Sunday, December 30, 2012

Timber Beast Rye IPA

Timber Beast Rye IPA is the first beer in Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company's Back Porch Series. The label has the brewery's standard shield with a burly woodsman dressed in plaid and showing off his axe. There is a little story introducing the Back Porch theme and describing the beer on the site.

Spicy rye aroma with a blanket of caramel, very inviting. Bitter and hoppy flavors come first and then are joined by some spicy rye shortly afterward. Citrus rind, orange, quite resinous. There is a decent caramel malt backbone that keeps the otherwise aggressive beer in line.

Chewy yet creamy. Carbonation is good. The spicy rye kick really stands out thanks to the 9.0% alcohol. That alcohol is also drying, especially toward the end. And you won't miss a little heat at the finish as well. Nice beer here!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Off The Top Of My Head 2012

No BS lists. Just some memorable highlights for me and this blog from 2012.

I started a new blog. There are 30 articles already, but I've neglected it recently. Here's what starting that meant for Back on the horse soon. Before I started that spirits site, I checked out the Miami Rum Renaissance, an event NOT to be missed, and coming again soon! And, um, a sample of $900-a-bottle Grand Marnier Quintessence? Hell, yeah!

I started a new beer day (sarcastically): Quad Day!

I got to attend the SOBE Swine and Wine event thanks to my friend Gabriele Corcos from the TV Show Extra Virgin. Even the Mayor of Miami was cooking for me! I also continued to write for his website all year. Check it out!

Had some amazing beer and beer dinner invitations. This one with Due South and another with Holy Mackerel at Anthony's stand out. And the Holy Mackerel and Florida Beer dinners at 5 Napkin Burger were awesome!

Beer Release parties? You Betcha'! How about Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale and Kona's Big Wave Golden Ale (Be sure to click on this one as I got a stand-up paddle board lesson from a professional in the Fort Lauderdale marina. And there are topless photos.)

Heck. How about a brewery grand opening. Welcome to the Neighborhood, Due South!

My sister got married so I grabbed a few local Atlanta brews. Oh, and saw my best friend from high school for the first time in almost a decade. The only sad part was there was no time for Brick Store Pub despite its extremely close location to our hotel.

I interviewed a Rock Star from the Bourbon World!

I hosted my own beer tasting with some friends. Lots of rookie beer drinkers enjoying great beer! I was also invited to a surprise tequila tasting BBQ by a friend of mine-spectacular!

I got invited back a handful of times to ByTheGlassShow for some excellent beer and spirits and conversation. How about this extravagance with Camus? And this with Cigar City and Phil P? And chatting about breweries that also run micro-distilleries?

I got all the new Dogfish Seasonal prints by Tara McPherson. And even held a contest after she was so generous to sign unused labels the brewery gave me. I think I'm in love!

I was given the opportunity to sample all of the Collesi beers from Italy, and the "funnest" part about the whole thing was having pictures of the brewery sent to me by owner Giuseppe Collesi himself!

I had a few trades, too, not much of a trader. But one local guy just contacted me and said, "I got Dreadnaught for you on a recent business trip." Nice stranger! Cool guy!

Yep, I also reviewed a few despicable pieces of shit. Rascal's Wild Red comes to mind.

I was invited to check out Schnebly Redland's Winery and Brewery. Fantastic! If I ever get married again, it might be there. And I don't care if my relatives and friends have to figure out how to get there.

I made money with Adsense. Around $400. So yeah, I'm totally rich!

I had a bunch of more awesome guest posts! Very cool.

Finally, have a Happy New Year! Don't drink and drive! And let's toast to a great 2013!

I Love You Guys!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Oaked Big Hoppy Monster

Today I decided to try the 2012 Vintage of Oaked Big Hoppy Monster, an imperial red ale brewed by Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, Georgia. It seems like it was more recent than November, 2009 that I was trying the non-oak aged version. Anyway, I remembered liking that one so thought this was worth a whirl.

"Watch Out! This Monster Bites!" warns the label. I'm not sure how that or the name ties in with the turtle flying the race car in the clouds, but I do lack imagination. Don't miss the stogie that he has in his lips either as the smoke blends with those clouds.

