Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 Memorable Beer List--by Ray Chia( Singapore)



Ray is a Singaporean friend first known through a sharing session at THIRSTY bottle shop in S'pore, then, he was still single with the craft loving--now Mrs Chia, Valencia among a group of beer geeks.Strangers became beer geek friends .

This is his first article about memorable beers in his own words:-(with almost all photos provided too)
Never thought I would compile a beer list till fellow beer geek, Tai, made the request to do so. So here it goes.

The most memorable beer I have had in 2014 was during my trip to Seattle in August. My friends, fiancée and I did a road trip, heading north, towards Oregon, stopping at Bend and Portland, before crossing the border to Canada and finally ending in Vancouver Island.

The “beercation” was planned around the Seattle International Beerfest, and we were extremely pumped to be able to sample brews from around the area. There were too many brews for us to sample and some even ran out before we could try them. The craft beer scene has definitely kicked off well in this part of America.
In Seattle, needless to say, my fiancée, now wife, and me, were blown away at the varieties of craft brew available in the local supermarket. An average 6 packs would cost around US$6 to US$10. In Singapore, S$8 would likely get you a regular IPA, go figure.

Alright enough ranting, let’s get on with the beer.

  1. Fremont Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale (2013) at Chuck’s Hop Shop.
Chuck, who owns Chuck’s Hop Shop, obviously, gave me a taster when I asked him what I should buy back to Singapore since I can’t buy all these excellent beer back (I wish I could!), and POW! Lovingly referred to by Fremonters as the B-BOMB, this bourbon barrel-aged version of Winter Ale (American Strong Ale), has a warm, rich caramel-ly notes of the bourbon. Mild hops, but definitely dark and roasty and chocolatey malt flavours. He said this is one of his favourite beers and that he bought the entire batch when it was released. My biggest regret is that I only bought one bottle back to Singapore!
  1. Russian River Pliny the Elder Double India Pale Ale on tap at Horse Brass Pub
The first stop when we arrived at Portland after checking into our AirBNB was Horse Brass Pub, recommended by Meng Chao from Brewers’ Craft and Smith Street Taps. And boy, is this a proper pub! 59 beers on tap! You probably need an entire weekend to sample them all! As we only have a couple of hours, I head straight to the Holy Grail – Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. My, oh my, hands down THE double IPA to die for, until something else comes along to take its place, that is. Everything about this DIPA is balanced. On the nose, aromatics from the hops, freshness, fruity, grassy, notes of pine cones, citrus peel, maybe some mild toffee and biscuit. On the palate, bitter, sweet, malty, grapefruit, crisp, super flavourful, perfectly balanced. Definitely a beer on anyone’s must drink list.
新加坡撞意啤酒业者朋友MENG CHAO推荐的酒吧--59个啤酒泵不同选择---时间有限,也只能选择性尝味.当然包括了大名鼎鼎的"苏联河"---RAY 觉得是双份印度淡啤中最均衡,最让人倾心--是“必喝”之啤。
  1. Cascade Brewing’s Oblique Black/White Coffee Stout at Cascade Brewing Barrel House
Cascade Brewing Barrel House was our third stop after Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. and Hair of The Dog brewery and tasting room in Portland. Lucky Labrador was ok and HOTD was great. We were rather disappointed that all bottles for sale at HOTD were sold out and we can only sample the ones on tap, which were all very good. 
Then we moved on to Cascade Brewing Barrel House (CBBH), was a bit hesitant as they specialized in Sours but was pleasantly surprised that I actually like sours! But the one brew that stood out for me was the Oblique Black/White Coffee Stout, I cannot remember if it’s Bourbon barrel aged but it should be. When it was first poured I thought they had gave us the wrong beer but as it turns out, looks can be deceiving. The Oblique B/W Stout looks nothing like a dark colour brew, until you taste it. Some call it an American strong ale, American Stout, Coffee Stout, Blonde Stout, etc. It pours a rich golden amber colour, notes of coffee, chocolate, cocoa. Tastes crisp, coffee, good medium smooth body a well-balanced carbonation. A bit of bready pale male with creamy soft palate and dark spicy finish. I will drink this anytime.
  1. Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. Fred Batch 93
As mentioned before, we had the brews on tap at HOTD and it was fantastic. This bottle was uncovered later on during the same trip at a bottle in Portland. Most of the brews we tasted at HOTD tasting room were generally strong ales, hence, a sweeter palate. Notes of aromatic hops, sweet citrus and malty. This American Strong Ale tastes malty, meady, raisins, caramel, and turns to a bitter fruit finish a touch of sour. I am sure other batches will yield different taste profile and will be hoping to get my hands on any of them for a tasting.
  1. Goose Island Beer Co. Bourbon County Stout (2013) from Las Vegas
Thanks to the good cousin, I finally got to taste the much-lauded Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS). Expectations were high and it definitely did not disappoint. This American Double/Imperial Stout pours a dark brown colour with a fizzy light brown head. Notes of vanilla, oak, bourbon, liquorice and roasted malt. This excellent beer is meant to be savoured SLOWLY. Take a sip, close your eyes and let it linger between the walls of your mouth, breath in slightly and gently let it slide down your throat. Perfect.
There you have it, the top five beers of 2014 for me. To be honest, there are a lot more other good beers I have tasted over this past year and these five are kind of what came to mind instantly. All in all, as cliché as it sounds, it is always the company that makes these beer tasting moments memorable. So next time, when you have the urge to try some beer, who you gonna call? J


NEXT UP--2014 Memorable Beer List--by KYLE(US/KL)

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