Sunday, February 21, 2010

Beer Tasting Extravaganza

I gave you a little intro last night. This is a summary of an awesome beer tasting at Total Wine in Pembroke Pines last night hosted by Assistant Manager Ed Roberts. Warning: this post is very long! But I tried to organize it by beer. And sue me for using some of the same pictures as yesterday. I had to pick the best ones people!

If I don't get the names exactly right and if the comments for each are a little abbreviated, sorry. Deal with it! I guess that's the nature of the game at a beer tasting. I also noticed that the writing on my notes got significantly worse as the few hours went along. Perhaps I should scan them for your entertainment. And the reviews also got shorter and shorter as everything started to come together by the end of the night. My poor taste buds! I know, my problems are tough. The other cool thing was that each person (and there were only nine of us, which was quite an honor) brought one or more of the beers. Only a couple are or were actually available on the shelves there at Total Wine. And some of the beers were actually brewed by the attendees. Totally cool!

In The Order We Drank Them:

1. Magic Hat Howl. This was their winter seasonal, but I don't think from this past year. Malty, coffee, chocolate aroma. The flavors are similar with the coffee and chocolate maltiness, but there were also roasted and smokey aspects and some molasses, too. Not a sweet beer with some good hops balance. Nice aftertaste.

2. Left Hand Smoke Jumper Smoked Imperial Porter. Very smokey and burnt aroma. Very smokey flavors, too. Thick, rich, malty. Definite alcoholic kick. I didn't see an alcohol content on the bottle, but one of the nerds with some beer app on their space phone said it was 9.8%. A little raisiny with a dark fruit subtleness. In the end, the smoke was annoying me. A few other people said the same thing, but some absolutely loved that aspect. This is the "Official Beer of the National SmokeJumper Association". Hmmm. Beer and jumping out of airplanes to fight fires?

3. Ian From FreshBeer's [Needing A Non-Stereotypical Name] Imperial Stout with Raspberries. Ian said that this beer was aged with raspberry puree and clocks in at around 8.5% alcohol. At first the raspberries didn't make a huge impact on the aroma, but the more I swirled the glass and the more I smelled, it was just beautiful. Still subtle though compared to the big raspberry flavors. This was medium-bodied and not a thick stout. The raspberries and alcohol flavors really played well with each other, enhancing each other with a nice tangy taste. There was some maltiness to it but the beer was a little bitter. Ian said that he added a ton of hops to this and he expects the beer to smooth out with some time. This might have been the first home brew I've ever had. There may have been one or two other times, but they were at least ten years ago, and as you notice, they weren't very memorable. I think this might be the only one I don't have a picture of. :(

4. Bell's HopSlam. The famous beer that's been so hyped. Each local Total Wine got five cases total, that's it. My store in Pembroke Pines got ours on Friday and it was sold out in one day. Except for the case that our leader, Assistant Manager Ed Roberts, held back for our event. He did that so anyone there could have the opportunity to buy it if we missed the retail chance. And of course to sample it. Fruity tangerine and orange and mild grapefruit aroma. The flavors are really quite delicious. There is no harsh bitter bite. The bitterness is nice but balanced very well with the sweet fruity tangerine and honey flavors. The 10% alcohol is not a factor at all. Persistent fruity and really wonderful flavors. Is the hype too high? Yes. But it is really good. Before most of the people arrived, I was BS-ing as usual with Ed and the Pembroke Pines store manager Ty Ball, who used to work over in their Tampa store. He said they are used to having HopSlam every year and this craziness was only due to the limited quantities. He said that he used to order 50 cases a year and ended up marking it down at the end of the season. Funny the difference. Anyway, I have a six pack downstairs and will do a real review with no other beers in the way at some point.

5. Cigar City Bolita Brown Double Nut Brown Ale - “famous infected lot”. Apparently, as I was told by Mike at MikeLovesBeer (he brought it), the brewing lines were not cleaned well from the Guava Grove beer they had brewed before this one. At least half of us were hoping for the affected beer, just for the experience. If you remember BrewSleuth schooling me a few days ago, well she was sitting beside me for this tasting. Yep, we got an infected bottle! Everyone had a strange look on their face while smelling and drinking it. Had a funky smell, hard to describe. And the tastes were also strange. A little nutty, sour, some wood. Not the A+ specimen reputation this beer has (but it wasn't bad)! Finally, there was a story on the back of the bottle that I skimmed. Bolita is a type of lottery popular in the Ybor City district in Tampa, something about illegal, etc. Check out Google if you're interested more.

6. Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence. I brought this one. I chose this because it has only a small release here in Florida and there haven't been any bottles on the shelves for months. Also, although this was a good beer, I wasn't wowed and was slightly disappointed. So let's see what these guys think. A few of them had it on tap up at their local watering hole, Coffee District. They mostly agreed that it was slightly better from the bottle. All I wrote down this time was: nice chocolate, creamy, good, nutty, small alcohol noticeable. If you care what I wrote last time, here you go.

7. De Proef Brouwery Lozen Boer ABT Abbey Style Ale. Belgian, duh! The label says "Legend of the Cow Smuggler" whatever the hell that means. Nice aroma--sweet, sugary, dark fruits, raisins and I couldn't get this dark cherry aroma out of my nose. The flavors started with more of that dark cherry and plum dark fruit. Smooth but very brandy-ish flavors and the 10% alcohol is prominent. Pretty decent.