Nice aroma. Sugary, malty sweet scent with oak and faint hops. Wow, I was expecting something hoppy, at least flavor-wise. Very sweet flavors. Candied wood chips and sugar-spiked hops. And the 9.1% alcohol makes those stand out even more. Too much wood and vanilla. Sorry, this is not good at all. Syrupy sweet caramel, chewy, with no redeeming balance whatsoever. The finish is dry.

Not hoppy in the slightest, just sweet. And alcoholic. And wood/vanilla bomb. That wood is more than just a distraction but that's not the only problem. Where are the spicy hops, the great citrus, the balance, the hoppiness, the bitter bite that made the original a delight? Is this really the same beer with the only exception being barrel aging? Hard to believe, but regardless, tone that part down (a lot)! Save your retail $3 or whatever crazy price they might try to charge you at a bar.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Perfect Crime Black Smoked Saison

Stone Brewing has been doing a collaboration series this year. I've had many of them. I saw another recently and decided to give The Perfect Crime Black Smoked Saison a shot. The label lets you know this collaboration is between Stone, Evil Twin Brewing and Stillwater Artisanal Ales and offers the tag line, "Takin' The Fall So You Ain't Gotta".

The brewmaster from Evil Twin, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, wrote a story on the back about breaking into bars, stealing  beers and ideas, and international intrigue. (I think. I actually have no freakin' clue what he's talking about. I extrapolated and guessed a lot. Let me know if you have some info. Read the story below.)

Cocoa and smoke aroma, though I really had to work for it. Very faint. Tart cherry and cocoa flavors are attacked by a smokestack at the beginning. Prunes and plums are noticeable too. The beer is a bit bitter and fairly astringent at the beginning.

Yeasty funk is there but minimal. Beyond the normal saison flavors are some chemical and factory cleanser flavors that seriously detract from any positives the beer might have. A dirty ash tray full of cigarette butts, some still smoking their way out, comes at the end. Yes, in the way of a finishing flavor. Terrible close to an experience that was never good. Not that great in any respect. Didn't finish it. Definite pass!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Best Beer Review Blog of 2012

Christmas came early this year. named the Best Beer Review Blog of 2012! Of course you already knew that though, right? Shhh, you! Anyway, what I suggest you do is sign up for new content delivered to your desk/phone a few times a week to enjoy with your cafe mochachino latte grande. The end. How's that for a short entry?

And here's my badge!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Positive Contact

I decided that today I needed to check out Positive Contact brewed by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware. It's been sitting in my fridge for months, and I figure that I really should finish their last music beer collaboration before winning a contest for the next one. Yeah, Dogfish is collaborating with the Grateful Dead to make an Imperial Pale Ale named American Beauty. I've entered a bunch of times and know they already have over 1000 entries, so good luck. Enter your "A" material and skip the BS entries! You can read all of mine (so far) below to see what you're up against.

This wine-bottle sized beer was originally packaged with 4 or 6 of the beers and a record or something like that. I don't quite remember. Since then, the packs have been broken up and sold individually since the hefty price tag was weighing on sales (that's my analysis). I actually just went in with some guys initially and we broke it apart ourselves. I never did get to listen to the music by Dan The Automator and Deltron 3030, but I'm good with that. If you can even understand this Wiki entry for them, you are way cooler than I.

I'm sure the label art means something, but I don't know what. Front and center is the name of the beer. They do let you know you are about to drink an "ale brewed with apple cider and spices. A positive combination of Fuji cider, slow roasted farro, a bit of cayenne and fresh cilantro." Rock and Roll!

Frothy head. Smells like apple cider with wheat and spicy coriander. Very different flavors, let me start with that! The refreshment is there though, and I deserve it after burying this year's Dogfish Olde School in my back yard!

Fruity apple, tangy with some very prevalent coriander and some other interesting spice. A little cinnamon type flavor which I attribute to the cayenne. Carbonation is effervescent and soda-like. The Belgian yeast and wheaty texture/flavor are also noticeable standouts. There is a minty accent dodging in and out. You can say that's the cilantro if you want, but it's hardly identifiable. We rock cilantro in this house, so I am well aware of its flavor.

Lots going on in this beer, for sure, but the flavors really do work in harmony. The spice flavors really build toward the end which is when you also start feeling some heat and effects from the 9% alcohol. Very different, nice flavors. The yeast that you get in your glass when you pour too fast or too many times was a distraction in my later pours, so find yourself a handful of pals and pour it all out one time, carefully. Recommended for sure. I think you can probably still find this on the shelves in many places, even though the release was a while ago.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for... my entries. Let me know what you think. (I've got this contest in the bag, right?)

