Thursday, December 22, 2011

Where's the beef?!

Brewery: Bison Brewing
Location: Ukiah, CA
Name: Organic Gingerbread Ale
Type: Spiced Beer
ABV: 6.0%
Tis the season for all things gingerbread. Houses. Little men. Beer. Beer? Yes, beer. I've never had a gingerbread beer before. The label says its brewed with ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I've had all of those things in beer before and I have to be honest, my least favorite on that list is ginger. I ran across a few ginger based beers and none of them sat well with me. But I do like ginger ale... Fascinating, no? No. The beer is about the same color as the bottle it came in, perhaps a shade darker. It actually looks like overcooked (burnt sounds so negative) gingerbread cookies. Not a bad thing at all. The notion of a big head is foreign to this brew. Nothing more than a quick appearance of a light tan head and then its foam around the top of the beer. The nose is very reminiscent of a lot of good pumpkin ales I have had in the past. There's a healthy amount of nutmeg and a healthy amount of spices, noticeably cinnamon (hooray for accuracy!). Ginger provides a quick bit of spice and heat to the bouquet. It also has notes of clove that can be picked up during deep sniffs. Somewhat of a medium body makes for a good mouthfeel. This beer looks like it should be a little more chewy and I feel like that impacts the flavors negatively. Mix that with a carbonation level equivalent to a standard soda and the flavors come out thin and a bit watered down tasting. I wish the aromas from the nose translated to a better tasting beer. There is a fair amount of roasted malt up front but very little of the nutmeg, cinnamon, and spice. Towards the back end you get a strong sensation of earth and herbs but, again, does more harm than good. There is a fairly noticeable bitter stinger that lingers for a moment. If this beer were fuller and perhaps more assertive with its flavor profile I could definitely see myself enjoying this beer much more. However, the deceptive nose paired with the weak mouthfeel and underwhelming flavor profile make this little more than a novelty. I wanted to really be blown away by Bison's Organic Gingerbread Ale but it ultimately left me wanting something a little more.

Fast as fast can be, you'll want to think twice about drinking me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Roll the footage!

Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
Location: Cold Springs, MN
Name: Allies Win The War!
Type:  Strong Ale
ABV: 8.5%
You have to read the name of this beer with that nasally radio announcer voice from the days of yore. "Our boys overseas sent the Jerries running!" Sidenote: I love art deco. In any case, I have had every 21st Amendment beer and was not going to pass this special edition up. I had heard nothing about this beer, saw it, and immediately grabbed it. I have had some good times and bad times with the gang at 21st (Monk's Blood is easily one of my all time favorite beers. Fireside Chat made me want to die). Allies pours more red than brown, I would put it on the darker side of amber mixed with ruby and completely translucent. A bubbly, off-white head answers its call of duty and fades back at a deft pace. The nose is sweet and full. This beer is brewed with dates so you get a not-so-bashful presence of sweet dates. The nice thing is that there is a healthy, but not pushy, amount of spices, citrus hops, and other dark fruits that jive well with the dates. Got to be honest. I was shocked with the mouthfeel. I expected something a little more viscous and full, especially with how sweet this smelled and its ABV, but instead got something crisp and effervescent. There is a nice splash of pine hops to lead the charge. Then sweet hops and dark fruits pull through. The finish is a little harsh and boozey. I coughed and I'm not sure if I can attribute that to the booze or the cold that I'm fighting. Draw from that what you will. Past the striking boozey taste the dates come through and tussle with the alcohol hints. There's also a little bit of earthy funk (in a good way) to this beer. I can't quite call this one. I like it but I don't love it. I don't know that I would fully recommend this beer to folks but it's not terrible. It is such a paradox! Better than Fireside Chat? Absolutely. I didn't pour this one out. As good as Monk's Blood? Not even close.

If the Allies lost this would taste like sauerkraut. Mmm...sauerkraut.

What was that thing the sea turtle said in Finding Nemo?

Brewery: Sixpoint Brewery
Location: Boogie Down Bronx, NY
Name: Righteous Ale
Type: Rye Ale
ABV: 6.3%
Cast your canned beer aspersions aside. I'm not even sure how the criticisms of canned beer ever arose. I mean, people drink Corona and that shit comes in a bottle so the argument is pretty moot. And I'd like to thank Mr. Joel Parker for getting Sixpoint beers into my hands. Righteous is pretty tubular. Super ruddy and chestnut in appearance, capped with a snow white head, my mouth immediately watered. Even after its slow dissipation, the head clung hard to the glass leaving a generous amount of lacing as I journeyed to the bottom of the glass. Big hops in the nose. Nice amount of pine and citrus. A healthy amount of rye bread and a little bit of pepper marry nicely to help raise the step-child like aroma of burnt caramel. Really nice mouthfeel on this one. It's super punchy with the piney hops right up front. Rye is not hidden, thankfully. It is always nice to have a flavor that isn't used very often. The tail of the taste is really intriguing. There's a very active flavor of grapefruit peel...kind of like a zest or the oil of the rind from a grapefruit. That citrus is then mixed up with that slight roasted caramel only for a second and then you get the full on citrus zest again. You do get some of those peppery notes familiar to rye bread in there as well, easily noticeable if you're looking for it. While not violent, the taste of Righteous is pretty aggressive. It is easily one of the most unique tasting beers I have ever had. You have a glorious amount of citrus hops that headbutt up against a flash of pine hops. You have a strong rye grain taste that mashes up with a mild sweetness. And it's all tied up with a crisp and clean mouthfeel. And yes, it comes from a can. In fact, I would say that coming from a can adds to the experience of this beer. Did I mention it's a 16oz can? Sold yet? Find this beer and enjoy this beer.
Do the can can can!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Alkaline Trio - Olde English 800

Not at all an official music video. But an official song. I've had OE800 before, I was young and stupid then. HOWEVER! If this song inspires you to make me review Olde English 800 then speak up. If I get enough people daring me to do so, I will. Begrudgingly. ENJOY!

