Friday, June 24, 2011

Russian River Night @ The Tasting Room.

Last night, the 23rd June 2011, was at The Tasting Room for a special session of Russian River Ales. These ales are very highly rated and, actually, Jimmyton's Global Beer Exchange doesn't even carry these. Jim just brought some back from a recent trip to California so we could all taste them.

We were to be 9 in all, but Alex and Richard were delayed due to the traffic the rains brought. Above, aside from myself, the early birds were Tonji, the Ancheta sisters, Jim, Miguel and Sylvia. We decided to wait for the others, so Jim popped open a couple of bottles to warm us up.

My favorite Rogue Juniper Pale Ale & Miguel's favored Stone Pale Ale.

With these, we had platters of Jamón Serrano, Vela de Lomo, etc. I've written about the Rogue Juniper Pale Ale many times before, so there is no need to repeat myself. The Stone Pale Ale is a clean, refreshing hoppy ale with a light, underlying maltiness. Very nice indeed. I can see why Miguel favors this. Both were nice with the deli.

After a more than decent wait, we decided to start on the featured ales, saving some for the others, naturally.

The lecture begins...

...followed by the precision pours.

A pair of Russian River Temptation.

These are "wild ales" per Jim, but I forgot to ask him what that meant. Both were aged for 12 months in chardonnay barrels. One was a new release , the other a year bottle-aged already. Both are very dry and hoppy with notes of sour apple, white grapefruit and a hint of calamansi. The younger one's citrus was quite aggressive and had a prominent yeasty touch to it. The aged one was comparatively quite mellow (much more ready to drink to my mind), and the citrus was mild - emerging more towards the back and finish. Most of us found it a bit strange and too different, but Tonji (who knows much more about beer than I) liked them and said they would be good for the beach or on a hot day.

Richard finally arrives in raincoat and sandals
- not really the ideal footwear for Philippine flash flood weather.

Of course, he immediately got down to "business".

A pair of Russian River Consecration.

Like the Temptation, one was a new release and the other a year bottle-aged. These were oak aged and flavored with currants - like a cabernet sauvignon ale, per Jim. Both reminded me of kir but made with beer instead of white wine. I think most of us found them a bit too weird - descriptors of champoy and kiamoy were mentioned. I seem to remember that Richard and Miguel mentioned that there were summer drinks of beer mixed with fruit liqueur in Switzerland and Spain. I've never tried them though.

This double IPA Russian River Pliny the Elder, named after the Roman scholar and writer, Gaius Plinius Secundus, was an absolute hit with the group. We all loved it and, for Tonji, Richard and I, was clearly the beer of the night. It is powerful, yes, but so refreshing, smooth and balanced in its malt, hops, citrus and yellow apricot reminiscent flavors. Excellent, excellent brew. I've read and heard a lot of good things about this beer, and it certainly did not disappoint. What a great treat! Thanks for bringing this in, Jim!

Tonji was actually the one who introduced me to
Jim's craft beers and assorted Belgian ales several years ago.

He's always had the habit of asking such strange yet thought-provoking questions.

The Russian River Ale tasting done, we moved onto a new line of Jim, the Ballast Point Sea Monster Imperial Stout. Roasted malt, just a hint of arnibal, bit of chocolate, black coffee, dried fruitiness, underlying oatmeal, nicely rounded and pliant on the palate. Again, there is notable balance to this; nothing juts out, no angles. Very, very nice indeed. I can very easily get into this stout. In the meantime, Alex and our pizzas had arrived.

Since I wasn't able to attend the last Rogue event, I simply had to have the two releases that I missed, namely, the Rogue John John Dead Guy Ale and the Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir Black Lager. The John John Dead Guy is, as I understand, a barrel aged release of my favorite Dead Guy Ale. It is similar in power and flavor, but with seemingly slightly more heft, punch and slight notes of caramel and vanilla. The Chatoe Dirtoir Black Lager, on the other hand, displays an alluring deep roasted maltiness that I find delicious and dangerously easy to slug down. I had to watch it, though, as I noticed I was already swaying a bit when I went outside for a quick smoke. Needless to state, both are on my beer re-stocking list.

By that time conversation was flying, about the environment, birds, mining, investments, foreign exchange, what-have-you - peppered with a lot of good-natured teasing and a lot of laughs.

Jim and I then had a bottle each of the Rogue XS Barely Wine - the first barley wine I've ever had. I was already quite hit by that time, so, honestly, I don't really remember how it tasted; I just know I finished the bottle. I'll have to try this again for proper notes. Jim showed a lot of restraint - well, and sleepiness too; so he took his leave and headed on home. We lingered for a couple of hours or so more and I got home at around 1am. It was yet another fun-and-beer-filled night at The Tasting Room.

Until the next!


jimaraneta said...

Oops sorry about that. Here is the official description of what an American Wild Ale is. In my opinion, pretty close to what we tasted last night, no? I recall hearing funky, strange and weird many times during the session :-)

" Sometimes Belgian influenced, American Wild Ales are beers that are introduced to "wild" yeast or bacteria. This introduction may occur from oak barrels that have been previously inoculated, pitched into the beer, or gained from various "sour mash" techniques. Regardless of which and how, these little creatures often leave a funky calling card that can be quite strange, interesting, pleasing to many, but also often deemed as undesirable by many.

Hope this helps. Thanks for coming over last night, Noel.



Noel said...

Yup, "yeast" and "sour mash" certainly sound right to me. All our pleasure for sure, Jim. Thanks too for allowing us to finally get to try the Pliny the Elder - loved it! The new Rogues and the Sea Monster too!



Miguel said...

Thanks Jim for ringing this in. Thanks Noel for the pizza and cold cuts! Was a great tasting

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