(Seattle, WA) Although last month I performed a tasting against the limited edition Redhook Ales Tripel I thought I would do something nice (albeit a bit hypocritical) by sampling and journaling a beer from a fallen friend.
Jim Quilter recently passed away and to most was a relatively unknown brewer in Washington state. In the past he cut his chops with the likes of Sierra Nevada, Butte Creek, and Mad River. It wasn’t until he started working at Winthrop and later his own brewery (Iron Horse) that locals stood up and took notice. I wrote more on my thoughts regarding the passage of this man in a previous post and I encourage you to check this out.
Electing to review Jim's legacy beer "Quilter's Irish Black Death" is a bit eerie since I am familiar with his previous creations prior to the changing of hands. But according to Ross Chalstrom one of the owners of the brewery, this is one of the recipes that remains unchanged simply because people cannot pinpoint what this beer is to them.
First off in the interest of being upfront and honest, I am not registered nor am I certified under BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program). With that said I can say that I have been around the block long enough to know that difference between a stout, a porter, and a brown ale.
Service Temperature, 50 degrees Fahrenheit
This bottle was also purchased from a reputable bottler and grocer although I have to admit the bottle was resting on a stack of boxes as opposed to resting in a refrigerated environment.
Quilters, pours dark with a strong mocha-like foamy head and like a bouncer at the door refuses to allow most light transcend the glass. As the beer rests on the counter I notice a receding occurring which eventually results in a thin veil of lace along the inside of the glass. Additionally a ridge line is noticeable which demonstrates a nice level of carbonation and proteins within the beer. 14 / 20
Creating a whirlpool within the glass I smell characteristics of raisin, brown sugar, with a lingering but muffled presence of alcohol wafting up my nose. 7/10
Taking my first sip I detect an initial ashen, roasted quality of the beer, that is politely moved aside by the sweetness of raisins, brown sugar and some molasses. The taste reminds me almost of a gingerbread man but with a bitter syrup frosting. A final analysis results in experiencing a residual dark coffee like aftertaste remains. 7 /10
The mouthfeel is sweet but not overly sticky and instead makes me a slight bit uneasy wondering what other secrets this beer holds. 7 / 10
Jim Quilter left behind a beer recipe to those four hapless former college students to nurture and they haven't failed to preserve this enigma in a glass. I would have to venture to say that having some fig or coffee cake might go well with this beer and if anything a nice barbecued steak with some sauce might pair well.
Overall Score, 3.50 / 5.00