Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Cracked open an Austrian Pilsner today. Yep! I'm drinking Grieskirchner Pils brewed by Brauerei Grieskirchen in Grieskirchen, Austria. After liking the way I handled their Collesi line, the US importer asked if I'd like to give three beers from this brewery a whirl. You know what I said already, right?
The 11.2 ounce bottle is green. Cap is a twist-off. Whatever. Label is shiny silver with some green and gold accents. In the center is a black and white countryside landscape scene, rolling hills with a small village. 4.8% alcohol.
Nice grainy sweet aroma, floral as well with a little grass and spiciness. The flavors are exactly as the aroma promised. Sweet grain in the beginning is perfectly balanced by some grassy and spicy hops. A little toasted malt and a touch of lemon add some nuances as well. Nice carbonation and a good body, not too light or watery at all.
Refreshing, quite clean. Simple yet with some depth. An enjoyable easy drinker that you could easily put away a bunch. I'm not sure the price point, but if it's competitive with the US market, I'd for sure check it out!
Saturday, July 28, 2012
I just visited the new Total Wine store in Plantation, FL a few days ago. You should totally check it out. Nice place! Scanning the beer aisle, I found a beer that my home store of Pembroke Pines never bothered to order. Of course I am talking about Humming Ale brewed by Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco, California.
This beer is packaged in the unique Anchor bottles. Around the neck is a story, very difficult to read. Its micro print, length and the fact that I have to keep rotating the bottle make it very hard to follow. Anyway, I took one for the team. Apparently, Humming is a word that described beer way back in olden times. Reminiscing about their first location at 1705 Mariposa Street, Anchor made this beer to commemorate the anniversary of making their first beer there. You know, back in the craft beer olden days? Bonus info: mariposa means butterfly in Spanish. Yes, mi esposa es Colombiana. LOL.
Doughy, bready aroma with some light citric bitterness. The flavors are also doughy to begin with, but I was a little shocked by the sourness that shines through. After a second or two, you start to taste more lemony citrus bitterness. Acidic and citric, hoppy with a little pine. Sharp and not well-balanced at all.
The mouthfeel is extremely crisp, lightly puckering, and palate cleansing. Seriously, this is all about the sourdough. Not bitter like an IPA or even a Pale Ale, which is where I believe this beer is classified. It's sour, and that one-dimensional aspect is something I can't get past. I didn't hate this but I'd also look for something else. Like the Liberty Ale right next to it!
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The famous Ed Roberts dared me to review Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita the other day. Heck, he even bought me the 24 ounce double-can. Basically, this is a pre-mixed margarita with some Bud Light Lime added to, I guess, spruce it up? Budweiser suggests on the can that you might try it over ice. I didn't.
Per 12 ounces (keeping in mind this is a double can (so you'd multiply by 2 if drinking it all)): Calories, 330, Carbohydrates, 43.7g, Protein, <1g, Fat, 0.0g. Call the doctor! Diabetes in a can! You can also call them with Questions or Comments: 1-800-342-5283 (DIAL-BUD).
Since I was so into the Bud Light Lime when I checked it out three years ago, this was a no-brainer to try. Decent carbonation. Lemony, pungent aroma. Super sweet flavors, sharp and sugary. Lemon and lime juice squeezed directly from the plastic things in the fridge, not fresh at all. In fact, this has a strange manufactured taste in the middle. Just muddled dirtiness. And not only is it really sweet, it's also salty.
This "product" has nothing to do with beer. But it only faintly resembles a margarita too. Yes, it has the limey thing going on. OK. Duh. The 8% alcohol is completely hidden. Wonder how long it'll take before Lime-A-Rita drinkers figure out this is potent. "I only had one, Officer!" Luckily, the can does state "Contains Alcohol". Seriously, I wouldn't have known until the effects hit. Anyway, the finish is very drying, leaving a cotton-mouth like you've never had. Dump and pass.
