Sunday, October 22, 2006
Imposing lineups, on and off the field.
Last night the Curmudgeons visited our friends Jay and Teresa for an evening of delicious taco salad, world championship baseball and just a few fine libations for good measure.
Jay and I combined beer stocks to produce an outstanding lineup of winning beverages, with a half-liter bottle each of Kulmbacher Monchshof Schwarzbier leading off and providing a gently roasted, chocolate-accented contrast to the ground beef in chipotle sauce, olives, sour cream, hearty black beans, cheese, sour cream and spicy salsa.
When dinner was cleared, it was off to the couch for the beginning of Game 1 of the 2006 World Series, and one of the finest post-feast libations imaginable: A year-old 22-oz bottle of Peche Mortel (“mortal sin”), the coffee-infused Imperial Stout from the Dieu du Ciel! (God in Heaven!) brewpub in Montreal. It was smooth and mellow, with any remaining edges rounded, but still packing an appropriately caffeinated punch with a 9% abv chaser.
Both the Tigers and the Cardinals had scored an early run when we opened a 750 ml bottle of Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu, the latest archival fermented beverage to emerge from the mad brewing scientists in Delaware. Looking at the list of ingredients, including “pre-gelatinized rice flakes, wildflower honey, Muscat grapes, barley malt, hawthorn fruit, and Chrysanthemum flowers," one might conclude that the resulting beverage would have mead overtones. One would be correct. I would have liked to pair Chateau Jiahu with carry-out barbecued spareribs, a flagrantly inauthentic item of Chinese cuisine – and might yet do so with the remaining bottle at home.
Albert Pujols crushed a homerun, and we opened a 750 ml bottle of Abbaye des Rocs Grand Cru, an old favorite that is unavailable to New Albany retailers. It was a good follow-up to the Dogfish Head, replete with a sturdy and typically Wallonian fruitiness that called to mind everything from plums to berries to rhubarb.
With the Cardinals firmly in control, the game and our session moved into the late innings. As the closer, I’d brought along yet another 750 ml gem, St. Bernardus 12 Special Edition. I explained to Jay that the St. Bernardus brewery near Watou in Belgium brewed secular clones of Westvleteren ales for decades before the monks declined to renew the contract a decade or so ago, leaving the brewery on its own. The decision was reached to not fix what wasn’t broken, and a new line of abbey ales was born.
Here’s the description:
The St. Bernardus Abt 12 is recognized as one of the best ales in the world. For the occasion of our 60th anniversary, our brewmaster Bert Van Hecke created a unique and special variety of the St. Bernardus Abt 12. This "Special Edition" contains hops from Poperinge: Challenger and Golding, and has been brewed with black, amber, munich and pale ale malts.
I’ve always thought that the regular edition St. Bernardus Abt is within a figurative stone’s throw not just of the St. Sixtus abbey, but also of the Trappist monastery’s internationally renowned star performer, Westvleteren 12. The special edition goes even further. It is dry on the palate, but still immensely malty (11% abv) without being sweet. It’s an amazing, balanced and harmonious blend of flavors, and as good a parallel to the original product line as you’ll find without heading off to the tasting room north of Poperinge.
The game, and the Detroit winning streak, both came to a close, and with the ladies chatting, I stole away to produce a final post-game treat: An Avery “The Czar” Imperial Stout” bomber from 2004. The Czar is aggressive when young and needs a year to mellow into silkiness. I was surprised to find a nutty nose in the two-year-old sample, with plenty of roast, coffee, chocolate and licorice flavors remaining on the palate.
It was a wonderful evening of high octane thrills on the diamond and in front of the television set. Thanks to Jay and Teresa for having us over … although if there’s a seventh game, I’m not sure the preceding lineup of beers can be topped.