Even though this happened over a week ago, I have to share with you guys about the awesome beer tasting I went to with Brad and his parents on our last night in Currituck.
Get ready. This is definitely a post for beer nerds.
When we arrived, there was a small charcuterie and cheese plate at each place setting. I cannot remember the name of the creamy cheese in the little bowl, but it was to die for — very velvety and rich.
The beer tasting cost $20 a person, which is a little steep in my opinion for a beer tasting. However, the experience was WAY more informative than any other beer tasting I’ve ever attended (and I’ve been to a lot of them).
What I loved most about this tasting, was the format. The tasting was called Classics and Upstarts Beer Tasting, meaning that we tried both classic European beers from breweries that had been around for a really long time (like the 1800′s) and then a newer version of the same style of beer from an upstart brewery.
We started out with Oktoberfest Marzen (March) style beers.
Classic: Ayinger Oktoberfest Marzen – Brauerei Aying (Aying Brewery); Aying Germany (5.8%)
Upstart: Highland Clawhammer, Highland Brewing Company; Asheville, NC (5.0%)
I was pleased to see us starting out with an Oktoberfest beer because I adore seasonal beers. I preferred the Ayinger over the Highland Brewing Co. beer. The latter had a more slightly bitter aftertaste.
So, I bet you’re wondering why you’d call an Oktoberfest beer a Marzen (March). Back in the 1800′s the Earl of Bavaria outlawed beer brewing after March. Apparently the heat of the warmer months interfered with the brewing process so this was his attempt at quality control. To comply with the law and to have enough beer to last them through the summer, the Bavarians made high alcohol content beers (which acts as a preservative), so this style of beer became known as a Marzen. You could make it in March and it would last all summer without going bad.
The second style of beer we tried was English Pale Ales.
Classic: Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale – Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery; Tadcaster, England (5.0%)
Upstart: Scarecrow Ale – Wychwood Brewery Company; Oxfordshire, England
I also preferred the classic beer among these two. The Sam Smith was deeper, richer, and smokier while the Scarecrow was lighter and lacked depth. But I really digged the Scarecrow label (can you tell I’m looking forward to Halloween?). Apparently the brewery is located near a forest that is rich with folklore, so they play along with this and all the beers have spooky labels.
We learned that back in the day, breweries used to own their own pubs. Not just one or even two pubs but a lot of pubs all over town. I’m assuming that they only served their own beers in these pubs. Sam Smith still owns several pubs and they still deliver their kegs by horse drawn carriage to the pubs near the brewery. As our beer teacher said, “They’re very beholden to tradition.”
Next up was my least favorite style, Fruit Beer.
Classic: Oud Beersel Oude Kriek – Fruit Lambic, Brouwerij Oud Beersel; Beersel, Belgium
Upstart: Founders Cerise – Founders Brewing Company; Grand Rapids, MI
I did not like the classic, which was a lambic style beer. I’ve had lambic beer in the past, but none was so sour as this Belgian beer. Lambic is sour beer and its the particular yeast used in lambic which makes it sour. Not a fan.
Even though the upstart was much easier to tolerate than the lambic, I did not particularly like it either. I guess I’m just not into beers flavored with red fruit, which is strange because I love fruit forward wines.
The lambic was pretty but tasted ugly. It had an earthiness that reminded me of aged cheese — in a bad way.
Our last style of beer for the evening was Porter.
Classic: Fuller’s London Porter – English Porter, Fuller Smith & Turner PLC; Chiswick, England (5.4%)
Upstart: Forgotten Hollow Cinnamon Porter – American Porter, Roth Brewing Company; Raleigh, NC
I was happy to see another NC beer (besides Highland) included in the tasting and even more excited that it was a brewery I’ve never heard of. However, when it came down to it, I much preferred the English Porter over the American. The Roth porter smelled like cinnamon and if I had to guess, I would have guessed that it would be my favorite. This girl loves her some cinnamon! But, for me, the flavor was off-putting — a bit too sour for my taste. I’m not a huge fan of porters but didn’t find the Fuller’s porter to be too heavy. According to our beer guide, Fuller’s is a very reliable brand and what I think he meant by that is that they’re consistently good.
I learned that there are various stories of how porter style beers got their name, but the most widely accepted story is that they were named after porters, which were strong men that ported stuff around –basically, they carried thing to and from wherever, for a fee. So the story is that these porters would work all day and then go to the pubs after work. They ordered this style of beer, which later became known as a “porter”. And because there was a stigma about the kind of person who drinks porters being a rough and tumble burly man, this beer became known as a “working class” beer.
I have my own burly man.
Actually, I was testing out the lighting with my camera settings so I asked Brad if I could take a few shots of him for practice and these photos are the result.
Now, that’s much better.
Holy crap, my hair was long. “Was” being the operative word, because I had at least five inches cut off of it this week.
My in-laws are a hoot and a holler. And if you are familiar with that expression, then we should be best friends.
We had a great time hanging out with them. And after the beer tasting, Joy and I were ready to try some of the wines we didn’t sample when we sampled a few days prior. We also ordered food and I nibbled a bit off a cheese plate.
The atmosphere was fantastic. An instrumental blue grass band played all night. I wish I remembered the name of the band. They were great and soft enough to sit close and still have a conversation.
Trio has a great atmosphere and really unlike anything I’ve experienced in the northern Outer Banks area. I had a wonderful time there. I really enjoyed myself and I feel like I learned a lot about beer. If you find yourself in the area, it’s my #1 recommendation of things you should check out in the Kitty Hawk area, besides the beach, of course.