Start the Year Off Right

Though rather rudimentary, nostalgia for beer is a growing pasttime for beer bloggers and those who actually drink beer. My own Dad reminisces about his father dollying home three-dollar cases of something called “Beer,” which no longer exists; they sure don’t make it like they used to. In the spirit of newness, I shall attempt to remember, off-the-cuff, my favorite commercial beers from 2010. In no particular order or logic:

  • De Dolle Stille Nacht – We hardly knew ye. In came a rare, very expensive keg from these misfit Belgian brewers (style? What style?). And though the beer was pushed through the line, it had no animus, no veil on its flaxen crown; it was flat. Figures that the one broken keg we get all year is this one. Nevertheless, try it we did, and though I didn’t write anything down at the time, it was like lapping at the stagnant puddles of heaven.
  • Mikkeller Rum Black Hole – The barrel craze of the tens has just begun, and this bottle, shared on a sunny porch at the end of a swell party, imparted a rare moment of speechlessness on an otherwise gabby crowd. Bottomless flavors and aromas and heady ethers from the double dose of booze nearly brought tears to my eyes.
  • Bier Stein/Ninkasi High 5 – a shameless plug, of course, but I’ve never enjoyed getting drunk on two beers quite as much as on this red monster. Everything was big, but the smoothness and absence of harsh alcohols made this beer go down like . . . well, you know.
  • Fifty-Fifty Eclipse Series – Doing a public tasting of expensive beers is a crapshoot, but that was the only way I could think these beers would sell (and sell they have, at a less than sluggish pace). So I paired them with dark chocolate from Euphoria and held my breath. Having talked with (rather, listened to) brewer Todd Ashman’s lengthy spiel, I had a rough idea of what to expect from these three examples (Four Roses, Heaven Hill’s Rittenhouse Rye, and Evan Williams, all single barrel). What I got was a labyrinth of evolving flavors from the complex (18 grains) imperial stout and the characteristics of the barrels, which ranged from warm and rounded to spicy and boozy. Pairing with the chocolate was a great idea (duh) because of the added nuances that seemed to explode from under my tongue.

And there are tons of beers that I could, if I were to have them, call “old standbys:” HUB IPA, Weltenburger Barock Hell, St. Bernardus Abt. 12, most of the Oakshire single-batch beers, anything remotely sour from Block 15, etc. See? Nostalgia is hard

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