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ICOK 2010 Epic Beer Tasting: Barrel-aged dark ale edition

RyanMMRyanMM IcrontianFerndale, MI Icrontian
edited November 2010 in Community

Hear ye hear ye it is almost time for the epic tasting! The details are thus:

What: 7 barrel aged porters, stouts, and imperial stouts of various brewers from across our great land. Pours of each beer range from 2 to 2.3 ounces. Fun fact: You will consume a volume of alcohol equivalent of 32 ounces of Budweiser if you drink all of this beer.

When: Saturday, October 30th, 2010 at 4PM SHARP.

Where: ICHQ Garage

Who: Thrax, Lincoln, Wags, Annes, Meghann, Gnomequeen, MAGIC, UPSLynx, Bandrik, Rootwyrm, RyanMeray. If you cannot attend, and I will be bugging you on Friday night, then you are expected to either find someone to fill your seat or pony up the $12. Sorry, this beer isn't cheap, and I'm not making everyone else pay more.

How: Bring $12. Bring suitable snacks if so desired. Be thirsty.

I'll go over some stuff about the tasting for 5 to 10 minutes, and then we'll begin. Your goal - Decide which of these fabulous ales are your favorites, and if you feel up to challenging yourself, try to quantify why. What components of the aroma, appearance, taste, palate, and overall craftsmanship lead to that being better?

The tasting will take at least 60 minutes, moreso if you're really savoring things and taking tasting notes.

Can't wait to see you there!


  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited October 2010
    As a non-participant, I will say that this was an amazing event, and Leah and Ryan put a ton of work into is, and it looked freaking awesome. Major props.
  • WagsFTWWagsFTW Icrontian Grand Rapids, MI Icrontian
    edited October 2010
    Yes. Thank you so much! Was an amazing event, I hope to participate in again.
  • LincLinc Bard Detroit Icrontian
    edited October 2010
    Would do again.
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA Icrontian
    edited October 2010
    awesome. WTB Black Ops.
  • RyanMMRyanMM Icrontian Ferndale, MI Icrontian
    edited October 2010

    I'd like to give a big thanks to everyone for coming. I've been wanting to do something on this scale for some time, and really happy everything went so well.

    It seems like everyone got something out of it, which is what I was hoping for. I'm looking forward to the next one, possibly at ICSP, but we could always do smaller ones at some of the other events if the demand is there. There's tons of beer styles we can explore and I've already got the beginnings of a few other tastings sitting in my cellar. I can't wait to open it up and share some stuff in the future!

    Here's the rundown of what we tasted:

    Red gem: Arcadia Brewing Shipwreck Porter (7.0% ABV) (2007 vintage) (Battle Creek, MI)

    Talk about an interesting beer. This was technically the only porter of the group, so it's a good one to start off on. Porters occasionally have a lactic/funk/tart note, and since this was a 2007 vintage it's quite possible that flavor moved to the forefront. I've had the 2008 version but that was in 2009, so I'm thinking that the additional age on this 7% beer may lead to what we experienced. Nonetheless this was a very interesting beer, and was very different, leading to some who really loved it and some who really hated it.

    My rating: 8/4/8/4/16 - 4.0/5.0

    Yellow gem: Big Rock Chophouse Bourbon Barrel Flying Buffalo Imperial Stout (12.0% ABV) (2009 vintage) (Birmingham, MI)

    Dan, brewer at Big Rock, has won tons of awards from his beer, and I think this is a good example why. This is a big beer at 12%, and the imperial stout that goes into the bourbon barrels is fantastic in its own right. I consider this to be a really well-composed imperial stout, with lots of vanilla, oak, chocolate and coffee on the palate, along with hints of soy and pepper. It's sweet, savory, with a hint of tart on the finish.

    My rating: 9/4/9/4/17 - 4.3/5.0

    Green gem: New Holland Dragon's Milk Strong Ale (10.0% ABV) (2009 vintage) (Holland, MI)

    Dragon's Milk is another interesting one because New Holland doesn't consider this to be a stout per se; they classify it as a Strong Ale - What that means is they probably didn't use enough roasted malt to consider classifying it as a stout, but it's still dark and strong. It doesn't have as full of a mouthfeel as a stout though, and I think because it's not as roasty and malty as some stouts it picks up a really solid amount of the oak character. This one is a great beer, bittersweet, chocolatey, and at 10% ABV it's not too potent to prevent you from enjoying a whole 12oz bottle.

    My rating: 9/4/8/3/17 - 4.1/5.0

    Blue gem: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (13.0% ABV) (2009 vintage) (Chicago, IL)

    Goose Island brewed this beer to celebrate their 1000th batch, and it's been brewed annually since then. At 13%, this is the biggest beer we drank, but it certainly doesn't show. The alcohol is present on the nose, but not as much as you'd think for a beer so strong, and the bourbon and vanilla notes are off the charts. It's opaque, dark as night, has almost no carbonation, and totally delicious. Definitely one of the favorites of the tasting, and my favorite of the bunch.

