Specialty Beers and Draft Cider
From the Branch to the Barrel
Once again, the World Beer Challenge held their annual Specialty Beer Styles Competition and, as always, intriguing results came to the surface.
In the Fruit Beer Category, Unibroue’s Quelque Chose, which translates to “something else,” stood out (91 points). It truly is something else: a very versatile beer that can be served at cellar temperature, over ice, or even hot as a complex flavored warmer on a chilly day. Try this brew any of these ways with some baked, clove-spiked ham during the holidays, or simply as a snack with some aged hard cheeses. The River Horse Brewery sent in their Imperial Cherry Amber (90 points), a great example of a dry fruit beer—very drinkable and table friendly. Try this brew with grilled meats and fire-roasted vegetables. This is definitely a brewery to keep on your radar when perusing the shelves at your local beer shop. Other notable entries in this category included Buffalo Bill’s Brewery Orange Blossom Cream Ale (91 points), which kind of reminds you of that childhood treat, the Creamsicle, and Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale (89 points), another interesting beer optimal for possible pairings on any holiday menu.
Two outstanding beers from Scotland’s Brewdog were their Paradox Islay (92 points), an Imperial stout aged in Ardbeg scotch casks, and Storm IPA, a brawny, complex ale aged in Islay scotch casks. For fans of barrel-aged beers, this brewery’s examples are a must-try. Enjoy the stout with your favorite cigar, or serve as an after-dinner drink in a snifter for a calming and tranquil experience. The Storm is great for any adventurous hop-head looking for the next frontier.
The tasting panel was also treated to a vertical of Boston Beer’s Samuel Adams Utopias. The 2007 came in at 95 points, the 2005 at 93 points, and the 2003 at 90 points—definitely beers to be tagged as “extreme.” Try these unique libations as a replacement for a sherry after a meal of Spanish-style tapas. Other notable entries were the Rogue’s Morimoto Black Soba Ale (92 points) and the Samuel Adams Millennium (94 Points).
I confess that I am not a fan of ciders: they never really tickled my fancy until now. But the tasting panel had the opportunity to sample a great new cider on the market. Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider (90 points) is a wonderfully complex drink and a great cool weather quencher. Serve this to your guests as a welcoming quaff at your next fall party, alongside some aged cheddar. Or simply enjoy a glass and watch the leaves fall. Other notable entries in this category included Green Mountain Cidery’s Woodchuck Granny Smith Draft Cider (90 points) and Bulmer’s Strongbow Cider (89 points).
All in all, a handful of unique beverages to pontificate about, ponder and enjoy. Cheers!