Thursday, June 24, 2010

This past week in the beer cave.

I've been slow to update this journal of my life in beer, but enough has been happening over the past week or so that it's time for another post.

Last week we had a friend in from southern California who came to the cave to do a little beer tasting. His contributions were a double IPA home brew of his that just won best beer at the orange county fair, and some Lost Abbey Framboise de Amorosa. I contributed my liter bottle of Roots Flanders Red and a bottle of Fred from the Wood. The other guests brought a bottle of Upright Four Play and Cherry Adam from the wood. My thoughts:

The home brew IIPA was very tasty, and worthy of commercial success, but I've fallen so out of love with the style over the past year or so that it was still tough for me to get excited about it.

The Lost Abbey Framboise de Amorosa was a first try for me. After getting it nice and chilly in the top of my beer fridge (in attempt to control the gushing), we carefully opened the bottle over a pitcher to catch the infamous amorosa geyser of foam. The bottle nearly poured itself completely out as carbonated froth, but we caught it all and allowed it to settle in the pitcher before splitting it into glasses. This beer is thick and chunky with the pulp of berries. More of a meal in appearance than a drink. Upon my first taste, I was in love with the unique fruity tartness that was unlike any lambic or fruit beer I've ever tasted before. When I went back in for another taste, my experience diminished, and continued to do so for the remainder of my glass. The best way I can describe the experience was taking a sip of chunky beer that tasted of rotting vegetables. As this flavor faded, the tartness and essence of the berries came through, which was really delightful; yet hard to enjoy while the memory of decaying greens was so fresh in my mind. I've never experienced such a drastic swing of flavors from one beer in my life. I wanted to love this one, and there were certain parts of it that were fantastic for me, but between the carbonation issues, the chunky consistency, and the opening flavors of decaying salad, it was ultimately a let down. If someone could harness the better parts of this beer and correct it's flaws, it would be among my favorite sour beers out there. The parts of this beer that were on were amazing, but it didn't stand up as a total package.

I was really excited to open my Roots Flanders Red, as I've been sitting on it for a couple of years, and have always looked forward to opening it. When I first tried this beer, I had just gotten into sour styles and I remember really enjoying it. The last time I tried some was roughly a year ago at Belmont Station, at puckerfest if I recall correctly. I thought it was as good or better than I remembered it being fresh, which was a relief to me because I had been sitting on the bottle, and had heard murmurs that it was most likely past its prime. Now, a year after that last tasting, I still enjoyed it very much. Admittedly, my pallet has matured since I started drinking my first sour styles, and I've certainly had plenty of sour beers in the mean time that I've enjoyed more, and I know the general consensus for this one was that is was "average, but good for their first attempt at a flanders red", but I'll go ahead and say it: I think this one was a really good beer. Good enough to buy several more of if I were to ever see them again. Our out of town guest suggested that despite its age, it tasted like a young flanders red, and I could see where he's coming from. There was room for more flavor development, regardless of whether it could be realistically expected at this point, but over all, it tasted as I think it should have. Better than some of the current actual belgian offerings, not as good as others. I think it held it's own against a lot of it's american counterparts, and was significantly more true to style than at least a few recent local attempts at the style (I'm looking at you michael).

The upright was another treat. I've had a few of these since the bottle release at the upright anniversary party. Fresh, it was good, but the extra months in the bottle have really made a difference. It definitely seems to have gotten a little more tart and funky, and that what I really wanted to taste happen on this one.

There's not much to say about the Fred from the Wood and the Cherry Adam, they were fantastic as usual.

This morning, I was awake early and found myself searching the word "beer" on craigslist. A listing came up for the final days of an estate sale that I had seen advertised on the site before. It started at 8:00 am today, and I spotted some things on the shelves I though I might be interested in on the listing, so I got in my car and made the drive out into east portland. The guy running the sale said he needed to have the house empty by the first of the month, so he was really motivated to move everything. I poked around and haggled a bit, and came out with the following stuff for a fraction of the price that it would have cost in a thrift store (if I could find any of it there).

I got three functioning light-up signs: Stroh's on tap, It's Miller Time, and a neat old coors globe. I also snagged a little square framed coors mirrored sign, a few old tap handles, a little stack of vintage henry weinhard stickers, an old lucky lager stubby, and my favorite purchase of the day, an AB/budweiser wooden beer crate, in perfect condition from 1976 - the 100th anniversary of the founding of the company.

I got back to the house with my trunk full of goodies before my wife even got out of bed. It was a successful mission.

There were several other signs and beer related goodies that I had my eye on, and I've decided to go back on Sunday, the last day of the sale, to see what's left (and how much he's come down on price in the mean time).

I didn't pay more than $5 for any of the items I got today, but he had other stuff I got the impression had more sentimental value to him, as they were priced closer to what you'd expect to pay for them on ebay. We'll see how much he's willing to budge when his only alternative is to pack the items up, and move them into storage.

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