Saturday, December 5, 2009
This beer has had a bit of a story to tell before it ever made it to Christmas.
I entered it into the competition at the Colorado State Fair where both judges said it was very good but "Should be entered into the wood aged category". There is no oak...I swear!
It is as dark as night with a rocky head that fades to a nice thin layer of foam that lasts till the end. Initially, it strikes you as a strong coffee stout with a medium heavy mouthfeel. Then you start realizing that there is a spiciness behind the roasty malts and all of that coffee. There is something I just couldn't put my finger on...till I remembered the coffee I used. It was a Christmas Blend coffee. Those spices are nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. They are just so far in the background that I didn't realize what they were.
The pound of lactose tames the tannins that managed their way in from the coffee! I cold brewed the coffee before addition to the beer, but it still managed to bring an acidic character that I actually think works very nicely against the subtle chocolaty character of the malts and adds to the lack of hop bitterness.
I'm not a good critic of beer. I figure I can almost always find something to enjoy about a beer. When judging other beer, I try to look for the good as much as the bad.
Judging your own beer is a tough thing to do! I normally pick my own beer apart to a point where you'd think it was undrinkable, but this one...I just really love. There are not really any faults, and I personally have had a great time watching it age and change. It hasn't really mellowed, but the coffee character and spices have changed a bit over the last year, and I'll wax a few bottles and see how they are for a few years to come.
So basically what I'm getting at here, is weather you are a home brewer or not, you can find a big 'ol beer to stash away for tasting this time next year. Think of it like you are building your own Christmas Present!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
We've got some exciting updates from The Charleston Beer Exchange! Please note: We will be open for normal hours all days before and after Thanksgiving Day and open from 10am to 1pm on Thanksgiving Day!
Rare Beer Tuesday (11/24)
As we do every Tuesday at 5pm, we'll be tapping an extra, extra special keg on the growler station for growler fills! This week our feature is the perfect kickoff to the holiday season: Sweetwater Festive Ale! This highly limited winter brew from Atlanta is only brewed one day a year. At 8.6% ABV and brewed with cinnamon and mace this one is true to its Winter Warmer style. This is one of the lowest priced "Rare Beer Tuesday" features yet so come get some- its perfect for Thanksgiving!
We have lots of great beers in stock for Thanksgiving pairings and the rest of the coming holidays! Popular picks are available like HighlandColdMountain (on the growler station now and in bottles) and Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (growlers) as well as many more esoteric delights from around the world. Stop by for a tour! Also, please keep The Charleston Beer Exchange in mind for your holiday gifts. Growlers, gift cards and we can even ship to many locations! Give us a call or stop by for more information.
New In Stock
RJ Rockers Black Perle
Highland Cold Mountain
Bells Two Hearted IPA
The Charleston Beer Exchange
14 Exchange St.
Charleston, SC 29401
Saturday, November 14, 2009
14 Exchange St.
Charleston, SC 29401
Friday, October 2, 2009
The complex simplicity of beer is something that can be enjoyed by almost anyone. Unfortunately, most of the people I know think "Good Beer" is Coors Banquet Beer.My Wife and I were that way onece, but good fortune has caused us both to grow and expand our pallets. You can imagine my excitement when SWMBO (@Kahunaschick) decided that the GABF was one of those things that we should do EVERY YEAR! She went last year, and put up with me and the other homebrewers that we met there, but I figured it was just her putting up with me. Come to find out...She really liked it. This year, she has found a taste for a few different kinds of beer, and is getting over the BMC that ruled our younger lives together. She is leaning toward Belgian and sour beers, with or without fruit.
We attended 2 of the sessions at the GABF in Denver this year. We were at the Friday night and Saturday Members sessions.
We had the privilege of being the first 2 people to get the PRO-AM entry from olllllo and Papago Brewing...Ladies First!
This thing was damn good! I hate farmhouse saison ales like I hate warm diet pepsi, so I had low expectations. The pear nose was phenomenal, and the clean crisp flavor really cleaned up my perception of a French Farmhouse! With ollllo being someone I know from Homebrewtalk.com and also follow on twitter (He is a blogger here too) It was cool as hell to be drinking his Pro-Am Beer...and to be the first 2 glasses poured, I was happy with that.
Awards and famous people are as abundant at the GABF as the beer flowing from 1200 taps. Successful brewers are adorned with attention and praise becoming of a rock star. The cool part, is most of them are still just beer guys at heart. There are a few that have a holier than though personality, but most of them will brew you a beer, pour you a beer, then drink one with you while you hang out. Most of the rock star brewers we met definitely remember when they were just like us, and are appreciative of our support for their beer.
So when I got a chance to get a picture of SWMBO at a tweetup at the GABF with Mr. Charlie Papazian, I took it. What an opportunity! I was actually star struck when we met Charlie...and that just doesn't happen to me! But this is the man that started it all! He is the reason we have a GABF to go to. And he is just as normal as can be.
We got a chance to spend some quiet time with a few friends (It still seems odd to me to call people I meet on the Internet and see once a year friends, but it's true!) we met with IronOrr and his wife for dinner with one of their friends and his wife. Then we met up with olllllo and his wife, and Don from Naked City Beer in Seattle. So here we are, having dinner and drinks with friends that are so close to the rock star brewer status that you about can't stand it...and they are just as cool as anyone you'll ever meet.
IronOrr, Brewtopia and I got our picture together while hanging out at the GABF after we all tried the samplings from Cascade Brewing. They had a total of 5 bottled sour ales available including a sour brewed with fresh pressed wine grapes and a Kirek that was perhaps the best tasting example I've ever had. The one picture that I missed, and will kick myself for a year for not taking...is the picture of our wives!
I did get a picture of my SWMBO with Blogger ChipperDave, olllllo, and Blogger Raiseyourpints at the tweetup.
So as I think back on the GABF and all of our friends we have met and talked with, I have to wonder which ones will be on stage next year! These people are truly Rock Stars Among Us!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Thanks to the tasting notes of Stone's head brewer Mitch Steele, the word on the street was that this was going to be more of a Belgian Porter than anything else. I love Belgian beer, I love Porter. On paper it seems like a no-brainer that I'll like it.
Leave it to Stone to challenge our taste buds every single time. It certain pours like a Porter, and smells uniquely like a Belgian Dubbel. But that's the end of normalcy for this beer. Once it's in your mouth, it's a whole new ball game.
It's sharp to the taste, and after about 10-15 small sips, and trying my absolute damnedest to analyze it in every Craft Beer Radio way I know how, all I can attribute the sharpness to is the hops. There's a slight coffee/burnt chocolate flavor there, but the bittering hops are definitely giving this thing an acrid punch that simply won't go away, no matter how long I let the beer sit and get up to (nearly) room temperature.
It seems to be playing every bit of it's nearly 9% ABV too, because the presence of alcohol did not leave me after I swallowed it. I swore after those first few sips that the alcohol on my breath was heavy enough to pull a Gene Simmons in my living room if I wanted to.
As I normally do with these Vertical Epics, I'm going to let this one cellar for a while - maybe until next year - before I try it again. It's definitely built to last, and will be interesting to see how this thing works it's way into the vertical tasting marathon session we'll have in 2012.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
This was a hard beer to review because I wanted it to be a whole lot more than it was. I even tried this twice on two separate occasions and the results were the same. The Brooklyn Local 1 is a very good beer. The Local 2 is a drinkable beer but nothing to get excited over. It was not very flavorful. Even when it warmed up it didn't bring out anything. A clear dark brown color. Layer of yeasty goodness on the bottom of the bottle from it being 100% fermented in the bottle (like champagne). According to the label it was brewed with honey and citrus peel, though I could not taste or smell either. The body seemed thin. Nice pillowy head that was a little sticky. I was expecting more from Brooklyn Brewery and Local 2 didn't deliver. I may get another bottle and let it age to see if it changes in a year or so. Cheers!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
It’s bright and alive in your mouth, and with citrus overtones. Yet, this beer is also sweeter than I would have expected – but not in anyway oversweet. IT comes in at 7.7% ABV, but it’s a light bodied beer, so quite good for summer drinking, yet with enough ‘kick’ to be warming in the winter.
A gorgeous golden hue when poured. Quite well carbonated, like sparkling wine on the tongue. A clean finish.
Hennepin was a Belgian missionary who ‘discovered’ the Niagara Falls.
I recommend it, as a very drinkable brew. Complex, but yet not challenging.
I got a growler full of this from The Charleston Beer Exchange
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I received a bottle of this limited-edition wild ale from Rick at Big Foamy Head. It's been in the back of my beer fridge since it arrived here in February. My intent was to allow it to age for a year or two, but then a cloud of WTF came over me recently. You know the drill. So I decided to break it out and pair it with something I thought it might compliment, or vice versa.
