Last weekend, we bottled our Farmhouse Eleven at Jeff’s place. We tasted a sample and the flavor seemed to be on track. The final gravity was about 1.020, which will give it an ABV of 6.19%. We used a combination of 12 oz. bottles and 22 oz. bombers this time and, as it turns out, we had just enough to divide evenly three ways.
Once the bottling was finished, we packed up Liles’ share and headed up north to Longmont for some “research.” We gathered at Liles’ house with our significant others and piled into the Lipe-mobile. Our first destination: the Left Hand tap room.
Left Hand makes some very tasty beers, and some that, well, aren’t that great (IMHO). Their Fade To Black (vol. 2) is one of my favorite beers of the last year and I had some of their 400 Pound Monkey on cask once, which was awesome. Their Milk Stout on nitro is quickly becoming a favorite in Denver bars too. This day, we came up to see what was new and different in the tap room.
I tried their Week Sauce, a coffee stout made for Colorado Beer Week. The body was a little thin and the coffee flavor a little too pronounced for my taste, but the cask conditioning made it very smooth. Meg, Jeff, and Liles all went with the Wake Up Dead, a barrel-aged imperial stout that they had on keg and on nitro. It’s a little thin for an imperial stout, but the taste was very sweet and boozy. Not bad at all. The nitro version was even better.
I split a taster tray of some of their more “sessiony” beers with Jeff and Liles, including Polestar Pilsner, The Stranger, 400 Pound Monkey, and (regular) Milk Stout. I probably liked The Stranger, a pale ale based on a rye malt, the best out of that group. The 400 Pound Monkey had a very strange aroma, which got more pronounced as it got warmer. In fact, it was downright gross and reminiscent of, well, a four hundred-pound monkey. I didn’t remember this from the other times I had tried it out of the bottle or on cask, so I asked one of the bartenders about it. She attributed the “earthy” aroma to the English hops they used in the beer. Looks like I won’t be using Fuggles, Kent, or Goldings in my beer if there’s a chance it could end up smelling like sweaty undergarments!
Overall, it was a pretty cool experience at Left Hand. The tap room had a nice log-cabin type of vibe and live music was playing for most of the time we were there. The beer was also very reasonably priced (taster trays were only $4). We were hungry though, so it was time to get to our next destination, Oskar Blues’ Homemade Liquids and Solids.
I’ve been a big fan of Oskar Blues for years. I remember picking up a twelve-pack of Dale’s Pale Ale during my ski bum days in 2004 and being blown away by the idea of craft beer in a can. Now it’s pretty commonplace, but few brewers are putting beers as audacious as Ten Fidy or Gubna in their canned lines. Anyhow, I had never been to any of the Oskar Blues’ locations before, so I was pretty excited to taste some of their draft-only beers. Their menu of Southern-fried foods looked to be just the ticket as well.
Some pre-trip planning told me that they would have ODB, their barley wine, on tap. I tried the ODB at the Boulder Strong Ale Fest back in February and remember liking it a lot, but you really can’t tell too much from a two-ounce pour. While waiting for our table, I ordered a Gubna for Meg and an ODB for myself. The bartender said that they were out of their “regular” ODB (bummer!), but they had a keg of “special” ODB that had been aged for six months in a Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey barrel (score!!). It would, however, set me back $12 for a 10 oz. glass. I hesitated, but only for about a nanosecond. This was a rare opportunity that should not be passed up.
After getting the first whiff from the glass, I knew that it was well worth the money. The whiskey aroma was incredible. It had a murky, muddy appearance and kind of a thin head, but looked pretty appealing nonetheless. The barrel aging seemed to really mellow out the barley wine flavors, making it incredibly smooth for 13% ABV beer. I passed my glass around and everyone seemed to agree that this was something special. Now, I know that ODB stands for “Old Double Bagger,” but I think they should consider dubbing this version, the “Ol’ Dirty Bastard,” after the Wu-Tang Clan rapper (AKA: Dirt Dog, Dirt McGirt, O.D.B., Ason Unique, Osirus, Big Baby Jesus, Joe Bananas, BZA, Ol’ Dirty BZA). This is one filthy mutha of a beer and one of the best barley wines I’ve had in ages. It was the highlight of the trip for me. I’m seriously contemplating making a bourbon-barrel barley wine in the near future, which would mean a Wintertime release.
For an appetizer, we got a mixed basket of cayenne and habanero flavored wings that were very hot and flavorful. The ODB really stood up well to them and complemented the spiciness. I had a few tastes of Meg’s Gubna as well. It must have been extremely fresh, because the hop aroma was incredibly dank and powerful. I was tempted to get a glass for myself, but I don’t think another 10% beer would have been the smartest idea. Dinner arrived and I dug into my crab cake with crawfish etoufee, which turned out to be a great pairing with the bourbon-barrel barley wine.
We spent the rest of dinner sampling each other’s beers, including some Ten Fidy and G’Knight. I tried some of their Workingman’s Stout, which is a low-octane version of their TenFidy. I could tell it was good, but after drinking some of their more powerful beers, it seemed almost watery by comparison. Liles ordered up some banana pudding with ‘Nilla wafers, served in a mason jar and passed it around. It was the perfect end to our research trip to Longmont. Now we just need to find a way to make it tax-deductible . . .
Maybe Oskar Blues can use this in their marketing for Bourbon-Barrel ODB?
It doesn’t exactly fit their hippie, Bluegrass-y image, but I think we need more hip-hop themed beers, don’t you?