Dunno what I'm supposed to do with this month's Session topic. Our host, Kendall at The Washington Beer Blog, has chosen "Growlers Galore" as the topic. I trust I can leave the more puerile responses to some of my colleagues from this side of the Atlantic. I shall simply explain to those who may not be familiar that a growler is a large reusable bottle holding generally somewhere around two litres, used in North America and Australia to bring draught beer home from pubs and breweries.
It seems to me to be a function of low population density, poor public transport and lack of a proper pub culture. You don't want to stay in the bar for a few hours of drinking, and/or you have no choice but to drive to get beer, so you get your draught beer bottled on demand and in quantity.
Hey, each to their own. Who am I to judge? Let's just say it's not something I could see myself availing of, even if it were an option, and leave it at that. I like pubs.
So what to do about a beer for review in this growlerless land of ours. Best endeavours turns up an American beer, from a large bottle, next to a small wooden jaguar. Not growley enough by a long stretch I'm sure, but tough.
The beer is Great Divide Grand Cru and the 650ml bottle (a "bomber", rather than a "growler", fans of stupidly-macho bottle names may be pleased to learn) proclaims it to be a "Belgian Style Dark Ale" and says no more that that. It's 11% ABV so I was expecting big and meaty things from it.
Alas, it really doesn't have much going for it. There's an interesting, slightly woody aroma: that coffee-made-on-sour-milk you sometimes get from beers which have been visited by the bacteria that thrive in wood-grain. Oddly, it's not sour at all on tasting. I get a biscuity, Ovaltine-ish malt flavour and... nothing else. It's like chewing Special B or a similar Belgian malt straight from the bag. The bit where the Belgian yeasts roll in and do the fig-and-plum dance simply does not happen. There's maybe a vinous booziness somewhere under the biscuit, but not in any notable quantity.
It's soft, smooth and quite drinkable, though gets a bit sickly after a while. However the one-dimensional flavour is unforgivable.
All yap and no growl, I'm afraid.