Don your gay apparel and roast your nuts, as beerbecue guest reviews Schlafly’s Christmas Ale on the Sports-Glutton’s Friday Football Fix. This week, Niners vs. Rams.
I attended my Grandmother’s funeral this week in Effingham, IL. (Best city name ever. Ben Folds wrote a hilarious song about it. Say “Effingham” frustrated or disappointed a couple times. It never gets old.) Don’t worry, however, this isn’t going to be a melancholy post. I deal with death by pretending it didn’t happen and trying to be funny. It’s healthy. Look it up.
Grandma Probst was cool. In fact, the consensus amongst everyone in attendance was that she rarely had it easy in life; but she was unflinchingly devoted and resolute, and she never complained. In fact, I think beerbecue could stand to be a little more like her.
After the wake, we did what every big Catholic family should do: Drink. I didn’t have time to hit up an Effingham beer store, but my brother brought 2 nice bottles of wine, and an aunt had procured pizza, wine, and plenty of Coors and Miller Lite. Did I complain about the lack of craft beer? No. I am now devoted, resolute, and stoic.
So, I drank. Then, looking to diversify while my brother and I were plowing through his second bottle of wine, I discovered this wonder of modern engineering in the cooler:
Oh, dear God. My only past qualm with canned Miller Lite was that it took too long to drink. Problem solved. It tastes just like Miller Lite, only faster. And now that I’m more devoted, resolute, and stoic, I will say that getting the shotgun hole open was a fun challenge and provided my hands with some much needed strength training.
Later in the evening, one cousin pulled out some New Belgium Somersault and was kind enough to share. This is a very good beer. Spicy, floral, and herbal hop character. Refreshing. I am underwhelmed by a lot of New Belgium beers, but I really liked this one.
The next day, after the funeral and almost all the way back to the St. Louis airport, the Haybag called to tell me that my flight had been delayed 2 hours. Did I complain? No. Devotedly, resolutely, and stoically, I dialed in the coordinates for Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood.
Once inside, the sweet and pleasant aroma of brewing surrounded me, and I saw they had their Pumpkin Ale on tap. Of course, I have previously ranted about the too early release of pumpkin beers, but that was before I was devoted, resolute, and stoic in the face of hardship. So, I ordered one, and I was quickly reminded why their pumpkin beer is hands-down the best.
At times, it’s reminiscent of a spiced cider, but there is no mistaking its pumpkin pie flavor. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, all backed by some caramel and a nice Munich malt sweetness. It’s like a rich, sweet, spicy pumpkin pie. This is THE pumpkin beer. And unless someone can convince me otherwise, this is the only pumpkin beer I will be getting this year.
My one suggestion would be to let it warm up a tiny bit. When it’s cold, the cloves and some slight bitterness attention whore it up. But as it warms just a little bit, the richness and complexity come out.
The Haybag: Whatever. I still pledge my allegiance to Southern Tier Pumking. And I think the readers should know that I suggested going to Schlafly Bottleworks and figured out the directions. Otherwise, you would have ended up “stoically” sitting at the airport.
We got this in a growler at Whole Paycheck (Whole Foods). To me, a good Irish Stout/Export Stout has to be a quadruple threat: (1) Creamy; (2) Dry finish; (3) Some bitterness from roasted malts, and (4) Some bitterness from hops. Other types of threats include:
This beer pours black with a nice tan head, receding to a spotty film that leaves lots of lace. It smells like bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. It tastes the same with a hint of dark fruits, a slight roasty and coffee bitterness, and a pleasing hoppy bitterness. There is a mild sweetness to it at first, and it has a creamy mouthfeel. Then it finishes dry, with a slight, lingering bitterness that seems to bounce between roasted/burnt malt and hops.
This beer achieves the quadruple threat reasonably well. I would get this again, especially if I can find it in a bottle. It’s pretty good, but nowhere near de-throning my favorite Export Stout: Snake River Zonker Stout. And Schlafly’s only drawback is that, although it feels highly-drinkable, it clocks in at 8 percent ABV. A quick couple of these and Chingy be all like “errrbody in the club gettin’ tipsy.”
The Haybag: This was a big, tasty beer. Schlafly may be winning me over. And I like the Reservoir Dogs photography scene that unfolded when you were trying to be all fancy pants with this beer’s pic.
Next: Schlafly Reserve Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout (2008):
I got to know Schlafly towards the end of last year, when they wowed me with their pumpkin ale. Each subsequent beer from them only further deepened my beer crush, especially this one.
It took me a long time to get this review out…perhaps because I loved this beer so much that I felt it would be disrespectful to attempt to reduce its glory to something as desecrating as a blog. For how could I debase its beauty by allowing it’s praises to be viewed in a medium as transitory as a browser window. Or maybe I’m just a lazy a-hole.
It pours thinner than I thought it would; and it’s black, but not impenetrable. It has a quickly receding tan head. It smells like chocolate and bourbon. And, even better, it tastes like caramel, chocolate, and bourbon, with some fleeting vanilla. As it warms, its lack of oiliness becomes more apparent. It’s a thin mouthfeel for a stout, but it doesn’t lack in flavor at all. Hell, you could drink a whole bomber of this and not feel like you’re pregnant and in your third beermester. Although at 10.5% ABV you might be a little cockeyed, but that shouldn’t stop you.
The Haybag: This is good, but why does everything have to be aged in bourbon barrels? I bet this would be even better had they not. Sorry, but I prefer to keep my bourbon and beer in separate vessels.
Here is the beerbecue Thanksgiving starting lineup:
We stuck to the Thanksgiving-friendly styles, and branched-out to two beers we hadn’t quaffed before. They are as follows:
Unibroue La Fin Du Monde; St. Feuillien Saison (first-time); Schlafly Biere De Garde (first-time, although the Haybag swears we have had it); Oskar Blues Old Chub; and the Haybag went all rogue for dessert with Dogfish Head Bitches Brew (3 parts imperial stout and 1 part honey beer with gesho root) for dessert.
What’s your Turkey Day lineup (beer, wine, shots, straight from the bottle)?
Subsequent Editor’s Note: Don’t drink Schlafly Biere de Garde with Thanksgiving dinner. I loved it on its own, but with Thanksgiving food it turned evil. Stick to their pairing suggestions on the bottle (fruit, cheese, cured meats).