Brabant is a barrel-aged wild ale from Avery Brewing, and was extremely limited in production (only 624 cases produced). It was brewed using the infamous Brettanomyces yeast, which gives wild ales their sour flavors. After fermentation was complete, Brabant was aged for 8 months in used Zinfandel barrels.
The result is a beer that, while definitely sour, retains a complexity and depth of flavor that required several sips for me to wrap my head around. The oddest thing I've found about wild ales is that they tend to smell a lot like they taste. That is, at least to me.
The first sniffs of this beer didn't smell sour at all. So I expected that the beer would not approach flavors as sour as I initially figured it would. I guessed wrong. Very wrong, in fact. This thing was deep with flavors of tart currants and unripe cherries. There was way more going on than I'd anticipated.
It wasn't until I allowed the beer to rise in temperature a little that the aromas I was looking for started to lift off of the beer, and began to match the flavor almost exactly. In fact, the warmer this beer became, the deeper those flavors of bitter fruit began to come through. And I love that about this style.
In addition, Brabant was the perfect compliment to what I'd decided to pair it with. Left on my own for dinner, I tend to eat things my wife would rather not. Tonight, it was Boudin Noir, or blood sausage. Earthy, mealy, laden with spices, and protein rich -- Boudin Noir got along quite nicely with Brabant. It was Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman all over again.
At the Great American Beer Festival two years ago, I ran into this couple who'd been to Belgium on several occasions. They said that one of the most common things they saw wild ales paired with was horse meat. I'm not 100% sure I'm ready to pair a beer named after an actual horse, that has horse blanket aromas, with meat from an actual horse. But for this meal, it more than sufficed.
Thanks again to Rick for an excellent experience with an American Wild Ale not many people get a chance to explore. It was truly art in a bottle.
Avery Brewing's Brabant
Thursday, April 9, 2009
My home away from home, O'Brien's pub, had some Lost Abbey beers on tap around the holidays. I've got a 2007 bottle aging at home but I took the opportunity to finally drink it since it was on tap that day. Semi-related, I got to meet Tomme Arthur, a very nice guy for being such a genius, a couple weeks later at a special Lost Abbey night at the same place. I told him I really enjoyed his beers and his reply was "yeah, you look like you do"...I'm still not quite sure how to take that.
This year's Gift of the Magi is a deep amber color (Tending towards golden to compliment the frankincense and myrrh) with very little carbonation; there's almost no head on it. The smell was very sweet, reminiscent of apple juice. As for the taste...wow, I now know what myrrh tastes like. Bitter, but not packing anywhere near the punch of a lot of our other local brews. It's also a little resiny, which is to be expected given the ingredients. This beer, if it were a book, would be like Pynchon or Faulkner as opposed to Dan Brown or John Grisham. It's not something you grab for fun, like a Red Trolley or a Leine. You pick it up, sit back and take it in slowly while trying to not let the complexity overwhelm you. When you're finished, you're left with the feeling that you've been challenged and you've bettered yourself for having gone through the experience but you're not whooping it up and looking around for another to chug. It's a very contemplative beer that I respect and is definitely a great special occasion beer, I'm very much looking forward to finding out how time changes the bottle I've got on reserve for a special occasion.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I'll start out with a mile-by-mile course description
Ok cutting to the chase, the gem of our trip was a visit to the Russian River Brewery and here is what I think you need to know.
Russian River Brewery is located in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa. If you are from the Midwest, you will be struck by the facade that screams, "I was once an AMF Bowling Alley." Perhaps someone can confirm my suspicions as I couldn't corroborate that with google. Once inside, you'll see vintage beer signs from the heartland and yes, the bar and pub tables are fashioned from bowling lanes. The famous chalk boards display the available taps, American styles on the left and Belgian styles on the right.
Russian River doesn't offer official tours. I'm told that they may accommodate you if there is staff available. We elected to focus on the tasting and didn't bother to ask. Fortunately the pub affords views of the Barrel Aging room as well as the main brewery.
I started out with a Consecration: A strong dark ale aged for 6 months inside used cabernet sauvignon barrels with currants added. It's powerfully sour due to the Lacto, Pedio, Brett dosing. At 10.5%, it's not to be trifled with. My companions elected to jump right to the Pliney and commented on the balance despite the expectation of hop overload
We kept our sever busy ordering Beatification (a 100% brett beer), appetizers, Blind Pig and pizza, swapping glasses with each other. At one point someone made the mistake of ordering a half pint of Pliney. It was ceremonious placed on the table and announce to everyone in the bar as a “Tiny Pliney”
One of the most impressive things to me, and I have not seen very much written about it, was the beer sampler. If most places offer you a drag race of 4-5 getting you from A to B to know that brewery, RR gives you an F1 course where you are encouraged to cut across the track. I know of no other sampler which covers so much of the Belgian styles as well as a primer on American Pales from 20 to 90 IBUs. Weighing in at 16 beers, our table looked as though we were playing a 4 man chess game with each sampler piece carefully debated upon, each person careful not to let go of the sampler until they were sure it was the correct move.
