Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bear Republic Night at Rattle 'N' Hum

First off, thanks to the dudes at Rattle 'N' Hum, who put on a great brew night. I think my bartender was Denny- I did not introduce myself, which was a faux paus. The bar was impressive in size and selection, if filled with the type of people who work in midtown. I liked the chalkboards that listed the beers, it really hammered home the idea that taps often change and the impermanace of craft brewing. While even the NYTimes has recently written about craft brewing, it is nice to see a bar drive the point home in the epicenter of tourism and bland corporate dronedom. The ability to drink halves (or flights) instead of getting entirely blitzed drinking full pints was a nice surprise.

Enough of my attitude, on to the beers, all from Bear Republic tonight.

I started with a Grandma's Harvest Ale, or Wet Hop. The aroma is odd, musty and somewhat mild on the hops. Please keep in mind I am extremely congested, so my nose might be off. There is some citrus in the aroma. The appearance is nice, with a hazy yellow/orange hue, low carbonation and little to no head. This is reminiscent of British beers after they have settled. The flavor starts out with some male, the middle of the flavor is extremely bitter and it finishes dry and with definite hints of grapefruit. The mouth feel is smooth with low to medium body and a nice dance of carbonation that does not impede the flavor. Overall a very good beer, even if the aroma is off putting(musty, or perhaps reminiscent of farts).

Next up was the Racer 5 on cask. I blogged previously about how not all beers work better in a cask. This is one case where the brewers made a great effort to match the beer with the medium. I only tried this thanks to the bartender (we tasted together) and was astounded by the results. The beer is a double IPA and presents as a golden beer capped with a dense, creamy white head. The head hangs out for a long time- one could say too long, but one would be sorely mistaken! The beer might have been too cold, but I did not mind, it being American and all. The aroma is citrus followed by malt. The appearance is very, very clear and golden, like a Pilsner or an American Lager. The flavor starts bitter, reminiscent of lemon zest. The middle is sweet malt and it finishes bitter but not dry with sweet flavors to follow. The mouth feel is dense with good head and a medium body, denser than the color suggests. My overall impression is that this beer is well crafted to excel in the cask beyond what it does in the bottle, and I feel privileged to have gotten a taste from cask. 

I finished the night with a Hop Rod Rye on draft. This was different from the bottled version in being more bitter and far more carbonated. The aroma starts with the malt and some low levels of hops. The appearance is a lovely auburn, where red turns to brown. There was no head but a great deal of good carbonation. I'm always happy with little head on my beers, as it leaves more to drink. The flavor starts with a malt with rye spiciness floating through. Next is a bitterness with some rye left over. It finishes bitter with a sweet aftertaste. The bitterness is not citrusy as in the other Bear Republic offerings tonight, but is bordering on astringent. The mouthfeel is medium with a lot of carbonation which cuts the overall body down a bit. Overall it is a good beer that I'm glad to have had on tap but enjoy more in the bottle at a warmer temperature.  

I also had some other samples, courtesy of the bartender. I did not enjoy the Bear Republic Barleywine. It was surely a well crafted beer, but it carried a sour flavor similar to that of a Belgian ale. I am not a huge fan of the Belgian beers, and was put off. Still, a lot of hops on the nose and finish, with some sweetness crammed in between. 

I also tasted a Jack London ESB on my way out. I love Extra Special Bitters, and I love Jack London. The first real book I read was White Fang (with my father) and anything Jack London strikes a chord. I found the beer refreshingly fruity and not very bitter, especially after the walloping I inflicted on myself from the prior tasting choices. I only had about two ounces, but an interesting English yeast seemed to allow fruit notes through as well as some mild hopping, East Kent Goldings I imagine. A full report is not available, as I wanted to make it home in one piece.

I am supposed to go out this evening, and gather I'll be drinking PBR or Brooklyn Pennant Ale to try and calm my taste buds from the orgiastic experience they have just had. Sometimes after a day of rough trade some vanilla is necessary to the old tongue. If I change my mind, it will be posted.

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