03 February 2012

Grrr

Session logoDunno 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.

17 comments:

  1. I was tempted to go peurile then decided to abstain. In a kind of silent protest...or something. Besides, I've already said I'm not planning to post in february (bar the CABPOM on the 1st). Shame about that one, I've enjoyed all great divide beers thus far.

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  2. I've quietly skipped Sessions before when I've just had nothing to say on the topic. But this post wrote itself in my head without me doing anything so I figured I may as well commit it to the screen.

    Massively disappointed in the beer. I'm now much less inclined to take a punt on their 17th anniversary IPA that's also knocking around at the moment.

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  3. Are there any topics we could have that would leave American beer bloggers or even British ones at a loss? Football Special cocktails might be a bit too specialised even for Irish bloggers

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    1. yeah, I suggested something around favourite backstreet local and steve (at brookstein beer bulletein)suggested it wouldnt translate

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  4. We've growlers (of the glass vessel kind) in Germany. Small brewpubs use them and 1-litre swing-tops. I've a couple, but never bothered to bring them for a fill. It's easier to buy a full crate of beer for a few bob.

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  5. Typical culturally insensitive Yank

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  6. Dammit I at least "hinted" at the puerile but left the rest to the reader, aah well, my post was a week pretty tongue in cheek effort to say the least as with you guys it was a pretty closed topic for me. Reading a few of those up already in the US, it seems the growler's not as popular as it may seem.. Cheers Phil

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    1. We're a prudish lot, aren't we?

      Will no-one seize this golden opportunity to highlight the evils of minge drinking?

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  7. I have a bottle of this at home to try. So no rush to try it now eh?

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    1. Can't see it getting worse with age. Maybe it'll get better.

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  8. I was tempted to bring back a growler from the US recently. 25 Dollars a pop and suitcase limits put me.off

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  9. Growlers, in some U.S. states, are also a function of law. In New Jersey, brewpubs that wish to sell beer can only do so on premise, so the growlers are the only means of "distributing" their beer in a manner that has it consumed outside the bar.

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    1. If there was a proper pub culture no other distribution method outside of the bar would be deemed necessary.

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    2. Chris4:30 pm

      Well, quite. I would be the first to tell you that we don't have a great pub culture.

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  10. Growlers have started to pop up here in Copenhagen as well.

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    1. I think anywhere that the American craft beer approach is followed will start to see them. BrewDog seem to be making it part of what they do as well.

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    2. That's probably true and since the craft brew scene here in Denmark isn't particularly based around a pub culture, then we'll probably see more growlers here in Copenhagen. I do notice a fair amount of Swedish and Norwegian spoken in the beer bars here so I think that some beer tourists probably are here for a weekend and buying as much as they can get and growlers probably fall into that category too.

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