Tasting: January 2, 2012
Spike & Jerome
January 2, 2011 was the launch of popsonhops.com. At the one year mark, I can look back and say that having this venue has really has provided me with a lot of enjoyment. I have to admit, I get a kick out of a few things other than some very good craft beer — one is seeing the web traffic grow each month. In the month of December, there were 750 unique visitors that viewed a little over 5,000 pages of my site. Another thing is that I enjoy is seeing my reviews turn up in search engine results. Most of all, I appreciate that you read my entries and send comments. Also, thanks to family and friends for the kind words and encouragement.
In most cases, I will write a background paragraph or two in advance — but the bulk of the writing is really done in the time that it takes to drink that beer. I try and squeeze in a photo and some quick editing while trying to keep up with my kids and my household responsibilities.
For the year, I reviewed 220 different beers. I’m not sure if that’s a pace I can maintain in 2012 – but I’m not concerned with a goal. Some of the comments I’ve heard from friends and readers deal with recommendations. Admittedly, I wrote a lot about beers that aren’t readily available on shelves. I’m going to try and add some information about what to look for and ask for in the month or so ahead.
What to look for in January: California’s Port Brewing hits New Jersey shelves for the first time. They are known for their “alter-ego” label called “Lost Abbey”. This line includes a host of fine Belgian-style beers. I enjoyed Lost Abbey’s Serpent’s Stout — and for the imperial IPA crowd — Port Brewing’s “Mongo” is sure to please. Also, look for Founder’s Imperial Stout to make a brief appearance on shelves. A January unknown is whether we’ll see another installment of Dogfish Head’s 120 minute IPA — released on 1/20 last year.
Now, onto my first entry of 2012 — a collaboration barley wine by Georgia’s Terrapin Brewing and Switzerland’s Brasserie Franches Montagnes. It was brewed in Switzerland and is a blend of ale and ale aged in oak rum barrels. The label also indicates that this ale was made with 20% rye and 80% barley. A barley wine gets its name from a beverage made from barley that has an ABV that would rival a wine. This one appears to be on the mark with an ABV a shade over 12%. Pours absolutely still, maybe a soapy bubble around the edge of the glass — but not many. It’s a ruddy brown color and aroma of musty yeast, alcohol and raisins. First taste is staggeringly sour. Not as acidic as an American wild ale — but not far off. Dominated by cider vinegar, musty basement over some faint dark fruit. This one took me totally by surprise. I know there are clans of beer enthusiasts that gush on and on about sour ales — I’m just not one of them. I’ll call it a 60 and it’s down the drain.