Monday, March 19, 2012

Founders' Day

No, this post isn't going to be a Glenn Beck-esque homage to George, Tom, John, and Ben. Nor, is it going to be about about me, although I am both the founder and sole contributor to drinkdrank, so technically it is going to be somewhat about me—well, at least my experiences, anyway. Really, it's about beery coincidences, more than anything else.

Everybody loves a parade.
Earlier in the month, a stop by Oliver's beverage center garnered me a new offering from Newcastle. In the past year or so, Newcastle has branched out a bit. Of course they still make the ubiquitous "Newkie Brown," or "Dog" if you will, but they've begun a collaboration with the Edinburgh brewery, Caledonian, to produce a Summer Ale; a nod to All Hallows Eve with a rye-spike Red Ale, dubbed Werewolf; a Winter IPA and most recently their Founder's Ale (See where this is going?) Other than the Summer Ale—of which I've had once, on tap at the Lionheart, in the summer of 2010—the Founder's Ale is the only one of this new crop of brews, I've seen in my neck of the woods.

Later that same day, a Facebook update blipped across my screen. Westmere Beverage—Oliver's sister store—had received a very, small shipment of beer from the, previously unavailable in New York, Grand Rapids, Michigan brewery Founders Brewing Company* (See, now it's really coming together.) Fate had obviously intervened, and how could I ignore such prompting? So, I was off to Westmere Beverage in search of that day's beery destiny. What did my quest yield? Quite a treat, I must say —Founders Centennial IPA and a bottle of their Porter.

These three beers couldn't be further from each other, stylistically—a mellow Pale Ale, a beautifully sharp IPA and a rich, dense Porter—and I loved each one of them. The Newcastle is sweet and biscuity with a fruit-like hoppiness. It's got a subdued bitterness and, something I can't quite put my finger on—a subtle spiciness—nearly like nutmeg or mace. It's a good chilly, spring day kind of beer—to bad spring hasn't cooperated with the chilly part, this year.  The Centennial IPA, is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Newcastle. It's all hop—in fact I'd go as far as to say the very essence of the Centennial hop. It's citrusy, and bright with that classic Centennial piney-ness. This beer's bitterness is aggressive to say the least, but there's a nice malted tone of caramel and toffee that keeps the bitter bite from chomping down too hard. I've been looking forward to this one for a few weeks, and it didn't disappoint. Lastly, came the Porter. What struck me first about this inky brew was in the pour. As it tumbled from the bottle into my pint, the arcing stream seemed to absorb light—cascading into the bottom of my glass like a ribbon of black velvet. If the Newcastle and Centennial IPA were dissimilar, this Porter take it to a whole new level. It's rich and dense, nearly bordering on silky. There is a roasted quality throughout, but it's balanced by a great sweetness—like fresh espresso dosed with bittersweet chocolate. Its hoppiness is floral, but the dark malts and their roasted, almost smokey quality, inhibit any strong bitterness. This is the Porter-drinker's Porter. Three beers—one pale, one bitter and one black—all based on the principals of making good beer—principals laid down by the both brewery's founders.

With all this talk of founders, a thought did occur to me: Did I find the beer, or was it the beer who found me? Maybe I should just chalk that up to coincidence, as well.

*I have, down in my basement, a few bottles of Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale that I picked-up in Brattleboro, Vermont—but I'll save that boyo for another post.)                 

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