16 December 2009

Tuesday Tastings with Thirsty Dog

Before I get started here, I'll have to lay my biases on the table: when I first started college education, had to find a way to pay for beer.

Obviously, I needed to be educated, pay for books and gain insight from social interactions while in school. These were very important things as well. But in college, ultimately the most important thing was to figure out an effective method to pay for beer.

I killed two birds with one stone by getting a job at the original Thirsty Dog Brew Pub.

Fast forward many years into the future (namely last night) at Tuesday Tastings at Hal & Al's. The brew pubs have closed, but the operation has morphed into a regional microbrewery available in 11 states.

The initial Tuesday Tasting event saw Thirst Dog owner John Najeway bring a litter of samples to the tasting at Hal & Al's, my favorite neighborhood bar. I also worked with Mr. Najeway at the original (now defunct) Canton location (and now my preexisting biases have been laid bare for all to see).

The event cost $5. For a bill with Lincoln on the front, you get a pint of the 12 Dogs of Christmas, a Thirsty Dog pint glass, and samples of six different brews.

The 12 Dogs of Christmas is available on draft at Hal & Al's. The beer is a spiced winter brew that is redolent of cloves, cinnamon, ginger and honey, balanced by a medium dark maltiness. It's in the same family as the Great Lakes Christmas Ale, although the flavor is different enough to make both worth trying.

The Labrador Lager is a golden lager with clean malt character and a faintly aggressive hop presence. It is a continental pilsner that is ready-made for drinkers who prefer Bud and Miller to Samuel Adams and Samuel Smith.

The Raspberry Ale is a fruit bomb. The blonde color hides a bounty of berry fruit that coats the palate in a sticky sweet melange of malt and berries. This is not my favorite style of beer, but the Raspberry Ale would be appreciated by those who prefer sweetness to hoppiness in their craft brew.

The Irish Setter Red is a ruby brew with a medium body, aromas of caramel and barley, and a great finish. It is a beer naturally made for celebrating St. Patrick's Day (or the other 364 days, for that matter).

The Stud Service Stout is the Thirsty Dog's take on Guinness. Although it isn't nitrogenated, the beer has the opaque black color, roasted malt notes and low alcohol of the Irish favorite. It is a fantastic stout.

The Old Leghumper is a more robust porter. It has a brown color, and sweet aromas of chocolate, coffee and smoke jump out of the glass.

Cerberus is a Belgian triple-style ale named after the mythological canine guardian of Hades. Like the gatekeeper to the underworld, Cerberus is a brute with 10 percent alcohol by volume. Cerberus seemed to possess a greater clarity than a traditional Belgian triple, although I was assured that the beer was not fined or filtered. The yeast esters are pronounced on the flavor and aroma profiles. The beer is very well made.

Of course I have some biases that make the Thirsty Dog and Hal & Al's hold a special place in my heart. Thirsty Dog started my long romance with craft beer, and Hal & Al's sells me craft beer and vegan hot dogs within a three minute walk from my house. Despite my prejudices, however, both Thirsty Dog and the Tuesday Tastings are worth checking out.

Next week's tasting is not yet defined, but two weeks from today, there is a Bell's tasting. I will definitely be there with bells on!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great comments on our beer and what Hal and Als offers the craft beer drinker. One clarification on the Cerberus is it is not fined and was aged for 1 year unfiltered prior to bottling. Thirsty Dog looks forward to being a guest again in the near future for those that did not get a chace to check us out this week.

deraj1013 said...

Thanks for the clarification. The sample I was poured was clear rather than cloudy, but perhaps I was given the first pour off the bottle and the yeast had settled to lower parts of the bottle. Either way, though, it was a great tasting.