February 4, 2010

Arcadia Beer Tasting




After slurping down a few dozen oysters at my favorite raw bar, the Mermaid Oyster Bar, B and I headed over to The Village Pourhouse for a Beer 101 and Tasting. This was the second tasting event where I had gotten the tickets from Groupon. Tonight, the tasting showcased a wide variety of Arcadia Ales from Battle Creek, Michigan.

The "tasting area" was held at the back of the bar, zoned around a bar strip along the wall, a few small tables in the corner, and a long horseshoe-shaped booth. It wasn't the most ideal set up for the educator, Robbie, to disperse information evenly and clearly throughout the crowd. Regular patrons were watching a game on big screen TVs nearby that made it difficult for us to hear and focus. Robbie did have a microphone (which helped) at first, but later stopped using it for whatever reason.

During the tasting, we experienced six different Arcadia beers (the last one is not shown in the lineup photo above). We began with the lightest ale and finished in dark chocolate land. It was great to try all of them, but I definitely had my favorites.
  • Whitsun Ale: This was the first beer that we tried. It is a wheat beer brewed with coriander, orange zest and honey. At first it is sour on the palette, but it finishes with a medium bitterness (due to the hops). There was a distinct sweetness to it that paired very well with our basket of garlic fries. BTW: The face on the bottle totally freaked me out at first. I didn't notice it during the tasting and only saw it after I revisited my photos back home. I thought I had captured a ghost at first!
  • India Pale Ale (IPA): B loves his IPA's and I remember getting this one for him for our own private beer tasting party as a birthday gift. This beer had a strong citrus nose and pronounced hop bitterness. It is medium-bodied, slightly frothier and thicker than the previous ale. There was a lot going on in this beer and I couldn't quite get comfortable with it. On the other hand, it will keep you guessing.
  • Hopmouth Double IPA: Surprisingly smoother and more delicious than the regular IPA, the double is rich, toasty, hoppy, and very drinkable. The caramel notes strangely reminded me of Coke. This was probably the darkest beer that I would enjoy through the course of the evening. To make a double IPA, the fermentation process is longer and more hops are added. This actually balances the flavor out and makes it surprisingly smooth.
  • Cereal Killer Barleywine: If you want a beer that gets IN YOUR FACE, this is probably what you're looking for. From what I can sense, there is a huge overflow of toffee and caramel flavors. On the otherhand, it tastes almost like very dark, carbonated plum wine. It would work nicely as a small digestif, but I'm not sure if I could handle more than a third of a bottle of this bad boy.
  • Imperial Stout: True to stout style, this dark and creamy full-bodied beer has a pungent aroma of coffee and soy sauce. This beer wasn't easy to drink, but fortunately was made easier by being the 5th beer into the tasting.
  • Cocoa Loco: This dessert beer was made with a combination of three different chocolate malts, cocoa nibs and 63% cacao bittersweet chocolate. Again, this was another beer that works in small doses and not as a full bottled beverage. 
We finished the tasting after about 2 hours, which seems like a long time but it actually felt very fast-paced for me. There was quite a difference between this tasting and the sake & cheese pairing/tasting that we did at New York Vintner's. The beer tasters skewed younger, but there were a few veteran beer drinkers near us (including a mom-like woman who sat next to me). This tasting would have been more interesting had there been food pairings. For the $15 ticket, it was quite a good bargain.


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