For those of us who prefer beer to wine (I like wine, don’t get me wrong) toasting the New Year can be a frustrating affair. Champagne, champagne, champagne. I’ve never been a huge fan. But there are several champagne beers out there to do the deed in style.
Archive for December, 2010
On a recent visit to the Goose Island production brewery on Fulton Street in Chicago, I marveled at the barrel room. Row upon row of racks stacked with wine and whiskey barrels beckoned me to sample. Labels with hand-written brewer’s notes tempted me with seductive names like Juliet, Sofie, and Lolita. My heart raced as I read ingredients like “brett”, “lacto” and cherries. Sadly, their contents went untasted.
Last night I opened a bottle of the fruit of these barrels (and fruit is the appropriate word here), Madame Rose. Goose Island calls the beer a Flemish Brown Ale. After an initial fermentation in stainless, the beer is transferred into wine barrels for a long fermentation with wild yeasts and acid-producing bacteria. 40-pounds of cherries are added to every barrel.
Here’s my notes:
Aroma: Blush wine and balsamic vinegar. Tart cherry fruitiness with almond highlights. Earthy, mossy, woody. Brings to mind the smell of fresh cedar mulch.
Appearance: Light brown and clear. Small carbonation bubbles and color make this resemble champagne. Off-white head does not persist.
Flavor: Mouthwatering tart cherry. Vinous red wine vinegar combined with complex lingering malt flavors. Dark plums. Light almond, wood, and floral notes complete the picture. Finish is dry and light.
Mouthfeel: Light body, but with a velvety chewiness. Refreshing. Spritzy.
Overall Impression: Complex without being complicated. Delicate and delightful. This beer falls somewhere between a Kriek and a Flemish Brown. It has the residual malt character of a brown and the tart-cherry fruit of a Kriek. Less funky than a lambic, but funkier than an Oud Bruin.
I have a couple of beer classes upcoming at Cooks of Crocus Hill. Check these out.
ABCs of Beer
Monday, December 20th, 6-8 PM
What’s the difference between ale and lager? What’s the best glass for my favorite beer? Which beers can I cellar and which ones should I drink young? Join Certified Cicerone (the beer expert equivalent of a sommelier) Michael Agnew as he shows you all the basics and then some. You’ll learn how to taste, select and care for beers of all types and styles. Includes a selection of Craft Beers from around the world representing basic styles and light snacks.
Cozy Comforts Wine & Beer Pairing Dinner
With Sommelier Leslee Miller and Chef Mike Shannon
Thursday, January 6th, 6-9 PM
The weather outside is still frightful, but the wine, beer and tasty comfort food at Cooks are totally delightful! Snuggle up with Sommelier Leslee, Cicerone Michael and Chef Mike for a fun-filled new take on Minnesotan winter comforts.
Menu: Braised Winter Greens; Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese; Cornish Hens with Ginger-Apple Sweet Potatoes, Smore Pot de Creme.