(a sour Belgian Blonde ale aged in wine barrels with Buddha’s hand citron zest, yuzu, and blood oranges)
Hoppy New Year, beer-lovers! (See what I did there? I said “hoppy” instead of … oh, you get it? … K.)
Well anyway, welcome to 2016. December was a busy month for me, and I slacked off quite a bit when it came to this here blog. I produced a few custom illustrations for my Etsy customers, including a really unique one depicting large cats drinking IPA. This commission even required a bit of research, since I had no idea what a margay was until I received the request to draw one sharing a beer with a cheetah.
In early December, Matt and I visited our friends Drew & Julie in Dallas, Texas, and (BONUS) Drew just happens to be head brewer at up-and-coming Braindead Brewing in Deep Ellum. Over the course of the weekend, we were treated to a tour of some standout Dallas area breweries and an unforgettably amazing meal at Small Brewpub, but the highlight of the visit (besides meeting our friends’ adorable son Joshua) was Sunday morning brunch at Braindead. After one cider-mosa, a drool-worthy bacon & beer flight, and piles of fantastic food from Chef David, Matt and I purchased 4 bottles each of Drew’s 2 latest creations, Hammer of the Gods and Bent de Garde. Hammer is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Wheat Porter, and Bent de Garde, my personal favorite, is a red wine barrel aged Biere de Garde with lactobacillus added.
And I’m super proud to share that yet another seasonal project of mine was creating the illustration for Bent de Garde’s label. Full disclosure, this was my first professional beer label project and I couldn’t be more pleased about it; making beer labels has been a dream of mine since I met homebrewer Drew in college. *weeps softly* Don’t mind me, I’m just achieving life goals over here.
Later in the month, we were honored to be invited to the 2nd Annual ABV Chicago Holiday Party & Podcast Taping, and we even managed to impress our hosts with the aforementioned badass beers from Braindead Brewing. At the party I was also generously gifted a selfie stick from my friend Dennis Lee (AKA Dannis Ree, AKA @fartsandwich, AKA The Pizzle). And now commences a collage of poor quality but hilarious selfie-stick photos, thanks to Dannis:
Selfie stick shenanigans
We celebrated the New Year with many beers at Beer House Chicago (not actually in Chicago, though conveniently in our very own town of Lombard), where they had a fun drinking game that I’ll call Kill-the-Old-Keg-That-Isn’t-Moving-So-We-Can-Tap-a-Better-One, and a highlight of the night was when the first keg kicked and New Holland Dragon’s Milk Reserve with Toasted Chilies was tapped. YUM.
Happy New Year
As a final introductory word, what’s the New Year without some resolutions? I certainly won’t bore you with any personal goals surrounding my ever-slowing metabolism, but I would like to share my blog-related goals for 2016:
Goal #1: I’d like to publish a post at least 4 times per month (Yay, consistency!). That means at least 47 more posts complete with a unique beer illustration!
Goal #2: I’ll add new items to the Etsy store – I’m thinking a calendar, tea towels, notecard packs – basically, a wider variety of items with lower price points.
Goal #3: And finally, I’d like to widen the focus of the blog to include not only beer and cider, but also spirits, coffee and tea. Maybe this requires a spin-off, or some kind of name change, but I am down for either!
Aaaaand, that’s more than enough intro!
So, without any further ado, I give you my first post of the year: a Quick Draw of Almanac Beer Company’s Farmer’s Reserve Citrus. Straight outta Northern California, this brewery is known for its sour program (and they make a killer gose, too). This particular beer is meant to be a twist on the Belgian wit + citrus wedge phenomenon that Blue Moon’s brewmaster Keith Villa originally started in 1997. The Almanac Farm to Barrel Series (their term for their barrel-aged beers) was launched in 2013 with just three beers, but now the count has grown to 32 varieties including Hoppy Sour Citra, Bourbon Sour Porter, Sourdough Wild Ale, Farmer’s Reserve Blueberry, and many other delicious concoctions.
Appearance: This golden-orange beer had the slightest of hazes, created from barely visible suspended particulate. Strangely, this fairly fizzy beer had no head to speak of, but towers of bubbles continued to whiz to the surface as the beer sat.
Aroma: Orange, lemon, lactobacillus-esque hints, and a grassy funk made up this beer’s bouquet.
Mouthfeel: Effervescent, light to medium bodied, combined with a puckering sensation
Flavor: The first sip was terribly tart, spiking my tongue with football-sized sharpness. This taste was quickly followed by a satisfying sweetness, then an almost salty puckering sensation resembling the tannic finish on a cabernet. As I continued to sip, more and more layers of complex flavor revealed themselves; raspberry, plum, lemon, and lime, all balanced on a backbone of bold and funky tang.
Thank you so much to everyone who has read my blog over the past year, and thank you to any new readers that have just joined. I am so looking forward to another great year in beer, and I can’t wait to experience what the next 12 months have in store (and in beer stores). Cheers, everyone and happy 2016!
A note: this beer contained NO actual lemon, lime, raspberry, or plum. The only fruits present were those mentioned in the subtitle; Buddha’s hand citron zest, yuzu, and blood orange. The flavors I experienced were produced in combination with the fruit additions, the wort, and the unique blend of yeasts that Almanac added. According to their website, this blend included a house “Dogpatch sour culture” plus wild Belgian and American yeasts, and a San Francisco sourdough starter. AW YEAH, SCIENCE!