Caption: The sampler looks to be what one might envision the dance of Sac, Pedio, Lacto, and Brett under a microscope.
In the event you are traveling with wine people, RR offers a decent selection of wines. Foodies will appreciate the antipasto, focaccia and pizza. Solidly made crust and mozzarella cheese signal that the craft in craft beer also extends to the kitchen
If you have an opportunity to bring beer back home with you I strongly suggest you check out the Bottle Barn http://bottlebarn.com. Russian River sells a number of their beers at the brewery, however, it's quite common that the Bottle Barn will have offerings that the brewery does not. Give them a call beforehand to find out what's available. We found Supplication and Beatification at the Bottle Barn and these were not available at the brewery. I was also happy to find New Belgium Dark Kriek.
Consider picking up a 2 bottle shipper or a 15 bottle checked bag box for much cheaper than one of the many wine shipping services. Bottle Barn has the best selection that is close to the brewery. Note that Bottle Barn closes at 5pm on Sunday and 6:30 on other days.
A couple of other notes:
- We did visit the Silverado Brewing Company in St Helena and the Calistoga Inn in Calistoga. We found both places had clean, tasty ales, but they were not very challenging. Check them out if you have time, but press on if your beer itinerary has bigger goals.
- If you are in Calistoga and need a lunch or dinner with a quality beer, then head on over to the Hydro Grill. Hydro Grill provides quality food at affordable prices. The bar features 20 taps representing area breweries such as Russian River, Lagunitas, Bear Republic and Anderson Valley.
- Anyone remember Primo? It's back and is now becoming available on draft and in bottles. It's not craft quality but it is distinctive and nostalgic for many.
- If you elect to ship beer in a wine shipper, tell them that you are shipping olive oil or place that box in a larger box. If the shipper believes it to be wine (or beer) they will have to use a third party shipper and that will compound the charges and the shipping time.
- If you must do wineries (and chances are you probably will) visit some of the smaller wineries on the Silverado Trail in Sonoma County. These are much more low key than Napa and won't turn their noses up at brewers. My top recommendation is Vincent Arroyo.
Next time I visit I won't be distracted by any 2600 calorie deficit activities and can more fully focus on the other brewery gems in the area, namely Lagunitas and Bear Republic.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The other day I sat down with some friends and recorded a new Good Beer Show. We celebrated Bonus Beer Bob's birthday. Bob is renowned for hunting down and sharing some killer brews and this night was no exception. We had Brooklyn Black Ops, Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, Alesmith Speedway Stout, Alesmith Speedway Stout barrel-aged and Lost Abbey Angel Share of the brandy barrel variety. The show will be number 171 and for some reason my favorites of the night did not match up with everybody else.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Foothills Hoppium IPA
A nice refreshing brew. As the name implies it’s certainly hoppy, but if you like a hoppy brew, this is certainly just right for a good session beer.
It’s a bright coppery color, and a good head that lingers, and sticks to the side of the glass. I detected a citrus tone, which gave it that refreshing quality. Although it’s hoppy, it’s well balanced with the sweetness of the malt, and it has quite a sweet finish. Not overly carbonated.
I could certainly, and will definitely look out for this beer in the future, and buy it again. It’s been a real pleasure to drink this evening!
Check out Charleston Beer Exchange for a whole lot of excellent brews.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I think I go there too often, as we're on first name terms...
Anyway, the tasting was Some of Flying Dog's excellent beers, but on the growler was Sierra's Bigfoot.
The name is apt. This beer has big flavor, aroma, and at 9.6%abv, strength.
It's a dark red/brown beer, and very hoppy. I very much like hoppy beers, in fact a local brew, Palmetto Pale Ale, is one of my favorite session beers, if I can find it on tap.
This beer has a sweeter finish, and as well as being hoppy, is malty too. A nice balance in my opinion.
I don't think I could make this a session beer, as it's a little too strong to swaff a gallon down and remain upright, but I could easily be persuaded to try and prove myself wrong....
