At New York’s Blind Tiger bar one late afternoon last March, a slight, unsmiling young man in a dark windbreaker ordered several pints of beer from the bar, transferred them one by one to a canteen, then slipped away. “He’s going straight home to resell that on eBay,” muttered a patron standing nearby. The perishable beer in question was brewed by Shaun Hill at Hill Farmstead brewery in Vermont, which is currently rated the sixth best brewery in the world by the users of RateBeer.Of course, now I want to try a beer from Hill Farmstead! If you can get past the disturbing thought of who would actually buy three pints of beer some stranger bought at a bar, the article, written by Christian DeBenedetti, morphs into some excellent fodder for beer geeks:
Most of the 100-point beers on both RateBeer and BeerAdvocate are reminiscent of the wines favored by revolutionary critic Robert Parker: intense and dark; higher in alcohol, tannins, and oak; and sometimes almost excruciatingly rich. Kirk Kelewae, service director of New York’s celebrated Eleven Madison Park, divides aged beers into two categories: barrel-aged and bottle-aged. Barrel-aged beers are matured in wooden casks, a process which imparts the flavor of the wood, adding notes ranging from vanilla to a chardonnay-like butteriness to the bracing acids of wild yeasts that flourish in wood. Most bottle-aged brews skip the oak aging, but are packaged with live yeast. “As the bottle continues to age, the yeast will go through a process called autolysis, the breakdown of yeast cells, which produces nutty and meaty flavors,” Kelewae says.