Mahoney’s Inaugural Lager Jam Review- May 19, 2012Thursday, June 7th, 2012 at 1:13 pm
This reveler found his first revelation in the newest release from micro-brew vanguard Samuel Adams. Digging deep into the ancient recipes of the Saxons, Samuel Adams sampled its Gose variety, the Verloren. This truly unique brew predates the Reinheitsgebot (Bavarian Beer Purity Law), which means it packs more punch (and ingredients) than the water, malt and hops allowed by law. Most notably, the coriander and salt combine to add an earthy, mineral creaminess the strict purity decree would never have allowed… and too bad because as much as the German’s like their wurst (sausage), I found no better beer to wash down the stuff.
On that heady note, what’s a room full of lip smacking beers without something salty and delicious to soak up suds and further whet the appetite for more? Featuring eleven different types of sausages spanning both sides of the Atlantic, this really was a celebration of the Best of the Wurst. My knockdown, standalone favorite was the Southwest Green Chili chicken sausage from Bilinksi’s out of New York. Being a Chicago-style guy through and through, I find it a little hard to admit a New Yawker can make a better sausage than our hometown favorites… but it was a Southwestern style blend, so who’s to say which region really wins? Among more traditional tubed meats, Chicago was definitely the WINdy City, with Rich’s Deli out the Ukrainian Village and Gene’s out of Lincoln Square holding the rest of the top five positions.
And now, much like my Lager Jam afternoon, I’m done with the sausage and getting back to the beer (a cycle I repeated over and over again as the day wore on). The most drinkable beer, and one I found myself “re-tasting” more than a few times, was the Point 6 Hop IPA, a good strong beer with a nicely balanced bitterness that isn’t too pedestrian for a hophead beer nut, or too inaccessible for the casual domestic drinker. Being one of the few brews served from a keg, as most of the field poured from bottles or lined cans, was in itself a pleasant discovery. For the backyard BBQ ‘er looking for something new to break out for family and friends, you can’t ask for more than a pony keg of this Point product… well until its empty anyway.
From the good people at Big Sky Brewing out of Montana came the third best IPA of the day with the Big Sky IPA, and the best brown ale with their heavy hitter, Moose Drool. As appetizing as the name suggests, well way MORE appetizing, this alternately sweet but well-hopped brown ale is absolutely delicious, and could pair well with meals from the grill to the garden; no wonder it’s the best-selling Montana beer on the market.
My final review shall be on the brew I most want in my home, well the brewers anyway… and only if I have the next day off. My favorite collection was by the happy hippies at Three Heads Brewing. With offerings at once fun and flaky enough for the far out, while still being very serious about the art of craft brewing, 3HB is what makes events like the Lagerjam a “not miss” on my calendar. At the last beer show I attended I had the pleasure of meeting and sampling from one of these stony-minded wunkerkind, so when I saw Lagerjam had the label I immediately began sniffing around for the head-in-charge. After determining there was no contact buzz to be had, I went for the next best thing, The Kind IPA, numero’ deuce in the IPA game and the hoppiest by far. 3HB is all about the unique and the real gems are their takes on some classic styles, as seen through the red eyes of some munchie-driven master brewers. The Bromigo Smoked Maple Amber Ale, Skunk Black IPA, and the Java Sutra Coffee Porter are all unique and delicious… although I’d think they were all brewed in the Great Woods of the Northwest instead of their Rochester, NY provenance. I guess I thought the Finger Lakes were known for their grapes, but I guess the trees are pretty damn good too.
All in all, the inaugural Lagerjam was full of great tastes, great people, and great tunes provided by Cadillac Dave’s Chicago Red Hots. If you love good beer, the best of the Wurst, and fuzzy summer Saturday afternoons, put next year’s Lager Jam on your calendar now.
Rory Mitchell Foster
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