Friday, March 30, 2012

Liquor Stores and Microbrews

My initiation into the world of craft beer has been enhanced greatly by the growing distribution of Michigan-made beers to my local party/liquor stores. But when you haven’t previously partaken of a brew, buying a 6-pack taste-unseen can oftentimes be a crapshoot. That’s why I was immensely excited late last year when I read about the opening of 8 Degrees Plato in Ferndale. This place is amazing, offering a selection of imported and domestic craft brews that really is unparalleled. I mean, there are a ton of cool specialty liquor and party stores in the area where I live (Troy), like Manny’s, Red Wagon, Off the Wagon, and Zetouna’s, but 8 Degrees Plato has them all beat. They offer you the option to “build your own 6-pack”, taking a lot of the error out of the process of trial and error with discovering new beers. There are other places that are beginning to offer this as well, but for me, 8 Degrees was the first, and I try to find reasons to go to Ferndale just so I can stop in and make another 6-pack of my own desires. Owners Tim and Brigid are always there, ready to help and quite knowledgeable about the hundreds of different beers, wines, meads, and charcuterie they stock. If you haven’t checked this place out yet, you absolutely have to!

One of the beers I picked up during my last visit to 8 Degrees Plato was a 2010 vintage Cereal Killer Barley Wine Ale from Arcadia Brewing Company. Barley wines, I’ve learned, are called “wine” because of the high alcohol content like a wine, but are still beers since they’re made with grain. (NOTE: This definition is brought to you by a guy who used to think Busch Light was as good as it gets and had never heard of a barley wine until a few months ago.) Jacquie and I were fixin’ up a kick butt stir fry last night, so I thought it was a good time to indulge. While I sipped mine, Jacquie had herself a Peach Lambic also purchased at 8 Degrees.

I’ve enjoyed the barley wines I’ve sampled recently and was looking forward to cracking this sucker open. So crack I did, pouring it into a Short’s pint glass (I’m sure they’d understand, though some purists reading this will probably excoriate me for not using a tulip glass). Cereal Killer goes 10% ABV and 70 IBUs, and had a red-orange-golden color, with nary a hint of a head and very little carbonation. It had some fruity tones on the nose (cherries? cranberries?), along with the familiar sour notes of a barley wine. Light, sparkly mouthfeel, and a smooth, partially bitter finish. Hints of citrus and chocolate were present as well. An excellent beer, though the high alcohol content relegates it to more of a sipper. 6.5/10 on the Phruity scale.

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