So I happened upon a fresh bottle of Pure Hoppiness yesterday at the store and my wife happened upon a fresh bottle of Pliny today so… time for a side-by-side tasting, methinks!
I did the tasting solo, although my wife offered input by tasting a thimbleful of each beer. She correctly identified them from the glass, by the way, such a babe.
Pliny the Elder is a little on the grassy, fresh cut flower side. Plenty of citrus and hop oil character with a light, crispy malt backdrop. Pliny finishes clean and brisk, with a tingling mouthfeel that smacks of orange chiffon.
Pure Hoppiness kicks things off with a little more heat, a bit boozier and more on the honey-sweet floral side than the grassy side. PH then segues rapidly into an herbal garden of hop sweetness and resinous tones. The mouthfeel is equally satisfying in the tingling sensation. Both of these beers are carbonated just right.
In the end, if I had to pick just one to drink for the rest of my life (a sad fate, indeed) I think I would stick with Pliny. However, they’re both world-class beers and I feel guilty that I am drinking them both at the same time. I know that there are starving children out there. Forgive me.
One of my hobbies over the years has been tasting new craft beers. This was a sometime indulgence of mine, where I would make a trip up to The Anderson’s (arguably the best place to discover and acquire fine beers and wines in Ohio) and see what there was to see. A visit to other local watering holes might yield a few brews from Stone, Sierra Nevada, or Bell’s. The state of Ohio’s premier craft brewery was, and still is, the Great Lakes Brewing Company, based out of Cleveland. They have a number of memorable brews, bearing names like Dortmunder Gold, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, and Holy Moses White Ale.
When I became a married fellow, I moved down to Texas, itself a haven for home brewers and some upstart craft breweries (The Foam Rangers and Jester King, for example). However, my fortunes were cut short by the cold, hard fact that the area of the Lone Star State into which I had relocated was peppered with ‘dry’ counties. This meant that there were no places to legally purchase alcoholic beverages to take home. There were plenty of restaurants with bars, but none of them served anything remotely unique. Budweiser, anyone? Best of all, many grocery stores carried non-alcoholic ‘brews’. Any Bavarian purist acquainted with the Reinheitsgebot would scoff at any such beverage’s existence.
What really kicked my hobby into high gear was our subsequent move out west, beyond El Paso, beyond the Rockies, beyond the Mojave, to southern California. San Diego, to be more precise. Imagine my surprise upon arriving and inadvertently discovering that the one and only Stone Brewery was situated just a few miles across town from where I now live, in Escondido, CA. I visited and went on a free guided tour of the brewery, followed by a flight of free tasters. Our tour was conducted by none other than Ken Wright, the self-described Minister of Evangelism and Indoctrination at Stone. He described, in no uncertain terms, the many reasons why San Diego is among the most vibrant and exciting craft-brewing hotspots in the entire world.
And lo, I was baptized into the richly abundant culture of home brewers, nano-breweries, micros and macros and local pubs with flowing taps, dispensing some of the tastiest, hoppiest, and most-decidedly different beers. Leave it up to Californians to be as contrarian as possible when it comes to the status quo (we’ll leave out the miserably-failed state budget plan).
And so begins, in a way, my beer diary. I will update biweekly to describe the most recent brews I have had the pleasure of tasting. Below is a minor accounting of some delicious libations I tried over the course of May and June, 2012.
Trappistes Rochefort 10 (Quadrupel) – 11.3% ABV – More about the Trappist Monastery Rochefort. – Indescribably delicious. Abundant with heady aromas and redolent of a garden brimming with fresh herbs and fruits. Vanilla? Cardamom? Impossible to distinguish amongst the tapestry of flavors. A truly unique masterpiece of the craft.
Karl Strauss Wreck Alley Imperial Stout – 9.5% ABV – Coffee coffee coffee. Stout stout stout. Cacao nibs!? Amazing. Perhaps the best example of an Imperial Coffee Stout I have ever tasted. Rivals Hess Brewing’s Fors Hiberniae Stout.