We went down to Capital Ale House for dinner and a beer or two last Friday. Due to the crowds, we were seated in the dining area instead of taking our preferred bar seats. The table servers are generally clueless about what's on tap, especially with regard to anything not listed on the (often outdated) beer menu. The dining table servers are well-versed in the food specials, but that's not really why we're there, is it? But, this is not an insurmountable problem, I simply make a point to review the tap handles myself whenever we end up at a table.
During my walk of the tap lineup, I spied a handle for Great Divide Yeti. It's been a while since I had this Russian Imperial Stout from one of my old favorite breweries. My first beer of the evening was an easy choice. This pitch black beer smells of dark roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate, and a hint of smoke. The flavor is slightly sweet, with espresso and bitter chocolate notes. At 9.5% ABV it's a sipper, and was as enjoyable as I remember. Great Divide produces a number of versions of Yeti, including barrel-aged versions. Sipping my glass of Yeti the other night put me in the mood for tracking down a few of them once again.
My next beer choice was a bit more daunting. Do I repeat a beer I've enjoyed recently, while it's available, or try something new? I noticed on the menu that Sierra Nevada Narwhal was listed as an "upcoming" beer. Since the list was a couple of weeks old, and some of the other upcoming beers were already on, I took a shot and ordered the Narwhal. Unfortunately, our server returned with the news that it wasn't available. But for bonus points, he did return with samples of two other Stouts he suggested I might want to try; Blue Mountain Dark Hollow and Bell's Expedition Stout. Having had the Dark Hollow frequently, and recently, I opted for Expedition Stout. (Although I enjoyed the taster of the Blue Mountain beer as well.)
Bell's Expedition Stout is another dark Russian Stout, but one that takes "dark and bitter" to the next level. The aroma has roasted malt, and dark chocolate, with boozy underpinnings. To no surprise, the flavor profile continues with the same theme. The roasted malt, dark chocolate and espresso flavors are strong. The alcohol level makes its presence known in the flavor as well. A thick mouthfeel and a long-lingering bitter finish completes the picture. It's no secret that I like bold-flavored beers, and Expedition Stout met that preference quite well.
As an added beer bonus, Colleen was enjoying a flight of St. Bernardus beers; Witbier, Pater 6, Prior 8, Tripel, and Abt 12. She graciously shared the flight with the rest of the table. It was a treat, and very interesting to sample most of the St. Bernardus lineup at one time. The Christmas Ale was listed as part of the flight as well, but was unavailable. Capital Ale House substituted N'Ice Chouffe, the Christmas Ale from Brasserie d'Achouffe, adding to the evening's beer variety. Not be daunted, we picked up a bottle of St. Bernardus Christmas Ale over the weekend for our upcoming Christmas celebrations at home.
As with most evenings at Capital Ale House, we left with full bellies and with memories of great beers.