Tuesday nights is one of my beer drinking nights. Not sure how it evolved into it, but that's the way it is. Originally (oh so long ago) I was on a pool team that played on Tuesday. Me and a friend (or a friend and I) were looking for a place to kill time before going to pool, and after going to several crappy fast food places, we finally went to the Hooters in Champaign. This was back in ... oh... 2001 or so.
I've been going there (pretty much) every Tuesday since (see the article below on OCD). Most of the girls who work there are my friend, and they are some of my drinking buddies. One of them (Amber) thinks of me when she goes to buy beer, she'll actually go to the mix a six and pick some stuff out, instead of just getting the regular fizzy yellow water. My good friend Megan has a favorite beer of Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat. So I might be influencing their drinking a little. I have influenced the beer selection there. Champaign Hooters has a pretty darn good beer selection for a place of it's ... um... style. It's the only place in town (that I know of; and I know most places in town) that has Bare Knuckle Stout. Lots of places have Guinness, but it has Bare Knuckle (granted it's an AB product and a Guinness clone, but hey, it's something different). They've also got Hoegaarden, Bass, Shocktop (another AB), Stella, 312, Boulevard Pale, and the second new beer that I had last night, but I'll get to that in a bit. For being a place that initially appears to be just a fizzy yellow piss place, they've probably got at least a beer you'd enjoy having (at least if you are reading this blog).
Well, as it was Tuesday, I did my usual ritual of watching Creation in the 21st Century, while drinking a beer. Last night's selection was Big Sky Brewing Moose Drool Brown. I poured it into an Avery India Pale Ale Glass. It came out a dark cherry wood brown. It didn't have a huge amount of foam, but what stayed behind left a nice Belgian lace on the glass. (I like the term Belgian as opposed to Brussels lace). It smelled slightly woody, with a little dirt and smoke, almost like pulling a slightly damp log from the pile. It seemed somewhat thin on the tongue, not nearly as thick as the Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, but then again, what "brown" is? It seemed to have some scrubbing carbonation bubbles that cleaned off the tongue pretty good.
It had the taste of a biscuit malt. Like a "brown sugar" cookie. There was a slight bit of tartness at the end of the sip. Bitterness from the hops was nearly absent. It was mostly sweet. The flavor remained on the sides of the tongue for a while after each sip. This was definitely an easy to drink beer. It would go great with most light brown colored foods. Anything that's battered would go great with this. It would lift the grease from the frying and go well with the slight burn that battered foods routinely get. It'd be too thin to go with a desert and too thick to go with a salad. All in all, it's a good brown beer.
The second beer I had was .... Bud Light Lime. this I had at Hooters. Hey, it's a beer I hadn't had before, gimme a break. I may be a beer snob, but I still drink with the masses... Although this time, I really wish I didn't. This stuff was horrible. It smelled like lime juice, and tasted like ... bud light with lime juice. Whoever the marketing geniuses that came up with this to contend with Miller Chill, should be rounded up and shot. The lime was overpowering. Miller Chill has a strong lime flavor, but nothing like that. Imagine taking a bud light and squeezing have a bottle of lime juice in it. It was that potent. Everything tasted like lime for the next hour. It looked like bud light, smelled like lime, tasted like lime, and remained tasting like lime. You could probably use a bottle of it to make a friggin ceviche it was so lime-y.
After we finished up at Hooters, we went down Neill Street to Radio Maria. Radio Maria has 27 taps, most of them rotate, but there are some staples, including #27, PBR. One of the neat things about RM is the bar (it's also one of the bad things). RM has a neat blue lit bar that looks really .. um... cool. It will give a beer a greenish looking tint to it. Unfortunately, the lights under are really hot, and will heat up your beer if you leave it on the bar to long. I normally look for a dark spot where there is no light, as it's much cooler. If you get a glass with a stem, the heat is normally not a problem. It is definitely noticeable in pint glasses though. So If you go, get a coaster and put your beer on a dark spot... or just drink quickly.
