Beer From Afar: a Rare Beer Tasting

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It has become a rare occurrence for me to write about beer these days. While I continue to love and explore this beverage, I’ve tended to focus on friend and community rather than analysis when drinking the stuff. But today I shared several of the best beers in the world with a very good and old friend who is soon to be married and it seemed an appropriate occasion to share my impressions.

We started with the Goose Island Juliet, a sour beer made with wild yeast and blackberries (made in Illinois). This was quite tart, but also balanced and very food friendly. I wouldn’t say it was the most complex sour I’ve ever tasted, but it is certainly excellent with food.

The second beer we had was the phenomenally complex Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme, one of the rarest beers in California and made by aging Lost Abbey’s Judgement Day ale in Bourbon Barrels and French Oak and then adding cherries and inducing a secondary fermentation with brettanomyces yeast to bring the beer up from 8 to 12% abv. This is definitely in the top 5 sour beers I’ve ever tasted, despite a low carbonation level. If you can find this it is worth every penny.

The next beer, Odin’s Tipple from Hand Brewery in Norway, brought incredible balance to the table. Rich, elegant and yet very long and complex, this was a nearly perfect stout-style ale and definitely in the top ranks of the style.

After the Odin’s Tipple the Alaskan Balkan Porter brewed with vanilla beans, cherries and aged in oak chips was not quite as amazing as it would have been outside of the context of the other beers. So, yes this is an excellent porter and far more complex than is normal for the style, but it does not quite reach to the top ranks.

We then continued with the extremely rare and absolutely awesome Founder’s Devil’s Dancer Triple IPA, which they rate as 112 IBUs (100 is the normal max). This was 12% abv and super bitter, but amazingly complex and surpsingly easy drinking. In fact, as someone who normally does not like IPA, I would consider this amongst the best examples of the extreme high alcohol IPA style today. Incredible stuff – and a pure palate wrecker.

Our last beer was the Nogne O Mikkeller collaboration sour ale brewed with Scandavian Cranberries and wild yeasts. This was very balanced and complex, bringing interesting herb flavours and a tart berry component that you’d expect given the ingredients. A very good quality beer and the only one in this tasting that is actually available in B.C.


  1. Leeann
    July 27, 2010

    I liked this post! How nice to taste some rare and special drinks with a friend before their wedding… It was good for me to read your impressions as I don’t know much about beer.

  2. Shea
    July 27, 2010

    Thanks Leeann,

    It’s too bad it is near impossible to find these beers around here. If you ever head down to seattle, portland or SF, I recommend trying to find a few.

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