1. Frankincense

You already used myrrh in your Birra Etrusca Bronze. Gold is too expensive, and frankincense was the last gift given to baby Jesus. Cornell '77 legendary concert. I went to Cornell and though I was only 5 when this concert took place, the "hippie effect" left behind by the Dead is still in effect. A few friends and I went to the reservoir to swim. Hippie chick dropped her clothes and showed her hairy body as she walked past. When she was done, they lit up incense... "frankincense". Yes, it's edible and often used in traditional Asian healthy skin medicines.

2. Ascorbic Acid

No one knows more about "acid" that the Grateful Dead. Follow me on this story. Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack while he was actually in rehab in 1995. Do you know that the American Heart Association recommends that people with high risk of heart attack take a regular regimen of aspirin (under doctor's orders, of course). Well, aspirin is really known as acetylsalicylic acid. How ironic that acid would help the heart attack of someone that was known to acid. Anyway, aspirin isn't recommended for regular drinkers, so my ingredient is Vitamin C, Ascorbic Acid.

3. Magnolias

The Grateful Dead are responsible for a lot of flower children. I have a few second cousins that were the product of Dead inspiration. You should meet their parents. What flower symbolizes this impression the Grateful Dead made on the world? Well, considering this beer is to be named American Beauty, and Sugar Magnolia is a song from that album, I think you have a winner. The flavor is intense and versatile, perfect for a Dogfish beer.

4. Gladiolas

Some of my favorite Grateful Dead memories are from concerts I wasn't even able to attend. The Dead was notorious for encouraging sharing of their music and events. Remember, "Googling" didn't exist and the internet was barely alive when Jerry Garcia died. Between college friends and some of my older relatives, I've been able to see some cool old footage and great music. Yes on cassettes and grainy tapes. That is part of the experience. Gladiolas stand for sharing and generosity, qualities the band promoted. And I think this will make a terrific flavor addition to a strong pale ale.

5. Fantasy Bouquet

I've been listening to Dead songs on YouTube for two weeks straight to get more inspiration. Now I know that Dear Mr. Fantasy is a cover but I'm jamming now as I write this. What ingredient or ingredients go with this song? Hmmm. Has to be an entire Fantasy Bouquet: I was thinking Puppy Dog Kisses, Rainbow Glow and Unicorn Eyelashes. As for those being readily available, well, you guys have an imagination right? Oh. There are other ingredients for this Fantasy basket if you want to hear more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sága India Pale Ale

"Our Condolences to the Smelling Impaired." That's how Summit Brewing in St. Paul, Minnesota introduces their newest beer: Sága India Pale Ale. I probably would have just passed it over as well if it had not been recommended as "the best single IPA" we carry by one of the local distributor reps. I was sold!

I was not sure exactly what the old-time sketch in the background is depicting considering the enormous Summit logo covering it, but there is clearly some tension between the old bearded man and the woman holding the beer. That's when I noticed that the 6-pack packaging actually has a clear vision of the sketch and some text to go with it. This is the goddess Saga and the god Odin "merrily" drinking. OK, merrily, whatever. She's telling him to cut the macho bullshit if you ask me! LOL. Check the beer stats there too.

Tangerine tropical with some spicy citrus aroma. Excellent. Oh, wow. Great juicy fruit flavors to start. Citrus, spicy hoppy, black peppery. Some bitter orange rind meets sweeter tropical tangerines and peaches. Absolutely fabulous! Carbonation is great, and this is quite a refreshing beer. Nice fruity bitterness lasts in the finish and aftertaste. I highly recommend this beer and will get myself more when I go back to the liquor store!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wooly ESB

Started this afternoon with a bottle of Wooly ESB, "A Coniferous Concoction" brewed by Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont. Why coniferous? Because these guys brewed this beer with Spruce. As usual, the label is pretty fun. An abstract Santa sits on his sleigh crafted out of the beer name script. Some tree cutouts hang in the background completing the theme. 4.5% alcohol. This bottle was provided to me by the brewery.

