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Oakes Weekly - May 1, 2003
A Visit to Victory & Dogfish Head plus More
May 1, 2003
Written by Oakes
<P>It was one of those big beer weekends this past weekend, as daboskabouter, his girlfriend and myself headed southwards for a few pops. I actually got a bit of a head start to the weekend with the freshest Arrogant Bastard I've ever had. I've long considered this the only of Stone's beers to live up to the hype, and I was not disappointed. The hops were very floral and leafy in both the aroma and palate, providing perfect foil for the dense, earthy maltiness underneath. Bloody hell. I also had some Sgt. Major's IPA from Scotch Irish - a hard to find brew in Toronto - which was on form as always. For the (apparently many) Americans who don't understand why I can't buy their arguments about English-style IPAs...and for Brits who have for more beers called "IPA" than they have actual IPAs...this beer is worth getting your hands on when the bottles are released later this year. Big, rich, with brilliant balance, making even the vile weed Goldings taste good.
<P>The weekend itself started with a stop at Victory. We were quite parched when we arrived, and after the whole weekend is done it seems funny that I was at one point in the proceedings actually craving another beer! It was something of a letdown, actually, to visit such hallowed halls and be underwhelmed by their house beers. The still, no-matter-how-hard-I-try, untasted St. Boisterous notwithstanding, I find the bottled stuff to be the stars of the show with Victory. Actually, the ESB and Mad King's Weiss were solid if unspectacular products, and the Milltown Mild and Workhorse Porter authentic if not overly impressive, but the lagers just really let me down. I still love Prima Pils of course, as it is one of the world's best, but St. Boisterous lacked in melanoidins, their new Rauchbier lacked in phenols (which you won't mind if toasty, caramelly Viennas are your thing), and the All-Malt too fizzy, grainy and grassy to be a proper dortmunder (despite smelling like a pretty good dortmunder).
<P>Ever since I was a kid, I've always read atlases and stared at maps for fun. It's just one of my things. There are those who don't understand why anyone would care about lousy lagers from weird places, but if you're a bit of a geography geek like me, you'll get it - whether it's stamps, history books, or travel, or even lowly lagers. So I added four more new countries to my tally - Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Myanmar, and Albania. The last of these, in the form of Tirana Pils, was actually not bad at all, and lager fans will enjoy it should be manage to buy one before they're robbed of their worldly possessions on their next trip to Albania (which might take all of an hour).
<P>Thanks to omhper, I finally got the Farsons beers from Malta. Jackson loves them a little more than I do, to be sure, with only the Hop Leaf, an ordinary, impressing me. Some interesting Australian micros capped it off, including Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout and Burrgorang Bock. My much anticipated South American micro session was won by Kuntsmann Bock from Chile, ahead of pre-tasting favourite El Bolson Negra Ahumada (a rauchbier - how I could be disappointed by two rauchbiers in one day I'm still trying to figure out).
<P>The overall calibre of beers improved on the second day. Little stood tall at first, but we'd gutted out a few international swill flights the night before. A visit to Dogfish Head (my third, actually) was a little frustrating at first. They had Olde School Barley Wine and Chocolate Mild, but told me that Pangaea had run out and none of their other new beers (Hommelbier, Prescription Pils, 120 Minute IPA, ApriHop - ok that's not new, just new to me) were available. I was unimpressed, knowing I won't be back for a while. The figured out the Pangaea problem and got that flowing again - this being the beer with an ingredient from each of the seven continents - blue corn meal (North America), quinoa (South America), muscavado sugar (Africa), crystallized ginger (Australia), blue rice (Asia) pilsner malt (Europe), water (Antarctica). Interesting beer to be sure, but it didn't come together for me. I went down to the beach a while and relaxed. I don't see the ocean as much as I used to, so that was very cool for me. On the way out of town, they had the Hommelbier on - not like the Poperings at all, IMO, but one of the better beers on the day and worth checking out if you have the chance. Of course, you can also get ApriHop, 120 Minute and Prescription Pils since I'm not there anymore.
<P>Part two next week...
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it seems funny that I was at one point in the proceedings actually craving another beer
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