Monday, March 26, 2012

Mike's Beer Compendium

Today I finally printed my accumulated beer reviews.

The page count is somewhere in the 300 range and includes beer reviews from December 29, 2008 to February 20, 2012. I take great pleasure in having reviewed and savored all 867 beers included in the tome. It feels weird to say this, but I can remember almost every single one of those beers. I would often put in personal notes or where I had the beer or with whom. I can tell the type of mood I was in when reading some of the reviews (if I was drinking a beer it was almost always happy!).

Some of the first reviews were quite terrible actually. I think at the time I thought to add a speck of humor to the reviews so as not to make them boring. Then I moved on and became more serious. My understanding of beer in general is evident with each successive review.

Once I’m back from my beer hiatus I hope to put all my new reviews here at The Tippling House blog. It’ll be a little more comprehensive and little more personal, and as you can see already I intend to capture the moment with a photo. Until then let’s end on one of my favorite reviews from the compendium:

Baltika No. 7

So, a few years ago a thrift shop opened up close to where I work. It is a Godsend when it comes to finding great beer glasses at discount prices. The only problem is the Russian women who always seems to be working when I go in to purchase my wares.

It seems that she makes it her job that I pay the most for my beer glasses, even though the sign in that section of the store clearly states the price of all glasses as no more than $1.15 for the very largest and a mere 65 cents for smaller ones.

"Is beer glass, is cost more," is her usual reply as I try in vain to haggle. I usually talk her down and receive the item for the posted price.

I've purchased some fantastic and sometimes obscure glasses from this shop over the past two years, sometimes with an argument from my Ruskie friend, sometimes not, I've come to view it as a kind of battle of wills between two Cold War-era operatives—mutual respect but complete animosity.

So, a few days ago I walk in to find a .5 liter Baltika No. 7 glass...

I really, really want this glass. It's different, I don't have a Russian beer glass in my collection and a quick internet search doesn't bring the glass up for sale as far as I could find.

But...I really, really don't want to spar against my adversary over a glass from her home turf. I just don't. So, I hide the glass in a corner of the shop and plan to arrive early tomorrow to purchase it while she is away. But when I return in the morning, after thinking about the glass all day and night (I'm a glass junkie, I know), she's still there. Damn.

I decide that this glass is worth it and that I'll suck it up and face my foe. You know what happened?

Nothing...she doesn't even bat an eye, she charges me $1.15 and says nothing, no argument, not even a mention that the glass is covered in Cyrilic writing (perhaps she could have translated for me). This is what it must have felt like at the end of the Cold War, a mild submission, no all-out battle, no rain of nuclear warheads, a gentle wave of the hand and that was that.

I think I'll miss our battles, that back-and-forth over how much a beer glass should cost at a thrift shop.

Anyway, now that I had the glass I needed to fill it. Luckily, I work near an area of Boston that has a bunch of Russian specialty shops (if you ever want Kvass, I know where you can find it, cheap!). I mosey over during lunch and find what I'm looking for. I thought I had seen Baltika No. 7 in cans at this shop a while back, but all I could find this time was a three month old green, pull tab bottle—I don't have high hopes...

1 Pint .9oz Green Bottle into .5l Baltika No. 7 Glass

Crisp, pale straw yellow with a quick off white head. It looks amazing in this glass, however :^)

Steely, sweet graininess with a mild grassy hop aroma. To my great surprise, this beer is not skunked (I did dig deep in the cold cooler at the shop).

Flavor is crisp with hints of that sweet graininess. Hops are subdued with just the faintest flavor of herbal hops. Maybe a whiff of sulfur in here and just a hint of...plastic tubing???

Okay, after all that, this beer isn't all THAT bad. Yes, it tastes mass-produced, but it actually tasted "okay" as it warmed up, unlike some other mass-produced lagers. I knew all that work wouldn't have paid off, I didn't expect it would, it was just fun to put all the pieces together.

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