The first beer I had at Radio Maria was the Issaquah (rogue) Menage a Frog Belgian Triple. Let me preface this by saying, I'm not a fan of this style of beer. Some Belgian triples are ok (mostly the Trappist style) however Duvel, La Fin du Monde, Piratt, those beers I don't like. I thought my tastes were changing and I could enjoy it, but I couldn't.
This beer was the color of a regular macro lager. It looked like... beer. The picture doesn't do the color justice as the blue bar light darkened the beer (you can see just a hint of the green in the bottom left part of the foam ring). It didn't have much head, and what it did, didn't cling to the glass very well. It smelled like Piratt; definite coriander. It tore through my tongue, like it was removing any flavors left from the bud light lime. Then, it sat there, waiting to be joined by the next sip. Each sip cleaned off the previous, and replaced it with another. Like changing socks.
Kriddy said it tasted of banana, I thought it more of citrus flavor, possibly grapefruit. After it warmed up a little it had more of the coriander and other fruits. When I burped, it was the exact same flavor as a hot dog burp, disgusting, but true. (Thanks to chipper dave for the burp check). As I said, I'm not a fan of this style, so I won't be having this one again.
The second beer at RM was Eugene City Hopped Red Ale. We were warned against having this by our bartender, Chris. He said it wasn't that good, didn't go into details why, just said it wasn't that great. When he brought it over, I thought it looked almost like a glass of cranberry juice; Kriddy said it looked like grape soda, and this was before we set it on the bar that adds a blue hue to everything. Holding it up to the white lights it was still dark red to purplish. It had a decent amount of head, but it quickly dissipated into nothing. It smelled like a spiced flower. As it's been a long time since I've smelled flowers, I'm not sure which one it was. This one had a very light presence on the tongue. It didn't seem very carbonated, and was very dry. Not only was it dry, it had a drying quality to it. As I drank it, I got thirsty.
The taste was pure hops. There was no malt to be found. It was a red in color, not flavor. If you got this thinking you were gonna get a Killians, man, would you be shocked. The hops were bitter and stingy. The floral smell was deceptive. It smelled like a flower then punctured your tongue with pine needles. It was like a spiced Christmas tree. This is what I assume a gingerbread man would taste like if he spent all winter hanging on the Christmas tree (and the tree dripped sap on him). The bitterness linger long after the sip. The burp test proved peppery. Chris warning us against this brew probably improved the quality of the beer. As though he challenged me to like this. "I don't like this, so you won't either" "oh yeah, I'll show you!!!" Or, with his warning, he set the bar so low, that there was no way it couldn't be better than crap.
The final beer for the evening was back at the house. Samichlaus Helles. Meat seemed to really like this beer, so him setting the bar high, probably led to my disappointment in it.
It poured out completely flat. Absolutely no head whatsoever. It looked like apple juice. Whatever head came from the pour quickly went away. It smelled like skunky beer and fruit. It felt like I was drinking applejuice, except there was no sweetness to the feel.
It didn't drink like the other Samichlaus, that one has the upfront presence of the alcohol, this one didn't have that. It was still 14% ABV, so you'd expect something, but this didn't initially have that alcoholic taste to it. It had a slight pilsner taste with apricot and maybe some pear. As the glass warmed up, it became sweeter. The beer didn't stick around long, after the sip the flavor was gone, perhaps because of the 14% it evaporated? After about 20 minutes of sipping on this, the alcohol showed up. It was originally poured after coming out of the fridge, so it probably needed a while to get warm. When it did, it got sweeter and alcohol-y. I was only able to drink about 1/3 of this. As I poured the rest down the drain, it fizzed like crazy, so there was the carbonation.
All in all, it was a bad beer night. The highlight came first and everything else was sort of a let down. After finishing the Moose Drool, each of the other beers wasn't empty when I couldn't drink any more of it. If you like La Fin du Monde, you'll probably like the Menage a Frog. If you like lime juice straight, you'll like Bud Light Lime. If you like... well, I don't know what you'll have to like to like the Samichlaus Helles.