Im in no doubt that my favourite way to drink beer is sat round a table with a group of beer lovers, enjoying good beer and pleasant chat. So it was with that i mind ive started to get a tasting group together.
We have managed to get together a few times now, and as more people here about it we seem to be growing in numbers.
So it was on Friday that nine of us found ourself round my Kitchen table. It was a good mix of beer lovers ive met in the pub(Benjie and Sevare) or at beer festivals(Blair), a guy i used to work with(Mike), a few guys from rate beer(Rich and Frits who came through from Glasgow) , a visiting American beer lover and member of Beer Advocate(Jason) and me and Stella(the wife not the crap lager)
We started with a beer that Benjie and Sevare have been hunting for long time, and one that just happened to be in the hands of the Ratebeer trader (who put me in touch with Jason) and who i was involved in a trade with. This was a Belgian Beer Fantome Black Ghost (that despite being Belgian seemed only to be available in the US) This wasnt realy my kind of beer, a light funk that i associate with Fantome but was otherwise well received.
We followed this up with a canned Norwegian Vienna, and it was pretty much what i would expect by a Vienna. Then we had a Bells Java stout kindly supplied by Frits. This was just m y kind of beer and though it had a light hint of ash it was a pretty good coffee stout.
The next beer was brought by Rich and he refused to try it again, as every one he tried it with disliked it. I decided given its unusual nature being a Garlic Beer, that i should serve this blind. Something that was almost given away when a whole garlic clove nearly fell out of the bottle. Saying that it only took a few sniffs and every one knew it was Garlic. Even if they didnt quite believe there senses. I found it oddly drinkable and it was quite a clean finish. None the less the bottle wasnt finished and i went on the next day to make quite a tasty Garlic bread using the beer.
We then had another beer that was not really my thing but most people seemed to like Goose Island Fleur.
It was then onto a Beer id wanted to open at some of the previous tastings, but there were always people missing that i wanted to share it with. However having nine of us and having worked out that im never going to get us all together at once. Its was time to open a 08 Darklord.
Now many people think Darklord is too sweet. But i just love it. Its a beer i could drink the whole bottle of, but that would just be cruel to others. So i have to stamp down on my greed, and open it to share and its definitely a beer to share. Its one of the beers i think all beer lovers should at least try. Wonderful it was every bit as good as i remember it. Dark Rich sweet, loads of roast malts , loads of chocolate.
While this was the best beer of the night for me, there were more delights to follow. While upstairs supplying Jason with beers in return for an amazing range of beers he supplied me. He mentioned Narke Kaggen. Now i have Narke Kaggen, but ive given up on trading it, much preferring to share it with people when they visit. So there it was the Perfect beer to follow the Darklord. Problem was spliting a 180ml bottle 9 was is a little tricky, still getting the right glasses out, i was able to split it evenly and while a bit smaller a sample than Ideal was still enough to let everyone get a feel for the beer. Now maybe it was following the Darklord or maybe it was that batch but it seemed a lot boozier than i remembered still a lovely beer, but quite heavy bourbon and for me at least not in the same league as Darklord.
Jason had a few beers on his Beer Advocate wants list, that again while i wasnt able to give him them having not tried them either, they made an easy choice of what to open. The first of these beers was a rare sour that Jason said would probably fetch $300 on ebay, but beers for drinking and it certainly didnt cost me that. Thanks to a very generousness Rate beer trader. It was Lost Abbey Veritas 003 and as expected the sour heads loved it, it was totally nonplussed
This was quickly followed by Mikkeller Funky E* a realy nice light fruity light yeasty refreshing beer, and then onto another of Jasons Wants Firestone Walker 11. This is an american Strong Ale, and im not generally fond of American Strong ales, but this was a delight, rich smooth and really quite tasty.
The pace of the evening seemed to have slowed down a bit(mostly as i was talking to much) but next up was a favourite brewery of mine and a new beer for me De Molen Stoombier Gedrooghopt Safir. This was a gusher and i was worried the beer had turned but nope, just a bit lively. Light juicy and fruity and easy drinking. Very tasty.
We then thought lets try one of the Australian ones the Benjie and Sevare Had brought back from their trip home so i decided on a stout(no surprise there) and i for one rather enjoyed the Cascade stout. A simple but tasty stout. Then it was time for the Big Score of the evening. I was near singing and dancing when Jason told be before he was coming that he could probably get me a Goose Island BCS rare. So it was time to open this one. Now i often find the standard BCS to be too bourbony and unfortunately this one was to. However it deep rich dark and tasty and while i did enjoy it, the Bourbon overpowered and i found myself scoring it the 2nd lowest on Ratebeer. But dont get me wrong its not a bad beer, and if another fell into my lap, id quite happily drink it up. But Imperial stout wise there are others id rather see again.
The Final beer of the evening was my choice as i wanted to try it alongside the Firestone Walker 11 and it was Firestone Walker 13. While again tasty, it was just a bit heavy for me and much more what i expected from an American Stong ale. Lots of Roast , lots of blackcurannt and raisin deep fruity tones but a little rough round the edges.
Well these one beer i missed as it appeared at some point but i forget when, and its my 2nd Favorite beer of the evening. Its one i had before. But the thing about having out of town visitors is it spurs you on to share the beers you've been saving. Now Baladin beers from whom this beer comes from have started appearing in the UK, but unfortunately not this one, its part of a series and its baladin xyauyu etichetta argento silver label, i first had the copper label version on a trip to Italy about 3-4 years ago and at the time. I was in doubts about spending £20 on a bottle of beer. Something i had never come close to before. But im glad i did. It still sitting in my Personal top5 and its a beer i love. Its a lovely sickly sweet Madeira like beer. Just sublime with a wonderful silky body
Now i said at the start this was my favorite way of drinking, but heres why.
First off i love company. Im a people person, i like spending time chatting and relaxing and just chilling. I love meeting new people. So meeting Jason was just great. One reason i loved travel was meeting al the like minded people so drinking with like minded people is just the same experience.
Then theres the beers.
The Think the Ratebeer has taught me, is that i learn so much more, when drinking with other, every one has an opinion, and you discover the things you dislike are just the things other people like, or they pinpoint a flavour than your struggling to identify.
The next thing Rate beer has taught me is the Good beer should be shared. The greedy part of it wants it all for me, but the Generous part of me has realised that (apart from a few beers were my greed wins) there only so much you can enjoy one beer on your own. But if others are enjoying it just as much them my enjoyment is multiplied. It good to have given some one that same joy that im getting from a beer.
The last thing is pretty obvious, Bad beer should be shared, well maybe not bad beer but a beer im not enjoying is best shared as there a chance some one else will like it, and its way better they enjoy it than the beer be wasted, and of the beer is a truly bad beer, well better we all suffer together.
So let there be friends and let there be Beer, and let us all meet again soon