Sunday, November 30, 2008
The bottle is a classic Belgian style large bomber with cork and safety wire... There is a slight pop with removal of the cork that leads some anticipation into the process. Upon the initial pour, the "onyx black" stout pours fills my snifter with a great presence and nice dark brown head that stands tall and proud. I am able to pick up a very slight but dense dark chocolate aroma mixed with a large malt backbone. Upon initial taste I don't feel any of the 7% ABV, nor do I taste ANY chocolate!! Uh Oh... I recheck the bottle... yes it is indeed called "Chocolate Indulgence Stout" but there is no initial chocolate flavor. As the beer begins to warm I do pick up a very, and I mean very (in all honesty it might be all mental) slight actual dark chocolate flavor. Now, I DO taste a TON of chocolate malt... in fact this is a very malty beer... with only a slight bitterness added from the perle hops. this is a very nice malty beer... Again with my lack of knowledge of "true Belgian" beer styles I would say that this being characterized as a "stout" would be a stretch... I would lean more twords a dubbel than a stout.
So overall a very nice malty Belgian that unfortunately falls short of the "chocolate" moniker. If you are looking for real chocolate flavor may I suggest this stout...
In review... Very balanced malt flavor, with little chocolate flavor or aroma... So it gets a rating of...
"Decent representation of the style"
The Skeleton holding a hop bush in it's mouth gives me a pretty fair idea, but all the same, I do love imperial IPA!
Ska Brewing out of Durango Colorado is close enough to be considered a "Local Brew" for me, and I think that this Decadence Imperial IPA will fit the bill for the evening. With some of the other beers that come from Colorado, I've got high hopes. We don't make no junk!
The bottle opens with a citrus note, and a nice hiss. The bottle is just a tad larger than my "Big Beer" glass, at 22 oz. This leaves me room to make a nice aggressive pour and still have a swig from the bottle.
The Citrus nose has given way to a solid hop aroma, but not over powering, and not nearly what I'd expected judging by the label (I feel an old cliche here. There is a nice creamy head that is NOT what I expected from an IPA....It is an IMPERIAL IPA however, and the head is much appreciated. There is no over powering hop nose as has become trendy, it's just a solid aroma and a solidly bitter hop character with a perfectly balanced, almost creamy malt background. You would never guess by the flavor that this is a 10% ABV beer! It is as nice as a big IPA gets, and is totally not overbearing. This would be lost in the realms of Ruination, or Pliny the Elder, but is a nicely balanced, very drinkable Imperial IPA, and will be on my "TO BUY AGAIN" list!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Then a few months passed and poof.... its gone... never to return... (they stopped making it in 2000)
Scott was unhappy...
Scott was unhappy for many years...
So on a recent visit to my local beer shop I stumbled upon it again...
Once again... Scott is happy...
It pours jet black with a nice warm tan head... good strong lacing... awesome roasted coffee aroma with a hint of alcohol... Warm roasty flavors... with a nice, not over powering nor "subtle hint" of coffee... No alcohol finish... but as it warms up you can catch just a hint of booze... Its very very roasty... that really is the best way to describe it.
Over all great stout... Its in limited release so if you find it... grab one or 12... Exceptional!!!
Part of the Flying Dog Canis Major series, Double Dog Double Pale Ale pours a yellow redish honey color with a puffy white head. The head thins down relatively quickly and a nice sharp hop aroma really comes out.
12 Seconds of Double Dog pour goodness. on 12seconds.tv
As I imbibe the thin head sticks quite nicely to the glass. Not overly carbonated the beer has an excellent mouth feel and thick quality to it. The 11.5% ABV is masked nicely by the 85 IBU of the hops along with the malt. I cannot taste the alcohol but definitely feel a pleasurable mild warming in the belly. This is a nicely bitter beer and at the end of the taste the interaction of the strong hops presence melds very well with a malty sweetness making the Double Dog Double Pale Ale a very well balanced beer.
If you haven't tasted the Double Dog I highly recommend giving it a try. Look for the Ralph Steadman artwork of an acid trippy dog in tighty whiteys lunging at two glasses of beer.
For a good Black and Tan, I suggest the Double Dog with the Gonzo Imperial Porter (another of my favorites - review coming soon).
Friday, November 28, 2008
I first tried this beer at the 2008 GABF… Going on a few recommendations to seek out The Bruery and give them a shot. Ill be the first one to admit that Im not a fan of most Belgian beers… Although I do LOVE sour beers… But anyway, I found these guys at the GABF and was blown away by all of their beers … Their Orchard White and Black Orchard were awesome… but hands down my favorite beer from them was their Autumn Maple… (one of my favorite beers in the whole place along with Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing
From their site:
Autumn Maple: Brewed with 17 lbs. of yams per barrel (in other words, a lot of yams!), this autumn seasonal is a different take on the “pumpkin” beer style. Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup, and fermented with our traditional Belgian yeast strain, this bold and spicy beer is perfect on a cold autumn evening.
