Sunday, February 21, 2010

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout-For thick necked guys named Gunter, and you.

This is the second of the thick black beers from Mark. You know the ones that "only thick necked guys named Gunter" drink. Some of you may be a little young for that one so google "becks beer commercials" on facetube, or whatever it's called.

Mark has picked out one of his favorites from one of his favorite breweries for me. Brooklyn Brewing's Black chocolate Stout. Or as I like to call it "Black Chocolate Yum." It pours a nice warm thick black with a foamy cocoa colored head. I can definitely smell the chocolate and crystal malt. It has a sweet nutty malty smell.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bittersweet Enjoyment - Bell's Hopslam, 2009

I recently got to try a few pints of Bell's Brewery's Hopslam, the Kalamazoo, Michigan, area's double IPA. Their "standard" IPA, Two Hearted Ale, is worthy of a review, too, at some point. Chicago is close enough to Michigan and such a Bell's crazy city, that you can find the limited availability Hopslam at a few places around town. My most recent hop slam was at a local pub, The Village Tap.

The VT offered the beer in an 8 oz. pour, probably because of its limited availability and because, with its 10% average, enough is enough. That format is not uncommon for this beer, as other pubs similarly offer it. It starts with a dose of rich, but not overly bright hops, that smell more of wildflowers than citrus, like the west coast ones (not to definitively state that their hops are not Cascades). Then comes a bit of a twist. Sweet smells start to make it apparent that something different is going on and that you are not in for another bruiser of a double IPA. It pours a modest head. Initially, the taster is socked with a surprising amount of honey or apricots on the palate. This mouthfeel is more in line with a high alcohol lager or an Anchor Steam; it does not have the creaminess of some DIPA's, such as Michigan's Acadia Brewery's Hop Mouth or Russian River's Pliny the Elder.

Hopslam's finish can be alarming to non-IPA drinkers, as a copious hop blast arrives at the finish. For IPA vets, it's the moment they've been waiting for but does not arrive too late. The sweetness of this beer unites most beer drinkers on either side of the dividing line, but never predominates; this is never cloying.

Rating: **** stars. A unique and outstanding beer, grounded in enough hops to keep one entertained; but don't let the sweet flavors suck you in to a drunken stupor.

The Flavor Enhancah! - 2007 Great Lakes Blackout Stout

Last month I wrote a testimonial - er - review of Great Lakes Brewery's renowned Blackout Stout. The great Cleveland brewery informs that this beer is normally available for a few months, beginning in January. Lush, my local wine store informs that it has been delayed this year for undisclosed reasons. Ross Perot would surely attribute it to NAFTA and that giant sucking sound. That aside, I was fortunately able to get my hands on some 2007 Blackout through Lush. I was nervous because these bottles stated that their contents were "best before 8/2/07". How would this affect this most delicious brew (when fresh)?

As Tim Meadows stated to Dewey Cox in Walk Hard, it "only makes it better." The normal, rich roasted malt elements had progressed to a deeper charcoal flavor. There was a stern nuttiness, perhaps chestnut around the edges of the palate. These flavors combined for a strong, elongated finish, leaving the taster bewitched but greatly anticipating the next sip, and ruing the last. The concerns regarding freshness were clearly misguided. That this stout is a 9% concoction permits its aging for extended periods, making this a serious beer, of vintage capability.

Notably, Lush informs that Great Lakes is scrapping the "best before" dating on its future Blackout bottlings, and going with vintage dating. Thus, the capability for vertical tasting with this beer is no longer an implication, but a true formality.

RATING: * * * * 1/2 Stars. This is a complete beer that will entice even non-stout drinkers (weirdos), and is priced far below many of its rivals in the same class.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dark Horse Reserve- "I'll take it" Black bier ale

Mark sent me his latest selection of fine beers from Chi-town. He recommended I start with the Dark Horse of the bunch (pun intended). The Dark Horse Brewing Reserve, Special Black Bier Ale. Dark Horse Brewing is from the great state of Marshall Michigan. Which, for you michigan people, is below the middle of the mitten right where the main line down the middle of your palm meets the muscles from the thumb and outside of your hand.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Three Floyd's Behemonth - Light on it's feet but packs a punch

My friends had a special beer tasting event this past weekend where the guys pulled together an amazing 3 year vertical tasting of Dogfishead Red and White Barleywine. I'll get to that special event in the next posting. We also brought along a bunch of stuff to try on the undercard as well. My contribution was an '09 Three Floyd's Behemoth. You may remember I picked it up on my last trip out to visit Mark in Chicago. I have to say I was a little worried since it was fairly young and Barleywine's can be very strong without a little mellowing. I was pleasantly suprised by this one.