Atlanta has somehow become a craft beer mecca with some of the greatest beer bars in the world. This is a tribute to the beers and the bars.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sour cherries, chocolate chip cookies, and ham at The Brick Store

As I mentioned in my last post there are some exciting beers at BSP right now, so Les and I ventured out in the cold last night to try them, and between the two of us plus a few samples from the always generous bartenders we tried a wide range of distinctive and rare beers.

First was a tasting of Smuttynose G-Bock that the bartender gave me as I was awaiting my Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek '07 from upstairs.  G-Bock is a very limited and unofficial release doppelbock.  It immediately brought to mind Samichlaus, the infamously strong (14%) Swiss doppelbock.  The Smuttynose isn't quite as strong or rich and is rumored to be around only 11-12%.  Taste profile is very similar though, with caramelized brown sugar, chocolate, rich malts, and slightly bready yeast making it taste like a browned chocolate chip cookie.  It's too sweet for me to want to drink much of it, but the few sips I had were nice.

And then we get to the beer I was most excited to try: Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek '07.  Supposedly you can only get this in the bottle in Belgium, but they'll occasionally send a few kegs to the US.  Sour cherries dominate.  As this is a real lambic you don't get the cloying sweetness that you get from a Lindemans lambic that has been pasteurized and had sugar added.  This is tart cherry, acetic vinegar, very little carbonation, and astringent tannins(?).  Does cherry skin contain tannins?  It turns out that yes, it does.  If you haven't experienced a lambic this may seem like an extremely unpleasant description, but it was very nice.  I found myself wanting it to be a little more funky and yeasty, but that's just a personal preference.  This is the nicest example of a traditional kriek I've come across.

While I was drinking Cantillon, Les was drinking De Ranke Guldenberg, from which I of course stole a few sips.  It hits the tongue like Tripel Karmeliet (which is good-our friend Doug has dubbed it Tripel Karmeyum), but a then a wave of bitter hops takes over.  Rich body, bready Belgian yeasts, slight fruity sweetness, a little citrus and spice, and a load of hops.  Very tasty.

The bartender offered me a sample of Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche when I asked if anyone likes it (the staff hates it but it's been pretty popular).  Wow.  Tastes like a stock made with smoked ham hocks.  Not recommended for drinking, but I would actually like to cook with it.

I also had the Ommegang Adoration, but I think my taste buds were completely shot at this point.  It's supposed to be spiced but I didn't detect any.  I tasted cherry, chocolate, and dark fruits.  I thought it tasted like what I remember Ommegang's Three Philosophers tasting like.  Enjoyable, but not what I was expecting.

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