ABV: 10%, IBU: 25, SRM: 15, Release: Fall
The beer poured with little to no head… right away in the aroma you could pick up the yams… and yes, you could tell that is was NOT pumpkin… as the beer continued to warm up you could taste more and more of the spices I was able to pick up the molasses, vanilla, and nutmeg the most… It was not heavy like a stout… more like a light porter or strong ale… At 10% it was quite warming although I never felt like the alcohol EVER overpowered any flavor… This would of been a great beer to share… but lucky for me there were no other beer fans close… so more for me!!!
So if you’re even in So. Cal go check out The Bruery… This beer definitely gets an “Exceptional” rating…
I am not a huge fan of ole Sam Adams. I do appreciate their beers when I am traveling since they more available. There is one exception though. It is called Chocolate Bock. I had the pleasure today to drink this beer on draft with my beloved. She loves it too. Chocolate dominates the flavor since they actually put chocolate in it. I crave dark lagers usually during Oktoberfest but this hoppy ale guy will always reach for this Sam Adams. It is a treat. The price was nice too at $5.75 a pint.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Southern Tier Brewing is located out of Lakewood, NY and offers some great beers in several styles that some would label as non-traditional, this one is no different.
This beer pours a copper color with not much head retention and little aroma to speak of, with the oak aroma being the most relevant. There is also a slight buttery to almost vanilla smell to this offering.
The taste is a buttery, sweet flavor with a hint of bourbon and vanilla.
For an 11% American Strong Ale this beer is smooth. Although a bit pricey ($17 a bottle in the Pittsburgh area) I would recommend this beer for at least a one-time tasting.
I did pose the question of where you sit. Some beers carry themselves on flavor alone, especially when we're talking about IPAs. But others are the weaker sisters and if their sibling beers are somewhat boring and obvious, they can appear even lesser in quality. But put yourself in the right ambiance and serve the right food and you have a much higher degree of satisfaction. I can testify that there is only one way to drink an Abita Jockamo IPA: in a pint glass, sitting in a bar in New Orleans, enjoying a po' boy or other NOLA cuisine. There's nothing like it. The flavor of the city, the flavor of the food, and the flavor of the beer all meld into a drinking experience that has to be experienced. In this case, I was sitting in a little pizza joint on Decatur that I know that makes a unique pizza - a Central Grocery Muffaletta Pizza. New Orleans jazz is playing on the stereo, and I'm chowing down on a hand-tossed pizza with salami, pepperoni, prosciutto and the original muffalleta olive spread. The Jockamo's light, citrusy notes work well with the pizza sauce, the spices in the salami, the sharp prosciutto tastes, and the richness from the olive spread and oils. The finish of the beer is quicker than most IPAs and leaves you with a clean taste that doesn't fight with your food. A perfect pairing that can only be found in one city in the world, and that really kicks off the Cajun theme, laissez les bon temps roulez.
The evening started with an open bar. I didn’t take detailed notes on these, but the special taps I remember included a brett IPA, an oaked Samael, and a dry hopped Ale to the Chief (out of this world good!) The food was exceptional. Heavy hors d’oeuvres - olives, many hard and soft cheeses, caprese salad, salami, roast beef, a cheese sauce drizzle on fresh veggies, crackers, etc. It was a very nice spread.
The Avery staff were hustling! I felt like offering to help - Adam, CV, Peter, Ted and Clarice were busy setting up the flights. CV provided us with a really nifty hand out “What happened to my bottle of Hog?”. It goes into depth regarding the science of what happens as beer ages… heat/alcohol decreasing due to ethanol conversion to acetaldehyde, hop aroma and bitterness decreasing, sweetness and toffee flavors increasing.
The flights, with my tasting notes, is as follows:
August 2008 - Dank, Herbal. A real hop bomb. 122 IBU, fresh hop aroma. All columbus hops - bittering, midboil, finish and dry hopping. 1.082 OG, 1.016 FG.
January 2007 - Bottled with new bottling line, reducing oxygen levels. Still very hoppy. Malts more prevalent. Starting to develop dried fruit character.
March 2006 - Hops starting to fade. Smoother, not as aggressive.
June 2005 - Sweetness starting to develop. Some oxidation characteristics noted (low levels of cardboard.)
June 2004 - Approaching english style barleywine. I noticed more heat, or a higher alcohol presence. Creamy mouthfeel. Smooth character.
March 2003 - Caramel flavors approaching molasses. This was a favorite for some at our table. Less nose then previous, increasing creaminess in the mouthfeel. Increasing oxidation characteristics.
June 2002 - “real sweet”. Okay, my notes are starting to fall off here.
February 2001 - Fruit prevalent. Some smokiness coming through. Darkest in color of all the samples. Hoppier then ‘02.
June 2000 - Soft. Sweet. Oxidation increasing - noticeable cardboard. Malt forward. Fruitiness including plum and raisin.
November 1999 - “Dry” according to my notes, but it had a higher finishing gravity then todays standards (1.098 OG, 1.030 FG.) Sherry taste prevalent.
My favorite of the evening was the fresh hog - I love the hop bombs and Adam admitted that if they were naming the beer now, they would call it an Imperial IPA. Ten years ago that wasn’t a common beer style though.
There was some news regarding Avery’s release of Brubant - this is a Baltic Porter that has Orval Brett and the house Brett (same as was used in the 15th Anniversary Ale) which is aged in Norman Vineyard Zinfandel barrels. 600 cases will be released in January or February.
