Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beer + Whiskey Redux

All this terribly cold spring weather has us reaching for the whiskey - more so than most spring seasons.  With the heat turned off and the temperatures dipping to record breaking lows, we've been craving something to warm us from the inside out. 

Instead of the usual whiskey and a beer, we did a pairing of Jameson and some really tasty craft beers - not your usual shot and a beer chaser.  We spent the evening with a few friends, Sean and Carrie, who made us an incredible meal, and shared some really extraordinary beers with us.

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We started off with a pairing of Jameson Black Barrel and Innis + Gunn Scottish Stout aged in Irish whiskey barrels.  This was a really fantastic pairing because both the whiskey and the beer are creamy and multifaceted.  The whiskey has notes of orange citrus, vanilla, clove, cardamom and a minty finish, where as the beer was crisp, nutty, with notes of vanilla, oak, chocolate, and oatmeal.  The beer is well carbonated, so it helped cut the whiskey and finish on a lighter note.

Onward to food: we were served gorgeous burgers with aged Vermont cheddar, onions cooked in Cabernet on toasted brioche buns.  Our hosts were not messing around!

The next pairing was Jameson Black Barrel with Milk Stout Nitro, which were both very similar in richness and they were both very creamy.  Nitro is a rather flat beer, carbonated with a novel process of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, smoky with flavors of chocolate and coffee.  The two complimented each other very well, but they were more similar in flavors.  Pro Tip: Hard pour the Nitro to release the nitrogen and thereby get a fluffy head on your beer.

We then moved onto Jameson and Dry Irish Stout by Brooklyn Brewery - Jameson being lighter than its Black Barreled brother, with more citrus notes, and a bit more oak flavor.  The stout was crisp and cool, flavors of oatmeal, coffee, and orange peel.  This was a nice lighter pairing compared to the previous one.

Back to Black Barrel for the last tasting, but this time, paired with 3 Beans by Sixpoint.  For those of you who haven't had 3 Beans - it's a trifecta of goodness, brew of beer, cocoa, and coffee, and it's heavenly.  The creaminess of the Jameson complimented the coffee and toffee notes of the beer - a buttery and bright pairing.

But then, our hosts shared something really special with us - 2009 Dark Lord Imperial Stout.  For those beer lovers out there, you probably have tasted Dark Lord, or have been coveting it for years.  For those of you not familiar with Dark Lord, just know, there's an entire festival dedicated to the coveted brew; Dark Lord Day

Let me start off saying, this was not traditional beer.  This is another kind of animal, some other sort of creation unlike any "beer" I have ever tasted.  It was closer to a port - jammy - deep fruit flavors of brandied cherry, fig, burnt currant, and plum.  It has the consistency of motor oil - very flat with a smoky undertone.  Our hosts told us that it tasted very differently a few years ago - the cellar process did some really incredible things to this beer.  It has been said that Dark Lord has a shelf life of 4 years, although it is unclear what happens after that point.

And - for the triple threat, Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake!!

Then we were onto the Alaskan Winter Ale brewed with spruce tips, a wonderful way to end the evening.  It tasted so crisp and fresh, almost like we were in Alaska ourselves!  This is a great beer that will also taste great when the weather finally warms up. 

Rumor has it, things will warm up again by the end of the week.  But for the time being, we're sticking to stout and whiskey.  You know, to keep us warm.


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