|Columbus AleFest 2012 - SEVEN
SEVEN: In mythological circles seven is a magical number. In Greek mythology the SEVEN sisters were the daughters of the titan Atlas and the sea-
nymph Plelone. The number SEVEN is also the sacred number of Apollo. In Egyptian mythology, the SEVEN scorpions protected Isis and her unborn
son. SEVEN is also a symbol of perfection, effectiveness and completeness, which works out nicely as SEVEN is the number of Columbus AleFests held
so far and SEVEN is the number of times that we at The Manor have attended the Columbus AleFest.
That makes us at The Manor pretty magical. Essentially, our edit is: show us a Columbus beer festival and you can rely on us to be there offering expert
analysis and opinion.
So, fellow cherubims, if you’re all sitting comfortably, we’ll begin…
1) Rogue Brewing Co, Newport, Oregon.
Chatoe Dirtoir Black Lager (5%)
For some reason, I’ve never gravitated towards Rogue beers, me – I’m not sure if it’s because their brews have looked somewhat too extreme, or maybe
it’s because I have a loyalty to their Californian rivals at Stone Brewing Co. Either way, here was an opportunity to readdress the balance with four
Rogue beers on offer.
And, with my current habit of trying all the beers of certain breweries, it was with eagerness and trembling knees that Chatoe Dirtoir was my first tasting. I
quickly discovered why my knees were trembling – this was a hideous monstrosity. It was like the local chimney sweep had swept up a pile of soot, mixed
it with the syrup of crushed moldy blueberries and added a bucket of bitter, burnt oats. Ghastly! -15/10
2) Rogue Brewing Co, Newport, Oregon.
Irish Lager (5%)
After the previous disaster (which messed up my taste buds for quite a while), I next plumped for Rogue’s Irish lager. This offered some hope for Rogue
as this lager was pale, a little on the malty side with a pleasant fruity body. With a trace of lemon in the finish, the Irish Lager wasn’t bad at all, if a little
unspectacular for an “Irish-style” ale. 7/10
3) Rogue Brewing Co, Newport, Oregon.
Chocolate Stout (6.3%)
Oh dearie me, it was back to the pile of soot for the Chocolate Stout. The aroma reminded me of the tin of lard that used to sit on my Mum’s kitchen
counter and it was predictably downhill from there. Waaaaaay downhill! It was bitter, charcoal-like and differentiated itself from the appalling Chatoe
Dirtoir by having a tin of Cadbury’s Bournvita (hot chocolate for our non-British cousins) that had been left in the garage for two years, poured into the
boil. Dare I say Ghastly! -15/10
4) Rogue Brewing Co, Newport, Oregon.
Brutal IPA (6%)
Now shell-shocked from charcoal to the power of 10, I tried my final Rogue offering, in the hope that normality would be restored with their Brutal IPA.
Well, it was rich, syrupy, not sooty, but still on the odd side with more flavours of orange rather than grapefruit. With a mild hoppy bitterness in the finish,
it was certainly a confusing interpretation of a classic style. I’m not sure where “Brutal” came into the name, as that would have been a far more
appropriate title for the Chatoe Dirtoir and the Chocolate Stout, which were both CLEARLY brutal! 4/10
5) Lefebvre Brewing Co, Rebecq-Quenast, Belgium.
Blanche de Bruxelles (4.5%)
After the previous pains, I decided to reach out further afield – Belgium, actually – with the Blanche de Bruxelles. Here was a beer that hadn’t lost the
plot, rather this was a delicious citrusy offering of lemon, lavender and coriander, with a finish of sprightly orange peels. Beautifully refreshing. 10/10
6) Brouwerij Timmermans-John Martin N.V, Dilbeek Itterbeek, Belgium.
Strawberry Lambic (4%)
Dizzy with excitement following the Blanche de Bruxelles, I went totally overboard and went for a lambic (a style that normally has me cringing). Oh yes,
you couldn’t mistake that bright strawberry aroma, nor the fact that the beer was bright red in my glass (which had people staring at me). Defying my
expectations, this little beauty was only mildly tart, mildly bitter and packed with fresh strawberries mixed with strawberry ice-cream. YUMMY! 12/10 I was
on a roll - where would we go from here….
7) Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co, Lexington, Kentucky.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale (8.1%)
Aged in oak bourbon barrels, this ale has created something of a stir in central Ohio. In the local pubs, the branding includes some rather nice snifter
glasses with the horsey logo on them. What was the fuss all about, I wondered….First thing was the aroma of whisky in the glass – as a whisky buff, I
thought this was both appealing and appropriate. The taste, sadly, didn’t match up: there was that bourbon sweetness, but it seemed almost diluted and
overall, on the lightweight side. It didn’t pack the kind of punch that other ales aged in bourbon barrels have. Disappointing. 4/10
8) 8 Wired Brewing Co, Blenheim, New Zealand.
Saison Sauvin (7%)
Now this one really got my attention – an attractive looking bottle and from our cousins in New Zealand too! The bloke serving the beer behind the table
was pretty excited about this one, thus I felt compelled to join in with his excitement.
We all know that New Zealand is famous for its magnificent Malborough region Sauvignon Blanc’s and now you can add 8 Wired to New Zealand’s
pedigree, as its Saison Sauvin was simply sensational. Straight out of the traps we had warming citrusy tastes with a dash of honey and just a tad of
hoppy bitterness. More citrusy flavours of oranges and then lemons made themselves known, before a peppery finish. Did I say sensational? 15/10
9) Mikkeller Brewing Co, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Nelson Sauvin Brut (9%)
Oh yes, we were clearly going international at the 2012 Columbus AleFest and this actually was a double-international for the price of one, as the Nelson
Sauvin Brut, was Mikkeller’s take on a Belgian Strong Ale and is actually brewed for Mikkeller by De Proefbrouwerij in Belgium!
Having said that, the Nelson Sauvin Brut was truly a strange affair. Firstly, it’s promoted as a New Year beer which has been fermented with ale yeast,
brettanomyces and enzymes. Then, it’s aged for three months in Austrian Sauvignon Blanc wine casks, the result of which is a beer that packs a solid
punch with malty and winey flavours. One could definitely pick up the wine influence – it tasted as if someone had poured a glass of Sauvignon Blanc
into a glass of Saison. With a tangy finish, this was an unusual, if not unpleasant offering from Mikkeller. 7/10
10) Weasel Boy Brewing Co, Zanesville, Ohio.
Dark Weasel Mint Chocolate Stout (5.9%)
It’s well known throughout the Royal palaces of the world that we at The Manor have developed a strong support for Jay & Lori Wince and their Weasel
Boy Brewing Co, thus we always get a bit excited when a new beer of theirs is presented. I really liked the sound of a “mint chocolate” stout and all sorts
of flavour ideas went through my head, but sadly, this one didn’t deliver. The ingredients were enticing enough: organic cocoa nibs from Ghana with
fresh leaves of chocolate mint and spearmint, but the balance was way off. What we actually had was a stout full of cocoa bitterness, which completely
dominated any mint flavours. Way too one-sided for our Royal taste buds. Sort out the balance and we could have something a bit special. 3/10
11) Weasel Boy Brewing Co, Zanesville, Ohio.
Bourbon Barrel Anastasia Russian Imperial Stout (8.8%)
Right then, so at the 2011 Columbus AleFest, this was the only beer I came back to for a second tasting. At that time, we proudly proclaimed that the
Bourbon Barrel Anastasia Russian Imperial Stout was one of the finest beers on the planet. Twelve months later….and it’s business as usual. This stout
was so bloody good, it was ridiculous. Beautifully balanced with the bitter, roasted Imperial Stout flavours tempered by the smooth, sweet bourbon
flavours, this creamy delight gave lots of black cherries with mild bitterness. This isn’t one of the finest beers on the planet, this IS the finest beer on the
planet, no question about it! 16/10 (which I believe is the highest we've ever graded a beer!)
12) Batemans Brewing Co, Skegness, England.
