Thursday, June 4, 2009

Warming Your Extremities with Calvados Barrel Oak-Aged [insert noun here].

There is a lot of anticipation in the air at Thirsty Pilgrim HQ these days. Even the hound dog can sense it. Not only is Around Brussels in 80 Beers about to become officially available, for real—mailing may start this weekend—but Mrs. Pilgrim is theoretically about a month away from delivering Thirsty Jr. to the world. For reasons related to that second fact I stayed home and missed out on the Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation. From all reports the event was another hit. I'll once again hope to partake next year.

So instead I stayed close to home and had a sort of mini-beer festival of my own. The hound had been noticing the slow accumulation of random "special" beers in the cellar. You know the sort. The ones where it usually doesn't feel right to open it on your own... You need some sort of occasion. Or at least a pretext. Or, in this case, a private festival.

Instead of tweak you with a vaguely pornographic list of bottles opened, I'll just tell you what I liked best: Alvinne Melchior Calvados Barrel Oak Aged. It's a funny name, I think, vaguely pornographic on its own and apparently missing some hyphens, or perhaps an extra noun at the end. It's a name that stretches its way around a label, trying to convince you of how special it is. I was skeptical, not usually being the extreme type and having tasted several "off" bottles of Alvinne beer in the past.

But in the end I was wowed.

Original flavor Melchior, if you get the chance to try it, is an amber-colored, zesty, bittersweet barley wine. It's a fine beer but not a world-beater. This one spent some time in casks once used for apple brandy, then spent some time in my cellar, then in my snifter—with an aroma like earthy mandarine-orange liqueur—then on my tongue—creamy roundness of tart, bitter and faintly sweet—and finally destined to warm my belly with its 11.5% or so strength.

And the world was beaten on Sunday. Whether you knew it or not.

Speaking of uber-complex barrel-aged Belgian ales made for sipping: Mad brewer Kris Herteleer reports that his 2008 batch of De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva is due for bottling this weekend. It will need a week of bottle fermentation before availability. Get it while you can. Original flavor Oerbier, vinous and bitter, is already one of the country's most unusual dark ales before it spends some time in Bordeaux casks. Something so insane shouldn't be so immediately likeable.

Oof, all this talk of extreme beer. Makes me thirsty for a Biolégère or something. Or maybe just some water.


  1. Is it just me or does Thirsty Jr. seem like the coolest name ever?

  2. It's not just you. Thirsty Jr. is universally cool. I will remind his mother of that while he breastfeeds.

  3. I am sure she will appreciate that!

    My daughter is "Half Pint"