Hickory, chicory, dock...

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Location: Milton, DE
Name: Chicory Stout
Type: Sigh...I refuse to tell you.
ABV: 5.2%
Yep. Dogfish puts it out there for you. No fancy names. No clever anything. Just, "Hey you. This is a chicory stout. Wanna try it?" Wikipedia tells me that chicory is a woody, precocious (just kidding...perennial herbaceous plant) that is often used as a coffee substitute. Because if Starbucks has taught us anything, coffee is 'spensive. I can report, without question, this beer looks like coffee. As most stouts do. In fact, this stout smells like coffee. ORDER IN THE COURT! One more outburst related to a crazy statement and I will hold all of you in contempt. It also smells a bit like caramel that was cooked a little too long, but it mostly smells like cold Folgers. Pretty crisp mouthfeel. Light feeling, actually. It's not overly alcoholic so that must give it its waifish body. That was harsh. Listen, I'm not trying to be negative it just has a surprisingly light mouthfeel! Taste is pretty stout standard. I feel like if it were a little thicker the roasted coffee/malt flavor would be more pronounced but this tastes like an amped down, carbonated, iced coffee. Again, not a bad thing. To be fair there is a slight bitter dark chocolate presence as well as nice, smoky finish. No bandit, however. I'm not going to apologize for any pun. EVER. My pallet isn't educated enough to pick out the chicory in this stout...because I've never tasted it. Hey, this is a pretty good beer. I feel lucky when I pick up beers that I've heard about for a while and have always been interested in trying and they end up tasting good. Though I prefer my stouts to have a little more body than this, I endorse this beer. Shocker, I know. I like DFH because they make quality beers. Give this one a try before running headfirst into an Imperial stout.

I'd like stouts more if they were called "portlies."

Damn kids! Get off my lawn!

Brewery: Bell's Brewery, INC.
Location: Comstock, MI
Name: Kalamazoo Stout
Type: Stout...
ABV: 6.0%
First off, the guy on the label looks like he knows how to party. Or he's Clint Eastwood's racist towards Koreans old man character from that one movie where he played a racist towards Koreans old man. El Camino or something like that. Kalamazoo is in Michigan. Bell's is in Michigan. Pretty nifty coincidence. I've had this beer many a time at a local bar called Still, known more for their whiskey selection but still a great place to have an adult beverage or 5. But this isn't an advertisement for them. This is a review of a pretty stoutariffic beer. Ever seen liquid shadow wearing a crown of foamy peanut butter? You can. Easily. Buy one of these and pour. The head has legs, stands about an inch and a half tall and slowly recedes while maintaining a death grip on the glass. Just smelling this beer makes you feel like a bona-fide beer fanatic. Bitter roasted coffee-like malt, super big smoke scents, a bit of tobacco, and chocolate milk compete for your noses' attention in this fragrance free for all. The first drink is delightful. Wonderfully smooth mouthfeel but not chewy. Moderate effervescence, not at all detracting from the taste. Roasted roastyness and bitter coffee reigns supreme. Slight touch of licorice fortified by those smokey hints. The finish is incredibly smooth and cocoa-esque, not the harsh, bitter, black coffee taste you'd expect. Aptly named a stout. Quintessential and clean. Think Guinness is a big boy's (or girl's, or even boygirl's) stout? Break away from those preconceived notions and find a stout that gets its message across clearly. That message? "Drink the shit out of me."

Seriously. GET OFF MY LAWN!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Watch it, rudeboy! This is totally second-wave.

Brewery: Ska Brewing
Location: Durango, CO
Name: Modus Hoperandi
Type: IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Cue the t-bone. Checkered suspenders in place? Skinny ties? Watch the trumpets. PICKITUP PICKITUP! Packaging alone earns points. Kind of hard to tell but the dude in the middle is totally a skeleton. And this beer is totally an IPA. An unmistakable, remarkable, and apologetically hoppy IPA. MoHop (I'm calling it that, we're close like that) is a nice tarnished brass color... In fact I would say that it looks like a saxophone or trombone that has seen some time in an early 80s UK dance hall. The off-white head rises, sticks around a bit, and then clings to the side of the glass as if it was trying to break out of it. You like hops? You like a lot of hops? This beer is teeming with hops. All of the usual suspects are present; citrus, pine, and floral. If there were an ingredient list on the can I'm sure the first 5 things listed would be hops. I was super excited to get a nice dose of sweetness along side the hops. I couldn't wait. I had to drink this immediately. A lighter than expected body and a crisp mouthfeel deliver heaps of piney hops directly to the hop pleasure center of your brain. The citrus hops bounce soulfully into the mix without hesitation. The lightness of this beer caught me off guard, I feel like if it had a little more oomph to it then the high level of bitter flavoring from the hops would be better balanced. That being said, I like hops just fine! And not having enough body is minor in my book. MoHop is super bright and exhilarating to drink. I can't stress the fact that if you are not a hop head then you should maybe work your way up to this beer. It's not that this beer is strong in alcohol, it's strong in hops and the light mouthfeel might throw some people off. The special thing about this beer is that it isn't pretentious. If it is hops you seek then hops you will find in the green can of Modus Hoperandi.

No Doubt is not ska.

Some people say "horse."

Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Location: Denver, CO
Name: Hoss
Type: Rye Lager
ABV: 6.2%
The viscosity with which Hoss poured made me think that it was going to be in the double digit ABV range; I was shocked to see that it was not. However, my anticipation was not sullied. Hoss is a dusky tan-orange color (probably closer to the color of a penny) that has the thinnest of khaki colored heads. Visually there is little carbonation which isn't a terrible thing. The scent this beer gives off is quick to hit the nose. The presence of yeast is pretty difficult to hide. That mixes nicely with a grain smell...similar to that of rye bread. Not surprising at all, is it? The yeast also puts a sharp tang onto deep caramel notes as well. A seemingly complex bouquet but it isn't really too mind boggling. There's a taste of earth up front that fades as soon as you notice it. Right behind the earth is a dose of darker fruits though it isn't as pronounced as it would be in, say, a barleywine. The yeasty malt flavors continue through from the smell and stick around just long enough. Any longer and it might come off as a little too sweet for a rye lager. The hops, though faint, blend nicely with the yeast and bready malt. Towards the back end there is a slight hint of alcohol and an even slighter hint of metal. Hoss is pretty good, if you ask me. Even though the front of the label says "rye lager," the side of the label says "marzen." I'm more inclined to call it a marzen due in part to the justright amount of sweetness and the mouthfeel (rather light but substantial at the same time...paradoxical, I know). Great Divide delivers again!

I'd give it a 3.5 if I had half a mug left of it...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Which was the dog? Milo or Otis?

Brewery: Napa Smith Brewery
Location: Napa, CA
Name: Lost Dog
Type: Red Ale
ABV: 7.2%
A beer from wine country? The concept seemed solid enough. I'd never heard of this beer or brewery and to be honest...I can't remember where I purchased this. I have a stockpile of beers eagerly waiting to give their 12 ounce lives to a greater cause and this one was on the top. Regardless, what's it like? Lost Dog is a warm and hazy autumnal orange that teeters on the reddish side. The creme colored head foamed up nicely and quickly ended up as a white ring around the top of the beer. There's a slightly sweet but floral hop note mixed with a slight hint of malt backed up by the ever familiar fragrance of sticky alcohol. Imagine a mildly strong IPA that has a shot of malt running through it. The problem with only buying one beer at a time is that you never know that if it's supposed to taste how it's tasting or if you just managed to grab a bad beer. The carbonation hits and then fades quickly leaving a taste that is slightly modified from the bouquet. I didn't get a huge amount of hops but there's a nice dose of nuttiness and caramel in the middle. The aftertaste is pretty bitter and seems a little off. There's an earthiness to it that I can't quite tell if its intentional or not. I think "musky" would be an apt description, but not like the musk of your grandmother's cellar. I know what it is, there's a certain dry-ness this beer leaves you with. Wasn't exactly expecting it but the more I drank the easier it became to identify. There's alcohol in this beer that's only slightly masked but it's hardly abrasive. I don't have anything disparaging to say about Lost Dog. However, I don't have anything remarkable to report about Lost Dog. It's a middle of the road red ale that amps up the taste of the earth. I'd take this over Killian's any day of the week and twice on Sunday if I had to.

You can't teach a lost dog new tricks. But it will need a bath when it gets home.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Old is a relative term.

Brewery: North Coast Brewing Co.
Location: Fort Brag, CA
Name: Old Stock Ale (from the year of our Lord, 2011)
Style: Old Ale
ABV: 11.9%
When I uttered the phrase "30 in May," I realized that dammit...age is creeping up on me. I say creep but I know that age is like a Mack truck heading down hill with no breaks and that hill is covered in ice lined with WD-40. That being said, I decided I must seek out age and consume it. I sought to destroy it and consume its death-grip. I ended up finding this beer with the word "old" in its name and felt that it was as close as I could get. Hazy, chestnut-esque tainted with a hint of ruby colored beer stormed into my glass with much vigor and an attitude that could only be contained by a cream colored crown that spoke of boozey absolutism. The bouquet erupted with a mix of dark sour fruits and I swear a wisp of blueberry. Raisins and a caramel malt also stirs up a trace of vanilla as well. It does a very good job of disguising the fact that it is a quite potent potable. I say that because once you get past the not-so-distracting amount of carbonation and through the dense forest of taste (which includes: sweet molasses, vanilla, big malts, and a lingering post drink taste of butterscotch and dates) you get a pleasant warming sensation that reminds you this ale is not something to be taken lightly. This beer has legs! Not something you slam down and dive after another. Oh, no. This beer is to be enjoyed at a decent pace that allows every flavor to expose itself (not in a lecherous manner) to your taste buds which will ultimately make you want to take another drink. I keep coming back to the word "assertive." It's a really great beer to have when you're feeling cold or when you're feeling old. It is definitely worth seeking this beer out.

You're only as old as you feel and I feel like a million bucks! Wait. What?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

20,000 Leagues of delicious.

Brewery: Diamond Knot Brewing Co.
Location: Mukilteo, WA
Name: Industrial India Pale Ale
Type: IPA
ABV: 7.9%
I did it again. I bought a beer based on the label. I have a thing for brass diving helmets and someday wish to own one. BioShock is one of my favorite video games of all time and this label screams Big Daddy. I could've cared less about what this beer tasted has a badass, old timey diver on it's label. Luckily, I didn't have to chug through a bomber of bad swill. This IPA represents the style nicely with a honey gold colour (seriously, I don't intentionally get English on purpose. In fact, I could just delete the 'u' but I feel these little asides make it OK) tinged with orange. A vanilla pudding-esque colored head thinly lingers. The bouquet was astounding! There was an obvious sticky smell to it. Higher alcohol, super malts, and a scent forest think with hops of all scents (but mostly pine and floral) fill my nose with a zen like calm. Yes, my nose was full of zen. The best way to describe how this IPA tasted was lush and full. I was not at all surprised to bask in the pine flavor of a hop assault. There was a hint of earthiness which added a layer of grassy flavors that complimented the malt nicely. This beer is an unapologetic, full on, IPA. Hop heads rejoice. And I still think brass diving helmets are awesome so you should definitely find this beer. The best news? There were several other types of Diamond Knot brews that I look forward to diving into. OHMYGODPUNINTENDED!