Herbal, spicy hops and a hint of evergreen in the aroma. Orange citrus flavors start and are quickly met by a hefty dose of spruce, providing quite a nice little bite. Tangy, resinous, herbal. There is a bit of sweetness in the background as well, so while hoppy, this beer isn't out of control bitter. Medium body, crisp with good carbonation. The finish is dry and full of more spruce. Interesting and pretty decent all around.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Narwhal Imperial Stout 2012

Sierra Nevada Brewing's Narwhal Imperial Stout is a beer that many of the geeks regularly talk about. Well, I guess that's especially true for the local South Florida beer geeks as it hasn't to my knowledge been distributed here before this year. So a few days ago I noticed it on my local Total Wine shelf and had to grab a bottle.

The label depicts an enormous sea creature wreaking havoc on a ship. There is a lot going on in the tiny thumbnail sketch, so you'll need to look for yourself or use your imagination. A story on the back says this beer was inspired by this arctic beast and proceeds to give a handful of adjectives on what you should expect. (BTW, I'm going to do the same thing here in a second.)

Excellent aroma full of rich, roasted coffee and mocha. Absolutely delicious before even one sip! My high expectations were immediately fulfilled. Much like the aroma predicted, rich, sweet mocha and bold, roasted coffee flavors collide on your palate. So creamy. After a few sips, you start to taste hints of vanilla and licorice and even a light smoky char.

Those nuances and complexities are further enhanced by the 10.2% alcohol. Boozy heat in the chest just makes you go hmmm. I wish I had another to think about, but I guess there's always tomorrow to buy an encore. Before I could even finish the bottle, I tipped my hat over on inane time-waster Twitter... "Freakin' Fantastic!" Highly recommended!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Budweiser Project Twelve Batch No. 91406

The final beer to try in the Budweiser Project Twelve trilogy is Batch No. 91406. I first tried their bourbon-aged light amber lager 23185 followed by their pilsner 63118. This "deep amber lager" is the creation of Brewmaster Bryan Sullivan of Bud's Los Angeles factory. 6.0% alcohol.

Heavy caramel aroma with a hint of toast and a definite sweet edge. Caramel and a light nutty flavor dominate pretty much the entire experience. This beer definitely has THAT flavor, distinctly Budweiser. I'm not saying that in a condescending way, but the sanctimony may come later. We'll see.

A little buttery and some wood (the label does say this was finished on beechwood chips). Definitely too sweet from start to finish with not a hop to be found. Carbonation is good, body medium. Decent despite its sweet tooth. It's a close call, but I'd say this is the best of the three in this Project Twelve experiment.

Budweiser Project Twelve Batch No. 63118

Here we go with the second beer from Budweiser's Project Twelve experiment: Batch No. 63118, a pilsner created by Brewmaster Jim Bicklein of the company's St. Louis, Missouri facility. I checked out their aged Amber Lager a week or so ago. The label notes that what makes this beer special is that it was brewed with hop varieties used during the 19th century. 6.0% alcohol.

Grain, cracker and grassy pungent pils hops aroma. Not strong but noticeable. Grain and wheat flavors start things off. Light lemon with some grassy hoppy balance. Things were going along fairly smoothly until more sweetness right at the finish came along. A bit of a turnoff. The aftertaste lingered with some off cardboard-like flavors, too.

You'd think expert clean-beer-maker Bud would nail a pilsner, but although the beer was crisp and had decent flavors and was well carbonated, I did not like how it finished. Not clean enough and that extra buttery sweetness killed the refreshment aspect. However, it is better than regular Bud. Average!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Birra Etrusca Bronze

Today I published an article over on titled Ancient Italians Were Beer Aficionados. The subject of the article is Dogfish Head's Birra Etrusca Bronze. I thought the site's Tuscan theme matched perfectly with the Etruscan roots behind the beer. And my editor was giving me a hard time about getting something done, too. Go check it out and let me know what you think.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hop Cream

Yet another new brewery is now being distributed in South Florida, and I grabbed one of their beers. Today I am checking out Hop Cream brewed by Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin. The label depicts the dome of a Capitol Building. There are a few short words to set your expectations; 5.3% alcohol; IBU 34.

Grain and crackers, with a pleasant fruity citrus aroma. Similar flavors. A grainy sweet start gives way to an herbal and floral bitterness. A little grassy and a little medicinal, leaning toward being unpleasant at the finish. Carbonation is good; body is good. Sharp little nibbles at the palate are refreshing, but not creamy in the slightest as the name implies. Not a bad beer but that tinge of weirdness finishing each sip was a turn off.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Exit 16 Wild Rice Double IPA

When your representative from the best craft beer distributor in the area recommends a beer that isn't theirs, you grab it and take a chance. That's what I did with Exit 16 Wild Rice Double IPA brewed by Flying Fish Brewing Company in Somerdale, New Jersey. As usual, the label for this "Exit Series" just shows a road sign for the NJ Turnpike. A short story on the side explains that the rice is used to dry out the beer so all the hop varieties are highlighted. Bonus Question... If you exit on Exit 16, where are you?

Noticeable rice aroma, but hold on. One second later, you are met with an awesome tropical tangerine and ripe peach burst. Floral and hoppy, too. Not a super powerful bouquet, but worthy of sticking your nose in the glass for a few extra sniffs!

As predicted, dry flavors, right from the beginning. Interesting to start, grainy with sharp lemony bitterness. I was a little shocked actually just how bitter and unbalanced it was. Some sweeter orange and fruit flavors do eventually come to the rescue, though. Pale malts, crackers, lemon rind, resinous bitterness... all working with a noticeable 8.2% alcohol. Yes, you know you are drinking.

Hoppy-hop-hop! Crisp, clean, palate-cleansing, dry, a little too astringent. Big carbonation and light, medium body are great. Let the beer warm up a little and some of that dry bitterness will disappear, but yeah, this is a double IPA and hits its mark. Slightly out of bounds, but good flavors, different with the rice and not like so many other DIPAs. Check it out!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Inaugural Quad Day: December 2, 2012

After being such a huge proponent of #IPADay and #StoutDay, I thought I'd create my own Beer Day. Because we all know that beer drinking needs some love and someone to crack a whip to make it all happen.

I picked the Belgian Quad as the focus of the newest and greatest holiday this side of Christmas, and it was no mistake that December 2 will be the annual celebration of this glorious day (it's my birthday too). Now I realize that there are some body builders that may mistake Quad Day for something it's not. Same thing with fans of Syracuse's Qadry Ismail (yeah, if you say it fast, sounds similar). And Cornell U and other universities have Quads too. But make no mistake this is a fake beer holiday and nothing else.

Anyway, this day is about you. I know you'll all run out and grab a Belgian (or Belgian-style) Quad, rush home and Tweet and Instagram about it all. It'll be like every other Sunday home alone with the kids outside and your spouse shopping. Except this has a purpose. Long Live The Quad!

It actually takes ginormous balls to brew a Quad. Anyone can do an OK Stout and an OK IPA, but if you brew a Quad and stick with it through production year after year, you are making a good product. A shitty Quad wont sell and is super-expensive to just be an ego act.

So... I hope you grabbed a Quad. Total Wine and other retailers are open on Sunday so you have all day, if not. Please comment your #QuadDay story activities here. Add links to photos, hell, even send me your photo to and I'll include them here. Feel free to buy me a birthday present too.

Quad Day starts in a few hours! (Disclaimer: feel free to drink Quads any other day and if you don't comment or even drink a Quad on Quad Day, you're not a bad person and don't dislike Quads, unless you just don't like the style).

Quad Day Photos:

Humboldt Brown aka Hemp Ale

I bumped into the local craft distributor rep at Total Wine recently. He was putting a few beers from the newest brewery to hit South Florida on the shelves. One called Hemp Ale caught my eye, and predictions were made that it would be a top seller. So I picked up a bottle of this Hemp Ale only to notice that the label calls it Humboldt Brown. Hmmm. It was surmised that packaging rules are different than label rules. So stupid. Anyway, seems like a gimmick from the start by brewer Nectar Ales in Paso Robles, California.

You guys remember Ofelia, right? Well, she's really interested in the highlights of this review. Go figure for someone that doesn't drink beer! I only bought one bottle but took a picture of the packaging to show you how it's marketed. As for the label, it does say this is an ale brewed with hemp. The artwork depicts a mountain and is very plain and boring.

Cocoa and nice roasted aroma with a touch of nuttiness. Cocoa and caramel malty sweetness come first. That is followed by some herbal bitterness to balance. Brown sugar, lightly burnt. By now I feel this is a little overly sweet yet still OK. Not exactly sure what hemp is supposed to taste like but I didn't find any flavors you wouldn't find in other brown ales.

