Thursday, December 31, 2009

Death to Pumpkins!-Snipes Mountain 08 Bourbon Pumpkin Death

Mark and I have been tearing it up back and forth
this month. Breaking away from the original theme
a bit to bring more regular reviews and share with
each other the new beers we've been able to try.
This next beer is another from the Seattle
Winterfest series.

Snipes mtn. 2008 bourbon pumpkin death.

- this is an imperial stout and let's you know
right away. If there were any pumkpin in this
it was run off some time in late 08.I guess that's
where the pumpkin death comes from.

This is all imperial stout. The barrel aging is
evident in the smoothness. As it warms up you start
to get more crystal and chocolate malt with the
bourbon barrel warmth. And no pumpkin. Anywhere.
Definitely something to sip not to drink.
A pleasure to drink and something that would stand
up well to say Habenero chicken wings, or a nice
Filet Mignon or Fresh baked Pumpkin! I never liked
that orange color and the way those Jack o'lanterns
always look at you like they're all better than you.
Who's scared now Pumpkin!

Pros: If you're a Pumpkin hater and are sick of
those fall pumpkin beers, look no further. This is
your beer.

Cons: If you are looking for a pumpkin stout you
may find yourself getting up off the floor after
the first taste. This is not the beer for you.

Verdict: An excellent beer for the pumpkin hater in
all of us. Best served with pumpkin pie, preferably
while your jack o'lantern watches...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lights Out, Cleveland - Great Lakes Blackout Stout

So, my addiction this December has been Great Lakes Brewery's Blackout Stout. The first time I ever remember drinking one was a while back at a Notre Dame tailgate - from the bottle. I realize now that this was an injustice. If you can't find this one on tap, it cannot be consumed any other way than pouring it into a glass, preferably a snifter. It's that exquisite and way underrated.

This is a pitch black nightmare, 9% stout from the outstanding Cleveland brewery. It has roasted cocoa and woody notes on the nose as it pours a nice brown head. The mouthfeel is like a glass of warm, supple gingerbread and it has a rich flavor of toasted nuts, mocha, and hints of caramel. It's exceptional, one of the best stouts in the US.

Holy Water, Drink, Or Pour Down the Sink: This is Holy Water, my friends. It's available from January (unless you know a cool wine store that gets it earlier) through March, so stock up. Buy some for your local pastor too; he'll, er, worship it. Delish!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Battle of 10 Below-What's the Scuttlebutt?

At the Winterfest we had a great opportunity to taste Scuttlebutt's 10 Below winter ale and their Black Cherry 10 Below. Two versions of the same beer side by side.
both are dark holiday ales with a light head. The
regular has more carbonation and a light malty taste
for a winter ale. The black cherry definitely had
lighter carbonation and a hotter alcohol taste.
The malt comes out more. The nose on the black cherry
is sweeter. The standard picks up a little more hops.
I can't say the black cherry actually has a black cherry
flavor but it'd definitly more malty sweet. The black
cherry has a stronger alcohol flavor.

Verdict:
Pros -
If you like hops pick the regular. If you like
maltier and sweeter get the black cherry.


cons - Not standouts in the crowd.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Boundary Bay 08 Oak Aged Cabin Fever

This was another stand out offering from the Washington Winter Beer Festival. Boundary Bay always makes a good beer but I don't always end going for them just because of the sheer volume of selection in the area and I don't always have the wherewithal to remember what makes them stand out.

This Oak Aged Cabin Fever definitely stood out in this crowd with one word. Tequila. Not something I typically taste in a beer and it wasn't dominant but once I figured out what it was my wife and I both agreed it was in there somewhere.

The Oak Aged Cabin Fever has a strong sweet carmel nose as you'd expect from a winter ale. It settles in the middle of the tongue and then is balanced with peppery spicy hops that give it a more unique taste for holiday ale. Then the barrel flavors start to rise out slowly. You scratch your head trying to place it, Sambuca? Licorice? rubber tire swing? No...wait...TEQUILA! It's by no means dominant but it is in there and gives a pleasing and unique aftertaste that sets this apart from the crowd.

My sombrero off to you Boundary Bay! Now I'll always be able to remember what makes you unique.

