Sunday, August 18, 2013

Balast Point - Sculpin IPA, Shauns take

We finally have Ballast Point up here now and picked up a Sculpin on Mark's review. It's summer and sunshine is the order of the day up here so I have been looking for an IPA that's refreshing enough for a summer brew. Sculpin delivers in spades.

It starts with a lovely fragrant pine nose. It lets you know up front this is an IPA and not to be confused with something else.

It pours a clear golden carmel color with a fine white head that recedes to a small halo.

It has a piney robust hop flavor with a warmth that settles in on the back of your throat. The hop aftertaste lingers on the sides of your tongue and just keeps going. It doesn't suck the moisture out of your mouth or hit you with so much carmel and alcohol that it puts you out. This is a great sessionable IPA that refreshes on a hot sunny day but still give you a sophisticated IPA punch. I love that this beer has struck a great balance of hop punch, light body, and refreshing mouthfeel. Nicely done Ballast Point!

Pros: Great hop bite with a lovely lingering aftertaste.

Cons: at 7% ABV it can be a little misleading in it's drinkability.

Verdict: A robust pallet rocking piney IPA that still refreshes on a hot sunny day.

4 out of 5 on the Mark-o-Meter.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Northdown Chicago's Lions, Tigers and Beers, Oh My! - June 5, 2013

Summer's here and the time is right, for drinking in the streets - or at bars, anyway.  Especially if the bar is offering a lineup as amazing as that at Northdown Cafe & Taproom during its Lions, Tigers, and Beers, Oh My! event on June 5, 2013, beginning at 11:00 a.m.  I went to this event last year and the mountain is good.  It's an all-day beer event at Northdown in which ultra-rare beers are tapped per a schedule.  Every two hours, on the hour, a new round of these rarities gets tapped.  More after the jump.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers Black Hand Milk Stout

A buddy of mine recently went on a date and was fired up about it.  These days, what does a guy do when a date is going well?   He texts his closest buddies about great beers, that's what!  So I get a mid-date text from him demanding that I try and also review Speakeasy's milk stout.  Well, okay!  I had never heard of Speakeasy but am now among the educated few.  They hail from San Francisco and offer a full lineup of ales and lagers.  I finally got to try their arousing milk stout, which is fomally known as the Black Hand.  My review appears after the jump, along with a really bad photo.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Chicago Craft Beer Week Review: Founders Doom at Northdown Cafe - Bourbon, Please Meet IPA

Chicago Craft Beer Week is in full swing.  Events are taking place all over town.  Beers such as KBS are being tapped in the afternoon at bars that you'd never believe would serve it.  One thing remains constant.  If you bring forth from the woodwork enough craft beer nuts for an event, eventually a healthy debate about beer will ignite.  A little controversy cannot help but occur given some of the unusual brews being unveiled just for this week.  Take, for example, Founders Doom, a bourbon-barreled version of their Double Trouble imperial IPA.  This is a beer certain to spark a taproom fight between IPA purists and barrel-aging radicals, fighting as if it's a battle royale between Samsung Galaxy and iPhone users in a Nokia Windows Phone ad.  Doom is a beer designed to appeal to both camps, but the question is whether anyone gets satisfied.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chicago Craft Beer Week - Strategy and Five Events to Attend

Today marks the beginning of Chicago Craft Beer Week.  With roughly 250 venues hosting events, it can be difficult to navigate the hoppy and malty waters in order to maximize your CCBW enjoyment.  If your plan is to try some rare and unique beers, or maybe meet some brewers, you are in luck.  At this Chicago Foodies post, I map out a strategy for meeting these goals during CCBW.  I also highlight five events that reflect these goals and should help to improve your CCBW experience.   Happy reading.

