The Kentucky Derby has come and gone. The hotels are now empty and the streets are not blocked off anymore. A sigh of relief can be heard all over Louisville, but with every sigh comes the thought that summer is quickly upon us (i.e. see beer festivals). So what did I do for my Derby experience. Well, I turned an ordinary Saturday of running and yard work into a pretty decent beer tasting. Of course this wouldn’t have happened if our original plans weren’t cancelled because of a scratched horse of a derby party. We had planned to attend the Beer Ball put on by the Holy Grale that evening, though, but when life gives you lemons, Dogfish Head works with Sony and creates Hellhound on my Ale.
I’ll be honest, I was at Liquor Barn on Tuesday after track, had it in my hands, and then put it back. I just didn’t really give a crap about the beer for some reason. My buddy Stephen came over on Saturday and he, Ashley, and I cracked it open. Here’s how Dogfish describes it…
“Hellhound is a super-hoppy ale that hits 100 IBUs in the brewhouse, 10.0 ABV, 10.0 SRM in color, and dry-hopped with 100% centennial hops at a rate of 100 kilos per 100 barrel brew-length. Can you tell we at Dogfish are stoked for this mighty musical centennial? To accentuate and magnify the citrusy notes of the centennial hops (and as a shout out to Robert Johnsons mentor Blind Lemon Jefferson) we add dried lemon peel and flesh to the whirlpool”
Here’s how King describes it. Mehhh. A semi-hoppy IPA with some lemon scent (barely) and light lemon taste. Think of an IPA lightly soaked on some wood rubbed down with Pledge. The beer wasn’t bad, but nothing I, or you should spend $12 on for a bomber. Save your money. As someone who is a closet blues fan, come on Dogfish, this beer seriously gave me the blues. I pray you never make a Stevie Ray Vaughn or Dr. John beer.
Deschuttes Brewery- The Abyss 11% ABV
Another gift from my buddy Jay that was sitting in the cellar until he told me he had some more for me, so I figured, ehh, it’s Derby. Among beer geeks, there is an on-going debate whether to age it or drink it. I say buy two bottles and do both. Abyss was a beer I was really looking forward to after hearing so much praise from my West Coast cohorts. I loved it, Stephen could barely chew it down, and Ashley felt the beer tasted better than it smelled.
Very thick and chocolaty with slight notes of licorice (and I HATE black licorice). A slow drinking stout. I’m pretty sure I refilled my taster glass a few times. If I would have drunken anymore, I too, would have sunken into the great abyss known as the couch.
Goose Island- Big John 11.5%
The latest imperial stout from Goose Island (this was made pre-ABInbev buyout). Stephen brought this over because I couldn’t find it anywhere, so it was a first for us both. Big John uses 2-Row, Munich, Chocolate, Caramel, Roasted Barley, De-bittered Black and then a bunch of cocoa nibs are added. The cocoa nibs were very evident on the nose, but not as much in the taste of the beer. Big John had a pretty good roast taste to it as well, but wasn’t anything to knock our socks off. I pretty much just wanted to try it because growing up I was Little John and my father was Big John. Granted, the beer might be better cellared, but fresh it is par for the course.
I’m gonna save this one for my canned beer review (which is coming up next). Fantastic beer, drank it Monday during my sand volleyball game as well. I had to use a coozie because they only sell Miller and Bud. Sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do.
A miss-poured gift from the NABC head brewer for my upcoming wedding. NABC has been nothing but kind to me, and for that, I am very appreciative. I’m actually looking to forward to pouring their beer at events this summer and hopefully rock their logo during the Bourbon Chase this year. I had only had a small taste of Solidarity, a baltic porter, once night at Bankstreet Brewery, but decided to open this bottle for the last beer before we went to the Holy Grale. Solidarity was shared between myself, Ashley, Stephen, and Craig right before the Derby was ran. Overall, the consensus was that is was an awesome beer. Very good roast charicteristic with some sweetness on the front end. Very smooth beer in the mouth. Pretty impressive beer (I made sure to tell the other NABC brewer Jared this as well later in the evening, but to him it was probably slurred to a degree).
4 out of 5 barrels
After we witness Animal Kingdom win the Derby and realized Ashley never placed Craig’s $10 bet for him to win (he lost $200 on that), we headed to the Holy Grale for their Beer Ball. The Beer Ball hosted De Struise Brewing, 3 Floyds, Bells, and Founders brewing and had a most impressive tap list. Here is what it was exactly. I actually woke up Saturday morning at 6:30 am and started telling it to Ashley, she wasn’t amused.
