The Liquid Diet

This Week in The Liquid Diet: We dive into a couple side-by-side tastings that do not and could not disappoint! Much like vertical tastings (sequential year to year tastings) you get a varied perspective when taking like beers and exploring their similarities and differences.  You get an inside view into how their style or brewer or aging or terroir or any number of adjectives create their characteristics. Plus, side-by-side tastings allow you to double-fist and feel like you are doing it for educational purposes.

Sunday December 4, 2011 at 6:24 PM MST:

We start domestic with a beer series that is really coming on strong up.  We’re talking about Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, CO.  Over the past few years, Avery has really been pushing their game with their Barrel-Aged Series.  Even though I am fortunate to be continuously drinking some of the best beer, wine, spirits on the market, I still get butterflies when I gather these bottle for a picture. I never take these opportunities for granted.  I am not just drinking a beer; I’m experiencing something special.

We dive into Barrel-Aged Series No. 1 (Brabant), No. 7 (Dihos-Dactylion), No. 9 (Immitis) and their specialty release of this year (Rumpkin).  These names conjure up thoughts of Greek Gods and Titans battling in the heavens and the underworld, of times when the fate of men hung in the balance and their lives were riddled with peril.

The Brabant was drinking much more sour than when it first was released.  The funk from the brettanomyces was very evident and the rich malt character was so warming.  I love that the picture on the label is a horse, because one of my favorite flavor/aroma descriptors of brett is “horse blanket”.

The Dihos-Dactylion really surprised me.  I wasn’t overly impressed the first time I drank it, but now it is really coming along nicely.  The biting acidity is now softened by a smooth mellow finish.  There are subtle stone fruit notes that I never noticed before.  It used to be like a day at the beach where all you remember is the sand in your ears and crack.  Now, its like feeling the water wash over your feet and digging your toes into the wet sand while the cool salty breeze caresses your sun kissed face.

Immitis made me sad.  When I had a few months ago it was definitely really wound up, but it had something that I really thought would develop and possible turn out to be their funkiest and best sour.  Unfortunately, the funk hasn’t developed complexity, it has become very singularly filled with acetate and just too sour.  I cried tears of vinegar as I realized that it isn’t and wasn’t going to reach its potential.  I don’t think that vinegar is going away.

I knew having already partaken in a Rumpkin that it is not ready to be drank yet, but I wanted to give my fellow drinkers their first opportunity to see where Rumpkin was so in a few years when I open another they could see how it had aged.  Rumpkin is a big boy at 16% ABV!  It drinks really hot, but in a few years it is going to be magical.  The pumpkin and spice fit so well with the Gosling rum barrels.  The char and vanillium in the oak are really going to be spot on with the sharp spice and high alcohol.  If you only have one Rumpkin don’t open it for a few years, but if you have a couple I think you should try one just to give yourself perspective for when you taste it at its peak.   Let me tell you that knocking out these four beers side by side is no easy task for your palate! So, next I had to up the stakes to compete both in profile (taste) and profile (clout).  Mission accomplished!

Sunday December 4, 2011 at 7:52 PM MST:

Having set the bar pretty high with Avery’s Barrel-Aged Series beers, I knew that there was only one place to go… Belgium of course.  I have written about both of these breweries before. If you are not a fan of sour beers I’m sure it can be annoying and creepy how much I confess my undying love.  So many of the great Belgian Lambics are beginning to go extinct in our country, so I cherish any chance I get to indulge.

Just a quick refresher: Lambics are spontaneously fermented ales that get their character from the natural wild yeast floating all around Belgium.  To compare and contrast funk to funk and the Kings of the sour world, I pitted Drie Fontenein Gueze against Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus.  Of course, there can be no discernable winner, except those drinking the sweet nectar.  Drie Fontenein Gueze, in my humble opinion, is the heavy weight champ of Gueze.  Gueze being a blend of one year, two year and three year lambic which Drie Fontenien aged in oak.

When it comes to Fruit Lambics, Cantillon is really out in front of the pack.  Their Kriek and this Gambrinus which has the addition of raspberries are setting the standard for this sub category of Lambic.  I could give you all the tasting notes and flowery descriptions of these beers, but I am not smart enough to come up with the proper words.  Just get your ass out there and drink these beers… and don’t forget to invite me!

I like beer!

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!

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