Well slap me around and call me Ahab!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Domo Arigato, Mr. Ro-beer-to.

Brewery: Yoho Brewing Co.
Location: Nagano, Japan
Name: Tokyo Black
Type: Porter
ABV: 5.0%

First of all, I found it a trifle unnecessary to see the crack in the sumo's bottom (on the can). With that out of the way...
Imagine the best iced coffee you’ve ever had. Now, imagine that coffee tasting a million times better. And I’m talking black coffee, not some frilly flavored coffee. Yoho Tokyo Black is hands down the best iced coffee you will ever have. Even better, it has alcohol in it! Granted it’s not a massive amount of booze but it’s a plus. I had forgotten how pure things can taste when you remove the high levels of alcohol from them. Don’t worry imperial beers, I still love you. It’s just that this can of black as tar porter is so clean and perfect that it cannot be missed. To quote Tessa: “This smells like something you would like,” she said without a hint of being condescending. The nose is more complex that I expected. There are multiple layers that include roasted malt that comes off slightly bitter and sweet. Burnt sugar notes fondly present aromas of toffee and caramel. Now most people would look at this and thing it weighs a ton. Untrue. Tokyo Black is super crisp and refreshing. The slightest bit of sweetness is quickly bullied away by roasted malt tinged bitterness. A mild tart acidity lingers like you would expect something with this level of roast would have. It's nothing like the bitterness and acidity that you get from certain IPAs...this is classic and unadulterated porter. Throw your Guinness away. Do it. I implore you to track down this black can of Japanese beer greatness.

I would like a Venti, please.

He's a Commissioner, you know.

Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
Location: Lyons, CO
Name: Gordon (AKA: G'Knight)
Type: Imperial Red Ale
ABV: 8.7%

No bones, everything Oskar Blues puts in a can is delicious. My first experience with Gordon was a good one. This imperial red ale came out thick, almost viscous looking. It was the color of a rich cup of tea laced with honey and nearly glowing with a touch of amber. The full head was light and fluffy with a crisp white color and it eventually faded into the glass leaving behind a good bit of lacing. I do enjoy a beer that laces well and leaves behind “rest rings.” You can almost taste the beer as you smell it. There is a massive amount of malt in this beer and the bouquet doesn’t try to hide the fact. Once you break through the malt there are light notes of piney hops waiting in the wings, ready to bring some bitter to the party. You can go ahead and sacrifice your taste buds. The malt in Gordon commands  your tongue to bow to it. The velvety smooth mouthfeel delivers an abundance of flavor sweet with sugary malt and is fortified pleasantly with bitter hops. At the very end there is a hint of roastedness (just made that up, feel free to use it) that helps this beer finish strong. Gordon is a full on ale that should not be taken lightly. That being said, it’s not a light beer at all. I wouldn’t recommend drinking this on a full stomach and do give yourself some time to get through it, best not to rush this one!

Enjoy this during a dark (k)night!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy IPA day!

Happy IPA day, everyone! I hope you fine folks are taking a few minutes out of your day to enjoy your favorite (or perhaps a new) India Pale Ale.

Let me know what you're drinking today!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Put your camels to bed.

Brewery: Tallgrass Brewing Co.
Location: Manhattan, KS
Type: Imperial IPA
Name: Oasis
ABV: 7.2%
At one point (initially forgot the "o") I used to overlook IPAs for something else. Nothing else in particular, just not an IPA. I've discussed this before and for every moment I look back on my IPA transgressions I know that I did myself a terrible injustice. That being said, I don't intentionally mean to review so many IPAs, it just sort of works that way. And besides, Tessa made me buy this one. Let's get it out of the way, it's a pint-sized can. And I don't mean pint-sized in the 1940s "Hey, look at that pint-sized squirt!" It's an actual pint in a car, not unlike a Guinness. It's an appealing shade of medium auburn that produces a massive frothy light tan head. The bouquet is mouthwatering. Huge hops of the floral and pine variety and sticky malt let you know that this beer means to harm you in sweet, sweet ways. Notes of toffee and chewy bread play second fiddle to the prominent hops. First introduction to the taste buds was well received. The medium body mouthfeel delivered flavors of citrus-ly zesty hops which quickly danced its way to a warm, alcohol-tinged sweet malt, with a dry bitterness acting as Oasis' backbone. I expected a tongue altering hoppiness but was still pleasantly surprised to find that the beer was not dominated by the hop. Instead, it is complimented in its glory. It's definitely thicker than something like Brew Free! Or Die but not as slick as something like DFH 120minute. I strongly recommend this IPA to someone who is looking to expand their IPA knowledge and trying to get into something a little more aggressive on the ABV end. In all actuality, this is pretty damn tasty. This was my first run in with Tallgrass Brewing Company and look forward to indulging in their other offerings.

The best thing to come out of Kansas since ruby slippers.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I expect a ratification!

Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
Location: San Fransisco, CA
Name: Brew Free! Or Die
Type: American IPA
ABV: 7.0%
Such an apt rally cry for the American craft brewer. Or any nationality craft brewer really. I would give up drinking beer entirely if my only choices came from the "Big 3." That being said, I'd like to introduce you to a completely competent, yet disappointingly pedestrian American IPA. First things first, this box of cans is adorned with an illustration of Mount Rushmore, which by itself is pretty cool. However, I'm pretty sure Lincoln is throwing a left hook. Kudos to the artist. In any case, BFOD (I'm lazy) is an eye catching beer. A generous foamy white heads sits atop 12 ounces of warm orange-y liquid which also flaunts a slight haze to it. The head fizzles rather quickly but lingers as you drink. Healthy malt and a fair amount of hops fill the nose. The craziest thing I came away with is that there was a hint of apple juice in the bouquet! I smelled it several times before I could name the scent but once I did, it was all I could smell. The taste was pretty good. You have a nice offering of malt backed up by a not-at-all-obtrusive hop flavor that tilted toward the citrus side. I had to remind myself that I was drinking an IPA and not some sort of Belgian as it had some hints of spice to it. The finish was warm and bready. Taste buds were in tact as this is a pretty mild IPA. It's a good beer to use as a "Craft Beer 101" for your friends who swear by swill. Overall it was pretty tasty. A beer like BFOD would do well to cut through the sweltering heat of a summer day in Southeastern Virginia.

E pluribus drinkus.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Party's over...oops outta time!

Brewery: Old Dominion Brewing Co.
Location: Dover, DE
Name: Dominion Millennium Ale
Type: Barleywine
ABV: 10.5%
There are times in which the day at work forces you to turn to a release. With the most zen-like frustration I have ever experienced I reached into my fridge after getting home from a particularly lovely (not at all written with any sort of sarcastic tone) day at work and fished out this gem of an ale. I thought I had consumed this weeks ago and had forgot to write about it. Nay, friends. I had not. So anxious to get some malt based beverage in my mouth was I that I had pried off a twist off cap. I wasn't concerned. I almost poured this beer with my eyes closed so I wouldn't tarnish its glory with my burning eyes. What I experienced was liquid therapy. A rich, copper-meets-cedar color beckoned to me. I swear I saw a little foam hand rise from the ecru colored head and gave me a thumbs up, almost as if to say "It's OK, man. You're gonna love this." I didn't care that it was 94 degrees outside and I was consciously jumping into a beer best suited for temperatures of a much colder nature, I was going to punch this beer with my mouth. But I had to smell it first. The nose...oh, the nose. Sweet and sticky malt seemed to be mortal combat with the tart notes of dark fruit; I have no idea who the victor was. My favorite of the Stooges, Boozy, was also making a background appearance. The taste was exquisite. Carmel wrapped malt tumbled with toffee and tang. The familiar warmth of alcohol mixed with the faintest flavours (damn you, English spelling!) of vanilla and (I promise) light leather made me think that I may have been drinking an overly carbonated, incredibly chilled bourbon. Folks, it's that good. The air conditioner was on but dammit, this beer made me want to be sitting outside in December wishing I could see my breath and silently thanking the Beer Gods for this magnificent offering. It was dispatched with zeal and efficiency. Not wasting a moment of the pleasure as the velvety liquid splashed across my tongue. Each drink delivering more malt and tart plum flavor (and more alcohol) into my gullet which reminded made me think: You can have a crap day but all it's going to do is amplify the euphoria one experiences when they drink a beer as soon as they get home.

Also, this is a 5 mug beer. I'm just way too lazy to fetch my thumb drive that has the mugs on it. The witty caption? "I drank this while doing the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Keep it down!

Fine! I'm giving in to all of the clamoring and demanding I have received from my faithful readers. An update will be coming soon. I apologize for the lack of posts as things have kind of fallen from their normal routine. But fear not! New posts and polls are coming. In the mean time...

Have you had a beer that was new to you or particularly delicious and want to recommend it to me?

Answer in the comments section if the spirit moves you!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The rain in Spain.

Brewery: Damm S.A.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Name: Estrella Damm
Type: Cerveza Lager. Birra Lager. Lager ya'll!
ABV: 5.2%
When I visited Barcelona a few years ago I was able to enjoy an Estrella Damm in public. At the zoo, actually. How did I manage to get away with this? Valid question. I got it from a vending machine. Yes, there are beer vending machines in Europe. Europe - 1, America - 0. Maybe it was the pure joy I had from dropping 2 Euro into a machine and receiving a beer in return, but I remember this beer tasting better. There is nothing visually stunning about this beer. It's a straw yellow liquid with a thin ring of white foam that is pushed out towards the glass. If you didn't know better you might think that someone dropped an effervescent tablet commonly used to provide relief for various ailments into your glass. It bubbles like a damn fish tank with a ruptured air pump hose! The nose is equally uninspiring. There is no real stand out smell. You find some grain (mostly corn), some hops in the form of citrus, and a nice hint of miasma. The high level of carbonation assaulted my tongue in a way that had me wondering if my taste buds had been aggressively rubbed off. You taste what you smell, unfortunately. I can describe how it tastes in one word: astringent.
It looks like beer?

And now for something completely different!

Brewery: Clipper City Brewing Co.
Location: Baltimore, MD
Name: The Great Pumpkin
Type: Imperial Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 8.0%
Yes. It's June. Yes. This is a review of a pumpkin ale. No. I'm not crazy. This bomber has been sitting in my fridge since October. I'm willing to bet the ABV had increased some over the past 8 months. I'm not sure what possessed me to open it but I swear it was calling to me from the kitchen. I opened the bottle with reckless abandon, charged up the Flux Capacitor to 1.21 Gigawatts, and went back to the future. Full on copper color here folks. No playing around. It's as if you were to melt the tops of Duracell batteries into a cocktail (please, do not do this). Zero percent chance of a head developing on this beer. "Why bother?" It seems to say. Jump right in, matey. The aroma is deafening. Robust pumpkin pie spices all up in your nose make you believe that it's turkey time and football should be on the TV. Nutmeg and caramel pair up with big malt and some tart/tangy notes in a somewhat forced manner. Notes read: "You got pumpkin pie in my booze!" The classic flavors of pumpkin pie are all there, minus the natural pumpkin flavor. Throw in some tart and slather in alcohol... You've got yourself The Great Pumpkin! The mouthfeel is silky and the higher level of alcohol mixed with the malt makes the top lip a little sticky due to the sugars. Caramel and nutmeg are ever present while an overall spiciness lingers well after the beer has gone down the hatch. A booze and bread mixture rounds out this ale reminding you that it is an imperial after all. In the event that you forgot, which, towards the end of this bottle you might find yourself a little hazy. The best thing? Pumpkin ale is good year round!

