Learning to Love Craft Beers tasting – October 6, 2015

Shawn Young
October 6, 2015

When we were asked to think up ideas for new classes this fall, I knew exactly which one I wanted to put on. I wanted to invite those of you who may yearn to learn a little more about the beer culture, and those who may be intimidated by all the labels, terms, and acronyms surrounding craft beers so I could help demystify them! For this tasting I chose 7 beers which I felt represented some of the most popular styles (without getting too geeky), and took my guests on a tour through the world of craft beer!

We accompanied our beers with a selection of cheeses and charcuterie from our wonderful neighbors at Peasant Cheese. The pairing of our beers and the food from Peasant was just heavenly, if I do say so myself.

Here’s a peak at what we sampled:

Konig Ludwig Weissbier
I wanted to start out with an easy going style, and German beer happens to be what got me started on good beer! This stays true to the classic south German style with plenty of banana and spice notes, and a big but soft bready characteristic. One of my all time favorite Germans. ($4.39 for a 500mL bottle)

Le Merle Saison by North Coast brewing
To stay on the lighter side of the brew, we went on to the classic farmhouse ale, but one done in the US. North Coast’s Saison is a little heavier in alcohol than many of its historic cousins, but still gives plenty of yeasty flavors along with fruity esters, and great straw notes. A really great American Saison. ($15.59 for a 4-pack of bottles)

Sculpin IPA by Ballast Point brewing
I couldn’t have an “intro to craft beer” tasting without getting into the long, and sometimes disputed origins of the pale ale. Heck, I could (and have) dedicate an entire tasting to talking about just them! Though I went through the history of it, I wanted to focus on what it has become, and the power that modern hop use gives the brewer. It has the perfect balance of citrusy grapefruit and sappy pine notes. A golden malty body that supports and showcases the bitterness and the overall style. If you haven’t tried this one yet, I suggest you pick it up asap! ($26.39 for a 6-pack of bottles, or $11.49 for a 650mL bottle)

Salvator Double Bock by Paulaner
I took my guests back to Germany, and chatted about lagers for a bit, and pushed tasting into a darker, heavier beer. The original Paulaner was the Double Bock, and it’s easy to see how it’s survived all these years. With a sweet, roast bready malt, with generous spice and a smooth finish, this beer is a real treat. The high alcohol is noticeable but goes with the maltiness nicely. ($19.19 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Dogma by Brewdog
As the beers started to go darker, I had to take the opportunity to introduce everyone to the Scottish ales. A style that I can’t help but try whenever I see a new one. Though my usual favorites are at least a little smoky, this one is easily one of the best, and rather showcases the malty, caramely, floral qualities. a medium to full body with notes of bread, honey, and dark fruits. ($5.09 for a 330mL bottle)

Abt 12 by St. Bernardus
We had to finish off with the really heavy stuff, and the first style I wanted to talk about was the Belgian abbey ale! We went through the rich history of St. Bernardus, and how they brewed the cult like beer designed by the St. Sixtus abbey (Westvleteren) for 60 years. This big robust Belgian quadrupel is riddled with dark dried fruits and oodles of alcohol. A sweet molasses, and malty body that finished surprisingly dry. This drinks great as soon as you get it, but can also be aged to mellow it out a little! ($6.89 for a 330mL bottle)

Ga Run Icelandic stout by Borg Brugghus
Of course we had to end off with a stout, and what a stout it was! The first Icelandic beer to hit the province is this hefty imperial stout. Huge roasty, coffee, and chocolate notes along with licorice, and soy. Dangerously easy to drink for being 11.5% abv, and all in all a pleasure! ($4.59 for a 330mL bottle)

Even though each and every one of these beers are amazing, there have to be some that stand out to the crowd, and those three are: Brewdog Dogma, St. Bernardus Abt 12, and Paulaner Salvator. I’m personally expected the Sculpin to rate a little higher, but I understand as IPAs are not always the most friendly beers to begin your journey with.

This tasting was a lot of fun, and I think it’s something I’ll have to repeat! Everyone really loved the cheese, the learning, and of course, the variety of beer! I had a blast as well, as I got to share my knowledge and passion, and if there’s one thing I like doing, it’s talking beer! So stay tuned for the next tasting schedule coming in December, and until then, maybe look at the beer and cheese class coming up November 10! Also, you could always visit the shop and ask me any beer related questions, or for recommendations.

Until then, Cheers!

Shawn Young

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