By Iron Chef Leftovers
I like beers that are different; it makes drinking beer fun since I don’t tend to get caught in a style rut. I also, when I am in the mood, love sour beers since they tend to jumpstart the palate and, when they are done right, are as complex and deep as any beer out on the market. Epic Ales out of Sodo in Seattle cover both of those points – they make beers that are definitely different and they do a bunch of sour based styles. On a trip to Bottleworks, I noticed Bottom of the Sea – a beer brewed with oysters and wasn’t a stout. Actually, I had no idea what style it was until I opened it – it was a gose, an obscure German sour style. I figured that for $5 for a 22 oz. bottle, it was worth the shot. The beer is just 5% ABV and a minuscule 10 IBU.
The beer pours jet black with a creamy brown head and shows lots of malt and barley on the nose with light amounts of roast, hints of what reminded me of pilsner yeast and a vague smell of salt air. On the palate, the beer betrays its dark color by showing light on the palate with a hint of sourness upfront that gives way to salty malt and grain, before finishing with a long sour cherry, light roast and mildly salty ending. As the beer warms, the oyster component becomes more pronounced – more a briny sea water type taste than a fishy one and the sour component becomes more subdued. It is very complex and layered and brings to the table flavors that you would not regularly find in beer, especially the combination of cooked oysters and sour.
This is definitely not a beer for everyone. Heck, it isn’t a beer most people would enjoy. I will be honest, I thought the beer was good, but I struggled to finish off the 22 oz. bottle. I wish that is was available in a smaller bottle size. If you are feeling adventurous, find a couple of likeminded friends and give Bottom of the Sea a shot. You might find you like it.
Epic’s Bottom of the Sea (Batch 1) attaches itself to a rock with a solid 3 Ostrea conchaphilia out of 5.
By Iron Chef Leftovers
There are two breweries that drive me nuts because their names are almost identical. There is Epic Brewing out of Utah which makes some fantastic Belgian style beers and there is Epic Ales out of Seattle who tend to do some off the wall farmhouse style beers. I have seen more than one occasion where a tap last has listed the wrong brewery. In the case of the Desert Rye Farmhouse Ale, I originally just wrote Epic on my noted. In going back over them, I realized that I had no idea which Epic it was. After doing a bit of digging, I realized that it was the Seattle Epic that put out this beer. Given that it was a farmhouse beer with rye, I needed to give it a shot.
The beer pours cloudy with the color of peach/apricot jam and has an interesting nose – notes of grain and yeast dominate, supported by light notes of rye and hints of sugar. The beer is really complex on the palate, starting off with heavy rye notes before moving into a grassy farmhouse funk with lots of Belgian yeast and grain helped by very light citrus, finishing with light hops and more funk. The rye lingers thought the entire progression and is a bit harsh at the beginning, but it smooths out by the end of the sip and enhances the other flavors. The farmhouse component becomes more pronounced as the beer warms making for a very different beer by the end of the pint.
This is a beer that is really not for everyone, but is well balanced and complex to the point of being very different than most everything else out there.
Epic Ales Desert Rye Farmhouse Ale comes in out of the field with a heavy load of 4 hay bales out of 5.
By Iron Chef Leftovers
Sage and chervil, two wonderful culinary herbs, but not something that you would associate with beer. Sage really tends to pare itself well with fats, and is most tasty when sautéed with butter and pumpkin ravioli. Chervil is a relative to parsley and is wonderful on salads, lending notes of anise to the dish. Because of the Iron Brewer competition at Beverage Place Pub, Odin and Epic got to use these two herbs in a head to head competition.
Epic Ales – the beer poured hazy yellow in color with strong notes of Belgian yeast, sage and pineapple in a surprisingly complex nose. The initial taste was much drier than I was expecting with light notes of black licorice balanced with a slight sweetness. The beer then builds on the sage component, starting out hidden before a long but subtle incline before being joined at the end by some light citrus. The Belgian notes are a background player throughout the beer and this beer is surprisingly well balanced without the herbs dominating the beer or the Belgian flavors dominating the herbs. Given the Belgian treatment, I guessed it was Odin and I was wrong.
Epic’s version of the beer sunned itself with 3 window boxes out of 5.
Odin – The beer poured golden yellow in color with heavy sage and grain on the nose and very strong yeast suggesting a pilsner. The beer starts slightly sweet before giving way to a distinctive and pronounced herb flavor – you can definitely taste both the sage and the chervil in this beer, but is still maintained the pilsner like character of the beer, providing a nice crisp balance. The beer finishes long with hints of salt and sugar while still managing to be balanced and slightly dry. This beer had a much more pronounced use of the herbs while still balancing that with the beer character, and I thought that this beer would have been perfect with a grilled chicken breast because of its herb component.
Odin’s version of the beer cultivated a solid 3 Anthriscus cerefolium out of 5.
Both of these beers were well done, but I picked Odin’s as my favorite and so did the crowd.