Before we got to the beer menu, we needed to order food. We struggled a bit with the menu during this Friday in Lent. Perusing the appetizer menu we paused at the tasty Fried Pierogies; Fried potato and onion pierogies topped with applewood smoked bacon bits. And the soup special on Fridays is Scallop Chowder, with bacon. We finally settled on the Spinach, Crab & Artichoke Dip appetizer and Fish & Chips as our main course. Now on to the beer.
Twelve Bell's Brewing beers were offered, some new, some we've enjoyed before. We selected a few that we planned share during the evening. I had already decided I would start with the seasonal Hopslam Double IPA. This is an intensely hoppy beer, one whose popularity I believe is enhanced by its limited availability. I refuse to pay $20-$30 for a six pack, but do try to enjoy it on draft each year. Colleen ordered the Third Coast Old Ale Barleywine. This one has some nice dark fruit and is mildly flavored, as Barleywines go, but quite enjoyable.
Also on tap this evening were some interesting beers from Perennial Artisan Ales of St. Louis, Missouri. When we were handed that menu, our decision making was thrown for a loop, since we now had more options to process. (A good problem to have.) Colleen ordered Perennial's Vermilion Barleywine. This one was a little more robustly flavored than the Bell's version, with rich, dark fruit and molasses notes. After much thought, and a recommendation from a friend, I opted to stick with Bell's and ordered Roundhouse IRA, an "India Red Ale." Slightly sweet and resinous, the flavor of the hoppy red ale was at first hidden by the lingering flavors of the barleywines. After a few sips my palate "reset" and I enjoyed the full flavors of the beer.
There were still many interesting beers to try, from both menus, but one can only do so much in a sitting. I decided to wind down with a Bell's Kal-Haven Ale. This Rye Ale is fermented with Brettanomyces yeast giving it a funky, sour flavor. The sourness worked well with the breadiness of the rye. It was certainly a switch from the evening's previous beers. I lingered on this glass for quite a while, sipping slowly and enjoying the interesting flavor of the sour ale.
It was an extremely pleasant evening, and a great relief from being cooped up by work and weather. As I write this post on Saturday morning, the snow is falling steadily. (And another planned trip to the range cancelled.) I guess as ProudHillbilly noted, February is hibernation time. But hey, I don't have to like it!