If additional events pop up or are described to me as can't-miss, I'll try to update them here at the blog, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chicago Craft Beer Week - May 16 to 26, 2013

Hello Chicagoans and visitors.  Finally, a week arrives that makes all of the writing, analyzing, and fuss about craft beer seem worth it. Chicago Craft Beer week is here!  It's not really a week: it lasts from May 16 until the 26th.  It's not just about craft beer.  There will be a number of food and entertainment events accompanying the beer.  Not all the beer will actually be "craft", as there will be a number of industrial brews produced by craft manufacturers that will be part of the lineup.  But craft beer will indeed be the focus, and there will be some great craft brews offered at the many cool events each day, so let your cup runneth over.

The link to the Craft Beer Week schedule is here and a preview at Chicago Foodies is here.  Also, Chicago Beer Geeks has a piece up here, noting their event which will feature beers from Wild Onion and others.  I have a post going up at Foodies in which I recommend a strategy for approaching the week and also recommend several specific events.  When that post launches, I'll either update it in this post or put up a separate one with the link.  Cheers!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Brooklyn Brown Ale Review - Revisiting Old Favorites

I'm listening to Cream this morning as I'm typing this.  When I lived in Cincinnati, back in the day, Saturday mornings were about getting in the 4-Runner, running some errands in the sunshine, and popping some Cream in the CD player. Man, I forgot how great their overamped music is.  "Strange Brew" is one of the best greatest hits comps you'll find for any band; if it were an album it would be an all-time classic.  But from the very first bass notes on "Badge" through "Spoonful" at the end, every icky thump from Jack Bruce's bass and every airy-but-gritty riff from Clapton is a treat.

Of course, this all made me think about beer.  Brooklyn Brown Ale, that is.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA Review - For Times When You Need a Double IPA

As you know, Ballast Point is here!  That's great. Because it means their Sculpin IPA is available in Chicago.    They also brew a double IPA, Dorado.  Small Bar in Chicago was the first place in this market to have it on tap.  Every brewer has to have a double IPA.  It's kind of like how every car manufacturer has to have a crossover vehicle. Would Ballast's DIPA drink as wonderfully as the Sculpin?  Stay tuned after the jump.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Firestone Walker Parabola 2013 at Sheffield's - If You Can't Actually Be at FW

Thanks to the good folks at Sheffield's here in Chicago for sharing with us some Firestone Walker Parabola 2013 the other night. Maybe it's because we're good customers, maybe it's because they know how much we love great beer, or perhaps it's because they're just great folks at Sheff's, but, for whatever reason, they decided to share the amazing bourbon-barreled stout.  It is sensational and I can fully understand why it stocked out so quickly in Chicago. Of course, you cannot do better than Shaun, who got to visit FW's taproom this week.  And, yes, I'm jealous.

Avery Brewing Samael's Oak Aged Ale Review - The Cotton Candy Beer

What a hoss!  I had been sitting on a 2012 bottle of Avery's Samael's Oak Aged Ale, part of their "Demons of Ale" series, and finally opened it last night.  It was massive.  The bottle lists it at 15.47% alcohol.  It's oak barreled.  So, this beer promised to be heavy on two things: vanilla flavor and alcohol.  It proved to be gigantic in every way.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

FW Taster #4 - Double DBA

Math jokes aside the double double barrel ale takes an almost Barleywine taste to it. Very warm alcohol followed by cotton candy that doesn't get too sweet. Love it!

FW Flight #1 - Unfiltered DBA

Firestone has a couple of taproom-only beers and one I was keen to try is the unfiltered Double Barrel Ale. Their British style pale ale. It has a crisp wonderful citrus nose with a slightly sweet malt overtone.

Hazy and caramel colored. It is crisp and the freshness comes through. The malt is biscuity fresh with a crisp citrus hop finish. A lovely example of their flagship.

FW Tasting #3 - Wookey Jack

I have really jumped on the black ipa bandwagon. I just think the chocolate and crystal malts really complement the strong hop flavors in an ipa. And Wookey Jack doesnt disappoint.

Again the peach nose is there. The strong coffee flavors and piney hops somehow just light up my pallet!

