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The Beer Bottle Punt

December 23, 2015

This is not a post about the design of beer bottles, although I could see how you might come to that conclusion. The punt, after all, is the indentation at the bottom of a bottle. These are a fixture of champagne bottles, but they do raise their head elsewhere.

Personally, I think it’s pretty badass to get your thumb up in that punt, and pour the bottle of wine while holding it from below. That’s not a move for beginners. It takes some practice to do it with confidence.

Nope. This is a post with a sports metaphor. Because last night I went on a little bit of a beer shopping spree in preparation for my annual December trip to the farm in Pennsylvania. Here’s how it went down.

The Bier Abbey was holding its annual customer appreciation day. And it was Tuesday. So that means Fuj would be working behind the bar, and it’s always fun to hang out and talk food and beer and stuff with that guy.

Besides having a whole lot of special kegs lined up and small plates for two bucks, they were also hosting a giant bottle sale upstairs.

I’m still learning my way around beer, but all of the bottles were special. It was kind of amazing.

One of my favorite parts of the trip to Pennsylvania is getting to sit around with my brother-in-law tasting beers. Usually he swings down to the farm via Ohio, and brings a few hard-to-find beers with him. But this time he’s flying in directly from Boston. That means no beers.

So I took it upon myself to find a few things for us to try. And pretty much I just punted.

There were a lot of sours for sale, but the truth of the matter is that while I enjoy a bright and puckery beer during the summer, right now I’m largely looking for other beer experiences. But even still, I couldn’t resist throwing a couple into the mix.

Perhaps there were great bottles I missed. I’m sure there were. But what I found will certainly be fun to taste and linger over once the children have all gone to bed. Here are the eight bottles that made it into my bag.

1) Bo & Luke
This is an imperial smoked stout from Against The Grain brewery in Louisville, KY, which is aged in bourbon barrels. It weighs in at 13% and comes in a 750ml bottle (with no punt). Last winter I wanted something smoky and never got it, so I’m excited to try this.

2) Mikkeller Breakfast
An oatmeal stout brewed with coffee. It’s in a decidedly smaller 11.2 oz bottle. I guess that’s how they do beer in Norway. This one comes in at 7.5% ABV, and I don’t intend to have it for breakfast.

3) Aventinus 2004
This top fermenting wheat doppelbock from Germany is over ten years old. I’ve never had a beer this old before. And I’m fascinated to give it a go. This 1/2 liter bottle is 8.2% ABV.

4) Aventinus 2009
Same beer, less age. What difference does five years make? I have no idea. But I can’t wait to taste them side by side and find out.

5) Ded Moroz
Keeping it localish, here’s a 750ml bottle of Russian Imperial Stout from Rushing Duck in Orange County, NY. It’s from the 2013-2014 winter, so it’s got a couple of years on it too. I hope that tempers the 11.2% ABV a smidge.

6) Farm to Face
One can’t live on dark beers alone. This bottle from Allagash Brewing in Portland Maine is brewed with peaches from Applecrest Farm. It’s 375ml of vitality and a refreshingly light 5.7% ABV.

7) Nancy
A second fruity offering from Allagash. I just couldn’t decide between the two so I got both. This one is a touch heavier at 6.7% and brewed with cherries.

8) Imperial Stout Trooper
Hopefully I’ll get to see the new Star Wars movie, and I couldn’t resist this bottle with a pair of Groucho Marx glasses on a stormtrooper’s mask. This is another 8.5% Russian Imperial Stout in a half liter bottle, but this one dates back to December 2013. The beer comes from New England Brewing in Connecticut, and it’s probably one my brother in law has seen. But maybe he’d get a kick out of trying one with some age on it.

There are a few other special beers I’ve been sitting on at home. Maybe I’ll swap one or two of these out for one of those. And this may be more beer than we’ll be able to make it through in our few days together.

We’ll just have to wait and see. But I’m excited to have a chance to try these beers, and thankful to the Bier Abbey for putting them all together in one place.

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