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Friday, December 16, 2011

The Beer Bloggers Conference is an amazing event that brings beer bloggers together from across the nation and around the world.  I have had the good fortune to meet some amazing pioneers in the beer blogging world, and that includes the characters from Seacoast Beverage Lab and 2BeerGuys.  They have collaborated on the Beer Advent Calendar, which brings you 31 bloggers blogging all through December and helps true craft beer enthusiasts warm up those chilly December nights (and days) that lead up to the new year.  Check out the calendar and the sites listed below, but don't forget to read my personal review of Flying Fish's winter offering.  Cheers!

Seacoast Beverage Lab and 2beerguys present:

Beer Advent Calendar

advent calendar 300x296 Beer Advent Calendar
When @2beerguys and I went to Portland for the 2011 Beer Bloggers conference, we were amazed by the amount of camaraderie between all of the bloggers, east coast and west coast.
To give thanks and to give back all of the 2beerguys (Sean, Amber, Ryan, Jen and Ian) and I decided to host a collaborative Beer Advent Calendar. Each day you will read a review of a beer written by bloggers you may or may not know. Our goal was to have 31 different bloggers writing a review of a different beer, totaling 31 for the month.
The concept of the Advent Calendar is religious and only lasts 25 days, we understand that. But to have fun with the idea we are extending the calendar to the full 31 days and having no religious ties to it. Just think of it as a fun way to celebrate beer and beer bloggers during the holidays. Check back here every day for a new post from a different blogger. Cheers!

Flying Fish Grand Cru Logo
Beer Advent Calendar – Day 14: Flying Fish Grand Cru presented by FermentNation
To celebrate the Holiday Season, 2Beerguys.com and Seacoastbeveragelab.com have teamed up with beer bloggers around the country to host the first annual beer bloggers advent calendar. This is the season of sharing and we intend to share our love of beer with you. 31Bloggers Blogging – click herefor the running list of beers/bloggers.
FermentNation Logo
Commercial Description:
This Belgian-style strong golden ale showcases a variety of the ingredients and brewing methods that help differentiate Flying Fish beers. The Grand Cru is fermented at a higher temperature than our other beers adding an undercurrent of fruitiness and clove (although there is no fruit or spice in the beer). Very lightly filtered, the Grand Cru exhibits complex mouthfeel, strong malt flavors, a spicy hop presence and a soothing alcohol warmth, followed by a clean, dry finish. It is excellent with food as well as served by itself.
  • Style: Belgian-style Golden Ale
  • ABV: 7.2%
  • Malts:: Two-row pale, Cara-Pils, white wheat, Demerera sugar
  • Hops:: Magnum, Styrian Golding
  • Yeast:: Belgian Abbey Style
  • Formats:: 12 oz. bottles,1/2 kegs, 1/6 kegs, cask-conditioned
  • Availability:: October 1 to February 1
  • Food pairings: Richer dishes, meats, cheeses, stews, smoked foods. As an after-dinner drink.

Owen from FermentNation
Why I chose Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve:
New Jersey loves its craft beer. We import tons of intriguing brews from all around the country, and across the globe, but it’s always nice to be “home for the holidays” and enjoy a craft beer that’s brewed in your backyard. Flying Fish goes great with food. Period. The winter seasonal Grand Cru Winter Reserve is complex yet subtle, and brings warming holiday cheer to the table with serious drinkability, making it a perfect accessory for your festive meal.
Flying Fish has a very drinkable stable of session brews that are peppered with some more adventurous seasonals and their renowned Exit Series (which uses imagination and local flavor to highlight the Jersey Turnpike as a cultural tap room for those with a little Jersey pride!), so I decided to celebrate a local brewery this holiday season.
Flying Fish Crand Cru - Bottle
…And a partridge in a pear glaze… Roasted game fowl, crispy and savory skin with a sweet fruit glaze sounds like a dynamite food pairing for this golden seasonal from Flying Fish Brewing Company in New Jersey. Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve is a bottle-conditioned Belgian style Ale that appears in the colder months of the year. We all know that Winter is a wonderful time of the year to drink beer. It’s pretty much up there with Spring, Summer, and Fall.
But what makes a beer specific to the winter? Typically, the warming spices that appear in cold-weather food and beverage recipes will show up in Winter seasonals and holiday brews. You’ll see ales spiced with cinnamon, clove, allspice, and possibly dried fruit like figs or berries… Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve doesn’t have any spicing beyond the zippy hop presence and a bit of sweetness from the Belgian yeast, but the magic of brewing unleashes some fruity notes and a bit of clove in this bottle-conditioned ale. It kinda reminds me of a Belgian tripel…light. The 6.9% abv falls right in line with this description (Flying Fish’s website and many of the online reviews provide a 7.2% abv for the FF Grand Cru, but I’m looking at the bottle, and the label on the neck is telling me that it’s 6.9%. Not that big a deal, but worth noting.).
So, let’s follow up on the original question by applying it to the specific beer at hand: What makes Flying Fish Grand Cru a Winter Reserve? I contend that the celebratory attributes of this brew make it a really nice addition to a holiday meal. The color is a hazy gold, like straw. It glows a bit, possibly foreshadowing the alcohol warmth that spreads like holiday cheer when you get about halfway through your glass. The carbonation is fairly mellow, which allows the yeast to shine through more than the hops. The complexity shouldn’t be overlooked here, though it is subtle. Cara-pils malt and Styrian Golding hops give this Grand Cru a clean European session brew flavor — The richness appears early, but the finish is fairly dry. But with an abv hovering around 7%, things could get pretty festive in short order.
Flying Fish Crand Cru - Bottle Cap
Living in New Jersey grants me pretty easy access to Flying Fish products. Most of the 6-pack-bottled brews in their line, including seasonal offerings, are available in local stores and appear on tap in my favorite watering holes. Their Exit Series brews tend to be more experimental and higher in alcohol, while the standard line goes for more of a sessionable approach; Grand Cru straddles the line. Bigger and bolder than most of their brews, it stands out as a seasonal release and is fairly sought after when it appears. Truthfully, I look forward most of all to finding it on hand-pumped cask. I am kind of a sucker for cask brews in general, but this one is truly intriguing. Flying Fish Grand Cru could really shine if it mellows just a bit and the hop presence is given a chance to reappear at the finish– not up front like a pilsner, but all the way at the end, like an English IPA. Fezziwig would be proud to serve up pints of Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve, especially if they were hand-pumped from a cask.
FermentNation Logo
About Ferment Nation:
Give us your ales, your stouts, your Belgian tripels… Nothing gives us more joy than beer. Finally there is a safe harbor for all beer lovers to come and celebrate this magical beverage. This blog is a living, breathing document, subject to ammendment at any time. Grow with us. Be part of something. Become a citizen of the Ferment Nation!
Allow me to establish the constitution: Beers will be reviewed according to four categories, each with the potential for scoring one whole flag. The total of the four scores can reach a possible 4.0 flags. The categories will be as follows:
  1. Representation. That is, how does this beer compare to others like it?
  2. Drinkability. Would you (or could you) drink more than one?
  3. Style Points. Is it different? Over-the-top? Luxurious?
  4. Personal Preference. Executive decision
Flying Fish Brewing Company Logo
About Flying Fish Brewing Company:
Flying Fish Brewing Company is located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, approximately seven miles east of Philadelphia. In a state that once boasted 50 breweries, it is the first microbrewery in Southern New Jersey and the first new brewery built in that part of the state in more than half a century. From its opening in late 1996, Flying Fish has tripled its capacity and become the largest of the approximately 20 craft breweries in the state.
Head brewer Casey Hughes now produces four full-time styles, as well as a variety of seasonal beers.
The key word to describe all Flying Fish beers is “balance.” The beers are full-flavored, yet highly drinkable. Flavors harmonize, not fight for individual attention. Hopping is generous, but to style. Seeing beer as equal to, if not superior to, wine, Flying Fish beers are designed to complement food. Because of this effort, one can walk into any fine restaurant in the Philadelphia region and be pretty sure of finding a Flying Fish beer available.http://www.flyingfish.com/

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