FW #2 Double Jack

As Mark and I routinely rave about this beer its no surprise its excellent fresh from the brewery. What is a surprise is how strong the peach nose is and how piney the finish. The sucks your mouth dry and the alcohol warms you back up for another go.

Be Jealous Mark - Firestone Walker taproom visit

Well Mark has posted a bunch of droolworthy posts on Dark Lord and other recent explorations. In my attempt to make him Jealous im visiting the Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles CA this weekend and getting a few fresh amazing tastes.

Be Jealous buddy!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Drink the Beer, Darkly: Three Floyds Dark Lord Day - 2013

Three Floyds is run by elegant savages.  They must be.  Otherwise, the contrasts they present, seemingly from the mind of a split personality, would be impossible to achieve.  They're a veritable study in conflict.  Take for example, the trademark skull logo.   But, note how its dark symbolism conflicts with the delicate touches they can put on a beer like Rabid Rabbit.  And how else could you explain their ability to craft a polarizing beer such as their signature offering, the transcendent Dark Lord.  By listening to the Dark Lord Day band lineup you know that FFF's heart is with metal.  But someone there must be a Neil Young fan.

Neil is a singular example of excelling at both ends of a spectrum.  His songs have ranged from ragged electric sludge such as "Cortez The Killer" to the gentle lilting beauty of "Tell Me Why".   Not much middleground lies in his catalog, only extremes.  Exceptionally executed extremes of erratic beauty.  As he famously claimed, when he found himself in the "middle of the road" after the accessible Harvest, he "headed for the ditch" and crafted the splendidly dark Ditch Trilogy albums.  So if Neil isn't Three Floyds' muse, well, he should be.  It's not as if Neil wouldn't love Dark Lord.  For, nothing embodies Three Floyds' divergent personality more than Dark Lord's barbaric beauty.  It's viciously dark yet sumptuous.  An almost insane merger of beauty and beast.  By "beast" I don't mean the overgrown, jolly, animated Wookie from the Disney cartoon; I'm talking about a straight-up red-eyed demon.  Despite its beautiful refinement, Dark Lord is a bold, bad ass, beastly beer.  No wonder the yearly Dark Lord jubilee almost eerily recalls a convening of the occult.

Ballast Point Brewing Comes to Chicago

Those purveyors of San Diego style brews (hell yes!), Ballast Point Brewing, is finally arriving in Chicago.  Within the next week, Chicago-area shelves will start stocking the Ballast Point brew family, including their acclaimed IPA, Sculpin.  I haven't tasted much of their lineup, but Sculpin strongly hints that their roster contains some prime quality stuff.  Sculpin is among the elite American beers, a lithe IPA/DIPA seemingly disguised as a pale ale.  Watch out, Zombie Dust.

Binny's Beverage Depot is having a Ballast Point tasting on May 8th at its South Loop store.  Reservations are required, so call ahead.  Mark and Shaun's Beer Blog should be in attendance.  We hope to see you smiling over your Sculpin or some other tasty San Diego treats.

Port Brewing Hop 15 Double IPA

Some things just make you well up with excitement.  This often happens when you just can't help but recognize that things are headed somewhere good.  Maybe it's meeting someone you instantly click with, and  you can feel the vibes building as you talk to her.  Perhaps it's the top of the 9th in a big game and your ace closer is on the mound with a 2-run lead (sorry, Cubs fans).  For me, this latest charged moment was about 10 seconds before I sipped that Port Hop 15 Ale you see.  Port gets it done.  Not sure how they do it, but their IPA's are uniquely packed - steeped - with hops, but never seem overly dense. You could easily pick out a Port in an IPA lineup.  Hop 15 is even more special.  Right now it gets a 93 at BeerAdvocate.  This is one beer for which you should travel across town when it shows up on Beer Menus.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bourbon Barrel-Aged Beers and Five Examples of the Style

It's Whiskey Week here in Chicago!  In celebration, I have posted a piece at Foodies about bourbon barrel-aged beers.  The piece discusses the benefits of and excitement surrounding bourbon barrel-aging, and presents some of the negative criticism of the method.  Also, I highlight five examples of bourbon-barreled beer. And not all reviews are positive.  Enjoy the reading and wherever you are, sip a bourbon or tipple a bourbon-barreled beer tonight.

