Saturday, June 11, 2011

Niagara Falls Brewing Eisbock 2000

A week or so ago we were visited by Julia Burke, the beer editor from the New York Cork Report. She came to taste Chatham Brewing and did a little tour of the Hudson Valley wineries with David Jackson. Of course, we invited for a tasting at the winery. After talking, we decided to go down into the wine cellar and let her pick a bottle or two for more tasting.I took her down to our cellar (the basement) and let her look through it all herself.

I am one of those wierd people that cellar beer. I like new fresh beers, but I also love big bottle beers that have some age on 'em. Call me a freak. While perusing my cellar, she happened upon a bottle of 2000 Eisbock from the Niagara Brewing Company.

Niagara Falls Brewing was a medium-sized independent Canadian brewery. It is now a label owned by Moosehead, that purchased the company, and then moved in 2007 to Brampton, Ontario.

According to Bar, "Niagara Falls was daring, and their beers reflected this attitude. The beers were experimental, and gave Ontario beer connoisseurs a rare and appreciated gift. With the exception of the Maple Wheat, Kriek and Brock's Extra Stout, the rest of the 1995-1996 slate is still produced, and the surviving beers should be celebrated.

"When the brewery opened in 1989, it produced Eisbock, a now-legendary brew. Niagara Falls was the first brewery in North America to produce an eisbock, a potent German-style bock beer. The brew is frozen during the brewing process, and the ice is removed (which is just water, as water freezes before alcohol). The resulting brew is of extra-strength, with enhanced character and complexity. The Eisbock is produced once a year, and a new label is created for each vintage. An extra-concentrated version, Eisbock Gold, was discontinued. But the original Eisbock, although losing some of its complexity during the last few vintages, is a worthwhile brew to seek out each year.

"The remaining Niagara Falls beers from the 1995-1996 slate remain some of the most unique in the province. Olde Jack is billed a strong bitter, but invokes tastes of Belgian and British ales. The Apple Ale is an apple-flavoured brew, and most definitely a beer and not a cider. And both the Saaz Pilsner and Gritstone Premium Ale are tasty, rich and distinctive. To round out the lineup, Niagara also produces Premium Lager and Premium Light.

Niagara Falls Brewing was eventually bought by Moosehead, and was moved in 2007 to Brampton, Ontario.

But their Eisbock was legendary.

So, with complete excitment, we placed the beer in the fridge, let it get slightly colder, and then we opened the bottle. Me, Julia and David all took a sip, and our eyebrows jumped!

The beer was incredible! It had all the complexity of a classic Eisbock. The liquid was dark golden almost brown, and slightly hazy, but not opaque. The suds were thick and full. The flavor was huge! Big, dusty malt, and the hops was still fresh. The finish was clean. The beer was awesome!

Man, how can I find some more of this! A tremendous experience. A real nod to big bottle beers, and great brewing traditions. This is what makes craft beer exciting!

Read history of Niagara Falls Brewing at:

Read Julia's post at NYCR: