Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thursdays with Angelo, Episode 11

Good people + good beer = good times!

My longtime friend Angelo and I have been getting together every week or so to have a beer or three and talk about a variety of subjects of mutual interest. We share a love of craft beer, slow food, travel, philosophy, religion, art, music, economics, language, national security, politics, biking, Cohen Brothers movies, parenting teen-aged daughters, military service, education, National Public Radio, architecture, running for the health of it, social media, and supporting local farmers. With so much good beer available from around the globe available to us in NOVA, and so many topics of mutual interest, these sessions are always enjoyable.

We usually have some sort of theme for our get-togethers. The theme drives the beer and food selection. One of our recent sessions was an exploration of beer and food pairing, beer aging, and beer style expression.

For our exploration of beer and food pairing, we paired Brooklyn Sorachi Ace ($11.99 at Rick's Wine & Gourmet) with a selection of nigiri- and maki-sushi from Matsui Sushi. The Sorachi Ace is a saison style brew, made with sorachi, a Japanese hop also used in making Saporo beer. The sorachi hops impart a lemon zest aroma to the beer. The lemony aroma and flavor complement sushi nicely. However, there is no comparing Sorachi Ace and Saporo. Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewing has added the hop in much greater quantities, fermented the wort with a Belgian yeast strain at warmer ale temperatures, and bottled the unfiltered beer with some of the yeast still alive, for secondary fermentation in the bottle. The results are a champagne-like effervescence, a color like sunshine in a glass, and a fruity flavor that is a delight to the palate.
Rated 4.2 of 5.

Our exploration of beer aging was conducted with a vertical tasting: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout Winter 2009-'10, aged for a year in the back of my refrigerator vs. a bottle of this year's Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout Winter 2010-'11. In the photo, you see the older vintage on the left and this year's on the right. The older vintage has a great chocolate aroma and a strong alcohol presence. The chocolate and malt flavors are perfectly melded. The newer version has a slightly darker head, and the alcohol is masked by a more pronounced hop presence. It's a great beer, but the aged version is much more enjoyable. So, aging is good, and I'll set a couple bottles of this year's back for tasting one and two years down the road. This makes me wonder: is the beer better aged, or did last year's beer just start out better?
Aged rated 4.6 of 5.
Fresh 4.0 of 5

For our exploration of style expression, we conducted a Head-to-Head tasting between two chocolate stouts: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout vs. Heavy Seas Siren Noire Imperial Chocolate Stout. Siren Noire pours the same dark brown color. It has a faintly sour aroma, a harsher taste, a thinner body, and a tangy aftertaste. BBCS was the easy favorite here, with both the aged (4.6) and the fresh (4.0) topping Siren Noire. We might have really enjoyed this fine beer, had it not followed the excellent BBCS.

Rated 2.9 of 5.

The many subjects Angelo and I like to discuss always seem a bit more interesting over a well-appointed table.

Life = good!