We have too much beer in our house. It’s a good problem to have, I know, but it does still bother me from time to time. Luckily there is an easy and fun solution, and Reed has been adding beer pairings to pretty much everything recently in order to ease my twitchy aversion to anything resembling hoarding. Last night he grilled teriyaki turkey burgers and pineapple and paired it with yet another Stone collaboration beer: El Camino (un)Real Black Ale, which was originally made in 2010, aged since then in “virgin American oak barrels”. The other breweries involved are Firestone Walker in Paso Robles and 21st Amendment in San Francisco, both of which are along the El Camino Real, the old road connecting the California missions, which is a reference you probably only know if you grew up here.
Anyway, Reed pouring me beer is nothing new, especially since most of our “excess” is in 22oz bottles and he only rarely opens one of those on his own. What made last night different was what he poured the beer into. When I saw the wine glass full of beer, a few thoughts entered my mind: “Did he hit his head at work today?” “Perhaps this is actually an alien wearing a Reed suit” and other similar quandaries, all of which seemed plausible considering the pictures I’d seen earlier in the day of the new Stone brewhouse being delivered (check them out and tell me that doesn’t look like an alien encounter). Reed assured me, however, that he had poured the beer into wine glasses on purpose, so that we could fully appreciate the aroma while drinking it. We have been having a discussion off and on about whether he can really taste and smell all the myriad things he rattles off when trying a new beer, with me generally arguing that he’s full of it while he maintains that “no really, can’t you taste those California figs and dry cedar?” But I digress. This was intended to be a quick post with a few pictures and tasting notes. So let’s get to that.
|What’s not to like?|
This is a delicious beer! I never had any of the original run, before the barrel aging, so I don’t have that to compare it to. But the fact that this was aged in virgin barrels surprised me, because it definitely has that bourbon bite to it, that thick sweetness you can indeed smell on your way to the glass for the first taste. I have always assumed that came from the years of holding bourbon, not that the flavor is already in the oak. Which leads me to a few questions. Is that bourbon flavor really just oak flavor? What would bourbon taste like if it was made in steel? Further study is needed, I’m nothing if not a scientist.
Part 2 of the evening: dessert! A friend had given us a bottle of Rogue’s Chocolate Stout recently when we had him over for our beer-pairing dinner (more on that in a not-so-distant future post). Needless to say, he now has a standing invitation and this is my new favorite stout. Unlike the others I’ve had which get their chocolate flavor from malt, this one also has “natural chocolate flavoring” on the ingredient list (along with “Free Range Coastal Waters,” which both amused me and caused me to roll my eyes). This beer is very smooth and I would love to try it on draught with nitro, as I’ve yet to meet a stout that’s not made even better that way. Or perhaps on cask? The flavors did evolve as it warmed up, so that would be a neat experiment as well. My very favorite characteristic about Rogue’s chocolate stout is that there’s none of that pesky coffee flavor lurking about. I hate the smell/taste/very idea of coffee. Not in a judgmental way, as I can clearly see that I am outnumbered and pretty much everyone in my profession and my reality at large is addicted to the stuff. But the smell nauseates me. It is not allowed in my car at any time, and Reed gets no kisses if it’s on his breath. Though difficult, I had accepted the fact that chocolate stouts invariably have coffee notes to them and so I would never truly love one. Reed’s continuing beer education has taught me never to say never.
|Beagle snout photobomb!|