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Post from jack | around
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Garrett OliverHouston Beer Week is a flurry of activity for local craft beer lovers, and Tuesday was no exception. Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery and editor of the recently published Oxford Companion to Beer, was in town, and stopped by the Anvil Bar & Refuge to chat and sign a few books. He is actually on tour for the book, so it was serendipitous that it should be Houston Beer Week, as he recently arrived from England and will soon depart our fair burg for points north.

The Brooklyn Brewery has a wide array of beers, and their seasonal brews are particularly good, especially the Black Chocolate Stout available during the winter months. A big Imperial Stout, I noted that other other brews of its ilk, like Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, make “chocolate” the operative word, whereas Brooklyn puts the emphasis on the “stout” – as it should be. I thoroughly enjoyed this one on Stout Day. They’ve also released a couple of specialty beers as part of their Brewmaster’s Reserve series, and the Companion was meant to accompany Oliver’s beer compendium. A “wheat wine,” I found it to be almost a hybrid between a Hefeweizen and a Barleywine, which Houstonians should be familiar with from Saint Arnold’s Divine Reserve #10. The latter brought considerable alcohol to the nose and to the content, at nearly 10% ABV, while the former brought a lot of fruit esters. It’s an uncommon style, but I appreciate the endeavor.

While Anvil had the Companion on tap, I had already tried it at the Petrol Station, so I went for the other special Brooklyn offering, the Concoction. Another unique, perhaps curious undertaking, the Concoction was meant to recreate the Penicillin cocktail, which consists of blended scotch, lemon, honey ginger syrup, and a touch of Laphroaig single malt scotch. I primarily discuss beer in this pages, but readers may not know that I’m also a bit of a scotch aficionado. As with any spirit, scotch varieties exhibit their terroir, or the characteristics of the land from which they hail, like wines from Bordeaux or beers from Japan. I particularly like scotch from the Highlands and Speyside, like Talisker or Macallan, but I don’t generally like Islay examples such as Laphroaig, which bear a pronounced smokiness of peat.

Brooklyn Brewery

Which brings me back to the Concoction. The nose was inviting, wafting notes of the honey and lemon, but the taste brandished the peated malt, meant to mimic the Laphroaig, like a club – with a finish I likened unto leather, even jerky. It was a bit offputting, though as it warmed and I approached the bottom of the glass, I could see where it would become more drinkable over time, as long as you stick with it and forsake all other beers. Garrett Oliver and the Brooklyn Brewery must be given points, however, for an admirable recreation of the Penicillin, which Anvil was serving alongside, and on that level I can appreciate the beer for what it is. But it’s not one I’ll be revisiting with alacrity.

I was glad to have met Mr. Oliver, and to have tried the Concoction, as part of Houston Beer Week. Here I must draw to a close – I have a 960 page encyclopedia to read. But at least it’s signed.


Post from jack | around
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