New Year, Bubbly Beer
Since we were celebrating the dawn of a new year, we decided to pop open some bubbly brews in lieu of champagne. I had a bottle of Stone 10-10-10 Vertical Epic Ale (brewed with Gewurtztraminer, Moscato and Sauvignon Blanc grapes) aging in the back of my closet for well over a year. I also had a bottle of Deus Brut des Flandres, a bier de champagne. These are two brews that challenge the misconception that beer is a less formal or serious drink than wine, ironically, by copying wine making techniques and ingredients. Thus, it was the perfect opportunity for another signature beer showdown! Vertical Epic 10 and Deus, head to head in a battle of the bubblies.
Deus isn’t called a bier de champagne for nothing, as it actually undergoes a second fermentation in the Champagne region in France using the Methode Champagnoise. It’s brewed by Bosteels
Brewery, the same people behind Tripel Karmeliet and Pauwel Kwak. Unlike the Vertical Epic 10, it doesn’t add any more ingredients than the requisite water, barley, hops and yeast. Like with a good, albeit slightly agitated champagne, the foam lustily rushed out from the Deus’ bottle when I popped the cork. It’s just as effervescent as a sparkling wine would be, with a bit more body. I’ll go so far as saying I like it much more than the non-vintage champagnes I’ve tried: dry but not too acidic, and of course, with a bite of the bitterness that a hophead like me craves.
The Vertical Epic 10, aged two years, of which more than half was spent in the back of my closet, was a bit of a letdown, but that was mostly my fault. Although the beer wasn’t all that impressive when I tried it side by side with the Vertical Epic 11, it came out flat now. I blame myself, because I don’t really have enough storage space for cellaring beers in the long term. The fact that I live in a tropical country makes it worse. Thus, oxidation probably seeped in under the bottle cap. I wonder if things would have been different had Stone corked this beer, instead of capping it. At any rate, it wasn’t a total loss. The 10 really grew on me, with the white wine grapes coming out over time. I’m glad that this was a dry beer as well, as I’ve always found sweet white wines tough to enjoy.
Waldhaus Schwarzwald Weisse Hefe-Weizen is yet another German wheat beer. We have a lot of mediocre ones here in the Philippines, and a couple of outstanding ones, but sadly, no access to the undisputed hefe (in Spanish) of German hefeweizens, Weihenstephaner. The Waldhaus was at the bottom tier though, with hardly any flavor. Suddenly, I’m craving some Kapuziner.
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA had a grassy, herbal, resiny (if you get my drift) aroma reminiscent of Pliny the Elder. It was also a smooth IPA – with the bitterness riding in the passenger seat. Nevertheless, this was enough to get a hophead his fix for the night.
Ginga Kogen Silver Bottle, “The Premium Beer” was a revelation. It was like a drier version of the highly popular Hitachino Nest White Ale. Thinner as well, but overall,this was a beer that would give the high-flying owl a run for its money. I have to ask Mags of Gilmore Wines if he stocks this.
Greene King IPA Export is an English-style India pale ale which curiously came in a clear bottle. I didn’t expect much fro this beer, so there was no disappointment there. It tasted characteristically British, like a classic brown ale. Not the best beer, but still more flavorful than an adjunct lager. Good session ale, but only if it comes cheap.
Well, that was the lineup for the night. We didn’t drink any of the Baygon in the above photo though. A belated happy new year to all!
EDIT: This entry was typed and posted using a tablet. While it is useful in a pinch, autocorrect and the smallish screen makes proofreading so much more difficult. Apologies for any spelling and grammatical errors, most, if not all of which, have been corrected. Hopefully.