One of the best parts about being a beer consultant for ABC Fine Wine & Spirits is when they get all of the consultants together for a meeting. These meetings mean a few things: It will be a long day, you will learn something new, and you will try a variety of craft beers. The last meeting we had was a fantastic day for beer enthusiasts due to some informative presenters and amazing brews.
The day started with an informative double presentation by Seth, a brewer from Sam Adams, who talked to us about IPAs and then about beer and food pairings. Seth covered everything from the origin of IPAs to the variety of styles from black to red to wheat. He also talked us through a beer/cheese pairing with different styles of both items. Zak from Shmaltz was absolutely hilarious. Not only did he talk to us about the beers he sells, he did it while making the room laugh nonstop. We sampled their first IPA called Hop Manna, the Bittersweet Lenny’s Rye IPA, and their first Chanukah beer. The rye IPA was fantastic; it had the traditional IPA qualities with a smooth finish from the rye. The Chanukah beer was also great, a nice dark malty brew for the season.
ABC also treated us to a visit from Neil Witte, one of only seven Master Cicerones in the world. Neil talked to us about a few brews from the Smoke Stack series from Boulevard Brewing, and had a few geek out sessions on things like wild yeast strains. We were also treated to a sampling of Boulevard’s Bourbon Barrel Quad. All I can say about that beer is. Oh my God! The BBQ was a sensational masterpiece. It was fruity, malty, and the bourbon profile was just right.
We also got to sample some brews from Due South Brewing and Funky Buddha Brewing. These were the two brewers I was most looking forward to as their beers are not yet available in my area. They did not disappoint. We sampled the Category 5 Imperial IPA and Caramel Cream Ale from Due South. The Caramel Cream Ale was so different, and yet so tasty, with notes of caramel and vanilla. Funky Buddha brought along a couple of fantastic brews as well. Their Sweet Potato Casserole beer was otherworldly. The marshmallow characteristic of this beer was unreal. They also served up an apple brandy barrel aged Muy Bonita, a brown ale brewed with apples, cinnamon and vanilla. This beer tasted just like homemade apple pie.
Being a beer consultant for ABC is a lot of fun, but it is days like the one at the companywide meeting that make it even more so. I look forward to the next one and seeing what breweries we get to learn about next.
Patrick Miller, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits beer consultant
Follow me on Twitter @abcbeerpatrickm