Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chuck's Libations - Day #1

I got into craft beer about three years ago, tasting multiple Sam Adams and Dogfish products and ever since these initial tastings, I have wanted to converse and discuss craft beer on a regular basis with my father, Chuck. However, these discussions require overcoming two substantial obstacles: an 11 hour drive and an international border. My parents live on the rustic, picturesque province of Prince Edward Island, part of the east-coast of Canada. Here, my father doesn’t have the opportunity to imbibe Canadian craft beer, let only, American craft beer because there is virtually no distribution to Prince Edward Island. The province has many positives: wonderful people, amazing beaches, historical landmarks however the beer culture (and food culture for the matter) are leaps and bounds behind every Canadian province (except, maybe, Newfoundland) and without a doubt, every American state, yes, even Mississippi and Alabama. Due to these restrictions, I have gradually introduced my old man domestic and foreign craft brewers and the following blog entries are day-by-day tasting “sessions” during a recent visit home.


Chuck’s Libations – Day 1

After driving 11 hours, much of it by myself (wife fell asleep), I received a much-needed hug from my mother. Once we had exchanged pleasantries and settled in our room, we all ventured out to the deck to relax and converse about our past week. I decided to open a beer and since it was beautiful and I was feeling great, I decided on Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier. Little did I know that with all the beer we would taste over the week, Chuck would like this beer the most. Immediately following his first sip, he enthusiastically exclaimed, “NOW, that’s delicious. I think I could drink this everyday”. As we delved deeper into the beer, he began to pick up on the traditional taste profile of weissbier: banana and bubble gum, “I am getting this taste/sensation that reminds me of bubblicious”. Our conversation lasted for some time, which allowed the beer time to open up. After Chuck’s last sip, he emphatically stated, “That beer is so smooth, it is the perfect summer beer”, I couldn’t agree more. 
The beer we opened was Union Jack IPA from Firestone Walker. I bought this home because it is my favorite west-coast IPA and I wanted my old man to experience a very hop forward IPA. As I watched him take his first sip, I had this overwhelming feeling: Please Like It. Without saying a single word, I knew what he was thinking, WHOA!! Our entire conversation revolved around a pine forest, but we talked grapefruit, dryness, astringency, and crispness. Overall, Chuck’s palate didn’t jive with this west–coast IPA, but he appreciated what the people of Firestone Walker are striving to accomplished with this beer. He said that he was open to trying other west-coast interpretation of the IPA style. Right On! 
We decided to finish the night with Left Hand’s Milk Stout. Since my old man is an avid coffee drinker, he instantly tasted coffee notes along with bitter chocolate. I explained to him that, to the best of my knowledge, the beer is brewed without these additional flavor adjuncts, which surprised him greatly. My favorite quality this stout has, and Chuck’s as well, the insanely creamy mouthfeel. We discussed the effect of nitrogen versus carbon dioxide on the mouthfeel, which transitioned somewhat quickly into the significant differences between the three styles of beer: taste profile, color, and brewing country, a great way to end our first tasting “session”.