Pros:
-Makes you want to dance on a bar to saxiphone music in white platform loafers.
-TEQUILA!!

cons:
-I may be imagining it as some of my other friends couldn't pick out the same flavor.

Black Attack - Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

"Yeah, I guess it's alright."

I have a friend who hates coffee, can't even stand the smell. I decided to put that supposed hate to the test. A couple of weeks ago I went over to Wrigleyville's famous Murphy's Bleachers Pub next to the park's bleachers entrance. They serve certain high ABV beers out of a kegerator, and, folks, it's the best. The beers come out temperate and rich.

This day, they had the venerable Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout on the kegerator tap. They poured it for me in a Brooklyn Brewery snifter (which somehow is now in my apartment - oh, weird) with a silver logo in front. It's a midnight black, akin to the coal of coffee grounds. The nose picks up coffee, deep mocha and roasted wood flavors, with a roundness showing the barrel aging effects. As for the taste, it's not short of heavenly. This is easily one of the twenty best beers I've ever tried. It offers more subtle coffee roast flavors, and dark chocolate malts. Further sips reveal more cocoa. This beer is sensational. At 10.6% it's definitely beyond session level.

Even my coffee-hating friend, when I dragged him over to try it, had to offer the understated compliment quoted above. He had three.

Holy Water, Drink or Pour Down the Sink: this is Holy Water. This is my sip at home and watch indie movies beer. Thanks for another great beer, Brooklyn! And extra thanks for making it a seasonal and not just a one-off.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Schooner Exact: Hoppy the Woodsman

I've been hunting around for this beer as I'm a fan of Schooner Exact's offerings and have been looking forward to their barrel aged beer.

It's amber and clean with a light ring of a head. It starts sweet. It has a malty nose. It has a bitter hop aftertaste that lingers clearly on the sides of the tongue. It's a complex mix but a little chunky. It's a solid beer but needs more aging to mellow and mix the flavors a bit more.

Black Raven: Le Petit Mort kills the competition!

The femme fatal of the festival was definitely Black Raven's little death Le Petit Mort. This true gem was an amazing complex beer. It is a bourbon barrel aged holiday ale. I was able to speak to the brewer a bit about it. He added tons of interesting spices such as nettle and honey alongside the hops. Then aged it in bourbon barrels. It was definitely interesting to taste as it warmed up in my hand. it opened up as it got closer to room temperature. I definitely recommend drinking it at this temperature.

It has a spicey nose to it and a dark ruby/amber color. It starts with a malty sweetness and picks up a very smooth rasin taste from the barrel. the tannins from the barrel are very subtle and the bourbon is not as hot or overwhelming as it can be in many other barrel aged beers. clearly this beer was loved and cared for during the aging process. As it warmed up the hop and bourbon overtones settle in your throat more and linger on your palette. It's amazingly complex. Hats off to Black Raven for their imagination, excellent execution, care, and attention to detail.

Pros: amazingly complex enjoyable beer that is a joy to drink and savor.

Cons:I was able to only get 2ozs at a time.
-You'll want to drink it too fast to properly enjoy it.

Winter Beerfest series: Ram Mocha Stout

Jen and I went to the Washington Winter Beer Festival today and had the opportunity to try some excellent offerings from some of Washington's finest. I'll post up my thoughts on a couple of the standouts we enjoyed.

The Ram brewing Mocha stout is a rare mocha stout that actually smells and tastes like mocha instead of coffee or chocolate syrup. It has a fine light head with light carbonation. It's has the signature black color and fine head that only comes from a stout. It has a distinctive mocha nose. Not just chocolate and not just coffee but a subtle combination that is hard to imitate or fake. The taste begins with a light mocha taste that is sweet but not sugary or syrupy. The malty stout character makes its way in next. The aftertaste has a light chocolaty flavor that lingers. It's an excellent example of a sweet stout that's not overly sweet or overly malty. Definitely a pleasure on a cold night.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

HOD Fred From the Wood is FTW

Well I definitely crossed over in to true beer geek territory this weekend. Yeah yeah as if the Three Flyods episode didn't convince you of that already. I was invited by my friends to join them at the Annual Hair of the Dog Dock Sale this weekend. It sounded like a great opportunity to check it out and gladly accepted. It's basically tailgating except for a brewery release. Great fun but definitely not great for your liver.
We showed up at 6:00am and were not the first people there. Keep in mind the sale started at 10:00am. More and more people arrived and a table of world class beer offering appeared. Everyone was free to join in and taste and share. It was a very communal euphoric experience. Sharing special beers with complete strangers that truly appreciate the generosity of each other. It's a commitment to get up that early and brave the elements but the experience is worth it.


