So in the scheme of things, those of us who enjoy a high class beer, will ultimately endeavor to get a few free sips in whenever we can.
Just so happens, today was one of those days, with a lot of free Hops, IPA's, Burnt and Barley Ales to go around, with a little bit of Belgian style dashed in for good measure.
Malloy's of Lisle, IL, (Also in Naperville, IL and Glen Ellyn, IL) definitely outdid themselves this time around with a Great Beer tasting this afternoon. (Malloy's however loses points for lacking an option on their site to browse there Beer collection.)
With 5 tables and more than 10 Breweries represented, it was a spectacular taste extravaganza!
The first table I tried had the Cider Beers, which I have always had a slight liking to, but I had only found the best to be Hornsby's; but Hornsby's was although good a bit strong, so finding the Woodchuck, a brand otherwise brewed by Green Mountain Cidery; I tried their 'Limited Release' Winter Ale, which was a light apple cider with all the kick of a well made Beer. It was pleasant to taste, (not heavy or strong like many of the others), and going down it held no surprises; with it tasting very much like a smooth Apple juice with a hint of oak. I personally think I have found my new Hard Cider of Choice.
Definitely something to try if you have never had a Hard Cider before or if you like fruity beers, and for a good review read here.
Next table held Shiner Brewery's finest, but the one I was most interested in after tasting was their Bohemian Black Lager (Schwarzbier), it has between 4.7 and 5.0% Alchol per Volume, but is a collection of roasted malts and hops, adding to the wonderful entourage of "Burnt Biers" that I and my Beer fellows enjoy so much. It was a smooth Roasted beer that went down well and would go well with probably a hickory smoked steak or a good steak in general. It is a Shiner, Texas Based Local Brewery that has been serving the U.S. since 1909, and they only brew in Shiner, TX so if you do happen to like there beers you know that there will not be any degradation in their brewing process and that you will only receive the finest that they can brew. Bohemian Black comes in at a low 4.9% Alc/Vol, and could even be considered a Light Roasted Lager, and if you are into Roasted Beers, It would be a great filler or to even throw back a bunch without having to worry about which way is up. Ratebeer.com has it at a pretty low average rating of 2.98 out of 5.0, with a score currently of 45, this I find to be a surprise, but Roasted beers are for select pallets anyway.
The third table was a cross selection of Fine Belgian Champagne beers and a few other fine brewery's, but what I came away with that was of great taste where the Hops based Beers; the first I enjoyed was a Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale by Anderson Valley Brewing out of Mendocino California. It was everything I expected from a fine Hops crazy Beer, Not as strong as the tasty Lagunitas Hop Stuupid, (a 4.17 rating out of 5; A-, from Beeradvocate.com), or As amazing as Stone Brewing Co.'s Arrogant Bastard, (a 3.92 out of 5 rating with a 99 score), but will definitely please your pallet with its medium Hops taste and smooth overall tones. Winter Solstice comes in at a middle-high 6.9% Alc/Vol but will not get you so terribly drunk that you are too wasted to enjoy anything else. Ratebeer.com has it at a well to do rating of 3.46 out of 5.0, with a score currently of 91, this rating fits my perception of the beer for sure, and should be of no surprise for a fine quality as it is.
I did not walk away with it but I did yet enjoy the fine and smooth quality of this one Bourbon Beer called Brothers' Reserve Barrel Aged Brrrbon by Widmer Brothers,(They took their winter seasonal 'Brrr' and aged it in single use Kentucky bourbon barrels); I am not a huge Bourbon fan, even though I do enjoy a good Scotch, Whiskey or Rum. Yet this Bourbon beer mix is such a compliment and with its slight vanilla and its heavy oak barrel tones it definitely is drinkable and quite tasty. At first smell it was all Bourbon, but upon tasting it was so very much more and the Bourbon is a light compliment to everything else in the beer. Ratebeer.com has it at a great rating of 3.49 out of 5.0, with a score currently of 93, So if your in the line for a Bourbon toned beer coming in at a high 9.4% Alc/Vol, this one is great because it is a harmony of tastes and not displeasing at all.
I also took a try at some Belgian Champagne Beer, there where two, (Brouwerij Bosteels & Brouwerij de Landtsheer both utilize parts of the "méthode Champenoise" used by Champagne producers in France.), but the One that I enjoyed and well remember was by Brouwerij Bosteels and it was their Deus Brut des Flandres; a little odd at first, trying a 'Real' Champagne of Beer , (not a High Life definitely), but by the second taste it was definitely something you could pass off as Champagne to the unwise and was very tasty, so if your willing to spend around $30.00 it will be a good toasting beer that will liven up most any party!
The next one that caught my eye was Old Horizontal (Barleywine Style Ale) by Victory Brewery out of Downington Pennsylvania; which is by the way their only Brewing location.
I generally am not to big a fan of barley ale's, but occasionally I come across one that really jumps out and grabs hold like this one. It has a fruitier tone than Hops drinkers are used to, with possibly either coriander and or cloves involved in the process but it was well liked by me and gets a high rating in my book for a Barley based ale. Old Horizontal comes in at a heavy 11% Alc/Vol and will be the highlight at almost any party for the refined Beer drinker for sure. Ratebeer.com has it at an amazing rating of 4.02 out of 5.0, with a score currently of 100, this is no doubt a fine and taste defining beer, and also should be of no surprise for a fine quality as it is.
The 5th table was Wine, and looked to be very respectable wine as well, but I do not like to mix beer's and wine, so sadly I did not make an attempt this time.
Now I will mention 2 beers that were not available at Malloy's for tasting but deserve a notable mention anyway.
They come from Two Brothers Brewery out of Warrenville, IL; the first I ever tried and is my favorite to this day is Cane & Ebel; and as they say 'it is so good you should give it a whack!' Sacrilege, yes I know, but if this is what Sacrilege tastes like then so be it! Ratebeer.com has it at a great 3.63 out of 5 with a score of 96, and I believe that with 7% Alc/Vol this Red Rye beer really quenches your taste buds!
The next is also from Two Brothers, and is at the lower end of the high rating scale at 3.22 out of 5 with a score of 73 on Ratebeer.com, the Bitter End is a great IPA and is full of different malts and hops that makes a very clean and tasty brew!
So if you are in the market for some new beers take a stab at these, for at least one of these I am sure will stand to please!
R. William Holzkopf Jr.
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