Friday night was very cool. The rain which has put a damper on the weekend festivities (no golf or Red Sox today) didn’t drown out the fun at the Beer Advocate’s Night of Funk. I think Steve had as good of a time as I did. I think overall the funky beers this year were less funky than last year. The New Belgian Brewing Love was one of the few with that was perfumed with wet dog and barnyard aromas. Very distinct and yet excellent. My favorite was definitely the Cuvee des Fleurs. It was everything I had hoped. Floral notes, excellent malt backbone. I guess it was just different from most of the others which made it really stand out.
The only beers that were a complete disappointment where from Boston Beer. Jim Koch has always been known as a innovator who has pushed some of the extremes of brewing (triple bock, Utopias, etc). But the beers that he brought to the NotF were lacking in everything that makes these beers great. Charon’s Kriek lacked depth and body. Steve and I both thought it tasted like watery cherry Kool-aid. You know like when the ice melts in your drink and the sweetness of the Koolaid turns to sour cherry water. Yep, that was BBC beer #1. I figure based on the name that beer #2 would bring the funk. Again, I was wrong. Kosmic Mother Funk, a bretty brown, lacked any real character including Brettanomyces. I think both of these beers are really indicative of the skill and talent of many of the great Belgian brewers.
We also sat in on the panel of speakers. It was an interesting group and some interesting discussion One item that was discussed had to do with styles and categories for the beers. Peter Bouckaert (New Belgium) was vocal about his crusade against beer styles. Of course, I see his point that style guidelines can limit creativity which is one of the most important attributes in a brewer. I also think that people can get so stuck on styles that they lose sight of the fact that they are drinking a really good beer. However, I do disagree with Peter that styles have no place in brewing. As a consumer, I like to have an idea what I am purchasing. I can’t imagine walking into a restaurant and ordering “a sandwich” and I just have to trust that they will make the type of sandwich I like. I don’t buy “Red Wine” without knowing something about it (appellation or region, grape varietal). I think its important to give your customers an idea of what they are getting for their money. That’s all I really use styles for. I have a decent idea of what I am getting if I buy an IPA, a Czech Pils, or a porter. There are still 1000’s of interpretations of any of those styles. Some of those I like and others I do not. I guess I don’t really need to know the style if you tell me about the beer, about the experience, but you have to tell me something (if you want my money).
After the event, Steve and I went to dinner next door at Sibling Rivalry. Steaks, Duck, sweetbreads, garlic flans, etc. It was the perfect end to a great evening of beer.