Friday, December 30, 2011

Visit to Russian River Brewing - The "fight or flight" Flight

Jen and I went down to visit her family in the Bay Area over the Christmas holiday and scheduled a trip to Santa Rosa to visit Russian River Brewing's brew pub. You've heard me rave about their sours and their famous IPA's that both Mark and I love. Check out what happens when you ask for a flight at their brewpub.The walkthrough after the break.






Three Floyds Broo Doo Harvest Ale Review

I love that scene in Casino in which De Niro is doing the voice over and describing his semi-partner in crime, Tommy's, rules of engagement.  Of Tommy he says something like, if you bring a knife to the fight, he brings a gun, and the fight won't be over until one of you two is dead.  I think an IPA fight between you and Three Floyds would similarly end in a fatality.  Police chalk would be on the sidewalk. Consider their one-upmanship ability with IPA's.  First they come at you with Blackheart.  Then they hit you with Arctic Panzer Wolf.  As if that's not enough, they'll cream you with Dreadnaught.  And just when you think they've exhausted their arsenal, they'll uncock the Broo Doo. These guys are truly IPA assassins.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper: Review

In contrast to recent write-up subjects, namely, Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale and Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale, Port's Santa's Little Helper is much closer to what you expect out of a Christmas beer: it's dark.  It's got a modestly sized mocha colored head.  It's also rich and more malt-dominated than hops-dominated.  But it's not just a heavy malt affair dressed up in nutmeg, ginger, orange peel, pumpkin spice, and whatever Christmas baking ingredients were lying around the brewery.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Apostel Brau Pale Ale Review

Did I ever get a real treat today.  Chicago's incredible beer house, Local Option, put up an uber-rare German beer treat today, Apostel Brau's pale ale.  The brewer claims to be continuing a brewing tradition dating back to 1713.  As expected, they appear to be well versed in making traditional Bavarian styles of beer such as pilsners.  This one's a pale ale but is not really a nod to our side of the pond. They put their own unique stamp on it.

Lagunitas Sucks Being Re-Released As Leftovers

Good news, beer lovers.  The hard to obtain and quickly stocked out Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale is being re-released as Lagunitas Holiday Leftovers Ale.  Despite rumors out there that the re-release has a different aftertaste, my sources tell me that it is the same beer as before.  The new logo has a Santa cookie with several bites taken out of it as opposed to the original logo which had what looked like a plastered Santa plastered on the bottle.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Brooklyn Brewing Shackmeister Ale At New York's Shake Shack

I just returned from the beloved city of New York after visiting family for a few days of pre-Christmas merriment.  I love New York and always will for more reasons than I can discuss. Given The City's vast expanse, its replete with overlooked greatness.  If you go to New York, you'll find amazing restaurants representing every style of cuisine.  And if money's not a big issue during your stay, you'd be a fool to waste it making fast food a part of any meal. An exception to this suggested moratorium is the Shake Shack.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

One beer that I haven't talked about in enough detail in the past that made my very football oriented Christmas list of beers is Sierra's Celebration Ale.  It dares to be different. Celebration is indeed designed by Sierra to be a holiday ale; it's released every November/December.  Setting it apart from the Christmas beer masses is its profile that contrasts sharply with other holiday brews out there.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Elysian Cyclops Barleywine '03/'04 vertical


I love a good barleywine and prefer them a bit on the Hoppy side. Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws and Three Floyd's Behemoth are two of my favorites. Right now Elysian Brewing on Capitol Hill has both their '03 and '04 Cyclops barleywine on tap. You should go get some

I had an opportunity Saturday night to try them side by side. I enjoy good barleywines but sometimes they are a bit sweet for my taste. Either way I had to try what a 7 and 8 year old Brewer's reserve barleywine tastes like. It was a special treat I couldn't pass up. Check out my preference after the break.

More of my Christmas Favorites

Wow I don't know how I could have forgotten a few of these excellent Holiday Ales.

Okay this is where you look at me sideways and say, Trader Joe's private label beer? Really? Really. This private label beer is made by Unibroue out of Quebec and their Belgian style strong ales are exceptional. It has a dark ruby/brown color, a typical belgian yeast nose with carmel and dried fruit. The beer is malty with lots of dried fruit and spices. It has some nice hop pineyness that offsets the sweetness and makes for a nice balanced spiced beer. Yumm. And it's $4.99 for a 22oz!

