Sunday, January 29, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Bottle Share at Jester King Brewery

On Saturday, Melissa and I participated in a bottle share before the Jester King 1st Anniversary Party at their rather charming farmhouse brewery.  The way these things usually work -- at least with the small handful I've been to -- is that a small group of burly dorks bring a few rare bottles of beer to share with each other, as you sit around discussing shit that has fuck all to do with beer, but then also spend a few respectful minutes actually discussing anything relevant to the brew that makes one appear informed or palatially smart.  Since I can do neither of these cerabral-ish kind of things, I really like attending these to learn a thing or two, and get really fucking hammered on shit I can't get in this state.

However, this one was a bit different for me.  In the past, I've shared bottles with a few of the local micro-brewers around town at some sort of communal setting, like a food trailer park or wherever -- consisting of a maximum group of 5-10 people.  That allows for the aforementioned steadily-paced boozing while we leather the English language with expletives and dick jokes.

This one, however, was set up by the Beer Advocate guys from the Southwest region of the U.S.  Now, a couple of factors about this -- 1) the Beer Advocate website itself, is considered to be the nexus of beer nerds from across the world; 2) This tasting was being held as a precursor to a much anticipated and major beer event which is, like all the fucking rage in Austin at the moment -- Jester King Brewery's 1st Anny Party -- which had sold out well in advance of the event; 3) The Southwest region of this country has a tremendous dearth of renowned breweries who do not like to import into Texas for no reason other than the TABC sucks, and thus there is a constant scramble for interesting grabs from breweries hailing from major beer meccas like California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, and abroad; and 4) The cache of your contribution, according to these collection of beer nerds, is a reflection of the size of your beer wang.  And at these things, you kind of wear your cock on the outside of your pants.  And you also have to remember your dick jokes.

So, When you combine all of these factors into an hour of pre-party beer tasting, you get a frenzy of popping, grabbing, pouring, nomming, beard pulling and specs adjusting.  It was like a damn G8 summit of hopheads, complete with all the lather of dissonant Parisians banging the tables with sample glass soliciting.  That shit got cray.

Melissa and I brought our own portfolio to contribute -- a Jolly Pumpkin farmhouse Saison and a Bell's Two Hearted IPA that we'd had since our summertime Michigan trip.  We thought this would be an amicable offering to beer Jesus, and also appease the bros in a middling kind of way.  Nothing too screwy and nothing that we would miss or couldn't replace.  So we do the Trader Joe's 100% recycled material bag flop-out with our wares and get to boning some beers.

First up was ...

Guava Grove Saison | Cigar City Brewing | Tampa, FL

Did you know that Tampa is also knows as The Cigar City?  Nope.  Me either.  I don't know a damn thing about Tampa. Now did you know that Tampa is also known as the Big Guava, based on a satirical response to New York's pseudonym The Big Apple?  You can't know one without knowing the other, but I'm happy to report that I have been made aware of both because of this very awesome Saison that is fermented from pink guava puree.  I know exactly three things about Tampa now.  Probably two too many, but hey, I'm going to remember that I'm an idiot for waiting so long to try anything from Cigar City.

Despite being in guava's target demo, don't know shit about this mystery fruit.  It may as well had been durian, and I wouldn't have know the difference other than the smell of burning feet.  But you know what?  I'm glad it wasn't durian, because guava tasted pretty damn good as a footnote to a farmhouse ale. 

ABV: 9.o%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

Okay ... we've got our beer legs.  We're feeling a bit more confident in our surroundings.  We push out our Drink.Well. sampler glasses that we thoughtfully carried along to this fucking hayride.  And then ..

