Beer Wars, (Which I will post a review on later), but she took me to dinner at Haven Gastropub in Old town Orange.
I had heard alot about Haven, from both food and beer angles, and had been wanting to go there for awhile. The restaurant is a modern style english pub that pairs gourmet food with top-notch beers. This isn't your basic fish and chips or bangers and mash. I won't list the menu here, you can visit the site yourself in the link above to view the menu and see what beers they have on tap. Suffice it to say, my steak with Mexican chocolate and cayenne pepper demi-glace was cooked perfect and tasted delicious.
But enough about the food, I was of course really there for the beer. First selection of the night for me was a tulip of Saison Dupont by Brasserie Dupont, a farmhouse brewery in western Belgium. I haven't had alot of experience with the Saison style, so it is hard for me to compare to very much else. But I did really enjoy it. It was blond in color with a nice foamy head and a bit of haze. Smell was what you would expect a farmhouse to smell like- wet wood, bready, and yeasty. The other Saisons I have had have been a little spicy if that's the right word, but this was not quite so. Crisp and tart, but still smooth not overly sour which was good since this was my appetizer beer. All-in-all this is a style I could really get hooked on.
Next I tried the Mikkeller Centennial Single-Hop IPA. (That's me with the IPA to the left) Mikkeller has had a great idea to do a series of IPA's all brewed the same except in each one they use only a single type of hop so you can really taste the hop. I'm very surprised that I didn't much care for it! It's not that it was a bad beer by any means, in fact overall, this was a solid and well crafted IPA. I think the beauty of the single hop idea is that you can really tell which hop profiles you like and which you don't. I think for me, the Centennial may be a bit too pungent and bitter for my taste to have as the aroma and flavor in a beer. I actually use Centennial in my some of my own beers for bittering, but then choose something else for flavor and aroma profiles. In any event, I hope to get a chance someday to try some of their other single hop IPA's such as the Amarillo, Simcoe, Cascade, and Nugget. Actually not sure if any of those are still around anywhere.
Finishing off the night was Cuvée Des Jacobins Rouge by Brouwerij Bockor N.V. in Belgium. It is listed as a Flanders Red Ale. As you can see from the picture to the right, it's a dark red/mahogany color to it, with not a lot of head. Smell is a bit of cherry or berry, I'm not sure. At first taste I thought maybe I tasted fruity cherry or grape, maybe a little vinegar crept in, then BAM! the sour hit me! The more I drank and savored it, the more flavors and levels of sourness appeared. Don't know if that makes any sense. This was by far my favorite beer of the night and I hope to have it again sometime.
While I had grandiose plans to try the BrewDog Tokyo* and Cantillion 2007 Kriek, I had to call it a night as we still needed to go to my in-laws' for dessert and I wanted to still be able to stand. Tokyo* at 18.2% would have floored me for the night. (I'm still a lightweight after all these years). And I couldn't quite bring myself to fork over $55 for a 25oz bottle of Cantillion since I would just be drinking that myself. Would rather have that one to share with someone, and my wife wasn't up for that one right then.
So, it was a very Happy Birthday for me. I'm a lucky man.