Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Awesome post about Boucherie's Swedish Beer Dinner!

Awesome post, over at my other blog! Go read all about Boucherie's beer dinner pairings with the Swedish beers.  It was good times.

Man, I love those beers. Also, Boucherie. It's a winning situation all around. WINNING!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Personal Notes From my Swedish Beer Weekend

  • Avenue Pub management had a great method to help customers order the beers and the bartenders to understand them- they put the list and tasting notes together pairing each beer with a number, so you could just go up and order a Number Nine or Seven, or whatnot. Brilliant! (especially as the day/night went on)
  • Funny story on Friday night- I wanted to order a bitter and a stout, but Eileen heard it as a bitter and a SOUR, so I got the Bedarö Bitter and the Cantillon Mamouche. I laughed and asked her to also pour me a stout. I'd wanted to drink the bitter while letting the Nynäshamns Sotholmen Extra Stout come up to temp, but I ended up drinking the bitter and the Mamouche. Stout was excellent by the time I got to it though.
  • I cannot say enough good things about the Nynäshamns Bötet Barley Wine. It truly was the best barleywine I've ever had. It was a serious revelation. I loved the Nynäshamns Bedarö Bitter and the Oppigårds Amarillo Spring Ale like crazy too. Tom loved, as I suspected he would, the Bedarö Bitter and the Nils Oscar Kalasöl. 
  • Got to chat a little bit with Vanessa from the Barley Oak in Mandeville - they're working on a brewpub set to open in another location (still across the lake) in June.  She invited me up for a walk through of the space, so I'll take her up on that, maybe after Mardi Gras. PS, Vanessa is awesome.
  • Polly (owner of the Avenue Pub) calculated conservatively and while tickets for the event sold out, no kegs ran out yesterday so everyone who came by yesterday had the opportunity to try whatever they wanted. They have pint specials on for almost all the remaining Swedish beers, at very reasonable prices (between $6.00 and $7.50)
  • Enjoyed the company of a charming Austin couple who I first met on New Year's Eve eve. They made the pilgrimage, and they were a whole lot of fun to hang out with.
  • The vibe was so awesome- everyone was having a great time, there was no stress or weirdness.  Great beer folks drinking GREAT beer. Weather couldn't have been nicer, either.
  • Non-Swedish beer news- I got to try the new Flambeaux Red at NOLA Brewing the other day and it is delicious! A bit more balanced than last year, but still hoppy and easy drinking.
Tomorrow is the Swedish Beer Dinner at Boucherie- can't wait!

Swedish beer weekend

(Crossposted to the other blog I write for, NOLA Beer Guide.)

First things first: BIG UPS to The Avenue Pub- owner Polly Watts and her amazing staff – Stene Isacsson, owner of Akkurat Bar & Restaurant in Stockholm, and Shelton Brothers Distributors for all their hard work to bring this event to not only New Orleans but to Louisiana, the South, the US. Nothing like this anywhere else in the country- this was totally a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am grateful to everyone’s role in making it happen.

On Tuesday, the Avenue put on the Oppigårds Golden Ale and I gave that a try- a very pleasant, slightly hoppy, balanced, and drinkable beer. Delicious!

I couldn’t make the Wednesday night tasting, but I did go back on Friday night and enjoyed several of the Swedish offerings, both upstairs and downstairs. The Balcony also had Cantillon Mamouche on draft as a special keg for a special weekend. Downstairs had a Jolly Pumpkin Maricaibo Especiale to enjoy.

I started with the Närke Slättöl, an American style pale ale. I wanted to start light and move through the spectrum. The Slättöl definitely qualified, it was probably the cleanest and lightest beer I had over the weekend. I enjoyed it, especially since it was my first beer after biking over. Next I tried the Oppigårds Amarillo Spring Ale which was probably one of my favorite beers of the Swedish offerings (though that’s a tough call, since –SPOILER ALERT!– they were all really good.) Great hop-forward aroma and taste, and it was definitely delicately hopped- not too bitter, but the hop presence was there. Anchored in a subtle maltiness with spicy notes. Really complex and, more importantly, delicious. I followed it up with Nils Oscar Hop Yard IPA, which was darker and maltier than the Amarillo Spring Ale. Had a surprisingly high ABV as well, at 7.3%. I liked it, but it definitely suffered by comparison to the Amarillo Spring. But it was beautifully balanced, dry finish; a very well brewed ale.

