Last night, for the first time in several weeks, I attended a beer-tasting at Tria Fermentation School. (And, dang, I was missing it.) The class was led by Tom Kehoe, a respected local brewer and the co-owner of Yards Brewing Company. His topic was sugar, the dirty-little-secret ingredient in many non-German beers.
Those uptight Germans (hey, I’m just joking — sorta), with their Purity Law, the Reinheitsgebot, didn’t allow sugar in beers until 1987, when a European court ruling forced the issue. German beers are still an almost entirely sugar-free product. I tend to be a fan of those freewheeling, sugar-friendly Belgians.
Anyway, tonight’s session was lots of fun. We actually started out by tasting Colt 45(!), which is made with high-fructose corn syrup and is, well, pretty much disgusting. I hadn’t tasted it in years. It’ll probably be years before I have another taste…. It’s like beer-scented water. That said, it was definitely amusing to see all the beer snobs in the room, myself included, swirling and tasting Colt 45! It works every time, you know.
I particularly enjoyed three of last night’s beer. Yards Brewing’s own General Washington Tavern Porter, based on a recipe written the former general/president himself, uses molasses. It’s a dark, aromatic brew, and I got some pleasant coffee notes out of it. Rochefort Brewery’s No. 8, which I’ve enjoyed before, is a sophisticated dark ale. I appreciated its caramel notes (not to mention its impressive head). My favorite beer of the evening might have been Gale’s Prize Old Ale. It smelled and tasted something like a barleywine. In fact, it reminded me strongly of a sweet, aged liqueur that I might want to sip over the course of an evening. It’s not something I’d want to polish off in a half hour, or with dinner, though.
I have another beer-tasting next week. I doubt there’ll be any Colt 45 at that one!