    My rating: 9/4/9/5/17 - 4.4/5.0

    Purple gem: Brooklyn Brewery Black Ops (10.7% ABV) (2009 vintage) (Brooklyn, NY)

    This one's a unique beer, an imperial stout that's bottled flat and refermented in the bottle with Champagne yeast. Without a doubt, this was the most highly carbonated of the beers. The secondary fermentation is probably what lead to this having a very fruity nose. I found the bourbon in this beer to be a bit more subtle, and there was probably noticable hopping of this beer because I got a slight medicinal element in the aroma and found the finish moderately bitter. And interesting beer, but it was my least favorite. It was very popular among others though, so like the Arcadia you probably either love it or hate it.

    My rating: 8/4/6/4/14 - 3.6/5.0

    Clear gem: Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV) (2009 vintage) (Denver, CO)

    Great Divide's popular, highly-hopped Yeti Imperial stout gets aged on oak chips before emerging as Oak Aged Yeti. There's tons of resiny hops on the nose, lots of bitter on the tongue. Definitely the most bitter of the contenders, so people who aren't fans of hop aromas and flavors probably rated this one the lowest.

    My rating: 8/4/7/4/15 - 3.8/5.0

    Black gem: North Coast Old Rasputin Anniversary Bourbon Aged (11.2% ABV) (2009 vintage) (Fort Bragg, CA)

    North Coast began making this beer to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their first batch of their hugely popular Old Rasputin Imperial Stout. A standard batch of Old Rasputin is aged for 9 months in 12 year old bourbon barrels. This is probably one of the longest aging periods of all the beers we tasted, which is why you may have picked up a slightly sour note amidst the other flavors. This is a fine beer but wasn't one of my favorites.

    My rating: 8/4/7/4/16 - 3.9/5.0

    If everyone has a moment, I'd like some feedback:

    First off, what ended up being your favorites? What did you like least? What surprised you, or what was something you learned from this? If you took thorough notes, I'd love to know how you rated all the beers so I could find out which one the group as a whole liked the most. If I had to guess, it'd be a close call between Black Ops and Bourbon County.

    I encourage everyone who'd like a good way to keep track of their beer tastes to consider signing up for a site like Ratebeer.com. It's incredibly useful for developing your palate, keeping track of things you like and don't like, and sometimes even finding out how your tastes change and develop. There are several beers I rated in the beginning of my time on the site that got low scores which I've tried again recently and found I liked a lot more. And vice-versa, some beers I used to love I find myself re-rating lower, having had similar and better beers as I've tried new things.

    The sheets I gave everyone use the same rating criteria as Ratebeer, so if you took good notes you've got a good start for joining the site. Coming back to beers you have had and enjoyed many times before and sitting down and really take them in slowly is a great way learn more about what you like and why you like it.

    Thanks again for joining me for this and cheers to the next time!
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited November 2010
    Thank you to Ryan for putting this on (give me your paypal email). BOOOO BARREL-AGED DARK BEER.
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA Icrontian
    edited November 2010
    Black Ops and Bourbon Barrel Flying Buffalo were my two favorites with Bourbon County Stout in a very close second. I absolutely adore dark beers, so I didn't have much to complain about any of them. One of them, Old Rasputin I think (don't have my notes with me at the moment), it actually reminded me a lot of Maudite by Unibroue.

    As for the negatives, I didn't think the Shipwreck Porter was as bad as most everyone else did. Compared to the rest of these epic beers however, it was definitely near the bottom of my list. Oak Aged Yeti was also a 'meh' for me. I'm not big on hops.

    What I learned? I'm starting to figure out that I like beers with carbination in them a lot more than I ever suspected. Again, Maudite is a beer that has that characteristic, and it's one of my all time favorites. But truthfully, when it comes to dark beers, I don't discriminate much. I love almost all of the styles.
  • RyanMMRyanMM Icrontian Ferndale, MI Icrontian
    edited November 2010
    Thracks, didn't you vote for this category as your first choice though? Or was that just to test to see if there were any that might turn out to be drinkable?

    I would add a wheat/wit tasting to the list of potential ones in the future, but you have a 30 beer horizontal in your fridge right now. ;)

    Bobby, yeah, Maudite (like all Unibroue beers) is bottle conditioned, so it's very carbonated. That leads to a ton of aroma and a creamy mouthfeel.
  • GnomeQueenGnomeQueen The Lulz Queen Mountain Dew Mouth Icrontian
    edited November 2010
    RyanMeray wrote:
    Thracks, didn't you vote for this category as your first choice though? Or was that just to test to see if there were any that might turn out to be drinkable?

    I thought that Rob didn't get to vote since he didn't have internet at the time?
  • RyanMMRyanMM Icrontian Ferndale, MI Icrontian
    edited November 2010
    He got to vote late, after the decision had already been made, for posterity. His vote didn't change the results, but even if it had it was already too late.
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