Friday Froth: The Little Pub Chooses Wisely

James Gribbon

A quick bit of news to start this week's Froth: it turns out The Little Pub in Branchville has been aging kegs of a select few high gravity beers for the past year, and has started tapping one per Monday night. Issuing forth from the specialty tap on Monday, Nov. 25 will be Dogfish Head Olde School - a 16% ABV barleywine fermented with dates and figs. High alcohol, minimally hopped beers make the best candidates for aging, and tend to relax as they undergo further conditioning over time, so these beers will taste different from when they were first bottled in 2012. 

The robust duo of Green Flash Double Stout and New England Brewing Imperial Stout Trooper are scheduled for the first two Mondays in December (be absolutely sure to try that second one, on Dec. 9, if you're at all able), followed by Ovila Abbey Quad, Sierra Nevada Narwhal, Dogfish Head 120 Minute, and the second generation of the Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada collaboration ale, Life&Limb. 

Don't call Sixpoint Global Warmer a barleywine; this deep amber brew arrived just last week, and pours with a tall, rocky head which clings to the glass like Kris Jenner clings to fame. I popped this one open and was immediately met with big hop aroma - resinous, as is to be expected from Sixpoint - with a bit of sweet and sour as hop aroma mixes with the malt. The smoothness of the mouthfeel is surprising after experiencing all that airborne lupulin, but come back to me now, because I want you to notice just how balanced this beer is. The hops don't shove the malts out of the way, and there are no added spices to this winter ale, which is just slightly unusual. I count this as a positive - cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg belong in hot cider, and their inclusion in beer is a pretty significant turn off for me. 

Tastes vary on that last point of course, but I feel very comfortable recommending Global Warmer for just about anyone who can handle a wee bit of hops, and won't be under the table after one 12oz can of this 7% alcohol elixir. This ale's personality doesn't tend toward the aggressive - it just makes a pleasantly spirit-lifting sipper with a quiet, boozy strength.

I recently got a chance to sink a few pints of Norm's Raggedy Ass IPA from Griffin Claw Brewing Co. out of Birmingham, Michigan, and I can understand why it won gold at the World Beer Cup. Norm and Bonnie LePage
took home more than one gold in 2010, and decided to expand beyond their nano-brewery - which was located inside a chophouse - abandon a condo project, and build the Griffin Claw brewery. The brand won't even be at full brewing capacity until some time in 2014. 

This IPA is hopped two times over with American, Cascade, Columbus and Centennial varieties, and pours acloudy straw color under a veritable garden of flowery citrus smells. It's very slightly dry on first sip as billions of yeast cells wash across the tongue, but that's just extra B12, baby. The fresh hops aren't just on the nose, but soon on the tongue as well - green, and deliciously herbal. The hops linger, and in a good way, but they're more of a presence in the flavor than the IBUs. This brew is very sedate in that regard, less bitter than the Sixpoint Autumnation I discussed a while back, for purposes of comparison. Norm's makes an appetizing session beer; in fact, it reminds me of a creamier Full Sail Session Lager with fresher hops. 

I've been seeing Roguenbier Rye around for few months now, and it's worth mentioning this truly organic, estate-grown ale. All Rogue beers lack additives or preservatives, but everything but the yeast in this one was grown at Rogue's own farms in Independence, Oregon, earning it Rogue's Grow Your Own (GYO) certification. 

This rye pours a medium brown with a crystalline transparency and a nice little head. There is strong malt on the first sip, and it has a very low, 25IBUs from the house Independent hops. The malt bill to this ale is no joke: Rogue uses its own rye, black, caramel and smoked malts, plus two proprietary varieties it calls Dare and Risk. Rye is grown and added to a malt bill to add some heartiness and spice, but it's a bit of a shrinking violet in this crowd.

Roguenbier Rye weighs in at 13º Plato, or a little over 6.5% alc., so several of these may get you a little lean on - no tall a task with an ale this mellow. This, and other estate grown "Chatoe Rogue" series beers, are easier to find than you might think. 

I'll see you over the top of a frothy one. Cheers.