Last week the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers group met at Two Stones Pub, Newark for an Allagash (WEB:FACEBOOK:TWITTER) tap take over. Thirteen different beers were on tap that night plus some special bottles floating around. It was great to meet three new members of the DCBaWL as well as spending some talking to craft beer friends both old and new.
I’m not going to try and hide our fondness for Allagash, I think they make solid beers. Their Four is always a go to beer for me, and Tracey is happy anywhere that has their White on the beer menu. But tonight was about getting the chance to taste some beers that we normally don’t get to see (and some we may never see again).
I started the evening with a mug of the White. One, because it was the only Allagash beer they were serving in mugs and I needed to wash the taste of work out of my mouth, and two, so I could send Tracey a picture of it to encourage her to ditch work ASAP and come get some.
After that, time to switch to tasters and try some beers. First up was a side by side of Thing 1 and Thing 2 an attempt to brew two beers from the same base wort. Thing 1 is styled as a Belgian table beer at about 5% ABV. From the wort of Thing 1, 7 bbls were diverted to another tank to which regular sugar, dark candi sugar were added and some dark grains were added to steep. Both beers were good but I liked Thing 2 better, having a little more depth in the flavor. We’re off to a good start.
Next in line for some side to side was Victor and Victoria. Both beers are part of Allagash’s Tribute Series with moneys from both beers going to two different charities. While both beers are described as “Belgian Strong ales brewed with grapes”, they’re actually quite different. Victoria is brewed with a Belgian yeast and has over 200lbs of Chardonney grapes added to the mash, while Victor has over 100lbs of cabernet franc grapes added and is fermented with a wine yeast. Between the two I had to give the nod to Victoria as I found Victor to have a slight “Welch’s grape juice” note that is not a favorite of mine. Tracey waved me off however, stating that she liked the flavor of Victor and finding more complex than Victoria’s.
Next we decided it was time to take a break from the taste comparisons, so I ordered a Saison Mihm a beer brewed with honey, juniper berries, and lemongrass. I’m always dubious of beers brewed with juniper beers because I don’t like when the beer gets to “ginny”. But Mihm was nice, with a nice sweetness, none of the flavors over powering the other, and a bright finish. It would have be interesting to try this side by side against Four to see if it could displace it as my favorite beer.
Back to side by sides we go as we compared their Belgian stout Black, against its bourbon aged twin. Most of you know my feelings on bourbon beers by now, but I actually felt confident going into this tasting since Allagash makes one of my fav bourbon beers, Curieux. Indeed, I liked the bourbon Black as I didn’t find it over powering, but the normal Black is pretty good as well. Tough call here. Might be a draw.
After that I needed something to bitch-slap my palette so I went with Old HLT. What do you do with a large stainless steal tank sitting in the corner doing nothing? Why you put 30 barrels of beer in it along with 2000lbs of cherries and let it sit for 2 years, what else? This was very nice, with tart cherries and earthiness.
Next was Yakazu, a Belgian triple dry hopped with Cascade and Sorachi Ace. Definite tropical fruit notes mingle with the Sorachi Ace in the style of the triple. Nice beer.
Sometime during all this, co-owner Ben opened a bottle of Prince Tuesday and slid me a taste. The beer is a collaboration beer between Allagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide and brewed with Maine Rye. It was a nice tasting beer and I wish I could have had a little more. Apparently it was only distributed in Maine, so thanks to whoever brought the bottle.
Pretty much beered out at that point, I grabbed a glass of the Four and walked around touching base with some craft beer and twitter peeps. The Allagash tap take over ranks up there is the best Two Stones have done, which is a testament to the quality of beers Allagash is producing. Troeg’s is on tap for next month, and they’re going to have a tough act to follow.
Time for another beer…