Avery brews 17,000 BBLs annually. They make 8000 cases of Hog which is brewed every 3 months. To quote Adam “without hog, we’re out of business.”
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
According to Deschutes website, Jubelale was the first beer the brewery bottled. Each year, a different artist creates a unique and seasonal label. This year Sister's resident, Pam Jersey Bird was chosen for her seasonal painting which depicts a river running across the bottle. Visitors to the Bend brewery can view each year's unique label.
The 2008 Jubelale is a dark coffee like brew with a bouquet of dried fruit and an ABV of 6.7%. Don't let the dark color scare you off. It is a friendly tasty beer with a malty aftertaste that is pretty pleasant. It's only available from October to December so you better act fast.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I've had coffee bender before at the brewery and some bars around town. I don't think its hard to find if you live in the area ( Twin Cities, check the Muddy Pig and Happy Gnome, I believe I've had it both places). It pours with a good sized head, tan. The beer itself is a deep brown maybe slightly reddish, I have a hard time telling in my lighting situation. The smell is coffee for sure. Very strong coffee, a nice dark roast, like the kind my grandpa used to make on the stove when I was a kid, but without the grounds getting stuck in your teeth. You get a little bitterness at the front of your nose, and then it smooths out as I breathe deeper. I can smell a lot of chocolate in this one too. Then the taste. A nice malty sweetness hits the front of my tongue, followed by the bitterness of the coffee near the back of my mouth. The coffee isn't over powering, and its backed by a nice hop flavor. For me I notice the coffee more in the back of my mouth and the aftertaste. To my taste the hops are not as forward as other Surly beers, but its hard to compete with the coffee. There is good balance between the malty taste and the coffee. Its very tasty. I hear it's coming to cans soon so hopefully it will show up in your neighborhood soon.
Here's the scenario. I don't keep a ton of beer in my apartment. I have enough for me to enjoy one with dinner on most nights and some in reserve in case I have a couple friends over. But when I drink beer with larger groups, it's usually at a bar because neither my apartment nor my fridge are large enough to accomodate the supply of beer needed for a large, thirsty crowd.
As a result, the beer in my apartment is generally limited to the six-pack (or however much of it is left) in my fridge and another in reserve waiting for that other six-pack to be finished off.
As the picture shows, I've got three bottles of beer in my refrigerator. Those with a keen eye will recognize it as a beer I'm not terribly excited about, though it's not bad. Not in my fridge is a pack of a much tastier beer that I definitely get excited to drink.
Here's where the conundrum comes in. I'm hesitant to put another full pack of beer in my fridge before I finish this one off. I feel like I should get through this one before moving on. I started it, so I should see it through to the end. It's kind of like my justification for still watching ER - I've been watching it since the beginning, so I should finish watching through the last season. My other thought is that if I don't finish this beer, I'll never get it out of my fridge.
But, as with the show (especially over the last couple seasons), that's not easy when you're dealing with a mediocre product. So I'm contemplating just leaving those bottles in there and moving on and trying to push them on other people when they come over - or just getting rid of them.
But as I said, I hate to waste beer, even of the mediocre variety. So what do I do? Do I try and pawn it off on others? Do I just leave it there and when I eventually move out of this apartment, leave it as a gift for the new tenant? Do I dump it? Or is there another option I'm not considering?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
One of the best parts about the fall and winter is seasonal beers. Winter for me is all about stouts and porters. They're heavy and wonderful and they warm you up on a cold night.
As far as I'm concerned, fall is about one thing: pumpkin beer. The best ones taste like an alcoholic pumpkin pie, but a bit less sweet and definitely not bitter (not that I don't love a good bitter beer, but bitter and pumpkin do not play well together). They're heavier than the wheats I enjoy during the summer, but not quite as heavy as my stouts and porters.
Every year, I go on a quest for the perfect pumpkin beer. This year, the quest began with America's Original Pumpkin Ale, by Buffalo Bill's Brewery. Alas, though I'd read some decent reviews of it, the quest did not end with this beer. Not to say it was bad. It was solid, but not great. My biggest complaint was that there was not enough pumpkin or spice flavor. It was there, but it should have been stronger.
I think this particular pumpkin ale should go in the category of "go-to" beers. That is, if I need a reliably decent pumpkin beer, I'll go with this. It's the same category I put Blue Moon's Harvest Moon in. It will do when I'm in a pinch and nobody will be disappointed by it.
But for now, the quest continues. Anyone who really wants to help me on my journey, please comment. I'll happily try all sorts of pumpkin beers.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Fairfield's only microbrewery is Blue Frog Grog & Grill. They are a recent operation, probably less then 10 years old. The ambiance of the place is really quite nice. I sat down at the bar, which had glass windows behind it looking into all of the brewing equipment. Recently, they have started to distribute a couple of their beers throughout the Bay Area. Being as that is, I wanted to try something unique that I couldn't get at my local beer store. Written on a chalkboard behind the bar was "Levitation Ale, 6%". That's all the convincing I needed, so I ordered one up.