Struise Black Albert
Struise/De Molen Black Damnation 666
Struise Black Damnation II – Mocha Bomb
Struise Black Damnation V – Double Black
Founders Kaiser Curmudgeon
Founders 2010 Nemesis
Founders Double Trouble
Founders Devil Dancer
Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)
Three Floyds Rabbid Rabbit
Three Floyds Zombie Dust
Three Floyds 2011 Behemoth Barleywine
Three Floyds Dreadnaught Imperial IPA
Three Floyds Gumballhead
Bell’s Lager of the Lakes
Bell’s Expedition Stout
I had already tasted everything from 3F, Bells, and Founders except for the Kaiser Curmudgeon, but Struise was one I’ve never had. So I went to beeradvocate.com and soon realized I was in Imperial Stout heaven. As soon as I walked in the door the the Grale, we had a game plan. Ashley would start with the Kaiser and I would start with the Mocha Bomb. Kudos to Tyler and Lori for throwing a perfect Derby party. The atmosphere was great, the food was amazing (as usual), and the beer was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Amazing, amazing beer. What a beer to start off with (don’t pay any attention to any of the beer reviews before this..this was the start of the night). I spent some time that night speaking to De Struise brewer Urban about barrel aging beer and he mentioned getting some Jack Daniels barrels (Tennessee garbage in my book) from my buddy at Kelvin Cooperage. Here is how the Holy Grale described it:
“Another blend with the use of Hel and Verdoemenis from Brouwerij De Molen. 50% of Black Albert was used that matured for awhile on whole coffee beans out of a craft Colombian coffee plantation. 25% of H&V was used that aged for 6 months on Jack Daniels barrels at Struise. Another 25% of the Cuvee Delphine was used.”
That’s an elaborate beer. Well worth the $9 pricetag. Poured a deep jet black, big notes of coffee in the nose. Taste was a very blended smooth mixture of chocolate and coffee. It stuck to your ribs a little bit, how a stout should.
Founders- Kaiser Curmudgeon 10.8% ABV
A version of their Old Curmudgeon (an old ale), but aged in maple-syrup barrels. A very sweet and sticky beer…almost too sweet at some points. Ashley enjoyed it a lot though, and I did as well. Nice smells of caramel and maple on the nose with hints of vanilla. A very full mouthful of brown sugar, bourbon, and vanilla. This beer had a ton of different flavors, but those were the most of note. Probably would be best during the winter months and as it sits and gets warmer, the taste gets even more subtle and better.
That’s not a typo. 26% ABV. Russian Imperial Stout. What Struise did was barrel aged their Black Albert and then it was ice-distilled to the high percentage. $8 for a 5 ounce poor. Why not! I was a little bit scared to try this beer and decided to get it early on so I could not have my taste blurred and decided to share it with the table. This was by far, the highest ABV beer I’ve ever had. The nose was very very warm and full of alcohol burn, so with a scrunched face, I took a sip.
Wait a second. That’s pretty smooth. Where is the face I make when I drink red wine? Great dark chocolate and roasty taste that almost takes a knife and a fork to consume. A definite slow sticky sipper. Some notes of darker fruits on the aftertaste as well left on the tongue. Also noted very little to no carbonation present. The beer was pure heaven in a glass and surprised the hell out of me.
From the Grales description…
“1st of the series of Black Damnation. A 50% blend of Black Albert with another 50% of Hel & Verdoemenis (De Molen). Aroma is a glorious and full of coffee, brown sugar, dark fruity chocolate. Flavors of H&V are quite evident, charcoal and mineral notes, chocolate, cocoa powder. Good coffee Chocolate finish with good balancing bitterness and hops and sugar in the aftertaste”
I only mainly put this description because if you’ve paid any attention to the ABVs of the beers I had been drinking, I was quite snookered (as Beau recalls) at this point. I know the beer was damn good because I finished it and had one last (2011 3 Floyds Behemoth Barleywine) beer before we called it quits. The joys of beer!
4 out of 5 drunken barrels
The whole tasting couldn’t have happened without Tyler and Lori from LBS and the Grale. True beer lovers who keep bringing good things to Kentuckiana.
Make sure and check out some of the local beer festivals around the Kentuckiana area coming up!
I’m off for the weekend for a two day fishing tournament on Kentucky Lake. I’ll bring some homebrew for the macro guys to try, but when I get back, my Canned Beer Review!