Medium body, smooth but still with a little prickly carbonation. The 5.7% alcohol wasn't noticeable. Not a bad beer but fairly plain and forgettable, except for its name (assuming you bought yours with packaging and not a single). If you're hosting a frat party, grab a case. Otherwise it's good for a taste.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Budweiser Project Twelve Batch No. 23185

You guy have probably all heard how Budweiser launched a brewing competition to allow for some creativity at their breweries. I thought it was pretty funny since the only thing Bud does awesomely is make the same shitty beers identically in every corner of Earth. Greg over at Pour Curator actually asked Brewmaster Jane Killebrew (not "Kill a Brew, though they do that too; ba-ching) about that exact conundrum, and if she doesn't get elected to some political office some day for that answer, I'd be shocked! Go read it!

This competition called Project Twelve yielded three winners, each named for the zip code where the winners originally made it. I started with Batch No. 23185 created by Brewmaster Daniel Westmoreland of Bud's Williamsburg, Virginia brewery. The label notes this to be a light amber lager aged on bourbon staves and vanilla beans.

Sweet grain aroma with a touch of vanilla and oak. Grainy corn continues into the flavors with some watery bourbon in the background. You know, like what's left after you finish your bourbon on the rocks and let the remaining cubes melt. Vanilla is noticeable as is some drying oak flavor. Those two flavors start to build throughout, almost reaching annoying status.

Basically, this tastes exactly like Bud. Watery and bland but not as refreshing. I think the carbonation could have been better too. A bit too sweet as well. The 5.5% alcohol isn't really noticeable at all. Not horrible, but neither is Bud. I'd say plain 'ol Bud has the edge but at least these guys are trying.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Samuel Adams White Christmas

Black Friday? White Christmas! You see what I did there? Yep, I'm drinking Samuel Adams White Christmas brewed by the Boston Beer Company in Boston, Cincinnati or Breinigsville, Pennsylvania. I'm pretty sure this is a new beer this year but am not sure if it comes in a mixed 12 pack or not. Seems like that's where new beer entries make their first appearance, though I bought a single myself.

Anyway, since this is supposed to be "as crisp as the first snowfall of the year", I'm going to get myself started. I hope that you enjoy how I spiced up this spiced beer by photographing it with Frosty. I should be working for some famous studio by now, I know. Enjoy before March (2013).

Orange and lemon aroma with a ton of wheat. Some spices come through as a mish-mash of holiday baking spices, too. Mmm. The flavors are really pleasant, far outshining the aroma and easily destroying neutral expectations!

Fresh baked pie crust meets cinnamon and allspice. Really nice and juicy orange flavors come next, both sweet and with a citrus rind kick. That citrus helped tone away the initial sweet entry. Wheat flavors and textures are prominent throughout as well. Very creamy.

Good body and carbonation. Great flavors. The 5.8% alcohol really isn't noticeable--perhaps a little dryness on the finish. If this isn't part of a mixed 12 pack, I nominate it to headline the next one and will happily offer my opinion on which others to be its cousins. Nice beer, Sam!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Shiner Holiday Cheer

This will be my third year checking out Shiner Holiday Cheer, a Bavarian-Style Dark Wheat brewed by Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. Here's the one from last year. Personally, it doesn't bother me to repeat some beers, despite this being brewed with the same recipe year after year. A lot of people like it and palates change. Maybe my opinion will change. Maybe a new regular reader never saw the old one. Who knows?

Same label: red, white and green. Same story on the back. Same mystery word: Krausening. "Give One To Someone You Love!" Now, before we get started, remember that this beer is brewed with peaches and pecans, so prepare yourself mentally.

Caramel sweet aroma to start. When you take a second and third whiff, you really start to smell the peach and orange jam-like aroma through the malty sweetness. Pretty nice.

Sweet peach flavors meet pecans exactly as advertised. The fruity sweetness is slightly syrupy, but some nutty flavors and hoppy bitterness balance that out well. Caramel and a little spice round out the flavor profile. Excellent carbonation, flavorful, extremely interesting and different. For sure check this out this winter.