Now on to the review: One of the rare selections I was able to purchase was the barrel aged, Fred From the Wood. This is dedicated to Beer Writer and Historian Fred Eckhardt. The description of the ingredients are that of a brown ale. The beer is aged for 6 months in new American oak barrels. This means two things: 1 it's going to be complex and interesting, 2 it will get better with age. The beer is clear with a dark amber color and a light head. It has a sweet malty nose with a little hint of hop spice in it. As you drink it, it has a strong ale taste, malty up front with the alcohol overtones. The new American oak is aggresive and it gives it a sharp oak tannin finish. Some additional aging in the bottle will mellow this beer out a bit and increase the complexity. I love the fact that Alan (the brewer) is getting barrels made just for his beer. He's not using whiskey or wine barrels to impart flavor, but using the barrels for the sake of setting up the reactions in the beer itself and helping it's flavor grow and mature.


Pros: its a special beer that will grow and develop into something worth enjoying with special friends. Or like minded beer geeks at 6:00am in a dark industrial park.


Cons: You have to show up at a dark industrial park in 30 degree weather at 6:00am to get a bottle. Or run in to a fellow beer geek who's happy to share with you.



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MSBB IPA Series - Stone IPA

I'm back with another entry in the MSBB IPA series, celebrating our love for all things hops. The latest hop heavy brew that deserves a mention here is the Stone IPA.

I first came across Stone in Chicago even though they don't yet distribute to Illinois. Rumors flying everywhere have them coming to the bad beer city. About a year ago, a local pub here, the Hop Leaf, long known for sneaking in rogue brews, not to mention girls sending their drunken boyfriends home in cabs so they can keep drinking, snagged a keg of Stone's signature DIPA, the Ruination IPA, and poured for any willing hop craver. This coup perfectly coincided with my growing passion for hops, so the beer could not have arrived at a better time for me to enjoy it. Already several strong beers in to my evening, the Ruination greeted me in memorable fashion and I never forgot it's sharp, piney flavor and Pit Bull like hop bite. I was instantly a fan of Stone and couldn't wait to get more. Damn the distribution laws!

Fast forward to 2009, last weekend, my most recent Stone experience. I was in South Bend, Indiana, at a must-go Irish pub called the Fiddler's Hearth in downtown. Anticipating a day of tailgating and football, I started with a more traditional Murphy's Irish Stout (which was extremely good), priming the pump for some hops. Stone has distribution in Indiana and the Fiddler's was willing to oblige. Across the bar I saw the prettiest thing in the room: a large royal blue tap with the name "STONE" plastered upon it in big white block letters. This was Stone's standard IPA. Hook a brother up.

Asthetics are at least 40% of beer enjoyment, and the good beers almost always deliver on looks. The bartender poured my Stone into an English style 16-oz pint glass with the widened mouth on top. The beer proudly displayed a huge cumulus head with an overshooting top bubbling out of the glass. Huge forest and flower smells emitted from this hoppy bulge.

It tasted wonderful, quickly unfolding its flavor on my palate and leaving a long, lingering finish of hop juices and oils, cleansing my palate like a strip mining operation on a West Virginia hillside. Malts are shoved to the back but clearly smooth it out; the beer never comes across as brutal or harsh. The mouthfeel was consistent with my favorite types of beers: thin to moderate without being overly rich.

It's not as bold and devastating as it's big brother, the Ruination; but unlike its sibling, the standard Stone IPA is a beer I'm always in the mood for and can session. At 7%, though, sessioning quickly victimizes sobriety.

