I think it's fair to say that while the warm weather makes life a little more tolerable, the spring and summer bring an underwhelming slew of seasonal beers. Off the top of my head I can think of only one warm weather seasonal beer that I really enjoy and seek out, Goose Island Summertime (which should be hitting store shelves within the next week). So when the tasting panel and I decided on our theme for another get together I was a bit underwhelmed when we decided on bocks and spring seasonals. I think I'd feel happier as a dark skinned immigrant at a Tea Party rally or as a rich white guy at a Democrat rally. But the masses spoke so we picked a date and time and everyone went forth to seek the bockiest and springiest of the KC beer offerings.
JJSKCK was unable to make it this time but we added 2 more to the group, Paul A. Ner and Duff. The mainstays Yeti, Weston and Chimpotle were able to make it. After several emails it became clear that we were going to have too much beer for the group to drink, namely because of JJS' and an honored guest's late cancellations. To combat this, Weston was going to keep his beers and bring some snacks. I also popped some of my world famous popcorn, 3 flavors this time, garlic parmesan, white cheddar and Greek. Weston brought some fine bacon wrapped cocktail weinies, some sort of cream cheese dip and a blueberry cobbler. Not to be outdone, Yeti brought some nacho cheese Doritos in addition to his beer bounty.
Olde English 800 40. I declined, but everyone else had a sample. I think it was universally disliked. Yeti kept drinking it though. Like a hobo, he was seen for the next half hour drinking the 40 from the paper bag wrapped bottle. Yeti's evening was about to go downhill and his private thoughts were about to be aired.
Shiner Bock was the first official beer that met the theme. I thought it would be nice to start off with, perhaps, the lead selling bock. No one was very impressed and Chimpotle rated the OE 800 higher. Make of that what you will. I don't think I'll buy any Shiner Bock for myself again. It was never one of my favorites and I've drank 4 or 5 of them this week (I bought a sixer of it) and didn't enjoy one of them.
Next up was Abita's spring seasonal, Strawberry Harvest. Abita is interesting to me because they have a following and were one of the earliest entrants into the craft beer market in the Gulf area. I definitely think if it was 1989, Abita would be one of my favorite breweries, but it's not 1989 anymore and Abita seems to be stuck at that level of quality. Not to mention, I'm a little pissed at Abita because of their six pack packaging. I implore you to carry a sixer of it the way it is intended to be carried and not come away with a scraped knuckle. The last time I bought an Abita sixer, I had to use a Handy Manny band aid on my finger to sop up the blood. That being said, the Strawberry Harvest was pretty good. Duff said it smelled like a Strawberry Shortcake doll from when we were kids and tasted like a flat watery strawberry Shasta. When eaten with the chocolate that we had, it was quite nice. Our taste of it was a little north of cellar temperature so it may have been even better.
Breckenridge Pandora's Bock was next and was unanimously the favorite of the first 3 beers. Pandora's Bock compares favorably to the maibocks that I like, Glissade and Boss Tom's. It's probably not worth seeking out, but if you're entertaining a dirty German, a Pandora's Bock might be a beer that is interesting to him. The dirty German might also be interested in my depraved sex act I thought up (and no, I would never ever do it, just like you wouldn't do a Cleveland Steamer). It involves an icicle, a dirty hole and an excretion running down the icicle into an icicle fellating mouth, I call it Cool Runnings and it will be the hit of Germany next winter.
The next beer was Sam Adams Coastal Wheat. I don't know what coast they're referring to, but this seemed like Arnold Palmer was involved in the brewing processs. The Coastal Wheat could just as easily be called Coastal Shandy. The lemon flavor was really prevalent. This isn't necessarily a knock. I can see a place for this one in the summer rotation, but I wouldn't want to drink more than a couple in a row. The Coastal Wheat might make for some fine outdoor drinking.
At this point things were starting to get a little bit rowdy. Chimpotle and Weston tried eating the blueberry cobbler as a dip with the Doritos. That was not a recommended pairing. At one point Stella sent one of the kids down with a bowl not thinking how "mommy wants some weiners" might sound to 5 guys a couple of beers into the evening might sound. Yeti started to open up, in his OE fueled haze, about some weiner related trauma he's suffered. Chimpotle and I shared a good laugh about how much Weston was looking like Kate Gosselin these days.
Next was Abita Mardii Gras Bock. This was the beer that cut my finger up when I bought a sixer a couple of months ago. Despite the danger in buying sixers of it, Mardi Gras Bock is a very good and drinkable beer. I guess in New Orleans, a bock could be a good winter seasonal, but I would love for it to be a spring seasonal. It's still available at many stores in town. If I were you and I saw it, I would pick it up. It won't be the best beer you've had, but it will be enjoyable for you.
