Sunday, April 13, 2008

FABTS April Meeting

The Fredericksburg Area Brewing and Tasting Society held it's monthly meeting on Saturday at Kybecca on Plank Road. It was a smaller than usual turnout, but the adventurous attendees diligently worked their way through 26 commercial beers. Before getting to the commercial beers we were treated to 5 different home brews brought in by members. One of these beers, offered by club founder Lyle Brown, was his "Tettnang IPA". This single-hop beer was described by Lyle as "a Celebration clone with all Tettnang hops." The flavor was not citrusy, but had a crisp hop bite over a nice malt base with a somewhat spicy finish. Lyle also shared a Vienna style brew, a "Rauch Helles", and a "Rauch Maibock". Do we detect a pattern there? Joe Gherlone contributed a "Golden Dopplebock" he was working on. Joe said the beer still needed some time. It was sweet, with detectable alcohol and was described as having "an eisbock profile."

The home brews out of the way, we started into the commercial beers. The theme this month was "bock beer" and Bock, Maibock, Dopplebock, Weizenbock, Eisbock styles were all represented. Hofbräu Maibock was the lead off beer, a classic example of the style. Next, was Anchor Bock, a hard to find treat. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen was met with mixed reviews. You either like smoke beers or you don't. Moving on to dopplebocks, La Rossa Doppio Malto was a pleasant surprise. Having only tried the pale lager Birra Moretti from this brewery previously, I made a note to try the dopplebock the next time I saw it on a restaurant menu. Gluek Honey Bock (from a can), Ettaler Curator Doppelbock, Saranac Black Diamond Bock, Sam Adams Double Bock (no glass adjuncts) all were tried and enjoyed.

After a brief break, we continued on with Weihenstephaner Vitus, Clipper City Heavy Seas Hang Ten, Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock, and Legend Dopplebock. Robert contributed a special bottle of the very limited Starr Hill "The Gift", bottle 276 of 350. The beer was just a bit 'skunked' but still an enjoyable dopplebock. Left Hand Smoked Goosinator Doppelbock was another smoked beer that divided the crowd. Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock, Eggenberg Urbock 23° were next. Followed by two Kulmbacher Reichelbrau Eisbocks, one from 2006 and an older bottle from 1996. To my palate the older version had taken on a more sweet, syrupy flavor. We finished off the bottled selection with a special treat of a 1997 Sam Adams Triple Bock. This 17% ABV sticky, black beer had a molasses and dark fruit flavor with predominate alcohol. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try this rarity, but I can't say I am apt to seek it out. Thanks to Dave "5" for bringing these last two vintage beers. (There are so many Daves in the group we have numbers! I'm #3. That's Dave 4 in the photo to the right.)

Finally, we were treated to some filled growlers delivered by Ray Johnson from a couple of Northern Virginia and DC brewpubs. First up was a Maibock from the District ChopHouse & Brewery. Brewer Barrett Lauer created a very drinkable version of the style which I thought had a higher hop profile than is typical. I found it very enjoyable. After the meeting I helped myself to a more of this one. Nice job Barrett! Next up was a face-off of sorts. We had two Gordon Biersch Maibocks. One was from brewer Jason Oliver at the DC location, the other from Scott Lassiter at Tysons Corner. They were different enough that everyone had an opinion. You want to know which one was the favorite? Well, you should have been at the meeting! :-) Both brewers did a fine job. We also enjoyed two Dopplebocks from DC ChopHouse. Finally, the "Winterbock" from Jason Oliver was brought out. This is a bourbon barrel aged Dopplebock. The aging gave a subtle smokiness to the beer, which was very easy to drink.

The afternoon provided an enjoyable exploration of the world of "bock" beers. There's a lot more variety there than one might expect. As usual, our hosts at Kybecca were most gracious. We were provided with a very nice selection of cheeses, and crackers, to go with the beers we were enjoying. The plans for the May meeting are still unsettled at this time due to schedule conflicts of some of the members. Watch the FABTS website for more information.

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