March 18th, 2010

Kevin turned us on to this beer emporium. Twenty taps, domestic craft brews. What could be better? Well, it was extraordinarily LOUD!!! Maybe that's because it was pretty crowded. And even though the outside doors were open on this proto-spring night, it was too warm inside.

Then again, one man's pretty crowded is another man's hoppin' joint. It certainly was lively! And, atypically for the kind of bars DNO normally haunts, there was a pretty even ratio of women to men. Every so often, the bartender would clang the bejeezuz out of the ship's bell to announce the tapping of another kegger (to raucous cheers). Then she'd climb up the tote board to update the brewery, name and Alcohol-by-Volume (ABV) index. The fact that they go to such trouble to list it shows what kind of beer geeks they are at The Pony.

While you're here, you should request a beer card, which has 100 slots for the beer, date and your rating. Rate 100 beers and you get a shirt. Let's see... I rated four, so I guess that's only 24 visits to go! (And if I hadn't just gorged on amazing BBQ, I might have packed in a few more...)

"P" arrived just as the first round arrived. (Coincidence?) I started with an Ommegang Witte, a nice Belgian-style wheat beer made upstate in Cooperstown. It was good, but nothing to knock your socks off. Next, was the Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout, which came in an eight-ounce pony due to the 10.6% ABV. This beer was intensely flavored with strong coffee and dark chocolate notes. While I normally go for that in a beer, this seemed a bit over the top. Indeed, David's Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter was similar, but far better balanced.

The highlight for me, was the Smuttynose Star Island Single, a malty pale ale with a sweet and fruity finish. A close second was Otter Creek's Quercus Vitis Humulus. This cask-drawn beer clocks in at a whopping 12% ABV and was served in pint glass, much to my surprise. (Maybe because it's served warmer, people don't drink it as fast?) As it turns out, "quercus" is Latin for oak tree, "vitus" for vines, and "humulus" for hops. According to the brewery, it's fermented twice:

"QVH... begins with a bold 27 degree plato barley-wine, warm-fermented with Bohemian lager yeast, then blended with Sauvignon Blanc grape juice and fermented a second time with a pure culture of Champagne yeast. When this intricate brew was complete, our brewers aged it on lightly toasted French Oak. The six week journey through our brewery results in a deeply complex ale..."

I'll say! Complex and tasty—and strong!

Somewhere about this point in the evening Kevin showed up. He was kinda surprised to see us, thinking that DNO was the following week. (Obviously, Kevin wanted to get a head start on his beer card...) Anyway, he shared a fascinating story about a little medical issue he was having (everything came out okay, in case you were wondering). Good Times!

Growlers hang from the ceiling + a seriously organized toteboard = Beer Gourmand Heaven

Kev and "P" comparing tasting notes

David and Dan get in on the discussion

"P" & Steve get in on the TASTING!

Steve waxes poetic about his first taste of Smuttynose Star Island Single: