Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jai Alai White Oak India Pale Ale

Today I'm drinking Jai Alai White Oak India Pale Ale brewed by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida. This is yet another variation of their very nice Jai Alai IPA. The label is very cool, making the bottle appear to be an American White Oak. Blurred into the front is a jai alai player throwing a hop bud. The back label has a little story and talks about the "merry game".

Hoppy aroma but with plenty of peaches and tropical fruit. I don't really smell the wood, but maybe I can believe there was some coconut in there. Fruity flavors with an enormous dose of oak is how you start this beer. Orange and peach, pretty nice. Very dry, start to finish, like very, very, very dry. Cottonmouth dry!

Some spice and 7.5% alcohol hit the palate around the same time and become extremely noticeable after a few sips. Hoppy and bitter toward the end. Carbonation is good. Not a bad beer though woody is totally out of control and borderline obnoxious.  A little alcoholic as well, which was off-putting. I much prefer the original-- no white oak, no cedar, no papaya, nothing except the IPA. Quite frankly, I don't see what all the hubbub is about for this beer!

Oak Chips- Medium Toast - 1 lb

Native Forest Organic Papaya Chunks, 14-Ounce Cans (Pack of 6)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Update 9/16/2011: Voting is open from now until next Friday, 9/23 at Noon PST. I want you to read my post here, but I really want you to vote for me even more, LOL. One click here and one choice there. Very simple!

Why does Beer Drinker Rob deserve to go to CANFEST? Such a simple question! Where should I start? I know. First by meeting what appears to be the only firm requirement--having an established beer blog. Did you just ask if I had a blog? Duh, you're reading this post on it right now. Come on, people!

Did you ever do something for no particular reason other than you knew eventually you'd figure out why you were doing it? And you knew that what was to come would be epic too, right? Yeah, that's how I felt as I saved hundreds of empty six pack holders for the past several years. I mean who does that? At the beginning I was weak and returned some to my local liquor store for them to reuse in their "Mix Your Own Six" program. But eventually I was comfortable enough to save those as well.

That's when I heard about this contest being run by Buckbean Brewing. I knew my buddy Lost won the contest and went to CANFEST last year and remembered his humorous ransom note, but I really didn't pay attention any more closely than that. But this year the contest caught my attention. I mean how much more of a perfect fit could this be? I need to talk about my best attributes in a contest being judged by people that are partial to creativity and humor? And the theme is beer? (Yeah, those are all rhetorical.)

The completed CAN is over 6 feet tall!

After much thought, I came up with what I'm sure is the winning entry. First, I'm all about the CAN. I wont be asked to leave my community pool for bringing glass bottles (again) when my favorite beers are packaged in CANS. On the Beach? On the Golf Course? Much more appropriate with no worries of breakage. And what about beer trading and packing beer to bring back from your vacations? I don't know about you, but I've had Stout-soaked and stained clothes before. CANS are the key! All that and my precious beer is protected from damaging light! Awesome.

That's when I knew what I was going to do. Create an architectural masterpiece in the shape of a Giant 16 Ounce CAN (the size Buckbean uses) made from reused bottle six pack holders and bottle cases. After all, we won't need all that packaging once CANS are the norm. How awesome would that be for the environment?

I wasn't really quite sure how it was all going to come together, but the first thing I did was try to find the normal dimensions for a Pounder CAN. I did ask Buckbean directly for their CAN dimensions, but I'm still waiting for an answer from them. I probably wouldn't have answered me either, though, so no hard feelings. Since Buckbean's beers are not available in Florida, I used a Busch Light can that's been laying around as my model.

Seriously, I spent a few hours measuring and using my awesome mathematics skills to plan this project. Height, circumference, the top and bottom ridges; oh and then to figure out how many sixer packages to put together to make my CAN to scale. And how was this "Rodin" going to be held together long enough for at least a picture but more likely its submission to the Museum of Modern Art (with a side appearance at Total Wine before its donation)? Another tough question.

I'll spare you the failures, but let's say there were many trials and errors before I was able to complete the final product. Basically, I used 10 sixer packs all taped together to make each of the 8 rows. I used an old Festivus Pole as a backbone and put empty 12 Pack boxes over it to create a support for the CAN, which ended up being exactly 11.8 times to scale and over 6 feet tall. You probably don't realize how much this thing weighs, and though I was able to make the eight rings stand up without any bracing, it just wasn't sturdy enough. I bought some bamboo sticks and created some rigidness on every other row for the final product you see, and those sticks also afforded me the ability to make the first row off the ground, appearing a little more like a real can would look.

