So if you're just tuning in, I'm back in Fort Collins, Colorado and I'm feverishly attempting to adjust to mountain standard time before I fly to Portland, Oregon (and adjust to pacific standard time respectively) early tomorrow morning. My Dad and I maybe drank a little more than I should have at lunchtime, one double IPA quickly became three and then a hefty yet thoroughly enjoyable tasting session went down at Black Bottle Brewery. We were going to have a quiet night in but had been promised a share of some special bottles by Michelle, the bar manager at the Mayor of Old Town and so this evenings plans suddenly hinged around these beers.
|For me, few beers match fresh Odell IPA|
We stroll outside and enjoy our IPAs in the evening sun, Odell's is pumping, there are people of all ages spilling out the doors, some playing a friendly game of cornhole and a local band are in full swing on stage, hell there's even a guy painting a portrait of them while they play. There's no less than 20 beers on tap today, favourites from their core range are joined by seasonal and one off specials and a few pilot brews. My Dad orders me a glass of Amuste, a brand new 9.3% imperial porter that's a limited release available only on keg and in 750ml bottles. Amuste's unique twist is that it uses juice from Tempranillo wine grapes as an adjunct and then is aged for 12 months in red wine barrels. The aroma is intoxicating, rich mollases frivolously dances around with rich summer fruits and a hint of alcohol. 'Bloody hell' were the only words to come out of my mouth after my first taste, I took another sip... 'Bloody hell' I say again, this stuff was good, it was as if someone had taken a glass of (decent) red wine and topped up my glass of black treacle and licorice rich porter with it. The remarkable thing was that all of the flavours from the rich porter to the vinous berries and the slight sourness from the barrel were in in perfect harmony. I take another sip 'sweet Jesus' is the next exclamation that comes to mind, I buy a bottle to take home and fully plan to lay it down for a year to see how all these crazy flavours merge and mellow over time.
I'm feeling a little tipsy, but no matter, I can pace myself, I do this sort of thing all the time and once I've got some food in my belly I'll be right as rain. Oh, but we must get some tasters in before we go, a new pilot IPA? Sure! Some coffee stout? Seems like a good idea to me... 'Ok let's get some food' and so we headed off for pizza at Old Chicago which has well as carbohydrate laden products also offers over 100 different brews... help.
I almost immediately decide to plump for a beer I've had before and trust wholeheartedly, Avery IPA, this Boulder based brewery has never let me down before and this pint is rich, fresh and chock full of resinous pine and grapefruit. While at dinner I try and work out if I prefer the Avery or the Odell IPA, I simply can't decide and the only logical conclusion is to order another pint of the Avery to see if that sways my decision but the waitress brings me a can of Shift by New Belgium by mistake (it was what my Dad was drinking.) I didn't really fancy a lager but Shift is no ordinary lager, in fact its bouquet of lime and lavender surprises me as I dive in to take a huge gulp. At this point I open up my phone and go to type in some tasting notes but all I end up writing is 'probably the best lager in the world' and I think it just might be, too.
|I most certainly wasn't getting a rum deal on this occasion|
It truly was a special beer and I really enjoyed it despite it not being something I'd normally order. Michelle then produces a bottle of New Belgium Transatlantique Kriek as soon as we finish draining the final delicious dregs of Rumpkin from our glasses. The story of this limited release Belgian style lambic begins in Brouwerij Boon in the Lembeek region of Belgium where tanks of their regular Kriek are shipped across the Atlantic and into the capable hands of New Belgium Brewmaster Peter Bouckaert. Bouckaert then brews a full bodied golden lager which when finished is blended with the Kriek to form a completely new beer. It pours a deep cherry red colour as you'd expect and produces a pink fluffy head with a bit more vigour than a regular Kriek. The nose is awash with sugar and cherries, the extra carbonation from the lager giving this a little lift too. For an 8% ABV beer this most certainly does not drink like one with it's tart, slightly sweet cherry flavour hiding all traces of alcohol from me. There is a hint of rounded sourness but it's not so sour as to put you off if you're not a fan of the style, in fact it's dangerously drinkable and my glass is gone in next to no time.
As I sway gently back and forth on my stool I look to my left and to my delight I've still got half a glass of Racer 15 that in all the excitement I've completely forgotten about. My Dad goes to call a cab and is told that we'll have to wait around an hour and the last shreds of hope of me getting an early night disappear into the ether. Michelle asks if I want another beer and because I'm being sensible I say something along the lines of 'I've had enough beer but I really fancy a whisky' she asks me what kind of whisky I like and I vaguely remember saying asking for something 'rediculously peaty' and soon she returns with a very large glass full of Ardbeg (don't ask me to tell you which one, this isn't a whisky blog), a wonderful way of rounding off a completely sensible day of drinking. Thanks again to Michelle and her brilliant team at the Mayor for yet another fantastic evening and for sharing all of those wonderful beers.
Eventually the cab arrives and we bid the Mayor adieu, for now at least. It's way past midnight and I have to be awake in less than five hours in order to successfully catch my flight to Portland. I somehow manage to slip my pyjamas on, lean over to plug my phone charger in... then I pass out.
Did I make my flight on time? Find out in the next scintillating instalment!