Marrón Acidifié Oud Bruin | The Bruery/Cigar City Brewing | Orange County, CA/Tampa, FL
So, I've been cuckoo for collabs ever since Jordan vs. Bird: One on One that set my 1988 on fire with some early EA Sports goodness.  These breweries aren't exactly the caliber of Michael or Larry -- yet (maybe more like a John Wall vs. Blake Griffin) -- but they are making their free throws and layups at a consistent clip, and this is very apparent with their rather outstanding oud bruin.  From an earlier blog entry, you would know how much I dislike ordinary browns ales -- but this sucker has been double fermented and barrel aged for a year, leaving a sour, leathery flavor that is everything that is the opposite of ordinary.  This stuff is an alley-oop from mid-court that would get the dunker ejected from the game because it made some comments that small children shouldn't hear.

ABV: 8.5%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

After this second tasting -- and keep in mind here, things are going at warp-speed cos everyone's so damn excited to be popping their stashes -- we take a moment to evaluate the dozens and dozens of offerings sitting on the three picnic tables pushed together to accommodate the crowd of fifty-something fatsos.  There are many people casting their arms over other participants hunkering around the wooden benches like reels of ocean fisherman.  Everyone is grabbing, and talking, but no one is listening and no one is certainly laughing about penises.  We are frankly, chugging our stashes just to try to keep up and not miss out on anything marvelous ...

Oro de Calabaza Strong Golden Farmhouse Ale | Jolly Pumpkin Brewing | Traverse City, MI
Ah, shit.  I see my first Michigander.  And its a Jolly Pumpkin.  Win, fuckin win, as I like to say (but not type, as it gets supremely lost in translation -- i guess its just the way I say it that I really like).  I try to look around to see who would have possessed such a fine specimen, and offered its fruits to the thirsty sycophants.  Shit, everyone here looks like they're from Michigan.  Everyone has a beard and a gut.  Even most of the ladies.  Foiled.  But I still salute the imaginary Jolly Pumpkin fan and drink his/her beer.  I gulp it in two swallows.  It is great.

ABV: 8.o%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

Thats when we get to Melissa's and my offering to the masses ...

Bam Bière Saison | Jolly Pumpkin Brewing | Traverse City, MI

See?  See, imaginary Michigan friend?  I brought my Jolly Pumpkin too!  Show yourself, I say.  Let us skylark about the Midwest and revel about the finest square pizzas!  But everyone is too thirsty, and honestly, everyone is too wrapped into some heaver ABV Saisons to make an immediate impact on the table.  That's okay.  Bam is rated in the Top 25 beers in the world, so you all focus on sour collaboration macaroon cupcake pale stouts, while my bride and I sneak off with this bottle right quick. Muahahaha.  

Melissa and I pour full samplers and are happy that we did.  Jolly Pumpkin does not make a bad beer.  Ever.  And this is their flagship.  Want.

ABV: 4.5%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

But as we're having depthless conversation with The Beards, I'm really sticking around because someone has provocatively left this sucker on the table, all biscuit-arsed, like.  No way I'm gonna go out grazing the tables while this hoe is showing me a little leg ...

Consecration Wild Ale | Russian River Brewing | Santa Rosa, CA
... and that's because Consecration is kind of my holy grail -- and is the beer I owe homage to for REALLY kick starting my heart in regards to fine craftsmanship.  I mean, I've always loved beer -- but I wasn't obsessed with seeking it out like i do now until I tasted this serum with Graham in The Mission's Monk's Kettle in San Francisco.  Talk about diving into the deep end.  

That weekend eventually ended in the awesomeness of the gnarliest dining experience in my life at Gamine, where Graham and I murdered what seemed like three dozen escargos, challenged the chef to sear our steaks the rarest that has ever been done in the city (he probably got pretty close), and tried to buy wine and desserts for the Sunday night staff, so that they would drink with us after shutting down the dining room around us.  I think I owe that spectacular weekend to Consecration.

But here I am straying.  The point is, is that this beer not only started my personal craze, but likely the wild sour ale fad that took over a whole industry.  Consecration is aged in Cabernet Savignon barrels with currant added to make it VERY tart and very delicious.  It is some sour-assed shit.  It is also delicious.  I could hardly wait to have Melissa try it, since it, again, completely elusive for we Texans.  I think it blew her mind -- beer that tastes kind of like wine.  If she could incorporate kale somehow, it would be good night moon.

