I accompanied my beloved to Princess Auto last weekend, and saw a half-fridge (4.4 cu.ft.) on sale for a price even I could afford.
“I should get me one of these,” I thought as I opened the door and thought about all the beer I could take out of the fridges in both of my current homes, leaving room for food. I walked away without buying, and we headed off to Stratford to do some work on and in the house. A few days later, I went to the Hamilton store, to find out that it’s scratch and dent surplus stock and so not in every store, but did I want the fridge they did have, a much smaller one for the same price?
Back to Kitchener I went, and came home with this:
It’s kind of funny; this is my first purchase of anything even remotely like a major appliance, and it’s a beer fridge.
I finished my advent calendar a little late. Ok, a lot late. Between one thing (illness) and another (food coma courtesy of That Damned Canasian), it went a bit (a long bit) past the 25th. And then I forgot that a blog draft does not equal a blog post.
Belatedly, here is what was in my advent calendar, in numerical order:
3. Neustadt Springs Big Dog Porter: a gift from a derby friend, it was lovely after the taste bomb that is the Mikkeller Black. The red wine added gave it an interesting tang, but I’m not sure I’d run out and buy more of it.
4. Bellwoods Roman Candle IPA: Lots of citrus and pine, with some lemon pepper on the tongue. While I’ll never be an IPA disciple, I would drink this again.
5. Weyerbacher Insanity: A bourbon barrel aged barley wine gifted to me by a classmate. What’s not to love? Lots of vanilla and dark fruit, with whiskey and anise notes.
6. Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break: I will freely admit to already being a tad tipsy when I tried this, but I do remember a great sweet malt and biscuit flavour, with vanilla and chocolate playing nicely together. Need to find some more.
7. Geuze Fond Tradition: I keep coming back to this very drinkable sour when I want something to break to my winter desire for dark and sweet beer.
8. Black Oak Triple Chocolate Cherry Stout: this was inadvertently cellared for a year, as I forgot it in the back of the beer cupboard. Oops. The year treated it well, bringing out more cherry and chocolate while smoothing out some of the bitterness I noted.
9. Great Lakes Brewery Canuck: It was in the fridge, left over from something or other. I know there are many who enjoy it, but the pink grapefruit bitterness is too much for my palate.
10. Brasserie des Quatres Lunes Saison Automne: I spent 20 minutes trying to get the cork out, breaking the corkscrew I bought while on our anniversary trip in the process. I was really too pissed off to enjoy it by the time it hit my glass.
11. Double Trouble French Press Vanilla Stout: Where other coffee/vanilla stouts come across as sweet or cloying, this one is nicely balanced between the smoothness of the vanilla and the bitterness of the coffee. Definitely buying more.
12. Barley Days Yuletide Porter: This beer had stuck in my mind all year after drinking it with Jen at The Hole in The Wall last holiday season, so I was pleased to see it in bottles at the LCBO. I feel that the cherries are less prevalent in the bottle than I remember the draft to be, and it has a great chocolate taste that works well with a trashy novel and a bubble bath. Just sayin’.
13: Tea Time – English Bitter with tea (homebrew): I had made this last year as a test for Emma Christensen’s upcoming book. There was a wee bit of an issue with over-carbonation, and I was left with about 2 ounces of beer once it stopped foaming. The English bitter style beer was quite dry, and the black tea addition gave it a nice lingering aftertaste without any tannins.
14. Mort Subite: I drank this after the work holiday party where the evening finished off with cheap tequila shots and other things. I’m going to assume it was true to the brand, with a strong cherry tartness.
15. Coconut Porter (homebrew): A donation from a classmate. He had warned me it might be a little light on the carbonation, and he was right. There was lots of sweet coconut and chocolate in the aroma and taste – it was like drinking a Mounds chocolate bar. Delicious!
16. Smoked Cherry Ale (homebrew): I made this in late summer. The recipe said to let it age 6 months; at this the 4 month mark the cherry and the smoke seem in a good balance. Can’t wait until February, will compare it with the batch with just the regular malt.
17. Wellington County Dark Ale: Really malty with mild fig, nuts and chocolate notes. Really glad I drank it instead of cooking with it (although I’m sure it would make a nice fondue addition).
18. Omnipollo Nebuchadnezzar: It was a crappy kind of a day, so I drank rather than tasted.
19. Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball: My mid-week landlord brought me back a bottle from his Vegas trip, because he thought of me as soon as he read the name on the label. Liked the strong malt backbone of caramel and biscuit, offset by a moderate hop bitterness. Lots of alc0hol heat in the finish.
20. Rochefort Trappistes 10: Yes. Oh gods, yes. So wonderful.
21. Nogne O Underlig Jul: A wonderful seasonal, with herbs and spices blended in a way that just say Christmas to me.
22. Turtle Island Squashed Pumpkin: Note to self – drink the beer, don’t hoard the beer. I’d kept it too long and the wet cardboard smell of oxidation was prevalent.
23. Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout: Drank this by a roaring fire in a snow-covered Northern cottage. It was perfect for that perfect moment.
24. Sawdust City Red Rocket Stout: Love the chocolate and espresso, but the cayenne is just too much burn for me.
25. Renaissance Tribute Barley Wine 2012: I could not have picked a better beer for Christmas than this one. Boozy and full of dark fruit smells and tastes – just like my grandma’s christmas pudding!
Once the first mash was done, it was distributed to the kettles in the pilot system, and a second mash started. We had the chance to take home some of the copious quantities of extra wort, but alas, my extra carboy was in the dead car. I did see that there were several experiments going later in the day with ingredients from subtle to crazy.
After missing the last one, I was really looking forward to this winter warmer/Christmas ale edition. The catering staff at Benchmark set us up with a great turkey dinner to accompany it.
Nate, one of the professors, cracked open a bottle of Unibroue’s La Resolution for us early birds and helpers. I have to say that this was one of my top 3 of the night, filled with some well-balanced spice and caramel notes. It tasted like what my grandmother’s gingerbread would have tasted like if my grandmother had made gingerbread. The home brew followed, and Meag’s Tis The Saison Advent Brew really stood out for me, with some great flavours from the saison yeast, raspberries, cocoa nibs and vanilla. It tasted like a light raspberry truffle.
And then the main event:
All so very delicious. Especially the Adoration by Ommegang; complex with lots of dark fruit, caramels and orange, but not heavy or cloying. Might have to make a trip to Buffalo just to get more.
Beer Advent Calendar
When I asked my beloved to pack the beer, I asked him to keep the big bottles for weekends if at all possible. I should have asked him to look at the ABV as well. Day 2’s beer is a monster at 17%. I debated even opening the Mikkeller Black, but my housemate came home just at the right time and shared it with me. Or that was the plan.
The beer is so dark, it’s like a long dark teatime of the soul. There’s lots of molasses and smoke on the nose, and the taste is overwhelming like toffee with cigarette ashes. We wanted to take a second sip, but were frankly afraid. My housemate called it the Buckley’s of beer. I am tempted though to buy another bottle and cellar it for a few years to see how it mellows out. There’s still some at the LCBO, and I’ve spent more on crazier things.