Allagash Curieux Vidieux Contesteax: Help me NOT lose badly

The Allagash Curieux Video Contest is live. The grand prize is a trip to Allagash to blend a batch of Curieux. After that, I will slip away from my handlers, hide out in the brewery until closing time, then have the run of the place all night.

My entry is currently losing (big time) to a lady crying about her dead dog and the fact that she can’t track down any Curieux. I’d really appreciate your vote, if for no other reason than to shield the hit my self-esteem will take from losing badly to such a video. Also, the top 5 make it to the next round, where I expect to destroy the fake crying lady with the five-judge panel. You can vote for mine —> here <— (requires “the Facebook”, as my dad calls it).

And for those of you lucky enough not to have been sucked down the mindless hole of Facebook, here is the video for your viewing pleasure.

Allagash Avancé: A High Ball Stepper video music review

Next up, Allagash Avancé. This is beerbecue’s first video music beer review. The idea has been bouncing around my noodle for awhile. Based on the reception, there may be more.

Avancé is a strong, sour ale aged with strawberries for three years in bourbon barrels. Three damn years, people. Allgash says it “has the aroma of strawberry preserves and toasted oak. The oak and berries continue their presence in flavor, and compliment the sweet, warm finish.”

When I think of strawberries, I think of their sweetness AND tartness. I also think of their distinct strawberry smell: A little caramel and this slight funk you get when you pass by an unwashed container of them on the kitchen counter…kinda like they’re up to no good. This beer captures that essence well. And it’s sour…quite sour. Oh, and at 10.8% ABV, it brings the heat.

Out of the bottle, this little fella kinda needs to breathe a little. Hey, if you spent three years in a bourbon barrel, you’d be a little cranky, too. Ok maybe you wouldn’t. Additionally, use a glass with a little more open mouth than I used. This beer has a potent nose. It doesn’t need to be concentrated with a highly-tapered glass.

Now, without further adieu, Jack White’s High Ball Stepper and Allgash Avancé:


Allagash Black – Never bet on Wesley Snipes

Next up, Allgash Black:

2013-03-10 18.19.16Always bet on black…at least that’s what Wesley Snipes famously proclaimed in Passenger 57. In the case of this beer, he was right. In the case of his tax advice, the McKean Federal Correctional Institution says he was wrong. A little tax season advice from someone with an LL.M. in tax: If the position on your return is based on the argument that Ohio did not actually become a State until 1953 (and thus its earlier ratification of the 16th Amendment is invalid) you may be on shaky legal ground.

OSU fans

Although, practically-speaking, getting rid of Ohio is a worthy idea.

Perhaps less remembered about Wesley Snipes is that he was Michael Jackson’s nemesis in the video for Bad. Jackson and Snipes have a tense standoff in an abandoned subway station. Then, Snipes backs down after Jackson exploits a major weakness in Snipes’ extensive Shotokan Karate and Hapkido training with a deadly West Side Story-influenced song-and-dance number.

Beanie, toboggan, tuque...whatever you call it, it's menacing.

Beanie, toboggan, tuque…whatever you call it, it’s menacing.

It pours, um, black…with scarlet highlights. It has a solid, creamy-looking head, but not overly exuberant. Smells like dark baker’s chocolate with some roast and a yeasty fruitiness. Same in taste, along with some espresso and a nice roasted bitterness at the end. It’s got this very slight earthy and herbal thing running through it, and as it warms, some cola and a hint of the booze come out. A little more carbonated than your usual stout, but it’s Belgian after all. It’s not dry; it’s not sweet, but it is clean. (Allagash beers always seem to be in the style’s Goldilocks Zone in this respect.) A very solid Belgian stout (which I love).

The Haybag: I have always liked this one. Hey, tax LL.M., why aren’t our taxes finished yet?

