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.