The Badass Beers: All change!
It's not often... no, wait, we've never changed all three Badass beers within a day of each other. In fact, we usually don't have the luxury of three. By this time next week we'll be back down to one draft and one bottle again, although there ain't no reason why we couldn't have two bottles at the same time.
Any road up, to business.
The first of the two drafts is a limited release from a brewery we've never featured either on the Badass Tap or the regular menu. Two five-gallon kegs of Redhook's 8-4-1 Expedition Imperial Brown Ale were delivered to us back in April and we've been sitting on them since then. Now, I freely admit that brown ale isn't one of my favourite beers styles, but whenever a brewer makes a double/imperial version of any beer I'll give it a fair crack of the whip, and in this case it was well worth it.
Expedition starts off with that sweet nuttiness common to many brown ales, but it finishes with a delicate and lingering hop bitterness that you don't normally find in this style. Beer Advocate lists it as an American Strong Ale which would put it in the same category as the likes of Arrogant Bastard, but as good as Expedition is, it's not quite up there. It scores over Arrogant Bastard in one respect though - it's listed as 9.5% ABV compared to AB's modest 7.2%. Yeah, I felt pretty good after I'd polished off a bomber of Expedition.
Next up on draft is another brewery whose beers haven't graced our walk-in until now - Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, NY. Ommegang specialise in Belgian style beers; their Hennepin Saison is widely regarded as one of the best saisons brewed outside Belgium.
Ommegang Witte is a classic Witbier. It's the palest of pale yellows, cloudy and with a huge puffy white head. The aroma leans heavily towards that spicy Belgian yeast, with the signature witbier flavours of orange peel and coriander not far behind. Around this time of the year when the thermometer is hitting triple digits, the witbier is one of the most refreshing beers to be had. Although it's often served with a garnish of lemon I prefer to drink mine without so that I can savour all the subtleties of this brew.
Ommegang suggests that all their beers are suitable for cellaring. A few months ago I bought a bottle of their fantastic Chocolate Indulgence Stout with intention of keeping it for a year or more. Couldn't do it. The call was just too great and I had to drink it. Well, when all's said and done, that's what beer's for, right?
Finally, the new Badass Bottle, and it's another American-brewed Belgian-style beer.
Is it just me, or does it seem like the saison has taken off like a rocket this year? Maybe it just feels that way because I'm so taken with Independence Saison. I guess I'm not the only one - I hear they've been hard pressed to keep up with demand for it on a few occasions. It's absolutely one of my favourites when I get off work or come to see a film.
North Coast Brewing of Fort Bragg, on the northern California coast, also makes a saison - Le Merle (French for blackbird, if I can dig out far distant memories of French lessons... oh look, there's one on the label!).
As with the witbier, look for that peppery, spicy Belgian yeast flavour along with some earthy, even musty notes and a dry finish with a touch of noble hops. When I poured myself a bottle of this a few days ago I was confronted with a beer whose carbonation bordered on volcanic! I had to sip at the huge billowing white head several times to stop it from running down the side of the glass and it was a good five minutes before it had subsided enough for me to actually drink the beer.
We have one more more Badass draft saison and one bottled, both of them a bit special, I reckon, before we head into cooler months and the delights of the autumn and winter seasonals and what, for many of us, is the best beer time of the year.
Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson