So there it was… a Captain Lawrence Smoke from the Oak Gift Pack just sitting in the corner of my apartment. It wascooingly calling to me while I type away on my laptop… tugging at my tastebuds. Thus far, I have been a fan of all the Captain Lawrence limited releases… Golden Delicious, Rosso e Marone, Cuvee de Castleton… so I could not wait to rip into these 75 ounces of smokey goodness. But then I got to thinking… 75 ounces of 10% ABV beer… that’s like drinking half a case of Brooklyn Lager which is a bit much – even for me – on a weeknight. And on an empty stomach? That’s madness.
There was only one solution… call up a bunch of foodies and beer geeks (aka my friends over at Serious Eats), order up a giant pot of Barbeque goodness, and dive in to the smokiest culinary Royal Rumble yet on IDrunkThat… Captain Lawrence Smoke From the Oak vs. Hill Country Barbeque.
“Rum barrels are a new one for me. I’ve never tasted a beer that was aged in rum barrels before I tasted the same beer you have in your hands. And let me tell you, it was no easy task tracking down freshly emptied rum barrels and getting them up to the brewery. But I think you will agree it was worth the extra effort. To create this beer we took our Smoked Porter and let it slowly age in barrels that once held 12 year old Virgin Island rum. Straight from the Captain’s cellar to yours, we hope you enjoy.”
The evening was a Barbeque lover’s dream. The three bottles of Captain Lawrence imperial smoked porter (awesome on its own) was aged in three different types of oak barrels – rum, red wine and apple brandy. Each beer aged nicely in the barrels and took on its own characteristics. The wine-barrel aged porter developed a nice, tart finish and classic oak character. This was our favorite for food pairing. The Rum aged bottle was complex and dusty. It reminded me a bit of the complexity and earthiness of a good scotch ale. This was my favorite overall for its layers of flavor. Finally, the apple brandy aged bottle was the most balanced with the flavors of smoke, brandy, and oak perfectly intermingled. These were still a bit young and they would be amazing with six more months in the bottle. If you want to get into the finer points, check out Maggie Hoffman’s analysis of the evening over on Serious Eats.
Then there was the meat and, oh, what a pile of meat it was. Beef ribs, pork ribs, lean brisket, moist brisket, and even a Barbecued half chicken. Usually I’m one to go straight for the ribs but this brisket was amazing… moist, smokey, and even a bit peppery. The chicken was also surprisingly moist and flavorful but did not beat out my favorite chicken in the city over at Dinosaur BBQ. Still, in all, the folks over at Hill Country sure can cook up a mean pile of grub. I suggest you check out Hill Country All You Can Eat Mondays to understand the full scope of their smokey mastery.
Overall, this was an awesome way to enjoy the three amazing beers from Captain Lawrence. Through the combination, the overall smokiness of both the meat and the beer was mellowed to elevate the more subtle notes in the beer and meat. If you have these beers sitting around in your house, I suggest cellering them for a few more months to let the flavors combine. After that, grab a few friends, some of your favorite barbecue, and enjoy!
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