Over the past couple days I tried a few new biers, had some of my old favorites, and did a little comparison of another. After my visit to, and write up of, the Cleveland Auto Show; I was a little more interested in trying to further compare the difference between Guinness Extra Stout and Guinness Draft Bottle. Luckily on the night of February 27th I went to dinner at Brasa Brazilian Steak House for my husband's parents anniversary and accidentally found out they had both Guinness Extra Stout and Draft Bottle. I started with a Extra Stout, then had a Draft Bottle, then went back to the Extra Stout. I did find that the Extra Stout had a much more predominate flavor than the Draft Bottle; I believe that I may have been right in that the nitrogen widget kills some of the complex flavor, but does add a very nice creaminess if that's what you are in the mood for.
The two new biers that I tried were the Mikkeller RateBeer Special Release and the Harviestoun Old Engine Oil. I was really surprised and pleased with the Mikkeller; it had nice noticeable hops, but with the nice smoothness and refined character of a good Belgian without going overboard on the hops. There was also a strong brown sugar taste in the malt. Over all it was quite enjoyable and worth getting a second bottle. The Old Engine Oil was also good, but not quite as surprising as the Mikkeller. Over all it was well roasted, thick, with lots of different bitters from the roast. It started with more of a coffee bitter and ended more along the lines of semi-sweet dark chocolate. Good one to try, but not sure if I would be in a rush to get another bottle.
Some of the old favorites that I had were; Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra, Hoppin' Frog BORIS that I helped bottle, and an Arcadia Scotch Ale. The Arcadia definitely had the smoke that you would expect in a scotch ale as well as a roasted sweetness somewhere between caramel and molasses. The biggest surprise was how bubbly the Arcadia was. I finally was able to convince Dave to try the BORIS that I helped bottle and knew that he would like how fresh it tasted, of course I was right. We both noticed the strong flavor and texture of oatmeal and how it helped add a nice creaminess to the beer. We also thought it would be very interesting to try a batch of BORIS that did it's initial fermentation aging in Bourbon barrels instead of steel tanks. Although the beer is already amazingly good; it is just asking for that level of added complexity in the flavor. Last, but definitely not least, is one of my all time favorites; Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra. First off, if I read the bottle correctly, the one I had should be from September 2006; I found that it is aging very well and is becoming extremely smooth. Of course it was very sweet, with a nice molasses/raisin flavor, and quite thick and syrupy. One very surprising thing was how the alcohol was only noticeable at the very end and not the entire way through the taste. This is an extremely enjoyable beer to sit back and slowly enjoy out of an over sized Brandy snifter or over sized red wine glass.
Although I went quite over board on my "tastings" on leap day, after taking the day off on the first I am quite excited to try out the New Holland Pilgrim's Dole Wheat Barley Wine. But first, I will probably try a few pints at the Winking Lizard and get my glass for the Beer of the Month, New Holland's Red Tulip is the selected one for March. I should also have a write up from my friend in Chicago coming soon.