Friday Froth: A Real Mouthful

James Gribbon

"Slow food" takes on a new meaning when applied to me. I am, and always have been, an exceptionally slow eater. A childhood friend of mine nearly landed me in the school psychologist's office after he convinced so many people, including a school administrator, of his theory that I was obsessively chewing eat bite a certain number of times before I'd take the next one. I had to eat in front of an assistant principal before people would let it go. The real reason is I just talk too much. Well that, or I just zone out while wandering along some neural pathway; and I'm nearly always served last at restaurants. It's like there was a secret memo passed around the service-industry: "This man not to receive food until all others at table at least 45% done with their meals." 

I talk too much, but I haven't written nearly enough about Two Roads Brewing in my childhood home of Stratford, Connecticut. We're going to work on that today.

First of all, Two Roads deserves a post all its own. I've been shamefully dilatory on that account, and I promise the cavernous former factory will receive a full on photographic spelunk some time soon. Please consider the following a down payment.

Brad Hittle is one of the principles over at Two Roads (more on him later), and Henry's Farm Double Bock is named after his great grandfather, Henry Dethlefsen, who made a bock beer on his White Lake, South Dakota farm every spring. Brad told me that bock wasn't a double, but this was meant more as an homage than a clone. 

Henry's Farm has distinct malts and a dry yeastiness to the nose. The beer is a deep ruby color in the glass and had a thin head as poured, but with this much malt I'd guess it could produce a thicker foam if poured like Jeremy Clarkson drives a car. It's malt forward, as you would expect in a bock, and with a solid bitterness throughout, but without being hoppy in either taste or aroma. The malts break down in the mouth and present a faint tinge of sweetness, which was a pleasant counterpoint to the slightly viscous bitterness. I don't usually seek out bocks, but I liked this one, and found it comparable to another Connecticut beer - Olde Burnside's Tenpenny: a Scotch ale - only smoother and more bitter. Henry's Farm comes in right around 8% ABV, and is currently and commonly available both on tap and in 22oz. bottles.

Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø is the brother of Mikkel Borg-Bjergsø, and the man behind Evil Twin Brewing. This beer loving Dane got his start home brewing in Copenhagen, where he opened a very successful bottle shop and moved on to gypsy brewing: wherein someone with a recipe will contract out the actual brewing of the beer to someone else who has the facilities to do so on a larger scale. I've mentioned gypsy brewing before in regard to Stillwater Artisinal Alesfounder Brian Strumke, and this is where Two Roads enters again, stage right. 

A deal was reportedly already in place between Bjergsø and Two Roads before the brewery was finished being built, and it was thus that I came to hold a glass of Evil Twin All Occasions IPA in my greedy mitt. Foggy amber with a thick, rocky head, I could smell this beer from two feet away. Up close, there was a good, green, citrusy hop aroma. There is a sumptuous, Kelly Brook-level body to this IPA, and there needs to be in order to support the savage bitterness contained therein. There is a tad of sweetness to the malt that forms the backbone of this beer, and it does its level best to smooth out those rampant hops, but old bones and fallen walls tell the tale of what it's like to stand against the hordes of the great Khan. 

Your taste buds get out of panic mode after the first few sips and begin to take in not just the profile, but the bigger picture. All Occasions is up there with upper echelon hophead pinups like Green Flash West Coast IPA or Weyerbacher Double Simcoe in that it's both rich and extravagantly hopped. 

I'm not 100% on the home country of my particular glass of All Occasions - it could have also been whipped up at BrewDog in Scotland - but I enjoyed the hell out this 8% IPA regardless, and it gives me an excuse to mention that other brand. 

I'm a huge fan of BrewDog, and not just their beers. I've reviewed their Punk IPA and 5A.M. Saint hereabouts, but I love pretty much everything they do: cold-fermenting batches of lager in the North Atlantic, painting murals on their equipment, opening their own bars across Scotland and England's north country and hosting a "National Crap Beer Amnesty" day this month so beleaguered souls could bring in bottles and cans (generic macros appeared, mostly, along with a bottle of Grolsch with a "best by" date in 2002) and receive a fresh pint of BrewDog's finest as recompense.  

BrewDog beers can be found at various bars and bottle shops around the Constitution State, but the one I'll be looking out for is the new #MashTag. Described in its full name as a Democratic American Brown Ale, this latest concoction was chosen - style, ingredients, label art and all - by the Twitterati, hence the #MashTag hash tag. It's brand new, and I'll let you know when and where I find it. 

I'm continuing to make my way through beers by Colorado's claimed oldest craft brewery, and Conn. newcomer, Boulder Beer Company. I wandered over to The Ginger Man in SoNo after attending The Connecticut Chili Classic last Sunday, and decided on a pint of Boulder's special, tap-only seasonal offering, Obovoid. This is a singularity-black 8% stout aged on French oak chips. Once poured, a cascade of nitrogen bubbles eventually settles into a head dense enough to hold a toothpick upright, and a big malt aroma makes it way up through the fundament. 

People are often thrown off by the smoothness of nitro stouts - most describe Guinness as thick and heavy despite the poetic pint's lowly 125 calories - but Obovoid really drinks like a milkshake. The unfermented oats and Caramel malts add a surprising sweetness, filling up the toasty barley and rounding out the sharper tannins from the oak chips. The acidity becomes more prevalent as the beer warms, (this is a sipper, not a session) but nothing eclipses the sweet roastiness of the black brew. 

What have you been drinking? As always, let me know in the comments.