The tasting I led this past week was part of a donation I made to an elementary school in Manhattan. I had free reign with my beer selection but on the description of the donation I made a point to say that I was going to showcase local beers so that was I key focus when I curated the list. Despite having an inclination that a good portion of the people attending the tasting I didn't play it safe with the beers I chose. I'll admit to the mistake of opening with two sours, one tarter than the other but if you can't get someone on the gose train they're definitely not going to like another lactobacillus fermented beer right behind that. Everything else went smoothly and my IPA demonstration worked perfectly with two great fresh hoppy beers that followed a 6 month-old shelf turd I was sent in a trade.
Mission Gose: Aside from the addition of eucalyptus, which I'm not even sure makes much of difference in the flavor, this is a straight up rendition of a German Gose. The nose isn't too strong but you can definitely detect some lemony tartness and it pours a hazy straw yellow with a thin head that dissapates quickly. This is a seriously tart beer and it caught a few people off guard who had never tried sours before. It had a fast and bone dry finish and the tartness falls of as well. It was a perfectly split tasting group on how they felt about this one but as always, it's hit or miss the first time around with sours.
PH3 Blood Orange Sour: This beer from Transmitter Brewing would have been a much better sour beer to start with and was almost going to be the only sour I brought but I wanted something traditional like a gose and you live and you learn. First off, once poured with was one of the prettiest looking beers I have ever seen, a slightly hazy red-orange with a white head that faded quickly. The blood orange was very apparent on the nose and dominated any other smell. This was, at least in my opinion, a perfect easy drinking sour but it still didn't get everyone on the sour bandwagon. It had a much more subdued and round tartness and the blood orange acted like a bridge being a familiar sour flavor. This will definitely be a series of beers from Transmitter that I will follow in the future.
Allagash Saison: This was my safest choice of the night and was not necessarily the favorite but definitely the most universally liked by everyone. This saison has been around for a long time and just like their wheat beer after going back to it in recent months I'm reminded of how great it is. The nose and flavor are primarily lemon zest and the Belgian yeast used in fermentation yields a nice peppery spice on the finish. Bottom line, this is a great beer that I'm going to make a point to drink more of and is one you should seek out if you're in a beer centric venue and can't figure out what you want to drink.
As I mentioned earlier before drinking the fresh IPAs I brought I had everyone sample a nearly six month old IPA from Ohio that shall not be named because when it's fresh it's actually a great beer. This beer tasted exactly they way I wanted it to, it wasn't a major malt bomb and you could definitely get some citrus on the nose but as soon as it hit your tongue you were punched with bitterness. I explained that this is exactly why most people say or think they don't like IPAs, because when you're drinking them after their peak their flavors have waned they aren't balanced and you're left drinking something much less appealing than what was intended.
Suparillo: I don't think I'm totally alone with my love for amarillo hops but it's definitely not a hop that people chase and lust over like mosaic, galaxy or citra. When Other Half released this beer at the end of 2015 it was an instant favorite of mine and I was excited to have gotten my hands on it again. I made sure people smelled this beer twice and got a good whiff of the bring orange and tangerine smells that are emitted from the amarillo hops. The taste follows the nose and I had a few beer nerds tell me that they thought this batch was a bit malty but I think the nature of amarillo how is the have a bit of sweetness that may have put them off. Despite being a double IPA at 8.5% abv this beer has little to no bitterness and was enjoyed even by those who typically aren't fans of IPAs.
Bon Bon 2x TNT: This beer from SingleCut was kind of a ringer but that's exactly what intended it to be. Hopped exclusively with southern hemisphere hops (Australia and New Zealand) the smell this beer has is intoxicating even before you ingest this 8.2% abv Double IPA. It pours a hazy yellow and smells mostly of various citrus with a hint of pineapple and even some mango. It tastes like the perfect juice bomb beer nerds seek out, there is no bitterness but it's a clean finish that leaves you wanting sip after sip, maybe even chug after chug. Just about everyone loved this beer and I had to explain this is the dangerous type of IPA that drinks like a refreshing shandy but has the power of a much bigger beer.
Lazy Ax: Being that this imperial chocolate stout from Finback Brewing was 11% abv we took a few minutes to chat before giving this a taste and also give the beer a few minutes to warm up from the cooler. Once poured this beer was jet black but not inky thick, a touch thicker than what you'd call medium bodied but thinner than I had expected with a tan/brown head. The carbonation was light but present and chocolate was the predominant flavor but not over powering with a lot of other smooth roasted coffee flavors coming through. If I recall correctly this was bottle in September so it's had a good nine months to age and was drinking wonderfully right now.
All in this tasting group was great with a lot of fantastic questions that lead to great conversation. I now know that opening with two sours probably isn't the way to go, a beer like White Thai would have been a better bet than a gose but I wanted something traditional on top of the modern sour from Transmitter and I'm stubborn so that's what happened. I was very happy that the heavy hitting IPAs and Stouts were liked, it always hit my in the gut when a great big beer isn't liked by the group but I guess since I didn't brew it I shouldn't be wildley offended.