7/4/19: New Holland Brewing's Dragon's Milk Reserve: Maple Oak (a Post for Pip)

8:19 AM

July fourth is Purrl's birthday. She's seven today--which is a big thing. I had originally planned to do a post for her today, a big blowout one featuring a lot of her, but I've decided to bump that back. Instead, this post won't really feature Purrl at all.

Yesterday, Michelle and I said goodbye to our dog, Pip. She'd been Michelle's dog for nearly fifteen years and mine for nearly three. With this post, I'm indulging in a little catharsis by remembering some of the great times we had with her. I'll also be talking about New Holland's new Dragon's Milk Reserve: Maple Oak while doing so--it's a brew I picked up last weekend while we were on a trip with her.

This will be a decidedly non-standard post. If you're here for the beer, great! I doubt you'll be disappointed. If you're here to gain some insight on my life, I hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane with me and all the cute pictures of Pip I'll be including.

Pip's somewhat a stranger around these parts. I never actually featured her on the blog because, well, much like Michelle, beer wasn't really her thing. Whenever I'd offer her a can or a bottle to sniff, she always flat out refused to do so. She's not a complete stranger, though--I wrote a little about her in last year's Christmas in July post. Just a sentence, nothing more, but I'm glad she's in there.

Like I said, last weekend I went to New Holland for their new Dragon's Milk release. We were in the area with Pip to visit my folks at spend some time on Lake Michigan. She loved being at the Lake and, although she was feeling pretty puny, she still had a great time walking around and meeting new people.

New Holland, by the way, is based out of Holland, MI (they also have a spot in Grand Rapids). Since 1997 they've been doing their thing and putting out some stellar brews. 2001 saw the introduction of their now-famous BBA stout, Dragon's Milk, which leads directly to the beer I'm savoring today. If you'd like to know more about the brewery, be sure to check out their "Our Story" page, which has all the info you could want.

Dragon's Milk Reserve: Maple Oak is a maple fan's dream. It got the traditional Dragon's Milk treatment of aging in Kentucky bourbon barrels, but it was also aged in barrels that used to hold Vermont maple syrup. New Holland also used maple syrup in the brew. This 11% ABV brew is meant to have a sweetness that's complemented by its helpings of oak, vanilla, and chocolately roasted malt.

On the nose, Maple Oak lives up to its name. My first whiff is strong maple sweetness followed by warm oakiness. After my bottle sits for a moment to better open up, I get more of the bourbon barrel aged stoutiness: deep dark chocolate, bourbon sweetness and booziness. The bouquet on my bottle is exactly what I wanted.

I'll report here that the flavor profile on the stout is also exactly what I wanted. Each swig presents a wash of chocolate the turns to vanilla oakiness before a heaping wallop of maple takes over everything. It lingers for a time before fading into quiet boozy warmth from the bourbon. I should note that I'm drinking my beer warm--I would think that drinking it cold would greatly diminish everything it has to showcase.

Maple Oak's mouthfeel is par for the course with a BBA stout. It's smooth and full. It's not thick and syrupy as one might think (although, if it was, I don't think that'd be a bad thing). The roastiness paired with mild carbonation gives it a subtle bite.

This beer is phenomenal. An easy 10/10. New Holland should be proud of what they've accomplished here. Dragon's Milk has always been a special beer for them and Reserve: Maple Oak is an excellent addition to the canon. I like it a lot.

I can confidently say that Pip would not've liked this beer a lot. I originally wrote that she would've hated it, but that's woefully incorrect. Pippy wasn't capable of hatred. She was a little bundle of love to her core.

While Pip had long been a family member, she officially joined our little family in September of 2016. Michelle's folks dropped her off with us when they came down to help set up for a market that Michelle's art would be featured in. As she spent that first day with us at the market, Michelle and I wondered how she'd get along with the cats (this was pre-Henrietta times, so it was Purrl, Háma, and Tibbers [whom I featured here]). When a nice guy who was stationed across the aisle from Michelle's booth came over, picked Pip up, and hugged her while saying he had two little dogs of his own, we saw how happy she was and knew then and there that she'd be fine with the cats and in Cincinnati.

This was at the market, the day she came to live with us.
Since then, Pip was a constant for us. Whenever there was a celebration that involved someone getting gifts, she was always excited to see what they got. When we brought home groceries we'd let her sniff all the food we bought as we unpacked it from the bags (we'd also always hide a treat in the bags for her to find). Everyone who came over to visit was excited to meet and see her--Pip had a deep love for everyone and there wasn't a single person who met her who didn't feel the same for her.

Pippy even got along with Purrl sometimes!
We took her with us as many places as we could. She was a dog who liked adventuring but, more so, she was a dog who loved to be with us in everything we did. She went to Lake Michigan last weekend. The weekend before she went to Lake Hope State Park with us and did some hiking (I was incredibly impressed the she could still make it up the big hills there!). Hiking was one of her favorite activities, but she also really enjoyed simply laying outside in the sun.

The one photoshoot I ever had of her with a beer.
She was also a hell of a snuggler. She loved to be close to you. When she could get onto the couch by herself, she'd hop up and worm her little butt down next to you. When she couldn't jump up anymore, she would still make a beeline toward the closest person when we set her down on the cushions. Whenever Michelle was away for a few nights, it was great to have Pippy around.

There's a lot more I could write about our wonderful dog and many more photos I could share, but, right now, I don't have it in me. If you ever met her, I'm sorry that she's gone. If you never met her, I hope this post was able to impart some of who she was. We love her more than we can say and I'm taking great comfort in knowing she felt the exact same way about us.

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