The 5iver

I’ve praised 5 Seasons Brewing many times before, and, fair warning, I’m about to do it again. The Geester and I celebrated our anniversary there on Wednesday. As usual, the food was dynamite. We split an artisanal cheese plate, a grilled trout salad, and a small pizza that featured Serrano ham and Granny Smith Apples.

I like to plug the cheese plate because it’s a simple idea, it’s relatively easy to execute well, and it seems like so few places have anything like it on their menus. In addition to a cube of very strong bleu, a soft Brie-like wedge, and a chunk of something hard and (presumably) Italian, you get a warm ball of pull-apart bread, apple slices, a couple slices of some spicy, cured meat, and a ramekin of grapes. All quality ingredients. No stupid garnish. It’s a great appetizer, but would also be a great way to end a meal as well.

The salad was a special, and while it also featured fresh, high-quality ingredients, the flavors weren’t as harmonious as I was hoping. The bitterness of arugula, the tang of what was described as a remoulade dressing, and the savory flavors of the grilled North Georgia trout seemed to duke it out like a playground fight on my tongue. Needs work.

I’ve gushed about the Granny Serrano pizza before.

What I really want to talk about is the beer. SURPRISE!! 5 Seasons is currently pouring a Belgian quintuple called Quinte55ence. It was guest-brewed by former Dogwood owner, Craford Moran. It is a celebration of the number 5. Here’s how an email from Crawford described it:

Quinte55ence is a big, Belgian beer – a Quintuple to be exact. It is made with 5 different specialty malts and 5 different hops. 25 (or 5 squared) lbs. of dark Belgian candi sugar were added to the kettle. The OG is 25 (or 5 squared) degrees Plato. (And wasn’t Plato that guy who believed the heavenly bodies were comprised by the 5th element, the quintessence?) As for hops, the beer has, you guessed it, 55 IBUs. It has been conditioning for 5 months. This beer is a handfull so to speak.

While I was in the process of closing down Dogwood, Dave, Dennis and I were lamenting the fact that we weren’t going to brew a Dogwood Winter Ale this year. (Those two were particularly distressed that it would have been Winter Ale ’05.) So they invited me to be a guest brewer for the day and create something special. Glen and Spike were very generous and very helpful in letting me get to do this as well. And although I put the recipe down on paper, Glen helped format it to their system, he brewed it with me and Spike did most, if not all, of the cellar work. Anyway, a high 5 to those guys.

Maris Otter serves as the base malt. And there was a lot of it too. Then we added a generous amount of Belgian Special B, German Chocolate malt and some oats. And as a tip of my hat to the fantastic food at 5 Seasons(which is always incredible), I had Chef Dave toast up some Honey Malt in his baking ovens back in the kitchen for a truly unique character. We fermented it with a Trappist yeast. As to the rest of the recipe, I’ll plead the 5th.

Quinte55ence is served in a snifter (ten or twelve ounces – I couldn’t tell), and at 11.5% ABV, a small snifter is all you need. It pours very dark, with a thin, tannish head. Despite the fact that it’s a Belgian, it drinks more like a big Porter. The rich, complex flavor of chocolate, roasted nuts, even toffee, is slow to develop on the palate and continues to linger and grow long after the beer is swallowed. Despite the high ABV, it doesn’t have the sharp alcohol presence that defines a lot of barleywines and high gravity beers out there, but it definitely has the mouthfeel of a big beer. A lot of people I know don’t like the word mouthfeel very much, so I make sure to use it whenever I talk about beer. Best of all, the glass of Quinte55ence costs $5.55 (ha). A beer like this would probably be $8 at Taco Mac or Summits.

I also had a mug of their German Festbier, but after the big Belgian, I couldn’t really taste it. The waiter said they’re about to change the name to Breastbier and $1 of every one sold will go to breast cancer research. Beer for boobs!!

Also, when I asked the waiter how the Spiney Norman IPA compares to Terrapin Rye, he informed that (since Terrapin’s brewers also brew at 5 Seasons) they are actually one in the same. I don’t know how I feel about that. Actually, yes I do … I don’t like it.

Since we skipped dessert and coffee, I almost wish that I had finished the meal with the cheese plate and the Quinte55ence. I guess I’ll have to go back soon.

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