Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Victory Brewing St. Boisterous Hellerbock

I don't write about lagers very often. Most of them are too boring to be worthy of mention. You don't want to read about them.  They're usually either bland, at best, or at worst, taste of chemicals (hat tip to Jen, Shaun's wife on that descriptor).

Yet when Victory Brewing's St. Boisterous Hellerbock came on my radar, I jumped at it.  First, this Pennsylvania brewery is arguably the East's best brewer, along with Dogfish Head and Brooklyn, and perhaps has the most accessible lineup of great beers in the region.  Second, they do European styles quite well.  The Prima Pils, their signature beer, is a great approximation of the classic European pils style and uses actual German hops exquisitely.  Third, I was not familiar with the Hellerbock style, but I love German lagers and can't think of an American brewer I'd trust more to recreate the German style with perhaps a bit of Yankee ingenuity. Mark, meet St. Boisterous. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dogfish Head Burton Baton Ale

Dogfish Head is known for their bold, experimental beers, barrel aging, weird barrel aging, and an off-centered (their term - see their standard 12 ounce pint glass) ingredient roster.  If they can get their hands on it and get it to impart a flavor on their beers, they'll brew with it.  Nothing they do is truly ordinary.  So, the unusual nature of their barrel-aged India Pale Ale is no surprise. Welcome to the Burton Baton Ale. To make this beer, Dogfish blends an imperial IPA with another high-gravity ale then oak barrels the mixture for a month.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Founders Harvest Ale

I thought I would give a quick post on Founders' heavily sought after Harvest Ale. This is one of Founders' great seasonal beers, a grouping that includes the Backwoods Bastard, Breakfast Stout, and Cerise, among others.  My local liquor store only received one case of it and was limiting it to 1 bottle each for preferred customers, of which I was thankfully considered one.  I decided to launch into this one the day that I bought it.

Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA

The Firestone Walker Union Jack is the first of the three latest beers Shaun kindly sent me from Seattle.  I had tried this beer on Dark Lord Day at the guest beer tent, and found it notable enough to mention it in my account of that very pleasant day.  Tonight, I got to give it the full treatment from a bomber sized bottle.  I even poured it into the Three Floyds Alpha King British style pint glass that Shaun bought me on DLD.  So how would this Paso Robles IPA stack up?  Would it be like bringing a knife to a gun fight in the IPA world, as Shaun would put it?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Port Brewing Fresh Hop IPA

Port Brewing cranks out IPAs the way that the state of Florida churns out football players.  They have a deep roster of the hoppy beers.  I went to the brewery's original location in Solana Beach, CA, in September and tried a new DIPA that just debuted at their Ocean Beach location and is amazing.   Fortunately, quite a few of them make their way to Chicago.  I recently tried the Fresh Hop IPA in a bomber sized bottle.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oktoberfest! -Fremont Oktoberfest

As always Mark some solid reviews! I hear Bells
is coming out with a new sour.I'll trade you
some Russian River for a couple bottles.
This post is about Seattle's own humble offering
to the great gods of September. Fremont Oktoberfest!
I have to say I was skeptical about the event as it
tends to be about quantity over quality. While I do
admit to saying once or twice "I am dumber for
having overheard your conversation" it was overall
a great experience with some excellent offerings.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stone Brewing Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

Is Stone capable of missing the mark on a beer? It seems as if the craft beer giant from Escondido, California can do no wrong right now.  Very few breweries can make multiple great beers.  Even fewer are capable of making great ales and stouts.  While Stone is celebrated for its hoppy ales, in particular the Ruination and Arrogant Bastard, its dark beer collection is replete with excellent beers.  Consider this lineup:  Imperial Russian Stout, Smoked Porter, Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, and variations on these bottlings.  These are all outstanding offerings of great flavor and complexity. 

Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA

After making a trip to the west coast this summer, it's a reminder of how hard it is to get excited about most Midwestern IPAs.  It's similar to the difference between the freshness of seafood on the coast versus land locked states.  In west coast IPA's the citrus hop nose and flavors just leap out at you, while their Midwestern cousins are far more tame and ordinary. Several Midwestern brewers take worthy stabs at it, such as Bell's formidable Two Hearted Ale and their powerhouse Hopslam, Founders Double Trouble and the Centennial, Three Floyd's brilliant Dreadnaught and the English-styled Blackheart, which is very underrated. Surly's unique Furious is a very aggressively hopped IPA from the Land O' Lakes. Perhaps the best of the bunch that I've tried so far is Dark Horse's Crooked Tree IPA. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quick Take: Dark Horse Brewing Boffo Brown Ale

I haven't written enough about Dark Horse Brewing.  Located in Marshall, MI, this brewer is know for unusual and outstanding takes on popular American styles of beer. They don't dabble in a lot of European styles and I've never tasted a Belgian out of their shop, but, similar to their Michigan cousins, Founders Brewing, when they make a beer, I know it's going to have their signature stamp of uniqueness to it.