If you looked at the numbers above, you saw I tried seven new beers last night. 12 ounces each? No way! On an empty stomach? No way! Stone drunk by night's end? No way! Tipsy? No way! How is all this possible?
A beer tasting. Last night was the First Annual Vreeland Mart Beer Tasting, co-sponsored by Easy Pick Party Store.
The evening was simple. $25 gets you a ticket. What do you get? All the food you can eat (quite a spread, by the way: pasta, ham, meatballs, desserts, etc.) plus a chance to sample over 80 species of beer. 80!!!!!! Everyone was given a log sheet with the evening's beers so we could record what we had and what we liked. We were also give our own glass for the night. (Each table, by the way, had a rinse pitcher of water and a "spitoon" to dump it.) Door prizes were raffled off and everyone got a bottle opener. Everything was planned out pretty well. They even had munchies and bottled water to cleanse the palate after each beer.
So, after filling up on masticholi and sweet sour meatballs, the wandering of the tables began!
#536 was the T-6 Red Ale from the Warbird Brewing Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 3 out of 5 was my official verdict. The caramel aroma was cool but the color was a bit off. Imagine a red-brown color almost like a juice. Beer shouldn't look like juice, so far as I can tell. The finish was bit dry and I think the carbonation was a bit much. The balance of the beer was off as a result. All that said, I think the idea of naming a brewery and a series of beers after vintage warcraft is just too cool. I look forward to trying more in the future. (Interestingly enough, according to their website, neither sponsor carries this beer. Hmmmmm...)
It was at this table, by the way, that I realized I really needed to stick to my own personel beer listing rules. He was prepared to give me a sip. No joke - a sip. "Well, try it and let me know if you like it. Then I can give you more..." You have to be kidding. No one can really get a solid appreciation of a beer based on a sip. A sip? So, after getting a bit, and then saying basically "Mm, good", he gave me more so I give it a real go. From that point forward, I made sure to ask each "bartender"( for lack of a better word) for a half glass sample (that would be about 4 oz or so); far more reasonable in my opinion.
#537 was the Belgian White from the Point Brewing Company in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. A big "eh" in my book. A short-lived white head on a beer that had pale yellow cast. It was clear, too. Many wheat beers seem to be cloudy and yellow. No so here. The balance was good with a smooth body and a light citrus (orange)finish. All in all, a fair wheat, at best. 3 out of 5.
#538? Sam Adams Blackberry Witbier. It just wasn't a happenin' beer. The color was golden yellow and the aroma of the fruit was as obvious as you could get. The taste itself was too bitter for me. But, not hoppy bitter. It was more like, I don't know... bad bitter. The finish was way too dry as well, almost like some wines. Sure, you have heard me talk about the "have some cheese or grapes with the fruit beer" storyline, but I am not sure it would work here. 2 out of 5. (For the record, the "bartender" asked my opinion and, while not openly admitting it, seemed to understand where I was coming from on this beer.)
Point Brewing Company got the call for #539. The Amber Classic was actually quite good. 4 out of 5 for sure. The red/brown cast was very appealing with a sweet caramel aroma. The malt and caramel balanced nicely on the palate while the malt gave way to the caramel on the finish. Pretty good, but the finish was too dry. In my opinion, that was the dealbreaker. A 5 out of 5 was in reach, but the finish killed it.
#540 was hIPA from the Magic Hat Brewing Company. Based in Vermont, they really do some beers well. I think this one is pretty good by IPA standards, but I admit, they are hard for me to rate because the hoppy bitterness is found from start to finish and I am not a giant fan of hoppy beers. This is one of those beers you do NOT give to someone who is trying to expand beer tasting horizens. A 3 out of 5? Maybe a 4 instead? I can't be sure. I can be sure that the website for this brewery totally honks and is not well done. And, for the record, an IPA is an India Pale Ale. I have not idea wha the smallcase "h" is all about. Not a typo on my part.
Leinengukals Fireside Nut Brown was #541. Oh my- what a good beer. Caramel was a dominant factor in aroma, palate, and finish. The brown/red (not red/brown) color was inviting while the slight creamy body was just about perfect. The finish was sweet and slightly dry. I was originally prepared to give it a 4 out of 5 as a result of a higher-than-desired carbonation, but in this case, I may have been a bit too picky. 5 out of 5!
The final beer of the evening was Matilda from the Goose Island Beer Company. While it certainly wasn't planned, I found it fitting to finish the night with what had to be one of the most complicated beers of the night. A very peculiar orange/brown color with a pale tan head basically alerted us that something was up (I mean that in a good way). Spices were noted with the nose, but I couldn't tell you what. A sweetness was there, too. The creamy palate was great too. Very smooth. 5 out of 5. (As I write this tonight, I have discovered it is a Belgian Pale Ale. The brothers at BeerAdvocate gave it an "A". )
I'm still not sure what the Adam and Eve table was all about. They were basically hocking soft porn. Ummm...whatever....
All things considered, it was a great evening. Good company. Good food. Good beers. I will certainly plan on attending the 2nd Annual. Based on last nights attendance, it is bound to happen!