How indeed could we follow the finest beer on the planet? By keeping things simple with one of the most respected beers in the UK. I’d never tried XXXB
before, so this was a gentle way of moving on from the “Anastasia”. With Maris Otter malt; Goldings, Challenger, and Liberty hops, the XXXB was a
pleasant enough strong bitter – quite malty and nutty with its hoppy body giving some mild bitterness. This is what I’d be expecting to drink in the Mother
Country, but it seemed oddly out of place amidst all its competition at the Columbus AleFest. It was as if the XXXB had taken a wrong turning and had
ended up here by mistake. 6/10
13) St. Bernardus Brouwerij, Watou, Belgium.
Christmas Ale (10%)
Now, we actually have a bottle of the St. Bernardus Christmas Ale aging in The Manor cellar, so here was a chance to get an idea of what to expect when
we finally open it. As expected, we had the classic carbonation that we’ve come to expect from Belgian ales, coupled with Christmas pudding flavours
(minus the currents), caramelized sugars, lots of plums, prunes and a warming aniseed finish. My thoughts were racing - how might the flavours develop
when we open our bottle sometime in the years ahead? This beer was crazy! 10/10
14) Lindemans Brouwerij, St Pieters Leeuw-Vlezenbeek, Belgium.
Kriek Lambic - on draught – (4%)
Did I say we were going international? Well, having already embraced a lambic at this festival, it was time for another and on draught too! The sparkling
bright red liquid poured into my glass and I could already smell cherries and sweet raspberries, which was all that was in the taste. There was absolutely
no tartness which seemed a bit weird to my Royal self as after all, this WAS a lambic, although in actuality, what we had here was a bottle of cherry soda.
Very strange indeed. 3/10
15) Michigan Brewing Co, Webberville, Michigan.
Celis Raspberry (3.9%)
You know, the Michigan Brewing Co deserve Knighthoods all round or if nothing else, a Queen’s Award to Industry because they rescued Pierre Celis’s
dream of brewing his astonishing Celis White in the United States. Free from the corporate bastard mega-breweries that had thwarted all his attempts to
brew Celis White (based on a Belgian Wit recipe that had long vanished), the Michigan Brewing Company openly supported Pierre Celis. Up until his
death in the Spring of 2011, he was still consulting with MBC – a real partnership at work (AB-InBev please take note).
MBC’s Celis Raspberry was a most refreshing raspberry wheat ale with very mild tartness. With an abv of 3.9%, this was clearly designed to be a
lightweight wheat ale and to be perfectly honest folks, that’s all she wrote. In summary: a refreshing, light raspberry wheat. Nothing brutal at all about this
16) Southern Tier Brewing Co, Lakewood, New York.
Eurotrash Pilz (5.2%)
Southern Tier has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years. They produce a whole range of specialty, large single bottle extreme beers, plus
all manner of six-pack beers. With aromatic Noble hop varieties, 2-row malted barley and European style pilsner malt, this pilsner clearly had lots of
potential, but delivered ‘naff all. There was nothing remotely distinctive about the Eurotrash Pliz (apart from the dodgy name) and it really was as dull as
shite. On this offering, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold and Victory Prima Pils both have nothing to worry about. A non-entity. 2/10
17) Stoudt’s Brewing Co, Adamstown, Pennsylvania.
Tripel Abbey (9%)
The last tasting and we must confess, we were quite impressed with 17 tastings, which certainly eclipsed last year’s Columbus AleFest tasting numbers.
But, we digress. Stoudt’s Tripel (in keeping with our Belgian influence) was tangy, bitter, spicy with predominant fruit flavours. Having said that, this was
another beer that didn’t entirely hit the spot and was really a pale comparison to REAL Belgian Tripels or the truly magnificent Victory Golden Monkey
(note, that’s the second time we’ve mentioned the excellent Victory Brewing Co – stay tuned!). 5/10
And on that note, it was off to Barnes & Noble to pick up Frommer’s Texas guide as we prepared for our upcoming trip to San Antonio and Austin, AND
Blue Square Brewing Co!