Monday, August 27, 2007

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye, why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we've had
Much more to say, foolish to try
It's time for saying goodbye

Don't want to leave, but we both know
Sometimes its better to go
Somehow I know, we'll meet again
Not sure quite where and I don't know just when
Sorry, didn't mean to get all emotional on you. Sometimes the Muppets just get to a man. It's like this. We lived in the Capital Region of New York for well over two years before ever making an actual visit to Olde Saratoga Brewing Company. We'd tried a few of their bottled beers from local stores, and read about the place, but had somehow failed to visit. Last summer, on one of our first visits to their exquisitely wonderful and fantabulous tasting room, they happened to have a "re-release" of their Mendocino 2005-06 Winter Ale, an Imperial IPA, on draught.

To make a long and ( heartbreakingly beautiful) story short, it was love at first sip. This was a fantastic beer. Hoppy as hell -- it was loaded Cascade, Amarillo and Simcoe hops, whatever that meant -- but with a strong base of malt to balance the taste and hide most of the 9% abv. Anyway, the stuff was delish, and we picked up a couple of cases from the brewery for only $25 apiece about a year ago. We'd enjoy a bottle or two now and again with friends, and the supply slowly dwindled...

The 2006-07 Winter release was an Oatmeal Stout. It was solidly enjoyable, a really good beer to be fair, but we lamented the demise of our beloved Impy IPA as our stash shrunk into the low single digits. Tonight marked the cracking of the last bottle. To put it bluntly, it wasn't great. The hops had softened plenty in other bottles over the past months, but this one tasted a little like cardboard, as if it had begun to oxidize [Note to self: vegetable crisper is not ideal for cellaring beer]. It should have been a pretty depressing occasion, but there was no rending of clothing or gnashing of teeth. Why?

We learned on a recent trip to the tasting room that Mendocino/Olde Saratoga is graduating from mere winter and summer seasonals to producing a limited release beer for every season. The fall release is a smooth and malty Oktoberfest. Oh, it's nice enough, and plenty of reason to visit the tasting room in its' own right, but the big news is the (very likely - at least according to the regular bartender) return of the Imperial IPA as Mendocino 2007-08 Winter Ale! We've got quite a bit going on just about now, but this still ranks as some of the most exciting news since who flung the chunk.

Why don't you people seem excited? Just trust us on this one. It may not get all the buzz, but this is a seriously good Imperial India Pale Ale. It's undoubtedly best brewery fresh, but Mendocino seasonals will be produced in both the Saratoga Springs, NY and Ukiah, CA breweries, and should be available across most of the country. Give it a try. You'll be glad you did.

3 comments:

Bill said...

That '05-'06 Winter Ale remains one of the finest single pints of beer I have ever had. I don't know if it was the perfection of the night itself at the Saratoga, or just the amazing blast of hops, but that is one of the seminal beers of my young life.

Bojangles said...

A little from Column A, a little from Column B? Tell us more about those seminal beers and your young life...

Bill said...

One day, old friend. Perhaps one day.