A Beer for Every Meal…Even Breakfast
by Eric Griffith and Mimi Griffith
This week’s class was structured a little differently in that the line-up was not from a single brewery or all one particular style of beer, but rather was a hand picked selection of brews from the large stable of beers at Missouri Beverage. Jim McGinn taught the class and he did a great job of educating while keeping the class moving. He also did a wonderful job of bringing four distinct styles of beer so everyone could find a favorite.
Saison Dupont– (on draft at Cicero’s)
The “King of Saisons” is how Jim McGinn described this beer and I don’t think he is alone in that description as Saison Dupont has taken home numerous gold medals and awards. Brasserie Dupont is the farmhouse brewery responsible for this world class beer and they are located in Belgium near the French border. Saisons were originally brewed in the winter and consumed in the summer by farm workers looking for a refreshing drink in the fields. The AVB has risen on these beers through the years from 3% to anywhere from 5%-8% today. Saison Dupont comes in at 6.5% ABV
He says- I don’t have a lot of experience with Saisons, but I enjoyed this beer and it is very drinkable. Hazy straw in color with a spicy yet sour nose with banana and yeast. It is like a crisp apple with sharp cheddar cheese for me. The taste lingers in a good way. Refreshing like a hefeweizen, but more complex with both sweet and sour notes.
She says- Crisp and clean were the words that came to my mind when I first tasted this beer. It was very pale in color so I wasn’t expecting much flavor however this was a full bodied beer. It has a spicy overtone, but no unpleasant aftertaste. I’m not overly familiar with the Saison style so I’m not sure how it compares to others. I could see drinking this on a warm summer night with fruits and cheeses or a salad.
Tripel Karmeliet– (in bottles at Cicero’s)
It’s not often that a beer glass gets my attention before the actual beer, but in the case of Tripel Karmeliet I put its unique tulip glass on my list for Santa last year even though I had never tasted the beer. Turns out the Belgium brewed beer is highly rated around the globe.
He says- Smell is very faint, but floral and soapy with notes of rice. Well carbonated with lemon and vanilla flavors. This one is not for me. The 8% ABV is well hidden, but this beer is not interesting to me and has a soapy quality that I find distracting throughout the tasting. Although this beer was the most popular in the class I am disappointed with the brew, but I still love the glass.
She says- I’m learning not to pre-judge a beer by its color. This beer was light in color, but strong on flavor. I was able to pick up a note of vanilla and banana. I also got tartness similar to a cold crisp Granny Smith apple. The carbonation almost reminded me of champagne and I felt my tongue coated in bubbles. This beer also struck me as a good summer beer; light and refreshing but still full of flavor.
Bitch Creek – (on draft at Cicero’s)
A growler is defined as a vessel for carrying beer, originally a metal pail with a lid. Today growlers come in the form of a 64 ounce glass jug. Why am I educating you about growlers? Because the modern day growler was created by Grand Teton Brewing Company and tonight we are sampling their Bitch Creek ESB, that’s Extra Special Brown in case you were wondering.
He says- This is one of my favorite beers and I was excited to see that so many students had the opportunity to try it for the first time. Such a different flavor profile…light chocolate and fresh hops on the nose. Excellent balance with a chewy mouthfeel. I normally shy away from brown ales, but the big hops really balance out the beer and keep me coming back to find more layers with each sip. I can almost taste the fresh mountain water too.
She says- I’m already familiar with this beer and currently have some in my fridge. It was described as being an ESB – Extra Special Brown hoppy ale. I would agree as it’s a brown ale with really nice caramel and toasty flavors. It has enough hops to make me happy without blowing your palette. I liked this beer and would consider it a session beer.
Founders Breakfast Stout- (on draft at Cicero’s)
What do you taste? All together now…Coffee!!! Brewed with Sumatra and Kona coffee along with oats, flaked chocolate and Cascade hops this beer transcends the normal definition of beer and moves closer to a cup of java. Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan is know for brewing bold beer with tons of flavor and at 8.3% AVB and 60 IBUs Breakfast Stout is a big beer with a lot of personality.
He says- Smells like coffee and if I was blindfolded I might think it is a mug full of cold coffee. Instead of a bitter hop flavor you get the bitterness from the coffee. I’m sure there are big hops in this beer, but they are so well masked by the malts and coffee that I don’t taste any hops. Chocolate notes make this a good after dinner beer too. Great beer and a wonderful experience so get your coffee loving friends to try this one as an introduction to what brewers can do with beer.
She says- This is another one I’m already familiar with. The scent of roasted coffee and chocolate hit you right away. It gave me that same “warm-fuzz feeling” I get when I walk into a Starbucks and smell that intense coffee aroma. This is a beer with some substance and it feels thick and creamy when it hits your tongue. Since it’s so strong on flavor I would probably consider it as a dessert beer. I’d like to try pairing it with a really well made crème Brule, or Bissinger’s dark chocolate molasses puffs.
The Last Sip
A big thank you goes out to Jim McGinn from Missouri Beverage. He did an excellent job of introducing a diverse group of beers tonight. I left Cicero’s this evening thinking about the amazing flavor range of beer and the idea that there truly is a beer for every taste. If you haven’t found that perfect beer for you, keep looking because it is out there for you to discover. Class dismissed.
Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about a year now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for five years and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, just realized beer actually has flavor about a year ago. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!