Cellar Check: 2007 Schlafly Reserve Barleywine Style Ale

Over the next few months, I am going to open beers from my cellar (beer collection). My collection has grown too large and many beers may be on the decline. Cellaring beer can be rewarding, but it's easy to get carried away to the point that some beers age past their prime. I have learned this the hard way. Some beers age gracefully and others don't.

I decided to start opening all the wood aged beers first. Barrel aging exposes more of the beer to oxygen, thus speeding up the oxidation process. Sometimes oxidation can compliment the beer (sherry notes) and other times it ruins the beer (staleness and wet cardboard).

I blew the dust off the bottle of a 2007 Schlafly  Reserve Barleywine Style Ale. This beer was oak aged, thus moving it to the front of the line. This was stored at room temp for about 3 years. To my surprise, this beer has held up. The hops have faded significantly, bringing the caramel malt profile to the front. The oak is very pronounced on the finish, adding dryness and spice. I also pick up some accents of vanilla. This is definitely in the American style of barleywine, and not overly sweet or sticky. I sense a very very small amount of sherry, which means this beer is at the early stages oxidation. I am not sure that the sherry and oak are going to merge well on the palate. In my opinion, I think three years may be the limit on this one. If I grab another bottle, I may split the difference and go with 18 months in hopes of it having more hop presence. Look for this beer at any liquor store with a good high gravity beer selection. Definitely recommended if you like barleywines.



New Brew Alert! Caldera Brewing Company

I get so excited when a new brewery enters the Nashville market. I would like to welcome Oregon-based Caldera Brewing Company. They will be offering the IPA, Amber Ale, and Pale Ale. These will be available in cans, which is even better. I prefer cans over bottles because there is less oxidation and no exposure to light. Oh yeah- and I don't have to empty the trash in my office as often. If they are not already on the shelves, they should be any day. Let's show the newcomer that we support craft beer. Please post any sightings in the comments section so I can do a review.



New High Gravity Offerings from Dogfish Head and Boulevard

After dropping off one of my amplifiers to get modded, I stopped by Grand Cru Wine and Spirits. I grabbed two new additions to the Boulevard Smokestack Series, the Bourbon Barrel Quad (limited release) and the Harvest Dancer (wheat wine). Both are sold in corked 750ml bottles at $10.99. The Harvest Dancer was tasty, very Belgian in character. I have not opened the Quad yet, as that sucker comes in at nearly 12%

Dogfish Head has added some new beers to the Nashville market. Olde School Barleywine is available in 4 paks for $15.99. This is not your average barleywine, this comes in at 15%! It's a good thing these are not in bombers. The second addition is Fort, which is a raspberry fruit beer. Bring your wallet, as these 750ml bottles are running $18.99.

For fans of the awesome Rochfort 10, Midtown has it back on the shelves after a much too long hiatus.



Beer Tasting Events- Expand Your Craft Beer Appreciation

Are you tired of fizzy, watery, and lifeless American "macro" beers? Have you always wanted to learn more about craft beer but had no idea of where to start or what to buy? If the answer is yes, then let me be the "beer guide" for your next event or private party.

Beer can be lined up for comparison tasting, similar to wine tastings. There are more than 23 styles of beer using various malts and yeast strains, which is why many argue that beer is more complex than wine. Beer also pairs wonderfully with food.

No group is too big or too small. I work with you or your event planner to assemble a list of quality beers . I can also coordinate with caterers and chefs to ensure proper food pairing. During the event, I walk the guests through each beer and explain what they should be seeing, smelling and tasting. I also give a brief history on each style and try to answer any questions. Most importantly, I will be there to make the event fun and educational.

My Credentials:
  • Craft beer aficionado for over 17 years
  • Participated in several tasting panels that included BJCP Beer Judges. 
  • Rare beer collector
  • Homebrewer
  • Over 2,000 beers tasted and logged since 2005
  • Visited over 300 beer bars, brewpubs, breweries, and bottle shops in the US and UK
  • Sampled beers from 28 different countries
  • Attended numerous beer festivals and tastings throughout the US, including the Great American Beer Festival in Denver
  • Beer Advocate Top 100 Beers on Earth: Tasted 70
  • Ratebeer Top 50: Tasted 36
Other services:

  • Retail Consulting- How to organize, display, and store craft beer to increase sales and attract loyal craft beer consumers
  • Server Training- Education on beer and your product line. This ensures that your waitstaff and bartenders can properly answer customer questions, as well as assist with the selections. 
  • Beer Menu Consultation- Construct or revise your current beer list so that you have quality beers that pair well with your food menu, but also cater to the palates of your customer base.
    Fees: Varies depending on the location, date, and event time line. Email me at centralgritlap@att.net for a quote.

    The Session #35

    The Session is a group writing project where all bloggers and writers from around the world write about the same subject. I decided to participate, even though I am a few days late. The subject for this session is "New Beer's Resolution." Here it goes:

    Best Beer for 2009? 
    I have tried so many great beers this year, but if I had to pick just one- it would have to be Russian River Consecration. Vinnie Cilurzo is one of the top artisan brewers in the country, and this beer is so nicely crafted and balanced.  A close second would be Surly Darkness. As far as Nashville goes, my best of 2009 goes to Yazoo Sue (the revised recipe in bottles). This smoked imperial porter is worthy of a GABF entry. Congrats to Linus Hall for being the first local brewer (?) to enter the high gravity market and jumping through all the government hurdles.

    Worst Beer for 2009? 
    This is easy. Bud Light Chelada. If Satan had a beer bar in hell, this would be on the menu.

    What beer mistakes did you make?
    Finishing a can of Bud Light Chelada

    What beer resolutions do you have for 2010? 
    Drink down my cellar before some of my beers oxidize, but avoid not gaining weight at the same time.  

    What are your beer regrets and embarrassing moments? 
    I regret not buying tickets to other sessions at the Great American Beer Festival. One session is not enough. Plus I missed the chance to try Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gueze and The Bruery Black Tuesday.Embarrassing moments? Nothing too bad this year. Just the occasional beer left in the freezer.

    What are you hoping to change about your beer experience in 2010?
    I was laid off from a job that allowed me to travel, thus losing the opportunities to try different brewpubs and bring home bottles from around the country. What I will have to do is find ways to fill that void of not traveling.

    Two New Terrapin Beers

    For those Terrapin fans like myself, there are two new beers hitting the Nashville market. Hopsecutioner, which is an IPA coming in at around 7%. Midtown has these for $14.99 per six pack (ouch!).

    Terrapin Side Project Volume 9: The Dark Side Belgian Imperial Stout is the newest addition to the side project series, and is priced at around $7.50 per 22 ounce bottle.  The description per Terrapin's web site is as follows:
    "Fermented with real Trappist ale yeast, the Dark Side's complexity and depth will entice the most sophisticated stout drinker. I kept the hop bitterness to a minimum to enhance the flavor of the yeast and malt profile."

    I have not tried either beer yet, so feel free to add your thoughts to the comments section. Also, don't forget to try this years release of Big Hoppy Monster. Cheers