Well it’s been a busy, sometimes frantic summer here at the brewery. We released two new Cellar Reserves that should still be on shelves right now–Tail Waggin’ Double White Ale and Trout Hop Black IPA. Besides the new releases, summer always means a huge spike in beer drinking, which means a huge spike in work for those of us privileged enough to make beer for you. With fall and winter comes our slower season–after all, how many outdoor barbecues happen in February?
From our website:
This Belgian-style Quadrupel ale is full-bodied and robust, boldly showcasing flavors of sweet dried fruits delivered on a smooth, velvety palate. Specialty malts and roasted barley give this beer a sweet malty aroma that complements its complex fruitiness. Brewed in the Belgian tradition with dark candi sugar and a Trappist ale yeast, Coming Home Holiday Ale is rich and flavorful, meant to be shared and savored among friends.
Tasting notes from November 2010:
I pour from a 750 ml bottle into my wide tulip. Coming Home is a deep amber color that turns into a glowing ruby when held to the light. There is a tall, tan head at first, but it quickly settles into a shallow, persistent foam that leaves light, delicate lacing around the glass. The aroma is intense and complicated. Let me see if I can sort out the cacophony of different aromas and make some sense of it all. Dark fruits are there, to be sure. Dates seem to be the main player, but I get whiffs of raisins–dark raisins baked in a Christmas pudding. There are glimmers of dark caramel, brandy (or is it butter?) cola, cinnamon, and all throughout a clean but invasive sense of alcohol. In short, this smells as much like a spirit as it does a beer.
The taste, thank goodness, is more straightforward than the smell. Here is where the fruits really dominate. Alcohol continues to press forward–it’s a very clean alcohol flavor; not fusel, but simply noticeable. It even seems to cool my tongue I breathe in. The sharp, prickly carbonation keeps the beer moving across the tongue, and as I swallow I encounter a bitter finish, much like a very dark baking chocolate, though not entirely welcome. Somehow through all this the beer comes out very rich without tasting sweet, in part due to a certain kind of briny flavor dappled with black tea overtures.
I find this beer goes well better with salty foods than sweet, despite the richness. Drink it with your turkey and gravy, or your beef roast with green bean casserole. I recommend a fairly warm drinking temperature of about 55 degrees, which means you should set the bottle out on your kitchen counter 10-15 minutes before you plan to partake. A wide tulip glass makes for a very nice presentation that will focus all those aromas for you. And as for aging this beer, the answer is a firm “yes!” Coming Home should hold up very well in your beer cellar. Check back often for many more updates on previous Cellar Reserves!
XX Bitch Creek
Bitch Creek ESB was first brewed in 2003, and perfectly balances big malt sweetness and robust hop flavor for a full-bodied mahogany ale. It has quickly become our best-selling beer, as well as our most-critically acclaimed, having won medals-including two golds— at four out of the past five Great American Beer Festivals.
XX Bitch Creek Double ESB is all that and more. We took the Bitch Creek recipe and doubled everything: double the malt, double the hops, twice the flavor.
Before we get to the latest tasting notes, let me take a moment to introduce myself:
When I’m not at work I spend a lot of time baking (my former profession), cooking, homebrewing, and playing with my two cats (who will eat spent grains if I leave any around). Of course, living at the base of the Tetons means I also spend a lot of time skiing, hiking, camping, and generally being outdoors.
That’s enough about me. Let’s get to the beer!
Our Double Vision Doppelbock is brewed with Idaho 2-Row Pale and German Munich, CaraAroma, CaraMunich and de-husked Carafa malts to an original gravity of 24 Plato (1.096 SG). The malts provide a dark leather color with ruby notes, a luxurious tan head, and a bready aroma with a hint of smoke. It is lightly spiced with Liberty hops, an American version of the noble German Hallertau Mittelfruh, and fermented with lager yeast from a monastery brewery near Munich. In the traditional manner, Double Vision is fermented cold (48 F) and lagered a full 10 weeks for smoothness. At over 8% alcohol by volume, it is a deceptively drinkable springtime warmer.
Tasting Notes from March 2010:
Double Vision slides into the glass a very dark chocolate brown, but when held to the light turns into a beautiful ruby red, clear as crystal and very alluring. A thin, tan head makes a brief appearance but quickly fades from the glass. The aroma is slight, with a whiff of roasted malt and a touch of alcohol.
The flavor unfolds slowly. It reminds me of watching the ensemble cast of some great tragedy–dark and delicious, but with no single part playing the lead. Bitter chocolate, light sherry, dark, sweetened fruits and burnt toast all make a brief, yet touching appearance. The finish is very warming, with a thick, sticky mouthfeel that dries out pleasantly thanks to a bit of tannin and lively carbonation. A square of milk chocolate melts on your tongue as you swallow the final sip.
Cellar Master Says: Double Vision is aging beautifully. Drink it now if you wish for a bold experience, or wait another year if you want to see an even smoother, more eloquent beer.
Our Cellar Master recommends storing the Cellar Reserve bottles vertically in an area free of light. Keep the beers in a spot that doesn’t fluctuate temperature too much, ideally between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
And now for the beer! The first tasting comes from the back of the cellar. This was a real treasure we found while digging through a stack of old beer that has aged beautifully. Check back soon for tasting notes on our Double Vision Doppelbock, bottled 1 year ago.
Our Oud Bruin is firmly in the East Flanders tradition. We used American 2-row barley and German melanoidin malt (for red color) as well as maize (to lighten the body). The wort was simmered in the kettle for 24 hours and then hopped lightly with English Kent Goldings for balance.
We fermented with a Flemish blend of yeast and bacteria cultures, including lactobacillus, pediococcus, and brettanomyces. It took six months at cellar temperature for the culture to achieve the style’s characteristic quenching sourness. Finally, we bottle-conditioned the beer according to the “methode champenoise,” so it, too, can be laid down, to be brought out when it can be truly enjoyed.