Sometimes you don't need a theme for beer school. Just a room full of beer geeks, some good cheese and lots of unique beers. This was the order of the night at Clive's Classic Lounge.
You know it will be a challenging night when the first beer is an abbey style dubbel. This is how it started, with Sierra Nevada's Ovila Dubbel. I thought it was a tad thin for a 7.5%ABV dark abbey style ale. There was just enough plums, raisin and spiciness to make things interesting.
Next up was the Pepe Nero by Goose Island. A black saison is an under-explored beer style. Break the mold and bring it on. Both the nose and taste was elegant with old coffee, yeasty bread and roasted bananas. The Nero was an unexpected crowd favourite.
This is my favourite brewery from Portland. Not because of their beers, but the name is great. Captured by Porches does a great job of being an ecological brewery. They brew with organic ingredients, their bottles are reused and not shipped very far. Their offering was a dark rye beer called Roggenbier. The taste was very rye like; rye is hard to describe without making reference to itself. It's flavour was very dry, ashy with toasted rye bread.
Thanks to Michael Lewis for bringing two bottles of 2008 Abyss by Deschutes. Once you have tasted one wood aged Imperial stout, you have tasted them all. They are all good, the Abyss is no exception. Massive are the favours of licorice, molasses, treacle and bitter sweet chocolate. A glycerin/thick mouthfeel made they brew almost chewy.
HUB Galactic imperial red ale boasted an IBU count of over 100. Oddly the hop profile was not overpowering. Don't get me wrong, the hop flavours of sweet tangerine, cotton candy, pine and flowers were very apparent. There was enough malt to counter this hop assault - barely.
The Rodenbach Grand Cru is the benchmark for all Flanders sour ales. You might think sour beer, yuck! Once you try a sour, you are forever hooked. Everyone loves sweet and sour sauces at Chinese restaurants, there is a good reason for that. The Grand Cru smells of sweet sherry, toast and good balsamic vinegar. Each sip is astringently tart with sour cherries which yields a balsamic sweetness. Every mouthpuckering drink was a delight. Truly a great end to a challenging beer night.