Monday, June 9, 2014

A warm reception and a little bit of what's been going on.

Just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone who took the time to A) Read things I've posted when I first started Little Boy Brew up until I started my hiatus in 2012 and B) Find their way back to Little Boy Brew to see if I had become any less flowery in my beer reviews. Spoiler alert, I haven't.

I've finally made my way into the brotherhood of Craft Beer. I'm no longer chewing back vomit while I talk about the differences between 4K and 1080p and why they really don't matter. I could give two turds about the nominal differences in Apple computer/iPhone/iPad "upgrades." I don't care about how big your TV is and how great of a deal you got it for at a competitor of mine; true story, never did care. And I can finally speak freely about what I think you should do with that copy of Consumer Reports you're using to tell me how awesome a discontinued model is. Moving away from the big box consumer electronics retail world has been a boon for me. I can't begin to stress how amazing it is to look forward to going to work because you have an absolute passion for the industry you're involved in. I'm working as the Retail and Tasting Room Manager for O'Connor Brewing Co. in Norfolk, VA. I have a feeling most of my readers may be familiar with what we have to offer. If not, hopefully, you'll be seeing our beer in your market in the next few years. We just opened a brand new facility that will be capable of pushing out 15,000 barrels of beer annually with the intent to expand upon that even further. My wife makes me pay her every time I talk about how much I love my job, not unlike Schmidt's douchebag jar from New Girl. Regardless, find a way to live your dream job. Who knows, maybe in a few short years I'll be on the rig trying to keep up with the amazing production crew at OBC?

I mentioned in my Gnomegang review that I have been using Untappd as my review forum of choice. Truthfully, this has helped me keep track of what I've had and what I want to have. It also does a pretty good job of helping me stay away from things that tasted like watery gym sock. That being said, I invite everyone who reads this to check out Untappd and to find me and friend me on it! If you haven't already... My user name is "littleboybrew." I'm literally a long evening away from my 1,000th unique check-in. If you don't know what that means just assume that I am not an alcoholic.

If you want to see pictures of the beers I'm drinking or my dog or board games find me on Instagram at "littleboybrew." Seriously, I make things easy.

Lastly, expect to find me reviewing with the same furor and vigor as I did in the past. My matured and refined pallet helps me find the subtle F it. I'm here to drink beer and to tell you about it.

Now...who wants to set up a trade or three?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Gnomegang, Becky.

I think my typewriter needs a new ribbon. But it's OK, I've got my corrective fluid at the ready to wipe on this screen if I make any mistakes...

Two long years, I've left loyal readers. How many of you poured over the old posts pining for a return? Will Little Boy Brew be the same when he comes back? IF he comes back? There have been more Bigfoot sightings in the last two years than there had been posts from me. I found a new template...Untappd. It's 140 characters forced me to reduce my reviews to the lowest common denominator. That being said, I'm happy to return to long-form beer review. Without further ado I present to you...

Name: Gnomegang
Brewed by: Brewery Ommegang
Location: Cooperstown, NY
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
ABV: 9.5%

As the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt floods my ears and fills my soul with a lithe, carefree feeling I'm basking in the glow of a flavorful and formidable fluid cascading with carbonation topped with a bright white head. It seems like just about everything that comes out of Ommegang is two things: carbonated enthusiastically and pretty delicious. I wanted my return to be marked with a beer that I had always been curious to try but had not been able to. Not that Gnomegang is a particularly exotic beer; but the name is just so damn cute! Once the transfer from bottle to vessel is complete you're greeted with an amazing bouquet of Belgian bananas...colloquially known as esters.

Side thought: How has a super hoppy Belgian pale ale not been named "Ester Bunny" yet? I digress.

Banana, clove, bubble gum, and the faintest whiff of white pepper spice. No bones here, this beer is as Belgian as JCVD. The initial feeling you encounter is a sharp tingle of carbonation. Making your senses change directions from tactile to taste, Gnomegang bestows upon it's drinker a flourish of fruit and spice. There is an incredibly delicate, but not fragile, body to Gnomegang. The malt shines through here. Light and bready but propped up by the familiar tingle of soft peppery spice and a melange of yeast and sweetness. While nice and dry, it doesn't come strong with a tannin-esque sensation. The fruit flavors are all over the place; apple, mango, peach, pear, apricot. It almost tastes more like a darker version of a Belgian ale to be completely honest. But the complexity is nicely balanced against the pepper notes and strong yeast profile. The finish is smooth and crisp. A hint of hop bitterness fades as quickly as it's noticed. There is a slight burn from the alcohol but it's a nice reminder that you're drinking a big person's beer despite the diminutive dwarf from which the name is derived.

