By Patruus Inebrius
A guys’ beer and burger night is always fun, but this one was made extra special by the home brews and hospitality provided by a group I met via Greenville’s Brewmasters Club. This was a group that is really into beer, home brewing, and sampling all manner of liquid bread that they can either purchase or invent.
Did I mention they were REALLY into beer? Because they were.
The plan for this evening was hatched by Eddie Coggins at the latest Brewmasters. An avid home brewer with a talent for design, he showed off his logo for his Detour Brewing Company, as well as a couple of sharp labels for some of his signature brews.
So come Friday evening, nine of us gathered at Eddie’s house for an evening of casual and formal tastings, as well as some very tasty burgers, brats and other eats. Everyone brought things to drink, and drink was the main topic for the evening. Some brought their own home brewing successes, while others like me brought craft brews hopefully unique enough that they’d be new to someone in the group. For my part, I brought Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale and Terrapin’s Liquid Bliss Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter.
Other store-bought brews ready for swigging included Natty Green’s Southern Dry-Hopped Pale Ale, Founder’s KBS Stout, Oscar Blues G’Night and a few others.
But, of course, the stars of the evening were the home brewed creations.
I have to admit that I wasn’t able to sample everything, but I got to sample quite a few, including a couple of nice looking oversized “growlers” (repurposed jugs) of home brewed beer from Jared G. who has a quite elaborate garage setup with several taps. I saw that when we picked him up on our way to Eddie’s. He brought a Saison/Wheat Cross. He created the cross since he didn’t have quite a full set of ingredients for either a saison or wheat beer, hence the hybrid. Nice dark amber color, fruity notes, and a dry finish. It’s a heavily malted beer with some nice, complex flavors. Jared said he keeps making it since his wife likes it. Always a good reason to keep brewing a particular recipe.
After a healthy round of burgers and brats, we continued tasting the wide variety available.
Next up, we gave Eddie’s Pug Vanilla Porter a try. He has a pet pug, which he’s used for his neat label design. Served at room temperature, it was a very nice, very smooth dark beer. Much better than I was expecting for a home brew, Pug Vanilla was the result of significant time spent tweaking the recipe for this particular beer. It had a good balance of hops, toffee, sweet, and buttery flavors. An excellent beer that I would look for if it were in a store.
Eddie is quite serious about his beer brewing, having collected some elaborate equipment to aid in his quest to perfect his recipes. I didn’t venture down to his basement during the visit, but he was kind enough to send some photos of his gravity-fed all-grain setup. He said he’s deciding on which system to build next and is considering an all electric HERMS system. Given that I write a drinking blog, I’ve been too embarrassed to ask what that stands for. I expect he’ll tell me after reading this.
On to more tastings!
Eddie also shared some store-bought brews he took care to age in his basement. The most striking was a few bottles of Founder’s KBS flavored stout. This is a beer starts out as some of Founder’s very tasty Breakfast Stout and ends up as something that people reportedly camp out to get. KBS is a chocolate and caramel stout that’s aged in bourbon barrels and achieves an impressive 11.2% ABV. It has strong lingering flavors, with a bourbon nose and minty finish.
So we were particularly honored to share this unique twist on this treat.
Turns out, Eddie brought two “vintages” of KBS. The first was a fairly new batch, which we compared to a similar batch that had been aging on his shelf for a year or two. And there was a very distinctive difference between the two. While the younger batch was good, the older batch had a much more distinctive bourbon nose and rich flavor. It was definitely the preferred version of the two. So aging for a year or two on the shelf does indeed improve the taste, assuming you can resist downing it at a younger vintage.
Our next vintage bottles were Green Man’s Demon Dweller barrel-aged imperial stout. Served from large bottles that cost $20 and had been aging for a bit in the basement, we each took a sniff.
And looks of puzzlement began. Expecting hoppy goodness wafting in our nostrils, we were instead greeted with something . . . off. But in a group like this, who’s going to wimp out on tasting something the host has taken great pains to serve? So each of us took an exploratory swig.
Pickles. That’s what I tasted. Burnt pickles. Alas, this heralded ale had soured with age much to our lamentation. Admittedly, several of us tried to drink a bit more and power through, but ultimately we all expressed our regret and rinsed out the glasses.
The low point of the evening passed, and on to other bottles. To cleanse our palettes, we gave the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale a try. At only 8% ABV, it lacked the kick of the KBS, but turned out to be a very light nose, light flavor and light finish beer. Not particularly complex for a barrel-aged beer, but still quite enjoyable.
At this point, it’s obvious most of us have been enjoying the fermeted hops for a bit. One of us, we’ll call him “Dan,” proceeds to exchange texts with his wife and some kind of “sexy way out” banter. This was of course immediately pounced upon by this group of 30-50 somethings like schoolyard-kissing rumors are by 14 year olds. A succession of increasingly Dad-humor level jokes and puns later, we tried a couple more beers.
We gave Eddie’s Asphalt Imperial Stout a try. Oddly, my notes at this stage of the evening appear to be a bit more . . . concise . . . than from earlier. No idea why. But suffice to say that I enjoyed it. The beer had a nice rich color, even in the head and was definitely more of a stout. A nice balanced, hoppy, toffee noted beer.
About the last thing I drank, calling it “dessert,” was the Terrapin Beer Co.’s Liquid Bliss Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. My only note on that is “it’s like drinking a Reese’s.”
So thank you Mr. Eddie Coggins for a very successful and enjoyable beer night with the guys. I want to add that when Eddie does launch his Detour Brewing Company, I would definitely recommend giving his Pug Vanilla Porter and Asphalt Imperial Stouts a try! And I’ve heard his Dead End IPA is pretty tasty too.
And for a future story: Jared G. said he’s planning to put a distillery in his garage. This should be fun!