Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hop Gun India Pale Ale

Meet your new wingman! According to Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park, Florida, Hop Gun IPA is up for the job! Hop Gun and Floridian Hefeweizen were recently released as the brewery's first two bottled beers. The Hop Gun label pushes the "Top Gun Meets Beer" theme with fighter jets firing warheads with hop cone tips--pretty busy scene! The story to the side sets your expectations, again using the wingman lingo. 7.0% alcohol.

Under the cap: ENJOY THE JOURNEY. Fruity, tropical aroma with light pine. Fruity, big citrus with tropical pineapple nuances to start. Then big pine and grapefruit flavors show up with an excellent bitterness. The spiciness works excellently with the carbonation, and you get a touch of alcohol dryness at the finish. My wife said, "not bad" but that just means she's comparing great against great since I'm in charge of all beer selection around here! Great beer!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lot No. 6 Double I.P.A.

So you probably remember my little story about Evolution Brewing's recent trip to Florida thanks to Total Wine, right? Well, tonight I'm bumping up from that initial Lot No. 3 IPA to Big Brother Lot No. 6 double IPA. Pretty creative beer naming, right? The label is just as creative with a drab green hop cone (same as on the other beer) on a brown background. 8.5% alcohol. 18.5°P. 75 IBU.

Now, I love beer names and am very passionate about beer label/can art, so when a brewery neglects both so egregiously, they better make fucking awesome beers! Oh, and same goes for beers with extremely well-done artistic labels or crazy stupid creative names (Clown Shoes delivers on both at that end of the spectrum, for example).

Beautiful dark orange color--looked great in the sun! Huge pineapple aroma, very inviting! Sweet, tropical orange and pineapple fruity flavors in the beginning. But loads of bitterness follows--fresh, hoppy, bitter, bitter (did I say that?). This beer has that unique quality of having both an excellent balance between sweet and bitter, though NOT some generic middle...rather both sweet and bitter complement each other throughout.

The finish is spicy, peppery. Good body, nice lingering flavors left on the palate. 2 for 2 with All-Stars for this brewery so far. Porter and Winter Beer to follow! Make sure you never miss a beat!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Floridian Hefeweizen

Funky Buddha started selling their Floridian Hefeweizen and Hop Gun India Pale Ale in bottles just a few days ago. I splurged for one bottle of each since I've had both many times on tap. But big step for the brewery--congratulations. I mentioned on Twitter buying them at Total Wine, and this chick asked me where she can buy the beer--of course I totally created a solution.

This review is about Floridian. Hop Gun for another time. According to the label, Floridian is a "Suntan for your soul!" The label depicts the Funky Buddha "logo Buddha" on a hammock at the beach watching the "brilliance of a golden Florida sunset." Stay Funky: Recycle. 5.2% alcohol. Pour into a pilsner glass at 38°F.

Under the bottle cap it says BEER IS LIFE. Orange and banana aroma, with some spice. Big fruity orange flavors, sweet and citrus. Spicy cloves add some interest. Wheat and yeast are prominent. Body is a little chewy with some lingering sticky sweetness. Good beer. Funky Buddha will do awesomely with this now out in the market in bottles.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Boulevard Brewing Beer Dinner at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables

A few nights ago, Duvel Moortgat continued their celebration of Boulevard Brewing's arrival to South Florida with a beer dinner at The Biltmore Hotel's Fontana Restaurant. And you know how much I love that kind of celebration! South Florida Market Manager Jessica Suarez put together a dinner featuring four of the brewery's core beers paired with some awesome dishes!

Now... I say Miami, you say tropics. But let me tell you the al fresco dining started in the 60°F's and ended in the 40°F's. It was just a little nipply, and I'm talking about myself! But the Biltmore staff was super attentive and awesome. They had these portable heaters that made everything just comfortable enough until the 90°F car ride home!

Just as we were getting started and everyone was introducing themselves, I overheard a question referring to the brewery, "So [Boulevard] is like a microbrewery?" I asked around, and because the question obviously meant to equate microbrewery with quality, it was determined that Boulevard is in fact like a microbrewery! And Jessica said yes too--perfect definitive answer!

We started the meal with a Crispy Duck Leg Confit with Fried Duck Egg and a Mustard Maple Syrup. That was paired with Boulevard's Single-Wide IPA. Jessica introduced each beer as the chef delivered the food to the table. Everyone loved this beer! And the food was really great too!

You can see the photo of the entire menu above, but we had four awesome, unique courses, each paired with a different Boulevard beer including Pop-Up IPA, The Sixth Glass Quadrupel (I think the crowd was shocked at the contrast between this one and the others, but still really enjoyed it), and 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat.

I will say my favorite dish was the Prosciutto Wrapped Sea Scallop, and though I really like the Pop-Up IPA it was served with, the winning beer of the night was the Single-Wide IPA (sorry Sixth Glass-- but maybe tonight).

Conversation was great. Roland from Brown Distributing was dropping knowledge about the Three Tier System like it was his college major. The group of women from Vine Communications was very fun and interesting (They have an office in The Biltmore-didn't know that existed, but I guess you learn something every time you drink). And thank God my wife took some pictures because mine mostly sucked.

Apparently we were supposed to take the glasses with the Boulevard Smokestack logo imprint. Or at least I hope so, because I washed them at home the next morning. Nice evening and dinner. Thanks to everyone.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lee Hill Series Vol. 2: Wild Saison

I recently acquired Upslope Brewing's Lee Hill Series Vol. 2: Wild Saison. This is the second in the quarterly-released series named after their original North Boulder brewery. That brewery is now a small-batch experimental site. Wild Saison is packaged in a 19.2 oz "bomber" can, providing ample room to tell you a little more about the beer and set your expectations. This is an American Sour Ale aged in red wine barrels for 7 months with their lacto and brett cultures. 24 IBU 6.8% alcohol. Canned on 11/5/14.

Fruity aroma, sweet apples and tart lemons with a spicy, peppery background. Sweet peaches and mangoes were the first flavors to hit the palate. I was a little surprised as I was prepping myself for some sour bomb. But that was not the case. The beer is yeasty with some musty funk, and yeah, there is definitely some tartness and acidity, but don't expect a BLAMO sour whack at any time while drinking it.

I love the fruity flavors and the combination of sweet versus tart next to sharp, spicy and crisp components. Lots of interesting complexities. Some woody dryness shows toward the finish, and you'll be left with light tannic wine character on the palate. I liked it! Interesting. Good contrast of competing yet complementing flavors. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lot No. 3 India Pale Ale

Total Wine recently made a purchase for all of their Florida stores. Yep, they arranged to buy a full truckload of beer within distribution requirements so that Evolution Craft Brewing Co. out of Salisbury, MD could send four of their beers to The Sunshine State! And who said Santa doesn't work at a liquor store?

Total Wine wanted to test this limited release program out during their busy holiday season to see if there is a future with Evolution or other highly rated craft breweries for similar projects in the future. They asked me to taste each of the beers: IPA, Double IPA, Porter, Winter Ale. (Yes, I could have tasted them in the store, but I talked them into letting me bring them home with me so I could take my time and some pictures too.)

I decided to start with their Lot No. 3 India Pale Ale. The label is very simple, just a green hop cone barely appearing on a green background. 6.8% alcohol, 15.8°P, 60 IBU.

Very inviting aroma of candied orange citrus, some light tropical fruit and a good dose of pine. Fruity orange and a generic tropical flavor bring a nice sweetness to the start. But make no mistake that you're in for a big dose of pine bitterness which washes away any sweetness. Prickly carbonation and that bitterness rough up the palate a bit (in a good way). Fresh, spicy, hoppy. Pine lingers in the finish. Great beer! Keep your eyes open for a look at the others after I get a chance to try them.