Pumpkins are like big apples, right?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hook, line, and... Stinker?

Brewery: Red Hook Ale Brewery
Location: Woodinville, WA - Portsmouth, NH - Portland, OR. Take your pick I guess?
Name: Long Hammer IPA
Type: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Ok, they got me. I bought this because of the bottle. I had had plenty of Long Hammer in the past but it was in an old, generic beer bottle. This, this was something new and bold! Plus, it was either this or PBR. And trust, faithful Brewbies (yep, that just happened. You got named.) an exhaustive critique of PBR is forthcoming. First warning sign: I noticed when I poured this was it didn't quite seem the color of a super solid IPA. The color screamed a golden straw color which produced a foamy white head. Quickly, the head sunk into a thin white halo which did little to lace the glass. Tons of carbonation made me think of a hyperactive lava lamp with tiny bubbles instead of long globs of gunk. It at least looks refreshing. Second warning sign: The nose is kind of like an IPA. There are some notes of hops, a noticeable amount of biscuit notes, and a "now you smell me, now you don't" dose of malt. I, being the (h)optomist that I am, gave the little IPA that could the benefit of the doubt and dove headlong into a mouthful of suds. Warning sign the third: The components of an IPA are there, much like the nose, but came up lacking. It's almost as if this IPA was created to gently introduce someone to hops. As if to say "Hey, you. I'm quiet and unassuming and you've heard of hops before, right?" Bready flavors dominate the pallet, so much so that it almost overpowers the hint of hops. After the wash comes the bitterness. It's unwarranted. I didn't even earn this bitter aftertaste! The lingering bitterness makes me long for something of a fuller body and more complex flavor profile. This is just ale that might have had a few more hop pellets added during the boil. The sad thing is that the label clearly states the fandom of dry hopping... For shame, Red Hook. Overall, Long Hammer is not fantastic. Take the training wheels off and hit something harder with more bite and more flavor like Stone Ruination, Victory Hop Devil, or Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA,As it warmed up it actually decreased in quality. If you're going to drink it, drink it fast.
More like a red herring.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The power of hops compels you!

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Location: Escondido, CA
Name: Ruination IPA
Type: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.7%

The winged demon returns to spread the gospel of delicious damnation through this, a fine hoppy offering which makes lesser IPAs tremble in fear eventually causing their bottles and glasses to sweat prematurely. I have been indulging in this beer pretty regularly these days. It has become my default on nights that I can't quite figure out what to have at the Bier Garden in Portsmouth, VA. Ruination, like many of the other Stone brews, slows down for no mortal. Consuming this is basically saying that you’re down for allowing your taste buds to be consumed and held hostage by a hop colored demon. Erupting in a golden haze infused with orange tint, Ruination demands you notice it. The head is aggressive and long lasting which refuses to disappear completely as it leaves rest rings of lacing down whatever vessel it is being consumed from… Except for maybe a goblet made of bone. One smell and you’re done. Floral and citrus hops put your olfactory senses in a headlock and then proceeds to give them a noogie stopping just short of a wedgie. As the floral/citrus cocktail fades, a sweet, caramel-esque wave hits you. That sweetness lets you know that a healthy amount of alcohol is waiting in the wings. Punching through the head allows a torrent of silky nectar to be delivered to an anxious palate ready to devour with extreme prejudice. I would be lying to call this a complex beer when it comes to taste. This is an in-your-face (in-your-mouth, rather) IPA that makes no apologies. Once you cut through the sweet malt and alcohol, pine assaults your mouth in a devilish way. Imagine taking some hop buds, grinding it down with a pestle and mortar, adding carbonated water, and then drinking said tincture. The only thing Ruination is missing is the pulp that would be left behind. Some might call this astringent, they are obviously ignorant non-believers and the streets shall flow with their blood. Ok, that’s harsh. But seriously, this beer would kill if it had to. The taste dominates your experience as you barely notice you are drinking. The bitter aftertaste is well received and lets you know that you’re drinking a kick-ass IPA. This West Coast IPA can be enjoyed year round… I would know. Hop heads pay attention. If you have yet to enjoy a Stone Ruination then shame on you!  A shame on your whole house! Now, quit reading this. Drive to your nearest purveyor of fine beer goods and give yourself to the Yellow Demon!
No number of priests can exorcise this demon. Suck it, Father Merrin!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Because Little Thaw would have sounded silly.

Brewery: Old Dominion Brewery
Location: Dover, DE
Name: Big Thaw Bock
Style: Unsurprisingly a maibock. My-bock for the phonetics amongst us.
ABV: 7.5%
My first note on this beer says: "Holy liquid sunshine dipped in honey, Batman!" This beer almost glows once unleashed from its brown glass confinements. Vibrant and bright are two easy words to describe this beer. I suppose that this beer is perfect to shake off the grey winter days and give you hope of warmer, sunnier days to come. There's a snow white head that quickly melts down into thin suds which rest nicely atop the brew. There is also a significant amount of noticeable carbonation. There's something about watching bubbles cascade to the top of a vessel that brings me joy. The bouquet is as bright as the color! Get your nose in there and pick up a refreshing breeze of crisp flavors. Notes of citrus are supplied from a mild amount of hops. It's almost as if someone took an orange and zested the peel straight into the glass. Notes of biscuity malt are prominent yet not over powering. This beer is meant to refresh and satiate a thirst brought on by temperatures that creep into the mid 70s. Plenty of taste in this maibock. The bready notes of malt pop up first and then swiftly changes to citrusy hops which melts to a faintly honey-esque sweetness. The after taste is light and smacks of wheat. The mouthfeel is a little sticky and teeters on the fuller side. I was prepared to handle a lighter more effervescent brew. Much to my chagrin I got a fuller bodied and mildly alcoholic beer that tastes as good as it looks. I strongly suggest pairing this with something spicy! The sweetness of the malt and tang of the hops played nicely with the curried rice I ate while enjoying this beer. Find this seasonal release if you can! It's a worth while investment.
Makes me wanna say "Oh mai, mai!"