This beer may not be the liquid form of the smokey jazz I'm listening to, however, it definitely strides toward a complexity that can be appreciated by everyone from layman to beer snob. It's not a beer to be taken lightly despite it's radiant hues and snow-white head. Give this one a go, it's worth your time. And you might be able to get someone who "doesn't like beer" to really enjoy this.

Final Thoughts? I can't think of a reason to pass this beer up. Gnome way, gnome how. Sorry, I had to throw a little pun in there. It was a tiny one, though. Thankfully short lived. Ok...I'm done.

It's nice to have a beer that looks up to you.

Ok! I'm done. Seriously.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Location: Chico, CA
Name: Bigfoot Ale
Type: American Barleywine
ABV: 9.6%
Purchased from: Grape & Gourmet, Va Beach
Price: $2.50

There are some things out there. Some things that can't actually be proven to exist. Sure, there are "eyewitness" accounts and testimonies that have more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. But really, it's harder to prove that some things exist than to prove that they don't exist. Right? Something like that. The thing talk has gotten out of control. Anyway. Bigfoot, folks! This is a good looking beer. It pours an irresistibly rich ruby red that flirts with seeming almost chestnut in color. The head is massive. Bighead would be a good name for this beer but it doesn't sound as epic as a monkeymanbeast lumbering through the woods. Easily noticed from space, the head is thick and cream colored. It does a pretty good job of hiding the bouquet from you but once it starts to recede: gametime. Pine and grapefruit represent the hop contingent. Directly behind them you get the mouthwatering notes of tart cherries. The deeper you draw the more pronounced the alcohol becomes but you've got to really work at it. Sierra Nevada knows what's up and leaves it's alcohol behemoth lurking behind the savory notes of hops and sweet scents of succulent malt. The first thing you will notice is how velvety smooth this beer is. The carbonation is just enough to give it a little pep but it needs no more. The grapefruit and pine flavors swirl together nicely creating a familiarly unctuous and resinful (I'm pretty sure it means "full of resin") hopsplosion all up in your grill. The sweetness of the malt postures nicely and compliments the aggressive hop characteristics of the flavor profile well. In fact, the sweetness is a pretty nice blend of English toffee and honey. And then there's the alcohol. If you let this sit too long before swallowing you'll get hit with the booze pretty hard. The stickiness of my lips reminds me that this is a malt and alcohol driven beer. The better part about Bigfoot is its prominent hops presence. It could have easily gone down the route of sickeningly sweet but instead it passed that road and took a detour through hopsylvania. Whatever. I like this beer. Not only is it delicious, it's also fairly priced! This year is a great year to start with your Bigfoot obsession. And you can do like I do...text your friends with "Bigfoot sightings" when you first run across this barleywine every year.

Two hops puns? Don't care. It was worth it.

Makes good beer taste that much better.

Brewery: Clown Shoes (but brewed at/by Mercury Brewing Co.)
Location: Ipswitch, MA
Name: Lubrication
Type: American Black Ale
ABV: 6.0%
Purchased from: Total Wine & More, Va Beach
Price: Less than $2.

