A couple of weeks ago I wrote about collaborative beers on my Hoppress blog over at Ratebeer. While somewhat suspicious and critical of this trend in brewing, I remain intrigued by these beers. What happens when great brewing minds get together? What magic might occur? One of the most interesting series of collaborations for me has been the Brewmaster’s Collaboration beers from De Proef Brouwerij in Belgium. Dirk Naudts started De Proef in 1996. His small-scale, high-tech operation has been churning out a whole line of great beers that are the product of the marriage of cutting-edge brewing technology and traditional brewing methods. Since 2007 he has been collaborating with leading American brewers to create the unique beers of the Brewmaster’s Collaboration series. I have previously written about Van Twee, the collaboration with Bell’s Brewing, and Les Deux Brasseurs, the collaboration with Jason Perkins of Allagash. Until recently I had not had the opportunity to taste Signature Ale, the first in the series brewed in 2007 with Lost Abbey’s Tomme Arthur. It has recently been re-released. Last week I walked into a Kansas City liquor store and there it was. So here’s my notes:
De Proef Brouwerij, Lochristi, Belgium with Tomme Arthur of Pizza Port/Lost Abbey
Style: Something like an American IPA with Brettanomyces
Serving Style: 750 ML Bottle
Aroma: Floral notes dominate. Huge fruity brettanomyces character. Very little horsey funk at the beginning, but it becomes stronger as it warms. Light grainy malt sweetness fills in the background. Highly spicy like Indian food, floral coriander and cardamom. Hints of citrus. Very intriguing.
Appearance: Rich and creamy off-white head that lasts forever. Light copper with slightly pink highlights. Light haze.
Flavor: Most unique. East Asian coriander floweriness with deep pitchy resinous notes. A bitter bite at the end that sticks. Huge fruitiness – peach, pineapple, berries, tangerine candy. The full-flavored supporting grainy malt sweetness backs up the bitterness and gives the whole mélange of flavors a soft bed on which to rest. Light caramel touch. Like some kind of exotic Indian masala. Lingering sweetness in the finish that increases with warming.
Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation. Light bitter astringency. Somewhat creamy.
Overall Impression: Drink this with Indian food. An English IPA with American-like hops and funky wild goodness. All the contrasting flavors and styles balance out into a most interesting blend of flavors. Huge floral notes invite sip after sip.
The “You Can’t Get This Here” Challenge
Last night thirty beer enthusiasts gathered at the Four Firkins to witness a contentious confrontation between a bevy of brews to which their palates had previously been denied access. From East Coast and West, these beers, unavailable in Minnesota, were put to the test in a fierce fracas to determine which was the best. Big hoppy beer against big hoppy beer, big Belgian beer against big Belgian beer, and big black beer against big black beer, they did battle until only one reigned supreme over them all.
Round 1: Russian River Pliny The Elder vs Port Brewing Hop 15 – Pliny plowed the Port.
Round 2: Russian River Damnation 23 vs Allagash Les Deux Brasseurs – Allagash all the way.
Round 3: Port Brewing Old Viscosity vs Lost Abbey Serpent Stout – The serpent swallowed the competition whole.
Grand Champion: Pliny The Elder proved himself worthy.
Pliny the Elder – Folks enjoyed the intense citrus hop flavors and aromas while appreciating the balance and drinkability of this beer. Many expressed that unlike most Double IPAs they could imagine themselves having three or four of these in a sitting.
Hop 15 – While some enjoyed the complex fruity character and multifaceted hop flavors of this beer, others found the malt cloying or the bitterness harsh.
Damnation 23: Generally this beer was well liked by all. Good stone fruit notes with a dry spicy finish. The main criticism was that the rather woody oak character clashed with the peppery yeast and hop flavors.
Les Deux Brasseurs – For most this Brettanomyces fermented beer was heaven in a bottle with delightful stone fruit and cherries dancing with a gently horsey funk and light acidic sour. For some, though, the funk was too much.
Old Viscocity – For a beer with viscocity in the name, this was exceptionally light bodied, especially for its 10.5% ABV. It was a battle in itself with sweet caramel flavors competing with sharply bitter roast. The roast won out in the end. After a final bitter bite, the finish was astoundingly short.
Serpent Stout – Thick, rich, coffee and cream. Lucious dark fruits and warming alcohol. A great beer.
Monday, April 27th
At The Four Firkins
From across the country they have come, six expertly crafted beers from American breweries of legendary status; Russian River, Port Brewing, Lost Abbey, Allagash, all unavailable to the Minnesota beer drinker. Painstakingly selected by A Perfect Pint, these bodacious brews have come to test their mettle in Firkin Forum. This Battle of the Beers exhibition match pits West Coast Double IPA against West Coast Double IPA, Belgian Style against Belgian Style, and in a final cruel twist of fate two gargantuan black beers from the same brewer will lock hops in an all out struggle for supremacy.
Round One: Russian River Pliny the Elder vs. Port Brewing Hop 15.
Round Two: Russian River Damnation 23 vs. Allagash/DeProef Le Deux Brasseurs.
Round Three: Lost Abbey Serpent Stout vs. Port Brewing Old Viscosity.
The lines have been drawn for an epic battle of the beers; six locally unavailable beers in four styles. Which will emerge victorious from the crucible of Firkin Forum? You will be the judge. Let the “You Can’t Get This Here” Challenge begin!
Limited to 35 attendees.
To register email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Can’t Get This Here” in the subject line.
This event is first come, first served. You will be notified by email if you are one of the lucky attendees.
Battle of the Beers VI: You Can’t Get This Here
Monday, April 27th, at the Four Firkins
Official registration is not yet open, but I am so excited about this event that I had to issue a preview. I have been travelling a lot in the last two months and have rounded up an incredible line-up of beers from some of the best breweries in the country. The You Can’t Get This Here Challenge will bring together six locally unavailable beers in a super-epic battle in Firkin Forum. You can’t even get these beers in Hudson.
Here’s the list of combatants:
Russian River’s Pliny the Elder vs. Port Brewing HOP-15
Allagash/DeProef Le Deux Brasseurs vs Russian River Damnation 23
Lost Abbey Serpent Stout vs Port Brewing Old Viscosity
Should be an epic bout. Watch for official registration instructions coming later.