Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chilling with Some Grand Old Friends
Everyone has those breweries that seem never to miss the mark, that always hit the right spot on your palate - but that, for some reason, just don't crop up in your drinking rotation as often as they should.

For me, no brewery fits that description more than Grand Teton Brewing of Idaho, which I've long considered one of the quiet gems in America. And so, last night I decided to catch up with that old friend, trying the latest beer in its cellar reserve series as well as a slightly older member of that series that I had let age for a little while.

The new kid on the block is Splash Down Belgian-Style Golden Ale, a 7.5% ABV classic recipe made with European Noble hops and Belgian Abbey yeast. Pouring a deep golden color, it has a surprisingly dry finish.

This seasonal, which launched in mid-May, has just a hint - maybe more of a whiff - of sweetness, but what strikes you about it is the readily apparent alcohol you get on the backtaste. It's a solid offering but one of the more unspectacular members of the reserve series, and it can best be called a big summer beer more appropriate for nighttime porch drinking than daytime patio drink-while-you-sweat gatherings.

Rummaging around in the beer fridge, I also found a 2013 Double Vision Doppelbock, a reintroduction of a previously successful 2009 release that I noted then for its huge caramel profile. Well, give it a year after its release to rest, and that profile changes.

Both sweet and dark, with a touch of molasses settling on the back of your tongue, the aged version presents a roasted, slightly chocolate character as its warms. It becomes a very, very tasty gem, one whose flavor profile is made all the more appealing by the fact that it comes with a medium body rather than a heavier body that could have made this overwhelming.

Ah, good old friends of the beer world. We should all make time to call on them more often.


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