Rogue served their flagship beer, Dead Guy, flanked by a taste of the beer aged in whiskey barrels and a shot of the homemade whiskey itself. Dead Guy is one of our favorites, but new contexts change even old loves. Usually too strong for a three-pint night, this time Dead Guy tasted lively and bright compared to its richer, mellowed brother and to the whiskey that, despite smelling like apples and pears, finished like a squirt of Mrs. Butterworth’s.
Later, at a tasting held in a sort of corral in the back of a liquor store, Port Brewing‘s barrel-aged imperial stout Santa’s Little Helper could for once be considered light. The Jug Shop poured it between heavyweights like FiftyFifty Brewing‘s Eclipse (oily and rich when aged in Evan Williams bourbon barrels; high and sharp when aged in Heaven Hill rye barrels) and J.W. Lees‘s Calvados-barrel-aged Harvest Ale, which tasted musty and sweet, like candy dirt. After these, faced with Santa, some drinkers sipped skeptically: “Are you tasting the wood? I’m not really tasting the wood.”
Somehow, we scored the biggest tasting glasses in the corral. After an hour or two, we needed a palate cleanser. The liquor store was predictably stocked: Funyuns, Fritos, Ruffles. We opted for more beer. Hitachino’s beers tend to be bracing and acidic, and we thought that sounded good. Amsterdam Cafe was out of Hitachino’s spiced beer and out of their shochu-barrel-aged beer, but we had had enough wood at that point. We chose the “classic,” which was well-named, and a ginger beer. Earlier in the night, it would’ve been too intense, but by then it was just the thing to settle our stomachs before we decamped for Hog & Rocks, ham, and après-beer cocktails.