BA Bottleshare #2

The Canada forum regulars on BeerAdvocate got together late last year at member rutager’s house for an unofficial BeerAdvocate bottle share. We’re not sure, but it could have been the first of its kind. Well, last weekend (March 8th), the follow-up event took place at another member’s place, Boozecamel.

Much like the first go-round, there were a lot of awesome, coveted, rare, and ridiculous bottles. Here are some of the phone pictures I took during the evening – unfortunately the photography will be pretty lackluster compared to what I would normally use for the site.

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One of the earlier bottles was Upright Brewing’s Blend Love. This is one that I’ve longed to try, and it did not disappoint. The mug on the bottle is that of Ben Love’s, the guy behind Gigantic Brewing. He doesn’t look nearly as mean in photos as he does on the bottle.  I didn’t take much for notes, but it was tart and full of fruit flavour, but also a good barrel quality as well. I will never pass up an opportunity to buy a bottle.

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Before our palates were in any way compromised, Tom pulled out a collection of Still Nacht bottles. Now I’ll admit, I didn’t know very much about these guys, though I knew they carried a little clout. Pegged as a Belgian strong pale ale (and they mean strong… 12% ABV), these were unlike anything I’ve ever had before. The small bottles are 2010 and 2012 editions while the large bottle is the 2010 Reserva, having spent 25 months in Bordeaux barrels. It goes something like this: the 2012 bottle is really good, a unique mix of Belgian yeast and fruit and malt that I’d not experienced before. Kind of like a quad, but there are lighter fruits like apple and pear too, and the yeasts are a bit different. The 2010 bottle is a full step ahead of the 2012 bottle, as the fruits have exploded into full spectrum. Then there’s the Reserva, which has not lost any of the great characteristics of the base beer but add to that deep and complex oak and wine notes, and decent tannin level. Just mind blowing. I would put it in my top 10 beers ever, probably.

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Anchorage, one of the greatest ninjas in brett-beers, has this brett DIPA. Bitter and sour together is a bit of a tricky thing. This is a fine example of doing it right. Like other brett-IPAs I’ve had, the full hops kick is tempered by the wilder yeasts and bacteria. A great balance between acidic qualities, with plenty of lemony citrus.

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Pardon the size of the photo above, but damn it, it needs to be stated loudly. This is barrel aged Speedway, and it’s got coffee. I’m not too up on the Speedway variants, but I think this bottle is pretty special, or at least it tasted that way. This should be a poster-child for coffee-bourbon-sweetness balance. Absolutely one of the best stouts I’ve ever had.

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This stuff’s ridiculous. If ever you want to do a lot of damage to yourself in a short period of time using beer, this would be a good place to start. It’s 26% ABV. I’ve had a few beers in that range now, but this is the closest to a “normal beer” any of them have tasted. The grain bill is intense, and it feels like it’s just barely in solution at all. You almost need to chew. It has the flavours of a typical big stout, but all of them are unusually intense. What it doesn’t have, curiously enough, is the taste of alcohol – something you can get in heaps from beers half its strength.

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Just a little late-in-the-game Fou Foune action. I would normally never crack a bottle of Fou when I’m already tipsy, but it’s just the nature of the evening I guess. Bright, rich orange fruit must.

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Firestone Parabola is another beer I’ve heard plenty about but never had the chance to try. I distinctly remember passing it up on a previous Portland trip (too many bottles already), and now I regret it. I get the hype. Parabola has this toasted coconut character that’s quite unique and really delicious.

I’m skipping a few bottles (including the one I brought), but here’s the end result: a dozen awesome beers between the five of us (actually there were 13, a Prairie Artisinal bottle is missing). I was happy to call it after this, I was definitely tipsy. No duds, and lots of really special (beer) experiences. And another thing – despite the rather unusual group from a personality standpoint, we all got along famously and, as far as I know anyway, everyone really enjoyed themselves. Maybe it’s the beer I associate with these guys, but I really enjoy their company.

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BA Bottle Share #1

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One of the forum regulars on Beeradvocate hosted a BA ‘bottle share’ meet this past weekend; the first of its kind for BA in our neck of the woods.  With a modest but appropriately sized group of 6 members we worked our way through a very memorable collection of bottles.  I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of the gathering and was able to try beers I likely never would have otherwise.  Most, if not all the other fellow beer nerds at the meetup were regular traders (plus one member having just arrived from Montreal) which meant a great variety of beers from afar.  Myself, I’ve never bought beer anywhere except Vancouver and Portland so I could hardly compete.

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Above you can see two bottles that came out early in the evening (well, it was still afternoon at this point):  2013 Dark Lord, and 2013 vanilla bean Dark Lord.  Every beer nerd has heard of these beers most likely, as there is nary a stout in the world that drums up the kind of anticipation and general craziness as Dark Lord.  Only available one day a year at the brewery (and even then, there are hoops to jump and large sums of money to be paid), it never even occurred to me that I’d be able to try this beer myself one day.  However, our fantastic host Brad hooked us up in a huge way and now I’ve experienced both.  I didn’t take notes, but it left an impression that I don’t need to write down to remember.  It’s syrupy thickness is something I’ve never experienced, not on that level.  Sweet with heat.  Burnt toffee or brown sugar, great vanilla, and unknown depths of dark fruit and molasses.

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Tyler hooked us up with some of his most notable eastern procurements, such as this bottle of Flora from Hill Farmstead.  This was a real eye opener for me because it blurred a lot of lines between different beer styles that I love.  It had a smell like a gueuze, but with a fantastic floral presence as well.  The taste certainly had a gueuze-like quality likely attributed to its time spent in wine barrels, lots of lemon-citrus, floral-ness, and an incredible and indescribable gentle softness to it.  We attributed it to the water used to make this beer – an ingredient often overlooked but its influence is likely quite significant.  Again I didn’t take notes but this left a huge impression on me, just an amazing experience.

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The evening continued on, filled with amazing beers and great conversation – it was quite impressive how 6 strangers at a table were able to connect so well.  Maybe it was the love of beer, maybe it was simply the beer.  It seemed more-so that this was just a group of friends who hadn’t been put in the same room previously.  We even broached best-avoided topics like politics without offense or incident.

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I should post up a picture and full description of every beer consumed that night because each deserves such attention, but I haven’t the patience nor the notes to do them justice.  Below shows the lineup of beers we’d taken care of by the end of the night.  It was quite the sight to see all the beers lined up, but the real awe was in tasting all these beers.  Not a single one was average, let alone bad, though there were crowd favourites for sure.

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My sincere gratitude to the host for his hospitality and incredibly generous sharing as well as to each member of the party for bringing such prized beers – it was awesome!