As for bourbon itself, I note that last week at Chicago's Bangers and Lace, I had samples of two amazing bourbons, as detailed after the jump.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout 2010: Review

On the heels of trying Goose Island Bourbon County Rare, I was treated to a snifter of the 2010 BCS Vanilla.  There's no overstating the importance of having great friends, and a great friend is any friend willing to spring for a bottle of BCS Vanilla.  At least the $40 price tag for BCS Vanilla was far more manageable than the Rare's ungodly sticker price.  We all knew for sure we wouldn't hate the Vanilla.  The question was whether we could fairly rate it, so closely on the heels of the Rare experience, a beer that leaves almost any other one feeling inferior.  Plus, there had been street chatter about the Vanilla's lack of actual vanilla flavor upon minimal aging.  Rumor was that if you sit on it for a year you could kiss that sweet vanilla taste goodbye.  While this concern seemed exaggerated, it at least had some teeth in our situation since our bottle was pushing on 3 years.  We awaited our pours with great anticipation and some doubt.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Goose Island Bourbon County Rare Stout - Review

It retailed for $40-50 a bottle.  It's fetching black market prices of $350 a bottle.  It's aged in barrels for a whiskey that itself sells for $250 a bottle.  I am and pretty much could only be talking about Goose Island Bourbon County Rare, the discontinued version of the BCS line that was aged for 2 years in barrels of 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle. Pappy is arguably the hottest and scarcest bourbon on the market, so it is of no doubt that a beer aged in it would generate tremendous buzz. Goose released bottlings of BCS Rare in 2010 and 2011.  Lines were long, shouting matches ensued among customers vying for a bottle, fight scenes erupted akin to the Anchorman scene where the news teams gang fight - with tridents.  Okay, it wasn't nearly that violent, but next time they release this, try line jumping in plain view and see what happens.  Naturally, the question is whether all of the hype surrounding this beer is even remotely justified.  I recently found out for myself.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Green Flash Hop Odyssey Black IPA - Review

While on a recent visit to Sheffield's, I had a pint of this served to me in a standard American pint glass. I was in the mood for something different and I had never had this one before. I've also had a lot of success with Green Flash's beers over the years. Their lineup leans toward the brutally bitter side, but they have shown to be capable of elegant restraint. I would not rate this one among my favorites from the San Diego beer practitioner.

DryHop Brewers - Your New Local

Hello there, Mr. and Mrs. Beer Fan, and all the ships at sea.  Recently, I posted at Chicago Foodies about Chicago's soon-to-be-open brewpub, DryHop Brewers, which will be opening soon and producing some mind-blowing brews. The Windy City is excited for their opening and they will be a terrific addition to the exploding craft beer community here.  Give it a read.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bell's Brewery Black Note Stout - Review

Not much to say about this beer that probably has not already been said.  This beer is one of the greats.  It's very obvious why.  Bell's took a great beer, Expedition Stout, and another great beer, Double Cream Stout, combined them, bourbon barreled them, and what you see is what you get.  It's an 11.5% dark-as-night, motor-oil-like stout that everyone wants and no one can find.  It's easily one of the ten best beers I've ever tried.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Goose Island Brewing Bourbon County Brand Baudoinia: Review

For whatever reason, at this site we have only reviewed a Goose Island beer on one occasion, which was Shaun's take on the Christmas ale from several years back.  We have yet to give the proper Mark and Shaun Beer Blog treatment to Chicago's highest profile brewer, remaining mum even on their acclaimed Bourbon County Stout.  Allow me to narrow this long-standing deficit by briefing on Goose's lovely little edition, Baudoinia.  That's using the term "little" quite loosely, as Baudoinia is a funky-barreled version of the BCS wielding an ABV of 15%.  Brewers Brett Porter and John Laffler concocted this brew for Goose Island by taking standard BCS, delectable enough in its native state, and barreling it in wood barrels harboring the namesake bacteria.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Green Flash Brewing Palate Wrecker Review

Green Flash is known by San Diego outsiders as the makers of ass-kicking IPA's and ridiculously hoppy beers in the patented San Diego style.  Bless them.  But in the past I have noted that they are capable of greatness, which always requires at least some restraint and nuance.  Note how their Imperial IPA, one of my all-time favorites, has its massive citrus and herbal hop profile carefully tamed by the malts.  Remarkably, their Palate Wrecker stands as maybe the best and most enjoyable example yet of a triple, or perhaps a quadruple, IPA. This is a monster, a leviathan boasting an impossible 149 IBU's!

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout Review - 2013. Still The One.

You've read all about the release. Now let's talk about the product itself, the fresh batch of 2013 KBS.  There were several complaints at this year's release party that the current edition "was watered down this year." Someone commented that the new bottle's description of KBS as "A Flavored Stout" frighteningly recalls the panned Frangelic Mountain Brown.  More than a few doubts lurked in the corners regarding this year's release.  Well, let me spread the light and inform that I have been to the mountain and it is good.  A buddy of mine secured me a 2013 four pack and when I retrieved it from him we split a precious bottle.  He unquestionably deserved to share in the bounty after his clutch acquisition of my KBS.  The sharp photo above is from his new retina-display iPad.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Deschutes Brewery Inversion IPA - Review

Deschutes has made a huge splash since arriving here in Chicago this year.  I was stunned to find Mirror Pond and Black Butte Porter available in bottles at the United Center (note that I was there to see - get this -the Pistons).  Mirror Pond was highly enjoyable upon my first-ever draught.  And I love the Hop Henge.  So, I was excited to finally try the Inversion IPA since the reviews had been quite positive.

Aleman/Two Brothers/Stone Dayman Coffee IPA - Review

I'm on an IPA run of late and the latest new one I tried was the Dayman Coffee IPA, a collaboration between Aleman/Two Brothers/Stone. Stone, of course, is the heavy hitter of the group, known worldwide for their uber-hoppy beers, bold takes on various other beer styles, and their propagation of San Diego IPA's to a world stage. Two Brothers hails from suburban Chicago in Warrenville, IL and is known for their Heavy Handed IPA, a competent, dense, malty take on a midwest IPA.  Aleman is one of the latest in the onslaught of new Chicago breweries but I know nothing about them yet.  I was told by a friend at a liquor store that the Dayman was a hit, "the beer of the year so far."  It gets a 93 at BeerAdvocate, which is "exceptional".  You can't find a bomber of it anywhere, but I happened upon a draught at Jerry's Sandwiches; I was there for a friend's birthday but when I saw this on tap it was also my birthday.  I love coffee, coffee-flavored beers, and, of course, hoppy beers. This beer needed a lot of mojo to withstand the hype.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA at the Kinderhook Tap - Review

I thought for sure he was joking.  When my friend told me several years ago that he saw a tap list with a Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA, a blend of its 60 and 90 Minute IPA's, I took it as a veritable April Fools, even though it was probably July.  It figured to be a gag, some zealous barkeep playing alchemist with the taps, blending the two beers together. Alas, a year later or so, Dogfish Head indeed made it official in their e-mail blast, informing that the 75 Minute IPA was being offered in large-format bottles.  This was no joke and I knew I had to try it, and soon.  I finally got my shot at the Kinderhook Tap in Oak Park, Illinois the other day.

