Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Beer Tasting at Hard Times Cafe

We attended the Winter Beer Tasting held at the Hard Times Cafe in Woodbridge Monday evening. The event is different from many tastings. At the start the brewery or distributor reps describe each of the beers they are presenting. Then unmarked samples of the beers are brought to the tables in random order. Our task is to identify the beers based on the descriptions presented earlier. It's fun but not as easy as you might think, and some of the introductions given were better than others. A few of the beers are quite obvious, but many get narrowed down to an "either/or" situation. As more beers are brought out you start questioning your earlier choices. I managed to get a mere 5 of the 11 correct, while Colleen scored 7 out of 11. There was a tie for best record with FABTS' own Lyle Brown tied for first place getting 9 of 11 correct.

The beers presented for tasting were:

Victory Hop Wallop
Wychwood Bah Humbug
Allagash Grand Cru
Clipper City Below Decks
Bell's Winter White
Delirium Noël
Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
Brooklyn Winter Ale
Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
Smuttynose Winter Ale
Sierra Nevada Celebration (not shown)

I ranked the Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout as my favorite of the bunch. Randy reports that the Cappuccino Stout won the popularity vote and will soon join the draft line up at the Woodbridge Hard Times.

It was a lot of fun and thanks go out to all the reps and to Randy at Hard Times for putting on this event. Included in the price of the dinner was your choice of a menu item and a pint of beer. As a special treat for the event, Tom Cizauskas from Clipper City Brewing in Baltimore brought in a firkin of cask conditioned Winter Storm "Category 5" Ale. I mentioned in a previous post that I was looking forward to having this Winter release again, but I've not yet had a chance this season. So the opportunity to try it "fresh" was a treat. The Winter Storm has a crisp floral hop aroma backed by a bit of caramel malts. The mouth feel was very smooth with a very nice piney and floral hop flavor. A very nice beer and the 7.50% ABV is well masked. The cask serving makes for a smoother drink with less carbonation. It was certainly the beer highlight of the evening. If I wasn't going to be tasting 11 more beers, I'd have had another.

It was also great to finally meet Tom Cizauskas in person. I've been reading his blog for some time so I felt as if I already knew him. When I saw the bandage in his finger I knew exactly why it was there. Although I gladly drove the 40 miles to attend the dinner, I look forward to seeing events like this in Fredericksburg some day. (That's a hint, Tom. :-)

Tom has posted his write up of the event here.

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