Saturday, May 01, 2010

Cask Festival At The Brazen Head - Day One

I woke up at the crack of noon yesterday and rushed over to The Brazen Head to make sure I wouldn't miss out on any of the rarer cask ales.  Unfortunately Alex, the guy running it, was also running a bit late, caught up in traffic on the BQE.  The beers were all here and ready to be poured, but my mentor was missing.

Checking Out The Stock

But without any guidance it was hard to decide just what I wanted to try.

Confusion Reigns

Luckily, Alex did show up and brought his tasting notes with him.

Now I Can Decide

The Brazen Head is going to have twelve different beers on each of the three days of the festival so it didn't take me long to plot my day's strategy.

Ready To Roll

Meanwhile Alex was tending to some last minute adjustments.

Almost Ready

The beers ranged in potency from a relatively mild Michigan Celis White at an ABV of 3.9% to a deadly Lowell Beer Works Belgian Quadruple that came in at an ABV of 12%.  You were limited to a half pint at a time to that last one along with the Clipper City Holy Sheet at an ABV of 9% and the BruRm The Nazz at an ABV of 10%.  I didn't have The Nazz, but probably should have.  It was a one-time brew to celebrate the 40th anniversary and reunion of Mott the Hoople.

Trivia time, "You ain't the Nazz" is a line from Mott the Hopple's song Hymn For The Dudes.  The Nazz was the debut album of the rock group Nazz and Todd Rundgren was the lead singer...

Wow, synchronicity at work.  Literally as I was typing the above lines the song All The Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople came on the radio, 104.3 FM at 9:30 AM.  Spooky.

Even more spooky is that the full line from Hymn for the Dudes is "You ain't the Nazz, you're just a buzz, some kind of temporary." and, supposedly, was a swipe at David Bowie who wrote All The Young Dudes.  I am not sure why Mott the Hoople became disenfranchised with Bowie. 

Nazz took their name from the song "The Nazz are Blue" by The Yardbirds from their album Roger the Engineer. That song, in turn, took its title from Lord Buckley's comic monologue, "The Nazz," which is a re-telling of the tale of Jesus of Nazareth.  It is often erroneously said that the band took its name from a line in the David Bowie song "Ziggy Stardust" which goes: "He was the Nazz, with god-given ass" but that song appeared in 1972, and the first Nazz album appeared in 1968.

The official name of Roger the Engineer is Yardbirds and is the only album by them that contains all original material.  The unofficial name Roger the Engineer came about because the album cover features a drawing of their audio engineer Roger Cameron that was done by Chris Dreja, a member of the Yardbirds.

Whew, now that was a weird line of thought triggered by All The Young Dudes coming on the air.  The Mysterious Chinese Woman always says those mushrooms she puts in the soup can do things like this.

Okay, back to the beer.

I was only planning on just having a few yesterday and, in fact, if I hadn't run into Alex the other day I wasn't planning on coming at all until today.  Seeing as how it was just a bit past noon I decided to start off slow and began with the Heartland Mr. Atlas Imperial Pale Ale at an ABV of 7.7% (okay, not that slow) and the Harviestoun Haggis Hunter, another mild one at an ABV of 4.3%.

The Mr. Atlas was a pretty hoppy IPA with a bit of a citrus bite to it.  Primarily hoppy, though.

Bar Man Getting Hopped Up Early

By the way, Allen, you will notice that I am not afraid to wear my Cha Cha's cap in public (Allen carries his in a brown paper bag). I even got complimented on it.

Although the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I shared our beers, she preferred the Haggis Hunter which was a seasonal ale from Scotland.  Not hoppy and with a grassy grapefruit subtlety to it.  So subtle that I probably wouldn't have noticed it if it weren't for the tasting notes.  I just thought it was very good, unlike real haggis.  No offense, but I don't like chopped up lungs in my oatmeal.  Call me funny that way.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman And Her Haggis

For our next round we kind of hit the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of alcohol content.  I got the Celis White and the Belgian Quadruple.

Guess Which One Is Which

The Celis White was really delicious in an interesting way.  The tasting notes said it is a spicy, citrusy beer created by Pierre Celis while he was in Texas and is now brewed by Michigan after Pierre moved to Belgium.  My personal tasting notes said that it tasted like a combination of freshly baked bread and lemon.  You could probably sell it at a church social and call it a lemon bar.  Get it, beer, bar, tastes like bread and lemons, lemon bars are a staple at church socials.

The Belgian Quadruple made no bones about its high alcohol content.  The nose and first taste were overwhelmingly alcohol.  However the aftertaste was malty and kind of a nutty molasses flavor.

Those four were enough for my first visit and even though we only got the half-pints I was feeling a bit of a buzz by the time I walked out.  Not too surprising when you consider that the Belgian Quadruple was like drinking a half-pint of wine.  Of course I remember the days when chugging a bottle of Thunderbird was considered kind of cool.

In fact I was so buzzed I almost didn't have a beer at Pete's Waterfront Ale House where we went for lunch.  Almost is the operative word.  I did have that hard-to-spell Weiss that the Mysterious Chinese Woman had the other night with my soft-shell crab sandwich, which was absolutely delicious.  The Mysterious Chinese Woman had the same thing along with a bowl of French onion soup, a favorite of hers.  She also had a bowl of it the other night with the ribs (that I just finished up for breakfast this morning).

I plan on heading back to The Brazen Head today after my brother-in-law Jim shows up.  Or, maybe, a bit before if he is late.  The Mysterious Chinese Woman is meeting friends at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden today for the Cherry Blossom Festival.  Due to an unusually warm spring all of the blossoms are long gone, though.  This should be a hot weekend as well.  It hit 78 yesterday and might hit 90 today with a high of 85 predicted for tomorrow.  Perfect for drinking beer.