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout Release - 2013 Edition

It's back.  Once again, I visited the hallowed halls of Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the release party in honor of their "highly acclaimed" Kentucky Breakfast Stout.  If you are a regular reader of our blog, thank you for having no life, and, also, I do not need to tell you about the depths of my love for this beer.  Having first tried it on Dark Lord Day, 2009, it introduced me to Founders, sparked my appreciation for barrel-aged beer, and helped ratchet up my beer appreciation to new levels.  But for you experts, I don't need to elaborate on Founders, KBS, or the like.  After the jump is a quick rundown of the 2013 event and the latest glorious installment of KBS.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Moylans Brewery Hop Craic XXXXIPA Review

Well, you can tell by the name of this beer that it's not a malt-heavy amber affair;  but it somehow succeeds despite a recipe that includes gargantuan amounts of hops and a 10.4% alcohol profile.  The four X's in the name aught to scare you if you are hop averse.  The word "Craic" is actually pronounced "Crack" because the abundance of hops are intended to appease hop addicts in the same way that - yep, you guessed it.  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Caskfest: north Sound brewing rootbeer float brown

This is a crazy mind warp. The nose is pure rootbeer that takes you back to after baseball icecream stops when you were 8. The taste is straight up brown ale with a hint of the root. I have no idea but its fun!

Caskfest: issaquah brewing apple frog

Need a break from the big over the top ipas and barrel aged crazy stuff. Apple frog is a light crisp breath of fresh air to take a breather with!

Caskfest: two beers brewing - cinnamon dark

Dark strong ale aged in red wine barrels with cinnamon. Red wine sweet nose and a dark cider hue. The cinnamon and red wine are aggressive and bring a much more complex flavor than expected. The nose makes you think syrupy sweet but the cinnamon and tannins from the barrel and grapes effectively combat it. Its strong and hot but the cinnamon cuts the aftertaste and brings it back in to balance. This is a big hairy chested beer! Nicely done.

Caskfest: black raven le petit mort

Barrel aged belgian strong on dark rum soaked morel mushrooms!!?!

This is why you come to caskfest. And the line showed.

Sweet rummy nose. Dark earthy brown color. Sweet plum tempered immediately by an earthy tanin. Strong and controlled.

Bainbridge island - whiskey SEB

Skip it. Tastes like flat watery gold rush whiskey.

Caskfest: naked city- cry me a river

Their ode to our departed Russian River. Huge citrus hop nose. Carmel color. Big citrus and pine imperial ipa with an over ripe peach finish. A big imperial.

Caskfest: Naked city- mint chocolate porter

Big fresh mint nose. The mint comes through with a dry malt porter backbone. I want to brush my teeth with this beer every morning.

Look for us at caskfest!

My always awesome wife created this great t-shirt to wear at caskfestival today! Look for us to say hi and talk beer!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Shaun's Recommendations for Seattle Cask Festival

Hi Folks,

Washington Brewer's Guild is hosting Cask Festival tomorrow. One of my favorite events of the year to try out small batch crazy fun stuff that Washington brewers and other regional brewers dream up. Buckle up! Here is my short list of what to try...

My number one rule of festivals is try something that you can't get normally. Since this festival is dominated by specials I am eschewing many of the breadth of styles I generally like and focusing on the specials. By no means does this mean I dislike beers I didn't select. I just don't have the constitution to get through even my short list.

Alphabetical Order:

Bainbridge Island Brewing
-Bainbridge Island Whisky Barrel Bainbridge S.E.B. (South English Brown) - 1st session
-Whisky Barrel Poacher's Porter (Porter) - 2nd session

Big Al Brewing
- Seattle Bourbon Hop Villain (CDA)

Black Raven Brewing
-Redmond La Petite Mort Fonce’ 2012 (Belgian Dark Strong)
-Possum Claus (Porter)
-Paging Dr. Wisdom (Double IPA)

Boundary Bay Brewery
-Dry Hopped ESB (ESB)
Cascadian Dark Ale (Cascadian Dark Ale)

Elliott Bay Brewing
- Seattle/Burien Hoppus Callosum Double IPA (West Seattle) (Double IPA)

Fremont Brewing
- Seattle Pine Box Anniversary Oatmeal Stout (Oatmeal Stout)
S.nake B.ear W.alrus Barley Wine (Barleywine)

Georgetown Brewing
Barrel-aged Ol'Hara Winter Stout (Stout) - 1st session
Lisa's Chocolate Stout (Stout) - 2nd session
Barrel-aged Chopper's Red Ale (Red Ale) - 2nd session

