Rare Beer Club May 2012 Selections–O’Dell Pond Hopper & Brouwerij Van Viven Smoked Porter

27 April 2012

imageJust thought you’d want the very fist peek at the May 2012 selections for the Rare Beer Club.  For May, Kris is featuring O’Dell Pond Hopper DEPA & Brouwerij Van Viven Smoked Porter.  Details from the Rare Beer Club:

Odell Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO) in Collaboration with Thornbridge Brewery (Derbyshire, United Kingdom) — Pond Hopper Double Extra Pale Ale

Calling all hopheads: Do Not Miss This Beer. This month we have an old-world meets new-world brewing collaboration, but this time it’s the American brewery that’s the elder of the pair. The Odell Brewing Company of Colorado was founded back in 1989. Family-founded and owned, the owners Doug Odell, wife Wynne and sister Corkie have their good family name on every product, combining the finest and freshest English and domestic ingredients. The Thornbridge Brewery, in the heart of the United Kingdom, started brewing in early 2005. Creating many session-style cask beers, with more modern interpretations and brewing methods applied, they’ve already pulled in at least 130 brewing awards. Doug Odell and the Thornbridge crew first met up in 2009 when Doug popped into Thornbridge to say hello along with a selection of his beers, and the Thornbridge team fell in love. This led to talk of a collaboration, and has since yielded a very special, one-off reciprocal brew: this month’s massively hopped Pond Hopper.

Pond Hopper Double Extra Pale Ale pours a slightly hazy pale copper color, dressed with a massively frothy, thick off-white head. On the nose look for spicy hops, citrusy hops, tropical fruit hops, piney, resinous hops, and minty hops. Tons of hops, but not out of whack—there is balance provided by a heavy-handed backdrop of British malts. Flavorful and intense, initially there are pungent hop notes that blend with an intense alcohol sharpness, with notes of melon that emerge in the aftermath. Tasting this beer, “English” may not jump to mind—as it drinks like a monumentally epic Pacific Northwest Double IPA—but we admire the boldness in taking a British base for the malts. But don’t misunderstand—the massive hoppiness that we’re describing is largely limited to the aroma and flavor—the finish is only moderately bitter. So covet thine supply thusly, and share it only with the most loyal of subjects. This is a one-and-done collaboration, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Cheers!

Viven Smoked Porter

Brouwerij Van Viven (Sijsele, Belgium) — Viven Smoked Porter

Founder Willy De Lobel’s first two beers, a blonde originally called Chapel of Viven, and a rustic brown named Monastery of Viven, reflected the monastic traditions that helped shape the landscape of Abbey-based Flemish beer. However, Willy did not have a monastery, or even his own brewery, to brew his Viven beers. So, he brought them to scientist brewer Dirk Naudts of De Proefbrouwerij. At De Proef, Dirk and his staff continued to perfect the brewing process of Viven with their creator. In 2003, Willy decided to pass the torch to a young and ambitious entrepreneur Tony Traen. In 2009 Tony and Dirk were inspired to create more and unique Viven beers. The duo took Flemish brewing art and applied it to non-Flemish beer styles, within Flanders. With that slant in mind, the pair developed the recipes of Viven Ale, Viven Porter and Viven Imperial IPA.

Viven Smoked Porter has a deep dark color that allows almost no light to pass through and is draped with a fluffy, dark tan head that clings to the glass and very slowly melts away. The nose offers up notes of plums, anise, wood, smoke and roastiness, espresso, chocolate, black licorice and a bit of orange citrus. Look for a slight waft of tart stone fruits as well. The flavor profile begins with gentle, balancing sweetness, giving way to a much drier, roasty middle, then into a woody, lightly smoky, almost chalky character where notes of espresso and dark chocolate linger before fading out. The 7% ABV is fairly high for your standard porter, but on par for your typical Belgian brew—and it’s wonderfully well-integrated into the flavor profile, showing up less in the flavor and more in the belly as it offers some gentle warming. Enjoy—summer is upon us—so pick up enough of this fine brew to partner with those grilled foods, and to offset all those paler beers likely to dominate the season.

Rare Beer Club members will be receiving this brew in 750 ml bottles 4-6 weeks before it hits store shelves in limited numbers (about 60 cases for the whole U.S., in 11.2 oz bottles). Cheers!

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