I moved upstairs and tried the three Swedish beers on draft up there (along with a Cantillon Mamouche; OK, two): the Nynäshamns Bedarö Bitter, which I could have drunk all night quite happily; Nynäshamns Sotholmen Extra Stout, which I bought at the same time as the bitter, and let sit out to warm a bit; and Oppigårds Single Hop Ale, a nice contrast to the dark and complex stout, as it was light and quaffable. I then went downstairs and enjoyed a Jolly Pumpkin and a Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA. Damn, that was a delicious night.

Deliciousness continued on Saturday! I arrived at around 11am to get on the list to go upstairs with the first group of ticket holders. While waiting in the downstairs bar, I tried the Närke InternationAle, which was well made, balanced, and very nice to drink; the Nynäshamns Tjockhult Tjinook, a Chinook hopped lager, pretty subtle- not the most exciting beer, but a good solid effort all the same; and the Nils Oscar Kalasöl, a truly special beer in the Oktoberfest style with German malts and a variety of international hops. Really different from the other Swedish beers I’d tried up to that point. A great drinking. beautifully amber ruby red beer.

We were sent upstairs shortly after I ordered my Kalasöl, so I brought it up with me and enjoyed it out on the balcony. It was an absolutely glorious day, as well. Just perfect for drinking great beers with fellow beer geeks and enjoying one of the most gorgeous, sunny, and mild January days this native New Englander has ever experienced. While waiting for the two “special” beers to be available at 3pm (the Närke Konjaks Stormaktsporter 2010 and the Nynäshamns Bötet Barley Wine) I tried some more distinctively Scandinavian beers: the Nils Oscar Julöl, a Christmas ale/wee heavy and surprisingly drinkable on an 80 degree day, and the Närke Tanngnjnost & Tanngrisnir, which was based on a traditional style called a Goittlsandricka. Very smokey in taste and aroma. Tasting notes mentioned juniper berry, but I didn’t catch those notes (it may be something new and unfamiliar to my palate, in beer). It took a couple sips to get used to, and I don’t think I could drink more than 6 ounces. but I was glad I tried it.

Then it was time, time to try the famous and fabled Stormaktsporter. It’s an imperial stout that has only been brewed once. Supplies are limited, and Polly’s Swedish counterpart basically sacrificed one of his (very few) kegs to send it over to her. It was intoxicating to the senses, deep, dark, ephemeral, smooth drinking, flavorful, hella complex, a dream to drink. So honored to drink this. (I even ponied up $11 later for another 6 ounces of it.) The other special beer was the Bötet Barley Wine, which is probably the best barleywine I’ve ever had. Smooth drinking, not hot at all, complex in flavor, just sooooooo delicious.

I just didn’t want the happiness to end. It was such good beer, with good folks, on a great day, and a fantastic vibe. It was beautifully organized and executed, and again, my thanks go out to all who had a hand in this event. You made many people very happy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Can't keep a secret in this town...

Well, there was gonna be a coordinated attempt to release the news tomorrow evening at 5pm (everyone synchronize your watches!) but apparently the cat's out of the bag, the horse has left the stable, and any other variety of farm related metaphors that indicate that the word is out.

The word is this: Stone Brewing came down to New Orleans today to co-brew an Imperial Porter called "Pour Me Something, Mister!" which has a very interesting and diverse grain bill (will post pictures later) and Centennial, Nugget, and US Golding hops, dryhopped with Citra hops and also brewed with dried satsuma peel. It'll probably hit around 8% ABV.  Got some Steen's molasses in there for fermenting sugars, whoo! California hops and Louisiana Steens and satsuma!

Come to the official announcement tomorrow night starting at 5pm, and meet the Stone brewers and have all your questions answered about this collaboration!

It looks like the debut of the beer will be on Saturday, February 11 at The Avenue Pub, which will also be during the first weekend of parades and the same time and place as the cask tapping of the beer that I, the Beer Bitch, collaborated on with Melanie, Head of Brewing Operations at NOLA Brewing.  It all started when I mused that it would be interesting to see what the Seventh Street Wheat tasted like without the basil.  Melanie said that they could put a cask together with another flavor profile, and I came up with dried satsuma peel and grains of paradise.  So, a Beer Bitch vintage special cask!

Also, there will be a camera crew there filming me (...long story.  But a good story!) and the general merriment.  So, it should be a good time.

Lotsa doings a-transpiring!