My Excellent Little Brother and his lovely wife AKA The Pianist got married in a fever in July 2011. A month later The Pianist took off to New York, to pursue her DMA in Piano and in December my Excellent Little Brother joined her after promoting the album release of his übercool band Lo Dubim that plays Mediterranean-influenced power funk. Relocation and career got in their way and the couple didn’t get to go on a honeymoon until July. Good for them, they went to California – San Francisco and L.A. Good for The Pianist who flew straight to Israel, to a family visit and a recital straight afterwards. Good for me, because My Excellent Little Brother was sent to City Beer to fetch me some hard-to-find Californian bottles that got delivered by The Pianist.
My Excellent Little Brother is not a beergeek. He’s also not a tiki freak, craftaholic or a punk, but he’s curious, kind and seems to enjoy shopping for me as I do for him (a lyric book of Nirvana’s Bleach translated to Polish… oh, the joy of giving!). Of course I’d love to shop for beer myself, but outsourcing to him is second best.
Armed with a list composed by the Dead Swedish Girl and me, the young couple went on a mission and returned with some sought-after goodies that The Pianist delivered as soon as she got off the plane. What goodies? Such goodies that calling them goodies doesn’t do them justice.
The Lost Abbey’s Angel’s Share aged in bourbon barrel, for once. 12.5% abv. makes this heavenly drink too strong to be called beer in accordance to regulators and legislators who probably didn’t have to deal with that Armageddon hype (please convince me that this beer is more than a buzz to promote a new, unknown, cred-less brewery) or any other strong but better-known beers and thus labeled “malt beverage aged in oak barrels”. Fear not, it’s just a fancy name for barley wine, but barley wine is just a simple name for the heavenly headless muddy brown liquid poured to the tasting glasses. First I smelled it. Alcohol. Then chocolately velvet. Then sweet children’s non-alcoholic wine. After smelling, I tasted: deep, sweet, slightly alcoholic, cherry and chocolate taste. Full-bodied, smooth, liquor-like texture. “Beer” may not be the most accurate description for this wonderful dessert drink. The angels must share the bottle because the drink is so rich that finishing it all by oneself is impossible (and sinful).
Last winter The Secret-Parents brought us a bottle of Alesmith IPA which I declared as one of the best IPA’s I have tasted so far. Alesmith Speedway Stout follows the greatness. It’s a brilliant imperial stout, full and heavy that poured beautifully. I wish I took a picture of its big tan head. Its great aroma contained roastiness, hints of raisins and, of course, coffee beans and it tasted dry and bitter and coffee like. With ash and roast in the finish, a full and heavy body and 12% abv. it was a surprisingly drinkable beer.
As if these two bottles weren’t enough, the third was a true gem: Russian River Pliny the Elder. As soon as I posted on Facebook about the trio I got emails from fellow beer-buddies, asking us to share. Rated #19 on Ratebeer’s top 50 beers ever, 2 on the top-50 imperial IPA, and is currently#6 in the most wanted list. A true gem I was given. No idea whether my Excellent Little Brother and The Pianist picked the bottles by themselves or asked for assistance at the store, but they sure scored. It pours murky amber with a thin white film and smelled of evergreen and fresh skunk in a good way. It tasted bitter, 100 IBU tends to cause bitterness, with some saltiness and nori seaweed. Pliny had a surprisingly light body and an unexpected hyssop finish. I truly enjoyed this beer. and I think everybody else did too, although remarks about it being overrated were heard around the tasting table.
Mission Honeymoon accomplished and Mission Business Trip’s already ahead, as my Excellent Little Brother is coming to Tel Aviv to do some work stuff later this month.
Pliny The Elder, Speedway Stout and Angel’s Share were beers #131, #132 and #133 I Must Try Before I Die. Having just being released from a surgery and completing this entry at the hospital bed, it’s a relief I can go on with the next 868 beers. My liver’s fine 🙂