Last Saturday was pretty great. I got to celebrate Baylie's upcoming 12th birthday a little early, and later I got to meet a couple new friends, hang out with some known friends, & taste some great craft beer. The Facebook group, 'Beer Geeks of Arkansas' has been a great resource for me the past 9 months or so. We even had an impromptu, mini-tasting as the hotel in LR before Kelsie's last facial surgery. So, I hosted several of the guys, some coming from as far away as Beebe, and we got down to business.
Here is an overall list, I won't be doing full reviews on all of them, but several are too noteworthy to pass up.
De Molen Donder & Bliksem
Bear Republic Pete Brown Tribute Ale
Three Floyd's Alpha King
Terrapin Moo-Hoo Milk Chocolate Stout
Widmer Brothers W'12 Dark Saison
Uinta Crooked Line Labyrinth
Ballast Point Sculpin
Goose Island King Henry
Founders Imperial Stout
Stone Sublimely Self Righteous
Duchesse De Borgogne
Terrapin Wake n Bake
Odell Myrcenary DIPA
It was quite a stunning list, highlighted by the Goose Island King Henry, which I think won the night for all. It was a loose tasting with beer coming from multiple locations, so we just went around the table picking the one we'd like to try next, with the owner sharing a bit about it. Easy conversation flowed, anchored by beer talk, veering in multiple directions, always coming back to center. Though ages and backgrounds were quite varied, the passion and desire to learn about beer, made for a pleasant evening, with no real lull in the conversation; that is till we hit the King Henry and a reverential silence fell across the table.
There was food to pair, to contrast, to experiment with; we all gave our palate insights, our initial findings, reinforced by or backed off of after a bit of warmth, air, and introspection.
So without further adieu, here is the review of GI KH
Goose Island King Henry ABV 13.4%
Goose Island Brewery Barleywine, aged in bourbon barrels Bomber poured into highball glasses for tasting
A - Jet black, with virtually no head. Glass instantly coated in brown. Edges allow a dark chocolate hue to pass through
S - Chocolate and bourbon hit me first with a wet, oaky woodiness playing at the back end. Some raisins and fig are underlying here too. A very pleasant aroma, though rich and decadent. You can tell from the nose, this is not a beer to mess around with
T - Definitely a bourbon hit, but there is a balance here that moves quickly past that. My first strong taste thought was brown sugar. Thoughts of baking cookies hit me as a slight breadiness was in the background with it's hand raised, begging for attention. The chocolate flavors, ares till strongly at play, but there is a vanilla note that is blocking it from becoming too powerful.
M - Syrupy, it coats the tongue, and demands to be savored. No big gulps or quick second drinks here. A dessert in a glass
D - This beer was the clear winner on the night, and a glance at Beer Advocate or RateBeer will show you why. Its absolutely gorgeous. All at the table agreed it was the hands down winner. However, with that said, it is not a beer that possesses a great drinkability. I think regardless of the tasting, I would have to split a 650 ml bottle with someone to appreciate it. At 13.4%, the alcohol will hit you, but it is the richness of this beer, bordering on decadence, that will keep you from downing one solo. Even if one bottle was enjoyed solo, I think you would find that the evening's closing ceremonies had been held. As an extremely rare beer, I doubt I will find myself anywhere near another one, but if I do, I hope I have a friend handy to help me enjoy it.