Firefly ‘La Table Commune’ Introduction to Craft Beer

Forces out of my control, namely surgery, sightseeing and Stieg Larsson, have conspired against me and my blog resulting in an inexcusable absentia from any sort of posting regularity.  Nonetheless now I am back and focused with a rather daunting amount of material to work through.  The first review I want to do is more of a synopsis of a relatively recent beer tasting night at Firefly Fine Wines and Ales.  During this intro to craft beer session a smallish group of people learned about the beer basics from malts, to hops, to brewing processes and beer familial relations.  This informative chat was followed by a sampling of eight different ales: Industrial Lager (the mystery mass produced beer), R&B Red Devil Pale Ale, Wells Bombardier Ale, Moylans IPA, Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale, Dupont Saison, Cantillion Kriek, and last but definitely not least Brew Dog ‘TNP’.  For the sake of brevity I will offer a few comments on each of the offerings.  The industrial lager was your average ball park beer, you know the beer you get when there is only one option on the menu or when you are underage and some nice relative offers to go to the beer store for you, a somewhat watered down but drinkable bevie that you learn later bears little to no semblance to what the rest of the world considers beer.  Though in all honesty it was fun to guess which ‘big box brand’ we were sipping –turns out my partner knows his crappy beers!  Moving along, Red Devil was easy drinking crisp pale ale; I found it light on the hops compared to other IPA’s but this worked well for me.  The Wells ale was more complex with many different flavours emerging from blended hops, to spices and caramel overtones.  The cheat sheet described the next offering, Moylans, as provocative but I though it tasted a bit like lilac soap.  This IPA was hoppy, a little too hoppy for me, but the other non-biased IPA lovers seemed to really enjoy it.  I really liked the Samuel Smith and I did not think I would.  The ale was a rich reddish brown hue and had a really nice nutty flavour with an apple aftertaste.  The Saison is highly carbonated ale with definite floral tones and heavy sediment.  Saison beer is a somewhat unique style and once you have tried one you will become a fan or not.  I personally like Saisons but I enjoy unfiltered, lambic, gueze, unpasteurized etc. so this style suits my palate.  Next up the Cantillion, now if you put Kriek on the label I am in so I may not be that objective here.  The Kriek is a beautiful red ale that is tart and challenging -the notes mentioned barnyard aroma but I ignored that.  These types of beers cellar well and the longer the age the better the cherry flavour gets as it ferments in the bottle.  The coup de grace of the evening was the tactical nuclear penguin a 32%, yes that is correct 32%, beer banned from its native Scotland due to concerns about the high alcohol content.  We split one small bottle between twelve people and I could not have finished anymore than that, wow, this beer is one tough cookie it tastes and looks more like a scotch than a beer.  It would be fantastic with a rich dessert since it has a slight butterscotch nose and is very rich.  The TNP from Brew Dog rounded out our evening.  The best thing about TNP was the story behind the creation of this beer and its successors Sink the Bismark and End of History which comes to you in a dead squirrel -yep a squirrel.  Please check out their fantastic website for the story.  Overall great night, lots of great beer and great company I think I will be back to participate in the sour beer tasting event.

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