Why do I deserve to go to CANFEST? I am an established beer blogger that actively promotes the craft beer industry, writing daily reviews and participating in social media to create interest in this wonderful product. I am easily approachable and more than willing to answer any questions I can, make recommendations or help find someone who can do a better job if I don't know the answer. I think CANNING totally makes sense from both environmental and product-protection perspectives.

OH. And then there's my little project, all done under the supervision of 10% ABV beer. Since bottles are off limits at CANFEST, how ironic is it that my 6-foot CAN is made of beer bottle packaging not necessary in the world of CANS? No longer will we need six pack box packaging; no more will we need 12-pack bottle packaging. And once all the Pandas are killed off (I'm just being a realist, and no, I don't hope for this in any way), the bamboo braces I used will be totally GREEN as well! That's all the materials used except for blood, sweat and tears! After the contest is over, I plan to donate my work to any liquor store or museum that will take it. Maybe they can auction it for some charity.

So ask yourself this question when you're voting. Who else would go to such great lengths to promote CANS? That's right. NO ONE WOULD! Voting begins September 15, at which point I'll add a link here so you can check out all of the entries before selecting mine to SEND ME TO CANFEST! Here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.


Spine for CAN. I told you this thing was huge.

CAN Assembly begins. Virgin Mary watches over me.

Looking down into the CAN from the balcony. Before adding the top of the CAN.


Completed CAN


Orange for the top makes it look like Buckbean's Original Orange Blossom Ale. Swoosh is where you drink from!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Crème Brûlée Imperial Stout

Today I'm drinking Crème Brûlée Imperial Stout brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, New York. Last October, I fell in love with this beer. It's not that often that I am doing a new review where I am absolutely certain I'm going to have an awesome experience! This is one of those cases. Or is it?

Let's talk about the label in three panels. The artwork panel depicts a cow standing in the forefront while two bulls check her out from behind. Rotate clockwise 40 degrees and you'll learn this is a Black Water Series beer, A Stout With Great Contention, as well as a full ingredient list. A 42 degree F recommended serving temperature is also mentioned there (whatever, that didn't happen). One more 40 degree turn to read the final panel, where Southern Tier's story about this beer is told. Big 22 has a smudged bottling date. I am pretty certain it starts with DOB 07/?/11 with the year a definite and the month a huge probability since Total Wine put their sticker on 7/20/2011.

OK. First, the aroma will make you not ever want to drink this beer! That's right, I said it. It is that luxuriously deliciously awesome, to the point of just wanting to smell it all day and night long. Pure butterscotch and sweet baked goods, like the entire bakery in a glass.

Sweet butterscotch and toffee flavors are prominent from the start but the 9.6% alcohol wastes no time introducing itself. The lightly boozy alcohol takes a lot of the sweet edge off (while adding an edge of its own).  Plenty of vanilla, bordering on just a little too much, but it fits so well into this beer that I am just ignoring my own intuition.

Smooth buttery texture, roasted exotic coffee, malty, milky, creamy. You getting all this? Not overly sweet at all. The flavors linger long after each sip, and so does the alcohol warmth left in the chest. I can't think of another beer that has an aroma quite as spectacular as this one. Combine that with the flavors and you can just skip dessert. From memory, this one seems a little more alcoholic and a little less sweet than last year's version. Either way, I'm on board, and if you can find this beer, you should buy some!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lakefront White Beer

Today I'm drinking Lakefront White Beer brewed by Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The label seems a little dated, depicting a jester type with an disproportionately-sized glass of beer. This is a Belgian-style wheat beer brewed with coriander and orange peel. Bottled during Week 2, June, assuming 2011.

Wheat aroma with noticeable orange and coriander. I swear I didn't cheat; they are just prominent. Thick wheat texture and big flavors above all else. Some fruity orange blends into that along the way to a spicy coriander finish. The aftertaste is a little medicinal and unbecoming. Good carbonation, body much too dominant for the flavors. An OK beer.

Frontier Coriander Seed Powder, 16 Ounce Bags (Pack of 2)

Frontier Orange Peel Granules Certified Organic, 16 Ounce Bag

Arrowhead Mills Organic Whole Grain Wheat, 28-Ounce Packages (Pack of 6)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Maduro Oatmeal Raisin Cookie -- Doctor Carolyn Guest Post

My dad is a doctor. His dad was a doctor. My cousin is a doctor. But I don't really have any doctor friends. I assumed that was due to the fact that doctors are more responsible types and don't like or drink beer. Incorrectly I guess. You guys all remember BeerPancakes, don't you? Everyone say "Hi" to BeerPancakes. Well BeerPancakes' fiance Doctor Carolyn is also a beer geek! One day she's talking about sours, the next pediatrics; one day imperial stouts, the next vaginas. So apparently doctorism and drinking craft beer can be simultaneously achieved! Here's how it went down in Tampa a few months ago.

