I’ve been drinking a lot lately.
Don’t worry; this is definitely not going to turn into one of those blog posts. It’s more a question of scheduling than anything else. Last Sunday, The Happy Gnome had a whiskey tasting event as part of their Octoberfest. While my husband and I were there, we discovered that they were starting up their brewmaster dinners again on Wednesday with Brewery Ommegang, just in time for my birthday. And today was the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild‘s Autumn Brew Review, for which we’d forgotten we had tickets.
Oof. While I like my drinks, I average two or three a week. Here’s what I’ve had to drink this week, with tasting notes where appropriate. We passed drinks for everyone to try, so some of these, I had only a sip or two, but that’s still a lot of drinking.
Scotch & Whiskey Fest
Connemara Cask Strength: Like a little campfire in the mouth. That’s a compliment.
Isle of Arran Sassacaia finish: What port would taste like if port were scotch. Yum.
Isle of Arran 10-year: Exactly like the Sassacaia but without the port flavor. A sweet, winey scotch.
Mcallan 30-year: Smells great but tastes strongly woody. Not worth what one will be charged for it.
Peat Monster: Very strong smoke balanced throughout by sweet vanilla. The flavors ran out together.
Sazerac 6-year Rye: Nice, with a nearly chewy grain finish.
Speyburn: Nothing special. A perfectly servicable Speyside.
Wisers 18-year: An aged version of the fastest-growing Canadian brand. A smooth sipping whiskey.
Yamakazi 18-year: What vanilla extract should taste like. Very smooth, round flavor, almost too smooth for my tastes.
I tried a few more, including Oak Cross and Aberfeldy 21-year, but I was burned out by then. It all just tasted like whiskey, which isn’t bad but wasn’t the point.
Ommegang Beer Dinner
I just scanned the menus for this one.
There’s not much else to say, except that everything worked exactly the way it was supposed to, except maybe the nuts in the panna cotta. The food made the beer taste amazing, and the beer complemented the food perfectly. This was made even more amazing by the fact that the chef hasn’t had a drink in two years. He was working from smell and from knowledge of how the beer was put together.
Speaking of knowledge, hearing from the Ommegang brewmaster was a treat. He seemed a little shy, but he warmed up to questions well.
Autumn Brew Review
The weird thing about craft brew festivals is that you’d think it would be easier to get drunk than it is. Not to say that no one was drunk, but I don’t understand how they do it. If it’s good beer, and it generally is, I get full before I’m more than a wee bit tipsy.
The standouts at this festival, which has more than just Minnesotan beers, were the Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout from Leinenkugel (yes, Leinenkugel), the Three Feet Deep and Fallen Apple from Furthermore Beer, and the Frostop rootbeer. Abita’s Purple Haze and Strawberry Lager were just weird, as was the Coney Island Freaktoberfest Oktoberfest from Shmaltz Brewing. The others are listed below, but I’m almost certainly forgetting a few of the “just a sip” beers, as not everything is listed in the program.
Avery Brewing, New World Porter
Boulder Beer Company, Hazed and Infused
Capital Brewery, Baltic Porter
Great Waters Brewing Company, Pflugenpflagen
Left Hand Brewing, Milk Stout
McCann’s Food & Brew, Flame
Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Anniversary Tripel
Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Fresh Hop 2008
New Belgium Brewing, 1554
New Holland Brewing, Golden Cap
New Holland Brewing, Ichabod Pumpkin Ale
Peak Organic, Maple Oat Ale
South Shore Brewery, Applefest Ale
South Shore Brewery, Herbal Cream Ale
South Shore Brewery, Coffee Mint Stout
Southern Tier Brewery, Cherry Saison Imperial Oak Aged Cherry Ale
Surly Brewing, Coffee Bender
Vine Park Brewing, Rock Hopper Red Ale