2005: The Year in Beer
Since it is almost Christmas and New Years Day is right around the corner, what better time than to reflect on all of the good beer and good times associated with good beer that I have had this past year. As a matter of fact, why don't I take the time to put together a list of a few of Dr.J's Best of 2005, a remembrance, or lack there of, of things beer.
The highlight of the year has to be the opening of my very own house "Pub." The look and feel of an old world Irish and British pub, with three beers on tap, my house bar almost gives me a reason to never go out. Having only had a "soft" opening, I am looking forward to my annual January "rugby guys over the house for beers night" to officially open the pub.
My daughter's first birthday party ranks high on my list of proudest moments. I can't believe how fast a year went by. It was also the perfect opportunity to crack open a few bottles of one year old Allagash Curieux , Belgian style Tripel, aged in Kentucky Bourbon bottles, to celebrate the occasion. A beautifully crafted beer that I am also saving for my daughters 21st birthday.
Each year, me and the boys head to Milford, New Jersey for our annual, opening day trout fishing/camping weekend. The weekend is always a blast. Nobody fell in the fire, drowned, or cut their hand open. And no other senseless act of violence occured. There was plenty of beer, lots of stumbling, a few fish caught and a creature with the initials BR foraging around the outskirts of the cabin late at night, gorging on Cheeto and Dorito crumbs. One of the best parts of the trip is our Saturday afternoon stay at the Ships Inn, New Jersey's first brew pub. Great beer and a delicious Shepards Pie to boot.
For pure beer excitement, nothing beats a Mark Haynie Beer Night. Mark is an extreme beer collector and is not afraid to share his bounty with everyone. I mean everyone. Mark, one of the founding fathers of the good beer movement in New Jersey, invites all and their guests to the Somers Point Fire Hall, where he provides great food and a beer selection second to none. All at his own expense. This doesn't just happen once, but three or four times a year. Kudos to Mark for providing me and many with great beer and great times.
As far as drunken fun goes, my best memory, or what I can recall of it, is at Atlantic City's Tun Tavern. My friends and I showed up there for an Octoberfest that never took place. We decided to stay and make our own Octoberfest. We showed up at two in the afternoon and my buddies let me take them on a guided tour of the Tun's Beers. We then settled into our favorites and drank, drank, drank. At six in the evening, a school teachers convention party was breaking up, some of the teachers we befriended gave us their "all you can drink" bracelets. The next thing I know, it is nine pm and I am standing outside waiting for a cab with my friend and neighbor Magoo. Two cabs pulled up, I got in one, he got in the other ,we headed home seperately and paid two seperate cab fees!!
A late summer evening at BR's house cannot be beaten. Drinking Hoegarden all day while swimming in the pool and Hoegarden all night while sitting in the jacuzzi hot tub. Fine time.
I like to do a lot of cooking and I like to cook with beer. My best recipe this year was for a medieval Scottish dish called, get this, Cock-a-Leekie Soup. More like a stew filled with chicken, leeks, barley, vegetables and dried plums. I substitued a cup of chicken broth with 12oz of McEwan's Scottish Ale. The beer, I mean soup, came out incredibly well. I have since made two more batches and each one gets a little better.
The best beers I have had this year were from all around the beer board. Imported wise, my favorite this year was Dekonnick Belgium Ale. This beer was a very drinkable, great tasting 5% alcohol ale. Loved it. While on the subject of Belgium, Victory Brewing's 12 was simply awesome and wins my Belgium Style beer award. If I had to pick a dark beer, Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter wins the prize. As far as American lighter styled beer goes, Long Trail Ale, From the Long Trail Brewery and ESB from Riverhorse Brewery win my drinkability, session beer award. The Barleywine, on the spot, right then and there, award goes to the Tun Tavern's Freedom Ale. Beautifully done, tastes like it has aged three years. Speaking of aging, the aged Barleywine award goes to Heavyweight Brewing's 2003 Old Salty. Incredible.
Being that there is another week or so left in 2005, I still have a little time left to create some more beer memories. Here is to you and your beer memories. Maybe we can get together and swap some in person. Happy New Year!
Orval Belgian Trappist Ale: This beer pours a nice rusty color, looks a little like unfiltered apple juice with a huge, thick, foamy head. Orval has a sweet smell to it, but is surprisingly bitter. A very dry beer, that bites you in the mouth on the second sip. A classic Belgium Ale. Very good.
Monster Ale 2003 from the Brooklyn Brewery: I aged this beer for over two years and I was not disappointed. 11% alcohol. Pours a very dark copper color with a sweet raisen smell. A thick, sweet, warming beer. Aging brings out more flavor, so sock some away.
Why is it that one can polish off a bottle of wine with no problem, but drink two or three glasses of Barleywine and you feel it the next day? Wine is 13-14% alcohol, Barleywine is 8-10%. Just a thought.
Flying Dog Brewery, Horn Dog Barleywine: Nice, thick, dark beer with a slight sweet smell. Very thick in the mouth, almost like a syrup. Lightly carboanted, as it should be, warming, but not overwhelmingly warming. A half of a glass is very relaxing.