This past Saturday our friends Paul and Sandi held what has become their annual event, the “End of Summer Beer Extravaganza”—basically a bunch of us get together and drink some great beers, eat good food, and even (this year) had a Mario Cart race-off.
In addition to myself and my family, Mark Lindner and his wife Sara joined us, and Mike White the brewer for McMenamins Old St. Francis School stopped by with his family for a bit. Many good beers were opened and enjoyed, and this year I kept a tally.
Midnight Sun Berserker Imperial Stout (2012): Paul has established the tradition (more or less) of the first beer being the last beer from the year before, and this year’s was the 2012 vintage of Berserker, a 12.7% abv behemoth of a stout brewed with maple syrup and molasses and aged in bourbon barrels. Very maple-y and molasses-y, much more mellow than last year, and just a big, enjoyable brute from Alaska.
10 Barrel Precursor Imperial Red Ale (2011): 10 Barrel Brewing’s first small-batch limited bottling, an Imperial Red Ale aged in bourbon barrels and clocking in at 10% abv. I remember it being super bourbon-y the year it was released, and two years has tempered it but there is still a lot of bourbon happening here. There was some trouble getting the cork out of the bottle as well.
McMenamins Red Rum, Rum Barrel Aged Fireside Red: Mike White brought this over in a big mason jar, the rum barrel-aged version of the Old St. Francis School’s Fireside Red that was also pouring at this year’s Little Woody. Terrifically light beer (only 5.4% abv) but still has a lot of nice sweet notes from the rum barrel. Really enjoyable to drink again.
North Coast Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XV: If you’ve had Old Rasputin—one of my very first (if not the very first) Russian Imperial Stouts I ever had—then you know what a great beer it is. Now imagine putting that into a bourbon barrel. Yes, it’s as good as you would think: 11.9% abv, very balanced, dry finish, the bourbon present but letting the stout shine. Honestly, this blows most other Imperial Stouts out of the water (including the Berserker).
Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale: Paul and Sandi have been hanging onto this bottle since last year, just to sample again (and I’d brought the companion beer, which was next). Same exact impression for me as previous tastings: smells delicious, like waffles with syrup and bacon, taste doesn’t live up to the aroma. It’s thin, smoky (which I like), a rather ho-hum amber ale otherwise. Not terrible, not great: honestly if you’re going to be making a beer based on the Voodoo Doughnuts, it should be great.
Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale: I brought this one, and after trying it I was sorry I did. If a Voodoo Doughnuts collaboration should be great (as I just wrote above), I don’t know what went wrong with this one: “chocolate” was the defining aroma for most people, but I thought it smelled like pre-packaged chocolate frosting at best, spiked with a weird banana ester that seemed off. (The bottle says the three flavors were from “extracts.”) The taste—well the taste was awful, frankly. It tasted to me like peanut shells (Sara said “boiled peanuts”) with a metallic, chemical note and just didn’t work. I believe it was poured out by everyone.
Fire Cirkl Dragon’s Blood Braggot: You don’t see enough commercial braggots these days, and White City’s Fire Cirkl is aiming to change that. This is a 12.5% version that Paul and Sandi have been holding onto for a year, and it’s a nice version, if a little sweet and cloying to me: lots of sweet and sticky honey on the tongue even for something as strong as this. Smelled like wildflower honey, very pleasant, and was enjoyed by all.
Deschutes Jubelale 2007: I dipped into my beer “cellar” and brought bottles of ’07, ’08 and ’09 Jubelale. You can see in the picture this one had floaties but overall it aged fairly well, taking on a rather woody (Mark said “oaky”) character that was a bit astringent, but for a seven-year old beer not really meant to age (it’s only 6.7% abv, after all) I thought it held up pretty well.
Southern Tier Crème Brûlée: Indulgent, rich, flavorful in the ways that the Rogue Voodoo Doughnuts beers should have been. This one is basically liquid dessert in a glass.
Oakshire Hellshire III: Oakshire’s tasty stout aged in bourbon barrels, 8.5% abv which seems like a lightweight compared to some of the others but it’s a nice beer. Thin-bodied, which makes me think of Widmer’s KGB Imperial Stout—brewed intentionally that way. It had a mellow bourbon note and lots of roasty flavors.
Deschutes Jubelale 2008: Unfortunately this one didn’t age nearly as well as the ’07. It had a strongly astringent medicinal woody character which was pretty well undrinkable.
Deschutes Jubelale 2009: This one fared much better than the 2008, and was less woody as well, though surprisingly perhaps not quite as good as the ’07.
Rogue Big Ass Barrel Blackberry Ale: Finally a Rogue beer that was enjoyable! More so than the Voodoo Doughnuts anyway, though it wasn’t a favorite of the night. I enjoyed the blackberry character though with the barrel aging and indeterminate alcohol level, it was a bit reminiscent of a blackberry brandy I think, and malty.
Deschutes The Abyss 2006: Yes, Paul had found this in their stash! It was still amazing, but I actually think it was a bit past its prime: thinned out quite a bit, the roasted character was prominent, but I don’t think there was anything wrong with it—it was the right time to drink it, for sure. A highlight.
Fire Cirkl One-Eyed Ginger: Paul had picked this up as the finale “surprise” beer but unfortunately none of us were impressed with it. Made with ginger instead of hops, it was just… weird, I think. The intentions were there, but execution was not, unfortunately.
Also drank that evening but not mentioned: Full Sail Session Lager, which made a good palate (and glass) cleanser in between big beers.
All in all, it was a great way to spend a Saturday night, and I’m looking forward to next year’s!