I can't tell you why I was tempted to buy a beer called "Lubrication." Not because it is some salacious temptation or anything like that. I just honesty can not think of a reason for me to pick this up and take it home with me. For the record, I'm not the biggest fan of clowns. But I do like black ales and I do enjoy trying new beers from breweries I have never encountered so this fit the bill. Lubrication (as I refuse to call it lube) is a nice shade of the opposite of bright. This is as black as a beer can get. I had expect to see some shade of dark brown or red when I held it up to a light source but, alas, no lights shone through. The head puffed up to a nice shade of light peanut butter before dissolving into a thin layer that spread to the edges of the glass. The nose is pretty solid. You get a healthy dose of roasted, almost borderline burnt malt. The hops play up nicely with a robust pine flavor and there is the nice touch of sweetness to the back end of the bouquet. What joy I had for the aromas was quickly diminished upon ingesting. The body is water thin and heavily carbonated. While full of roasted flavors and bitterness there is little to no sweetness to balance it out. This is full on cold coffee with a shot of bitter hops. Now I know I have said similar things about different beers in the past and meant it as a compliment. But here, I just feel like I'm being assaulted with "HEY LOOK! ROASTED MALT!" The finish is shockingly dry when compared to how wet the beer feels while you're drinking it. There's a lingering "bad cigar" taste in the back of my throat, as well. It all paints a pretty vivid picture of a clown chewing on a big stogie wearing a stained wife-beater and dilapidated clown shoes drinking a can of beer that's labeled "XXX." Kind of like the Sublime ghetto clown, but wearing a shirt...and without the bong. The label proclaims this ale is brewed with "natural flavors." I don't like such vague descriptions when it comes to what's put into beer. Like my dad always says "Shit has a natural flavor." I generally don't like urging people to stay away from beers but if you've had black ales like Bashah (rest in peace you black demon) or Yakima Glory from Victory or even Snow Day from New Belgium then I suggest you pass on Lubrication. I'm now realizing how that sounds and I'm refusing to change it.

Hop on the good foot and do the bad thing.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts.

Brewery: Maui Brewing Co.
Location: Lahaina, Maui, HI
Name: CoCoNut PorTeR
Type: Porter
ABV: 6.0%
Purchased from: Grape & Gourmet, VA Beach
 Price: $2.89

I first encountered this beer through Zane Lamprey's show Three Sheets a few years back and thought to myself "Hmm...coconut beer huh?" I wanted to know how that could happen without tasting like sunscreen lotion smells (to be fair, that's how I feel about coconut rum). In any case, aside from being incredibly jealous of Mr. Lamprey's job, I knew I would hope to have the experience of trying this beer out. Imagine my surprise when I saw it at my local beer shop. All the way from if it was a special gift just for me! Also, this was the first sacrificial offering my new mini fridge has bestowed unto me.

CoCoNut PorTeR pours a nice shade of the darkest brown you can imagine. There is a brilliant glint of dark ruby when you hold this up to the light. The head was proud and tall, the sandy color of it contrasted nicely against the rich porter. I can't tell you how eager I was to smell this thing. I was bracing for the worst but got something incredible instead. This beer smells like a Mounds candy bar. The chocolate notes alternate between dark and milk varieties. Roasted coffee is also present in the bouquet as well as a nice amount of dry and unsweetened cocoa powder. I get it, how the hell is dark and milk chocolate AND unsweetened cocoa powder discernible? The dark chocolate notes are slightly bitter, the milk chocolate notes are...well...chocolaty and sweet. And the unsweetened cocoa powder notes are dry and chalky which I feel is best described as chocolate that is earthy in origin. Aside from tasting like a really solid porter, this one has a lot going for it. The somewhat thin body makes for a light mouth feel. The first flavor I pick up is the bittersweet dark chocolate and then roasted coffee mixed with a natural coconut taste. The coconut is not at all overpowering or distracting, it does a really nice job accentuating the other flavors while managing to stand out for a moment. The finish is a creamy milk chocolate note that morphs cleanly into a dry cocoa powder. The coconut does make a bit of an encore, too. I was really glad to not be overwhelmed by coconut flavoring and I'm pleased to say my skepticism was quickly cast aside. However, this is a fantastic beer! It is nice to see Maui Brewing Co. beers becoming available here on the East coast. I strongly urge you to go out and find this beer.

Liquid, alcoholic candy bar > regular candy bar.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Don't touch my Monkey!