Now, let me tell you a little holiday story to give you some cheer. When I was 18 years old, I was a pretty good athlete, almost undefeated in scholastic wrestling (I put "scholastic" so Ed Roberts wouldn't get all excited about "Macho Man" or something). Toward the end of the season, I was to wrestle this guy, last name Peachy. I ended up losing after a terrible performance. Well, my football coach decided not to lose the opportunity to get under my skin. As I boarded the bus for the Regional tournament, he handed me a can of peaches and asked if I was going to lose that weekend.

Peachy stuck as a nickname for several months, through the end of the school year. When we played the summer football all-star classic a few months later, the real Peachy actually stayed at the home of one of my best friends during our practice week. Was pretty funny. That was 22 years ago. The end.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro

I just cracked open a Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro brewed by Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Colorado. That's when I immediately followed the instructions on the label to Pour Hard, Admire, and Enjoy! In fact, I just turned the bottle completely upside down. And it was very cool, the way the beer bubbled up into a frothy head.

The label lists its designer and artist, but I'm thinking for this particular bottle, the brewery may have been taken advantage of. The label is nothing more than the name of the beer in white letters on top of a black background. I suppose that someone had to pick the different fonts and come up with the catchy trademarked phrase "America's Stout," but come on...

Chocolate and coffee contrast with a roasted background aroma. So smooth. Coffee flavors to start with a creamy chocolate weaving in and out. Definitely a bit flat--wish had some carbonation. Some sweetness is there behind a light bitter roast. Some cherry nuances also play their way into the flavor profile.

Simple, awesome flavors all bundled in a beer with amazing texture. A long coffee finish lingers far after the beer is gone. Quite the delicious morsel here. Check it out!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Due South Craft Beer Dinner at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza

Last night, my wife and I headed up to Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza in Pompano Beach for their craft beer dinner with Due South Brewing. I guess I did a decent job covering the Holy Mackerel dinner back in February as I was invited back by Anthony's for this encore. In fact, if you keep reading, there will even be a little contest to win a $25 gift card Anthony's gave me.

Let's see. Yes, I was on time. Upon entering, I spotted the guy in charge and worked my way over to where we were to be seated. When what to my wondering eyes should appear but... Paul Castronovo posing for pictures with owner Anthony Bruno and other guests!

Most of the other gang was on time too, including a few I had never met in person. I met and sat next to Dori Zinn, who I am sure already beat me to posting her article for New Times of Broward. I met long-time Twitter pal and prior guest poster Jarret, who turned out to be a very fun guy. I finally met Brewkkake's wife as well. And there were probably half a dozen others that I already knew, too: Joel, Leah, Ed, Tony, MikeLovesBeer, etc. Was nice!

Mike Halker Welcomes Everyone
Shortly after 7 pm, one of the restaurant managers got everyone's attention, gave a short welcome, and introduced Due South's Founder Mike Halker. Mike talked about the quick growth of the brewery, to the point now where they now brew around 7,000 gallons of beer per month. Quick growth yet this was still the first beer dinner for Due South. Pretty cool!

I was right near where Mike made his opening speech, so when he finished, he stopped by the table to say hello and for a quick chat before the food started coming out. I asked him about the beers on the menu, since three of them were not available when I went to the brewery's opening 6 months ago. Mike picked out the Cafe Ole Espresso Porter from those three to talk about and seemed relieved that they were able to complete brewing it on time for the dinner. In fact, they finished it the day before. Caramel Cream Ale was the only beer I had tried prior, and I recalled out loud Mike previously mentioning his wife likes it. Here he just chuckled and said, "We'll always have Caramel Cream Ale!"

And with that, he was gone... and a glass of Caramel Cream Ale was in front of me. Funny how life works! So dinner was finally on. Anthony's started with their Classic Italian Salad alongside their Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Salad. It seemed there wasn't enough dressing, but deep down, it was there and really delicious. Lettuce, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives, very nice. And thick-sliced tomatoes with mozzarella? Oh, yeah!

The next dish was controversial. Controversial mostly because of beer order, which I'll comment on later. Anthony's Meatballs with Ricotta and Oven-Roasted Chicken wings were served with the potent Cat 5 IPA. Since the beer has almost 9% alcohol in it and almost 100 IBU, we were given a smaller pour than the other beers. I watched and listened to the others at our table as they tried this beer. Each sheepishly said they didn't really like it and went back to drinking their remaining Caramel Cream Ale.

