As I said in my post yesterday, one of the best things about acquiring rare or hard to find beer is actually turning around and sharing it with your friends. I’ve certainly been placed in the situation where you’re a little disappointed that the people you’re sharing with don’t quite appreciate it as much as you do. But, if you put the right people together in the same place, it can be a lot of fun. Saturday night frequent beer reviewer guest John and I traveled over to our friend Gavin’s house for a night full of shared beer and watching two grown men try to punch each other in the face until one of them stops. Okay, that makes it sound like I don’t really like watching the UFC. I actually really enjoy watching the fights, so I knew it was going to be a good night.
We’ve gotten together to do this one time before. The previous event didn’t get a post because it seemed to be a bunch of bottles that all ran into each other without really a goal or thought in mind. We drank about everything we could that Gavin had from 3 Floyds, and we supplemented those with a few others like Heady Topper and Ghandi Bot. This time we decided to try and outline a little more of what we would be drinking. Much communication took place prior to the event to try and figure out what bottles would be prioritized for the night. Many of them were selected because of our own personal tastes right now; however, a few were placed in there because of the very high alcohol content and the need to be split three ways and enjoyed by all. Here was the end result of our planning and prepping, as well as, a few we decided to include last minute. This is also the order they were consumed in.
1. Gingerbread Stout – Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
2. Wee Heavy – Iron Hill Brewery
3. Bolt Cutter – Founders Brewing Co
4. Pere Jacques – Goose Island Beer Co
5. Saint Botolph’s Town – Pretty Things Brewery
6. Bourbon County – Goose Island Beer Co
7. La Bk Stout – Birrifcio L’Olmaia
8. Big Hoppy Monster (oak aged) – Terrapin Beer Co
9. Robert the Bruce Scottish Ale – Three Floyds Brewing Co
10. 10 Commandments – The Lost Abbey
11. Racer X – Bear Republic Brewing co
12. White Hatter – New Holland Brewing Co
As I’m sure you can see from the list, this was no small undertaking. These are some big beers and many of them were a first a try for us. The night was full of discussion on both the ups and downs of each bottle. In the end we really geeked out by trying to arrange the bottles from best to worst. Ultimately we all had different opinions on the ordering of the bottles; however, there were certainly a few that were the best and the worst.
The Best – Ultimately Bourbon County won the evening on everyone’s arrangement. Really the top beers were fairly similar for all of us. It was hard to put anything up over the bold booze and complex flavors packed into the little 12 oz bottle. I’m excited I have a four pack to age for a few years. Hardywood’s Gingerbread Stout was second on everyone’s list as well. Having just consumed Sam Adam’s version the day before, I was most excited for this beer. It was an incredibly complex milk stout that really tasted like gingerbread. My biggest problem with Sam Adams was that it lacked stout quality and instead tasted like a weak pumpkin beer. This one was all stout and all gingerbread. Allowing it to warm only increased its impressiveness. The beer to round out the top three wasn’t all that surprising either. Founders Brewing Co – Bolt Cutter rounded out the top three favorites on all lists. At 15 % Abv, it figured to be a huge hit to the head barleywine. Instead, it didn’t pack the punch we thought it would, and it had some nice hops to help keep the beer cleaner than expected. There were some change-ups in the lists from here on out; however, most of the beers in the middle portion all stayed in the middle. They simply moved up or down a place or two.
The Worst – Keep in mind this is a relative term. These beers weren’t horrible at all, but they were the least favorite relative to the rest of the beers. Looking back at the pictures, we all had some slight differences of opinion when it came to the least favorite ones. These were my beers that had the low marks. Third to last came Saint Botolph’s Town – Pretty Things Brewery. This one was the worst for Gavin and didn’t make it into the bottom for John. I personally did like it, but I just thought everything else above it was better. I have a feeling it may have just come in a little too standard in comparison to the rest of the beers on the list. The second least favorite for me was a little bit of a surprise: La Bk Stout – Birrifcio L’Olmaia. This was a stout from Italy that had been aged in wine barrels. We weren’t really sure what it would be like, but it was a really big surprise. There was no stout flavor to it at all, and it ended up tasting like a big sour beer instead. I’m not a big fan of sours, so I actually found this one a little tough to get through. It made it into the bottom three for all of us. The big loser of the group for me was the Wee Heavy from Iron Hill Brewery. I really like wee heavy beers, but this had some strange sweet fruit quality to it that I wasn’t feeling. It was a strange addition to a style I really like, and I just couldn’t hang with it. It was bottom two for John and I, but Gavin decided the Botolph was the worst beer of the night. I disagree!
All in all it was a great night with some great beers. So far we’ve done two of these events; hopefully it isn’t too long before we can get another one going.