Harmon Brewing
Hops of MARCH - Jameson Oak (IPA)

Naked City Brewery
Cry Me A River Imperial IPA (Imperial IPA)

New Belgium Brewing
- Seattle NBB Love Oscar w/coffee beans (Sour)
-Rampant Imperial IPA (Imperial IPA)

Redhook Brewery
-Woodinville Do Svidanya (Russian Imperial Stout)

Two Beers Brewing
- Seattle Infused Evo IPA (IPA)
-Forester Double IPA (Double IPA)
-Oak Aged SoDo Brown (Oak Aged Brown)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Washington Brewers Guild Caskfest is Coming!

It's that time of year again for one of my favorite beer festivals. Washington Brewer's Guild Cask Festival. This is a great event to taste some big bad special releases from all the regional brewers we know and love.

Here's the beer list and check back for my picks for this weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

2003 doggie claws- yes its still amazing

Okay so I came out of homebrewing retirement this past weekend to fire up a batch of Coffee Porter with my buddies from Hank and Wayne brewing.

And to celebrate I opened a special brew to drink while we brewed, My last 2003 Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws Barleywine. And, oh yes, it was still amazing.

It poured a carmel brown color with a light yellow halo of a head. The hops on this one are long gone. It has a malty nose with some light alcohol.

The mouthfeel is syrupy without being cloyingly sweet. The hops, typical of HOD Doggie claws, has long since gone to heaven. They have left behind a soft sweet malty beer that is tempered by the alcohol warmth at the end. There is no need to sit by the fire with this beer. This is all you need. Originally 11.5% abv I suspect its tick'd up a bit as its aged.

Pros: Amazingly velvety smooth sweet, warm.

Cons: Who can wait 10 years to drink it!

Verdict: Doggie Claws can stand up to the test of time. Feel free to cellar away!

5 out of 5 on the Mark o' Meter

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mirror Pond, The Magnificent: Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale Review

I just finished watching the Showtime series, The Tudors, on Netflix.  I finished the very last episode of the heavily stylized drama loosely tracking the life and times of monarch Henry VIII.  The last episode was kind of sweeping, as it featured flashbacks of Henry's life set against majestic music.  And I would love to, somehow, work the show into this beer review but I can't think of a way.   Mirror Pond Pale Ale is nothing like royalty.  Its elegance is quiet and it announces itself not to trumpets but to strums of acoustic guitar.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Three Floyds Rye'da Tiger Imperial Rye IPA Review

No one, and I mean no one, east of the Rockies churns out amazing IPA's like Three Floyds.  Give these guys their hop allotment and it's go time.  They can brew imperial IPA's with one hand tied behind their back as reaffirmed by their Rye'da Tiger imperial rye IPA.  I wish every rye IPA succeeded to this level although it's rather unfair to so classify this.  The rye presence here is lighter than most such attempts at the style. Joe Rye Brewer usually bulks up on the rye the way fast food titans deluge your burger with salt.  Your beer ends up tasting like deli bread.  The FFF boys know better.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Perennial Artisan Ales Abraxas Review

Beautiful mud.  That's how I would describe this very special beer from the tiny St. Louis beer craftsmen, Perennial.  To my recollection I had never tried a Perennial beer before the other night.  And when upon meeting my friends from Dryhop at Northdown I saw that the bar had Abraxas, a "chocolate chili" Perennial beer, on tap, I must admit my initial skepticism.  I've had chili beers before.  Pepper beers that came on too strong, with the spiciness overwhelming the other elements, burning the finish like a cheap hot sauce.  To you converts out there that adore this beer, please forgive my admitted doubt I had upon going in.  I am now on board.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Deschutes 2012 Jubelale. A winter ale for the new year

Well its been a while and Mark has rightly been shaming with his posting. So for my first post of 2013 I am writing about my first beer of the new year. Deschutes 2012 Jubelale.