Right off the bat I was impressed. I have no idea what type of beer it was and didn't ask because I was more intrigued with the Cal/OSU game on the LCD tv's. However, it had a very deep amber color, almost reminding me of an old dirty penny from the 40's or 50's. Holding it up to the light coming through the brewing equipment, you can pretty much see anything through the beer, it was that clear. I took my first sip and it was just WAY too cold to taste anything. After letting it warm up a bit, it turned out to be a very good beer. Nice balance between malt and hops without having the heat of a high ABV value, with a nice medium bodied finish. I really wish they sold this in stores.
As of right now, you can only get the Blonde Ale, Red Ale, IPA, and Double IPA. However they also sell a hefeweizen they sell at the brewery. I picked one up and realized why they probably don't sell it in stores. The label is screen printed upside down and urges you to store it as such. There is a description of the beer stating that doing so will re-activate the yeast upon opening to give the beer a more complex flavor.
Overall it is a very promising brewery. They brought in Nick Campbell, a new brewer, in 2004 and it appears that he is making some quality stuff. I expect them to start distributing in more places soon, so keep an eye out fellas.
Cheers to more beers!
Compared to probably just about everyone else participating on this terrific blog site, I am definitely a relative amateur when it comes to the world of craft beers. I hate to admit it, but before I met BuBBy (my main partner in the Brain Gravy podcast, as well as a home brewer extraordinaire, and a contributor on this blog site) a few years ago, I was drinking Rolling Rock and thought Guinness was the height of beer existence. Now, thanks to BuBBy and all the amazing podcasts on The Beer Safari like SIDT, The Good Beer Show and The Beer Report, I've developed a pretty darned good appreciation, as well as a palate, for a good craft beer. Hell, I've come so far that when I was forced to drink a Corona a few weeks ago, and it was like drinking seltzer!!!
My beer drinking life began, probably like everyone else, as an underaged teenager. Back then, it was whatever we could get our hand on to drink. In college, my roommates and I successfully managed to drink a different brand of beer every week for a year. Of course, being poor college students, the brands consisted of the usual like Budweiser, Miller, but also beers like Gablinger extra light, which came in a bright orange aluminum can and Stoney's (which bragged about having "no sugar added"). So, yes, I have been a long time expert in drinking the kind of beers that have made Sickpuppy and Father Spoon famous! As time went by, my taste has improved, and, as mentioned above, its only during the past few years that I have discovered the wonderful world of craft beer. So, with that preamble, I will attempt my first beer review for Beerporn!
Being winter time here on the East Coast, I've been recently exploring winter ales. One of my favorite breweries is St. Bernardus, which is located in Belgium. They make wonderful beers like the Abt 12 and Tripel, and, although their beers are a bit pricey, I would highly recommend giving them a try. In any case, I was excited to find their Christmas Ale at my beer store, and quickly grabbed one to try. It came in a very handsome 750 ml corked bomber bottle. Its classified as a Belgian strong dark ale, and is a very healthy 10.0% ABV. It poured a nice dark brown color with a tan-colored head that was about a finger thick with nice lacing. I have learned to take a few moments to take in the aroma of a beer before rushing to a first taste. There was definitely the aroma of spices, along with a hint of cherries, plum and malts. Then the best part: the first taste! It has a fairly sweet taste. I can taste the flavors of malts, along with cherries, plums, and a sort of peppery cinnamon. The yeast flavor is there, but not overwhelming to my palate. It most definitely reminds me of Christmas; I can see myself drinking this beer instead of spiced eggnog around the Christmas tree! The carbonation is just right, and the flavor is light enough that the 10% ABV is well hidden. Overall, it is, so far, my favorite Christmas ale. It goes down maybe a bit too easily, but I would highly recommend this beer. In terms of a relative amateur, this beer is darned good!
Ok, my first post is done. My goal is to try and bring things here from the perspective of a relative newbie to the world of craft beer, and I hope my posts are worthy of this great blog site. Until next post, happy drinking!!!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Tom Held’s Off The Couch blog is a big inspiration for me.
Tom is a wealth of knowledge on Wisconsin cross country skiing, running, cycling, outdoor sports advocacy and, yes, good beer.
“This may be a bit sappy,” he told me, “but I think there’s a real community or bonding element to beer.”
“I’ve had people offer me beer, soup, sandwiches and plenty of good stories,” he says. “It’s really part of the joy of the outdoors and physical activity.”
Lucky for me, our paths have crossed before in the newsroom, on the race course and at the finish line beer table. And now on the Beer Runner.
What’s your favorite beer when you’re On the Couch?
The Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA is an unbelievable beverage. From the first crack of the bottle cap to the last sip, this beer engulfs the drinker in an invisible green cloud of some crazy insane hop aroma. The beer pours a darkish honey color with a thick sticky white head. The beer balances this insane hoppyness with the malt to give it an incredible flavor and mouthfeel. It is like hop Koolaide (OH YEAH!) without any hop harshness. It is a very drinkable beer. The 11% ABV is undetectable in the flavor and sneaks up on you. My dream is to one day make a pilgrimage to the brewery in Lakewood, New York and drink this on tap.
Southern Tier Brewing Website
Tap and Bottle Label
Step Number 1 is to clean up this mess!
