Beer 511

Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

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Barrel-Fermented Chimay Grande Réserve Ale (2018 Whisky Edition)

In this post I am sharing my impressions of Chimay’s Grande Réserve Ale, Barrel Fermented (2018 Whisky Edition).

To make Grande Réserve Ale, Barrel Fermented (2018 Whisky Edition), Chimay’s brewers took the regular Grande Réserve Ale and put it through a secondary fermentation in a combination of  French oak, American oak, and used whisky barrels. (According to the Chimay website, the ratio was 34% French, 41% American, and 25% whisky.) The unpasteurized and unfiltered beer was then blended, and naturally carbonated in the bottle.  Thus, Chimay says that it is “triple fermented”: in tank, barrel, and bottle.

The result is a limpid, not opaque, dark brown beer with a light to moderate head, and which clocks in at 10.5% abv.

Upon tasting my first impression was of liquorice, and I was thinking rum-soaked raisins, but that’s probably the whiskey.  I definitely got dark raisins, but also prune, black cherry, some vanilla in the background, and a little note of barrel char character at the back end.

As it warms, the flavours round out, specially the liquorice, and the alcohol makes its presence known.

Even though the head was thin and didn’t hang around long, the beer was quite effervescent in the mouth. In body it was malty and pretty smooth, overall, with a dry finish.

I liked it. I did, quite a lot. It is a solid beer, but, honestly, I was not wowed.  I think this is a beer that promised more than it delivered.

That said, it may be worthwhile to pick up another bottle and to hold on to it for a bit to see what the beer will do with another five or six months.

 

Barrel-Aged 2017 Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewing (2018 Release)

At the end of November, courtesy of the brewery, I attended the release of Anchor Brewing’s Barrel-Aged 2017 Christmas Ale at an event held in the Brewery’s tap room and brewhouse on Potrero Hill in San Francisco.

The event included small bites, and a vertical flight of four years’ of Anchor Christmas Ale – 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018- in addition to a taster of the featured barrel-aged beer. (It was crowded so I didn’t get to try the 2018, but the 2017 and 2016 aged well. The 2015, not so much.)

I did make sure to try the barrel-aged release, and I came away with a couple of bottles of it; one of which I have opened and am drinking tonight.

The Barrel Aged 2017 Christmas Ale was created by aging the 2017 Christmas Ale in bourbon, red wine, and brandy barrels, and then blending them. It has 10.3% abv and 30 IBU  (the original, unaged, version had 6.7% abv and 40 IBU).

It is a dark ale. Dark, dark brown, almost like a really dark cola, but with a hint of green to it.

It smells smooth, not alcoholey -which is a good sign, considering that it is pretty high in alcohol.  There is a bit of dried fruit in the nose, a bit of aroma of fried bananas.

It is malty, and a bit sweet, with flavors of vanilla, raisins, dark cherries, red wine, maybe a bit of port. There is just a hint of roastiness and barrel char.  Hop bitternes is quite moderate, with a slight note of evergreen.

As the beer warms,  some of the vinous character dissipates, and a bit of dried apricot starts to show up.

It is very pleasant. It has good body but is not too heavy; not cloying at all. It goes down smoothly, and is pleasantly warming. A good choice for this cold winter’s eve.

 

Upcoming releases of Resilience IPA

 

As Resilience Butte County Proud IPA comes out fermentation, breweries all over are preparing release events in the coming weeks, including a number of  breweries around the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Fieldwork Brewing Company already released their version (hazy, of course!) on December 6th, and Altamont Beer Works in Livermore poured theirs on the following day.

Monk’s Cellar Brewery and Public House, in Roseville started pouring theirs today.

Del Cielo Brewing, in Martinez, and Shadow Puppet Brewing Company, in Livermore,  will each start pouring Resilience IPA at 4 pm on Wednesday, December 12th.

On Saturday, December 15th, Martinez’ Five Suns Brewing will release their version of Resilience in time with their one-year anniversary party, and it seems that Sierra Nevada’s own Resilience IPA will also be on tap on Saturday, at Jack’s Taps in Pleasant Hill.

On Wednesday, December 19th, Calicraft Brewing Company will be having Sierra Nevada’s Resilience IPA on at the Calicraft tap room in Walnut Creek.  However, Blaine Landberg, Calicraft’s founder and owner, has taken thing one step further, and, on the 22nd, will be holding a “Resilience Day” and pouring Calicraft’s own Resilience IPA “5 Ways”: Classic, POG, OPM, Coffee, and 2 firkins!

 

UPDATE (12/12):  I’ve got word that Drake’s Brewing Co., in San Leandro, is pouring Resilience today. New Helvetia, in Sacramento, is doing the same, starting at 4 pm; so is Grillin’ and Chillin’ Alehouse in Hollister.

Danville Brewing Company, in Danville, is releasing its version of Resilience IPA on Thursday, Dec. 13th.

The Bistro, in Hayward, will be serving Resilience starting on Friday, Dec. 21st.

Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant in Campbell will hold a release party for Resilience IPA, in conjunction with the Santa Clara County Firefighters union, on December 28th.

 

Brewing Community Unites for Camp Fire Relief

In response to the terrible Camp Fire in northern California, which has destroyed thousands of homes and leveled entire communities -continues to burn as this is written- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company stepped forward with a proposal to brew a beer and donate all sales to fire victim relief efforts.

Similar collaboration benefit brewing efforts are not new to the California craft brewing community. Last year, after the devastating fires in Sonoma County, Russian River Brewing Co. enlisted dozens of craft breweries to brew Sonoma Pride beer. Their efforts helped raise over $1M for Sonoma fire relief.  Similarly, just a few months ago, after the Carr Fire, five Shasta County craft breweries teamed up to raise funds by  brewing Shasta Strong IPA.

This time, Sierra Nevada’s founder and CEO, Ken Grossman got the ball rolling with this message on Facebook:

Many of you have asked if we will be brewing a fundraiser beer to support Camp Fire relief efforts. The answer is a resounding “yes.”

We are proud to announce that we’ll be brewing Resilience Butte County Proud IPA and donating 100 percent of sales to Camp Fire relief. In addition, we are also asking every brewery in America to brew Resilience and do the same.

I’m sending a letter to brewers across the country, inviting them to join us in a collaboration brew day on Tuesday, November 27. We are working with malt and hop suppliers to provide raw ingredient donations to all participating breweries and are asking those breweries to donate 100 percent of their sales, as well.

We know that the rebuilding process will take time, but we’re in this for the long haul. Our hope is to get Resilience IPA in taprooms all over the country to create a solid start for our community’s future.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your support. We’re right here with you and we’ll get through this together.

– Ken

The response from the always close-knit brewing community has, of course, been tremendous and hundreds of breweries in California and further afield have signed on.

Some of the Bay Area breweries that are participating are Danville Brewing Company, Del Cielo Brewing, Shadow Puppet Brewing Company, Ghost Town Brewing,  Russian River Brewing Co., Altamont Brewing Company, Almanac Beer Co., Anchor Brewing Co., Drake’s Brewing Company, 21st Ammendment, Morgan Territory, ….

There is a growing list of participating breweries on the Sierra Nevada webpage.

In addition, the recipe for Resilience Butte County Proud IPA has been made available to homebrewers via the AHA, and homebrew supply retailer MoreBeer! may (emphasis on may) be releasing a homebrew ingredient kit.  Homebrewers, who of course cannot sell their beer, are encouraged instead to make a donation for Camp Fire relief via the Golden Valley Bank Community Foundation.

Blue Oak Brewing Co. (San Carlos, CA)

I found Blue Oak Brewing more or less by happenstance.  Liz and I were at the south end of the SF Peninsula, and having finished an errand, we decided to treat me to a beer before making the long trip back home.  We turned to the AHA‘s Brew Guru app and it led us to Blue Oak.

Blue Oak Brewing is the brainchild of Alex Porter, who is the owner, brewer, and (when we were there) bartender.  He opened the brewery almost two years ago. Most of that time, I surmise, it was sharing space with the cidery nextdoor, but in September, Porter expanded into a larger adjacent space and made it into the current taproom.

The space is set up on an open floor plan, appointed with tables and barrels to sit at, in addition to the bar, with a trio of fermenters tucked into one corner.

As for the beers, Porter’s got a good mix of IPAs, Belgians, kettle sours, and fruited beers on tap.  When I was there this weekend there were twelve beers on tap. Not bad for what seems to be essentially a one-man operation on a 7-bbl brewhouse.

I opted for a flight of Cordilleras Kriek, Brother Joshua, Junipero Citra, and Ginny and the Giant Peach.

The Cordilleras Kriek (5% abv, 2 IBU) had a nice sourness with plenty of cherry flavor. It was little sweet in the mouth, but finished surprisingly dry at the back end. It was my favorite by far. I would’ve taken home a crowler of it, but it’s only served by the glass.

Junipero Citra (5.6%, 25 IBU) is a saison brewed with juniper berries and coriander, and dry-hopped with Citra hops. It tasted piney and citrusy, and was quite effervescent. I did take home a crowler of this one!

Brother Joshua (7%, 18 IBU) is a nice, dry, Belgian dubbel. Quite enjoyable.

The only one of the set, that was a bit of a disappointment was Ginny and the Giant Peach. It is 6% abv kettle sour fermented with white peaches. It was nicely sour, but the peach flavor was not very strong and it was also somehow hollow, like it dried out too much. There was a nice funkiness to it, though.

It just goes to show that, although San Francisco and the East Bay tend to get a lot of the buzz, there are other corners of the Bay Area brewing scene that are well worth exploring .

 

 

Blue Oak Brewing Co.
815 Cherry Lane
San Carlos, CA 94070

www.blueoakbrewing.com

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