Friday, February 12, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. XLII)

Another of beer of the week brought to you by the fine folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who seem to only get better with age.


One bourbon, one scotch, one beer
Well I ain't seen my baby since I don't know when,
I've been drinking bourbon, whiskey, scotch and gin
Gonna get high man I'm gonna get loose,
Need me a triple shot of that juice
Gonna get drunk don't you have no fear
I want one bourbon, one scotch and one beer
One bourbon, one scotch, one beer

Despite the admonition "beer before liquor, never sicker," beer and whiskey have a long and storied association. Often it's the kind of hardcore drinking that Thorogood is talking about. Most people are probably familiar with the Boilermaker. Although there are a number of variations in both the makeup of the combo and the process for downing it, the most recognized version is knocking back the whiskey in a swift shot and following it up by sipping on a beer. This is done both to the speed the process of intoxication and ease the burn of the whiskey, which in most cases was far from top of the shelf hooch.

But it's also possible to enjoy good beer and good whiskey together in a more civilized manner.. Sitting down in an easy chair with a good book, a quality whiskey (Scotch, bourbon, or rye), and a well-hopped beer is an excellent way to relax and wind down the evening. You don't pound the whiskey, you sip it. Follow it with a sip of beer and you've got a taste sensation. The subtle, complex flavors of the whiskey pair nicely with the more aggressive palate of the beer. A match truly made in heaven.

Brewers have picked up on this symmetry and created beers that evoke the whiskey connection. Tyranena Brewing has a Dirty Old Man Rye Porter. Goose Island brews a special Bourbon County Stout. Founder's excellent Red Rye PA is another example.

This week's beer of the week is as well. Michelob Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale is a winter seasonal aged in bourbon barrels that claims to be "rich with barrel aged flavor." Sounds great. But does it live up the promise?

Brown bottle with Michelob name engraved on top of the body. Label has a traditional font and features a snowman holding a beer wearing a scarf, hat, gloves, and (sigh) sunglasses. Like many of the big brewers efforts to cross over into the craft side, the design feels forced.

Beer Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by Volume: 6.0%

COLOR (0-2): Amber and very clear. 2

AROMA (0-2): Vanilla and sweet malt. 2

HEAD (0-2): Noticeably carbonated with small bubbles. Off-white in color. Fades fast with little retention or lacing. 1

TASTE (0-5): Vanilla and caramel malt flavors with a bit of spice. No real trace of bourbon. Thin mouthfeel and medium body. Drinkable. 2

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Dry and a little empty. 1

OVERALL (0-6): While it doesn't really live up to the true winter warmer style, it's not a bad effort from Michelob. Can't really pick up any flavor from the aging in bourbon oak casks, but you can definitely taste (and smell) the whole Madagascar vanilla beans. It looks pretty good off the pour and doesn't taste completely bland. Which for a major trying to be a micro is about the best you can expect. 3

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 11

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