If this bad boy ever comes available in Chicago, that's good news for my local bodega.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

MSBB IPA Series - Tyranena, Where Did You Come From? Hop Whore DIPA


So, I decided to take a crack at doing something different at the blog in addition to our regular reviews: this is the first entry of a special series we are running with respect to a particular type of beer. That beer would be IPAs. I didn't hear back from my busy pal Shaun regarding whether he's agreeable to this, but I have a feeling that the opportunity to taste and review potentially great IPAs is something he's in to.

Let's return to talking about beer. Hops are perhaps the most striking ingredient in a beer, and no style of beer better expresses hop characteristics than the IPA. There are many different styles within this increasingly popular sub-genre, some sweeter and maltier, such as the legendary Dogfish Head 90 or Southern Tier's IPA; some as baldly hoppy and dry in mouthfeel as Mojave sand, such as Stone Ruination or Surly's Furious.

But, as indicated by the hearts above, IPA's are my beer bread and butter, the beer genre that will keep the sudsy beverage as my drink of choice (too bad we need water). I have a love affair with the IPA, constantly seeking out new cumulus cloud headed, biting hop concoctions to quaff.

My local wine store, Lush Wines and Spirits, happens to feature an IPA from Wisconsin, Tyranena's elegantly named Hop Whore. Normally, I would shy away from an unknown Wisconsin brewery; that state's beers are generally barely more flavorful than a bottle of Aquafina or Dasanti. Having tried Tyranena's Rocky's Revenge that a buddy is crazy about, I gave it a shot. Encouraging, their slogan is "A Series of Big, Bold Ballsy Beers." Besides, how bad can an IPA be?

My curiosity was rewarded. This is an exceptional beer. I poured it an an Alpha King glass that will someday live on the IKEA shelf I spent 17 hours assembling last night. Great instructions, Swedes! The beer pours an incredibly thick and bright white head that lingers forever - I knew there would be action in that glass. It smells woodsy, and of sharp, floral hops. The flavorful body leans toward the bitter side, and the malt presence is in the background. Nothing is out of balance or overwhelming but the bitterness is deep and long lasting with a terrific finish. A palate cleanser, this will stand up to any food, and probably a few brutish Northwoodsmen, agitated about the postponement of the start of deer hunting season.

So, congrats, Wisconsin! You have a respectable beer. Now you have something good to drink with those brats!

HOLY WATER, DRINK, OR POUR IT DOWN THE SINK SCALE: This one's in the holy water range of the scale, folks. If you are an IPA fan and therefore not a loser, this is for you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Brother David’s Triple, Abbey Style Ale, Anderson Valley


Am-azing beer, how sweeeeet the taste, that saved a lush like meeeee. I once was lost . . . You get the idea. I have been on an IPA mission the last couple of years after I really got into the bitter stuff. First it was Dogfish Head 60 Minute that opened the door. Then, the legendary 90 Minute became a staple. Later, beers like Lagunitas IPA, Stone Ruination, and Harpoon IPA vaulted to the top of the pops. It was like a big IPA piƱata burst open, spewing my psyche with hops. Again, you get the idea. So, how was this increasingly hop driven man going to continue loving Belgian style ales after selling his soul at the hop altar? Well, the incredible (and ironically named in terms of this context) Hop Leaf bar in my neighborhood surely helps keep me in touch with my liquid Belgian friend and their yeasty offerings. But, given my increasing love of American microbrews, would a domestic Belgian style really jump up and take notice, smack me around, give me the what for?

Ommegang’s Hennepin is a strong contender for best in show as far as U.S. Belgian styles go. North Coast’s Brother Thelonius rates high. Now, I have to add Anderson Valley’s Brother David’s Triple Abbey Style Ale to the exalted list. This formidable baby pours great, smells great, and tastes very much like the best of Brussels. It has a rich, golden color and pours a large, enticing cumulus head that makes itself at home for a while. It smells of sweet, bright, sharp fruit and has a rich, deep odor profile that’s clean and pure. Immediately the taste hits you. Rich, creamy, malts invade the tongue and linger forever. I get a little peach out of this one but it is well balanced, hardly too sweet.

Anderson really delivers with this one, or, should I say, they delivered me from the evils of bad American style Belgians. Was blind, but now I see. Just not straight anymore – hey, it’s ten percent.

