Friday, October 28, 2011

Great Divide - Fresh Hop Pale Ale

The fresh hop cruise continues. This week I picked up great divide's fresh hop pale ale. Get these little gems while they last! It's just a fun time of year to drink beer. Between Octoberfest beers, Pumpkin Beers, and Fresh/Wet hop ales we are awash in seasonal beers on limited release. Go get all that you can! This is the least local of the fresh hop beers I've drank but one of my favorites.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mark's Gift - Arcadia Ales - Cocoa Loco

Mark left me a small gift from his last visit that I've had in the fridge for a while. It's Arcadia Ale's Cocoa Loco. Don't worry this is not some malt beverage with caffeine in it that causes college kids to lose control in fits of hysteria and perform unscrupulous acts forcing towns councils to ban alcohol and dancing. This is a milk stout with Cocao nibs, chocolate, and Molasses.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA

"Because you look so happy to have it," she said.   I was.   I had just sat down at The Bad Apple in Chicago after discovering on the invaluable that the Apple had Port High Tide Fresh Hop IPA on draft, a once-a-year beer I had been waiting for and Shaun just posted about today.  Great minds think alike and our thoughts have again coincided on beer.   Shaun greatly enjoyed his from the looks of it, and mine was splendid.

The woman quoted above was the Floridian bartender at the Apple who poured my first High Tide of the evening and reveled in my obvious glee.  There was no reason not to be giddy.  Port is known for their lean hoppy beers and once again show no mercy with High Tide. 

Port -High Tide Fresh Hop IPA

The Fresh Hop parade continues! This time I've picked up a bottle of Port Brewing's High Tide Fresh Hop IPA. This is one of the stronger Fresh Hop beers. Most are a bit subtler celebrating the subtle complex flavors in the hop profile. This is not one of those...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bridgeport Brewing Hop Harvest

Hello, beer lovers.  Over at Chicago Foodies, I posted my review of Bridgeport Brewing's Hop Harvest beer.  Be sure to give it a look as I analyze another of the hop harvest ales that have been this month's major theme at our blog. Hoppy reading.   Sorry about that. 

Victory Brewing Braumeister Pils and Victory Festbier: A Hit And A Miss

With the World Series about to start, how about a few bad baseball analogies. I'm going to schedule a doubleheader of reviews here.  Allow me to step into the batter's box.  Actually, it's Victory at the plate, whose Hop Wallop I just reviewed in the context of saying that Victory (1) doesn't usually miss on a beer; and (2) always gives you a twist, something unusual.  Well, no brewer in the country bats .1000.  Victory has a hole in their lineup and it's the Festbier that should be hitting 9th - I guess since Pennsylvania's a National League state, it hits 8th, in front of the pitcher, perhaps even a greater indignity. 

What I'm trying to tell you is that Victory swung and missed majorly with the Festbier.  I'm typically anti-Oktoberfests these days, finding them flabby and watery malt affairs.  A slew of brewers think they just have to brew one, and very few of them stand out.  Sadly, the brewing community at large doesn't even seem to be trying to distinguish their Okt from the others, perhaps because of a desire to adhere to a common perception of the German brewing tradition.  But I've had really good German beers that are spicy, biscuity and more interesting than the flabby Okt's that Brooklyn, Great Lakes, et. al., churn out.  If that's truly representative of the German style, American craft brewers should leave it to the Deutscheland brau hauses and perhaps add some American flair to the Okt's, with more hops and spices.

Victory Brewing Hop Wallop Review

If you read us regularly, you are aware by now that I love Victory Brewing from Downingtown, PA, quite substantially.  I don't write about them nearly enough.   Sierra Nevada is the one I've voted as the nation's most underrated brewer, but at least their Pale Ale sells everywhere.   Victory's revenue's probably 30 percent of Sierra's and they are too often dissed or dismissed by even the devoted craft brew lovers, seemingly their core constituency.   A grocery store beer manager in my neighborhood recently told me that he won't have more than two shelf slots dedicated to Victory because he can't move the product. I don't get it.  Victory's lineup beats that of any Illinois brewer by a long shot, and they're one of the best brewers in the nation that offers most of their top quality beers in non-bomber sizes.  Thank you for that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout: The Review

Finally.   After all the hype, the lines out the door at Founders, the phone calls, the Google searches, and the rejection, I finally got some of it.  I of course mean Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout, the legendary maple syrup bourbon barreled oatmeal stout that has just been released in bottles that you can't get.  All this hype and frenzy have been so ridiculous that it makes the Kentucky Breakfast Stout release seem like a regular Saturday delivery of Heineken keg cans.