Allagash FV 13 – How I learned to stop worrying and love the bacteria

Next up, Allagash’s latest foudre-aged beer, FV 13:


It’s notable that I’m reviewing a beer that was aged amongst wild yeast and bacteria. With daughter 2.0 only three weeks old and daughter 1.0 at her prime in germ factory output, we are currently engaged in a pitched battle against bacteria and other such nasties around the house. Unfortunately, we’re leaving behind that dastardly 0.1% that hand sanitizers and soaps shamefully acknowledge in their fine print as unable to eliminate.

bacteria 99 percent

A little cultured humor…

I’ll admit I don’t know how this 99.9% kill rate is measured, but there are an estimated 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bacteria in the world. So, according to my calculations, 0.1% of that still equals some crazy-ass number that pisses off calculators into using a big exponent. In fact, 0.1% of all bacteria would still likely amount to more biomass than all humans on earth. They’re everywhere. They eat ore and crap gold. They survive in the most inhospitable places (Chernobyl, pools of arsenic, New Jersey). They even help Jamie Lee Curtis poop.

This is Allagash’s first foudre beer. It was aged in a 2,700 gallon foudre (an oak tank formerly used for wine) named FV 13. For four years, it got all sexy in there with two types of Brettanomyces yeast and with lactobacillus and pediococcus bacteria. Although, it seems Allagash’s lab nerds determined that most of the souring work was done by the pediococcus, while the lactobacillus further disappointed its parents by taking the four years off to “find itself”.


Honey, I didn’t go through the pain of binary fission for you to become a lazy parasite.

It pours a hazy copper with a tight, but small, off-white head. It smells lightly funky from the Brett, and it has definite vinous, cherry, and caramel aromas. Also, there is a sycamore tree smell that I sometimes get from sour beers. It smells like the spot I would fly fish after class on the Clark Fork near some sycamore trees; but the Haybag says that’s creepy and nobody else smells sycamore trees. In any case, it smells like it is going to be sour.

First taste, it’s not as sour as I thought it would be. It IS sour, but there is a pleasant, malty background sweetness to it that slightly blunts the sharpness. It has a definite red wine character with cherries and oak (I swear the oak is there even though this is from a big foudre rather than a smaller oak barrel). It also has a little bit of an oxidized port/sherry character and some caramel.

Further, although it seems we have lactic acid bacteria at work here, the malt, caramel, and sour give it a little malt vinegar kick. It’s relaxed, though. It’s not all like a drunken hobo on a Carlo Rossi and Long John Silver malt vinegar packet bender. The finish is somewhat dry, as the sour definitely wins out. And the carbonation is pleasantly fine and moderate, and not all prickly and obtrusive.

I loved it.

The Haybag (whose post-pregnancy tastebuds were still a little wonky when we had this): This doesn’t immediately strike me as being beer. I usually hate sour beers. I’m OK with this one.

*In the interest of full disclosure and so as to not spoil any of the goodwill I have generated from foul language, fart jokes, and barely competent beers reviews over the last year and a half, I should note that Allagash sent me this beer, along with several others. Although I don’t doubt my capacity to whore myself out for free beer, I promise  that I review all beer as if I had bought it with my own hard-earned cash.

Allagash Curieux (George)

Next up, Allagash Curieux Bourbon Barrel Aged Tripel.

If my high school French class serves me, “curieux” is French for curious. Which in a house with a 4-year-old is nice, because usually the only thing “curious” around here is a monkey on TV named George. Come to think of it, George’s owner – the conspicuously-single, middle-aged, tight yellow outfit and hat-wearing Man in the Yellow Hat – is a little curious, too. And I would love for someone to explain why the citizens of George’s fictional asphalt jungle react so nonchalantly when they encounter a monkey (which are normally known for throwing feces and ripping off faces) driving a bus or holding down the front desk at the library.

Curieux was Allagash’s first foray into barrel-aging. It’s their Tripel Ale aged In Jim Beam bourbon barrels for eight weeks, then blended back with a portion of fresh Tripel.

It pours hazy gold, with a surprisingly substantial head (something not often seen with bourbon barrel-aged beers). And even better, the lightly-beaten-egg-white head hangs around for the festivities…a pleasant guest who doesn’t judge you for getting lit at your own party. It smells like banana bread, Belgian yeast, and some polite bourbon (with its friends, vanilla and oak, tagging along). The taste brings a hint of caramel, and then some welcome fruitiness moves in (like a newly-hip neighborhood’s first gay couple). And for a bourbon barrel-aged beer, it is pretty well-carbonated and is somewhat dry (perhaps a touch drier than I usually like my tripels)

This beer is full of surprises. One might even call it curious. But ultimately, I like it. It’s a little pricey, as is typical for Allagash specialty beers. It is worth a try, though. And I may even get it again sometime. Oh, and I had it on tap, too, where it seemed slightly sweeter.

