Last night was the first Beer Meetup event I attended so far this year.
I’m the organizer for the Chicago Beer Meetup group on meetup.com, but I’m pretty bad at organizing it. I have really been slacking off on planning events. But my assistant organizer put together a meetup at the Map Room and since I’m a sucker for that bar, I went.
Recreating a list of the beers I drank after the fact may be futile, but I’ll try. Tasting notes will be minimal.
I started with Three Floyds Dwarven Hammer, a variation on a German Alt using Intelligentsia coffee. It didn’t really work for me but I think it was well done. The lighter more subtle malts of the alt were not overpowered by the coffee aroma and flavor, with the coffee adding a mild bitterness that complemented the lightly-hopped biscuity alt. I’m glad I tried it and again, it was as well done as that beer could have been, but it just wasn’t my thing.
Next I had Metropolitan‘s Dynamo Copper Lager. German hop character, reddish-gold in color, just a simple lager that isn’t trying to be anything fancy. It’s a competent beer from a relatively new brewery.
After a couple of beers that weren’t all that big on the taste-o-meter, I decided to get something a bit stronger. New Belgium‘s Lips of Faith 30° Dunkel Weiss, at 9%ABV and full of big dark wheat flavor, was the answer. I tasted it along with a Unibroue Chambly Noire someone else at the table had, and it wasn’t really a fair fight. Next to the big brown sugar malty peppery banana bread flavors of the New Belgium offering, the smaller (6%) Unibroue beer fell flat.
Dark beer seemed to be the thing at that point so I ordered Sinebrychoff Porter, a baltic porter from Finland. Deep black, opaque, with the blackstrap molasses/chocolate/coffee notes you expect from a baltic porter or an imperial stout.
I took a little break while I considered my next move. I knew I was in the homestretch at this point though and I felt it was time to revisit my obsession with the wild fermentations of Belgium.
The great thing about the Map Room is that the bartenders there know at least as much about beer as you do, so I discussed my options with the bartender. They had a 750ml bottle of Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait. I got it with a couple of glasses and shared it out with the other meetup members at the table. Of course it isn’t for everyone, but it turned out to be very much what I wanted to drink at that moment. The sourness was not overwhelming (though I do often enjoy an overwhelmingly sour beer) but seemed to be balanced well with the hay/barnyard flavors of the wild fermentation. The bright carbonation added just the right touch of lightness to make a crisp dry almost champagney drink but with a murky oakiness lurking underneath.
I had wanted to finish the evening with De Dolle Stille Nacht but they were out! So I again consulted the bartender and ended up with a bottle of another, similar beer that I unfortunately do not currently recall the name of. And then I managed to drink a handpulled draft of a good stout while waiting for my friends to finish. Then, after handshakes all around and yet another silly conversation on the corner outside the bar, I got 2 dollars and an admonition to take the Western bus home from Aaron, got on my bike, rode to Western, didn’t see a bus but felt really great, so I rode the 5 miles or so home.
Great fun! If you haven’t already, think about joining us! You should see a link to the Chicago Beer Meetup to the right of this post.