Mark’s sister: so enthralled by her host’s braggot she was closing her eyes to savor. Nah, I was just a meanie: and snapped her pic real fast. The hats are actual an growth one gets from attending the tasting and leaving too damn soon!!!-kwc
Ken’s annual Beaver River Beer tasting always provides good stories. -the Professor
Once again we met @ 168 Railroad Street to savor weird commercial brews, homebrews, wine and beer from vino king and brewmeister Mark Franey (me thinks he must hide his brew kettles beneath his kilt he brings so much) and his lovely sister: KT.
A short history: a tale about The Beaver River Beer Tasting. While I’m from New York State originally I moved to Nashville, TN in the late 70s because as bad as the economy was: upstate NY was worse. We both needed jobs and I wanted to work somewhere in the music industry. (I did and sort of do… long non-related story.) I started homebrewing after moving there: not connected except I just happened to run into one of the first homebrewing stores since Carter made it legal.
I still missed my beloved Adirondacks which I have always considered home. So in 2005, I think 2005, we bought our retirement shack in my fav town: Beaver River, NY. No roads reach Beaver River, and they didn’t have any craft beer at the time. So in 2006 I held the first Beaver River Beer Tasting. Sometime around 2010/2011 Mark Franey started coming on board, a great homebrewer from Number Four, NY, and shared his beer and wine, even bringing his bagpipes and wearing his kilt.
Other years he just came naked.
And, as always, it helps he brings his beatific sister: KT.
On to the tale…
This year I’m guessing, at the peak of the affair, we had somewhere between 20-30 folks.
In a moment I’ll comment on a few of the quaffs we tasted.
Here’s what Mark said he brought…
Peaty Scottish Ale
“Mystery” Beer whereby the attendees had to guess the flavors but not the style of this beer – sort of a novice beer judge exercise. As it turned out, two attendees guessed the right flavors – one tasted the caramel flavor and the other tasted the maple. The “Mystery” beer was a Maple Caramel Porter.
These are his own brews and, as always, he brings his wine.
The Cool Springs growler was a mix of several brews from Cool Springs Brewery in Franklin, Tennessee. In June we went to a beer dinner. We had pre-purchased two seats. When we bought them I didn’t know I was about to start a medication that could have been dangerous if I drank too much. “Too much” being ill-defined and “varies per person.”
So I would take a sip, or two, and put the rest in a growler. I had no control over what was served.
I’m off the medication: praise the beer gods.
Not Derrick’s fault, the brewer, but the brews didn’t mix well. I think the coffee in the coffee stout and the mango IPA were arguing with the Scottish 80. Well, he said “80.” I remember thinking it more a 60. The result of the argument was these very drinkable quaffs, well “drinkable” on their own, beat each up a bit too much. Drinkable, but not that exciting. It was a bit like an annoying bar fight between taps.
The Beer Diviner’s Guit was grand. This is one of the few gruits I’ve had where it was obvious these were spices, herbs, not hops… yet also not over the top. It was just right. For those not in the know: “gruit” is what we used to be beer before the Catholic Church, the German government, and others, went out of their way to make hops the only accepted bittering agent. Seems hops is more likely to put quaffers asleep than some of the aphrodisiacs and psychotropics used before.
And as we well know beer never caused anyone to have sex or get high again.
Moonlight’s Blossom was a nice sweet mead that approached Manischewitz in sweetness, only classier. I think the apple, which makes it a melomel too, was somewhat missing: especially when compared to my own You Are the Apple of My Adirondack Mountain High Braggot, using Beaver River apples. I really wouldn’t classify it a Moonlight’s as a cyser, more a melomel. While mine’s a braggot it would be more of a cyser, if not. I probably pressed over 2-3 pounds of apples for it, and it was only a 2 gallon recipe.
I will leave out other comments on that braggot since it’s mine and very, very young. Needs aging.
Lips of Faith/Cigar City’s Ale With Chillies had a light background of chilies swimming in a heavy side of medium body. Completely enjoyable.
Bluegrass’ Rye IPA was a nice IPA but the rye seemed so light it was hardly in the background. Bear in mind I’m not a rye in beer fan, so for me to write that is significant. When I ask for more, well, there probably needs to be more.
Rogue’s Voodoo Doughnut? This was the edition with banana, peanut butter and chocolate and Rogue does it again. All three were obvious and the ale was a great stage for the three to play on… obviously there, supportive, but not getting in the way.
Yazoo’s Embrace the Funk: the bugs… brett really… proved that rhubarb-like esters is an occasional result using unique ways to ferment. From the way I understand it some are not really yeasts, though brett is. Approaching, but not quite tart, tis a very pleasing where brett is the star. If you’re looking for hops or complex malts you’re missing the point of what’s, unfortunately, often classified as sour beer. It’s not all “sour.”
New Holland’s Dragon Milk Stout provided a nice, firm, yet not over the top lactose background that made the quaff a tad milk shake-like. We had a quaffer who disliked lactose but enjoyed this. I think it was so well done, so complex, the lactose was inoffensive to her.
My Blueberry Nightmare was probably the only real disappointment, other than the growler. This hideously expensive brew from Italy was thick: syrupy, almost blueberry pancake syrup like. Drinkable? Yes. Pleasing? Not really. They apparently aged it in whiskey barrels and added chilies. Why? Who knows. It was still pancake syrup-like more than anything else.
We also had Founder’s Dirty Bastard and Switchback Ale. Switchback was just a straight forward, no nonsense ale. Not hoppy, not real malty: not really all that identifiable style-wise. Pleasing, inoffensive.
Founders’? Sorry: don’t remember.
Gee: wonder why?
Mark’s Blueberry Lager was spot on: would make a great commercial brew. The Scottish was a little on the peat-y side. In my opinion it pleasant and not over the top, but other beer judges might think so. Most likely a 60. He’ll probably kick me over this one, but I don’t remember the porter.
Nothing to do with alcohol: nothing at all.
Please remember: in no way are any of these comments to be considered official. These aren’t “profiles,” and especially not judged like one would do at a competition. These are but casual comments made on the run while serving my visitors.
A fun time had by all.
A Beer-y Good Story is a column by Ken Carman: BJCP judge, author of several columns an beer and Inspection, on social, political and religious issues first published in 1972. A Beer-y Good Story goes where beer reviews don’t: history and perception of a brand being reviewed, as well as personal anecdotes.
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