The Haybag: Curiously, I liked this quite a bit, despite my past posturing on the miscegenation of beer and bourbon. Maybe cause it wasn’t so damn heavy.

Update (8/11/13): This beer has become a favorite of mine. Also, after having a 2013 bottle, it seemed slightly sweeter (similar to how I remembered the draft), which I like.  Also, I would note that the price tag is in-line with similarly situated barrel-aged ballers.

Thanksgiving Beer Pairings: We be all classy ‘n s$%t

As I mentioned, dangermenparenting sent out the bat signal to beerbecue to come up with some good beers for Thanksgiving. That’s right…I said beer for Thanksgiving. What? Do you think Pilgrims and Indians had a bunch of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux at the first Thanksgiving? That’s not what I learned in grade school. They had beer, dammit….and this:I received several suggestions from friends on past successes. I will try to give credit to them where possible. So, here we go..

We need something that can hang with heartiness, but not overpower earthy comfort. So for Thanksgiving, beerbecue says: screw the hop bombs for one day out of the year, and go with earthy, sweet, lightly spicy or fruity, or a combination thereof. There are several beers that can fit this bill, and I will throw a couple variations for turkey prep differences, and some dessert selections.

Pretty safe, but very tasty: Latch on to the sweet, earthy, and caramel with a Dogfish Head Indian Brown, a Brooklyn Brown, or, as Tom suggested, a good German Marzen. Or even go a little darker with New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened Black Ale.

A little more adventurous: Belgian Tripels. These little beauties have a light to moderate sweetness, some fruit (like apple, banana, pear, or oranges), earthiness, and sometimes a slight peppery, clovey, or spicey flavor from the Belgian yeast. The carbonation does a good job of clearing the palate, but the high carbonation can turn some off…like the Haybag. Also, they usually manage to mask their high ABV, even though they aren’t correspondingly heavy. And we all know high ABV can help in dealing with in-laws.

Try any of the following tripels: Allagash (a suggestion from Tony (not the DMP Tony) in the comments to the previous post); Unibroue La Fin Du Monde; Westmalle, St. Bernardus, or even New Belgium’s Trippel, which is now pretty easy to find in the DC-area. Also, some sweeter variations include Gouden Carolus, Weyerbacher Merry Monks, and Green Flash Trippel.

Perhaps even more adventurous: Although typically a Spring and Summer beer, the Saison/Farmhouse style would work. These will be dry, earthy, spicy, crisp, and light-bodied. You can try Saison Dupont (see the poetic description from Tony on Beer Advocate that says its all). Or I can also vouch for Ommegang’s Hennepin. The Dupont has a passing, but typical, barn funk (wet earth and hay), that is worth giving a shot. The Hennepin, on the other hand, lacks da funk.

What funk? I don

Smoked turkey curveball: I think the above suggestions work for roasted or fried turkey. But for smoked turkey (like the beerbecue residence) you might could go for something to stand-up to and compliment the smoke, like Founder’s Dirty Bastard or Oskar Blues Old Chub.

Additional curiosities: Tom suggested Troeg’s Mad Elf (cloves, honey, and cherries…not a bad Turkey Day combo). Ommegang’s Three Philosophers has dark fruit, cherries, and brown sugar (slight sourness from the cherries). Tony suggested Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, which apparently paired very well with a thyme-roasted chicken his wife made (I imagine the Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse would work well, too). And Chris suggested Guinness with a Jameson chaser, which gets the prize for most efficient.

Dessert: For dessert, you can go with Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, or any of Southern Tier’s Blackwater Series Imperial Stouts or their Backburner Barleywine. Alternatively, if you don’t want guests sleeping on your couch, you could try Tony’s “lighter” suggestions for dessert: Chimay Blue (fruit, spice, rich malt) or a Unibroue Noire de Chambly (fruits, spice, and slight chocolate).

Uncle Sal had the Chocolate Stout...and a Budweiser.

The Haybag: I give a thumbs up on those Browns. Also, even though ruling out hop bombs is blasphemy in this house, I think we are going to roll with Oskar Blues Old Chub to complement the smoked turkey. And I am cooking, so keep ’em coming, “Uncle Sal”.