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ommegang, Becky! Look at that head... It is so big!

Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
Location: Cooperstown, NY
Name: Abbey Ale
Type: Belgian Dubbel
ABV: 8.5%
Someone in Cooperstown kidnapped a Trappist monk and forced him to make this beer. They had to have. Originally, I thought this to be an import of the highest caliber. Needless to say I was shocked to see that it's a domestic beer with massive ties to its foreign roots. When I was younger I went to Cooperstown for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and now that I'm older I want to go back for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and Brewery Ommegang. The beer? Right, I should probably get to that. Liquid leather! It pours out a rich and ruddy with a healthy splash of tawny tinting. Not Tawny Kitaen... Who would've thought there would be a Tawny Kitaen reference in a beer review?! So here I go again on my own. As the title of this post clearly foreshadowed, the head on this beer is massive. I'm talking foamtastic. There's a 2" thick beige head that hangs around until you can't take it anymore. The bouquet is pretty great. Multiple layers of dark fruit, malt, and tart notes swell up. It's sort of like Neapolitan ice cream for your nose, just using beer scents. Throw in some toffee notes and you've got yourself a damn fine smelling beer. After you plow through the craggy head you'll be pleasantly greeted by an effective amount of carbonation that awakens the taste buds to allow them the ability to receive Belgian (Belgic?) goodness. Sweet, dark fruits like plums and cherries are first to arrive then the malt arrives and rounding out the gang is a sweet honey-toffee fusion. The cherry and toffee linger the most as the slight warmth of alcohol drifts slowly to your belly. You know what? This is a good beer. It's not super expensive and you don't sound like a jerk when you order it as there are no umlauts for you to trip over. In fact, this is one of the best American Belgian beers I've ever had!
Suck it, Jean Claude Van Damme!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mind your kilt!

Brewery: Oskar Blues Brewery
Location: Longmont, CO
Name: Old Chub (I heard you snicker.)
Type: Scotch Ale
ABV: 8.0%
In the beginning, I was a true beer snob. Ok, not the beginning beginning, but the beer snobbery beginning. I shunned beers in a can and assumed them to be inferior. I was wrong. The first time I had Old Chub was at an awesome restaurant in Olde Town Portsmouth named Comfort (no longer there, but operating in Richmond) and I was smitten. Now, I put it to the test of a more mature, more discernible pallet. Right out of the gate you can imagine this beer is going to taste good. It has a nice mahogany color. Think coffee without the cream. The bouquet is ruthless in its layering! A surplus of sweet malt tangos passionately with dark fruits. Caramel swoops in for a brief "Hi" only to be cast aside by a faint, yet lingering, booze-y smell. The taste is as good as the smell. Caramel is more prominent but it knows when to bow out to the rich, dark fruit flavor. Malt is ever present and what a presence it is! It's as if "malt" could be an adjective for the mouthfeel. Smooth and velvety with the right amount of carbonation; the kind that you feel initially and then peaces the hell out so you can taste how great this beer is. The aftertaste is a pretty rad combination of bready, caramelly, kinda tarty, booze cocktail. Honestly, this beer is good. So good that it will knock the "I don't drink beer from a can" shit out of your system.
Why yes we Can!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hey! That's my name, too!

Brewery: Mad River Brewing Co.
Location: Blue Lake, CA
Name: John Barleycorn
Style: Barleywine Style Ale
ABV: 9.0%
The name John Barleycorn makes me think of a man who some would consider a beer visionary. Someone who created a new type of brew that melted peoples' minds. John Barleycorn is either that man or the figure in the middle of the label... A terrified bundle of stalks about to be cut down by some long haired hippies. We're also looking past the fact that John Barleycorn is being WRAPPED UP BY A SNAKE! I like to think that John Barleycorn is the latter and he was murdered so that we, purveyors of fine beverages, may enjoy a beer that carries his namesake. Ol' J.B. (that's what he likes to be called) is a visually striking beer. It pleases the eyes with a hazy, deep amber color with is held up nicely with tints of ruby. The head is big and frothy sporting a lovely shade of egg shell. The bouquet you ask? In my notes I have written down "Holy nose candy, Batman!" Six feet away from the bottle (pre-pour!) and I picked up on malt notes that have ample sweetness, the aromas of dark fruits, and a vibrant amount of soul pleasing booze. The mouthfeel is that of mild carbonation most would associate with a barleywine. The flavor profile is pretty awesome. Right away you get malt and sour dark fruits. After the first tasting you then get a wave of caramel and toffee. Finishing up the taste tour is a bready aftertaste with no lingering hints of sourness or tartness. I wouldn't suggest drinking barleywines now as we're heading into the spring time but I realize it has been almost a month since my last entry. Thank you for not burning me at the stake. Except for maybe Fischer, he got a little impatient. Regardless, once barleywine season rolls back around I suggest you get to be friends with John Barleycorn.
Eat it, Johnny Appleseed!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Voting that matters!

Hey folks! I wanted to solicit some help in getting two of the best specialty shops in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia some proper respect for being pretty awesome. All you have to do is go to and create a free account. Once that's taken care of follow the links to the "Best Of" Contest and vooooooote!

First off, Grape & Gourmet. The majority of the beers I review are purchased from there and I would love to see them get some recognition for having an AWESOME selection of beers. The best part about them is that you can buy singles for every beer they carry. That is so choice! Grape & Gourmet is located in VA Beach, so make sure you're in the right city when you're casting your vote for Best Wine/Beer Shop (Located in the Best Food & Dining category).