8. Mikkeller IT'S ALIVE. This is a Belgian Wild Ale according to the bottle. Fruity aroma, interesting. Fruity flavors too, a little grassy, maple syrup, a little funkiness, shampoo, smoke. It's more interesting reading my notes back now than the real thing last night! An OK beer.

9. Seriously Bad Elf. One of the many Christmas gimmick beers. I bought a couple back in December but this wasn't one of them. Fruity aroma and flavors, a bit like having a glass of wine. I think the 9% alcohol made it seem that way. I didn't write anything else. Another OK beer.

10. Coffee District Bourbon Stout (update, Porter) Homebrew. The owner of the Coffee District, Chung So, wasn't able to make it to our event, but he still sent a few bottles of his Bourbon Stout (I think they said stout). Update 2/22/2010: Chung asked that I mention the two brewers that brewed this beer, Kevin Abbot and Chris Black. Awesome job, guys! Also, you can see I was calling it a Stout, but Chung referred to it as Bourbon Porter. They used bourbon wood chips while brewing this. Smells? Yes, bourbon. The flavors have some chocolate, bourbon, alcohol, wood. There is a hint of vanilla, some dark fruits and I can't get that dark cherry out of my mind, so I'm gonna say the flavors are in this beer too. I brought home the "spare" bottle that was left over from this, so I'll give it a real review someday. A sipper, liked it a lot.

11. The Bruery 2 Turtle Doves. I had this one before. And I reviewed it too. For me, it was way too much an alcoholic's dream. But Mike loved this in his review. He's had 5 or 6 bottles since they put it on our shelves less than a month ago. Now last night I did taste this, and it was good, but I didn't write anything down. That's because Mike and I got into a Steel Caged Match about this beer, blood everywhere. Actually, that didn't happen. Rather, I suggested that anyone that buys a bottle of this should have a friend or two to share it with, because going this bottle alone wasn't desirable. That's when Jonathan, the founder of the Boca Beer Lovers Meetup Group said we should be educating people more. Would you ever drink a bottle of wine alone? Well, consider sharing a wine-sized bottle of beer, too. Ten or Fifteen dollars? You'd spend that on a good bottle of wine wouldn't you? It's true. Jonathan is very knowledgable and it was a pleasure meeting him. Hopefully I'll make some of their meetups.

12. Maharaja Imperial IPA Bottled May, 2007 Batch 6. Yep, an aged Imperial IPA. I had the 2009 version when it was fresh. What a terrific beer that was! Adam Fine, the Founder of kick-ass distributor FreshBeer, brought this one with him. He suggested that this beer would not be even close to as powerful hoppy as it was after brewing. Wow, this beer totally mellowed out in the three years since bottling. Fruity tangerine, ultra smooth, no real hop bite at all. The 9.65% alcohol was nowhere to be found either. Really great beer!

13. DogFish Head Squall IPA. Instead of really writing anything down for this, I ended up defending my position that it was a good beer, but not great, and that I am not in love with this brewery. Yes, a second Ultimate Fighting match with DosBeerigos (only one of them). I think DFH is great, but many of their beers are to me just a little out-of-bounds. And I don't mind playing golf on the zig-zag route (even out of bounds), as long as the final goal is the cup on the green. I think they often don't make it there, and some of their beers do not meet the hype. For this review, I did manage to write "fruity" and "good". Two words, solid beer. Here was my original review of this.

14. Cantillon Classic Gueuze 2008. This is the first beer I've had in this style. I'm not sure if this was written on the label or if someone said it, but I wrote "Ale aged in oak barrels". The aroma for me was not strong, almost nothing. But the flavors were very noticeable. Very sour, with intense lemon &. Yep, I didn't finish my thought. But whatever, it was awesome to try this. I bet that this is the kind of beer and style that with a few bottles, you could really appreciate, and it would start to grow on you. I'll do my best to fulfill that mission.

On a final note, thanks to everyone at the tasting last night. I probably made some stupid cracks at one point or another, so thanks for playing along. I really enjoyed meeting every single one of you. Hey, and I might even see you on Friday at the 93 Rock Best Damn Brew Review. Finally, finally. If you do ever happen to be in the Pembroke Pines Total Wine classroom (and you all should sign up for their beer classes), be very careful of the men's bathroom. The toilet flushes so violently that you could lose something if you're not careful!

Wow. I've been writing this all day. I hope my 5 followers appreciate this! Time for some Olympics and Iron Chef re-runs. Later, dudes!

Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) Level 1,2,3,4 & 5 Set with Audio Companion

Mind Gym : An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence

2010 Collectible Olympic Red Mittens Vancouver Canada, Adult Size S/M, Brand New with Original Tags and Hologram


Lover Lady said...

That is an Olympian-size beer extravaganza! I must make it to a Total Beer soon!

Beer Drinker Rob said...

Bunny. It's Total WINE & More. I've only been mentioning them every single day for forever. But anyway, you definitely should hit up that store!

Michael Jurewicz said...

Really good lay out of the brews. If you are going to be at the festival on Friday I hope to see you there.

Lover Lady said...

Dude, sorry. I was just getting up from my Sunday nap when I read that. :)