Daily beer project

Revisiting Red Rock Oatmeal Stout

Posted in Uncategorized by dailybeerproject on January 21, 2011

I think I had only had this previously as a sampler. I enjoyed it at the time, but I didn’t have much to enjoy. At the recommendation of a friend, I tried a pint at Geeks who Drink last week. It was awesome. So awesome in fact, that we went back to Red Rock for dinner Saturday night, and I ordered another pint. One of the best stouts I’ve ever had. It is so incredibly smooth, and all the flavors are in perfect harmony. It’s like a really good piece of dark chocolate–so nicely balanced that nothing acerbic or bitter stands out at all. Just dark, rich, and easy drinking beer.

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Oktoberfest

Posted in Uncategorized by dailybeerproject on October 12, 2010

The other day I was looking at The Big Picture, which ran a series on Oktoberfest. And aside from prompting me to add attending Oktoberfest to my bucket list (I don’t actually have a bucket list, but I would still like to go to Oktoberfest some day), it reminded me that I haven’t sampled any Marzen or Oktoberfest beers.

But first, why are they called Marzen (March) beers if they’re consumed in October? Because back in the day, German brewers weren’t allowed to brew during the summer (shocking that industry would be so regulated in Germany, right?). So they brewed their beer in March and stored or lagered it in cool caves until fall when the kegs were tapped. In 1810, to commemorate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese, these kegs were tapped in a huge party, and Oktoberfest was born.

Many brewers make a Marzen-style beer as a fall seasonal. I hadn’t had one, so I took a trip to the local liquor store and grabbed a couple.

Spaten Oktoberfest: First up was a German import, a beer actually served at the Oktoberfest in Munich. I wanted to get a feel for what the Germans and visiting tourists actually drink with their huge portions of chicken, beef, sausage, and pretzels. The beer is light to medium in body, similar in color to a lot of golden ales but lighter than a typical pale ale or amber. It’s moderately hopped, enough to be apparent, but with the malt being the dominant flavor. It’s awesome. Yes it comes from a big brewer, yes it comes in a green bottle and is probably light affected after a voyage across the ocean. It still tastes good. So I can only imagine what it’s like served on tap in a liter stein in a tent with thousands of my closest friends.

Samuel Adams Oktoberfest: While malt was prominent in the Spaten, it was all I tasted in the Sam Adams. In fact it was too malty. I didn’t care for it. It was good enough that I could put another one down if need be, but I definitely would not pay $1.85 for a bottle again. I’m sure it has its fans, I’m just not one.

Unfortunately, these two were the extent of the Oktoberfest beers available at the local store, so I decided to put together a sampler and try some other beers that were new to me.

Uinta Anniversary Barley Wine: This probably should have been part of phase two of the project. But it’s a barley wine, and there’s some question as to whether barley wine is beer or something else. Plus I was scared of it. With my early issues about strong beers being overpowering, I was certain I wouldn’t like it.

I wasn’t head over heels for it, but it was good enough. At 10.4% abv, it’s not the most drinkable beer. It’s just too strong. It’s a sipping beer, and somehow the brewers managed to make it that strong while still striking a decent balance. It’s fairly dark, similar to a brown or a red ale, but not as dark as a porter. The malt and alcohol is so strong that the hops, while evident, don’t dominate. It meets my standard definition of a good beer: I’d accept one if offered, but I may not spend my own money to buy it.

After reading this article in The Atlantic about an emerging American beer style that nobody can figure out how to name, I was interested in trying an American Black Ale/Cascadian Black Ale/American-Style India Black Ale/whatever you want to call it. Unfortunately, the local store didn’t have any. So I came as close as I could and got a Russian Imperial Stout.

North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin: This stuff is supposed to be 75 IBUs. That’s pretty bitter and a lot of hops. Except that the malt was so dark and so strong (it’s 9% abv) that the hops still weren’t all that apparent. The beer was just plain strong. Too strong. I had a hard time finishing it. It was just too much for me in every way. Not awesome.