I had a pretty good day at work yesterday, and I decided to celebrate with a trip over to Belmont Station. I picked up nothing but new-to-me beers that I had been wanting to try. Here's the list:
The new first edition reserve series from the widmer brothers: Cherry Oak Dopplebock. This one I'm really intrigued by on a couple of levels. First, the style just sounds like something that's going to be right up my alley. I like dopplebocks, I like oaked anything, and cherries are my favorite fruit to add to a beer. Second, the rarity of the release. These are very limited release beers, in 22 ounce bottles, which are then individually packaged in their own box. The boxes and bottles are both very attractive, and 50 lucky buyers will discover that the bottle inside the box they've purchased has been autographed by the brewer. Pretty neat. (I checked, I didn't get one of the "golden tickets"). Being that this is the first in the series is really cool too. Third, there's a reason these guys made it so big in the business, and I don't think it really shows in their safer, more common offerings. This new reserve series promises to be something different. The limited size allows them to experiment a lot more, and really do something special. Added to that, each one is brewed by one of the brothers, alternating so that each one is trying to out-do the previous brothers release. Having their individual name on each of the beers should be good motivation to work on quality product and not be outted as the sub-par brother brewer. The initial reviews are really good. I might pick up another bottle of two and hold on to all of mine for a while. At 9%, I think this one will hold up (or improve) for a good while.
Next, I picked up the new Sierra Nevada Estate Harvest Ale. This one is pretty neat. It replaced their chico harvest fresh hop ale from last year. The previous year's release was a wet hop beer Sierra Nevada put together with hop's they had grown themselves in Chico. This year, they took it one step further, and grew all of their own barley as well, making this a 100% Sierra Nevada product from seed (and rhizome) all the way to the bottle. I think this is a great idea, and also a trend I would really like to see develop for other breweries as well. The idea of terrior isn't usually extended to beer, but I think it should. Also, from a sustainability stand point, as well as a quality control stand point, I think it's a great move. I can't wait to give this one a whirl. Again, reviews have been great.
My third bottle was a 22 of Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly. This is the second of the Southern Tier brews to make it to Oregon as far as I know. The first was the Jahva, which I picked up a few months ago. The unearthly is an IPA, and this is the Oaked version of that. In the past, I've been a little on the fence about oak aged IPA's. I tend to fall into the category of people who think IPA's are best had fresh. So buying an aged one seems a little odd. Also, as previously stated, I love oak aged beer, but I think that oak goes a lot better with strong ales, scotch ales, porters, stouts, barley wines, etc... than lighter more floral styles like the IPA. Still, I buy every one I can at least once, so I couldn't resist the temptation.
For number four, I picked up the 2009 fresh hop edition of Beer Valley's Leafer Madness (note that the link goes to the non-fresh hop version, a link doesn't yet exist for the 2009 wet hop version). I love the standard version, and I've had the fresh hop one at the 2008 Portland fresh hop festival at Hopworks, alongside the fresh hop release of black flag imperial stout. While I find some of their beers to be mediocre, when it comes to these two, they never disappoint.
Number 5 was a 2009 Rogue Mogul Madness (again, the link is to an older version, the new listing hasn't been created yet). What can I say, it was rated well in the past, has only come out three times since they've been open, and I'm a sucker for new rogue bottles. They call this one an american strong ale, we'll see how I feel about it once I crack into it.
Other than the above 22's, I also picked up a 4-pack of Dogfish Head Punkin. Oh, Pumpkin beers. It's one of those styles that's never really great, but you have to buy every year because it's something different, a seasonal that seems more suited to it's season than any other, and because it just feels right. I've had at least one pumpkin beer every year since I really got into beer. They all have varying levels of pumpkin flavor. Some don't have any real pumpkin in them at all. Some are really spicy; some are bland. This is the first time I've been able to try the DFH Punkin' Ale, and I have to say, it's a solid offering. Brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. This is a bold beer that I would love to enjoy cold along side a slice of hot apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Wow, that would be good. At 7% percent, it will warm you from with in, and certainly put you in a festive spirit. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys the style. Just be warned, it IS delicious, but the boldness of the flavors and the aggressive spicing limit the drinkability on this one a bit. Crack open a pack with desert at your next fall or winter holiday feast, but don't expect to enjoy polishing it off yourself!