This strange tale begins with the Chicago Auto Show which my son and I recently attended. Since the trip from Morris to Chicago would take a little over an hour, I obtained a couple of podcasts to occupy our ears during the trip. One podcast in particular, Namely Craft Beer Radio had a particular influence on this week’s brew review.
During the trip back home, we listened to the podcast wherein the three hosts reviewed five different beers all from the Goose Island. All five of the beers were given high ratings, but one in particular stood out. As the guys sipped this one beer there were oohs and aahs all over the place. After much discussion they classified that beer as a “Wow” beer. All three guys said wow at least three or four times apiece while tasting the beer. That one beer was called Pere Jacques and it was only available for a short time in mid-January. This was one beer that I was definitely going to keep my eyes pealed for. I had to try this wow beer.
On Thursday, I beelined it to the highly acclaimed, world renowned Morris beer store to pick up a sixpack of beer for the Saturday night review. I had just barely turned the corner at the craft beer shelves when I spotted it. In the Goose Island section, just above the Sam Adams section was the Holy Grail. Pere Jacques.
Alas, the beer only came in 4-packs. I thought that four beers was an ample enough quantity to do a good review on. I grabbed one of the bottles to read the label. The neck label had the four stars, the official symbol of the city of Chicago, but with a goosehead silhouette in place of one of the stars. Clever. It also had the year 2007 emblazoned across the top. (Hmm. A year old??) Farther down, the label had a statement from the brewmaster and the declaration of 9% ABV. It identified itself as a Belgian Style Ale. On the back were printed three bits of information I found very interesting:
Best enjoyed in a broad mouth glass.
Bottled on 12/28/07.
Flavor will continue to develop over five years.
They must have done something special to this beer to make it do that. My curiosity was piqued at all three of those statements. Many questions entered my miniscule cranial cavity. Then I checked the price. $11.49! Crimenies, that’s expensive. Almost 3 bucks a bottle. I took a deep breath and laid down my cash at the counter. I hoped that I didn’t just do something foolish, but the podcast coupled with the label statements told me that I’d be in for a unique experience.
Saturday was a giant event from beginning to end. Today was the day that we bottle our own hombrew which had been fermenting in the hallway for three weeks and two sons will be attending to offer assistance. AND my sister and brother-in-law will be visiting from St. Louis.
Time flew by. The homebrew got bottled and family conversation filled the kitchen. Just as my tongue was beginning to get bored, I checked and saw that it was close enough to beer time to begin. What glass do I have that is broad at the mouth? The Miller High Life schooner seemed too tawdry and unworthy to contain this expensive concoction. I decided to pop the cherry on the Duvel tulip glass that my wife bought me during our last trip to Binny’s. I grabbed the first bottle and got comfy at the computer desk.
The beer filled the glass with a tinge of foamy head which went away rather quickly. Maybe it was my glass, dunno. The beer was a reddish orange and rather cloudy with just a tad of carbonation. The aroma was quite nice to nose, having a hint of sweetness and perhaps bourbon. I can hardly wait to taste it.
The first sip was a stunner. Nicely sweet with a taste almost like wine. This is quite delicious. A shred of tart at the back of the tongue really set it off. The beer was very mild, nicely robust with hints of caramel and perhaps coffee with no drying aftertaste. Absolutely delicious. Each sip holds the tongue hostage with another sip demanded as ransom. I gladly obliged. This beer is remarkable. It has a blend of flavors which are dark and sweet and brown. The resemblance to red wine is quite a surprise. I checked the label to make sure. There it was, right at the bottom, Belgian Style Ale. Not wine at all.
Further down the glass, an ever so slight hint of hops came forth, waved, and then disappeared. I can’t get over how full flavored this beer is. I have never tasted anything quite like it before. The taste of this beer will likely cause me to talk about it to whoever would listen. It’s the most unique tasting beer I have encountered to date. Outstanding!
This is a special beer for a very special celebration such as an anniversary, family reunion or wedding. It should have a 24 karat gold stamp on the label. It’s a top of the line beer.
A word of advice, though. Be careful with this beer. At 9% alcohol it will sneak up and clobber you in the back of the head. That’s probably why the beer only comes in 4-packs. There’s eight beers’ worth in four bottles. It’s a perfect package, just enough to mellow things out between you and your partner. That and the fact that it will get better with age over five years means that you can stash it away on reserve until that one special occasion occurs.
Taste: A > Nectar of the gods.
Smoothness: A+ > beer on ball bearings going down. Nice.
Drinkability: B+ > Of the four, drink three. Even that may be too much.
Bang for the buck: B- > Worth the price for an unforgettable taste.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Smells kinda fruity. (sip) Oh, my. What is that? (sip) Mmm. I can’t put a flavor. (sip) Mmmm. almost carmelly and almost fruity. (sip) It’s not bad at all. It’s got all these different things to it. It’s very good.
(Note: before I was able to publish this post, we had a power outage. No electricity until 6 a.m. Sunday morning.)