I began by dragging all of my bottles and boxes out into the open where I can get a good look at them. I will be moving all of this into a closed off room where I can get a better handle on the temperature. This will also double as the equipment storage and carboy ageing space for the wine and beer that I have Bulk Ageing.
I will put away what I can. If it's a $24 12 pack of Sierra Nevada Celebration, I may put 24 bottles down, if it's a $12 bottle of Chimay, I may only get one or 2 per year, but I will keep up with what I can at the time.
As this project progresses, I will keep as detailed of records as I can force my ADD brain to keep. I will keep purchase date and Retailer information, price info.(I hope SWMBO doesn't see!) and any other seemingly relevant information.
I will not expect all of the beer to get better with time, and in fact some will degrade significantly, but I will expect it to change either way. I will be able to offer up some radical vertical tastings of different lines of beer.
With the intent of just having something well aged to sip...I've already got a series of Lindimens and other lambics, the home brews, several Arrogant Bastard bottles,and a few different stouts, including Left Hand Brewery Milk Stout.
With the intent of building vertical tastings, I'm going for the Sierra Nevada Celebration, Breckenridge Christmas Ale, Rogue Dead Guy, Double Bastard, and even Ruination.
You know that IPA is going down hill as we speak, but the fact is, it will provide some reference and insight as to the effects of time on beer. Not only will this project be supremely educational, but will be victoriously tasty, and I look forward to every single step along the way.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Holiday ale's are usually described as 'big' and 'rich' and usually pack a lot more flavor than their summertime counterparts. These beers are often higher in Alcohol by Volume (ABV) than other special beers and it's been my experience that they are darker and sweeter in nature. Supposedly the holiday beer tradition goes back to medieval times when monks were the primary brewers and strong spicy ales were brewed to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Often times these beers have a subtle but nice spice bouquet added to the recipe blending nicely to the malty/hoppy flavor of the brew.
Brrr is the first winter ale from Widmer in four years and is amber in color with a herby aroma. Brrr packs in a 7.2% ABV which makes it the strongest beer in Widmer's arsenal. It's a nice beer although on the sweet side which is an odd thing for me to say considering I prefer more sweet beers like ambers. It has a nice hoppy aroma and taste that plays well against the dark malty undertones. I bought a 12 ounce bottle of the Brrr at Belmont Station and wonder how it taste at their Gausthaus .I would drink this beer again but wouldn't run through traffic for one.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
We're inching toward Winter here in Indianapolis and nothing helps to bolster you in the cold like a good stout. This oatmeal stout from Breckenridge pours a very dark brown with a tan head. Has a nose of oatmeal with some sweet chocolate notes. The taste is smooth with a roasted malt flavor that gives way to a finish of moderate coffee tones. It strikes a decent balance between some of the more mellow stouts and the Russian Imperial Stouts. In all I wouldn't call it exceptional, but a very good beer that is very tasty and drinkable.
Breckenridge makes a host of very good beer, including some small batch varieties. If your local specialty brew shop carries any I highly recommend giving them a try. You will not be disappointed.
If I tasted this not knowing its name I would say it is a little too sweet and too Hefe-like for a Belgium ale. It definitely smells of banana. I have had better. Knowing I am drinking Leffe Blonde puts me back in Montpellier France. Good times.
My start in home brewing began years ago as a young man simply because it was legal to brew at age 18 but legal consumption did not start until the age of 21. I found it odd that it was legal to make but illegal to drink the beverage made by my own hand. That dream turned into an obsession for me over the years as I began to realize the art that is brewing and all its wonders. I started out with the canned kits and slowly graduated to the partial mashes and all grain batches that I do today.
As I started to learn more I slowly added additional equipment to my home brewing arsenal. From wort chillers to auto-siphons and any other cool home brewing gadget I could find. From making my own mash tun from a cooler and parts from Home Depot to building my own stir plate from hard drive parts, a computer fan and a cigar box. Homebrewing brought out the creative side in me in many ways.
I like to think of myself now as an experienced home brewer but there is always so much to learn. I cannot tell you how thankful I am to the home brewing community and friends that have taught me so much over the years. You all have inspired me to try new things and teach others the art. I’ve started blogging about my homebrew experiences (shouldibrewthat.com) so that others can learn from my experiences and mistakes.
So I say to all of you with that one question in the back of your mind “should I start home brewing?” I say yes! From learning the craft to sharing your own handcrafted beers with your friends and family there is no better hobby in my opinion. You will learn so much not only about good beer but about yourself. So go to your local homebrew shop today and pick up that beer kit, what are you waiting for?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Gløgg, the Nordic take on mulled wine, is a comforting, bone-warming concoction spiked with cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, citrus, and sometimes even almonds and raisins. The Nogne folks have captured this spirit in a beer meant to be enjoyed with holiday cookies, like fattigmann and goro, by fusing the above spice bill with a 6.5% dark ale. It crackles with strangeness, as unlike most holiday ales, the hops are present enough to provide a bitterness that bounces off the spices without allowing for the pervasive sticky sweetness brewers sometimes feel the need to allow, as if the cookies had already been blended into the glass. Not here, an adult beverage worthy of being enjoyed with or without the accompaniment of sweets, perfectly suited to fend off the polar night. Dry, vinuous, and peculiarly pleasant.