Maduro Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale

Most of the time being in medical school feels like a tug-of-war between college life and the grown-up professional life. So when I got a vacation after a grueling year I decided to head down from it’s rarely ever sunny Philadelphia to Florida. ‘Twas a fantastic escape--I kayaked in gator infested waters, met the oldest living manatee in captivity named Snooty, and went to a Tampa Bay Rays game in an indoor stadium (it’s just wrong). Being a craft beer geek I couldn’t be so close to Cigar City Brewing without stopping by and sampling the goods, and by the gracious generosity of my favorite daily beer reviewer, I got to do so for a lot less cash.

When I pulled up to Cigar City I was reminded of so many breweries these days located in hidden corners of industrial parks. Not much to look at from the outside, but a pretty sweet little bar separated by a wall from the warehouse brewery. Bartender was friendly and the other patrons were more than willing to discuss good brews (= signs of a good bar). I tried a lot of CCB beers that day, but I figured I’d review their Maduro Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. I took a baby growler of this stuff home (along with a 4 pack of Cubano Espresso, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie’s relative).

Poured a very lovely, dark brown with a thin layer of foam. Stuck my nose in this badboy and got transported back to Christmas-time at my house with vanilla, cinnamon and malt aromas floating about willy-nilly. I couldn’t believe how accurate a description “oatmeal raisin cookie” was for the aroma. On first sip I tasted those vanillas and chocolate maltiness and oatmeal character. As the beer warmed up the spiciness emerged with cinnamon pushing through along with some fruit flavors. A little thin mouth feel which was probably the only aspect I was disappointed about. Overall, a pretty nice beer—drinkable and satisfied my sweet tooth without being syrupy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale

Today I'm drinking Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale brewed by Atlantic Brewing Company in Bar Harbor, Maine. I reviewed this beer back in May, 2009, and I think I probably bought it here in Florida, though I'm not sure. This one, however, came home from the brewery with my friend earlier this month. The label is typical of this brewery--a ship navigating a rocky ocean scene in an outdated illustration. However, it does match perfectly with the day today!

You see, today is the day that major hurricane Irene passed over the Bahamas just a few hundred miles to my east. We were very fortunate to escape this one with just heavy rains. I will be crossing my fingers for the rest of its path, as it's predicted now to slam into North Carolina and saturate the northeast afterward with buckets of rain. Luckily for everyone, President Obama has put together a website of resources for just this hurricane! Glad he's keeping busy.

I poured this into my Sea Dog Blue Paw pint glass that I got for buying beer when I lived in Yonkers, NY. I think the distributor was trying to get rid of them. This may be the first time it was ever used, as I had to wash off some excess dirt. I turned the glass around to just show the blueberries, since that's the whole reason I grabbed this glass.

Enormous head. Had to pour very slowly. Earthy and dirty, with a touch of berries for an aroma. Good blueberry flavors to start, with a nice mix of sweet and tart. That's about it, except for a light hoppy bitterness toward the end and a fruity lingering aftertaste. Good flavors, not overdone. Great carbonation and body. Very enjoyable.

Top Hat Dwarf Blueberry Plant - Bonsai/Patio/Outdoors

Traverse Bay Fruit Co. Dried Blueberries, 4-Pound Box

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hop Strike Black India Pale Ale

Today I'm drinking Hop Strike Black India Pale Ale brewed by Tommyknocker Brewery & Pub in Idaho Springs, Colorado. Not only is this a Black IPA, but it's also brewed with Rye Malts. The label describes their offerings as "Colorado Mountain Town Craft Beer" and goes on to tell a story about tommyknockers sneaking into gold towns in the 1800's. The front even depicts one of these rarely seen elves. Tommyknocker's labels have been hugely upgraded since the cartoonish ones I remember from last time I had one. Best Before November 11, 2011.

