2017 was a tremendous year to write about beer. The memories I made in 2017 are so...wait...where are they? All I'm coming up with are a series of jerky, hazy images involving double IPA, punctuated by the occasional burp. Thank goodness I took good notes. Consulting them, I can see that I enjoyed a number of wonderful beers last year. Here are some of my best beer experiences. Here's to a happy and healthy 2018, with more memories and great beers!
Winter – Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. Gulped out of a gargantuan 19.2 oz “stovepipe” can.
Ten Fiddy pours like crude oil, raising a thin head of dark brown foam. Its aroma whiffs of licorice, chocolate, espresso and whiskey. Initial flavor is a fudge-soaked rush of concentrated chocolate, bourbon and dark malt. The body is so thick, it could be cut with a putty knife. Alcohol hits the back of my throat like a fudgesicle wrapped in whiskey-soaked black velvet. The aftertaste is owned by the bourbon barrel, with woody tannin and unsweetened chocolate. I remember chewing this beer on a cold evening after a long bike ride. Nearly a year later, the memory of its alcoholic intensity and fudgy concentration still warms me.
Spring – Mason's Hipster Apocalypse. Gratefully chugged out of a 16 oz. can.
Pours a dark yellow with a dense white head. Aroma has pineapple, citrus and pine. Initial flavor has a juicy citrus; there's fresh orange, lemon peel, and grapefruit. Underneath, there's the bitter scrape of the hop flower itself. The malt is sweet and unobtrusive, letting the flowery character of the hops lead. After sipping a sample to review, I took the can out on my porch to admire the lingering light in the sky and feel the warmth of the air on my skin. The superior drinkability and vivacious hops set me up for a fun summer.
Summer – Dogfish Head Flesh and Blood IPA. Sipped appreciatively from a 12 oz. capped bottle.
Pours a reddish amber and raises a rocky off-white head. Aroma has candied orange, grapefruit and dank, resinous hops. Initial flavor has the warmth and spice of a sun-ripened blood orange. Despite the cool liquid, the flavor is so evocative, I can almost feel the warm, juicy flesh of this exotic fruit fresh from the tree. I sipped this reddish elixir on a steamy August evening, and my eyes opened wide with the force of the citrus flavor. There are worse ways to spend a summer evening in Maine than with the sun-warmed taste of blood orange on your mustache.
Fall – Foundation Brewing Company Cosmic Bloom, slurped out of a 16 oz. can.
Pours a hazy lemon yellow with a thin white head. Aroma mixes jasmine, asphalt, pineapple and citrus. Initial flavor combines firm bitterness with skunky, resinous qualities, developing into exotic tropical flavors like pineapple, guava and coconut. All the while, firm initial bitterness supports and grounds the fruit flavors. The body is light and quenching, with just enough gentle sweetness to reinforce the fruit and balance the bitterness. I enjoyed this beer on a cold, rainy evening. The summery flavors filled me with a sense of loss and longing for warm weather. By the end of the can, I was wistful for a season past, but excited for the coming winter.