This beer will mess you up. Like privateers that used to fly this flag it will sail up while you're not looking and unload all it's cannons on you. This is one strong drinkable Christmas beer. It's their Christmas strong ale. This is an 8% beer but it's creaminess make it very drinkable. You can find pitchers of this at some of our favorite local establishments. It is dangerous but excellent session beer for the winter months.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shaun's Favorite Christmas Ales

It's Christmas time! And that means Christmas Ales, Holiday Ales, Winter Ales and Lagers. I've put together a list of a few of my favorites. One thing that surprises me is the relative affordability of Christmas Ales. I don't know if it's just that brewers are in the giving spirit but a few of my favorites are a relative steal!

What I like in a Christmas beer after the break

Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA

Uinta marks the first and only brewery I know of from Utah and they have not exactly left me pining for more.  Get it?  Pining?   You'd get it if you had tried the Dubhe Imperial Black IPA like I did.  It's a beer with a massive amount of pine in it, as though they brewed it with pine bark along with hops and malt. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review of Local Option Beer Event - December 15, 2011

Shout out to the folks at Local Option who really know how to put on a first class beer event.  Any great beer event starts and ends with great beers.  It is taken to another level when you have great hosts as is the case with the Local Option crew.  Hats off to them. The beers were quite outstanding.

Great Lakes Blackout Stout: the Return, the Review


Tonight, excellence returned in dark form in a short glass.  Great Lakes Blackout Stout has come upon us again after a year's hiatus allegedly so that they could reset the schedule for a fall release.  Regardless of the reasoning it was well worth the wait. It's better than ever.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Local Option Beer Event - Thursday December 15, 2011

They call it "biblical".  You decide.  Whatever your adjective, tomorrow night The Local Option in Chicago is having its final beer event of the season, "Ass Makeover", featuring an extensive beer list headed up by Surly Darkness.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Tim Tebow Christmas/Holiday Beers List Review

I was thinking about how to organize my list of Christmas/holiday beers to try while I was still fuming.  Last Sunday, Tim Tebow's team, the Broncos, beat my Chicago Bears in an improbable last second victory that was a painful defeat crushing the Bears' playoff hopes.  As an added indignity, it happened on my birthday.

With my mind on Tebow and how he helped ruin my birthday and darken my Christmas season with the dramatic comeback, I'm going to run through a ranking of ten of the Christmas/holiday ales I've tried this year, organized by the NFL quarterbacks they bring to mind.  This list is not necessarily representative of who I think the top ten quarterbacks are (after all, I've included Tebow), or, for that matter, the top 10 such beers.  This is more of a survey of notable beers.  And since Tebow helped inspire this list, I'm getting him on the list:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Brooklyn Brewery Black Ops

In this piece over at Chicago Foodies, I write up Brooklyn Brewery's Black Ops, an 11% bourbon barreled stout that has just seen it's annual release.  A mysterious brew, it is not ostensibly listed anywhere on Brooklyn's website.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Great Lakes Blackout Stout Returns


Here's the latest ales forecast: a Blackout is headed your way.   After taking a year off from being brewed, Great Lakes Blackout Stout, a beer we've written up several times, has made its return to shelves in Chicago, starting this week, as liquor stores are rolling out this year's allotment.  Cleveland's amazing Russian imperial stout makes its return in all its 9% glory.  I want to make you aware of a few points, including misconceptions regarding this year's release.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review: Bell's Hopslam Reloaded

I was privy to a recent tapping of Bell's Brewing's legendary Hopslam, their delicious DIPA that's highly sought after and only available on shelves because of its oppressive price.  Not long ago Clark Street Ale House happened to tap some of this 10% plus brew.  I've giddily written about Hopslam in the past, and so has Shaun, and what appears to be this year's batch is consistent with prior releases.  So, I'll spare you any elaborating on it. 

Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale


Look at that logo.  There was simply no way I wasn't going to write about this beer, borne of a throughput issue.  That is, Lagunitas Brewing claims they were unable to make their notorious Brown Sugga Ale this year due to a lack of capacity, and instead sent us the Sucks Holiday Ale, splattered with a cool angry Santa logo.  Indeed the beer lives up to the logo's promise.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Boulevard Brewing Company 2011 Imperial Stout: Review

I haven't tried much lately that has blown me away or made me teary-eyed with joy.  I submit that the Boulevard Brewing 2011 Imperial Stout was quite impressive.  Clocking in at 11% ABV and housed in a stately bomber bottle containing off-the-cuff scribble that looks like the track listing on Exile on Main Street, there are plenty of non-substantive reasons for this brew's appeal. Yet the proof is always in the pudding.