Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fresh Hop Beers - Fresh Hop Mirror Pond, Two Beers Fresh Hop, and Bridgeport Harvest Ale

The Fresh Hop beers have arrived! I've found Fresh Hop Mirror Pond, Two Beers Brewing Fresh Hop Ale, and Bridgeport Harvest Ale. These only show up for a few weeks a year and then they are gone! Go out and and get them. Here's my take on a couple great ones.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Great Lakes Nosferatu: A Red Conundrum

We've reached that time of year where the air is a bit more chilly, it rains without thunder, football is ubiquitous, and some great autumn beers begin populating taps.  Among those is Great Lakes' Nosferatu, a beer I became familiar with 3 years ago after hearing the rumors.  I have a lot of love for this beer as an idea.  The 1920's era vampire logo on the bottle is plain cool.  That it's a red ale also scores it bonus points.  That Great Lakes decided on this as their signature fall beer instead of taking the Oktoberfest path that everyone else takes is also a plus, as breweries almost reflexively churn out enough malty, forgettable Oktoberfest ales to make the entire city of Munich cry.  Kudos to Great Lakes for going in a different direction and making the bold Nosferatu their fall offering (I do note that they have started putting out an Oktoberfest beer in at least the last year or so).

But something's rotten in Cleveland.  A problem I've run into with Nosferatu in the last year is its great inconsistency.   Some kegs/bottles of it are brutally hoppy as if they somehow brewed it without any malts.  Other times it has that caramel maltiness that aptly tames the hop assault and is the reason I became a fan of this in the first place.  To my surprise, they tapped this at the Hideout Block Party last weekend and it was like drinking pine bark.  The hops were overwhelming.  Later, I tried one from the tap at Northdown Cafe, and all flavors blended harmoniously.  These kinds of variances have happened a lot with this beer for a couple of years.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Abbaye St-Remy Trappists Rochefort 10 - Quintesential Quad

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed "The Stoic" from Deschutes and concluded that, while a very good beer, it was not a Belgian Quad. So I decided to go get an authentic Belgian Quadruple brewed by real Belgian monks. Trappistes Rochefort 10 from the monks at Abbaye Notre-Dame De Saint Remy. I can see why some folks are a surprised and confused. When the term "Old Masters" is used in art it usually conjures up thoughts of DaVinci, Botticelli, and the Renaissance crew. If I apply that term to beer, it means these guys, and there 6 brethren Abbeys. They really are the masters.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout: Inagural Bottle Release

If you don't know, now you know, as Biggie Smalls would say.  Founders has decided to bottle its legendary Canadian Breakfast Stout, which will be made available to the public on October 1 at the brewery.  It will be featured on tap and approximately 1,700 bottles will be made available to the public for purchase at $18 a piece, 2-bottle limit per person.  The release party will probably remind one of the Kentucky Breakfast Stout release party Shaun and I detailed last year at this blog.

CBS is one of the best beers on the planet.  Good luck in trying to get some of it, and if you are at Founders on release day, perhaps I'll see you.  CBS goes into distribution in very limited amounts on October 3.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Collaboration #2 Deschutes/Boulevard - White IPA

Deschutes has definitely been cranking out the special releases lately and I love it! I also love collaborations between brewers. This week's is Boulevard Brewing and Deschutes collaboration. It's a great testament to the attitude of the craft beer community. It's an attitude of...well, community. They believe in supporting each other and sharing ideas rather than viscous cutthroat competition for profits. They get that one of the reasons craft beer consumption volume grew by 11% last year, while overall beer volume consumption decreased in the US, is due to the growing number of people that want variety, experimentation, and community. As the saying goes, "The craft beer industry is 99% asshole free." That 1% is reserved for those folks selling Dark Lord on eBay for $100 a bottle (You know who you are) /end rant.

Now to get off my soapbox and back to the point. This week I'm posting up my review of Collaboration #2. The Boulevard Brewing version of their White IPA collaboration with Deschutes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Three Floyds Zombie Dust: Rise of the Great Pale Ales

Out in Seattle a few weeks ago, Shaun and I got to talking about the resurgence of the pale ale.  In the late 90's, early 00's, there were a bunch of pale ales floating around, mostly in bottles, but also on a few taps and at brewpubs. As I recall, Cincinnati, my then hometown, made a couple of decent ones at its brew pubs.  Then the IPA started making its way out of its pockets of cultivation out west and wiped pale ales off the map.  Those that were made became boring or at least seemed that way.  That has changed.

The pale ale has made a comeback with a slew of outstanding ones popping up, featuring bold fresh hops, a more interesting and fresher malt profile, and bright carbonation.  Coronado Brewing stepped up its Four Brothers Pale Ale.  Victory is winning with its Headwaters Pale Ale.  Summit's 25th Anniversary Ale is sensational.  The leader of the pack, not surprisingly, is Three Floyds with its Zombie Dust.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Excellent Article Regarding The Burgeoning Chicago Craft Beer Industry

Imbibe magazine offers this rather tasty account of the exploding beer scene in Chicago fueled by the rise of the local craft brewing industry.  One of the stars of this emergent show is Revolution Brewing in Logan Square, which boasts several outstanding mainstay beers and is rolling out an increasingly excellent roster of specialties.  The article gets it right by specifically noting Revolution's two standouts, the Anti-Hero IPA and the Eugene Porter, both excellent.  The article recounts the long history that brought Chicago to here as the city's doors gradually opened up to craft brewing, led by pioneers such as Goose Island. 

