Belgium Comes to Cooperstown: Friday

We left for Belgium Comes to Cooperstown on Friday. Bennett and I left from Boston and Dave and David left from New York City. The plan was to meet at our motel in Herkimer, NY.

Bennett caught a train from New Haven to Boston Friday morning, and arrived at Kendall Square at 11:45 or so. We briefly stopped off in lab and then took the T to Davis. After lunch at Anna's we picked up the rental car, stopped at Downtown Wine & Spirits for a Magic Hat mixed 12-pack, packed up the car, and were on the road at about 1:15.

406. Albany Pump House Grand Cru

We had originally planned to stop for dinner at The Albany Pump House, but since we left two hours earlier than originally anticipated we arrived in Albany at 5:00, too early for dinner. Still, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have a new beer so we stopped for a quick bite.

I decided to go with the Grand Cru because it was relatively low in alcohol, and because it was on the beer list for BCTC (one less new beer to worry about at the fest. I had a picture, but I accidentally erased some of the early photos from Friday. This is what the menu says:
A unique beer made from a 3/2 blend of wheat and Munich malts and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. The nose is complex, with notes of fruit, vanilla and malt. The flavor is much the same, with little hop character.
Beer Stats:
Brewery: C.H. Evans Brewing Company
Alcohol: 5.5%
Serving: Draft, 16oz.
Style: Belgian Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (3.5): Pours a lightly hazy golden-orange with a thin bubbly white head that fades quickly.

Smell (4.0): Very fruity, notes of banana as well as sweet malts.

Taste (4.0): Fruity, bananas and toasty malts. The finish is lightly spicy with a hint of bitterness.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Light to medium-bodied with low carbonation.

Drinkability (4.0): Very easy to drink, refreshing and flavorful.

Overall (3.85): Nice and drinkable, not overwhelmingly complex, a good session beer.

We left Albany Pump House at 6 and called David and Dave for an update, they were still in the rental car office in Manhattan. From Albany it was an hour to our motel in Herkimer, NY. The motel was run down, but wasn't as bad as I feared.

407. Magic Hat Batch 374

After arriving at the motel Bennett and I ran into town for snacks, then had a couple beers from the Magic Hat mixed pack and watched TV until the Daves arrived. We both had Magic Hat Batch 374, the "Mystery Beer" in the 12-pack. I brought pint glasses to the hotel for the homebrew tasting so we served the beer in that.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Magic Hat Brewing Company
Alcohol: 5.90%
Serving: Bottle, 12 oz.
Style: American Amber/Red Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Thom (4.0): Pours a crystal clear amber with a fluffy beige head that recedes to a thin layer leaving patchy lace.
Bennett (4.0): Relatively clear, with a pleasant copper color. Head was a medium, beige froth, with a relatively long half life.

Thom (3.5): Piney hops with sweet toffee and caramel malts.
Bennett (3.0): Herbal, strong.

Thom (3.5): Light sweet malts in the center are dominated by a resiny hop bitterness in the finsish.
Bennett (3.0): Bitter. Aftertaste is the aroma, hops-dominated. Not a complex taste - straight and simple.

Thom (3.5): Oily, medium-light-bodied.
Bennett (2.5): A little slimy. No texture. Inside Joke [Ward: "Add a little coconut?"]

Thom (3.5): Drinkablitiy is okay, but could use some more balancing malts.
Bennett (3.5): Only flavor strength would stop you.

Thom (3.6): A decent session beer.
Bennett (3.2)

David and Dave arrived at around 11:30. In addition to the homebrew stout that we'd brewed, David had also brewed a Witbier. We had the homebrews and then played poker.

Homebrew Stout

David, Bennett and I brewed this stout when I went to NYC for his birthday. He bottled it about a week later, and brought up 3 bottles for us to try.

Thom: Opaque black, hazy edges, thin beige head.
Dave (3.0): Quite dark, almost no light gets through.
David (4.0): Hoppy and Guiness-like - brown too, not all black.
Bennett (4.0):Opaque. Light, lacy head that lingers (khaki-coloured). Near-black.

Thom: Roasty, with notes of coffee and chocolate.
Dave (2.7): Smells slightly acidic.
David (2.0): Must and a bit acidic.
Bennett (3.5): Caramel overtones to beer.

Thom: Roasted malts, coffee, burnt sugar, with a little residual sweetness. Hoppy bitterness in the finish.
Dave (3.5): Rich, thick taste - resembles a chocolate stout, I want to say... Has a nice slightly bitter aftertaste with a nice bit of carbonation.
David (4.0): Porter - very pronounced hops and bark burntness. Lovely.
Bennett (4.0): Rich, full-bodied. Dominated by carbonation. Hints of caramel, but against a dark burnt background.

Thom: Light-medium-bodied, vigorous carbonation.
Dave (4): Bold - enjoy the carbonation.
David (4.0): Feels like coffee - harsh, but good aftertaste.
Bennett (4.5): Light-bubbliness. Smooth. I like it.

Thom: Pretty easy to drink.
Dave (4.5): Bold and smooth - could drink quite a few of these.
David (3.5): I've had some better, a lot worse.
Bennett (3): With food: yes. Without food: no.

Thom: Pretty good, the residual sweetness worked well to balance the roasted and hoppy bitterness.
Dave (3.39)
David (3.55)
Bennett (3.85)

Stout Summary
We all liked the stout pretty well. We all liked the carbonation, and most of us thought it was very drinkable, with a pretty good taste. The smell was a little lacking.

Homebrew Witbier

David and Megan's brother brewed this a few weeks ago.

Thom: It looks like saturated YPD. An incredibly cloudy golden.
Dave (2.7): Milky, egg-yolk haziness.
David (?): Cloudy and orange.
Bennett (2.0): YPD + E. coli (12 hours) = this beer.

Thom: Incredibly fruity, a bit much actually. There's also a hint of graininess.
Dave (3):Thick, fruity smell.
David (4.0): Very nice - fruity, but also wheaty.
Bennett (3.0): Fruity.

Thom: Fruitiness is present, but not nearly as overpowering as the smell. The finish is grainy, with powdery yeast and a light bitterenss.
Dave (2.9): Hearty, milky taste.
David (4.0): Crisp, rounded taste of fruit and wheat. Personally can't taste much yeast/sediment in this beer.
Bennett (3.0): Disappointingly burnt aftertaste. Complex flavors, wheat dominates though.

Thom: Light-bodied, tingly carbonation.
Dave (3.4): Enjoy the light fruity aftertaste and slight tingle.
David (3.0): Inveterate tingly nature on tongue - especially when cold.
Bennett (3.5): Eh. No good on the taste, so this is hard to judge.

Thom: A little off.
Dave (2.4): Aftertaste is kind of funky.
David (3.0): Could drink very cold on hot day. Maybe a six-pack or so.
Bennett (2.0): Not good.

Thom: Not as good as the stout, not a great witbier.
Dave (2.86)
Bennett (2.75)

We played poker for a couple hours at a $10 buy in, and then went to bed.

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