ABV: 10.o%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

Oh, look!  A tall boy!  It could only mean ... 

Coffee Bender | Surly Brewing | Brooklyn Center, MN
Yep.  That's what I suspected.  Someone in an Adrian Peterson home jersey brought this, I'm just sure of it.

I'd tried this one before when Michael Graham from Austin Beerworks hosted a bottle share -- but cans only! -- that I was a part of back before the aluminum revolution.  At that time, I thought Coffee Bender was the kind of beer that set the total accumulative amount of fucks at zero.  But then I had Austin Beerworks Sputnik, a Russian imperial coffee oatmeal stout, and all the sudden, Coffee Bender just tasted like some Costco blend.  In other words, Sputnik drink you!

(And I'm still tasting that burnt chipotle/jalapeno flavor when I'm drinking these coffee beers.  What the fuck is that flavor?  I'm puzzled by it.)

ABV: 5.1%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

Night Stalker Imperial Stout | Goose Island Brewing | Chicago, IL
I'm jumping a bit ahead here -- because I REALLY have got something special to show you, and I'm saving that for the finale -- but this was the final score of the hour-long tour through facial hair, chubby wrists, and high ABV% brews.  At this point, we've probably gulped about two pints of concentrated alcohol in about 45 minutes.  Melissa is talking jive and trying to foot race people -- but not before she finds this, God bless her.  

Goose Island is a wonderful, awesome, cozy, and ... I'll just say wonderful again -- brewery in Chicago that does some magical shit in all varieties of beer.  Their Belgians are outstanding, their bourbon barrel-aged series is fantastic, their vintage reserves are unparallelled, etc etc etc.  I can't talk enough about how awesome it would be if we could get any of their beers in Texas.  It would be a happy moment.  

Night Stalker is as rare as it is impossible to find -- as it is now sucking up their social security pension fund in retirement, playing a little tennis on the Wednesday mornings and staying in their house shoes til noon on Mondays.  Therefore, the fact that Melissa and I got our pour on with this bastard, was pretty special.  Its the closest thing to Deschutes The Abyss that I've tasted since ... Deschutes The Abyss.  And I think I was pretty clear about how I felt about The Abyss.

ABV: 11.7%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share

But lets back up a bit, before I give you kids one last money shot of the damage we got did ...

Tactical Nuclear Penguin | Brew Dog Brewing | Fraserburgh, Scotland
That little 12oz unassuming bottle of petrol is none other than the former world-heavyweight beer of the world (also, an ordained minister, author, and casual metal detecting enthusiast) -- Tactical Nuclear Penguin.  The fabled retail price of this beer lies somewhere between the $60-$70 range, and then begins to get absurd on the secondary market.  So, when I get rumor of its immediate availability, I don't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my arse.  There is no way I'm going to miss out on such a stupidly generous offer since I'm not really at the point in my life where i can spend $50-$115 on 12 ounces of anything not labeled Jo Malone or LSD, and especially not on bottles of gimmick beer. 

Well, how did it taste?  

Like a bottle of something containing 32% alcohol and grain.  Mostly like shit at first, then you ease into it.  Then it gets palatable, and finally something approaching decent.  But not $70/good!  TNP was once the world's strongest beer, before some Krauts invented a 40%-er, and then Brew Dog pulled out their dicks again, and made a 41% beer (and then again, with a 55% brew).  But whatever.  The point is, i think, is I'm very glad I got to try it, since the opportunity will likely never arise again. 

So, I thank-you mystery millionaire! 

ABV: 32%
Acquired: Beer Advocate bottle share 

And thank-you BA/Jester King for hosting such a killer party.  See you in a year!

We had to get our team of monkeys on this right away.

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