Get down to 14, Exchange Street and get a jugful while it's on.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Tuesday Jan. 27 5pm to 7pm
Adam Mundy of Flying Dog Brewery will be presenting several of their extraordinary beers including Horn Dog Barleywine, Double Dog Double Pale, Gonzo Imperial Porter and Kerberos Tripel.
Wednesday Jan. 28 5pm to 7pm
Liz Volz of Aleph Distributing will be showcasing some of her most exciting beers from their eclectic international portfolio.
Friday Jan. 30 5pm to 7pm
Matthew Lipton of Millenium Beverage will be sampling us on some very unique Belgian ales: Gulden Draak, Piraat and Leute Bok.
Rare Beer Tuesday (Jan. 27)
Their special five o'clock tapping this Tuesday will be Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog Ale. They are one of the only places in the Southeast to receive this special product on draft. This will be going on at the same time as their Flying Dog tasting so go on down and kill two birds with one stone.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Described as a "top fermented 4 grains craft beer", the ingredients in this non-filtered beer are barley malt, wheat malt, oats, German wheat and Saaz hops. Pours a white golden color and a respectable amount of head while the flavor is quite sweet but not overpowering.
For some this may not be a session beer at 6.6% ABV but I found it to be quite drinkable and would revisit this Artisanal Belgian Ale again.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Both the commercial beers have been good in their own way. The Pipeline Porter has a more prounouced and sweeter coffee flavor, whereas the Double Black is definately more bitter and reminiscent of an espresso shot. I think the Pipeline Porter would be a coffee beer that would appeal to the majority, but in my opinion the Double Black is outstanding as well. For a larger brewery like Redhook, they did an excellent job on this one.
What other coffee beers are out there, and what did you think of them?
From the Van Honsebrouck brewery, the beer is a dark blonde in color.
It retains it's head very well, and is big and bubbly when pouring.
It reminds me of pears to drink, but this beer is no slouch on the alcohol content at 11% abv, and it very quickly reminds you of that fact. It might be a little too strong for some, in that the alcohol grabs you almost quicker than the flavor. There's a sugary taste there too, and perhaps cloves.
Some like it hot, some don't. If you like it hot, you may like this.
For all that, it's not a heavy beer. It has good carbonation, and is smooth to drink.
Here, in SC, I got a four-pack for $17.60
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
is a fine brew indeed.
Walking a fine line of sweet malt and assertive hop character. A hop presence so enticing it truly is a work of art. (7.7% abv).
It is brewed year-round.
Ingredients: Two-barley*, Munich* and Caramel 20* malts, Nugget, Amarillo and Cascade hops, ale yeast and filtered water.
I sampled this at Sesame Burgers and Beers, in Spurril Avenue, North Charleston last weekend, and a really fine brew it is too.
It's unpasteurized too, which means it's had nothing taken away, and it's full of flavor, with jsut the right amount of bitterness balanced by the maltiness.
Heck, I'm getting thirsty just talking about it here!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
This post will be short and sweet. The Sierra Nevada 12th Release Harvest Wet Hop Ale is an excellent beer. I drank one last night and it hit the "spot". I have had this one back in October and my initial thoughts were this is going to taste and smell like wet grass. I could not have been further from the truth. When poured the aroma is an explosion of hop goodness that gets up in the sinus' tickles the reptilian brain of all that is good in this world. This beer has a nice hint of malt sweetness that complements the serious thick hop "layers" that come through as you drink it. It finishes with a trailing bitterness that is very pleasant. If you can find this beer definitely give it a go.
Click, then select All Sizes:
Click, then select All Sizes::
Thursday, January 1, 2009
January 1st has traditionally been the stepping stone for a new beginning. New year, new start and dreams of making life better. Before you can move forward you have to look back at what got you where you are. I thought it would only be fitting that my initial post on this site, also first of the new year, is the first beer I ever drank. I'm not kidding, that's the bottle I swiped from dad's stash 17 years ago.
I don't know why I saved it. Honestly, I think it was to impress some girl. I've moved many times since I first drank that glorious bottle of Golden Anniversary and always displayed it with pride through college and then in my 20's as a conversation piece. Now into my 30's it serves as a reminder of where I came from. It's a symbol of my birth into beer which has grown into a passion and obsession for the craft beer industry.
Next time you see a person partaking in beverages of a lower quality keep in mind that was once you and someone opened your eyes to a world beyond cheesy commercials, ads and hype. In 2009 I ask that you become the flavor savior and educators. It's time to show people the light.