Had the pleasure of attending a “closet-cleaning” party thrown by Josh Bernstein the other night. Josh recently wrote a book called Brewed Awakening and toured extensively to support it. Along the way, he acquired a pretty hefty amount of beers that he needed help drinking. Who doesn’t like helping a friend in need, right?
One of the first beers poured into my glass was the hard-to-find Bell’s Hopslam that was just incredible. I’ve had that beer before but man does it blow most double IPAs out of the water. I could drink that all night. The second memorable experience was a vertical tasting of four Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywines. I’m glad this happened relatively early in the night, because my palate wasn’t completely wrecked quite yet and I might have taken much larger pours while using my beer goggles. I believe fellow homebrewer Dylan Mabin brought this flight of beers and we had a 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. For my money, the 2010’s sharp hop bitterness and big chewy mouthfeel were the most balanced of the four. There was quite a bit of arguing and nerding out, but I think a lot of people were on the 2010 bandwagon. 2011 still had that raw dry hop flavor that needed to mellow and the 2008 was emphasizing the malt much more after the hops had fallen into the background. 2007 had a screwtop (!!!) and was almost port-like because of the oxygen that had gotten in through the cap.
Terrible picture, but in the back you can see the mysterious Capt. Lawrence sour I was crushing on.
This cooler got filled up at least three times while the closet cleaning was in process. One of my favorite beers of the night was a Captain Lawrence sour beer that flew around the room and was gone in a matter of minutes. It was mouth-puckeringly sour, dark red or ruby in color and completely fantastic. I think my buddy Fritz took home the bottle dregs for pitching into his own homebrew sour at some point. Another homebrew bro Sam brought an unintentionally sour strawberry blonde ale that actually made the party stop. It was like one of those moments when the needle skips on the turntable and everyone pauses. Another hit-you-in-the-cheeks sourness in a golden pale beer with a slight tinge of strawberry flavor. He said he just threw some cut up strawberries into the fermentor and out came this incredible sour beer (after a few weeks of fermentation of course). All these delicious sours might make me take a hydrometer sample of my Flanders/Lambic red ale I have going in my brew closet, which is my first foray into the sour realm (besides a miserable attempt at a Berliner Weisse). All in all, it was an inspiring night of good beers and good friends, and I can’t wait until someone else needs their closet emptied of beer, I’ll bring a glass.