Thursday, June 21, 2007

Recap: Allagash Night

First, let me start by assuring what few readers I have left that I have not dropped off of the face of the planet (although there have been a few weeks where it certainly seemed like that)! Instead, please consider my hiatus a time of regrouping--I've been collecting things to write about for the last few weeks and finally, now, have the time to put ink to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

On to our story. For about a year, I've been picking up bottles of Allagash's rarer beers. It started when I had my first taste of Curieux that Kyle brought to the initial beer appreciation night. I had had some of Allagash's year round stock, but nothing like this! That was the best bourbon-aged beer I had ever had. I was hooked and couldn't wait to get more.

But, as in any good story, there were complications. Turns out that these beers weren't
distributed in Dayton. Kyle had picked up his bottle at Jungle Jim's, outside of Cincinnati. And the bottles aren't cheap--anywhere from $10-$15 per bottle (which is little compared to a bottle of wine, but substantial when you are used to paying much less than that for a sixer).

Damn. This wasn't going to be easy. But, like any good beer geek, eventually I made my way south. And at first, I was disappointed. The Curieux was completely sold out. I sulked around the aisle for a bit, then discovered that there were several other beers available from the same series. I settled on the 2005 Interlude, vaguely recalling a review I had read around that time. And when I asked around about it, folks confirmed that I made the right choice.

So I waited for the right opportunity to open this relatively rare and unique find. I didn't want to squander it all on myself--something this interesting needs to be shared. I waited. And I waited. And I kept waiting and waiting, never finding the right moment.

In the meantime, I started heading down to JJ's more often--this was right around the time when I saw Garrett Oliver speak there. And each time I went, I picked up another bottle of a rare Allagash and dutifully cellared it next to the Interlude.

Eventually, I realized that I had started to amass a small but respectable collection. Now I really needed an occasion to pop them open! His timing impeccable, Kyle started reminding me that he was still sitting on a bottle of 2005 Odyssey that he had also picked up when he bought the Curieux.

We starting envisioning Allagash Night. But again, when to do it? We tossed around several dates, but it never took hold. Until about 3 weeks ago. I just finished teaching and Kyle was looking to blow off some steam, so we summoned a few of the guys. The instructions were simple--come to my house, but don't come with anything other than Allagash beer.

The hope was that we would get to try the entire line-up. We came close. There were about 16 bottles, all told. And I think we were able to try everything listed on their website except the Hugh Malone, the Grand Cru, the Anniversary Ales, and the Victoria Ale. And we were able to try a few vertical tastings. The complete list is below: I wasn't great about taking notes, but there were a few beers that left a strong impression. I really enjoyed the Four and ended up going back for seconds and thirds with it (for some reason, we had a LOT of the Four). The pairing of Interludes was interesting, too. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the 2006 more than the 2005--the taste was a lot bolder, tarter, more aggressive in the younger beer. I don't think the interesting character in the younger version aged well--it was too muted in the 2005.

All and all, it was a great night. I'm a little burned out on Allagash beers at the moment, but it was interesting to try so many of them in one evening. There was definitely a defining characteristic to all of them. And now I have a great collection of bottles, which I will have to fill with homebrew. (at some point, I'll add some pics, although I can't seem to get my phone to upload them at the moment).

No comments: