Tuesday, May 23, 2006

American Beer at the Alamo

Okay, it's been more than week. Time for me to stop procrastinating: The screening of the documentary American Beer at the Alamo Drafthouse, with a flight of 15 beers shown in the movie, was quite enjoyable. At least for me. If you're not a raving beer geek (and if you're not, then you're probably not reading this blog), this movie probably won't do much for you. It's simply an indulgence – a love letter from a bunch of beer lovers to the brewers who make them so happy. The gist is simple – a group of drunks pile into a car (before they get drunk, of course) and head across the country to pay homage to American microbrewers. They hit 38 breweries in 40 days. And these guys are not pinky-extended pretentious dorks trying to act like gourmands – they're cool guys who like to hit a bar and pound back a few. We not only see them visiting breweries, we see them sampling the product, often with the brewers, and then praying to the porcelain god later. Hey, it's happened to the best of us.

Even if you are a beer geek, do not see this film without brew near at hand. That's why the Alamo kicks so much ass. They had 15 four-ounce samplings awaiting us: Allagash Dubbell Reserve, Victory 10 Year Alt, Victory Prima Pils, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Shipyard Export Ale, Anchor Steam, North Coast Blue Star Wheat, Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale, Rogue Shakespeare Stout, Full Sail Pale Ale, Pyramid Hefeweisen, Pyramid Curve Ball, New Belgium Abbey, Abita Amber, and Abita Turbo Dog. All were quite nice. I even enjoyed the wheat beers, to which I'm normally averse; maybe I'll have to sample full bottles of them in the near future. Perhaps they could change my mind on wheats. As for the rest: I particularly enjoyed the Allagash and 60 Minute, natch, because I was already familiar. And I was glad to try the Abbey; I had already tried New Belgium's Trippel as part of my new Belgian beer kick, and loved it, so I was really curious to samble the Abbey (a dubbell). It was awesome, and I've been drinking it all week since then. I also seem to remember (it's a bit fuzzy now) liking the 10 Year Alt. I'll have to rely on the Alamo's notes to help me reconstruct the experience: "A dark ale initially assertive with spicy hops, it concludes with rich, roasted malts and burnished hop character." And I seem to remember the Curve Ball impressing me: "A clean, crisp slightly herbal taste and a lighter body." And Shakespeare Stout is nice and chocolatey; those guys at Rogue don't go halfway on any of their stuff.

Only one complaint in the whole experience: the Alamo staff clearly served two of the beers out of order, serving the Anchor Steam when the program said they were serving the Allagash, and vice-versa. A minor problem, at worst; hopefully everyone figured out the error.

So why is my memory so fuzzy on the evening? Well, it's not what you're thinking. It's just that my subsequent trip to the Ginger Man that evening with Mr. Valek and his buddy Bob yielded even greater taste pleasures than the movie sampler. Continuing my Belgian kick, I started with what I think was De Koninck. It was well enough, but I wasn't blown away. That changed with North Coast Pranqster. North Coast is another of those breweries that just can't seem to do anything wrong (they make Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, my favorite stout), and this was so, so right. I was quite certain the evening had reached its apex. I was wrong. I then had a sample of Unibroue Trois Pistoles.

You remember a few posts back, talking about Chimay, when I said that any beer that costs $10 a bottle better give me an orgasm? Well, I think that's what happened here. And I don't think it was $10 a bottle. Oh My God Trois Pistoles is amazing. This stuff was almost beyond beer. As I write this, I'm thoroughly enjoying a really nice bottle of New Belgium Abbey, just beside myself with happiness, but this stuff ain't 1/100th as good as that Trois Pistole was.

I left quite inebriated and happy. God bless Capital Metro for getting me home.


Bill Fergerson said...

I went on a bit of a Belgian beer kick of my own last night. is now my favorite Chicago beer bar as a result. About the most average beer you can get there is Guiness.

canfield said...

Lee, if you really love beer, you'll get your ass out to the Oregon Brewers Festival, July 27-30. http://www.oregonbrewfest.com/ About half the breweries you tasted at the Alamo will be there.

Confidential to Bill Fergerson: Y'all come on out again, too.

And those guys were lame to have to drive to 38 breweries. I can walk to 38 breweries from my house.

Mags said...

I'll definitely be out there to visit y'all (especially now that T&A are moving out there, too), it's just a question of when. I'm itching to go to the OBF, but I'm also dying to go to that track meet in Eugene. But whenever I come, we'll have a partyin' good time.

Lee said...

Whoops, that last message was from me, not Mags.

canfield said...

Well, bring her along too.

Cute picture.