All this beer stuff is beginning to come together. The big news for the week is that we finally updated the restaurant’s beer list. Now on draft are Sixpoint’s Brownstone and Ithaca’s Cold Front. Both are enjoying good sales and positive receptions… change isn’t as scary as it seems. What’s coolest is that when talking about the beers to guests, I reference what I learned from those original tastings I did at my little apartment table. It’s gratifying to see the Beer List put to practical use.
Also gratifying is the free beer that has come my way thanks to the job. I detail the goods after the jump.
Friday’s Northwind Imperial Stout was one such suggestion from one of the restaurant’s distributors, and it was a great call. It comes from one of my favorite breweries (Two Brothers Brewing Co., right outside of Chicago) and it’s very different from some of the other Imperial Stouts I’ve tried. For one, it’s extremely well balanced and drinkable. Some examples (Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate and North Coast’s Old Rasputin come to mind) are big beers that let you know just how big they are. At 9.1% alcohol, the Northwind was surprisingly smooth and well balanced. It had the deep flavor of some of the bigger stouts without their in-your-face stature. Plus, it was as fluffy and creamy a beer as I’ve ever tasted – like a mocha cappuccino. If you’re not yet a convert to the Imperial Stout genre, I strongly recommend trying this one out before the brutal cold of winter really kicks in.
Now… take that last beer, replace half the alcohol with simple syrup, top with whipped cream, and you have Left Hand’s Milk Stout. I had the Milk Stout on draft at the Ginger Man (one of the coolest beer bars in New York City) and it was a true experience in a glass. The beer came to me looking like it should have had a cherry on top – a deep dark chocolate body with a giant layer of thick whipped cream head. Drinking it was almost identical to the feeling of drinking the iced coffee I had gotten from Starbucks earlier that day. It was sweet, creamy, and delicious. The problem was, the whole iced coffee thing suits an actual iced coffee a little better than it suited a beer, and I got a little tired of the resemblance halfway through. While it may not have been my favorite style, it was a truly enjoyable experience and a cool showing of the wide spectrum of what beer can be.
At the Ginger Man, I followed up the Milk Stout with something very different: I Hardcore You, a joint-project IPA from two of Europe’s rock star breweries: BrewDog and Mikkeller. I Hardcore You is literally a mix of BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA and Mikkeller’s I Beat You. It was hands-down one of the most vibrant and flavorful beers I’ve ever had – the color was a saturated red-orange and the flavor was intensely floral hops. But amidst a sea of larger-than-life IPAs, where I Hardcore You stood out was how well balanced and controlled it managed to be. It preferred the aromatics of the hops over the bittering agents, allowing the flavors themselves to shine.