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice ("Cerveza Crema")

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice (Cerveza Crema)

If you were to make summer tangible, into an actual object, what would it look like? An ice cream cone? A classic Firebird convertible, sun gleaming on it with the top down? Is it Megan Fox working on a car as in that famous scene from Transformers? I need a second. Whew. Well, Anderson Valley takes their stab at it with their unique Summer Solstice beer. I opened the bottle expecting it to be an amber with maybe a slightly woody taste to it. You know, a typical Wisconsin beer that you throw down in your back yard in some Indian-named city with a bunch of dudes named Olaf wearing winter coats in June. It poured a very rich head that hung around for a while and confirmed that at least this wasn’t going to be a dull New Belgium Flat Tire. But, would this alternately named Cerveza Crema truly taste like summer?

It surely made a strong effort. It had a northern fruit smell to it, reminding me of something in the apples, apricot variety, and I got an apricot or melon taste from the first sip. This was driven by the heavy malt presence that’s not overdone so it doesn’t come off overly sweet. I’d rate this one as smooth as . . well, let’s not get back into Megan Fox. But, at least I could get my lips on another one of these on the next hot July day. And, to get one, I don’t even have to sweat as hard as the Mexican laborers for whom they proudly gave this its alternative name. Here’s to summer!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Old Viscosity's Older Brother




Okay. I've been deviating from the formula a bit and posting up reviews on beers that have not been sent by Mark every once in a while. This is one of those whiles.

This is the Older Viscosity from Port Brewing and, (Pregnant pause) it's important.

Wow
This beer is black as a new moon blocking out all light. It is Super sweet malty up front.
The nose is sugary and the first taste follows suit. I almost couldn't handle it. Super spicy bourbon flavors follow and end.
Hops are no where to be seen or heard from. This is a take no prisoners Russian Imperial stout
or there abouts that does not care if it is true to form or not.

Unlike the younger brother you may be familiar with, which is 20% bourbon barrel aged and
80% steel aged, this is the opposite. 80/20 bourbon barrel aged to steel aged Russian imperial stout.
It has grown up and matured beyond what you expect. It is wiser and more demanding than it's younger brother.
Like a good table wine this sticks to no boundaries. Perfect for heavy spicy food like BBQ or Mexican
it is definitely not pedestrian. No mere mortal should drink a full glass alone.
This is something that can counter the gamiest of meats and most intense spices.
If maybe you were Ted Nugent serving wild boar that you had just slain on your own property.
Or grizzly bear that you had just killed with a Bowie knife in a life and death struggle. This is your beer.
This is an intense beer. It's too much sweet and too much bourbon spice and so worth it.
Like that girlfriend that was always trouble but you couldn't stay away from.

You need to let this warm up so the bourbon nose can blossom and the spicy aftertaste can stand up to
the malty sweetness. It's special but demands a lot from whomever drinks it.

Pros
-Strong malty stout sweetness followed by strong bourbon woody
spiciness. Stands up to anything you throw at it.
-A complex special sipping beer that really opens up to you if you are able to stand up to the
initial malt sweet onslaught.

Cons
-Not a beer that a mere mortal can drink without a substantial meal to
balance it out...like marinaded hanger steak and maybe raw bear meat.
-You're not worthy.

Verdict
For only the stoutest of hearts, and menus.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Robert The Bruce King of the Scotch Ales

This is a continuation of my series on Three Floyds Brewing. This offering is a bit of a departure from their standard hoppy ale offerings that seem to be theme for their large production beers. The aptly named. "Robert the Bruce." The man who led Scotland to independence from England and become king of Scotland.

Just like that famous king this beer asserts it's independence from the others in the FFF family by being the malty antithesis of say, the Alpha King.

It has a light brown color and thin head with a malty brown sugar nose. The taste follows suit. It has a heavy brown sugar taste with enough carbonation to break up and balance the sweetness and maltiness. It's not sweet like say a honey mead or fruit beer. Just sweet enough and crisp enough to still be refreshing. This is a good autumn beer when warm days and cool nights drive you towards something with a little more body that can stand up to the range of temperatures and the elements. This is a good late night beer or something to break up all the hoppy IPAs you've been drinking all the time. It stands up well to meaty and spicy food such as burgers and tacos. This is a versatile beer that will let people know, you are independent. you may start to have problems with authority and start asserting yourself right there in the bar. You may decide to start wearing a kilt, putting on blue warpaint and telling the bouncer to kiss your arse.

