Not a ton of intrigue here, but some dissapointment in a certain Petaluma brewery...we had 4 tasters (2 male, 2 female), and we each gave a letter grade and a 1-4 rank. Here's the haps...
1(barely). Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout-total score 6 (avg 1.5) avg grade A-
2. Deschutes Obsidian Stout-total score 6 (avg 1.5) avg grade A-
(one fraction of one grade seperated these two beers)
3. Mendocino Black Hawk-total score 12 (avg 3.0) avg grade C+ (boring)
4. Lagunitas Imperial Stout-total score 16 (avg 4.0) avg grade C- (really close to a D)
...and I thought an "Imperial" would have an advantage. There was nothing imperial about the Lagunitas beer except on the label. I noticed when pouring that it was the thinest and lighest in color of the 4 (huh?), even though light didn't show through any of them once in the glass. It was slightly older than the other 3, but aren't imperials supposed to cellar well? Easily the most dissapointing Lagunitas beer I've ever had, except maybe for a spoiled Maximus. Mendocino...I can still remember liking that brewery, but the memory has faded. 5 years ago White Hawk was my favorite IPA, and Blue Heron one of my favorote Pales. They've gone downhill since then, while my horizons have broadened. Mostly average brews...not bad, but nothing to get excited about. Barney Flats...now that's better! I was actually the stingy grader for this beer with a B (due to thinner body and less malt/hop balance), but man, was it smooth. Good choclatey, roasted nose, and it went down smooth. Obsidian was not a let down. I hadn't had one in a while, so I was a little worried...but no worries here. Thick, roasted malts with a slight hop chaser. Chocolate, nutty overtones. The ladies both gave the smoother? Barney Flats an A, while the boys both gave the bigger? Obsidian an A, hence the tight scores.
After an incredibly fun afternoon spent at 4 different BevMo stores, I tried an old friend tonight, and made a new one as well. Our neighbor Ben, Abby, and I sampled an Avery Old Jubilation (English Old Ale), and a Fuller's London Porter. Fuller's is one of the few beers that has remained at the VERY top of my "short-list" over the year's. Like with Celebrator (my favorite beer), every time I have one I think my memory of it will have been exaggerated and I'll be dissapointed. No worries here...one of the few beer's I'd give an A+!!! Every other London Porter wishes it tasted like this. So smooth, I thought it was nitrogenated (it's not). PERFECT malt/roast balance. I'll be doing a TOP 100 soon...I expect this to be in the top 3-5, and it will easily be the only "weak" beer in the top 10...I like 'em big, which makes this 5% brew that much more impressive. The Avery Old Jubilation was textbook winter warmer...made me want to snuggle by our space heater (no fireplace). Old Ales are like a Barleywine's little sister. Malty goodness. Solid B for this one. Glad I got some to try. Sunday night we'll be sampling the Abyss from Deschutes...a (partially) barrel-aged imperial stout brewed with licorice and molasses. For a few reasons, my expectations have never been higher for any beer, so stay tuned for the recap. We found many other newbies that I can't wait to try. Many of those may get posted as well...a Belgian Stout, a 12% wood-aged brown ale...YUMMY!