And they are always worth it!
So, when I was headed back from Indiana a few months ago... I picked up some six packs of Bell's 2 Hearted and Oberon. I saw the Pale Ale sitting their... And realized that I have never had this beer. Now, I did not have to go to a resource book, website or ask for advice on whether or not to buy this beer... No... This is a Bell's beer... And with that in mind... I was fully confident that I would be buying a quality beer.
In hindsight... How many brewers do we really say that about? Most of us have a trusted few.
This beer is everything advertised. A great American style pale ale. Lots of hop flavor... But smooth and easy to drink. I would probably call it a session beer solely on the fact that it does not knock you around with hard edges and extreme taste. Don't take that as a bad thing. A balanced beer that is easy to drink is really what I am looking for most of the time.
Sure, there are more glamorous beers out their... But at the end of the day... A tasty, quality and reliable brew from Bell's will never let you down!
Arrogant Bastard in the stock form is a beer thats want you to know it is there. Always begging for attention, it flicks you in the nose with its trademark bitterness and roughness. In the Oaked form it is very mellow and well-balanced. It is unbelievable that there is so much difference between them. I am a very happy man while Oaked Arrogant Bastard is on draft. When it comes to the regular, I will visit it from time to time. "I am worthy".
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This is one of many rules I will be throwing in your direction as I contribute to this blog. It will make things easier on both of us if you accept that these rules are non-debatable, as I have often put little thought into them and thus have no real basis to defend them.
Still, if you are a brewer, you'd certainly want to have more refrigeration in your life and less Dancing with the Idols, right? Right!
On to the point of this post. What's in all those fridges?
What are you doing with all that beer?
Well, it's not all that much really; all of it is there for a reason. The reason is: If there was no reason, all that beer would already have been consumed. And that is why it is still here.
In order to continue this circular delusion, I took a quick inventory and I mean quick. Even this photo is strategically under representative of what I have. I mean if I was to go bottle-by-bottle then you'd see a whole array of reason why it's still there and not gone and that would be wordy and dull.
Rule: A good brewer has hand-crafted beer.
- 5 kegs of delicious homebrew- Apfelwein, Honey Wheat, APA featuring Simcoe and Amarillo, Mild, Irish Stout. These are all being consumed. NO Problems here!
- Oops. Got some beer of other homebrewers that I am supposed to review. I make sure that I give them my full attention and so there is a bit of a backlog here. Manangable.
Because clearly these folks have no concept of anything good and so you have to trick them into drinking some good beer. Among these:
- Deus for when there is a special occasion with someone that is not a beer person.
- La Folie, NG Rasberry Tart, Lindemans Pomme, which are among my wife's favorites. She is a beer person, so these could serve double duty, but nah. These are beers for us and those beers... well... they need to be savored... as romance beers (Implied Rule).
- One or two ciders, perry.
- moving on- some other stuff. Save. Save. Save.
Rule: A good brewer has research beers and beers to enjoy with other aficionados.
And realistically these aficionados aren't here every day. I'm just not on the aficionado circuit, but you have to be prepared. Research takes time. It demands your full attention. Among these:
- Armageddon with Brett, LaChouffe Dobbelen IPA, Sprecher Tripel, a couple of Cantillons, Fantome, a 2004 Three Philosophers, Damnation, Brooklyn Local One, Allagash Black, Rodenbach Grand Cru... clearly meant to be shared with another beer aficionado or used as style examples for future brews.
- 5 Bud American Ales as a curiosity (everyone wants to try, but not buy), 2 or 3 gluten free beers in case I want to brew it and it also qualifies under the good beer host rule.
- A number of Stouts that were to be part of my SOS- Summer of Stout concept. Drinking stout on the hottest Phoenix Day possible. Avery Czar, Rogue Imperial, Sprecher Imperial... oh that was going to be some day. Better save them for the coldest day in Phoenix and a new acronym.
- moving on- some other stuff. Save. Save. Save.
Oh and the closet. I think there's 3/4 of a case of 2007 Alaskan Smoked Porter... and shh... a good brewer breaks the rules.
This is literally "Where America's Day Begins." Before the 1980s it was not even shown on most globes, but is an integral part of American history nonetheless.
We are one of the 4 US Territoies, which basically means we are US Citizens who do NOT get to vote for President and do NOT have actual voting representation in Congress, but rather a delegate figure head who tries to lobby on our behalf.
You can find much more about Guam by doing a Wiki search--no not Waikiki as that is in Hawai'i, a series of islands which actually enjoys the benefits of statehood.
Because Guam has a rather large Asian influence owing to its position in the Pacific (just three hours south of Japan by plane) the beer landscape is quite dismal, but has improved marginally since I moved here nearly two years ago.
Budweiser and Miller products rule this island unfortunately. Heineken is a popular import, as are Singha, Asahi, Tsing Tao, and to some extent Foster's. Guinness, though available, is different from mainland US, and comes in at an ABV of 7.0. Nice!, except for the price. We're talking about $12.50 for a six pack, or basically what you'd pay at cost in a tavern back in Muncie, Indiana my former hometown for instance.