Freedom!!

Pros:
-Not a crazy hoppy beer but has weight and flavor from the malt side of the family.
-Makes you feel like you're independent and don't need someone to tell you what to drink or what's cool to drink.
-Would love to see a scotch barrel aged version of this!

Cons:
-You may have a tendency to put on blue war paint and shout Freedom!! in the middle of the bar.
-may get kicked out of the bar for fighting the power.

Verdict:
-The other king that stands up to the IPA establishment and sets up his own kingdom

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sofa King Alpha King




This is the first installment of the multi part series on The Three Floyd's Brewery. Mark took me to Munster Indiana to the home of Three Floyds where we sat with a couple of friends and tasted some great beers. I bought two cases to bring home with me with a full assortment of everything they had available at the time. Little did I realize that it would be the most expensive cases of beer I'd ever buy. The beer was a little pricey but nothing out of the ordinary for a top tier beer. Where it got expensive is when I realized I'd need to take a taxi to the airport instead of the train I took in to the city in order to transport the beer +$40. Then I had to repack them in two wax boxes +$20. So it cost me an extra $60 for the two cases on top of what I paid for them. Oh the sacrifices we make to bring home the best. :)

On to the first review!

The first review is for their Alpha King! This is their standard bearer of their mass production offering. I found it on tap in many places around Chicago. Unfortunately you can't get it in the Pacific Northwest at Any price. It has a golden brown color that is a little lighter than say an Amber. It has a thick foamy head and the hoppy smell wafts out of the bottle at you immediately. It is the defining point of this beer. It is so floral and sweet without being sugary or overly malty. This is special. It's as if the malt hits the front of your tongue at the exact instant that the hops hit the back of your tongue. The precision is amazing. It's a hoppy beer that are tempered by the malt slightly but really the hops themselves are a beautiful thing. And the best part is the finish. This finish lingers. And I mean I can take a drink. Eat a piece of my wife's chicken parmigian and still taste the beautiful hops on the back of my tongue. I've been writing for a couple minutes now and STILL can taste the hops on my tongue!

Pros:
-Beautiful Hop aromas and flavors that last and last.
-The last beer you may ever taste!

Cons:
-Um I can still taste it...
-A little pricier than I expected. :)
Verdict:
-The True King of Beer!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Son of The Founders


I was recently out in Chicago to visit Mark and he sent me home with a couple of treats. Along with the 2 cases of Three Floyds (to be reviewed in an upcoming installment series). He introduced me to Founders brewing while I was there and I have to agree with him that this is one of the best breweries going. All there offerings are solid and Their Kentucky Breakfast Stout is something special whether you have it for breakfast or not. Mark sent me home with their double IPA. The Founders double IPA starts with a heady hop nose typical of the style. When you pour it there is just a thin head to let you know it’s carbonated and if you look closely it’s not cloudy but has sediment in suspension. It’s unique. It has a layered taste that’s also unique. It starts off tart, then malty in the middle to cut the tartness, and finishes long with a strong hops ending. It’s methodical in the way the flavors walk you through the taste from the opening hit of carbonation to the final hops finish. Like a tour guide at the art museum slowly moving you from room to room, pointing out each of the pieces and one or two special things to pick out. I’ve tasted many other Founders offerings and while this is good if I had access I think I would get some of their other offerings such as Breakfast stout, or Old Curmudgeon.
Pros:
-Methodical sensibility that walks you through every flavor in the taste
Cons:
-Hard to find in the Northwest and if I could find Founders I would get something else by them
Verdict:
-A great solid double IPA but not the favorite son of the Founders

Local 1 for the Modern Working Man



We had friends over for a special beer tasting series and Josh brought over a special bottle that, coincidentally, Mark had also been raving about. So luckily I got to try it and post up a review. Brooklyn Brewing brings us a special brew made by and made for their union brethren. It’s know as Local 1 and it’s reminiscent of a Belgian strong ale but with a unique brown ale type of malty sweetness. Its bottle fermented so it’s cloudy with light carbonation but still effervescent. The head has big fluffy bubbles, more than you'd expect from bottle carbonation. The union definitely has quality control under control. It has a malty nose with hints of brandy. Just like back in the old days where everything was made right under one roof there’s no outsourcing of flavor or carbonation. It all happens in the bottle.

