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Bob’s Beer Bits and Sips

Beers to Enjoy as Spring Springs Forth

The Bruery Chocolate Rain

Members of The Bruery’s Society Members and Preservation Society (clubs with an annual membership fee that allows members to purchase rare, special beers not available to the general public) have already been enjoying this beer, but now for the first time it is available for public purchase. Here is the backstory from the brewery: “One of the holy mothers of dessert beer in America started with a single cask at the first Black Tuesday release in 2009. Demand was instant, and The Bruery Chocolate Rain was finally bottled in 2011. The only downside to this beer? Only available to The Bruery Reserve Society members.” That is true no longer, but although available beginning March 24, you may still have trouble finding it, but you can visit TheBrueryStore.com, which will allow it to be shipped in California, or you can visit the tasting room in Placentia. Each 750-ml bottle is wax-dipped and retails for $39.99. 

This barrel aged Imperial Stout takes over a year to make and features TCHO (a pod-to-palate chocolate company located on Pier 17 in S.F.) cacao nibs and fresh vanilla beans. It’s rich in chocolate, vanilla, oak and bourbon, and at a huge ABV of 19.6%, truly puts the “imperial” in Imperial Stout. 

Furstenberg Pilsner

It’s been a while since a new German Pilsener has made its way to the US market. Now Paulaner USA, the US importer of the legendary Paulaner Brewery portfolio, has added Fürstenberg to its premium line of brands. When I say new German Pilsener, I mean new to the US, for the Fürstlich Fürstenbergische brewery located in Donaueschingen, Germany was founded in 1283 and has 730 years of brewing experience. The launch capitalizes on recent marketing research indicating that 45% of craft beer consumers are searching for more sessionable brews under 5% ABV. At 4.8% this Pilsener certainly qualifies as sessionable, and is a classic German Pilsener direct from the Black Forest brewed following Reinheitsgebot (the German Purity Law of 1516 requiring the use of only of malt, hops, yeast and water), and uses brewing malt and Hallertau and Tettnang hops from the region.

O’hara’s Irish

Move over Guinness and Harp. O’hara’s is currently the largest craft brewery in Ireland, and first opened its doors in 1996 with the goal to revive the brewing tradition once common in Ireland long lost since the end of the 1800s. Although not German, the brewery also follows Reinheitsgebot (using only malt, hops, yeast and water) and beers marketed in the US include Irish Red—4.3%, traditional hop flavor to balance a sweet malt finish; Pale Ale—5.2%, an Irish IPA style that unlike most UK IPAs, is dry hopped for a zesty citrus burst; Irish Stout—4.3%, the flagship of the brand, Fuggle hops lends a tart bitterness to the dry espresso-like finish; and Leann Follain Extra Irish Stout—6%, full-bodied, flavors of dark chocolate tones with a hint of vanilla. 

Kentucky Vanilla Barrel

Most bourbon barrel-aged beers are brewed in dark styles with higher ABV such as Imperial Stout, but this new brew from Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. is a 5.5% ABV cold-conditioned Cream Ale brewed with a hint of flaked corn and bourbon vanilla beans, and aged in freshly decanted Kentucky bourbon barrels for a minimum of two months. “The use of selective barrel aging allows us to bring a much gentler, almost soft, hint of bourbon and oak to Kentucky Vanilla Barrel Cream Ale,” said Ken Lee, Master Brewer at Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. “It allows the vanilla bean and refreshing cream ale to create a unique melody of flavor.” After tasting, I have to agree. Unlike darker bourbon aged styles, the bourbon is definitely more moderate, allowing the vanilla and sweet malt to come through more prominently. The brewery, founded in 2000 by Irish entrepreneur Dr. Pearse Lyons, specializes in barrel aged beers, and its location in Lexington, Kentucky greatly enables it to procure fresh Kentucky bourbon barrels.

Note: In 2012, the company became part of the world-renowned Kentucky Bourbon Trail with the opening of its Town Branch Distillery, which crafts Town Branch Bourbon, Town Branch Rye, Pearse Lyons Reserve malt whiskey and Bluegrass Sundown bourbon-infused coffee liqueur. For more information, visit kentuckyale.com

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