Wednesday, September 5, 2012

[A Beer a Day] The Rodeo Stout Series: Beer Geek / Weasel / Whiskey Barrel | Jester King & Mikkeler Brewing | Austin, TX / Copenhagen, DK

Welp, kids ... THIS is how you kick off the feckin' football season -- frivolously shock-and-awe-bombing my lightly-battered, summer-dressed internal organs at the hands of Jester King's Rodeo Series; three potent bottles of limited-release stouts collected and cellared at various points within the last five months for the primary purpose of getting kicked in the nuts during the finest day in sport.

The tricky balance of tackling three heavily-composed beers while watching Michigan State collectively dork through the first important game of the season is staying empathetic of my Sparty-wife's unrealistic offensive play-scheming, staying sprite enough for witty banter during her awesomely improper football aggressions, and yet, still allowing the precious beer venom to slowly resolve my vitals from fatty connective tissue into rendered protein goop.

Lately, [An Avenue] has become like the unofficial online resumé for Jester King's seasonal beers inventory, and though I consider myself a fan, I'm a bit annoyed at myself for participating in the same behavior as those in their cult; a collection of local beer nerds whom I am profoundly unfond of. 

Still, Jester King does have to be recognized as Austin's representative in the mythical National Beer Senate due to their presence outside of the state and the value at which their product can be traded, and thus far on [AA], we've consumed and cataloged Bonnie the Rare, Drink'in the Sunbelt, Noble King, Thrash Metal, Boxer's Revenge, and Das Wonderkind to the tune of six, mostly-benign reviews.

But where Jester King makes up for its butter-face, is in the legs and ass of their sours and stouts.  And as gracious as I was for opening night of college football, I was triple that for opening night of these heavy and dense Jester King stouts -- despite the atrocity of Austin's re-emergent 100 degree thermafuck.

But, if you care enough about something it is almost impossible to stop yourself doing it.  So we dropped the A/C like it was cheap, poured ourselves a quality flight of beer, and rejoiced about the beginning of the greatest four months on our calendar.

Beer Geek, Weasel Rodeo, and Whiskey Rodeo are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th beers brewed in collaboration with gypsy-brewer Mikkeler, which implies that some collective thought and skill was imparted into this line.  But I am also cautious of overpraising a series that may yet disappoint, because often times, the fates dictate that collaboration beers are contrived and loutish -- and there is no more applicable example than my previous encounter with Drink'in the Sunbelt.  This time, I was hoping Jester King and Mikkeler shan't let those fates dictate the quality of this beer.

Finally, as a general parameter, and to be fair to the beer, our palates, and the lives of all within a 20 mile radius, we poured approximately 6 ounces of each 750mL bottle into tulips for sampling, before selecting the remains of each beer at random by which to get annihilated -- because, well, this isn't 'Nam.

The first sample was also the first in the entire series, an imperial oatmeal stout released in the latter part of Spring -- back when the city was still all megalolz about our tepid winter (so why the hell not crush a stout right about now?).  And though I am a big advocate of 'stouts for all seasons', with thick ingredients like smoked malts, Vietnamese coffee, and chipotle peppers, it was probably best to let this one beast in the cellar for a bit.

My immediate impression -- and that of my interception-worn Spartan -- was that Beer Geek was A-L-I-V-E with perfectly roasted coffee and beautifully imparted chili notes.  Its nose was either a Latin American bakery or a British toffee shop.  It reminded of the coffee-and-churro trattorias of Buenos Aires on the narrow avenues.  This was just simply drinking like a perfectly constituted stout with tons and tons of nuances and diversity:  sweet, smokey, piquant, slightly bittered by coffee and hops, concluding with a slightly firey finish that evokes the same wry grin as The Most Interesting Caballero in the World, slapped right onto the label.

Nothing short of astonishing, Beer Geek is my favorite thing Jester King has done by a wide margin.  It is also the first time my palate has felt obligated to give full credit to something in Jester King's lineup.

