Last night was filled with merriment and tasty beer that warmed the body and soul. Let us begin at the Irish House for the release of this season’s Irish Channel Stout. This is the second year of its seasonal release, and the folks at NOLA Brewing, always ready to have a reason to drink beer with friends and the beer community at large, elevated this launch party at the Irish House in several ways.
#1: they rented an antique Studebaker carriage and 2 horses to carry the crew over from the brewery to the Irish House. Very reminiscent of the Budweiser draft horse imagery, and an awful lot of fun to see on the way in to the bar.
#2: they brewed a special cask called something like Drunken Girl Scout Thin Mint, which was quite delicious, even to me, who doesn’t actually like those Thin Mint cookies. (I know, I know.) They used fresh mint leaves and cocoa nibs in the ICS for a subtle, herbaceous beer with a depth of flavor (and not sweetness) provided by the cocoa nibs which complemented the dark malts used in the stout. I was quite impressed.
#3 they commissioned and donated an original work of art based on the Irish Channel logo by Derek Ross, an artist friend of Melanie Knepp, NOLA Brewing brewer.
All in all, a good time had by all. I had the Mark Janes version of the Brewer’s Crack, which is 90-10 IC Stout to Hopitoulous. It’s also tasty in a half-and-half format.
We took our leave and went up the street to the Avenue Pub for their Anchor Christmas Ale vertical tasting. It was quiet up on the balcony, but with a steady stream of customers wanting to try the Anchor beers. They have the 2008 keg upstairs on the balcony, and the 2009 and 2011 kegs downstairs. They were all terrific.
The 2008 vintage was piney, herbaceous, with a very smooth and velvety mouthfeel. Very rich.
The 2009 was brighter, sassier. A bit more quaffable, maybe?
The 2011 is also tasty. Obviously, it’s missing a bit of the complexity that a few years of aging will put on it, but it is a very satisfying and drinkable dark ale. Man, I love it when the Anchor Christmas Ale comes out. Slightly different label, slightly different recipe… it’s definitely something to look forward to every year.
In conclusion: Fun Had By All. (Parallel conclusion: Feeling Crap At Work Today.) Did anyone out there make it to Dan Stein’s tasting? We’d love to hear about it if so.
Oh, and as a reward for all who read this entire blog entry, the Avenue Pub will have a cask of the ICS on tomorrow night (Firkin Friday!!) which will be aged with vanilla bean and cayenne. Looking forward to trying it.