Brewery: Victory Brewing Co.
Location: Downingtown, PA
Name: Golden Monkey
Type: Tripel
ABV: 9.5%
Purchased from: Grape & Gourmet, Va Beach
Price: $1.99

I can't tell you exactly when I had my first Golden Monkey. I can't even recall if it was the first Victory beer I consumed (might have been Storm King). Either way, I have spent some time naval gazing with Golden Monkey and that's not a statement to be taken lightly. I drank 5 of these in one sitting years ago...It was a long night. Imagine a sunrise collided with a jar of honey and then was baptised with champagne. Got that? Good, because that's what this beer looks like. A glorious golden...monkey colored liquid. There is also a smattering of small carbonation bubbles that linger well after the initial pour. But it's not a font of activity. The cap on this rose to a solid two fingers of snow white foam. As gravity set in, the head laced nicely making for some pretty rest rings. The bouquet is pretty hard to miss. Even several feet away I managed to pick up the first notes of sweet banana and peppery clove. Scents and spices integral to the tripel experience. Scents of lemon grass and tangy yeast bubble up. The biscuit like aroma mingles nicely with the sweet of the malt and the tart of the yeast. It's a very inviting aroma. One might say it's soothing for the soul. The mouthfeel is full bodied and plush. As a flavor delivery mechanism I approve. The initial flavors you might get are the biscuit backbone fleshed out with lightly caramel malt. A pop of citrus, though not at lemony as the nose would have you expect, lighten the flavor profile up some. The spices play up nicely, too. Clove and white pepper are easily identified. There is a faint trace of alcohol towards the back end of the taste and it is more noticeable on the way down. I consider Golden Monkey a solid "go to" beer for me. It smells great, is super easy on the eyes, and will make you feel all warm and fuzzy given a long enough exposure time to it. And besides, saying something like "I have to nurse this Monkey for a while. I'm on my third one and things are starting to get a little fuzzy" while NOT drinking this beer can result in having some awkward looks cast your way.

We named the monkey Jack. Jack the monkey? Tisk tisk.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Batton down the hatches, matey!

Brewery: Mission Brewery
Location: San Diego, CA
Name: Dark Seas
Type: Russian imperial stout
ABV: 9.8%
Purchased from: Whole Foods, Richmond, VA
Price: $7 or $8, can't recall.

There are dark beers. And then there are dark beers. This was my first encounter with Dark Seas and Mission Brewery for that matter. I couldn't pass it up as it had 5 of my most favoritest things on the label: Skull, lightning, awesome old ship, the word "imperial," and 9+% ABV. Like a moth to a flame, my hand was wrapping around this beast before I knew what was going on. I knew that once I popped the cap off of this beer I should be in for a hell of a time. As dark as the seas it boasts, Dark Seas storms and swells angrily which produces a MASSIVE milk chocolate colored head. I mean, the head was a good 2 fingers thick! Could it be attributed my an aggressive pour? Maybe...maybe not. As the foamy head de-foamed it graciously gave up the bouquet it was so staunchly protecting. Let us talk a bit about scent striation. The odoriferous strata Dark Seas provides you is a roller coaster of ballsy beer aromas. Bittersweet dark chocolate and toasted malt take the quick lead. Behind them is something that smells like the ghost of vanilla extract and a woodsy forest. A slight hint of licorice and booze bring up the rear. As I brought my glass to my lips and prepared to drink I braced myself for impact as I expected a thick bodied beer. Dark Seas did not disappoint in that regard. Thick, borderline syrupy, sumptuously velvety, and definitely chewy this RIS takes no prisoners and presumes you're wearing a life preserver. I couldn't help but to imagine the beer as being a miniature ghastly pirate swinging on a rope, a blade clenched in his teeth, ready to plunder my flavor receptors. Bold malt is the name of the game. Said malt props a woody and chocolate flavored miasma (and I mean miasma is the foreboding dread sense). Through lips laced with sticky malt and a healthy amount of alcohol, vanilla makes its way to the dance floor. The aftertaste is almost too sweet but is cut precisely with an unapologetic smokiness. And my breath smells like I just had a chocolate coffee. But it's not gross and bitter like if I had just consumed chocolate coffee. Nay. This is like the best parts of a chocolate coffee aftertaste...with booze added! Some might say this is a touch too sweet or the malt is too toasty and less roasty. To them I say, you've got your opinion and I respectfully ignore it. Pace yourself with Dark Seas. Do not dive blindly here and do utilize the buddy system if you have to. But savor this. Let it storm across your palate wreaking flavor havoc.

In Soviet Russia, imperial's stout you.