The Seattle faction of our readership may say, "what took you so long to make strides towards being us?" but here in the Windy City, this emergence has been a revelation. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Upcoming Seattle Events Sept - Oct

There are some great beer events coming up in September and October and here are my picks:

1)Elysian's Great Pumpkin Festival. Oct. 8th and 9th.
This is one of my favorite fall festivals. Last year was a bit of a mad house since it was in their small parking lot at the Capitol Hill location and they had only 6 tables to serve the hundreds of people showing up. This year it's going to be down at their new facility in Georgetown. That means much more room and hopefully, more tables with shorter lines. They really flex their networking muscles at this event. They always  get some of the best fall and pumpkin beers around including their Allagash collaboration Ghoulship. It was fermented in Allagash's coolship on Halloween 2008 and then put it in barrels. Every year they open another barrel and bring it to the festival. It's yummy!

Last year they had their mister yuck Pumpkin Sour, and a strong showing of their own concoctions topping off with a giant pumpkin filled with beer!

they have a ton of great guests like, Jolly Pumpkin, Silver City, Russian River, Black Raven, and a special Rum barrel aged Pumpkin Ale! Yumm again. Better find a designated driver! Pre-sale tickets are $20 either via Brown paper tickets or at one of their restaurants.

2)Fremont Octoberfest
Okay I know it's more of a quantity over quality fest but you can find some great gems here and there if you look carefully. And you can get your first sip of Deschutes Jubeale each year. It's October 23rd, 24th and 25th. So taste a few gems and then sit down with a half liter of your favorite! Or if it gets out of hand you can always sneak out to Fremont Brewing or Brouwers.

3)Keep an eye out for Fresh Hop beers!
It's Hop Harvest! That means the fresh hop and wet hop beers are hitting the shelves and bars about now. In the pacific NW we are fortunate to grow almost all the hops grown in the united states between Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. That means we are blessed with an abundance of fresh hopped beers. These beers take pale and India pale ales and take them to the next level. Brewers through them into the kettle whole flower without drying or processing. They lend so much more complexity and "terior" to the beer. The flavors are not as concentrated so you get earthiness and herbal notes that are usually lost in most IPAs and pale ales. These are best had on cask or naturally conditioned. The light carbonation allows more subtle flavors to come through and doesn't mask them as much. Two Beers brewing already has their fresh hop out. Keep an eye out for Deschutes Twilight and Hop Trip, Sierra Nevada's Harvest Ale, and your twitter account clear!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chicago's Acre Restaurant Steps Up Their Beer Game

Hey, guys. Over at Chicago Foodies, I have added a post about Chicago's Acre Restaurant, a pleasant, laid back spot in Chicago's north side Andersonville neighborhood.  They have been killing it with their taps lately and are becoming a major player in the beer bar scene.  Check it out.  And if you are in Chicago, check out Acre. 

Full Sail Brewing Elevation Imperial IPA

There was so much beer awesomeness to be had in Seattle.  It seemed as if I was being offered and introduced to one incredible beer after another during my short, whirlwind stay there.  On my last full day, Shaun and I stopped in at a QFC supermarket to find some interesting bottles. I needed to find a bottle for a Chicago friend of mine and wanted to see if there was anything I'd want to take back with me, such as an incredible Pacific Northwest IPA.  I locked in when I saw the Full Sail Elevation IPA.  Having already tried their stunningly incredible Top Sail Porter, this was a no-brainer.  Other small production imperial IPA's from the region such as Deschutes Hop Henge have been nothing short of spectacular, so if a brewer on Full Sail's level was concocting this IPA - an imperial IPA, no less - I figured to be putty in their hands.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Deschutes-The Stoic Belgian Quad?

Before I get into the rest of the details of Mark's visit to Seattle I have to post up my review of this recent release from Deschutes Brewing, The Stoic. I'm pretty much in a no win situation with this somewhat controversially named "Belgian Quad" style  ale. It's been getting panned a bit by folks for its deviation from the style it claims to be and people are generally not impressed. I am the first to say I am a Deschutes fanboi and love almost everything they offer. To me they are a model of how a successful brewery should run. They have a clear product line of standard offerings that are excellent high quality beers across the board, and they release high caliber seasonal and small batch one offs on a regular basis that are exciting and keep their brewmasters engaged. So I figure I lose either way in this review. If I love it I'm just a fanboi and if a hate it I'm just another hater getting on the bandwagon. But wait I forgot! There are only about 5 people that read this so no one really cares, I guess I'll just write down what I think.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Back From Seattle With Beer Stories: Georgetown Brewing Lucille IPA

I have returned - and recovered - from my recent sojourn in Seattle with Shaun.  As the pictures show, I had a great time partying with Shaun and his baby daughter.  Wow, is she going to be lucky or what to get a beer education from her dad - in 21 years, that is.  In the meantime, it's up to me and Shaun to write about the great beers, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest that are so uncannily awesome.  I have much to detail and review.   There was the trip to Elysian Brewing's brewpub where I had an excellent pair of IPA's and a delicious stout, along with some prize tastings.  There was a Dark Lord vertical tasting at Shaun's detailed in his recent post.  There were other outstanding IPA's, sours, and offerings from the west coast that remind me of why beers out there have such a terrific reputation.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mark Comes to Seattle - Three Floyd's Dark Lord 3 yr Vertical

Well, I finally got Mark out to Seattle to meet my brand new baby girl. And while we he was here I just had to host a  vertical tasting of my Three Floyd's Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout that Mark has helped me collect over the last 3-4 years. One or two of you who may have read some of our posts before on our Dark Lord Day hijinks. And we shared a few of our recent favorites and discoveries while we had the chance. It was great to see you again buddy!