ABV: 10.1%
Acquired: Spec's
Musical Paring: Band of Horses | Everything All the Time (2006)

Opening the next in the Jester King series -- Weasel Rodeo -- was like the feeling one got in the early 1990s when a free, unsolicited America Online CD-ROM just randomly popped into your home mailbox!  ZOMG! The fuck is this!

Tasting Weasel Rodeo was exactly the same scenario, but in the mid-2000's.  The fuck is this?

The flavors of Weasel Rodeo don't appear to be anywhere on the spectrum of Beer Geek, which is confusing because the Rodeo Series is presumed to be a linear series intended to be consumed in succession -- but, you know, like whatever.

The most discernible characteristic is that of burnt Kopi Luwak coffee -- which, as you may or may not know is a coffee berry that has passed through the intestines of a weasel-like Asian civet and shat forth onto the earth through its butt.  Its one of the most expensive and lowest-produced varieties of coffee in the world, making it quite an impressive feature for a coffee stout.  Shite coffee.  And for all the good its done for me, I may as well have stuck it up my arse.

But, in my opinion, the coffee was totally overwhelming and honestly, felt like a waste of $160-per-pound of weasel deuce -- a mark-up that Jester King passed on to its consumers.

Now, after some cursory sleuthing on the intertrons, I couldn't find the process by which Jester King extracted the coffee from the beans, but Weasel Rodeo left the impression of drip coffee left oily and black -- as opposed to the implication of a cold-pressed procedure for Beer Geek.

Weasel Rodeo was sorghum-sweet, thick, and resiny, as if strong coffee was the only focus.  This appears to be the only divergence from Beer Geek recipe, as Weasel Rodeo uses smoked malts, Vietnamese coffee, and ground chipotle pepper as well.

Another revelation was that Weasel Rodeo had almost no carbonation at all, making the comparison to refrigerated, day-old, greasy coffee all the more prevalent and pretty much beyond redemption.  Despite that, I don't think it was necessarily a terrible beer; just a terrible value at $17.

And as its label art suggests, Weasel Rodeo is just really a befuddled beer.

ABV: 10.1%
Acquired: East 1st Grocery
Musical Paring:  Band of Horses | Mirage Rock (2012)

With the last iteration fresh on the brain, we opened up Whiskey Barrel with a complete lack of expectations -- other than the knowledge that barrel-aged imperial oatmeal stout would be reeally hard to fuck up.

Oh snap.

Huuge fucking bourbon notes provided the need for a testicle readjustment on the outside of my pants.  Jesus, guys.

This one was off to a great start -- aggressive and biting, leveraging the good parts of Weasel Rodeo with quite possibly the largest bourbon notes outside of Deschutes The Abyss and Brooklyn Black-Ops.  And even then, its kinda screaming for a vertical for comparison sake.

The taste is a bitter-and-burnt cowboy-breakfast: steel-cut oatmeal, open range coffee, and a shot of gut-rot whiskey.  Its slightly acrid and pungent and will put you off your feet -- but in a very interesting and delicious way.  To say that Whiskey Rodeo is a fun beer would be to say that JWoww has an imposing chest.  Both are observable understatements.

According to Jester King, Whiskey Rodeo was aged for six months in Tennessee whiskey barrels prior to its coffee addition, and I will say that each minute spent in the oak was worth the hard time waiting for its rampant weasel consumerism.  The stuff is just really good and should age spectacularly.  I am profoundly delighted that I have another one of these to follow up on that prediction.

ABV: 12.o%
Acquired: East 1st Grocery
Musical Paring: Band of Horses | Cease to Begin (2007)

In conclusion, the Magi of Rodeo Kings were an impressive trio worthy of ringing in the fall, the first big win of the season, and celebrating a landmark 10,000 page views for [AA].

Thats a lot of eyeballs and a lot of attention for craft beer.  So, I want to say thank-you for that.



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