Hoppy, roasted, spicy rye aroma, a lot going on and very interesting. Roasted and chocolatey flavors beginning. Not lost is the hoppy backdrop that persists for the entire beer, and while fairly intense, it is a supporting actor and not the star. Rye flavors are also easily identified, nice and spicy. Hoppy bitterness and peppery spice work very well together and in harmony with the balancing maltiness. The 78 IBUs definitely win out in the end though. Those main flavors are accented by some minty, herbal and smokey little hints. The 6.5% alcohol did nothing more than add a little dryness to the finish. Good lingering aftertaste. I liked this beer for its flavor, but even moreso for its originality. Check it out!


Gold Digger (Glee Cast Version)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Today I'm drinking Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout brewed by Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, California. This is an "embellished" version of their wonderfully delicious Russian Imperial Stout, being brewed with Anise, Oak Chips, Belgian Yeast and "copious doses of decadence". Yeah, you get the point. Their story on the back shows Stone is certain that this is the most awesome creation since Creation. Read it below if you don't believe me. Of course the gargoyle adorns the front of this "2011 'ODD YEAR' RELEASE", and this time, he's in a star. This beer is recommended for cellaring.

Nice head if you care. Luckily it went away fast as the aroma on this mama was super inviting! Rich chocolate and licorice in my nose and everywhere, though I thought there may be more licorice. Anyway... The licorice flavors are much more pronounced than in the aroma, very powerful, you know, in a way that can clear your sinuses. Add the boozy 10.5% alcohol and it is quite the experience!

Now this beer does taste a little sweet at first glance, but some balance is there in the form of the aforementioned alcohol and some light coffee bitterness. That great chocolate aroma doesn't disappoint in the flavors either, very rich and luxurious, excellent smooth consistency. Vanilla and wood and the faintest of raisin flavor add some nice subtleties here and there. A boozy chesty warmth and alcohol burn in the throat are also themes to this beer, and the hot finish is a little uncomfortable by the end of Big 22.

I love black licorice, but for real it was overdone in this beer. I much prefer the anise "notes" of their original and not the "screams" this bottle brags about. With that much licorice, I'll just enjoy some Sambuca instead. The alcohol was also a little much in this beer. Some real nice flavors happening here, but those are my comments. And one more aside... I didn't really feel the Belgian yeast; it was probably dominated by too many other Generals. What do you think?

Red Vines Black Licorice Twists, 64-Ounce Tub 

 USP Labs Oxy Elite Pro, 90-capsule

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Today I'm drinking Consecration brewed by Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California. This is a sour ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon oak barrels for 4 to 8 months with currants added. I'm starting to notice that this "23" on the label is some kind of theme, though I don't yet know what it's in reference to. Until then, I will call the item on the front of this label Michael Jordan's letter opener. This bottle is a half wine bottle, 375mL, 12.68oz.

On the back label is the definition of Consecration followed by a story about this beer. Apparently it was inspired from a beer that Russian River made for Toronado's 20th Anniversary, but with a few twists. Batch 005X1E.

Tart cherry and currant aroma with an acidic sour grape and wine-like complexity. Very sour cherry and cranberry flavors punch you in the face, first sip. Quite tart, inviting a pucker, though you will eventually grow into it. Tannic red wine, vinegar, quite acidic. The fruits remain the stars the whole way, perfectly accentuated by all the sourness. Crisp, nice carbonation, dry finish. The 10.00% alcohol should be noted here, though I can't say it was obvious in any way. Definitely an acquired taste that I love! Took a long time to drink this beer; apparently I was really savoring each sip! Great beer! Can't wait for another bottle.

Thanks to Ed for bringing it back from his California trip. The exchange middle man in Total Wine's Pembroke Pines store keeps asking me about the ones he brought back: 3 for 3, batted 1000!

23 Minutes In Hell: One Man's Story About What He Saw, Heard, and Felt in that Place of Torment

iPhone 4 Michael Jordan #23 Chicago Bulls Vinyl Skin kit fits 4th generation apple iPhone decal cover Skins case.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blue Heron Pale Ale

Today I'm drinking Blue Heron Pale Ale brewed by Mendocino Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, New York. The label says this is an award-winning brew and has a beautiful illustration of a bird on the front.

Huge sourdough aroma, with some grassy and lemony citrus behind it. A lot strange. Lemony flavor start swiftly turns to bread dough flavors, quite sour and rather unpleasant. Astringent hoppy lemon comes next with some spicy jabs at the palate. Medicinal and alcoholic dry finish leads to a not great aftertaste. The flavors were really all over the place and not that great anywhere. I didn't finish this bottle and would never buy this again. Not even average in a category full of awesome pale ales!

Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker's Handbook

Audubon's Birds of America: The Audubon Society Baby Elephant Folio