Wine may hold a well deserved main interest by oenophiles when relaxing and dining, but when summer arrives and we are on the patio at the grill the time beckons for a bratwurst and a beer. A wonderful world of “microbrews” from small producers nationwide and throughout the globe has been on a steady increase, so we decided to venture into this realm with a tasting in the Blue Room at Ohio Valley Wine & Beer. Expert Jim Hennessey led us through sampling a dozen beers while Chef Michael Forgus used his expertise to create a delicious buffet complementing the various styles ranging from pilsner and stout to IPA and raspberry lambic.
We started with Fraoch Heather Ale, a light bodied Scottish brew with beautiful aromatics that tasted as lyrical as the name suggests. This was followed by some wheat beers that have become popular lately but still are reminiscent of sweet spices and bananas to true hopheads. A classic German pilsner came next that brought attractive herbal notes and great body with cleansing bitter finish from hops. Our first round ended with a Scottish red ale that that hinted at Scotch whiskey with smoky yeast in the nose and roasted malt in the rich flavors.
The second round of our session introduced beers with bigger flavors and higher alcohol, with Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Anderson Valley IPA as standouts. An abundance of hops is the key where “bitter is better” to craft beer fanatics and these showed true to form. Our penultimate sample was a Victory Storm King Imperial Stout that had chocolate, sweet malt and substantial alcohol in a style originating from Czarist Russia. Our finish with a Belgian raspberry lambic gave signs of dessert in the glass with prominent fruit in the nose and sweet-tart cherry flavors. Our leader encouraged us to blend the last two beers and, though it seemed illogical, together they were much better than one might expect from such an experiment.
Relaxed enjoyment ruled the night as we sampled more beers with a half dozen food entrees. Crafted spirits, delectable cuisine, and the camaraderie of Mondiale confrères made a memorable start to a summer of cheers!
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest