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.

Have ye any wool?

Brewery: Uinta Brewing Co.
Location: SLC, UT
Name: Baba
Type: Black Lager
ABV: 4.0%
Purchased from: Grape & Gourmet, Va Beach
Price: $1.69

I've had a few Uinta beers in the past, but only a few. At least I think that's the case. I can't actually recall but I'm fairly certain I've had at least one prior to Baba. In any case, I grabbed this beer because of its name and it's label. There was something homespun about it. No flashy colors or slick paper. Just to the point as if to say "Take it or leave it, this is what I am." So I took it. And then I consumed it. Baba lives up to its nomenclature by being as dark brown something can be before it could be classified as black. There's also a slight crimson accent to it when you hold it up to the light. The head was pretty tight and tan colored which made the lacing look pretty along the sides of my glass. The nose is a mixture of bitter roasted coffee, prune, and a smoky kind of sweetness. Not at all surprising but still very fragrant and it did a pretty good job making my mouth water. The body is unquestionably light and ripe with carbonation. With a minuscule amount of alcohol I didn't expect anything heavy; so far, expectations have been met. To me this is coming off as a bit of a "one note" beer. The roasted malts are doing really well to give that great taste of bitter coffee but I'm struggling to pick up much after that. Sure there's a bit of bread present and a shy amount of dark caramel sweetness towards the middle...but that's about it. I felt like there was a bit of a watered down nature to this beer that swelled up towards the end of the flavor profile. The aftertaste was delightfully smokey and thick with roasted bitterness. There is a nice amount of flavor to this beer but I was left wanting a little more complexity to it. Maybe a heavier hand with the sweetness of the malt or a splash of chocolatey goodness would have been nice. I don't think that I'm being overly critical...I'm just feeling a little let down. Black lagers and black IPAs are hit or miss with me. Baba is a wonderful alternative to any other "light" beer you will come across. More flavorful than the platinums, selects, 55s, and ultras will ever hope to be. While bold in it's roasted bitterness, Baba bleats borderline boring.

Hard not to feel sheepish here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's the blue eyes you have to watch out for.

Brewery: Avery Brewing Co.
Location: Boulder, CO
Name: White Rascal
Type: Belgian-Style White Ale
ABV: 5.6%
Purchased from: Total Wine & More, Va Beach, VA
Price: $1.99

It doesn't really have blue eyes. But it is a ginger so infer from that what you will. Aptly named, White Rascal is a through and through white ale of the unfiltered variety. This is my first time having this beer. As I've said in the past, I kind of got off white/wheat ales. And by "got off" I mean I never really got into them. I was always looking for something a little less acidic, a little more assertive. Well, turns out that white ales may not be an every day drinker for me, they are nice to experience every once in a while. Hazy like a foggy east coast morning, in a way that emulates the sun trying its damnedest to break through the fog, cloudy yellow straw. The head is a stark white pillowy cloud of foam. The bouquet puts it's spiciest foot (scent?) forward by putting off strong notes of coriander, clove, and black pepper. A nice layer of orange peel hides just underneath the strong spices. Lastly, the tang and tart twins toss their two cents into the nose giving the yeast a strong representation. White Rascal has a fairly zippy mouthfeel. The carbonation is prominent at the beginning but takes a right turns and melts into a smooth and creamy finish. Like the nose, this beer is spicy. The coriander used to brew this ale is showcased throughout, never really dying in flavor until the very end of your drink. Not at all lemony and only mildly orangey, I had braced for an acidic nightmare that would likely induce heartburn. Other flavors like wheat It seems my recollection of white ales has been woefully tarnished by some unknown source.

I'm not going to claim to be an expert on this style of beer. Hell, I'm not going to be an expert on any style of beer...Though I do have a slight understanding of what kind of beer goes into which type of glass. In any case, while I'm not an expert, I rather enjoyed this gingery devil. The creamy body and vivid, yet not at all acidic flavor profile was appealing to my malt-biased pallet. I don't see myself reaching for one of these over a massive double IPA or a chewy imperial stout, but I could definitely see myself enjoying a handful of these (I guess a handful is technically one) on a warm spring day or just whenever I feel like having a flavorful beer experience.

I really should add a "half mug" to help in instances like this.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's election season again?

Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
Location: The can says Cold Springs, MN. But they're based in San Francisco, CA. Brain = hurt.
Name: Bitter American
Type: American pale ale
ABV: 4.4%
Purchased from: Wine Warehouse, Charlottesville, VA
Price: $2.50

I suppose the name of this pretty much sums up how I feel about the current (past, possibly future state) of the American political scene. It's just a circus. But I'm no political pundit. I'm here to talk about beer. More specifically, this beer. The one with the space monkey on the can. Physically on the can, not like the space monkey is on the can as a euphemism for going to the rest room. Bitter American is pleasing to the eye. A golden hued amber that I think moves closer to copper. The head is rich and off white, a lightly toasted almond color. So far, Bitter American has a lot going for it. Space monkey on the can (but not using the bathroom), visually appealing, and sitting right in front of me needing to be consumed. Before I obliged to its destructive wishes, I stuck my nose in the glass and took a deep draw. Happy citrus hops welcome you to Bitter American. There is a distinctive orange, perhaps tangerine, quality to the beginning of the bouquet. Towards the middle the hops get a little more bitter and grapefruit aromas arise. Past the bountiful hops is the delicately balanced sweetness of malt. Not overpowering or seemingly too sugary. Folks, this is a session beer. The prickly sensation the carbonation provides is nice. It's not going to blow the top of your dome off with aggressive hop characteristics. In fact, the hops mellow out quite nicely in the transition from smell to taste. Sure you get the nice blast of citrus zest straight away, but it doesn't make your face go puckered. The malt keep this beer close to the space monkey station. A slightly hint of nuttiness accompanied by a bread flavor set your taste buds up for one last go at the hops. The finish is crisp, dry, and decidedly bitter but in the good way. For the record, I burped and it was piney. SCIENCE! Shockingly this beer has a good amount of body to it. More so than the Evil 8 (a dubbel) I drank earlier and that had almost double the alcohol content. This is a quality American IPA.

Space monkey, that funky monkey.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Like the fru-eets of the Devil!

Brewery: Blue Mountain Brewery
Location: Afton, VA
Name: Evil 8 (there's also a degree symbol up there)
Type: Dubbel Ale
ABV: 7.7%
Purchased from: Wine Warehouse, Charlottesville, VA
Price: $2.20

Even in mid-March my air conditioner is on. Even as the temperature will reach 75 degrees several times this week. Drinking a good dubbel slakes all types of thirst. "Proudly brewed and bottled in the heart of Virginia," Evil 8 casts a menacing shadow once freed from its brown glass prison. Rich mahogany brownness that looks like it hung out with a ruby colored crayon produces a frothy, dirty white head that swells to about a finger and a half, watching it deflate was almost upsetting. The bouquet is a shade shy of really complex. There is a fair amount of spiciness to the nose that pairs well with the caramel and plum and fig aromas this beer carries. The sharp tang of yeast is easily noticeable and an earnest bread quality is present. I expected a little more of an alcohol quality to the bouquet but it's well hidden. This has to be one of the lightest medium bodied beers I've had. Yeah, that didn't really make sense to me either. I had hoped for something with a little more chew to it. There's a considerable amount of carbonation that lifts the body and thins it out some. The sharp tang of yeast is front and center. It's also a bit towards the middle. The plum and fig from the nose is lost in a wash of light brown sugar and crisp biscuit. There is a little bit of the spice that you got in the nose but it's not as impressive as it should be. The aftertaste is a touch too sour and it just kind of lingers in the back of the throat. I wanted Evil 8 to be better than it is. It had to be a little fuller in the body, a little more potent, and a little more...well, dubbel. I've said something like this several times before but this would be a nice way to get someone introduced to "Belgian" beers. And I use "Belgian" loosely because they are far better dubbels to offer (Ommegang and Chimay Red spring to mind). Again, not terribly but I don't see myself going out of the way to get my hands on another one of these if other options are available.

Rounding first and slides into second beating the tag. Barely a double.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Communicating with my kinsmen.

Brewery: Diamond Knot Brewing Co.
Location: Mukilteo, WA
Name: Slane's Ale
Type: Irish Red Ale
ABV: 6.6%
Purchased from: Total Wine & More, Va Beach
Price: $3.99

Break the mold. While Guinness will be the most consumed beer today (and that's a perfectly fine thing), I wasn't in the mood for a light beer. Zing! I kid, I like Guinness just fine. But I wanted something a little different. This is my second foray into Diamond Knot's catalog and I'm pretty excited about it. Slane's is delightful shade of a ruddy ruby red that is graced with a nice and foamy light tan head. The nose is sweet and tart. But not like a sweet tart because beer shouldn't smell like that. For any reason. Unless it's Sparks in which case it's not beer. It's malt liquor and you've lost all hope. There's a delightful bit of earth to the bouquet and the faintest amount of peaty funk. Biscuits and malt dance into the finish of hops bitterness. Pour me a proper pint. This is honest ale. The flavor profile starts with a sharp blast of sour fruit tart and then immediately finds balance of caramel and a slight flavor of rye bread. The hops appear towards the back half of the flavor strata by way of bitter flora. The last bit of taste you get is that slightly smoked peat earthiness that I just can not get enough of. There are certain tastes that will bend someone one way or the other and often I find folks can't really get behind the flavor of "earth." I often here it described as dirt, which while not inaccurate, adds a "this hasn't been messed with" dimension to the flavor profile. The incredibly light body beckons you to drink some more and the pleasing amount of carbonation woos you into a safe place, assuring you everything is going to be OK. Having a reasonable ABV makes this ale enjoyable in ounces in mass and en masse. In my barely informed and deeply humble opinion, an Irish red ale is a suitable alternative to the "gateway stout" on St. Patrick's Day. Just say no to green beer today with a red. Slainte, I say to you all for being Irish for a day as I stroke my gingery beard.

I ate a proper Irish banger tonight.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Because "single platinum" just isn't platinum enough.

Brewery: Starr Hill Brewery
Location: Crozet, VA
Name: Double Platinum
Type: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.6%
Purchased from: Total Wine & More, VA Beach
Price: $1.99

Well before that other "brewery" put out their version of a platinum "beer," the folks from Starr Hill in Crozet released this unto Virginia and some surrounding states. This doesn't come in a blue bottle. Nor does it need millions of dollars in advertising to make it feel relevant or to try to convince anyone that it tastes like something worthwhile. This is beer that makes that other platinum beer look like...well...water. Double Platinum is a super hazy orange color, kind of like if George Hamilton emitted a fog. The orangey nature of the beer is emulated in an almond colored head that laces nicely. You don't have to get too close to this beer to realize it's an imperial IPA. Hops are heavy handed, proclaiming their dominance of the bouquet with notes bitter pine and orange-peel. There is barely a trace of malt in the nose, super faint and very easy to miss if you aren't smelling for it. I luckily stumbled upon it. I can tell (well, hope rather) Double Platinum will not let me down supplying that much needed fix for my recent hops addiction. The first thing you'll notice about this beer is it's temperature and how wet it is. I can't tell you how long I've been wanting to write that. Sorry, Starr Hill, you caught the bullet. But seriously, the bitter hops takes its scent and turns it into a taste with reckless abandon. Past the pine is a nice rush of grapefruit and citrus peel, which adds another dimension to the bitterness. I'm not saying this is a bitter beer, it's just that the hops does a great job supplying resiny bitterness in an even handed manner. There is a slightly sweetened bready malt towards the end of the taste and some more (and delicious) hops bitterness that sort of lingers on the back part of your tongue. The alcohol is well hidden in this beer. At no point did I feel like I was drinking a beer with a moderately high alcohol content. While sometimes that burn is welcomed, it would feel out of place with this beer. It's an incredibly balanced beer that does a good job in bridging the gaps between East Coast and West Coast IPAs. While hoppy enough that hop heads will enjoy it, it is also an easy to drink beer that may help persuade people to join us on the hop side.

If your "platinum" beer comes in a blue bottle, punch yourself in the face.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I wish all waterfalls lead to hops.

Brewery: Victory Brewing Co.
Location: Downingtown, PA
Name: Headwaters
Type: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.10%
Purchased from: Wine Warehouse, Charlottesville, VA
Price: $1.70

I'm on a bit of a pale ale/ipa kick these days. Maybe it's because the weather is unseasonably warm and I am terribly worried that I might have missed the window on some of the super stouts I have in my fridge... Hahah, there's no window on super stouts! That's neither here nor there, this is Headwaters Pale Ale from Victory! Victory ranks up there when you talk about breweries that consistently put out great beers. This golden offering is no exception. The color is a nice shade of orange and honey that almost looks like it should be contained in one of those bear bottles with the squirt-top hat. There is slightly off white head that melted away quickly and immediately gave up the bouquet. There is a healthy amount of grapefruit-esque citrus hops that barrels towards your nose and brings along a fresh, grassy note with it. A deeper pull will yield a healthy caramel malt note. This is a pale ale, through and through. As the Headwaters rushes into your maw you will immediately notice a super light body with a respectable amount of carbonation. Spicy hop flavors and earthy grass are the stars here. The sweetness of the malt plays nicely, if somewhat sedated, with the excellent hop profile. The light body does allow this beer to have a little play. You'll notice the grassiness a little better and the faint malt doesn't distract the way it might in a higher ABV beer. The other upside to the low ABV and light body is the fact that you can session this beer and not get blotto too quickly. Also, this beer would go FANTASTIC with a rich, spicy meal or for cooling down on a warm summer day. So load up on Buffalo wings or a spicy curry and catch a ride on Victory's Headwaters to a satisfying meal.

I doubt this beer would be as good if it were named "Headcheeses."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Moby Dreck? Harsh!

Brewery: Cisco Brewers
Location: Nantucket, MA
Name: Whale's Tale
Type: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.60%
Purchased from: Total Wine & More, VA Beach
Price: $1.70

I was having a hard time trying to figure out what I should drink. (If you want to see a picture of my current catalog, speak up). So I asked Tessa, she rarely ever gets into this but it seems as she was in a play-along type mood today. She told me to pick a bottle that had light blue on it. Fortunately for me, there are no Labbats or Pabsts in my fridge. She then had the choice of Massachusetts or here we are. Whale's Tale is a nice shade of sunset with a little bit of auburn and a splash of copper for good measure. The head is a super tight, foamy, eggnog shaded cloud that wants to do nothing more than to hang around hoping you enjoy the bounty it rests lightly upon. There is a vast amount of carbonation that is easily noticeable. It looks as bubbly as champagne but imagine slower moving bubbles. The nose has a bread dough quality to it with a smattering of floral hops. There is also the strangest combination of red apples (not something I have come across before) and malt. Outside of that though, the bouquet was pretty standard. I feel like generic is too harsh of a word, especially with the red apples I'm sticking with standard. The carbonation provides a nice snap as you drink. The flavor profile isn't quite what I was expecting. You get a lot of floral hops up front, almost as if you were chewing on a flower. Then that slips away so that doughy bread and very light caramel malt taste comes through. Towards the back end the yeast brings out just a small amount of that apple flavor and then takes a turn into a flavor I can best describe as "mineral." It's very noticeable and, sadly, a little distracting. If you took that mineral quality away from Whale's Tale you'd be left with a pretty stand up pale ale. No tricks or turns or surprises, just a pretty good pale ale. It's a bit too floral for my tastes, in fact the only bitterness that the hops provide are in the aftertaste. In fact! The aftertaste is damn near a marzen with a thick splash of malted bread. But there are just a few things that detract from the overall experience. I just can't get past it.

I feel a blowhole joke in here somewhere.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Behold! A great illusion!

Brewery: Sixpoint Brewery
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Name: Diesel
Type: Turns out it's a stout.
ABV: 6.3%
Well, I feel foolish. I thought this beer was a black ale through and through. And you can't really blame me when you stick your shnozz into this bouquet. But I'm getting ahead of myself here... This beer is a pure shade of black. "Diesel" is a fitting name because it's the same color of the tips of an exhaust stack on a big rig. And this thing rumbles like a big rig, too. It produces a massive khaki colored head that peaks and crags making it visually appealing. What's it smell like? Well, it smells like someone set a pine forest on fire. You get massive amounts of roasted malt in the nose and then like a subtle sledgehammer...PINE mothertrucker! The hops push a great amount of piney earth into your nasal pathway which balances the chocolate roasted malt perfectly. It's like someone dropped a hop nugget in my black-as-night, yet touched by dark chocolate pint of coffee. Again, I feel foolish for mistaking this as a black ale but it was an honest mistake. How do you feel about flavor? I'm a big fan of it, I like the way flavor tastes...for the most part. Diesel is pretty great. The heavy body and the slightest hint of carbonation make this a formidable opponent. It is super rich and dense in its earthiness. The roasted (hell, almost burnt) malt asserts itself front and center and bends only slightly to let some other flavors into the taste party. The hops aren't as pungent on the pallet as they are in the bouquet but they are definitely there and remind you that Diesel isn't a run of the mill stout. The aftertaste is exactly how you want it to be, bitter and sharp but not sour with a healthy dose of earth. I recommend drinking this beer in a glass. I had one before in a can and while tasty, it just did not have the same impact that this one did. Sixpoint pulled off something incredibly interesting here. I really like stouts. I really like hops. I really like hoppy stouts. I'm hopeful that you all can find this and experience it. I'm cautious with that, however. This won't make the stout purist happy nor will it melt the hop-head's face but it is a delightfully different take on an established style of beer.

My eyes say stout. My mouth says hops. My heart says MORE!

I'm sorry. It's called what?

Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Location: Petaluma, CA
Name: Censored
Type: Red ale
ABV: 6.75%
Apparently, the original name of this beer was a tad on the iffy side. In fact, Lagunitas says that its name was "originally derived from an origin so heinous that we cannot reveal its aboriginal oregeny." They're very sorry about it, however. And to get everyone on the same page, Lagunitas Brewing offers up the phonetic pronunciation of their name on every bottle, "lah-goo-knee-tuss." Even without knowing what Censored was before drinking it, you can look at it and tell this is a red ale in all of its auburn glory. In fact, the color of the beer looks very close to the color of the bottle it came from and the head is an ecru-esque color. The nose is there. It's not a very imposing feature, though. You get a good splash of freshly baked bread and a sweet hint of caramel from the malt. Hops are sort of present, slightly floral and citrus but you may have to really work to get them. There is a note of alcohol throughout. The beer has a nice mouthfeel to it, almost creamy. The carbonation is fairly crisp. Much like a beer bruschetta, bread is the underlying flavor of Censored. You get some nice caramel notes from the malt and the hops that show up were surprising due to their weak profile in the nose. Towards the back end is a watered down earthiness that is then quickly enveloped by a strong taste of alcohol. A stronger than it ought to be taste of alcohol for a beer with an ABV of just under 7. In fact, I've had beers that were in the double digits for ABV that hid its alcohol better. As the beer warmed, the bread flavors waned and the caramel became more pronounced as did the alcohol, unfortunately. I wasn't terribly taken with this beer. I have had this in the past and I want to say I liked it better back then. It's not terrible; hell, it's a far better red ale than Killian's will ever hope to be. 

More upsetting than a half-time show middle finger.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pumpkins in February? Totally legit.

Brewery: Epic Brewing Co. (collaborating with DC Brau)
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Name: Doesn't really have one, but it's part of the "Exponential Series."
Type: Imperial Pumpkin Porter (gourder?)
ABV: 7.3%
You read it right, this is an imperial pumpkin porter. It's also February. Trust me, I understand. February isn't really pumpkin based beer weather. BUT! I got this on sale at Total Wine and More so it's justified. Plus, I had passed this up during pumpkin beer season so that just means this was meant to happen. Was it meant to happen in February? Who knows. I'm just really enjoying typing February at the moment. Ahem. This is the first beer I've ever had from Epic and at the same time (in a somewhat ancillary fashion) it is the first beer I've had from DC Brau. However, this is not the first pumpkin porter I have ever had... And to be honest, my first encounter with a pumpkin porter was less than stellar. So how did this collaborative concoction fare? It definitely is more porter than pumpkin. Looking at the cold tar (in a good way!) gives no hint to what lies beneath and the cashew colored head sat proudly even as it eventually melted away but managed to live on as strong lacing. The nose is most definitely a porter. The aromas of delightfully bitter roasted malt takes center stage then, curiously, sweet cinnamon and nutmeg remind you that this isn't your average porter. And it isn't even an overpowering cinnamon smell, it is just enough to get you excited about what you're about to experience. I found the lighter mouthfeel yet slightly dense body to be inviting. It's not the liquid velvet an imperial stout emanates but it definitely had some weight to it. A proud porter, this is. Coffee inspired roasted malts take no prisoners. There is a solid amount of sweetness to this beer. If I didn't know any better I would say the taste is closer to a milk stout than a porter. That may have something to do with the inherent sweetness of the fresh pumpkin added or the sneaky amount of cinnamon added. Not at all lost in the haze of flavors is a nice splash of chocolate. But once all of that is gone you're back to drinking a porter. Granted, it is a quality porter that is chock full of roasted malt goodness and bitter aftertastes. This is a far better version of a pumpkin porter than the one I had in October of last year (never made it to this hallowed pages). Coming across this beer may be pretty difficult as it is A.) A super limited batch and B.) The end of February. However! Should you find it and are looking for something a little different and pretty tasty, grab this Epic/DC Brau hit that proudly boasts "Fermentation without Representation."

This is from Utah? Suck it, Brigham Young!

On golden pints.

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Location: Chico, CA
Name: Kellerweis
Type: Hefeweis
ABV: 4.8%

(I know it's called hefeweizen, I just wanted to play with words some! Chill out.) I think I might be turning a corner on the whole "I can't really drink wheat beers because they give me heartburn" thing. But I'm not ready to commit to that statement fully. What I have here is a fine hefeweizen from the folks at Sierra Nevada. Often stalwarts of quality and consistency, this beer is no different. If this beer took its name from a fable character it would be "Goldilocks." Hazy and warm in its golden glory, Kellerweis wears a clean white cap of foam proudly. The aromas this beer emits are both layered and mouth watering. While people often expect a heavy citrus punch straight away, what you get from Kellerweis is a bundle of clove and banana. The tart fragrance of yeast is unmistakable and does a wonderful job supporting the fresh citrus burst that pops up. Towards the end of the sniff I picked up on a bit of spice that rests nicely on a bed of bready notes. This all did a very good job in making my mouth water. The payoff? Pretty delicious. This beer has a medium body do it with a creamy mouthfeel that flaunts healthy carbonation. As a flavor delivery system I would say this is sufficient. The first flavors I run into are those bread notes and spices encountered in the bouquet. That lasts long enough to make the transition to the fruit/clove salad a bit more noticeable. Rich banana (but not cloying or artificial) mixes it up nicely with a touch of orange zest at its peak. This is far less citrusy than what my mind tells me how hefeweizens usually taste. The smooth body and creamy flavors make this incredibly easy to drink. The citrus is not the star of the show here, instead it's all about the wheat biscuit topped with banana and clove dusted with orange peel. As it warmed, the banana flavor asserted itself a little better which I found to be quite pleasant. I can't be too surprised. Sierra Nevada cranks out quality beer and this is no exception.

Try and steal my sunshine...see what happens. TRY!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Welcome to my 100th post!

Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Location: Denver, CO
Name: Old Ruffian
Type: Barley wine
ABV: 10.2%
100. I couldn't think of a better way to hit the 100 post mark. Just for the record (because I feel like it has to be said, lest I get accused otherwise), I am not in any way taking payment from Great Divide Brewing Co. Now that that's out of the way, I can't tell you how excited I am to get this in my gullet! It's a big bottle for a big beer, comes in sturdy at 10.2% ABV and promises to not pull any punches. The aged roughneck, as I have started to call it, pours a lush ruby tinted caramel color that builds a clingy creme colored head. Light passes it through it, though not easily so don't expect to be looking at anything other than ale when peering into your glass. I've got to be honest, there is a fair bit of hops to this nose! More than I was expecting anyway. It's the nice kind of fresh citrus hops. It is the perfect accompaniment to the rotund blast of dense malts and mouth-watering darkly sour fruits. Figs and plum act as aroma asteroids that collide with apricot and toffee. It emits a feeling of warmth and toasty JUST by smelling the way it does. It's a good thing I'm typing this and not making a recording of it. I honestly lose all sense of thought when I drink this. The unapologetic manner by which this ancient knave grants you flavor is astounding. The first taste you get is thick dark fruits bolstered by an English toffee back bone. The malt is an amazing baseline that runs throughout this beer. Past the malt is when the hops come in and they stick around for the long haul. Hops? In a barley wine? Yes, I know. I asked myself the same thing. But citrus and pine both come through cleanly and it does funny things to the aftertaste. If it weren't for the dark fruits and toffee malt beginning you would swear that you were drinking a potent IPA. I can not explain to you how much I am enjoying this beer. Everything is wonderful. The packaging has a guy shadow-boxing, the head is doing a great job lacing the glass, and the beer itself could possibly be derived from the gods of brewing. If you live in an area that has access to Great Divide beers you are honestly doing yourself a disservice if you overlook this beer. This has become my benchmark barley wine and has nestled itself firmly in my Top 5 All Time Favorite Beers. And if any of you want to know what those are, please let me know. But that's another conversation altogether. I can not find a single thing wrong with this beer. I'm sorry for those of you who may have felt a twinge of jealousy as you read this. This was the last of the Great Divides I had in my fridge and I can say, without remorse or irony, that I indeed saved the best for last.

I tried to squeeze the bottle to get every last bit.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

You only turn 18 once.

Brewery: Legend Brewing Co.
Location: Richmond, VA
Name: Hopfest
Type: American Pale Ale
ABV: 7.3%


There's something to be said about enjoying a proper amount of craft beer. There's something even better to be said about enjoying a locally brewed craft beer. The low-fi and unassuming label for Legend's Hopfest ale should not deter would be drinkers. In fact, it should encourage the drinker by hinting at something like "Hey, the beer speaks for itself." And yes, it is a unicorn. This year marks Legend's 18th year in the brewing world and I couldn't be happy celebrating that fact by drinking this beer. It poured a crystal clear amber color flirting toward the side of bronze and produced a modest, off-white colored head. You kind of have a pretty good idea of what you're going to be getting into bouquet wise when approaching a beer named "Hopfest." It's a hop-head's haven! Right off the bat you get a vivid citrus punch that smacks of grapefruit and as you inhale further, Christmas pine tumbles through the aroma door. The hops aren't shy but they do let a nice bit of sweet malt to come through. Now, as robust as the bouquet is you would expect this ale to be super harsh and unrelenting in its hoppiness. However, this beer is a pretty good balance of a smack of hops and a gentle pat on the back of malt. The hops are like they smell: shiny citrus sunshine. However, don't expect to get puckered in the face because as soon as the grapefruit (which washes into a orangey flavor) subsides a smooth wave of sticky caramel malt. The aftertaste is deliciously bitter that keeps the flavors of the hops hanging around. This is an easy to drink, but super flavorful, pale ale. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this beer is a great gateway for someone who wants to step up into bigger, bolder, slightly more potent pale ales. I would also like to throw my thoughts in that people may take to stronger citrus based hops easier than they may to the more harsh pine hops. (You know, I promise to take the time to learn the names and flavor profiles of the different types of hops you may come across in your craft beer journeys).

Leapfrog + unicorn = No winners.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

There is no reason to snicker at the name of this beer. None.

Brewery: Samuel Smith Old Brewery
Location: Tadcaster, England
Name: Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale
Type: English Brown Ale
ABV: 5.0%

Come now, children. Get your juvenile chuckles out of your system. Today we're going to be talking about Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale...heh. Quick fact about Smiths, they have been using well water from their original well that was sunk in 1758. Plus, according to Michael Jackson (the beer God, not the Jesus Juice peddler) "Samuel Smith has the richest, maltiest, and nuttiest of brown ales." I should also point out that my friend Adam left this beer in my fridge thus making it fair game. Ballyhoo and prestige aside it's time to talk beer. The ale poured a solid mahogany with a touch of red. In fact, I think it looks a lot like the color of the bottle it came in. The head was fairly thin and colored a shade lighter than tan. The aroma is pleasant and warming. A mishmash of nuttiness and malt that hints at maple syrup collides with notes of toffee that treads into butterscotch territory. I was expecting a hint of raisin somewhere in there but never found it. Definitely a light body to this one and the effervescent carbonation does little to distract from the taste. The first suggestion of flavor is one of sweet malts and that familiar toffee taste. Midway through the profile adjusts to the nuttiness from the nose and starts to dry a little. Right before the bitterness at the end I got a splash of slightly burnt grains. The bitterness at the end is a confusing blend of earth and metal. My guess is that those flavors come directly from the water used to brew this beer. Those fleeting hints of taste remind you that this beer has been brewed a very specific way for a very long time. I may have to put my two cents in against Mr. Jackson (I am by no means saying he's wrong...the guy literally wrote THE BOOK on beer) but I have had other brown ales that have delivered a richer and maltier experiences, specifically Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar and Dogfish Head's Indian Brown Ale (both of which are American brown ales, not English). I'm thinking that while traditional brown ales may not be my favorite, this offering from Samuel Smith's is pretty good and I would consider it an honorable starting point to see if brown ales are your thing.

So Sam Adams, Sam Smith, and Sam Jackson walk into a bar...

Pass the poi, mahalo.

Brewery: Maui Brewing Co.
Location: Lahina, Maui, HI
Name: Bikini Blonde Lager
Type: Helles Lager
ABV: 5.1%

Quick order of linguistics, "helles" is German for "light colored." Suitable choice though strange, I never thought the German population to be very high in Hawaii. Also, this is my first attempt at photographing the beer I drink so you folks can see the full container and the vessel that I'm drinking from. Criticisms are welcome. That being said, this beer is from Hawaii (but it was purchased at Whole Foods, near Richmond, VA)! Well aware that it is a lager I was expecting the frothy, clean white head. The beer, as you can see, is a nice shade of golden straw The bouquet is lager-esque. You didn't think I was going to leave it at that, did you? The bouquet is quite simple yet fragrant. Full malt ahead, captain! Once your past that you get a big helping of bread and yeast and a very small pinch of hops. I was hoping there would have been a little more a citrus note to it to help cut the sweet bread (not sweetbreads, gross) notes, but alas, there was not. I'm going to say that this was probably one of the cleaner tasting beers I've had in a while. And by that I mean it's right to the point, not too busy with its flavors and has a crisp and refreshing mouthfeel. The malts are straight up front but they seem to taste a bit more mellow than the nose would have you believe. The taste of bread and earth come through pretty vividly in the middle. Towards the back end you get a nice burst of light citrus hops and a faint honey sweetness. My only criticism is that you should not let this beer sit for too long. As it warms in the glass it definitely morphs into a more bitter version of itself. This beer, while not the watered down and mass produced American lager that demands to be consumed at near freezing temperatures, should be enjoyed rather chilled. It would be a great accompaniment for a late-spring or early-summer cookout. Oh man, I just thought of drinking this beer and eating a bratwurst on a roll with sauerkraut, spicy brown mustard, and beer sauteed green peppers...

Drinking this beer will get you leid.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Epic, adjective. Also "this beer."

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Location: Chico, CA
Name: Life and Limb 2
Type: American Strong Ale
ABV: 10.2%
I just want to say that the labeling for this beer is absolutely gorgeous. I couldn't imagine this label appearing on bottle smaller than a bomber. Plus, that just means I have so much more of this strong ale to indulge in. This is a super limited release from Sam Calagione (from Dogfish Head) and Ken Grossman (from Sierra Nevada) that is liquid celebration incarnate. The label reads full of praise for those who brew craft beer and for those who love craft beer. There's love for those who are home-brewers that aspire to make the big step and admiration for the families who love and support those involved in the craft brew world; creators and consumers. I had been hanging on to this beer for months and after some cajoling have decided to open it and savor every drop of it. Such a pretty bottle has no choice but to contain such a beautiful beer. While being opaque there is a visual richness to Life and Limb. A cola and mahogany infused liquid splashed nicely into my pint glass filling quickly and capping off with a thick and generous toasted almond colored head. This filled with me a great amount of joy and excitement. The fragrances this beer put off were astounding! I was expecting something great smelling but the aromas that wafted from my glass were beyond impressive. My mortal nose was able to pick out a healthy dose of maple (due in part to the use of maple syrup in the brewing process) mixed with strong notes of roasted malts that scream of coffee and a decadent toffee/caramel note throughout. A slight hint of alcohol reminds you that this will be a beer most impressive and not to be chugged with reckless abandon. No. You are commanded to savor this beer from the care put into it. The taste was intoxicating. Pun? Maybe. The mouthfeel was much lighter than I had anticipated. While not ultra-light it wasn't the syrupy, viscus feel I was expecting. A nice balance of crisp carbonation and medium body does this ale well. The conductor on the flavor train is sweet malt. The maple is very easy to notice that does well in ushering the complimentary flavors of roasted coffee, dark and rich caramel, slight hints of tarty fruits, and a slightly bitter and warming alcohol finish. Did I mention there was a ghost of bittersweet dark chocolate floating around? Hmm... Thinking back I should have bought two bottles of this. Like I said, I have been hanging on to this bottle since April or so and it would have been nice to have something to compare it against to see if the flavor profile had changed any. As I neared the end of Life and Limb I was legitimately sad. It is beers like this that fuel my passion for this particular potent potable. Being able to enjoy something so finely crafted with an incredible amount of care helps further solidify the fact that I belong in this industry in some way, shape, or form. If you, yes you, ever have the opportunity to drink (or even smell) this incredible strong ale, it would behoove you to do so. I realize that this may read like a romance novel (shut up, Fabio said he couldn't make the photo shoot) but this beer really is that good. It's easy to get caught up in the exclusivity of drinking a limited release beer so I implore you, the next time you drink your favorite craft brew silently thank its creator. And vocally celebrate your good taste.
A pun would not do this beer justice. Revel in this masterpiece.

Monday, February 13, 2012

There are so many words on this bottle!

Breweries: Terrapin & Brasserie BFM SA
Location: Athens, GA & Switzerland-Suisse
Name: spike & jérôme's
Type: Collaboration Ale & Cuvée Délirante or "Barley Ryne"
ABV: 10.0276%

This was a Christmas gift and a super unexpected one at that. I had been eyeing this beer at a local shop but couldn't bring myself to purchase it. Thankfully, my future mother-in-law had an insider report as to what may be a good gift idea. First off, great bottle. Anything that has a levered action ceramic stopper in it is pretty awesome. And it's reusable! Not quite 12oz this fit into a goblet nicely without having to worry about run-over or left-overs. As noted on the awfully bombastic label this beer is comprised of 2/3 ale and 1/3 ale that has been matured in a rum oak barrel. This is my first ever rum barrel aged beer. I've had plenty of beers that grow up in bourbon barrels so needless to say I was a bit (OK, slightly more than a bit) interested in this beer. Also, this beer was created when Terrapin's brewmaster (Spike) took a trip to Europe and met up with Brasserie BFM's brewmaster (Jérôme) to collaborate on an interesting brew. What came of that fateful meeting? This guy, with the 8,000 word label. I kid, it's very informative and very pleasing to the eye. And the beer? Imagine the darkest apple cider you've ever seen. Now blend it with caramel and you will have a pretty good facsimile of what this beer looks like. Absolutely no head. None. I'm not joking or exaggerating. That wasn't upsetting though... I just expected some sort of thick cream colored cap for this viscous brew. The bouquet was something of olfactory opulence. Where I expected to get sugary rum notes I got tart and sour fruit notes. There is also a fair amount of rich and sticky malt to the nose. Before even drinking S&J I thought this is going to be like any other barley wine and the fact that it was brewed with 20% rye was going to have little impact. Well... I'm not sure how to put this lightly. This beer was bad. Really bad. One of the only beers I had ever tried and immediately wanted to spit out. I'm wondering if I got a skunked beer or something because there was absolutely 0% carbonation to start with. Secondly, that tart and sour note in the bouquet? That was reproduced identically in the taste. There is very little to recover from the taste after the cloud of sour fallout lands on your pallet. Now I did something I don't always do. I went to the internets to see what others had to say about this beer and I found that, for the most part, reports are favorable. My experience? Not so much. What sucks the most about this is that even if I had waited longer to drink this (due in part to the encouragement of the bottle telling me that S&J "ages well) it still would have been skunked and probably even worse. To be honest, I choked down 3 fairly small sips of this. I don't want to give it a number of mugs due in part to the presumed fouling, however, I won't be going out of my way to try another. Sorry folks, I'm chalking this one to bad luck. Now I'm going to go rinse the sour of my mouth. Bleh.

*UPDATE* After speaking with the owner of the establishment from where this beer came from, it's not at all skunked. It's supposed to be sour. I just happen to think it tastes like shit. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to my guns. You may like it if you're down with flat beers that taste like unsweetened citric acid.

0 Mugs. ZERO. As in the other half of binary code. NONE.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Totally not Smoked Mediterranen.

Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Location: Denver, CO
Name: Smoked Baltic Porter
Type: Smoked porter
ABV: 7.50%
You might have to think a little bit to figure out why I named this review what I named it. Regardless. This is the second of 3 beers that I received from Tessa that came straight from the Great Divide brewery. Even better, I had never even seen this one before! It was like seeing a solar eclipse except without having to wear those goofy "Hope I don't go blind by staring at the sun" glasses. And the crazy part? This beer is the antithesis of sunlight. Dark, thick, brooding. Not Adrien Brody...brooding. Definitely lives up to the name and touts it proudly. I couldn't tell you what color the head was. By the time I had finished pouring it had already subsided. That left me more time to smell this thing. Please, no lewd comments. This is one of the tastiest beers I have ever smelled and I'm going to try to convey that smell to you. Ready? OK. Imagine're out camping and it's time to wake up and fend off the bears. Once you've survived the bear attack the most reasonable thing to do is make some coffee over the fire. So you've got the fire going and you're getting that good "I'm making wood burn for heat" smell going on and then the coffee starts to percolate (not the dance). This is like the best coffee you've ever smelled and the next thing you know you're inhaling campfire smoke and coffee all at the same time! Throw in some dark molasses and you've got it. Once your eyes return from rolling backward you may resume reading the rest of this. This is the best smokey, darkest roast coffee, but really it's beer, ever. That's what this smells like. The taste you ask? What, the smell wasn't enough? I'm not a religious person at all but good god does this taste wonderful. Seriously. The smoke flavor slips past parted lips and rides a wave of lightly bodied roasted malt tastes that do an incredible job delivering that familiarly bitter coffee taste of a porter. There's a clean yet subtle hint of hops throughout and I suspect that does a nice job in cutting the possible stickiness that could occur from a beer such as this. I'd like to take a moment to tell you that I do not get paid by Great Divide. Though I would like if anyone from Great Divide is reading this, call me. I'll come work for you. Back to the beer... I know the idea of cold, smoked, carbonated coffee doesn't really sound appealing. But what if I told you that cold, smoked, carbonated, alcoholic, and malted coffee is really delicious? Does that help? It should! This beer will not be available to anyone in Southeast Virginia who may be reading this. To you, I apologize for rubbing it in. The aftertaste has a slight peat taste to it. Whisky drinkers, you'll know what I'm talking about. The malt isn't syrupy or terribly sweet. And the light mouthfeel makes this beer irresistible. Honestly, you take a drink. Set your glass down. And immediately want another drink. I approve for savoring this beer. I would very much like to have more than this one sitting in front of me. I'm going to Denver in August for the wedding of good friends...maybe I get lost at Great Divide? FIND THIS BEER (by any means necessary). DRINK THIS BEER (with wanton and unabashed fervor). Thank me later.

This trumps a hotel on Boardwalk.

Call me "El Hefe"weizen.

Brewery: Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.
Location: Portland, OR
Name: Hefeweizen
Type: American pale wheat ale
ABV: 4.90%
I know what you're thinking. This can't possibly be the same blog I read once and immediately forgot about only to stumble back around to it and find a review for a beer that isn't black as night or hopped through the roof. No, this can't be that site. I mean, this is a review for a hefeweizen...clearly something is amiss. If there's one thing I'm not it's ungrateful. The best part about having a gathering is seeing my friends. The second best part about having a gathering is the beer those friends bring. This is one of those beers. Thanks Brandon! In any case...on to the brew. At first glance I would say, without question, that this beer is both wheat based and unfiltered. It is as bright yellow as its label and just as hard to see through. The significant amount of haze kind of makes you think you're holding a sweltering Southern day in a glass. Sun bright with a cloud of pure white foam, this beer screams "YOU'REGOINGTOBEREFRESHED, DAMMIT!" The nose is ripe with yeasty bread and laced only with a hint of citrus. It's not incredibly pungent and that's OK. I'm not sure I'd want to have to deal with drinking liquid lemon meringue pie. The mouthfeel is incredibly light and leaves a pretty dry finish. But I'm getting ahead of myself. You do get a quick flash of lemon that seems to have been lightly dusted with sugar. It's not a sour beer and the faint hint of hops help balance out the tart. And I will take this moment to say that I did not add any fruit to this beer. Let that be a lesson to you. Ahem. Then comes the wheat. Super Wheat Man to the rescue with his amazing Bread Ray Vision (because it sort of sound like X-Ray Vision?)! It's not that bad though, honest. This is an incredibly clean and light beer. Super refreshing and incredibly drinkable. Is this a traditional, honest to gourd, hefeweizen? I don't think so. I would expect more of a banana note in the nose, perhaps some hints of clove and spice. Does that makes this a bad beer? Nope. It's a perfectly competent American wheat beer.

It got an extra half-mug for not giving me heartburn.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Because "Beery Tart" would have been sexist.

Brewery: Boston Beer Co.
Location: Bahstin, MASS
Name: The Vixen
Type: Bock
ABV: 8.50%
If memory serves me correct, this may be the first Sam Adams beer I've reviewed. Definitely not the first Sam Adams I've had though. However, this super limited beer caught my eye. I like chocolate. I like chili. I like chili infused chocolate. I like beer. What's that you say? You brewed a beer for me? Oh, Mr. shouldn't have! The Vixen presents itself in the form of creamy, melted semi-sweet chocolate looking liquid that is accompanied by a tight (and quickly disappearing) light chocolate milk tinted head. There isn't going to be a whole lot of light passing through this beer. The nose is what i like to call "interesting." I fully expected to be assaulted by chocolate and spice and cimmanin. What I got instead was just that. The malts give off a cocoa-y aroma. Midway through the cinnamon faintly comes up and it seems like that nice mixture of slightly sweet yet slightly spicy. Lastly the chili pops up only to remind you that there may be some heat to enjoy. I also got a fair amount of sweet, dark fruits. Listen, I know I use that description often but its what I've got! So if you're tired of reading it I am open to suggestions for beers to try. Now, I've had Rogue's Chipotle Ale before (AMAZING to add to chili, by the way) and I was basing my knowledge of chili infused beers off that. This isn't that type of beer. The mouthfeel is velvety with only a noticeable amount of carbonation. Chocolate comes through easily. But after that, there isn't really a whole lot of spice going on. Don't get me wrong, this beer tastes good! I don't think I'm off base in saying that a healthier dose of chili could have taken this bock to the next level. I couldn't coax a strong chili flavor out of this beer even as I let it warm up some. As a bock, The Vixen is very good. The sticky, sweet chocolate-ish malts are delicious. The slight tang from those pesky dark fruit notes provide a dry finish. A mildly roasted bitterness brings up the caboose. All in all, it's a good back. Though not a very good chocolate chili bock I do give the macro-craft brewery some kudos. They definitely packed some good flavors into this beer and I doubt a large part of the population who drinks Samuel Adams even knows they do fun and quirky one-offs like this. It just would have been a bit more fulfilling if those chili and cinnamon flavors blended (or appeared) throughout creating a nicely layered beer drinking experience.

The dame walked into my office sobbing and I could tell right away she was trouble.