In the Shadow of Giants….

No, not the NY Giants. I wouldn’t have been nearly so excited (Sorry, NY fans)…No, these giants are the men shaping the craft beer world like the master artists of the Renaissance.  Think Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, except with liquid rather than paint.

It was my great pleasure to meet this triumvirate of brewing artists last week at Stone Brewery in Escondido, CA. Greg Koch of Stone, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, and Bill Covaleski of Victory came together to create a collaborative beer for the upcoming season, a Saison which Sam said would include “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.” My response was, of course, “Like Simon and Garfunkel?”  Affirmative.  As a certified Saison fan (read: nut), my excitement ratcheted up a few(alright many!) notches. Stay tuned for its release in late April…AND it’s inclusion in an upcoming project of mine.

Ok, let's try to... An experiment gone awry.

Come on, you know I’ve got to be cooking up something new!! An announcement will be forthcoming in the next week…

I knew I had to make the drive back to San Diego, so my desire to sample as many beers as possible had to be bonded. The following are the ones that made it into the evening repetoire:

Victory Wild Devil: Have been eager to try this one, ever since a beer friend in New Orleans raved about it.  Beautiful, radiant apricot color. Definitely funky Brett notes of overturned hay and damp wood.  Aromas of apricot and stone fruits mingle with the earthiness, and lend complexity.  A beer for smelling, discussing, and most importantly, appreciating.

Stone Smoked Porter: Wanted to revisit my old friend, the Smoked Porter.  I reviewed this beer for the first time, back in November 2009, for my 100 beers 30 days challenge of Stouts vs. Porters.  I loved it then for its meaty aromas and wonderful tobacco, peaty smokiness. And I still love it now.  What an incredible beer for food pairing. (Click here to read that review.)

No we did NOT spill any World Wide Stout!

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout: Wow.  Intriguing, beguiling nose you could stick your happy nose in for hours.  Charred wood, dark, intense chocolate, a mixture of bitter espresso and a more aromatic coffee, molasses…and I could go on. Except I drank mine before even the 30 min mark. Maybe I should visit the brewery while they are making the 90 min IPA and make that my timer. I’m telling you, this beer has that much complexity.  And you want to savor it.  By a fire. With blankets. A dog. And somebody awesome.

Allagash Black: predominant notes of  roasted coffee, tobacco, dark, dark chocolate on the nose.  Rich, yet balanced palate with a slightly spicy, smoky finish. Have had this beer several times, and always enjoyed.

Cantillon Lou Pepe Gueuze: Mmmm delicious.  I LOVE this beer.  Dr. Bill brought this one out for the special guests, and I was lucky enough to taste a bit. What a lovely, yet funky, yummy gueuze. Woody oak, hay, earth, a bit of spice, hint of citrus on the nose and that wonderful sour goodness mingled with those notes on the palate.

What a great pleasure meeting Sam, Greg, Bill, and the other wonderful beer lovers out for this special event. A giant smile covered my face all the way back to San Diego…



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