So it's definitely been a few days since the last update on this blog. November has been an extremely busy month, but at least a good one. Work is going well and some tasty brews have crossed our path. The month started out with me flying to Salt Lake City and presenting at the annual AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineering) conference. I thought the talk went pretty well and there seemed to be some genuine interest in the enzyme therapeutics we're developing for bacterial biofilm disruption in the airways of Cytstic Fibrosis patients.
Salt Lake City itself was fairly picturesque. A very clean city with a mountain backdrop and lots of interesting architecture. Below are a set of pictures from the city starting with the conference center and then some pictures from the Temple Square area. Pretty hard to miss the Mormon influence on this city.
After walking around Temple Square for a bit, I decided to head over to one of the local breweries. The brewery, Squatters, was just a few blocks from the downtown Marriott I stayed at and looked like a good place to grab a snack in between conference talks.
The pub area of the brewery had a nice open feeling to it with a raised ceiling and fireplace. This would definitely be a nice place to hit up during the winter after a few runs on the ski slopes. After checking out the beer menu I decided to grab a bottle of Hop Rising, which is their current double IPA (DIPA). The brew clocks in at 9% ABV, 75 IBUs and is only served in the bottle format at the moment. My first thought when receiving the bottle was that 75 IBUs seemed a bit low for a DIPA, and I was right. Hop Rising is much more of a malt bomb than a hop bomb and unfortunately the 9% ABV was not very well masked. I'm probably spoiled with all the awesome Vermont DIPAs I have access to here in New England, but this beer probably wouldn't hold up well against most DIPAs across the country. That being said, I still really liked the atmosphere of the pub and the rest of their brews may be a better representation of the brewery, but Hop Rising is not worth checking out in my opinion.
After flying back from Salt Lake City, I was greeted by some awesome packages in the mail. The first of which contained some very exciting brews from North Carolina and the second held some fairly hyped sours from Oregon. From the NC package (thanks to cmrillo) I pulled out a Barrel-Aged Sexual Chocolate for a local tasting. This brew clocks in at 9.75% ABV and is the regular Sexual Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout that Foothills brews, but is then aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels before being bottled. Compared to the regular version, the barrel-aged version definitely steps things up. I loved the nose and flavor on this one. A strong, but not overwhelming, bourbon presence lasted throughout, adding hints of vanilla and oak to the already well defined cocoa presence of this beer. The only let down was the mouthfeel. It appears that the barrels probably thinned this beer out a bit. I'm not really complaining, but it would nice to see this brew with a beefier body. All in all though it was quite enjoyable and a well executed example of the barrel-aged stout style. Wish I had another for the cellar.
At the same tasting we also busted out one of the Oregon sours from Cascade Brewing in Portland Oregon. I felt a bit sour (haha) about this beer before I even opened it, due to the ridiculous prices Cascade was charging for shipping, but I tried to put those behind me as I opened the bottle. The brew happened to be Cascade's 2009 GABF gold medal winner, Bourbonic Plague. The base beer in this sour is an imperial porter brewed with cinnamon and vanilla and then aged in bourbon and wine barrels with lactobacillus. Overall, I thought this was a pretty impressive brew from Cascade. Definitely a heavy hitter at 12.1% ABV and the complexity on the tongue was fairly impressive. I thought the nose was overwhelmed by the alcohol, but the flavor delivered almost everything I was expecting. Lots chocolaty porter notes mixed with vanilla, cinnamon and tannic/grape oak. I would have liked to have seen a little more bourbon barrel in the blend, but the wine barrels still did a nice job. As usual, the lacto was on par with the rest of Cascade's brews and delivered a nice crisp acidic tang to the beer.
One of the last beers I'd like to note (besides the latest Hill Farmstead /Cigar City collaboration, which will be coming in the next post) is a 2005 vintage World Wide Stout from Dogfish Head (thanks JAHMUR). This beer is probably one of the oldest beers I've had, besides some the J.W. Lees Harvest Ales, and is a great example of what proper cellaring can do for some beers. World Wide Stout starts out with a lot of cellaring potential due to it's 18% ABV. Cracking a fresh bottle of this is still quite enjoyable, but has a lot of alcohol heat. However, after 5 years of aging, the alcohol virtually drops out of the flavor and you are left with a smooth, sweet, complex stout that serves as an excellent after dinner drink / dessert. The ABV will still catch up to you if you're not careful, but it goes down extremely easy. The only draw back with this amount of age is that the beer becomes rather sweet, so it's best to split a bottle with a few other people.
If you're interested in trying your hand at aging beers, then I would recommend Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout, J.W. Lees Harvest Ale, as well as Avery's The Beast. I had an '06 Beast a month or two ago and the beer had transformed from a decent Belgian Dark to a delicious English Barleywine. I've also got a 2007 Avery Mephistophele's Stout in the cellar along with a 2008-2010 vertical of Stone's Imperial Russian Stout and a 2009-2010 vertical of Stone's Double Bastard (strong ale). All of these beers should age well and I'll report back when I open them sometime down the road. In general, imperial stouts, barleywines, strong ales, gueuze, Belgain quads and a few other styles often cellar well and can even improve upon the fresh version of the beer.