Posted by: marcmwm | November 7, 2008

Beer O’ Clock — Penn State

You guys have probably picked up by now that I’m not a big fine diner. Pretty much, I eat what I can when I can. At Champaign last weekend, we had the latest pizza you could possibly get. It was OK. I paired it with Miller Lite. Pizza and Miller Lite, they just go together in my mind.

But as beer gains whatever it’s gaining (something posh, frou frou), people want to pair it with foods, sort of like wines.

I’m a caveman. I don’t know how this works.

But here’s a link that does a good job of explaining things and might give you an idea of what to look for.

I will try pairing the Saison with an Asian entree. I like that idea and, in fact, might do that tonight. I’m a bachelor this weekend, as evidenced by the 6 a.m. poker game we fired up last night (I did OK, but only because Hlas fell asleep).

I’ve always drank IPAs with Mexican food. It always seemed like a “fit” and this confirms that for me. (I need more Dogfish Head. Hlas drank it all last night/this morning.)

This article also mentions “Trappist” beers. I wasn’t aware of this style. I’ve had Chimay before but didn’t know the name for it. Sounds like your sitting-around-eating-cheese beer. I do this a little bit now, so yeah, let’s give that shot.

I found this piece on seasonal beers.

This also gives you some food/beer guidelines. It also mentions Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, a beer we’ve mentioned here before. Guess what, I was walking around Benz on Thursday night (I do this every Thursday because that’s when my weekend starts) and FOUND BOURBON COUNTY!!!!! Three freaking cheers for Benz!!!! The price might be a deal-breaker for y’all, $18.99 for a four pack, but the beer adventurer in me pushed forged on and bought a pair. I’m trying it tonight, probably, with a good football game on the TV (or any football game).

Quick summary on Bourbon County (a 13 percent ABV monster, so walk don’t run and definitely don’t drive):

This from a Beeradvocate reviewer (BA gives it an A with 463 reviews): “Wow. First off, this beer is a raging alcoholic. Very strong notes of bourbon (even a little of the burn on the tongue). The chocolate is secondary in this beer, roasted flavors are present as well. Somewhat hard to really find the levels to this one as the alcohol is rather overpowering.”

(By the way, Benz also has Goose Island’s Pere Jacques, a Trappist style, and Matilda, an Abbey. They sound awesome. I’ll have to wait for payday to give them a shot. The good news here is that it sounds like Goose Island is starting to ship its high-end products west.)

This article mentions that wheat beers are for the summer. I would agree with that and recommend Bell’s Oberon, a wonderfully balanced summer seasonal. (Someone drank my last bottle last night, dammit.)

Leinenkugel is rolling out yet another new product — 1888 Bock. This one is an original family recipe and rolls out in the late winter and early spring.

I try to bring you beers that we all can get. This week, I’m going to write a little about a beer that none of us probably will be able to get our hands on.

It sounds as though the Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore., doesn’t quite stretch far enough east to reach us in Iowa (I did see that it has some reach into Texas), but if I could, I would get my hands on “The Abyss,” a GABF gold medalist in 2007. I recommended “Old Rasputin” by North Coast last week, so you guys know I have a weak spot for the Russian Imperial Ales. This one sounds like the mothership.

Here’s what the Deschutes’ website says:

“The Abyss has immeasurable depth inviting you to explore and discover its rich, complex profile. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors draw you in further and further with each sip. And at 11% alcohol by volume, you will want to slowly savor each and every ounce.

November 2008 marks the third release of this dark and mysterious imperial stout. Limited availability in wax-dipped 22-ounce bottles and on draft at a few select establishments.

“The Abyss was one of those beers I didn’t want to end. I was totally blown away – this is precious stuff.” Christian DeBenedetti, beer writer and Men’s Journal contributor.”

The site also includes a link to a review by James “Dr. Fermento” Roberts.

What struck me was this at the end, “Deschutes beers have a firm presence in Alaska, but as part of the brewery’s Reserve Series, The Abyss is purposely fleeting. If you chase some down, buy more than one bottle. This stuff, if stored cool and dark, will last for years.”

A beer that will keep for years, cool and dark? Well, available in $10 22-ounce bombers, it comes with a wax-dipped top. Sounds fancy and wonderful.

Beeradvocate rates it an “A+” with 353 reviews (as soon as I learn how to properly review a beer, I will be contributing there). 

This from Treyrab on BA: ” This one rivals Dark Lord for the darkest beer I have ever seen. Held up to a light, the Abyss is just that – a labyrinth of darkness squeezed into a bottle. It has a one finger head that is deep mocha brown and lasts a while. The viscous brew laces and clings like glue to the side of the glass.”

When I first started drinking beer (it was legal for me, growing up in DBQ, at age 19, but I might’ve jumped the gun a time or two), it came in two colors, beer and dark. I didn’t like the dark. Such an ignorant youth.

If anyone out there reads this and has a way to get into Deschutes beers, please share the knowledge.



  1. Many high alcohol, high gravity beers are able to be aged. Storage conditions are similar to wine. Heat and light are any beer’s worst enemies.

    Belgian and Trappist ales are a world unto themselves. John’s Grocery is by far your best source for those around here. Although, The Sanctuary bar in Iowa City is a good place if you want to sample them as well. The trick will be to find a place that sells enough of them that they turn their inventory over fast enough. They are definitely an acquired taste, one that’s eluded me.

    Sometimes I think people get too worked about about what beer to drink and when. It’s like some of the wine snobitude has made its way to beer. Drink what you like. Like what you drink.

  2. I believe you can legally ship beer into Iowa. At least I know wine can be shipped here. So, you could try buying the Deschutes online at a place like I’ve not ordered from them so I can’t vouch for them.

    Another option (and one I’ve employed successfully) is to to find a colleague out west who is looking to try something from around here like Goose Island Bourbon Stout and arrange for a swap. Just pack it real well and don’t tell the post office what it is.

  3. Somehow, I knew you’d have a solution. 🙂

    Man, if that site works, and I’ll probably give it a try, it’d be awesome in its awesomeness.

  4. I’m tempted to order some Double Bastard from them.

  5. That was my first click, my friend.

    I tried that Bourbon County last night. I think I’ve met my match.

  6. I’m cracking open my last Arrogant Bastard tonight. I can’t feel my toes yet but I don’t care!

  7. Shipping beer should be OK–I have a couple friends who are members of one of the “beer of the month”-type clubs, and they never have any problems receiving their shipments.

    Ah, for beer and food the go-to guy is Brooklyn Bewing’s Garret Oliver, who wrote a book called “The Brewmasters Table.” Great brewer and writer, and also the sharpest dressed man in the brewing industry–the Smoove B of Brewing, as a friend likes to call him.

    You can’t go wrong with spicy food and IPA. I also like IPA with aged cheddar as a pairing.

  8. MF — Mmmmm, Arrogant Bastard. My wife stopped in EDBQ and bought me eight Rasputins.

    Tim — Thanks for the tip. I will look that up. Tonight for me, it was Amstel Light and the vegetarian salad at Xavier’s. No idea, just eatin’ and drinkin’. I will check that out though. I like the idea of matching a beer with a food.

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