I am celebrating the recent increased availability of Hoegaarden in selected gas stations on island as we do not have many of your typical "liquor" stores or "Beer Stores" for those of you playing along in Pennslyvania.
What "top-shelf" beer we do get on island tends to be sort of name-brand like Lindeman's Krieg for instance or Schneider Weiss.
Guam is blessed with one microbrewery--a charming little establishment called The Mermaid Tavern, named after the John Keats poem, an excerpt of which you can find on their homepage at http://www.greatdeepbrewing.com/.
The owner/operator is a chemistry professor at University of Guam and his establishment has been featured on The Good Beer Show hosted by Jeffrey T--a program I co-hosted and miss very much after contributing to winning two Podcast Awards in 2005 & 2006.
To be honest, I've scaled back my beer consumption immensely, and in large part due to lack of variety. As a general rule, I'm prone to drink the aforementioned Guinness or Peroni (owing to my Italian girlfriend), and the occasional Fat Tire when available. I've been also been ordering the recent acquisition of Carlsberg at a few restaurants. If you haven't figured it out by now, lager is the chief choice on island. Since we don't really have more than one season, you can understand why we don't stack up on Oatmeal Stout and then go out with a light sweater and play in the snow drifts.
Recently I consumed Bud Light for the first time since college (circa 1990) at a poker match as I did not want to offend those who offered. Needless to say, I don't think I ever got over the legal limit to drive no matter how many I consumed.
That's about it for my first beerblog. I'm not sure how much I'll have to contribute in the future, but I welcome anyone who is willing to mail me good brews...bubble-wrapped for protection during shipping of course :).
Take care fellow beer enthusiasts, and happy drinking!
I began home brewing the day after I turned 21....that was 9 years ago. After limited success and lack of interest by friends and family, my hobby took a few years off. Now I'm BACK! I brew All Grain with a Home made 5 gallon Mash Tun, and boil on a turkey fryer. I have recently completed the conversion of a beer keg into a boil pot, and intend on boiling my next batch in that. My wife is pretty supportive of my often insane hobbies...She let me build a Keezer!
Let us talk about having beer on tap in your home.
This is one of those things that I always envisioned was for a "Hard Core Drunk" or College Dorm Residents.
I am neither, but currently have 4 different beers on tap in my living room. I often have a pint before dinner, or after dinner or with dinner. One way or the other, I do try and have a beer every day.
A 5 gallon keg seemed like a HUGE amount of beer when I first began looking at it, but then I quickly realized that is only 2 pints per night for less than a month. I have 4 taps, so I could turn a keg every month or so, but I often have one beer on tap for a LONG time, and others turn very quickly.
I decided to build a "Keezer" or Converted Freezer, on a whim just like many of the things I do. I had been reading about other people doing it, and naturally, I wanted one too!
There have been several write ups in publications lately about building a Kegerator or a Keezer. Basic Brewing Radio has released their podcast on the subject today, and it inspired me to tell about my keezer.
I am admittedly a gadget freak, and will often go to extreme lengths to attain the newest latest and greatest of whatever it is that I'm interested in. Because of that, I decided to go with a Brand New Freezer from Lowes. It cost just under $300, including the 2x10 that I used to build the collar. These can be found on Graig's list for next to nothing, but really, patience is NOT one of my gifts. I ordered the taps and shanks, and all of the related hoses and a Co2 Regulator and a Temp Controller from Austin Home Brew Supply.
The Temperature controller is a vital component of this system. A freezer is meant to FREEZE! The Temp controller simply controls the temp by shutting off power to the compressor when a pre-set temperature is reached.
The build was very simple. I cut and screwing the 2x10 together, and I painted it in One afternoon. I did paint before I attached it to the freezer, and recommend that you do the same. I used white tub and Tile Caulk to attach the collar to the freezer, and I have the lid and hinges mounted to the collar. Everything is nice and secure, and looks good to boot. Part of the reason for the collar is because with the modern freezer design, you don't' want to go drilling holes in the side of the freezer. The Temp Controller simply plugs into the wall, the freezer plugs into the temp control, and it has a probe that goes inside the freezer.
As a Home Brewer, I use the old Soda Style kegs with ball lock fittings. They are very easy to use, conveniently hold 5 gallons, and are relatively easy to take care of. I used the 2x10 because it allows me to fit 6 kegs in my 7.? Cu Ft Whirlpool freezer. I can fit one keg on the compressor hump. If this is not a concern for you, I would use a 2x6 or a 2x4. If you are looking to have beer on tap, but you are not a home brewer, fear not. The commercial connections are readily available, and work just as easily. Many brew pubs sell their beer in kegs, and for a quite reasonable price.
I can not explain the convenience and joy of pulling a pint of cold home brew from a tap on a keezer that you built! I would recommend that anyone thinking about this project to give it a try. Your friends will thank you, as will your wife. Bottles on the counter....BE GONE!
Yes, I am drinking an ancient bottle of Manneken Pis. GBS Studio A has an unbelievable cellar and I ordered up this 10 year old or so white beer. The label of current versions of this beer dropped the "Manneken Pis" and sport "Blanche de Bruxelles". The little peeing boy is still the mascot.