We got out the Odell Red Ale, their spring seasonal, next. Red ales have been ruined for me because of all the Killian's Red I drank in college. But this was a Red Ale that I can get behind. It was hoppy and very drinkable. Even the anti-hop crowd of Paul A. Ner and Chimpotle enjoyed it. We had extra bottles of it because a couple people brought it and we drank those a little later on. It's the only beer we doubled up on and I think was the find of the evening.
Boss Tom was next, I've covered what I think of Boss Tom before, but in this tasting, it seemed a little boring. Especially after drinking the Odell Red Ale, Boss Tom just didn't have a lot going on. Still, it's good and drinkable.
Someone brought Schlafly Scotch Ale even though it's a winter seasonal. We didn't really like it. It tasted flat and may have just been old. My experience in the past with Schlafly Scotch Ale led me to never buy it again. I stand by that assessment.
Chimpotle brought his favorite, O'Fallon Wheach. I'd never had Wheach before and wasn't really looking forward to it. I've been turned off of peach bears because of the unfortunate peach beer that McCoy's brews. I had one last spring at the Foundry and it tasted like bad peach cough syrup. Stella had ordered it and I think it's on the short list of beers that we've ever sent back rather than choke down. Wheach is definitely better than that. I will probably never buy it, but I definitely appreciate it. The peach taste is rather light and is more of an accompanying flavor than THE flavor. It definitely ranks high in the fruit beer category that is normally dominated by brewpubs.
My note for Founder's Cerise, which was our next beer, says "never again". I have a theory that I may have written about before and we talked about that night. My theory is that if you grew up with a certain kind of fruit tree in your yard and you spent your formative years eating that fruit, you hate that fruit as a grownup.I had a cherry (and an apricot) tree in my yard as a kid and I hate cherries (and apricots). Sam Adams Cherry Wheat is my least favorite beer of all time and I don't even really care for cherry flavor. After discussing my theory that evening, I'm willing to revise it to you either love or really hate the fruit that you grew up eating because of the tree in your yard, there is no middle ground. The Cerise was nasty with the cherry flavor. It's more of a lambic than the Wheach so the syruppyness of Cerise could be seen as a benefit. But for me, it was awful.
love the WTF, but the anti-hop people didn't really care for it. It's a hoppy brown ale so if you like brown ales with a hoppy profile you'll be a fan.
Boulder Sweaty Betty was the unfortunate follower from the WTF. Sweaty Betty is a blonde. I don't know about you, but the only Betty I've ever wanted to see sweaty is Betty Draper. This Sweaty Betty was more like a sweaty Betty White. It was quite the lemon party with just a hint of banana. I won't be participating in the Sweaty Betty lemon party again.
Bell's Consecrator Dopplebock was next. I think this one deserves another taste because at this point in the evening, my buds were pretty tired. The Doppleblock had a sour note that wasn't that great and was real vegetable-y. I think drinking a couple of these could be enjoyable, but it had just a little too much going on to give it a fair shake here after drinking 10 other beers.
Paul A. Ner brought a beer we can't get in these parts, Moerlein Emancipator Dopplebock. Again, it had a lot going on and was liked by us all. If you see it somewhere, you should pick it up.
We also had Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball which I've written about before and generally like. The last beer we had not blind was Sam Adams Dopplebock. I've had one or two of these since then because they were left behind. It's way too sweet for my taste. I'll never buy it.
The last beer we had was blind. Paul A. Ner wouldn't reveal what it was, he only called it his mystery beer. When we cracked it open and drank it no one knew what to expect. Chimpotle went overboard calling it awful. I didn't like it, but it was drinkable. I believe it had a sour lime flavor in it that made the beer suck overall. The mystery beer was Weston Leapin' Leprechaun and Paul A. Ner won't be allowed in my house again. I'll say this about it, it's the best beer I've had from Weston.
We were at it for 4 hours and had 15 different beers. We used 2 bottles for each 12 oz. beer we had. Next time we're going more food, less beer. After about 10 beers, it gets very difficult to not only taste everything correctly, but come up with something to say about every beer. The best beers of the night were the Odell Red Rye, Moerlein Emancipator, WTF and Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball (notice, none of these were the bocks). Of the bocks, Boss Tom, Abita Mardi Gras and Pandora's Bock were the favorites. Next time, we'll come up with a style that hits my taste a little better.