Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beer Ain't Drinkin' Part 2: Electric Boogaloo (natch)

by Jeff Allison

A-Hoy Hoy, All!

For my second installment I will mostly be gabbing about the Dogfish Head invasion at the Bavarian Lodge, in scenic Lisle (or at least what I remember of it). This is the second of what I hope will be an annual event. The area rep from Dogfish Head was there to chat (yet I stupidly/drunkenly forgot to ask him when Punkin Ale and Bitches Brew are coming out), and they had a huge variety of Dogfish Head on tap and bottles (pretty much all of their varieties—roughly a dozen), which the bar had been stockpiling for the better part of a year. The highlights were the Red And White (a white ale brewed with Pinot Noir grapes and stored in Pinot Noir barrels), the World Wide Stout (the world's strongest dark beer—something like 16% and I've never heard of it on tap), Poppa Skull (lighter than I remember but really good), while the Barton Burton and 90 Minute IPA were run through a randalizer with hops picked earlier that day... in Wisconsin. What is a randalizer? you ask. A randalizer is basically a second filter that the beer is run through that is jammed with hops and makes the beers even hoppier. The only downside was I got there after the 120 Minute IPA and Bitches Brew ran out, and I didn't get a chance to eat my big pile of great sausages!

Moving on... France! Well, France isn't usually known for great beer. Cognac, wine, cordials... surely they can't make great beer too! The best known French beer is Kronenburg, a German/Czech-style lager with a good amount of flavor but nothing really special. However, the Flanders region, unsurprisingly on the Belgian border, does make some great world-class beer. I'm currently drinking a bottle of St Landelin La Divine, a Bière de Garde, which has medium hops and is light brown in color, with more than a little sweetness. I've only had a handful of beers in this style—mostly micros that don't do the style as well (although the Flying Dog and Two Brothers ones are worth trying). Really nice. Loads of flavor but light.

As far as I know, St Landelin is brand new to America, and I'm looking forward to trying the white and the blonde! The French will pretty much never be known for beer as well the English, or the Czechs, or Germans, Irish, Belgians, Scottish... But believe it or not, they make great beer too! Check out 3 Monts if you can find it, which is probably the best Flanders ale I've had.

In the upcoming weeks: My tour of the Bell's Brewery, which is in the middle of a huge brewery expansion (it's my understanding that once it's done they will be the largest brewery in the Midwest after Budweiser and Miller), through over the years they have made GREAT beers and have been very consistent in quality. And maybe I can get a bottle or two of Oracle! Also, at work we've had cases of Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (from 07, which mellows with age) in our basement for years, and I finally bought a bottle. Should be great!

Cheers, Beers, Steers, and Queers!

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