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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

And So Begins Strong Beer Month...





Strong Beer Month really started for me on February 1st and so has my beer gut. It fell on a Monday and being the coffee nut I have been, it didn't help that I made 3 stops before checking in to work. Those stops were a baby latte at Sightglass Coffee, a Special Xtra Macchiato and of course the best Gibraltar from Jennifer at Cento. Honestly, this woman was so good, I went back to bring her a Chicken Livers and Bacon sandwich from Pal's Take-Away just to say thanks. After a gym run and a run to the liquor store after work, I ran over to Pi for a pizza slice and the beginning of my Strong Beer Addiction. It was a draft of Allagash Odyssey that got me started. Odyssey is the second edition in Allagash's Barrel Aged series. It is a dark, 10% ABV wheat beer. They age a portion of the beer in New American Medium Toast Oak, and a portion in stainless steel for more than six months. Then they blend the two different portions of beer to taste. Finally they add additional yeast and Candi sugar and VoilĂ ! My next flight was off to the Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Company. Usually available in early summers in 22oz bottles, this limited draft was first released in July 2000. The beer as Stone describes it, is massive! For sure it is! "Intensely aromatic (notes of anise, black currants, coffee, roastiness and alcohol) and heavy on the palate, this brew goes where few can- and fewer dare even try. The style originated from Czarist Russia's demand for ever thicker English Stouts." Woof, I tell you...And they were right with heavy at 10.5% ABV. It was 2 more drafts of Moonlight's Death and Taxes and some house-made calabrese before I called it a night. I love how dark this brew looks but how light and easy it is to drink. It is refreshing without the heaviness. Tell that to my body as I crawled back to the crib and tucked myself in.

My friend Matt and Mike came into town on Tuesday from Mendocino. I insisted that we celebrate by trying all 6 of 21st Amendment's STRONG BEERS. That way I could fill out half of the my STRONG BEER tracking card and be close to my commemorative glass. My first selection, was the Cask Conditioned Imperial Jack. This is a Big ESB, malty with a hoppy edge and clocks in at 8.7% ABV. Matt got the Hop Crisis which is a Triple IPA with big aroma and flavor at 10.8 ABV. Mike went for the complex Lower De Boom full of malt and hops and 11.2% ABV. We ordered the special pasta which was the rigatoni bolognese, the special risotto and some fried calamari to pair with our selections. I was impressed by the taste but also the feeling that came over after several sips. And then we ordered the last 3 Strong Beers to complete our experience. I jumped for the Beer School by Jon Foster who claims it be a dry hopped Imperial Blonde, clocking in at 9.1% ABV. The guys got the last two on the list. Mike claimed the Two Lane Blacktop, which was an excellent Imperial Stout, that I ended up hogging 'cause of the hearty taste and probably the 9.4% ABV was also quite appealing. Matt had the pleasure of the Blind Lust, which is 21A's Belgian Strong with oak aged framboise. Clocking in at 9.5% abv with 35 IBUs, this was a great way to finish out our beer flight. And at that point, we were all feeling it. And by feeling it, I mean, we were feeling real good. Was it only just Tuesday?

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