Pros:
-Union Made and Union Approved all in one bottle.

Cons:
-Bottle fermenting means you’ll have to wait until everyone is good and ready to finish before you can drink it. So it may take a little longer than a non-union beer before it’s ready to drink.

Verdict:
-American beer made for today’s working man

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A "Hit" From The Land of The Rising Sun - Hitachino Nest Ale


So, I was out in Seattle back in March and experienced some typical Seattle weather for most of the time I was there. But, who cares when you have a whole day dedicated to the Washington State Cask Beer Festival?? At least, I seem to recall that I might have been at such a place - after drinking barleywine it got a little hazy.

The day before the festival, while visiting Shaun, I got to try what was then the latest edition of Shaun and Mark's beer exchange, the Hitachino Nest Beer. Upon observing it, I worried that it would be too light and easy for my IPA loving self. Perhaps this little brew would disappear in my mouth like a glass of mediocre sake. That was hardly the case. Light in color and thin bodied, this lager packed an amazing amount of flavor. It bears sharp citrus notes but also just enough hop bite to keep it focused. This beer commands your attention in the same way that a cool kit hot rod car does on a sunny day. And this is quite the perfect summer beer.

Fortunately, this is offered plenty of places in Chicago. Everyone I've introduced to this fermented concoction didn't just like it; they wanted to make love to it, making this a fine "how did he know I would like this?" beer to share with your friends and women whose phone numbers you seek. I look at this bottle and see my next three months. Well done, Japan!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lagunitas: The Saison of Summer


Yesterday it was a perfect day in Seattle to sit outside and enjoy lunch and a beer. The sun was shining it was a comfortable 70 degrees and a light breeze. I found a perfect beer to go with a sunny summer day. The Lagunitas Saison is a great replacement for the typical American Pilsner style beer that those giant breweries try to tell you taste good. It's also a great replacement for the ubiquitous hefewiezens that have become so popular in the last few years. Plenty of great hefe's but it's nice to have a choice.

This beer pours a pure yellow, not golden or pale but a crisp clear yellow. It has very little head and the bubbles slowly climb up the sides of the glass. It has a malty smell with a faint wif of hops and yeast. It doesn't look and smell quite like a normal Saison and this helps it blend in with the bud crowd if the need arises. The effervescence hits the front of your tongue immediately and then the tart taste hangs out mainly on the sides and back of your tongue. That's where you find most of the flavor. It's not citrusy like a hefe or bitter/hoppy like an IPA. It is a mix of lightly malty and tartness that make it a great refreshing summer beer. And best of all: No fruit needed.

In a pint glass this great beer could easily sneak in to your baseball buddies circle of cheap beer drinkers without getting laughed out or called snobby. Of course all this could be for naught if a knowledgeable bartender serves it in the proper Belgian goblet style glass.

Pros:
-Excellent tasting refreshing summer beer
-Can blend in with cheap beer crowd if required
-No Fruit required

Cons:
-Your cover could be blown if served in the proper frew-frewy glass

Verdict:
-A great non-hefe non-crap beer that's perfect for summer

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ommegang's Got The Funk

This review is late in posting. Mark came out to Seattle in March for my birthday and brought me this excellent introduction to Ommegang brewer. Thanks to scheming with my wife! :)

We popped the top on this cork capped bottle and settled in to enjoy. The first thing that hits you is the yeasty funky smell so common with Belgian style Saison beers. When you pour it it has a thick foamy head and a golden cloudy look. Everything at this beer jumps out at you and clamors for attention. This has that coordinated crazy style like going to see Parliament bring the Funk in concert. Where there are 10 people on stage playing big and loud all vying for attention and some how they all come together at the right moment to create great funky music...whiteboy.

That moment is when you take a sip. The yeasty smell blends in to a light hop bite with a citrus aftertaste leading in to the carmel maltiness. All this competes with the highly carbonated mouthfeel and taste. Like the drummer at the back of the band playing over everyone during their drum solo. It all works so well together to create a harmonious experience the George Clinton Himself would envy.

