The timeshift that occurs when you have an eight-month old really is amazing. Gone are the days of sleeping in until 9 on the weekends, replaced by 6am squeals through the baby monitor. Sometimes, you get lucky and you wake up to see 7am or maybe even 7:30am on the clock, but the late nights of just a year ago are quickly replaced by the early mornings of today. Funny thing is, though, that even the nights seem to start later. Instead of sitting on the deck with the tiki torches lit having a drink with my wife at 6pm or 7pm, it’s dinner on the deck at 8:30 after the baby’s gone to bed. So, I’ve really begun to appreciate the downtime between fathering duties, because it’s amazing how quickly it flies by.
That’s why I was a happy camper last night. Hannah had just gone to bed, we had a two fresh tilapias with sundried tomato breading baking in the oven and it was time to spin the wheel of beer to see what came up in the fridge. Even though I just bought a case of my favorite pumpkin ale (Shipyard Pumpkinhead), I decided it was time to revist the “royal sampler of beers” my co-worker gave me a few weeks ago.
In addition to the Leffe, there were a couple different kinds of Troegs brews which I had never tried, so I reached in and grabbed a Rugged Trail Ale. The label described it as “bronze in color with a velvety smooth taste and subtle chocolate note” and, at only 4.4% abv, it was perfect for the new dad looking to have a drink or two without having to worry about the impending wakeup squeal.
After my first sip, the only thing I could say was, “wow.” Maybe it was my outlook heading into the long weekend. Maybe it was the fact that my daughter went to sleep without any hint of fussiness. Maybe it was the tiki torches. Whatever it was, this was exactly what I was looking for.
The beer pours a deep brown with red highlights when held up to the light and a nice, fluffy tan head that didn’t stick around for too long. But, the aroma was what really hit me. This was probably the best-smelling beer I’ve tried in quite a while, with a nutty, hazelnut aroma with hints of chocolate and even a tad of cherry mixed in somewhere.
Generally, when a beer smells that good, I’m prepared to be let down by the taste, but this is a brew that held its own all around. It had just a hint of carbonation, which allowed the taste of toasted malts, caramel and nuts to really come through while you could definitely taste the chocolate on the backend. The chocolate wasn’t overpowering by any means, which is important to note as I know there are a lot of people out there who look at me funny when I talk about chocolate beer. Instead, it was just the perfect complement to the nutty taste that almost cleared the palate between sips.
Unfortunately, I only had one bottle in the fridge, so I can’t tell you how it pairs with sundried tomato tilapia (probably not good), but I can tell you that this is a great beer I’d recommend to anyone looking for a good, tasty, year-round brew that’d work well as a session beer. It’s light enough to drink anytime, but rich enough to enjoy on its own on a cool night out on the deck at the beginning of your 10 hours of non-fathering time.