Bottles of CBS are going for as much as $300 on the net.  Stores stocked out in 5 minutes.  One merchant told me of a fellow looking for it who had already purchased many bottles, knew that the store was not releasing its allotment until later that week, yet refused to leave the premises without being sold a bottle.  It must be nice to be sought after that much; CBS must feel like a supermodel.  If it failed to live up to the hype it would be a grave disappointment.

Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf Imperial IPA

We write a lot about hops at this site because Shaun and I love them.  While that lucky dog Shaun's apparently been helping himself to the Pacific Northwest hop harvest ales like Ponce de Leon lapping up the fountain of youth, I've been stuck here in the Midwest sifting through for nuggets of hop goodness.  Three Floyds makes this job much easier.  Our latest theme has been hop harvest beers and I need to indulge in a Broo Doo in order to stay relevant here; but that hasn't shown up on tap yet.  Review forthcoming.  Meanwhile, I indulged in a hop monster that's been around for awhile that I've yet to review, Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Hop Harvest Continues - Sierra Nevada "Estate" Wet Hop

If most of you haven't noticed it's been a great month for beer. I've been piling through fresh hop special release after special release, Pumpkin beers are out and about everywhere, and Oktoberfest beers are all over. There are festivals going on left and right. I attended Elysian's pumpkinfest last weekend, Fremont Oktoberfest was a few weekends back. They just keep coming! The big malty beers are just around the corner but before we dive into the dark end we can embrace fall with a few more Fresh Hop and Harvest ales. Sierra Nevada has released their "Estate" Harvest Ale. A "Wet Hop" ale. Which, near as I can tell, is very much the same as Fresh Hop beer. Only thing I've noticed stylistically is "Wet Hop" beers tend to have stronger flavors than Fresh Hop. I don't know if that's just coincidental or not though. Sierra Nevada has grown all the ingredients for this beer on their premises in Chico California. I love the concept...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dogfish Head Strikes Again: 120 Minute IPA

After seemingly 3 weeks of receiving posts, pictures, and testimonials from friends of mine about it, I finally picked up a Dogfish Head Brewing 120 Minute IPA.  It's one of those event beers you have to post about.  The story is legendary. Dogfish Head brings in a new brewer.  He struggles to make the beer, destroying three batches due to an inability to correct flaws in the yeast.  Finally, he gets it right on try number four.  It hits the market in bombers and 12 oz. bottles, outrageously selling at $11 a bottle.  Was the buzz about this beer worth it?

Elite Porter: Smuttynose Robust Porter Review

I've discussed New Hampshire's Smuttynose Brewing briefly in the past but only recently did this beer recall one of the legendary beer conversations between Shaun and I.   Out in Seattle recently, I admitted to Shaun that I'm just not interested in drinking most brewers' main line offerings anymore.  "You're heading into dangerous territory, my friend" was Shaun's reply.  He didn't exactly explain what he meant, but probably didn't have to.  Seeking out limited or special releases means you are seeking out hard-to-find, high ABV, and, worst of all, expensive beers that will leave you broker and drunker than you started.   It's a tough spot but one in which I find myself locked in right now.

Aged 2008 Founders Breakfast Stout

Over at Chicago Foodies, I wrote up my recent experience drinking a 2008 Founders Breakfast Stout that had been aging for 3 years in the merchant's basement.   Lush Wine & Spirits here in Chicago bought a case, apparently three years ago, and let it sit for 36 months before recently selling it for $6 a bottle.

As I referenced in the post, I was mesmerized by how much better the Breakfast Stout is after living sedintarily for 3 years.  The harsher elements of the beer, namely the strong coffee and hops flavors, melt away after that much aging, leaving only hints of their existence, while the main ingredient, a heap of chocolate, oozes forth.  It's bitter chocolate that dominates this brew, like a 75% cacao bar.  Sensational.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More On The Hop Harvest

Shaun waxed poetically about the decided advantage he has in the Pacific Northwest inasmuch as they have the freshest hops out there while the rest of us have to import them.  This pays off in wonderful ways at hop harvest time in the early fall.  I shot back with a couple of notable local fresh hop beers that extract the hop harvest goodness but failed to mention one important player:  Three Floyds.  Who else?

Their Broo Doo annual hop harvest release is now out in bomber sized bottles.  This has been a phenomenal imperial hop cornucopia in the past and I expect it to be no different this year.  I plan to get my allotment of it and get back to you with a full report soon.  Anyway, take that, Seattle (but I still love you).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Founders Harvest Ale: The Fresh Hop Beer Parade Continues

Shaun delivered a very tantalizing post about the arrival of fresh hopped beers courtesy of the fall hop harvest.  They are hitting the market here in Chicago too.  Of course, we in the Midwest import most of our hops, particularly the potent bittering hops that are almost exclusively grown in the Pacific Northwest.  The fresh hopped beers in the Midwest are therefore a little less complex but there are still some beauties to be had: