Part 2 of tonight’s post is going to be a description of an event I attended last night at The Blue Dog Tavern www.bluedog.cc/.
A couple weeks ago, I received an e-mail invitation to attend an event that was particularly exciting for anyone who has more than a passing interest in beer. The invitation was called “An Evening with Westy”. Attached to the e-mail was a photo of the owner, Chris Staub, holding a case of Trappist Westvleteren 12, also known as “Westy 12”.
Care of the United States Military, some of Chris’ family who are stationed overseas in Europe were able to forward the case of beer that is unavailable for purchase here in the United States. It also happens to be widely regarded as one of the best beers in the world, as cited by numerous sources. The invitation simply said, “Westy 12 and other beer, snacks and finger food”. I responded that I would attend and went the next week or so very curious as to what the night would be like.
I headed over with my good friend Ethan (PhillyBeerSnob) and we arrived a bit early, because there are always a few minutes to spend in the bottle shop. We got to talking with other folks who were there for the event, some of whom I recognized from the bar on various nights.
When 7pm arrived, there were around 25 people and a selection of staff in the back dining room. Chris, the owner, comes into the room carrying the full case of Westy and sits it on the table. He explained how he received it and gave a heartfelt thanks to the staff and patrons gathered in the room. He continued by giving everyone their own bottle to do with as they like- drink or take home. The manager, Rob, told everyone to enjoy themselves, sample whatever we would like from a very large selection of hard to find beers, have some food and socialize.
Now, I don’t consider myself a VIP in any respect, but Monday night was one of the best events I’ve been to in years. I most certainly felt like my business was appreciated, and that I had gotten involved with an excellent group of people. I had been noticing how much I’ve enjoyed talking with everyone at the Blue Dog lately. Last night I realized that was because they are my “Beer Friends”, and that’s a good thing.
While the beer and the socializing took center stage last night, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the food. The cold appetizers included numerous artisanal cheeses and meats which were delicious. The hot items included mussels, seafood bites and a little item that resembled a deep fried pierogie. I’m not sure what it was, but they were awesome and I had quite a few. By the way, none of the items were on the normal menu, excellent detail!
Obviously, the Westy was the high point of the evening. Since we’ve been brewing at home and we knew we’d be getting together eventually, Ethan and I decided to take one bottle home, and split the other one there. Given the excitement of the night, the normal reviewing template went right out the window. (there’s still another bottle for an official review later).
The first thing I noticed was how crazy aggressive the head was. The beer was so carbonated I got about 2 inches of beer and 3 inches of head… had me a bit worried. After I sipped it, I realized there was nothing to worry about. Being a Belgian Quad (short for Quadruple), the Westy is a pretty big beer at 10.2% ABV. The first thing I noticed was how balanced it was. The yeasty flavors were balanced by the malty flavors, the sweetness was balanced by the bitterness and the carbonation was great. The predominant flavors were dried candied fruits like raisins and plums with a good amount of candied sugar backed by a bit of bitterness. It really is an awesome beer. I was excited to have tasted it, but really disappointed that we can’t get it in the U.S. Such a shame!
As far as the other beers that were available, there must have been 2 to 3 dozen different things. I started to write stuff down, but continued to get taken away to talk about something new or say “Hi” to someone else. So, I’ll just list the ones I was able to sample with a few quick notes.
In order of tasting:
Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout- Wow! One of the best of the night. Definitely one of the best stouts I’ve ever had. Thick and creamy with tons of coffee actually tempered the bourbon to a fine balance.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout- Great stout. Lots of bourbon!
Mikkeller Black Hole Barrel Aged Series- 4 different beers. Aged in Wine barrels, Rum barrels, Bourbon barrels and Whiskey barrels. Rum was great, bourbon was very nice, whiskey was very peaty and different, and the wine was more subtle.
Allagash 10th Anniversary- Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Really good. Have had consistently good products from Allagash.
Dieu Du Ciel- Route Des Epices. Rye beer brewed with peppercorns. I liked it. Very unique, I’m glad I tasted it. Would like to try it again.
Founder KBS Kentucky Breakfast Stout- didn’t taste it last night, but have had it before. Spectacular.
Bullfrog Edgar IPA- nice and bitter. Refreshing after having so many stouts.
Revelation Cat Craft Brewing- Oak aged series- French Oak, American Oak and Acasia wood. Very interesting series. Hard to describe because the bottles got mixed up from the wrapper which had the type of wood on it.
As the evening progressed, I talked with Chris and asked what made him decide to do something like this with the Westy case. His response: “What else would I do with it.” You know, now that you mention it… I think that’s exactly what I would do with it too. (But I would keep a bottle for a few years).
Two and a half hours later I headed out for home in surprisingly good shape. I ate pasta earlier in the day, and I knew to have very small samples with lots of water.
So, to Chris, Rob, everyone at The Blue Dog Tavern and all the new Beer Friends I met last night: Thank you for a great evening and I look forward to seeing all of you soon!
Greg – PhillyBeerAmbassador