just the idea of starting away on Angels’ Share – at 13% ABV – was a bit daunting project…

By the time the Red Barn got opened, the two last tasters made their entrance, so serious things could commence – the Avant Garde (loudly acclaimed) following suit pretty quick. For full taste descriptions, you can find them in long and full on my Ratebeer ratings. Just to say, both T. Arthur beers rocked. I ought not to have feared – not all Carl dug up was known to me. He came up again, carrying Jolly Pumpkin La Roja. Now I had had some JP beers before, but not this one. Hurray! The more as this was a very good one. According to Carl, quality from them can vary – which would explain the diametrically different findings concerning “La Luciérnaga” and its Reserva, from MartinT and myself.

We followed with one from my cellar: New Glarus Unplugged Sour Brown. Well-known by Carl and myself, but a discovery for the other two. The more as Carl could follow with another one from this brewery: the well-liked Raspberry Tart. I’m wondering when I’m finally going to get a bottle of the Wisconsin Red – not that I like it, but the one and only time I tasted it, must already date from the mid-nineties!

‘t Was interesting to compare this one to a 1987 bottling of Liefmans Goudenband (some sad tears about the state of “Liefmans Breweries” being offered). It had held up magnificently, and it was fruity beyond belief. If Carl had claimed it to be a Kriek, I would not have challenged his claim at all. By some unfortunate accident, we thought another Belgian fruitbeer would be logical. I hadn’t had La Barbiot Pêche (peach) before… However, in retrospect I could have done without. The beer proved infected beyond belief. None of the four tasters could drink it – one even categorically refused even to sip this. We heard tales of a very “alternative” brewer, going out to pick wild fruit, as well as hops from the wild! No wonder one gets some very unwanted results this way.

OK, back to serious work: the other Californian wizard, Vinnie from Santa Rosa fame. His Pliny the Elder – a superb IPA, in the best possible way such beer can be. Even bottled. I just wish I could experience the Pliny the Younger brother on draught, one day. And then, Carl again into the depths, and now he had some prize offerings – if not in quality, certainly in rarity. What would you say about Stone 11th Anniversary ale (another one we raved about!), and/or Deschutes 19th Anniversary ale. However, this last forced pseudo-Belgian jumble couldn’t appeal to me. A worse shock was the following Three Floyds Alpha Kong…

Come on, let’s be serious. If you call a beer Alpha Something, one is entitled to a serious punch of iso-alpha-acids, no? Or otherwise said, some bl**din hops, if you please! A smoked nose, and a liqueurish flavour – no hops to mention. OK, next: Stone Old Guardian – a long time favourite. Then, Carl disappeared again, to return with the expected Angels’ Share, but he had a little surprise in stock as well. It was called “Woodville”, and if one looked at it right, it was actually “Woodville 21”, brewed by “Indian Peaks Brewing”. Oh Lord be praised, even a brand-new brewery to me… Well, forget it, once at home, taught me it was a figs’ leaf for Left Hand Brewing.

During the final sipping of the Angels’ Share, I went looking at my watch. And this confounded piece of technical no-discussion told me that in 20 mins, my train would leave. The next (and very last one) one hour later… So, with sadness in the mind, and still plenty of precious Angels Share (what’s in a name!!!) in my glass, Carl drove me off. I consoled myself with the idea of two bottles in my rucksack, one being more or less the 100th new (?) beer by the Proefbrouwerij, courtesy of William. Sagely forgetting I was going to have to carry them 4 long miles on foot, before reaching home.

Oh well. ;^}


Click here to comment on Joris' experience

19 January - January is a rather sad month for the beertaster.
3 February - The pains of failures and take-overs
21 April - The truth about Isabelle Proximus or how a big brewery can be very small indeed
28 April - SoCal MUSINGS: Part 1
1 May - SoCal MUSINGS: Part 2
1 May - SoCal MUSINGS: Part 3
2 May - SoCal MUSINGS: Part 4
3 May - SoCal MUSINGS: Part 5
5 May - SoCal MUSINGS: Part 6
9 July - New 2008 American tasting at CK's



Around Bruges in 80 Beers: 2nd Edition

Around London in 80 Beers

Around Brussels in 80 Beers

Babblebelt contributors in attendance: