As I sit out this Memorial Day, drinking a beer (Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale) while watching over my smoker with 6 varieties of sausage and candied bacon in it, it dawned on me that a year and a half of writing this blog hasn't done a damn thing in isolating what ingredients in certain beers affect my body so negatively. Aside from narrowing down certain breweries that I have a particular physiological aversion to (I'm looking at you Lagunitas), all this blog has really done is open my palate to more beer profiles and expand my curiosity into trying new things. It's at the point now where I think about consuming beer daily, not to get drunk, but to taste and experience more flavors, varieties, and processes. It certainly has occurred to me the irony that the name of the blog should no longer be "Beer Hates Me" but rather "I Love Beer". Perhaps there is a certain poetic irony in that.
This month, I had a hankerin' for some porters. I think it was kicked off due to me strong love for Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean. It's easily in my top 3 favorites of all time, but only available via cask from the brewery or select bars. That said, it sent me on a hunt for the next great porter. In both shops & bars, I've had almost a half dozen different kinds this month alone, but for this month's test I decided on one of the rarest and most interesting I've seen - Brouwerij De Molen's 1914 Porter. The bottle alone had me hook, line, and sinker. What more could a guy writing about the intricacies of beer ask for? Every single detail that I want is clearly and cleanly printed right there on the face of the bottle. I knew exactly when this beer was brewed (February 10th, 2009) and when it was bottled (March 13th, 2009). I knew the temperature to drink it at (10 degrees Celcius) and how long it would last if properly stored (5 years). They even provided me with the bottle numbers of this batch (#270 & #271). Personally, this is exactly what I think every small batch brewer should do. Not all labels need to be quite as industrial as these, but that sort of information goes a long way towards the overall experience of a new & unknown beer.
So what else did this bottle tell me? Like almost every other beer, it included it's abv - a respectable 5.8%. But what it didn't note anywhere (which I have seen others do), is the taste profile. Being a porter, I expected the smokey notes and coffee undertones. What really stuck out for me was the strong aftertaste of toffee. Not necessarily sweet, but nutty and even somewhat ashy. I don't know if I enjoyed it because I was proud of myself for recognizing the flavor, or because I actually enjoyed the taste. Either way, it was very prominent and lingering. And as for the buzz? Well, I was surprised that the label said 5.8%, because despite committing to only drinking 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 bottles (drinking all of both bottles would have 1), put me over my allotted quantity & 2) dampened my palate to the point of no return), I was pleasantly and sufficiently buzzed. It certainly felt like I was drinking something more potently alcoholic and it definitely appeared to be enough to warrant a cap on the night. Unlike last months test that was spread out over more hours and capped with a large glass of water, these beers went down smoother and quicker, thus eliminating any logical possibility of a drive late at night (and by logical I mean, that I was already at home with nowhere to go!)
Now that I'm 2/3rds of the way done with this bottle of Rogue Dead Guy Ale, it's becoming harder and harder to remember all my notes on Brouwerij De Molen's Porter. Do I take notes? Mental ones my friends, mental ones! I'm particularly good at remembering bullet points about each experiment. As I'm drinking, if something comes across as noteworthy, I make a mental note. Toffee? Yeah, that was a mental note! Being more buzzed than I'd expected off a 5.8% abv beer --- all mental baby! But the hangover didn't really provide me with any significant bullet points to take note of. What I do remember though is that it started out pretty rough. Both digestively & cerebrally, my body was a-hurtin'. But that dissipated over time as a natural hangover would normally do. Granted, we're not talking minutes but within 5 hours of waking up, I was back to normal. Or atleast as normal as I could be after drinking 48oz of rare porter while watching two episodes of the phenomenal "Treme" the night before.
With so many ups & downs with Brouwerij's 1914 Porter, it really did take me a moment to consider if I was indeed allergic to something within this beer or not. It tasted good, but not amazing. It got me drunk, but wasn't particularly potent. I was hungover, but certainly not destroyed. This rare beer in an awesome bottle provided as many paradoxes as this paragraph; But at the end of the day, my gut & experience tells me that I am not infact allergic to this beer or any of it's components. However, because of the truly amazing labels that this brewery provided, I did pick up 2 other smaller bottles that they put out: an INTENSE barleywine ("Bommen & Granaten") which measured at a crazy 16% abv that I couldn't even finish a single 12oz bottle of, and a highly respected imperial stout ("Hel & Verdoemenis") that I've yet to try. All in all, I will continue to try our Brouwerij De Molen's offerings where I can find them, if for nothing else, the beer geek inside me can't help myself..