Wednesday Food: Holiday Beer Tasting Part Two
Can a brewery be self-deprecating? Lagunitas would favor that yes, they can. The brewery annually releases an exceptionally popular Christmas Ale called Brown Shugga’, so named for its signature ingredient. Originally, Brown Shugga’ was a botched Gnarlywine that they salvaged by sweetening. Fans wait in giddy anticipation for it, but this year there is none to be found. The brewery claims cost of ingredients and limited tank space meant temporary hiatus for the beloved ale. They anticipated the hateful fan backlash and bad press by releasing a one-time Imperial IPA in lieu of Brown Shugga’, and dubbed the beer Lagunitas Sucks Brown Shugga’ Substitute. Reminds me of when Firefox drops a signal and openly admits “well this is embarrassing…”
So this week we have Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ Substitute featured as our harder to find (limited release) holiday beer choice, and Rogue’s Santa’s Private Reserve Ale for the ubiquitous beer. Vanessa returns from last week to contribute tasting ideas accompanied by a new beer taster. Hillary is not a beer snob but she’s a snob about beer. Her palate is far more choosy than mine, and her taste intuitive, sharp, and ruthless.
BEER ONE– Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve.
H: Oaky, like licking the side of an oak barrel. A bitter aftertaste. Insufficient carbonation and the flavor is what… like that nasty bitter coating you get from a pill when you don’t swallow it quickly enough. Pass. Do not pass Go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
V: Stinky cheese! Wow, very farmy and musky. There is an astringent bitterness to it. Malty sweetness typical of every Rogue beer on the shelves. Santa can go suck his private reserve. And what’s this description on the side of the bottle? “Free range coastal water” is on the ingredient list? What does that even mean? The water is allowed access to land? Is that the most pretentious thing you’ve ever seen or are they trying to have a sense of humor and failing?
E: BLECH. Maybe a touch of Munich malts in the aroma, but first impression is a rind of brie. It’s very ripe. Like a moist barnyard. There is some decent roast happening but it’s all gone when you drink and the brie rind returns. I love stinky cheese in cheese form and maybe even in the nose. But imagine funky cheese as liquid. I’m drinking the next beer.
BEER TWO– Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ Substitute. 7.85% abv
H: A bit of cinnamon spice at first. Piney and slightly bitter but with a bright citrus aftertaste. I don’t have any objections. This is delightfully drinkable even though I’m usually averse to big hops.
V: Smells wonderful, like pineapple and tropical fruit. Freshly poured it reminds me of a can of peaches, syrupy sweet but intensely fruity. It’s sweet but not malty and perfectly balances the citrus hops. It has a crisp, dry finish and gorgeous champagne bubbles. Seriously the carbonation is so gentle and consistent it’s like a reversed snow globe.
E: Strong hops and booze are impeccably matched by subtle sweetness. IT TASTES LIKE TWO HEARTED! Color is deeply amber and it smells of candy sugar. This is irresistible. The head is thick and creamy and I’m still watching the damned bubbles. I am reminded of every beer I love the most. So pleased it comes in a sixer.
Tune in next week for two very special tasting contributors! And check out last year’s holiday beer pairing of Old Jubilation and vegan chili.
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