The Sensory Panel tasted more guest beers this week, and two of them stood out to me as needing discussion here. One of them will provide a segue into the next article.
First up: Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Imperial IPA. I realize that I’ve already profiled a Lagunitas product, and I wouldn’t normally choose another so soon but, as I said, this one stood out. I had just purchased one for my personal use last week and after I realized what it tasted like I decided I had to put it in front of my panel. This beer is a perfect example of a “Two-Face” beer (a beer which is enjoyed at first… until you notice something that makes you want to pour it out) and also a good example of a popular flavor defect. When you first open, pour, and smell the beer it smells quite good, overflowing with fine hop flavors (citrus, floral, resinous hop flavor, dry-hop aroma, tomato plant, lingering bitterness). However, it doesn’t take long for Mr. Hyde to show his face: burnt rubber and, above all, mercaptan. It’s so intense that this beer can practically be used for a flavor standard for mercaptan. We’ll talk more about mercaptan in the future (can’t use up all my material all at once), but at the moment it’s enough to say that it smells like natural gas or propane. More accurately, it smells like the additive (ethanthiol) that they put in natural gas and propane to make it odorous, since they have no odor themselves. So is it a good beer? It was ok at first, but once I nailed down that mercaptan identification it was down the drain. Pity.
The second beer is from Unibroue (a Canadian brewery which focuses on Belgian beers). The beer was Fin du Monde (End of the World), and it’s described as a Belgian Triple. I’d had this beer a few times in the past and it’s been a pretty decent beer, despite the fact that I can only take so much of the clovey-phenolic flavors common in Belgian beers before I have to move on. This particular beer, however, wasn’t great, and the problem was the yeast. Apparently this beer had been abused a bit, since it had significant levels of the meaty, soy-like autolyzed flavors which are released from dead yeast cells. The label said that it was “Best before 2013”, to which I had a good laugh since the flavor had already been destroyed and it’s barely 2011. Personally, I don’t see how you can give any unfiltered beer a shelf-life of over 2 years since no matter how well you take care of it the yeast WILL die and throw autolyzed flavors. Now it did seem like these flavors did reduce a bit after it had been in the glass for a few minutes, allowing some of the more classic Belgian beer flavors come through, but it never really went away. Descriptive terms: hazy, soy, meaty, autolyzed, apple sauce, clove, alcoholic, rubbery, tangy, sweet. Another good beer, ruined by the distribution system.
Which brings me to my next topic… (which should be posted soon).