Lots of Belgian beers cellar extremely well and this one is no exception. Instead of "going to sherry" as most do, this one changed in taste to resemble a well-known triple. During the consumption of this all I could think of was Triple Karmeliet. A subdued green apple taste dominated the flavor. Fresh versions of this beer are very cloudy white in color and have the orange peel and clove thing going on. This old one poured a clear beautiful golden hue and tasted like apples. Screwing around with the bottle near the end, I dislodged the sediment into my glass. I gladly swilled it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This Oatmeal Stout pours quite dark (though not nearly as dark as Darkness does), with a medium-tan head. The aroma is of dark roasted coffee, malted grains, and raisins. The taste is a perfect balance between bitter and sweet, with a bit of, may I say smokiness? As I work my way through the glass, and as the beer warms slightly, I'm delighted more and more by the complex flavors that reveal themselves. The mouthfeel is surprisingly light for this style, which I very much appreciate. In the past, I've been put off by a few oatmeal stouts that were overly heavy. After finishing the glass, the dark, rich flavors linger for quite a long time, as you'd expect for an Oatmeal Stout.
If you haven't given yourself a chance to try this beer, I'd recommend you pick it up during your next run to the store. I can get it here in Minneapolis for around $9 for a four-pack of 12oz. bottles - it's well worth it.
Monday, November 10, 2008
It pours smooth. Too thick to really believe you're pouring something water based. A little head, maybe 1/2 a finger of tan that fades back into the glass pretty quickly. Lots of lacing. The smell is unbeatable, smooth chocolate, a background hop smell and well.... darkness. You almost hear a wah wah and Barry White in the background and you start to wonder what your in for.
It tastes unbefreakingleavable. If chocolate milk were beer, and then the gods smiled upon it and then so did the devil for good measure, this is what it would taste like. Upfront you taste chocolate, and a huge sweetness that I wasn't ready for in something billed as a Russian Imperial Stout. No boozy overtones at all maybe some dark fruit, figs and raisins. Mostly you get the sweetness and the smoothness. Then you feel a little carbonation on your tongue, not too much, just a touch to show you it's not a one trick pony. Then you realize how thick it is... your mouth is coated, you can feel it in the back of your throat.... Quite a complex taste, well balanced, but with a definite emphasis (to my taste buds at least) on the sweeter side of things. A dessert beer if ever there was one.
Surly does a pretty good job with everything I've had from them but they really hit this one out of the park. Hats off to Omar and the gang, keep it up.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Not a beer that I drink very often. Not that I don't enjoy it, it's just not one that I readily see around here, although it's one of the more well-known 'abbey' style Belgian Beers.
The Abbey for which this beer is named was founded around 1152. Many Abbeys developed breweries, one reason being that beer was in fact safer to drink than water back in the middle ages.
After the Abbey and brewery burnt down in the 1700's beer production ceased. However, brewing of Leffe was restarted on a commercial basis in 1952, and has been going ever since, although now brewed at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven.
It has a delicate, malty aroma and a subtle, sweet finish. The head is creamy, and the beer is a light golden color. 6.6% ABV.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
After a long day of hanging drywall. I wanted a treat, so I ran down in my beer cellar and grabbed a Belgium. I am a big IPA fanatic but I wanted to reminisce. My love for finely crafted beer started ten years ago with Belgiums. I poured this beautiful beer moderately hard and it answered with a small head. One smell and I knew what I was in for. I love sour beers! Ask me any day of the week what a Petrus Aged Pale was and I would answer an Old Flanders Brown but my exhaustion accidentally chose for me.
On the sourness scale, this beer is a 7. I detected some wood and the inherent sweetness almost balanced out the sourness. Sour beers go well with non-mild cheese and summer sausage. Unfortunately I have none. I savored every small sip before retiring to bed. I am glad I did not grab a Belgium strong like I thought. It was a great surprise. Did I say I love sour beers?
If you've scoured the Belgian shelves or aisles of your favorite beer stores, surely you've seen Bornem. There it sits with the other stubby 330 ml bottles. Alone, tossed aside, collecting dust while the big bomber bottles from larger labeled monastery beers get all the attention, it gets very little attention or respect.
It's sad, really. I mean, how can you compete with the big boys, who sit along the top shelf, like kings on their thrones getting first class treatment (usually in the cooler). The bottom shelf is usually reserved for, well . . . bottom shelf products.
This, my friends, is simply not the case. Not with Bornem Tripel, anyway.
Pouring with a nice rich, thick head, which dissipates somewhat quickly, it's very pretty in the glass. Pale to amber in color, it's apparent that when fresh, this beer would certainly be bright yellow. I'm sure age and mistreatment on store shelves takes it's toll.
With aromas of classic Belgian spices and fruit, it has all the earmarks of a classic Belgian Tripel. Musty, peppery, and what I can best describe as "history." It smells like Belgian history.
The flavor is of sweet fruit, and what I detected to be a little hint of apples. Just as the aroma detected, Bornem has a sharp pepper essence to it, and that is one thing that I just love about this style. It keeps me coming back to it every time. Bornem is very well balanced, and at 8% ABV, very easy to drink, especially at this size.
So the next time you're at your favorite beer store, notice the little guys and pick one up. They're all there together, waiting to surprise you.