Griffin’s Bow

Sam Adams makes some pretty decent beers. Their normal lineup isn’t particularly outstanding, but they are certainly solid beers. They do on the other hand make some very interesting specialty beers like their Utopias. They also have a small batch lineup. This is my first beer from that line up and I was not disappointed. The bottle claimed it is batch 2, and I’m not sure how much it varies by batch, so I’m just throwing it out there.

It is a Barelywine, which usually is a special occasion beer. It was a farewell to myself, since I am going to a completely different part of the country as part of my work for over a month.

The aroma smells first like an American Pale Ale. As it warms up, you can smell burnt sugars and other delicious sweetness.

In the summer I like to make a grilled pineapple with a lime and brown sugar glaze. This beer reminds me a lot of that with its pineapple , burnt brown sugar, and toffee flavors, along with citrus and maybe some woodiness thrown into the pot. It is also decently bitter, which is the main difference between the grilled pineapple and this. I think it provides a perfect balance, and changes it from a desert to dinner drink. There are also tiny hints of vanilla, which probably come from the oak aging.  The bottle claims honeysuckle, but for the life of me, I can’t really remember what that tastes like, so maybe it does.

There is an overall warming alcohol feel, and at 10% ABV it will really help you celebrate your special occasion. It was a thoroughly pleasant and unique take on a Barleywine.

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Pepe Nero

A farmhouse Ale brewed with black peppercorns. Why, you ask? You can get a spicy peppery-like taste with rye, and pepper is so ordinary, so meh. Who cares? It’s what you get on your table at your local diner.

There is a reason that pepper is the most popular spice in the western world. It is a powerful spice, that can add depth to any dish, and more than likely the problem comes from not using enough of it during cooking.

Goose Island did a good job with this beer. It is a unique take on a farmhouse ale.

The aroma is of very dark fruits. You also get some wood and nuts as it warms up. I don’t particularly smell pepper, but it is pleasant nonetheless.

The taste is amazing. One of the best beers I have had. You taste dark fruit up front. It is peppery across the tongue.  Not as sharp as a Rye beer, but along the same path. It is like half the time you are drinking something akin to a Dubbel and the other half the pepper sings through. It is a unique and an amazing taste. The pepper really adds a balance that you don’t realize it needs until you try this.

They claim this is a Saison, but it is much darker than any Saison I have ever seen. Although you might taste the memory of the herbage you would come to expect from a Saison, it is much closer to a Dubbel than anything else in my opinion. Of course, farmhouse ale is kind of a vague term, and it is not as intense in the dark flavors and sweetness as a lot of Dubbels, so maybe farmhouse ale is the right style.

Whatever you call it, it is a great beer, and I will cellar the rest and see how it changes over the next five years. Enough writing, I am going to thoroughly the rest of this beer.

Dogfish Head Firefly Ale

I happened to be in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday for work purposes when I came upon a beer  I had never heard of before. While having dinner in the Washington Street Ale house I saw a beer by Dogfish Head called Firefly. I am always intrigued by beers I have never heard of, and especially by breweries that I know are as good as Dogfish Head. Nevertheless, I actually was more intrigued by a lager that was specially brewed  for the restaurant by Sam Adams (whose name escapes me). Alas, that was not to be, as they were out of the beer. Fate wanted me to have Firefly.

The menu claimed it was an English Style Pale Ale, which I thought would have been a great break from the hop heavy beers I have had lately. It was mighty delicious. I later found out that Dogfish Head brewed the beer for the Firefly Music Festival. They used Maris Otter Malt and English Heritage Hops because the Sex Pistols invented punk rock.  Marris Otter is almost an heirloom Barley that has a nutty depth of flavor which many consider one of the best malts you can use (although usually too pricey for even craft breweries). There is also a late addition of American Calypso hops because the Ramones invented punk rock.

It was a thoroughly delicious beer, with a bread and fruit forward taste. I kind wish it was a more regular offering, but I believe it is a one time beer, and once they run out, it is out. I’m just glad I tasted it before it is gone.