I wasn't really surprised by that reaction to the Cat 5 IPA. It is a bold and bitter beer, and you can certainly taste and feel the alcohol. It's totally for Hop Heads and not exactly approachable for people that don't love the style. Someone said had a medicine feel. Personally, the reason they didn't like it is the reason I did. And I thought it was a great beer to go with the very rich dinner course. Cleaned the palate perfectly!

In the end, I made sure no Cat 5 IPA went to waste at my table, if you know what I mean. I even (unintentionally) interrupted Dori's interview with Mike Halker to be sure she didn't want any more.

The next course included Anthony's Pork Ribs with Vinegar Peppers paired with Due South's Cafe Ole Espresso Porter. This beer was a straight-up coffee bomb, aroma and flavor. My table really enjoyed this one. Besides the coffee, there was a nice roast and a little smoke and no annoying bitterness. It was very smooth and a little flat but really worked with the spicy dish. Those vinegar peppers were in large part jalapenos.

The final course of the night was Anthony's pizzas paired with Florida Blonde Ale. We got to try the Roasted Cauliflower, Mozzarrella and Tomato, and Traditional "Well Done" pizzas. The cauliflower was awesome and had a nice spiciness to it. The beer was light and fruity and refreshing.

Some of the people there suggested they might have liked to see this beer pairing come second, before the Cat 5 IPA, because their palates were somehow wrecked by the big IPA. And I hear that. But usually that happens when there are more than four beers you are trying and you're not eating that much food. For me, the food easily balanced out the beers and each beer was easy to taste the flavors despite the order (and remember I had four of those IPAs).

I had a great night, a nice meal and terrific beers. When one of these beer dinners comes to your local Anthony's, you should definitely go! For $30 you get a lot of delicious food and four beers. And your tip and tax is included in that already. This is the no-brainer of the century. Be sure to look for Due South beers locally as well, and if you can, stop by the brewery in Boynton Beach!

Now, remember I said there was a contest? To enter, you must go to this two-paragraph article I wrote yesterday and comment there your thoughts on my "shirt theory". Yes, it's related to the Anthony's dinner. If you comment here, it doesn't count. Your comment can be funny, sarcastic, agree or disagree, I don't care. Do keep it PG 13 since that is not my website. I will pick the comment I like best as the winner of the $25 gift card to Anthony's next Wednesday afternoon. Your comment must be made by noon that day, Eastern time. Oh, and be sure to leave some way of contacting you in case you win.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pub Trivia

I was recently approached by University Games to see if I'd be interested in reviewing their newest party game called Pub Trivia. As a guy that grew up playing all versions of Trivial Pursuit and a card-carrying member of that Alex Trebek show, I didn't hesitate to give two thumbs up.

When I say recently, I mean about a month ago, but come on, that's recent when you're trying to get a bunch of people together for a game. But today I suggested we play over a few freshly procured Sierra Nevada Celebrations with the Penn State/Nebraska game on in the background. Sold! A few drank wine and a few had Jack and Coke but whatever. (Gotta get rid of that JD somehow).

The game is simple yet very fun. I was the host and a player, not an easy task since some of the "grading" of the score sheets is subjective. But I'm a pretty fair guy. Let me tell you that some of the wrong answers were the best answers all afternoon--we were cracking the hell up many times.

There are five categories: History/Geography, Entertainment, Sports/Recreation, Science/Nature/Tech, and Anything Goes. As host, I chose that last category first. Each team gets an answer card which is organized by different sections to match the questions. Basic knowledge, top 4, quotes, educated guess, and even a drawing are part of each round.

Since there are five categories, there are five rounds. Did you really ask me if we kept score? Of course! This is a competitive household! After each round, there is a tally for the teams. Most points at the end wins the game. I thought the scores would be higher and the game would move faster, but I swear one game lasted nearly an hour (beer and bathroom breaks included).

I staged a few pictures in between games and even took some out on the porch so I could skip the camera flash. I think my neighborhood buddies will definitely be over again, and I'm thinking about taking the game with me to a few places.

I do think that had any of my friends that are not long-time US residents or citizens shown up, they might not have enjoyed the trivia part. There were a lot of pop culture questions I feel they may not easily answer. My Colombian wife has lived here for 15 years and she was having a hard time. But whatever, I understand. University Games made the game difficult enough to keep trivia people happy! And for that, I thank them. So check it out!

Here is the product from Amazon...