The Liquid Diet

Note: This was meant to be published last Monday, but we were.. well it was GABF.

This Week in The Liquid Diet:  Yet another week where I crammed a week’s worth of drinking into one day! This is a glimpse into the world of a few really geeky beer drinkers called the Knights of the Round Table (ya, not the most original, but we didn’t want the name to be cooler than the beer we’re drinking).  I am going to attempt to articulate how a few of these precious brews reached right down my throat and caressed my soul!

Sunday September 25, 2011 at 5:22 PM MST:

Tonight the deck was stacked by the following Cellar Rats… Matt, Andre, Bryan, Brad and Ryan (if you want their full names and bios so you can stalk them, just let me know).  This being the monthly tasting that falls the Sunday leading up to GABF the only option was to “Go Big or Go Home”.  Each of us dug deep into our collections in honor of the week of debauchery ahead of us.  By next Sunday, every beer drinker in Denver will have reduced their palates to rubble in pursuit of great beer.  I will give you the entire line-up of beers and then try to do these gems justice in describing their awesomeness.

  • Beer #1: 2010 Ithaca Brewing Company Excelsior Brute
  • Beer #2: 2008 Marriage Parfait Kriek
  • Beer #3: 2007 Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
  • Beer #4: 2010 Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela
  • Beer #5 & #6: 2009 & 2011 Boulevard Saison Brett
  • Beer #7: 2008 Aardmonik EarthMonk
  • Beer #8: 2011 3Floyds Amon Amarth
  • Beer #9: 2000 Cantillon Iris
  • Beer #10: 2009 Fantome Blanche
  • Beer #11: 2011 Captain Lawrence Rosso e Marrone
  • Beer #12: 2011 Deschutes Brewing Stoic
  • Beer #13: 2011 Avery Immitis

Since I really have very little idea where to start and not enough words to describe all these beers, I am going to pick my favorite three and run with that.  The Excelsior Brute by Ithaca Brewing Company is simultaneously a harmony and a battle to death between Brettanomyces and Champagne yeast.  The funky burnt hair/cat piss flavor of the Brett and the smooth dry finish of the yeast are in a constant dance on your palate.  One is trying to club you in the head while the other is trying to lull you into submission.  The texture is very unique, as Andre put it, “fuzzy”.  I feel like drinking this beer is like… a burning Siamese cat urinating all over your tongue while a wet nurse chases it with soothing aloe vera drenched sneakers on…. and it is everything you ever wanted a beer to be!

The Aardmonik EarthMonk packs a big punch in that tiny 330ml bottle.  It is a Petit Belgian Sour Ale with an almost brandy booze aroma and silky mouth feel.  The taste is like frolicking through a cherry orchard two weeks after harvest,  biffing it, and catching a mouth full of dirt and the cherry reminisces left on the ground.  You can still get the fruit but it is cocooned by velvety and freshly tilled earth.

Now, on to the 2000 Iris from the one and only Cantillon and all its sour goodness.  The heavyweights of Belgian Lambic, Cantillon always brings such powerhouse beers with such unique and distinct funk and gut wrenching sourness. This Iris is aged for three in oak before its bottled.  That means this 2000 Iris started its journey over 14 years ago.  That might as well be a millennia in beer years.  I very carefully open it over a sink, knowing that will geyser and overflow.  Bryan is ready with glasses to catch as much of the gushing goodness.  I slip my wine key in gently and ease the cork out with whatever finesse I do have.  It actually only makes a soft “pop”, but then Old Faithful erupts and we frantically try to catch every drop.  Finally the tidal wave subsides, but you can tell that small amount of excitement really got all us beer geeks going.  We all fully understand the value of this sour nectar.

After letting the suds settle for about 30 minutes we eagerly fill our glasses.  The sound of sniffing is louder and more intense than usual, and that’s saying a lot!  As you inhale you are overtaken by the sense of a mythical forest deep in the heart of ancient Belgium where trolls and fairies carry branches to an open fire heating the brew kettle.  Huge open vats of wort sit under the sun as microbes of all sizes and ages swim backstrokes in the elixir.  Bubbles of fermentation gently stew away and every once in a while one escapes into the air as if a small child had blown the biggest bubble of their young life.  Just in the distance an Ogre and his Dragon tend a fire with a Sunffalufagus cooking on a spit.  A fawn plays the flute and dances a jig of the old country and all rejoice in revelry!  All that comes to mind and I haven’t even tasted it yet.

Finally I take the first sip and my tongue starts to giggle.  Didn’t know that your tongue could giggle, but it can, seriously.  The hint of spice, intense funk from the wild yeast, yet soft fluffy finish make you feel like there is an invading army storming the castle.  They break down the gate and rush in.  You close your eyes for a second anticipating your impending doom, but then you open your eyes to see that rushing through the gate is an army of little pink bunnies and everything is going to be okay.  Joy and sunlight sweep through the valley and the snow all melts away and it was good.

Obviously none of the shit I said about any of these beers has even a resemblance to reality, but that’s what’s so great about geeking out, is that you can transport yourself to magical places.   At least that’s what I tell people.  It’s mostly just that I am completely insane and have lost my grip.  Oh well, I like beer! Cheers and have a happy and safe GABF!

Quite a week in the life of THE LIQUID DIET…what will this week hold in store…stay tuned!

About Jensen Cummings

Jensen Cummings (@JensenDCummings) is the Executive Chef at Row 14 in downtown Denver. He calls his food "Pangean Cuisine" and his teaching style "Fortune Cookie Philosophy" so you know he's a little off his rocker! His side passion project is to collaborate with brewers on chef/food inspired beers meant to be paired with high end cuisine. Jensen is an avid beer collector, student of spirits, soon to be Certified Cicerone and a sommelier in training. Basically, he is just really into adult beverages and super geeky!