Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wednesday Belgian Beer Party Blogging

Saturday we attended The 12 Hour Belgian Beer Party, were there for 3 hours, and left in a fizzy. Hosted by Pizza Port Carlsbad, which makes some brilliant brews all on its own, Belgian style or otherwise, the event was one of those overload things that actually makes you glad your entrance fee gives you a limited number of drink tickets (which you could buy more of, but we're talking Belgian beers, which often have a higher alcohol content to help the monks see God and all that). With 90 beers to chose from (20 on tap), it was a crazy cornucopia of yeasty delight.

And hard to know what to taste. A bunch of local brewmasters flitted through the crowd (OK, the one bigger guy decked out like a monk was too large to flit, but you know what I mean), dropping suggestions that got passed around like grammar school "who's got the cooties" gossip. Alas, it seems many of those beer snobs (it's not an oxymoron!) are like the people who try to get you to eat the oddest thing on the menu at an exotic restaurant. For while Belgium offers more beer styles than a country that's half the size of San Bernadino County should rightfully be able to create, that doesn't mean all the styles are equally delicious. There's a style I'm not smart enough to pinpoint or name, but it has something to do with making your mouth pucker. We're not talking unripe Hachiya persimmon astringent, but it's not the most pleasant of mouth events (really, it's not just a taste thing--it does stuff to your tongue's surface, too). Given we (Amy, her father Larry, and I--thanks, Debby, Amy's mom, for being designated driver) tried to split up what we tasted, of course we hit on a few of these sourpusses, like Petrus Aged Pale, Saison Pipaix 1995, Cantillon Iris, Geants Saison Voison, and from the US in Belgian-style, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere (but the dog label is mighty cute) and, sadly, Russian River Supplication, given that brewery up north is one of our favorites. Looking at the list right now, it hit me saison isn't the thing for this Jersey boy. (There's a joke there, I promise.)

So what did we love? Gouden Carolous Ambrio, on tap, and full of that Belgian yeast (bready, banana-y, belicious)(OK, even Cole Porter wouldn't try to get away with that one); Liefmans Frambozen, with just enough raspberry to cut its bitterness; Rochefort 10, which was about two levels better than Maredsous 8; Malheur Black Chocolate, which was, um, chocolate.... For a US version of the Belgian style, nothing beat Craftsman Honesty Cherry Ale, another fine balancing act between the cherry sweetness and the beery bitterness.

One bit of fun was waiting for the 3 liter bottle to be opened at the top of each hour. Just the ceremony of it was exciting, as was the long arm reach hoping to get your share. I assume brewers believe beer, especiallly bottle conditioned beer like so many Belgians (that means it's still got active yeast in the bottle, keeping fermentation, and flavor-making, alive), ages better in larger formats, just like winemakers claim about wine. From what we could tell this seemed true--a Chimay Blue 1995 was rich and creamy and moving towards something profound, while a Russian River Damnation still seemed freshly alive in the mouth. And where better to end 3 hours of Belgian beer than with a bit of Damnation?

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Blogger Mike said...


Did I say, "Mmmmmmmmmmm," by the way?

Saison, or Belgian "Farmhouse" Style tends to have a tart, very "raw" flavor to it. Definitely an acquired taste, and one that I'm not really crazy about. So I'm with you on that one, George.

But the maltier varieties, like doubles and triples, are just so good. Belgian Ales really are like wine in so many ways.

Oh, and I don't know about you, but I'd have gone home bombed after a three hour event like that one. Absolutely rocked off my gourd. No two ways about it.

The WV is clearly rigged, by the way. Check this one out, I can't believe it: "imbyeib"

3:44 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

And the next WV is "vvalu" which strikes me as close to "Walloon."

Ok, maybe I'm crazy, but that's my take and I'm stickin with it.

3:46 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

Sounds like one of my versions of heaven (minus the virgins).

5:42 AM  
Blogger Noelle Aguayo said...

With that little monk comment, you've given me spiritual justification for a nightly beer cap, or night cap, or foamy head of beer at night, or something of that nature. God works in mysterious ways!

6:25 AM  
Blogger George said...

Smitty, welcome to the INOTBB neighborhood. Not that I have any firsthand knowledge, if that's the right body part to be first with, but my guess is if you're at a beer festival you're out of luck when it comes to virgins.

Noelle, he was a pretty large monk, actually, so praise the lord in a big way--drink two!

Mike, we only stayed for 3 hours, but it was a 12 hour event. I can't imagine what things turned into close to 11 pm. Oh, I pre-program all my word verifications--don't you get to do that in new blogger too?

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Tessitura said...

I like your blog the best george!

WV try #1)wcypap

10:42 AM  

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