Saturday, January 30, 2010

Craft Beer Tasting Series at the Pumphouse Brewery: Stouts

The Pumphouse Brewery in Longmont has recently re-started having monthly craft beer tastings. The tasting for January was on Stout beers and our guest speakers were from The Mountain Sun Brewery.

Our host, Craig, along with Brian Hutchinson (head brewery at Mountain Sun)and Jason Stengel (manager at Mountain Sun) walked us through 6 different styles of Stout along with 16 stout beer tastings.

Originally Porters were dark colored ales and Stouts were 'strong porters'. Brown malt was used for coloring. In 1817, the patent for a barley roaster was approved and Stouts were truely 'born'.

The Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout have an initial malt and light caramel flavor with a distinctive dry-roasted bitterness in the finish. Dry Stouts have a medium-light to medium body.
* Guiness
* Mountain Sun Old School

Oatmeal Stouts include oatmeal in their grist which provides a full-flavor, smooth profile that is rich without being grainy. These stouts typically are a medium to full-bodied tasting beer.
* Sammy Smith's Oatmeal Stout
* Mountain Sun Yonder Mountain Stout

Sweet Stouts/Cream Stouts have less roasted bitter flavor and a full-bodied mouthfeel. More body can be added to the beer with milk sugar (lactose).
* Left Hand Milk Stout

American-Style Stouts have a low to medium sweetness with a degree of carmel, chocolate and/or roasted coffee flavor. Hop aroma and flavor is moderate to high.
* Deschutes Obsidian Stout
* Mountain Sun Drop Kick Stout

Export (Foreign-Style) Stout have initial malt sweetness and carmel flavor with a dry-roasted bitterness finish. Coffee-like roasted barley and roasted malt aromas are prominent. Hop aroma and flavor are low to none.
* Left Hand Fade to Black
* Lion Brewing Stout

American-Style Imperial Stouts are black in color and typically are very high in alcohol content. The extremely rich malty flavor adn aroma are balanced with assertive hopping and fruity-ester characteristics. Bitterness should be moderately high to very high and then balanced with a full sweet malt character.
* Great Divide Yeti
* Mountain Sun Nihilist
* Oscar Blues Brewery (OBB) Ten Fidy
* Pumphouse Backdraft Imperial Stout 2006

"Outside the Box" Stouts:
* Pumphouse Brewery (PHB)Cherry Imperial Stout - Vail Big Beers 10th Anniversary Blend.
* PHB-Mountain Sun: Co-conspirator Backdraft Imperial Stout 2009
* Mountain Sun Oak-aged Stoked Oak

The first beer we tasted was the Guiness, which tasted fine then. By the time I had tasted a few others and came back to the Guiness, it tasted like Coors with dark food coloring. It was amazing how little flavor Guiness has.

I big fan of Left Hand Brewery and love their Fade to Black and Milk Stout. Did you know that Fade to Black has wheat in it? It's a wheat stout... actually I don't know if that is really a category.

The Sammy Smith's Oatmeal stout was tasty enough but rather sweet. Turns out that many British beers put cane sugar in their beers. There use to be a high tax on sugar that was created by yeast. In order to lower their taxes, brewers started using cane sugar.

Imperial Stouts can have many different tastes. For example, The Great Divide Yeti was very hoppy (and delicious, I might add) while the Mountain Sun Nilhilist was on the sweet side (at least in comparison).

The "Out of the Box" were a little strong for me. When they get this strong, they taste like 'moonshine' to me. And, I am a lover of beer (not moonshine).

In addition to all the lovely beers above and the educational element, we were also served appetizers. These included Soft Pretzels served with Santa Fe Artichoke Cheese Dip and Pumphouse-made Beer Mustard, Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Sausages, Cheese and Crackers.

I really had a great time at this event and will definitely be attending all the others.


The Mountain Sun Brewery

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ales for Females - January meeting

The January meeting of the Ales for Females at Left Hand Brewing was another fun event. This month they focused on Winter Ales.

Many brewers make Spiced Beers as their Winter Ales. I am not particularly fond of the spiced beers so I was pleased that we were tasting non-spiced beers.

The first beer was Alaskan Winter Ale - brewed with Spruce Tips. This beer was served with slices of tangerine. The beer is in the style of an old english ale with a sweet-malt taste. It wasn't my favorite beer but okay.

Next up was Jubelale from Deschutes Brewery in Oregon. This beer was paired with Margaret's Artisan Bakery's Goji Berry and Pistachio Crisps. These were nice little crackers that went well with beer. We were served a few pieces of the crackers plain and two very small pieces of the cracker with a mild blue cheese. The crackers with the blue cheese were phenomenal with the beer! Strong ales go well with fat - in this case, blue cheese.

Lastly, we tasted Left Hand's Fade to Black . Fade to Black has chocolate, coffee and raisin flavors. This is a delicious beer and my current favorite winter beer. Fade to Black was served with Columbus Hot Fennel Salame. Again, strong beers taste good with some fat. The salame was excellent - the spicyness and fennel went great with the Fade to Black.

After the beer and food pairings. We were educated on the basic beer ingredients and how they relate to each other. Mashing is the process of breaking down starch into sugars.

More malt (malted barley) = more sugar = higher ABV. The commercial brewers use corn and rice along with some malt to make their beers. This is one reason their beers are not very flavorful nor strong.

I love Fade to Black!