Wednesday, December 01, 2010

31 Beers of Christmas Day 2

Up next is Backwoods Bastard from the fine folks at Founders. It doesn't actually say what kind of beer it is on the label other than it's "ale aged in bourbon barrels." According to Beer Advocate Backwoods Bastard is a Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy. This didn't tell me much, (but "wee heavy" is my new favorite oxymoron) so I did some research and learned that Wee Heavies traditionally go through a long boil in the kettle for a caramelization of the wort. This produces a deep copper to brown in colored brew. Compared to Scottish Ales, they'll be sweeter and fuller-bodied, and of course higher in alcohol, with a much more pronounced malty caramel and roasted malt flavor. A low tea-like bitterness can be found in many examples. Best served in a "thistle" glass.
Well, I didn't know what a thistle glass was, so I had to do some more research.
A "thistle glass" is a modified tulip glass that resembles Scotland's national flower.
I wasn't sure what a tulip glass was either but I didn't look it up. All this research was making me thirsty. And I already knew enough to know I don't have a thistle glass. I think I might have a tulip though. It's a souvenir from the Rain Forest Cafe in the Mall of America, and I swear I don't believe I've ever drank out of it.
Bring on the wee heavy.

All right, my first impression is that I need a smaller glass since this thing only fills up two thirds of my Mall of America souvenir. (Depending on the taste I may decide that rather than a smaller glass I need a bigger wee heavy.)

SMELL: I'm on my own here, no females in the house. I definitely don't detect any soy sauce. It's got a nice fresh baked bread kinda smell. Is that yeast or malts?

APPEARANCE: A nice little head, with just enough lace to make the glass look festive. More bubbles than our first contestant, and this is more caramel colored. So this looks like a Coke that hasn't gone flat. (Do you think I'll ever be able to become a professional beer critic if I keep comparing everything to colas?)

TASTE: Wow! That is some strong stuff. It has enough flavor that you don't really taste the alcohol until after you swallow and by then your taste buds are wondering what the hell was that? Beer? Liquor? Some weird beer cocktail concoction Rob has dreamed up? I really like the flavor, but I don't know how to describe it. Time to cheat. Here's what Founders says I should be looking for.

Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice, and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.
10.2% ABV 50 IBUs

Yep. What he said. Although I don't know how you get a Scotch taste from bourbon barrels. Scotch is just about the only liquor I can't stand, but it's been years since I tried any and if this is what it tastes like, maybe my taste buds have matured enough that I can appreciate it. I definitely do taste the caramel and the spice and OMG maybe even the smoke. Trying to get hold of the dark fruit, not finding it. Maybe it's at the bottom of the glass.

MOUTHFEEL: All I can tell you is that this stuff makes my mouth feel very happy. It's smooth. If I had to describe it I would compare it to Baby Bear's bed in the Goldilocks story. Not too thin, not too thick, it's just right. And very comforting. And warming on a cold winter night.

DRINKABILITY: Not something you want to just swill without tasting. This is a beer to savor, to fall in love with.

All right, well, obviously once love comes into it I've lost my objectivity. Time to watch "Bones" anyway. Tomorrow is Friday, and anything can happen.

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