February/March 2005, Winter Warmers
(download print edition)
sunshine and temperate consistency, Western New Yorkers are feeling
a bit fenced and confused. Somewhere between spring and winter, with
Buffalo grays and whites draping the sky, the Pearl Street Grill and
Brewery offered a select group of local brewers, tasters and beer lovers
a brick cove laced in white holiday lights, beneath the first floor.
The chosen few gathered just beyond Bill Metzger's brew basket--a mix
of assorted seasonal selects; labels concealed, glasses glistening and
Loretta -- Snow Queen in a VW, Loretta appreciates good beer
like good slopes; smooth and dark underneath a fluffy while top. Guinness
tends to taste too smoky, so she leads towards porters, ambers and malts.
Hop Jack -- A Hop Head from the hills, Jack prefers his beer
the way his name implies. Long time brewer, Jack's rating system is
essentially the number of glasses of the respective brew he would actually
Magistrate -- Magistrate honors good malt and hop beers alike
with the quiet confidence of a man who's enjoyed years of home brewing
Evil -- Returned from Canada, having dodged charges for possessing
an evil Axis, Evil has a nose that would make any beer or wine drinker
envious. Hophead by birthright, Evil enjoys hoppy west coast brews and
generally rnaking people nervous.
Vinny - Specializing in a quality selection of good beer and
pizza, Vinny owns a local pub, keeping his beer cooling in the stream
of commerce. Like Evil, he has a sharp nose, but tends to be fair to
both sides of brew, enjoying all good beer.
De' -- Relired Drug Lord from the 70's, De' typically enjoys 6 to
10 Amstel Lights after a long day as a DEA advisor. Though when it's
a microbrew, he'll have a pale ale.
Lumber Jack -- Bearded God from the North, Lumber Jack took his
seat at the head of the table, with a stash of tasty brews to share.
From a long line of woodland bluegrass brewers, he spends his Sundays
at the Pearl Street bar, meeting new folks and sharing backwoods brews.
which is entering its 10th year of production, shipped an astonishing
45,255 barrels (623,514 cases) in 2003.
"Not a bad balance of malt and hops," Lumber Jack offered,
while Evil's nose pointed Northeast.
"Well made, hangs on well, not to my taste though," summarized
"Caramel spice and sharp malt in the nose but it dies on the
tongue," noted Vinny. Loretta
and De' found a clean, glycerin-free finish.
as the other,"" Evil said as he detected Northeast in
the nose. "Nice
in the nose, but doesn't produce," agreed Vinny, De' and Lumber
Jack. Hop Jack and Magistrate found a bready malt and empty finish.
Winter," Vinny predicted as Loretta disagreed, noting Saranac
Winter's more pronounced flavor. Interestingly, the name of this
beer comes from the traditional Scottish method of naming beers
for the amount of government tax paid. Taxes due were based on
a beer's original gravity, which is an indicator of potential
alcohol content. A light ale was taxed at a rate of 60 Schillings,
while premium ales were taxed at 90 Schillings.
Brewing Company's website totes the message, "capable of making
great beer out of goats milk, brambles, and asphalt on the surface
of the Moon, if need be."
better than it tastes," Magistrate and Lumber Jack frowned,
and Hop Jack added, "malty sweet in the nose, some oxidation;
not more than one."
like olives," Loretta said, "likes to hang out in the
back of the mouth." Vinny appreciated the stronger finish,
while Evil shook his head in disappointment, not getting a lot
out of it.
Now that's a good beer," Magistrate announced.
De' and Lumber Jack picked up coffee in the nose and a smoky hickory
finish. "West Coast," Evil's nose predicted as Hop Jack
narrowed the scope to Alaska Smoked Porter.
though not as strong as German beers," Vinny offered.
it's a bread dipper," Evil said.
picked up liccorice root and molasses in the nose.
"It's like a 9 volt on your tongue. What I call a 'kitty cocktail.'"
Jack finished gagging and set his glass down. "Definitely
made with sugar cane and not for the diabetics among us."
kids would love it." Vinny chuckled as Lumber Jack and De
guessed Belgium, England and ribbon candy. Magistrate
suggested this beer he cooked down and used as a ham glaze.
hop, hop."' Loretta chimed as she set her glass down. "I'm
too girly for this one." Hop
Jack poured another glass and simply said, "very nice."
recommended drinking this beer slowly, to enjoy the muscle in
it. "West Coast Crusher." Vinny
found the nose sharp, like a Stone barley wine, and guessed "Old
too evident," De" offered.
jam in the nose," Vinny announced. "No," said Loretta,
is one you have after an hour of shoveling," Hop Jack said
while De' found baby aspirin and apples on the tongue.
Jack found oxidation in the taste, though disagreeing with Evil's
Barley Wine prediction. "Too big to be a barley."
agreed Magistrate "smells like funk cheese."
by Susan Griskonis,
Beer Beacon columnist
Listed by Brewery
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2005, Great Lakes Brewing News