Yeah, I know, hardly an imaginative headline.
Alewife, the new beer bar in western downtown (in fact, the only decent "beer bar" I can think of west of the Light Rail in downtown) started its much-hyped Stone Brewing Co. tasting
That's right, folks. 40 Stone beers on draft. A stunt being repeated at seven Eastern bars in as many days, but last night was the first of the series.
Now, a "Kobe beef hot dog" seems as much an oxymoron as an "Imperial Mild" or a light barleywine. The last of the turkey legs (which, as you can see, remind one of the Renaissance Festival or other more barbaric displays) disappeared before I got to claim one, so I had to try the oxymoron. It was indeed a meal unto itself, sort of like doing a Philly cheesesteak with prime rib, smoked Gouda, and seasoned oyster mushrooms on ciabatta loaf. (Hey, if I see that sandwich on a local menu, I'm claiming a free one for inspiring it.) I doubt they can make either the hot dog or the turkey leg a regular special, but I'll be back looking for them.
First to kick last night? According to Koch, The Imperial Russian Stout 10th-Anniversary GK's Madman Mix blend, a 10.5% monster. (There were stronger beers--five variations of Old Guardian Barleywine in the 11% range, and the Imperial Russian Stout 2008 Bourbon Barrel Aged at 11.9%) Second: the 14th Anniversary Imperial IPA (Double Dry) (8.9%).
Stone's beers need no introduction to most of you. All 30-some beers left will remain on through next Wednesday or Thursday, when Alewife will put 30 other beers back on the lines and rotate the remaining Stone beers, ten at a time, until they are depleted. However, servings revert back to standard pints or goblets at standard prices, not the sampler extravaganza of last night.
Would I recommend such an event to others? Well, there is a problem. With so many beers from the same brewery, and a great many of them higher-alcohol, palate fatigue sets in--quickly. I've seen (and experienced) similar situations at other "everything-the-brewery-has" pouring extravaganzas such as epic Victory, Allagash, and Lagunitas samplings at Max's Taphouse. After the sixth or eighth high-octane hop-bomb or complex mix, it doesn't matter how many palate cleansers you nibble or glasses of water you chug (and Alewife was being very generous with the water), it all blurs together on the tongue. Better to hit them several at a time over the course of a month or so than all during one weekend.
To answer another question, yes, Alewife is planning to install beer engines and routinely stock cask ale. Just wait until the craziness of the Stone mania and Baltimore Beer Week dissipates somewhat.