If there’s one thing that I respect about beer, it’s that it always stands by you, through thick and through thin. Your dog could die, you could get arrested for DUI, your girlfriend could leave you for the guy who hit your dog and told you that you looked sober enough to drive home that night (bullshit!), but when you open that fridge, you can bet your sweet ass that beer will be there waiting, like a weathered old war buddy, cold and delicious, and ready to ease the pain inflicted upon you by this cold, cruel world.

I had a far less dramatic experience involving the soothing nature of beer recently, when I was graciously invited by Brooklyn Brewery to attend the exclusive release party for not one, but two beers: The 22oz bottle fermented version of the Sorachi Ace Saison, and their new summer Brewmaster’s Reserve, the Buzz Bomb. How a partially unemployed, relatively-unknown beer lover got so lucky to score two seats to a DOUBLE Brooklyn party, I’ll never know.

Yes I was first in line. You know, in case they ran out.

I’ve been a huge fan of the tap-only Brewmaster’s Reserve Series, starting with my first taste of the Blunderbuss Old Ale, through the Manhattan Project, Dark Matter, Cookie Jar Porter, and my favorite, The Blast! double IPA, so my expectations were high for this rather unusual brew. The Buzz Bomb is named for the ridiculous amount of local upstate honey used in the brewing process – over 25% of the initial fermentable sugar, which technically classifies this golden-orange beer a mead, and more specifically, a Braggot:

Golden Meady Goodness

Braggots, and meads in general, are rare to find at all but the most obscure beer bars in the country, so Tony and I considered this a treat, albeit one we’d have a hard time reviewing, as our knowledge of Braggots holds about as much water as Jordan Van Der Sloot’s alibi.

Since my palate isn’t as refined as your average beer connoisseur, I’ll try to keep the review short and sweet. The first thing that hit me right off the bat was the nose. Huge honey notes shimmied up my nostrils as soon as I put the glass to my lips. Whereas the Local 2, Brooklyn’s other brew made with honey, offers only faint traces of the sweet upstate nectar, the Buzz Bomb’s honey hit me like an A-Rod line drive hit off of a Roger Clemens steroid fastball. The taste, however, was surprisingly well balanced; I was expecting the sweet receptors on my taste buds to go crazy, but the beer was actually quite light, well, light as 8% beers go. The carbonation was higher than I expected, and I wonder if Garrett Oliver should have dialed it back a bit to make it slightly more accessible as a summer quencher. I usually have a hard time deciphering complex beers on my first try, and this beer was very complex to say the least, but I did manage to notice a nice floral tone on the back of my tongue before the extremely dry, cruelly crisp finish. Compared to other Brewmaster Reserves, I give it a B+. Very original, and quite an innovative use of local honey, but the carbonation and lack of a lasting finish left me wanting a something different for the next round.

Which is why I tried the Sorachi Ace next. I’ve had the Brewmaster’s version of the Ace on tap many times before, but I was intrigued to see what a little bottle refermenting would do to this lemony Saison. I gave the original Sorachi Ace an A – it was probably the main beer that got me into my latest Saison kick – and I’m happy to report that the bottle version is just as refreshing and complex as the original Ace. Tony commented that the smell of lemons was overwhelming, like smelling dish soap, but this was never a problem for me. In fact, I think its what makes this beer so unique and so dangerously drinkable (considering it weighs in at a robust 7.5% ABV). The only downside is the price – $12 – $18 per 22oz bottle, depending on where you go in the city (Whole Foods is the cheapest so far – $12/bottle). Of course, we were served free Sorachi Ace to our heart’s content, along with another equally delicious brew, the Intensified Coffee Stout, so we couldn’t complain.

Tony on the left, yours truly on the right

For anyone reading this and kicking themselves in the ass for not finagling their way into the Brooklyn party like Tony and I did – our favorite Bay Ridge bar, Ski Bar on 5th ave b/w 73rd and 74th St. is hosting a Brooklyn Brewery night this Thursday June 10th. Tony and I will be their around 9, and I hear the Brewery will be bringing some Blast!, Buzz Bomb, and Dark Matter, along with other surprises. I also heard a rumor of $2.50 Brooklyn pints, but don’t quote me on that. We’ll be there doing “research” for this blog, which means drinking pretty heavily until one of us either blacks out or they find out we started a tab with some other guy’s credit card.

–Mike

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