Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day of the Living Ales

Sorry for the Delay in postings. This has been a hectic week, with a Stout tasting on Monday, Co-Worker outing on Wednesday, BA Swap/CBS First Thursday and ending with DotLA on Saturday. This has been a great week for beer and has not allowed time to update.

Another year and another Night of the Living Ales from the fine folks of CBS(Finally purchased that couples membership, so folks is folks). This is a cask ale festival, so the casks are brought in weeks in advanced and cared for by a volunteer "publican". That way the casks are allowed to stay at an ambient temperature and any sediment from the "living ale" is allowed to settle in the bottom of the cask. For those of you not familiar with Cask Ale, out friends at wikipedia describe it as ...

"Cask ale or cask-conditioned beer is the term for unfiltered and unpasteurised beer which is conditioned (including secondary fermentation) and served from a cask without additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure. Cask ale may also be referred to as real ale, a term coined by the Campaign for Real Ale, often now extended to cover bottle-conditioned beer as well."

...What this means to the beer drinker is a naturally lightly carbonated beer that allows for the true flavors of the beer to come through. In my opinion most beers fare better of cask or "beer engine". It also fun to compare beers your familiar with on Draught vs. Cask.

This year they split it from a single 4 hour session to a Day and Night of the Living Ales. As you all know I am a HUGE fan of "day drinking" and prefer to go to day sessions of any festival. There seems to be a higher caliber of drinker at the day session as opposed to the night. Because they casks can not be disturbed, the fest goers must come to the casks. With less people it was easier to get to the casks and makes for a better experience in general. We were able to go to the cask room and return to the main room with ease. Please note this is the courteous thing to do, CAMPING in front of the casks in rude and makes you seem like a fat asshole, sorry, had to call you out.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you got a live play by play of the beers sampled and the top three I voted for. Here is the list in ordered sampled. Keep in mind these are 3 ounce pours, unless you get a real great volunteer who double pours you.

#1 Bear Republic "Apex", nothing on the malt side and I LOVE IT. Just pale malt and west coast bittering hops. Imaging taking a Mid West IIPA and stripping it of all its specialty malt and leaving the hop bill the same. Hop Head delight. Had this Twice.

#2 Three Floyds/Dog Fish Head "Popskull", the obvious go to beer. I want to have this on draught before I pass judgement. Lots of banana esters.

#3 Surly Brewing Co. "Tea Bagged Furious" Double Dry Hopped Amber IPA, had this last year and it seemed less hoppy. Maybe I am drinking more extremely hopped beers. Still great none the less.

#4 Rock Bottom - Orland Park "Abominator Double IPA", Standard IPA with a grainy after taste.

#5 Rock Bottom - Chicago "Zwickel-Licker: Dry Hopped Yellow Bier - Like a macro lager with American hops. Reminded me of the Flossmoor best bitter but without the overdone hop character.

#6 Moylans Brewing "Batch #1000 Double Kilt Lifter with whiskey soaked American oak chips" - Nicely done, no whiskey punch in the face, the Scottish ale is still in tact with a real fruity yeast effect. Loved this one, A LOT!.

#7 Goose Island "Bourbon Sherry Beer", oh so boozey but good. This one was a slow sipper, night ender. I can imagine having more than a small snifter of this.

#8 Piece Brewery "Moose Knuckle", never had this out of the cask. Quality barley wine from piece. I really did not see a huge difference from the flavor at the brew pub.

#9 Lakefront Brewery "Oak-aged Bridge Burner Strong Ale", Best in show! ! Citrusy hops mix with barrel hints on a medium body. Oh so flavorful. I really like this one, had it twice.

#10 Rock Bottom - Lombard "ShamRock Stout", the volunteer called in a Francol mint. It tasted like a liquid York Peppermint Patty. Yuck.

#11 Lunar Brewing CO. "Moondance IPA", standard.

#12 Piece Brewing "Big Black Mariah Smoked Porter", excellent, what would you expect from Piece.

#13 had the Lakefront one last time to affirm that it was my number one pick.

I voted Lakefront Bridge Burner, Moylans Batch 1000 and Bear Republic Apex. Sorry Chicago, you did not bring it as strong as your out of town peers.

Overall it was a good experience. Minus the campers and beer farters, you know who you are.

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