Local beer makes a comeback

October 4, 2008

With all the bitching I was doing about local beer lately, it could be perceived that I don’t like local beers at all.  This is far from the truth.  It is more that I want the local breweries that make beer for people like me to make beers that beer fanatics like myself will enjoy and tell their friends about.

I am not alone when I say almost all of Elevator’s brews taste like they are blended together in one big macro recipe that never improves on itself, and I hate that I have to say that, so I am very pleased to say now, Elevator has made a beer that beer fans can enjoy.

This month’s special beer for October is Vic’s Barley Ale Wine #3.  Not the greatest of names, but for Elevator, it is their best in beer.  I will always herald their craft root beer as my year round beverage of choice, but clearly in the month of October I can enjoy great beer to my heart’s content right downtown at a different location than Barley’s Downtown (more on them later).

So I waltz into Barley’s after work thinking, “well, looks like it’s time for the monthly card punch on some swill”, they have a beer appreciation card and when one fills it out, they get a stein style mug that can be drank from.  A pretty great idea and I think more places should have mug clubs set up.  So I belly up to the bar and go for the barleywine which pours into an oversized brandy snifter.  I really like this style glass as it really accencuates the smell of just about any beer.  Anyway, on with the review:

Appearance-The beer pours a hazy amber brown with a slim quarter finger of a head comprised of large and medium sized bubbles.  Lacing is ample and is showing some very liquor like legs on the side of the glass.

Smell- Strong alcohol phenols and strong malt on the nose.  Smells to be an american barleywine as the hops are strong, but noble hopping is also present.  Sour dark fruits come forward afterward with a strong figgy scent.

Taste- Light and fruity with a bit of burnt malted goodness.  Warming alcohol sneaks up afterward.  Who knew that Elevator could make a good barleywine?  A bit of a mouthwash aftertaste, downright minty.  A bit pleasant.

Mouthfeel- Slightly astringent with alcohol but not bad.  Warming, lightly bitter, low in carbonation, and full-bodied which again is a very rare thing for Elevator.

Drinkability- Much alcohol, but much drinkability on this one as well.  The waitress told me it was 12.5% alcohol which I believe, but it was very drinkable.  I’ll come back for this one, and maybe even get a growler!

After this beer of course I had to go to the mainstay from the brewery and have a root beer as that alcohol will really catch up to you on an empty stomach.

Then we had last Friday, right after my Barley’s bashing blog, I went out to the smokehouse to have that pale on tap and some Founder’s Breakfast Stout.  A fair share was drank, and eaten at the smokehouse and don’t you want to know what was there?  You probably should, because it’s still all there now.  I talked to Scott yesterday about it.  People don’t drink Breakfast Stout around here?  Well, keep that up.  I’ll finish off all the kegs in town if they stick around eventually.

I started off ordering a Breakfast stout and a Bell’s Oktoberfest.  I had a feeling that the stout would be served too cold, and I was right.  I set the stout to the side and got started on the Bell’s:

Poured from the tap into a standard pint glass.

Appearance- Beer pours a light golden amber with a finger of head that quickly dies to nothing. There is no lacing to be found and really, the appearance doesn’t do too much for me. The temperature feels quite nice from the glass though.

Smell- Very little on the nose coming through. Some Munich malts and a perfumey smelling hop. Light caramelized notes. I really expected to get a lot more on the ol’ schnoz from Bell’s.

Taste- A bit better here on the flavor. Carmel and Munich malts with lightly toasted crystal malts coming through with a light hop finish. A slight twinge of bitterness on the finish, but the beer drinks much smoother than it smells or looks. A little diacetyl.

Mouthfeel- Creamy, lightly bitter, lightly astringent, medium bodied, and medium-light in carbonation.

Drinkability- A smooth drinker for the swilling needs. I may get a sixer just to slam back on a bender. Taste fine for those purposes, but with that in mind, wouldn’t it be a better deal to get a Sam Adams Oktoberfest twelve pack?

The Breakfast stout was still too cold after that was said and done, so I followed it up with a Goose Island Matilda.

Poured from the tap into a Belgian style tulip.

Appearance- Beer pours a solid amber with a slight half finger of head across the top that quickly subsides to a ring around the sides. Lacing is fairly substantial and lingers on the sides of the glass as well.

Smell- Candi sugar, rich piny hops, light pilsner malts, alcoholic phenolics, correction on the sweetener, candi sugar syrup and possibly maple syrup.

Taste- Overly sweet upfront with heavy candi sugaring and over hopping with extra florals and pines from the hops. It really does have more to it than I had originally thought from the first sip. There are more white grapes, dates, and slight raisins.

Mouthfeel- Warming from alcohol, lightly astringent from the hops, somewhat creamy, medium full-bodied, and highly carbonated.

Drinkability- Not the easiest drinker in the world. Not that smooth, sweet, but not a Belgian that I want to come back to.

Now finally, after the best quesidilla that I have ever had in my life and a couple beers.  The fine Breakfast stout was at the right temperature and could be savored:

Poured from the tap into a Belgian Style tulip glass.

Appearance- Beer pours solid molasses black with a red hued ring of foam around the sides that doesn’t die for over an hour and a half. Beer was poured too cold so I set it aside and waited. Lacing is THICK, and clings to the sides forever as well.

Smell- Rich coffee with cream and roasted malts. Dark fruits are quick to follow but not near as strong as the first upfront coffee and Irish cream smells. Black licorice and burnt malts. This beer smells amazing. The hops aren’t overly strong on the nose and that’s just fine with me.

Taste- Creamy, good god this is some amazing nectar. It is no surprise that I was unable to clone it perfectly. I did come close, but not as excellent as this perfected recipe. Coffee and rich creams. Almost a Kahlua style taste but so much better. Malty sweet roasted balancing acts with toffee, caramel, espresso, the great flavor just doesn’t stop coming! Again with the dark and milk chocolates. Wonderful!

Mouthfeel- Creamy, thick, full-bodied, medium-high in carbonation, even two hours later, I can find no negatives in this beer.

Drinkability- This is a desert island beer, a winter wonderland beer, the taste for the people of Hoth, and quite possibly the best stout of all time. I need more.. More.. MORE!!

During this stout we had a slice of the caramel apple wort encrusted pie.  Talk about a great pairing.  This is the kind of redemption I had to see at my local breweries to get me back in their corner.  As long as they can keep up this kind of great work, they will have me and my fellow beer lover coming back again and again.

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