So, summer in New Orleans. It's damn hot and you need a good summer beer (or variety thereof) to get you through it. Last night I tried some interesting summer-appropriate beers (at the Avenue Pub, 'course.)
First up: NOLA's Hurricane Saison dryhopped with Grains of Paradise. An interesting cask ale. I really like this year's batch of their Saison, which is excellent for the weather already, and the grains of paradise added a earthy spiciness to balance the belgian yeast flavors.
Next up: I was intrigued by the new Brooklyn Brewing "The Concoction" which I guess is based on a cocktail called the Penicillin from some schmancy cocktail bar up in NYC. It's a scotch based cocktail, and the beer interpretation is straight up BANANAS. There aren't actually bananas or banana flavor or aroma in this beer, but that's probably the only thing missing from the ingredient list. It's brewed with a peat smoked malt, which gives it a very smoky finish, and has a bunch of hops in it (Willamette, Cascades, Fuggles, Kent Goldings, Simcoe, Citra, Sorachi Ace, Amarillo) which gives an interesting floral/citrus hop aroma and bitterness in the flavor. Also included is lemon peel, lemon juice, ginger, and honey. So it's all herbed up, hopped up, and locked and loaded with peat malt. I had two glasses of this stuff and I still don't know what the hell to make of it. I advise not getting a pint though- that was a LOT of Concoction. Definitely worth trying, because it's really unlike anything I've ever tasted. I don't even know if I like it, but I'm kind of obsessed about it right now.
OK, the next beer I tried was Éphémère Cassis, Unibroue's cassis/black currant flavored beer. Pretty tasty, very light bodied and dry. There was a nice currant essence to the beer, but it wasn't sweet or syrupy in any way. Really quite refreshing on a hot day.
The last beer I tried (before finishing with a second Concoction) was the Petrus Aged Pale - this is one of the beers blended to make the Petrus Oude Bruin. A sour, and not for the faint-hearted. The appearance was slightly off-putting- the color and total lack of head made it look like a cider. And when I took a sip, there was a lot of tart green apple flavor, fruity, but very tart and sour, with a hint of funkiness and the barrels it had been aged in. Definitely scratched that sour itch.
Interestingly, The Avenue is pouring a lot of beers that have optimal serving temps about 10 degrees higher than their current cooler provides, and also what the market wants. It's tricky bidness. Right now they are strongly advising letting the customer to let the beer warm in the glass after serving. It is true that in general, as a beer warms, the flavors open up and change the whole taste, aroma, and mouthfeel of a well crafted beer. Just something to keep in mind.