Sunday, October 17, 2010

Triptych Part Three

While it is still early in rainy Sunday Los Angeles, and my lust for coffee remains to be satiated, I thought I would finish up the triptych I had posted earlier this week. For this final installment I want to highlight my long-running beer nerdery. Though wine and cocktails have been my focus for the past years, anyone who has been around me since those sweltering Chicago summer nights and skin-achingly cold Minneapolis winter afternoons will know my first romance was beer. Helped along by the good punk-otaku sirs of Pyschommu Gaijin I was exposed to hundreds of the worlds finest beers (and many a world-class hangover along with at least one hallway boxing match at 4AM). At last tally, I've easily tasted well over a thousand different beers from tallboys of Shlitz to Trappistes Rochefort #8.
The beer I am reviewing today is Mikkeller's "Beer Geek's Breakfast" which is an strong Oatmeal-Coffee Stout. At 7% it isn't a true imperial stout, at least by the insane standards of current American craft brewing, but it is very well balanced beer. The head is thick, foamy and the color of espresso and the nose is absolutely glorious. Rich smells of iced coffee, soy sauce, vanilla bean dominate. Underlying it all is an earthy note, almost the smell of the tree bark in a forest after a rain. Hints of smokiness lend it just a waft of Islay scotch.

On the first sip, everything is way to tight. The flavors seem hidden. 95% chance the beer is too cold being straight out of the fridge. I could swear there was a weird plasticy off-note. Though this should be the lesson to take from this triptych if nothing else: Yes, different beers have different temperatures where they taste best!

Letting the glass sit out for even 5 minutes, the beer came alive. Soft cocoa flavors, hints of soy, and a very long finish. Grassy overtones, molasses undertones. These forest-y, vegetal notes are probably the most unique aspect of this beer, though they are extremely subtle. Woody sasparilla flavors with lingering notes of chocolate coated coffee beans. Large but not intimidating, filling mouthfeel (basically exactly what the term implies - how the physical characteristics of the beer feel in your mouth). In structural terms, this beer is very akin to a good Merlot. A bit velvety, quite expressive, but not overwhelming or flashy. This beer would pair quite well with food.

At $11 for a 500ml, this beer isn't cheap, but it is certainly worth checking out, especially for those of you out there who are getting burnt out on big IPAs. Also, they have a great Northern European design sensibility for their label design. Thanks to my roommate's cat, Mochi, for being my beer model!

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