The second place that deserves some love is Woodcraft in Norfolk! Not only do they have the finest selection of exotic woods, German high performance tools, and an overall friendly attitude about providing quality customer service, it just so happens that my dad works there! Like I said, they're located in Norfolk and you can find the option to vote for them under the city of Norfolk inside the category Best Shopping (Woodcraft is located under the Best Specialty Shop category).

Seriously, even if you don't live in the area but you consider yourself to be a pretty awesome person please cast votes for stores that deserve recognition for being top gear in what they do!

You got consonance in my beer!


Brewery: Victory Brewing Co.
Location: Downingtown, PA
Name: Prima Pils
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5.3%
If only it were about 20 degrees warmer! This offering from Victory can be enjoyed year round but it just seems to me that if you're sweating then this beer will be doing wonders. Prima Pils is a color that most people would call "beer colored." To be fair, this beer is literally liquid sunshine; a nice translucent gold. There is a nice amount of a white, foamy head that does a pretty decent job lacing the glass as you work your way through it. I found the bouquet to be pretty enjoyable. Actually, let me clear something up real quick... This beer is awfully different from the beers I usually consume. I would dare say diametrically opposed! It had been a long time since I had a beer that was this light and I approached it with caution. So what about the nose? Right. There were scents of the bread and biscuit variety that had a surprising lemon zest accent. On the deeper draws you can pick up the smell of hops which would explain the lemon scent. I mean, the lemon scent isn't like furniture polish or bathroom cleaner so don't be put off. It's more of an earthy, "you won't mind consuming this" sort of smell. Ever been punched in the tongue by a beverage? Would you like to have your tongue punched by a beverage? I know, I know, rhetorical questions can be hard to deal with. Seriously, this pilsner is pretty awesome. You'll have the refreshing burst of carbonation right out of the gate that gives way to the biscuit we talked about earlier. The hops come through nicely with a wonderfully hidden malt flavor. Tangy yeast leaves you with a slightly bitter and mildly dry mouthfeel. Seriously, this beer is a great example of what a pilsner can (and should) taste like. Prima Pils would make an American "macro-brewery" beer fan's head explode!
Prima Donna? Nah... It can't sing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

BrewDog Brouhaha... Brewhaha?

Brewery: BrewDog
Location: Fraserburg, Scotland
Names: 5 A.M. Saint and Hardcore IPA
Types: Iconoclastic Amber Ale and Explicit Imperial Ale, respectively
ABV: 5.0% and 9.2%
5 A.M. Saint where should I start? Should I start with the insulting yet almost accurate diatribe on the side of the bottle concerning how most people consume bad beer and know little about beer? Worry not, the chastising changes pace and lets the reader know that the folks at BrewDog won't stand for an inferior product. I feel like we should start with what the iconoclast looks like. Hazy amber that looks like its trying to tip the scales toward red. There's a bit of a puffy head that spends some time hanging around but doesn't do any sort of work when it comes to lacing the glass. There's a permanent hop scent present that is mostly citrusy in nature. There's also a fair amount of sweet malt in the bouquet. Once you're tasting this ale you realize that the hops in the nose are a bit of a put on. You do have a nice taste of hops up front but it fades quickly giving way to slightly earthy carbonation and finally returning on the back end. The earthy flavor lingers throughout the beer but isn't a distraction. To me, 5 A.M. Saint felt a little hollow. I wonder if my conditioning to higher ABV beers is skewing my perception of this beer? In any case, I would drink 5 A.M. Saint on warmer days probably while watching a baseball game... It's a far better drink than Icehouse. The nicest thing about it is that you can probably put several back and not have to worry about being blotto or feeling too full. However, if I had to choose between Saint and a different beer (say, Hardcore IPA) I would probably pass on it.
Save the preaching. Make a better amber.  
So the label says that according to the Surgeon General...err, umm...wrong side of the label. The label says this IPA has a lot of stuff in it. There are numbers about ingredients in a slightly braggartly (which is totally a word) manner to fully bring to light the attitude of BrewDog. These guys know beer and they know they know beer and they will do what they can to make you feel like you know less about beer than they do. Cheers mates! If Hardcore and 5 A.M. Saint got into a fight I feel like Hardcore would fight dirty. And then insult 5 A.M Saint. All in all, Hardcore is more bark than bite. Orange and amber blend nicely once this beer is in a proper drinking vessel. The small head that does show up is pretty shy and dissipates as quickly as it forms. I found the bouquet to be fairly interesting. You have the requisite hops of several variety but the more floral scented ones seem to shine through. I also picked up hints of something slightly sweeter, possibly vanilla. A healthy dose of earthy notes are also apparent when taking a whiff. Hardcore has a pleasant mouthfeel with a decent amount of carbonation, though not as much as Saint. I was expecting to have to deal with a blast of hops on my initial taste but was surprised to find out that I was not being overpowered by hops. Instead I experienced a flavor combination that consisted of some piney hops being overshadowed by floral hops. There is a moment of creamy clarity in the middle where that slightly vanilla-y flavor comes through. The whole thing is rounded out by a slightly bitter aftertaste so typical of an IPA. What I found to be the most interesting aspect of Hardcore is that there's virtually no trace of a higher alcohol content. No warming, no boozy finish, no nothing. Hardcore is a respectable IPA though I wouldn't call it an explicit ale. When compared to other imperial IPAs, Hardcore is nowhere near as sweet or thick as Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA nor is it as hoppy as Sierra Nevada's Hoptimum... But! It is incredibly drinkable and rather tasty. So if you can get past the "Hoppier than thou" preachings on the label I suggest you grab a Hardcore and enjoy thoroughly.
Ought to be called AttitudeDog Brewery.