Rare Beers Close to Home (Pt. 2)

This got split up into two parts. You can read part 1 Here.

Rare Goose Island Belgians

The details of the tasting at Sheffield’s are available here. The descriptions of the beers  are a little wordy, so click through if you’re interested in the official descriptions.

Goose Island Sisters Flight
Goose Island Sisters Flight

I got there at about 8:45 when the beers started pouring at 7. My friend and I both ordered the flight, but unfortunately they only had enough Lolita for one of us. Luckily for us, the staff at Sheffield’s is awesome. The Chief Beer Nerd brought out a bottle of Sofie for us and hung out for a while talking about the beers. It’s always fun to have someone knowledgable and passionate talk about something, and he sort of led us through the four main event beers. It was the next best thing to having the brewer there talking to us, and it really added something special to the event.

All five of the beers were very good, so this is really splitting hairs, but here are my official (not that that really means anything) rankings with some brief notes:

  1. Juliet
    • This beer wins out because not only was it delicious, but it was also something I haven’t tasted before. It had a dryness, not from the bitterness of the hops, but rather from tannins like you would find in a red wine. It had a hint of sourness to go along with a complex, fruity flavor. If you have friends who just drink wine, try finding a bottle of this and sharing it with them.
  2. Dominique
    • This one didn’t seem to get the same love as the others with its description being just one sentence. I guess it’s relatively simple: 1) Make a belgian sour 2) Put beer in a Bourbon County Stout barrel.  But what came out of this was anything but simple. It was a mix of the fruity, spicy notes of the belgian yeast and the smoothness, vanilla and very slight bourbon notes from the barrel. This beer was close to being number 1.
  3. Madame Rose
    • There was sort of a drop off at this level. This is still a very, very good beer. The balance of the vinegary flavor, the tartness from the cherry and the notes of the yeast was very well done. I think I mentally downgraded this a bit because I tasted a very similar but more mind blowing version of this beer made by a homebrewer in our local guild.
  4. Lolita
    • This beer might have been third had we gotten a full taste and if it wasn’t a bit too flat. I certainly don’t need my beer to super carbonated, but I feel a bit higher level would have helped brighten and separate the flavors. They got a bit muddled as it was. I was also hoping for a bit more of a funky flavor from the brettanomyces.
  5. Sofie
    • It’s sort of unfair to compare Sofie with the other sisters here. She’s a very well made Belgian Golden Ale. The yeast just imparts a hugely floral and fruity flavor that is backed up by a solid, but not heavy malt body. It’s good, but more standard.

I asked in a post back when I first moved to Chicago, “Am I spoiled?” Well… with both these places within walking distance of either work or home, as well as a Binny’s across the street, I can safely answer that question with: Yes, Yes, A Thousand Times Yes. I totally encourage you to keep your ear to the ground. Follow beer bars on Twitter or Facebook, sign up for their newsletters, visit often and talk to the bartenders. Whatever you need to do, find out about events. There’s no better way to get excited about beer than being surrounded by other folks who are just as excited as you are!

Have any of you had an awesome experience at a beer-centric event? Let me know in the comments.

Review: Monks’s Cafe Flemish Sour Red Ale

The night before I picked this beer up from my neighborhood Binny’s, I was at Sheffield’s for the tapping of Vrienden, a new collaborative ale between Allagash and New Belgium. That reignited my interest in sour ales, so when I saw this Oud Bruin, I had to pick it up.

Sour ales seem to be one of the final bridges craft beer folk cross. There’s something very different about the tart, lactic taste that sort of goes against the flavors I typically associate with beer. It may be that exact reason why I like them so much. They’re so very different from the rank and file beers and, to an extent, even the crazier craft brews.

This particular beer is brewed in Belgium for Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia, PA. It is a mix of old, aged beer and young. My tasting notes are below the picture.

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale - 5.5% ABV

Appearance: It pours a cloudy, brownish red with a thick, tan head that receded quickly with a bit of lacing. The last half inch of the head is holding strong. I can see the CO2 bubbling up from the bottom.

Aroma: The aroma is almost all that lactic sourness. There may be a light fruitiness, but nothing comes through clearly over the sourness.

Taste: The taste is nowhere near as overwhelming sour as the nose. In fact, I might almost want a bit more sourness. My first sip had a lot of fruity, caramel-malt sweetness, tempered with a note of sourness and finishing witha  smooth sweetness. The more I drink it, the less cloying it seems, and the balance comes through. No hop character to speak of, but that really wouldn’t be necessary. There’s the smallest hint of funkiness, but it comes and goes. Very complicated and tasty.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and just shy of creamy. It’s lightly carbonated, but still with a nice, light effervescence.

Overall: I really like this beer. I’ve been into sours of late, and this hits the notes without being overwhelming. The sweet and tart notes play well together and produce a really tasty, well crafted beer.