Friday, August 15, 2008

Where to Find the Unusual Beers

Just sayin', as I get better acquainted with the hundreds of beers available in this area, the special limited ones are usually the best, or at least most interesting to try. Not that these are all extreme beers, but they usually cater to the aficionado, which I believe I am. And where do you find these one off offerings? One place is at the brewery's brewpub. The other is at your deep beer bars.

For the former, look to Three Floyds (Munster, IN.), Two Brothers (Warrenville, IL.), or Goose Island (Chicago, IL.). I have been to the first and last, not the middle one. At Three Floyds on a day trip in 2007? we found a delightful cafe environment with many FFF beers on tap, including several you will never find in a bottle. At the Goose Island Clybourn brewpub, brewer Will Turner regularly creates wonderful experimental beers on tap or cask that never make it to a bottle, and rarely repeat.

As for the bars, notable are the Map Room and Hopleaf, since they don't make their own beer, they can get some out of market beers that you will never see in Chicagoland anywhere else, or certainly not at the aligned brewpubs. Examples, Hopleaf currently has on tap the Surly Cynicale, a nice Saison only available in cans (yeah!) that are not distributed in IL, and surprise a FFF Smoked Helles (not even listed on their website or at Beer Advocate), a one-off beer you'll never see in a bottle unfortunately.

We are in this time in history lucky and fortunate to be alive when great brewpubs and beer bars cater to wide style of tastes, so get out there and keep widening the options by supporting these great brewers, the one-offs they produce, and the bars that carry them.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Anniversary Beer for the Ages

This months Session hosted by the Barley Blog covers Anniversary beers, my choice is mentioned in the host's blog, but I cover it here because it is one of my favorite all time beers. The Gouden Carolus Carolus D'Or - Cuvee Van De Keizer is brewed once a year, and it's worth waiting for. My review:

The bottle I had recently was labeled 2007, meaning it was brewed on February 24, 2007, the birthday of a certain monarch named Charles the Fifth. It is rated at 11% abv. It poured a deep garnet clear color, nice head with lace left. Very inviting.

The nose has sweet malt, deep, deep nose of plums, cherries, and a bit of alcohol, very nice.

This may be the perfect Belgian stong dark ale, intriguing deep malt taste, beyond plums and a bit of oak, tastes include a sign of port, chocolate, yeast esters, yes that deep, very good, super!

Perfect fizzy mouthfeel, so it doesn't get to sweet on the tongue, sweetish aftertaste but just right.

Despite the abv, very drinkable, after dinner for sure with figs, chocolate, pie, whatever desert you choose, I love this beer.

This one has aged nicely for almost 1 1/2 years.
The brewers website submits that you can store this beer for up to 10 years. I believe it but cannot believe it would get any better than this one. I'll make this my yearly seek to find a version of this beer so I can have at least one annually. The Belgians certainly know what they are doing, and in the realm of Strong Belgian Darks this one reigns supreme.