Pros:
  • Tons of great flavors and smells and feel
  • Makes you feel like George Clinton is playing in your mouth
Cons:
  • So much going on you need to sit back and enjoy with a friend. This beer demands attention.
  • Smells like George Clinton in the bottle
Verdict:
  • A big exciting beer that the Grand Daddy of funk himself would love

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dreadnaught on the Horizon




I've been told that I have been lucky to ramp up over the past year on some of the best beers in the world. I owe it to where I live and the fortune of the friends I have.

I was fortunate to have two friends that put me in the position to find and purchase this next beer.

This Three Floyd's dreadnaught Imperial India Pale Ale was not something I would have normally picked up but for my friend Robert who originally introduced me to Three Floyd's via the Dark Lord in Montreal and recommended this via cellphone in a wine store in Chicago.

And Mark who had me out to Chicago again and took me to this "wine store" where we found both this beer and a secret bottle of Dark Lord in the back to be saved for a future review.

Thanks to both Mark and Robert for putting me in a position to purchase this beer.

we opened this beer after 6 months of careful cellaring in our main living room at a controlled temperature of 65 degrees plus or minus 10 degrees.

We opened this in the best atmosphere possible. Tons of friends and good beer. :)

Immediately you can smell the intense floral scent of a high quality full hop smell. Not the smell of hop plugs shipped all the way from Germany 2 years ago and processed into little round rabbit pellets. the smell of full healthy intense hop flowers that were hanging off the portucullis outside the brewery and were hand picked by someone's German grandma and thrown in to the boil at exactly the right time as only can be determined by the feeling in her 90 year old bones.

Looking at the beer it has the clear golden look of a professionally crafted beer with a slight head on top to let you know it's properly carbonated. this is clearly not a hit or miss home brew or a force carbonated "macro brew." This is plain and simple a professionally made beer.

The taste is unique in it's layers. It starts out as a typical IPA with a clear hoppy start to the taste that is pure IPA. What sets this beer apart and keeps your girlfriend from complaining that "it's too hoppy" is the sweetness that follows after the hoppiness. This is an indescribable slightly sweet followup right after the floral taste that clears out the typical after taste that makes Pale Ales more man centric and causes women to turn up their nose. This beer is different. Like Chanel #5 a timeless classic that is approved by both he and she.

Pros:
-Clean clear professional looking beer that doesn't scream "look at me and my super special beer!"
-Amazing quality of taste from the ingredients
-A unique taste that she'll like too.

Cons:
-Only sold in Illinois and Indiana. Really? Really??
-About double the cost of a regular beer in the store. No idea what a bar would try to charge for it.

Verdict:
-"Strong enough for a man, but she likes it too."

Back in the Saddle with a Special Treat




Hello Beer Fans! I know it's been a while and Mark and I have not been able to trade beers lately.

I had another opportunity at a 100/100 Ratebeer.com beer.

I give you: Russian River Consecration

The first impression I have when looking at it and smelling it is this beer is more like wine than beer. It has a red/brown color with no head that looks like it could be a glass of red wine in dark lighting. The smell is very fruit forward with no hops floralness or beer maltiness. The Black Currant reaches out to your nose and demands its uniqueness.

What jumps out in this totally unique beer is the acidic taste from the Flemish style yeast. Almost vinegar but not so far to make it difficult to drink a sip or the whole glass. It has a slight tart aftertaste. There is almost no hops influence in scent or taste. The yeast provides the tartness to counteract the sweetness and fruitiness.

This is a very unique beer that is more comfortable crashing a wine bar than watching the game with wings.

Pros:
-
Completely Original Beer so you can be the first among your friends to introduce it
-If you don't like wine but find yourself in a position where you have to drink it. This beer is your wingman and best friend.
-You're so cool for having known about this beer that other people will think you're cooler than you are for drinking it.

Cons:
-If you are expecting the typical taste of beer you will be surprised and disappointed
-Is this really beer???

Verdict:
-If you find yourself in a situation that requires beer but demands wine. This beer, like your best man, has your back and won't tell anyone.