thursday janel got a last minute emailed newsletter on a city beer store & tasting bar event: "Properly aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels Allagash Curieux is a beer begging to be paired with rich dark chocolate. Awaken your curiosity with a marriage of chocolate and beer from 5:00-9:00pm," stated the email.
"this sounds fun... interested?" she asks.
anytime anyone has the idea of going to city beer store, i'm interested. located on the northern edge of soma (south of market), city beer store is a hidden gem for beer drinkers and beer nerds. the owner craig opened the shop under a year ago in a storefront of a "hip" loft complex. craig's idea came from wine tasting and wine bars which flooded every corner of this city like starbucks and locusts. his unique idea has created a beer cult. i don't visit city beer often but you'll see locals and familiar faces from previous visits. the shop has five fridges cooling selected beers while in the back corner have shelved individual bottles. you can either buy an bottle or a pack. the beers ranges from almost every country to every style of beer, depending what craig could get his hands on. in the center is a counter with small fridges where craig will chill your opened bottles along with four taps that rotates weekly. besides selling beer, there's a few beer glasses and books for sale.
[photo of the store by janel]
the event itself was a cool idea although i'm generally weary of anything pairing with chocolate. wine and chocolates? hell no. maybe vintage port. chocolate and bourbon? i don't know. wine and beer? what the?! chocolate usually works best on its own. luckily i was in good hands. janel was a former chocolate taster and has a stern palatte.
the first time i had a brew from allagash was around christmas. janel and ellie bought me a bottle of their curieux as a gift. allagash curieux is a tripel stored in bourbon casks for a few weeks. from the tap, the allagash tastes a bit different by being a little smoother. the color on first pour is a golden amber with a medium head. the scent was heavily fruity and citrus... with no hint of bourbon?! strange, where's the vanilla?! i recall from the bottled allagash that there was a subtle bourbon nose. did the kegged version lose it's bourbon-ness from storage? i don't know. however the fruits nose lead to a pear/apple taste which was crisp and malty without the bourbon flavors. has my tongue and nose adapted to the actual high proof bourbon? and hinting of bourbon doesn't really register with my senses?
so how did the curieux pair with the chocolates (80%? dark, cappuccino dark and milk)? not every well. craig said to concentrate on the bourbon vanilla of the beer when tasting. but the two just didn't work together. the dark was just ok. the cappuccino and the curieux was terrible. i recommend: never to leave any amount of cappuccino chocolate left on your tongue when taking a swig of beer. i flinched and scrunched my face... it's probably the same reaction i'll give when eating green bell peppers. the milk and curieux... er, nope. ok, so the pairing wasn't the greatest. however the chocolates were good. i can't remember the name of the dark chocolate one but it was janel's favorite when she was a chocolate taster. she has this expertise expression when she's smelling something. from her eyes, you can see she's registering and thinking about the scents given from the chocolates. whereas i'm like "WOHO! chocolates! me eat! me eat!"
the conclusion: i like allagash's curieux. it's a nice medium bodied beer that drinks well shared with company (like janel or a clone of her). and would definitely pair well with cheese. however the flavors of the beer and chocolates were battling each other like the armies of rohan and gondor duking it out with the hordes of orcs on the pelennor fields.