My theory is that Bud put this on the market to replace that despicable Rascal's Wild Red they pump out. You'll probably recall my prediction that Wild Red would be off the market by Labor Day, so that's still in play. So back to their tag line, "Margarita With a Twist". The only twist this margarita has is the one with the circulating toilet water. Good-bye!
Oh, as I was doing this review, one of my friends sent me this Bud Light Lime card. Pretty funny.
And one more. I am a serious lover of lemon-lime drinks. You guys have no idea how much 7UP and Sprite I drink, so for this "beverage" to be too much is pretty amazing!
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
|5 Napkin Burger Chalk Art|
I arrived with Ed Roberts, and he and I immediately spotted Holy Mackerel Brewer Bob Gordash and his wife Carolina over by the bar. We chatted with them for a while before being seated for the dinner. We actually sat with them for dinner, too, and chatted beer and food and other normal-people conversation topics.
Our host, 5 Napkin Burger Manager Peter, gave an introduction to the dinner and his menu, then introduced Bob to the guests. Bob talked about his background and the three beers we'd be drinking with the dinner, along with some philosophizing and storytelling. The other guests had some beer drinking and brewing experience, so there were some interesting conversations throughout the evening as we sampled Bob's beers.
We started the evening off with some Hors D'Oeuvres paired with Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale, a Belgian-style Strong Ale. Bob let us know that all of his beers so far are under the Belgian influence (so to speak), but that an American IPA and even a Braggot might be in the works.
We were served Vegetable Maki Rolls, Wasabi Deviled Eggs with Sriracha, Grilled Chipotle Shrimp, and Hell's Kitchen "Boneless Wings" on skewers. If I had to pick favorites, they would be the wings and and deviled eggs. I loved the spiciness that the food had and how it matched up perfectly with some spiciness in the beer. Noticeable yeast, great fruitiness and easy-drinking refreshment, also dangerous at 8.5% alcohol. I'll let you all in on a little secret too--I helped the Pembroke Pines Total Wine store open this morning at 9 and grabbed a 4-pack of this beer to go! Yeah!
The first course of the meal was Mussels Steamed in Special Golden Ale. I honestly don't remember the last time I had mussels, but these were very good. The sauce in the bottom of the bowl was really delicious and the garlic bread worked great with the dish as well. We had the same beer with the mussels and again, I really enjoyed the beer.
As we were eating our mussels, we were given the option of 5 Napkin Burger's Barbecue Burger or Veggie Burger. I chose the Veggie Burger this week to check it out. As the guests were finishing their mussels, we were served the next beer, Holy Mackerel Panic Attack, a bigger brother to the first beer. Nice honey sweetness meets some Belgian yeast flavors and spiciness. And it's hard to notice, but you should be aware of the 10% alcohol in this guy.
Bob said that since this beer isn't quite as refreshing as his first one, it would be hard to drink as many. While he is right about the refreshment, mainly due to the bigger body and sweetness, I'd challenge the "drinking more than a few" part. LOL. Another thing Bob said he liked to do was mix the first two beers in an equal ratio to make Psycho Phish. We all did it, and I guess it took a little sweetness from the straight Panic Attack. Anyway, was fun.
Veggie Burger was served with fries, a delicious onion ring and one of those fancy tater tots stuffed with mashed potatoes. My burger was served on some sort of whole grain bun with some great pickles. Quite delicious, and I ate the whole thing. However, I reaffirmed that I am a meat eater after Ed gave me a taste of his Barbecue burger. Nice cheesy zing on that one!
Finally, it was dessert time. How about a Mack in Black Float made with Mack in Black beer and served with a glass of Mack in Black? Hell, yeah! Vanilla ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate shavings just floating in a mug of beer. This is the life. Luckily, I also paced my eating better than last week. Plenty of room for this pairing. Plenty of roasted coffee flavors from the beer meet the ice cream, just delicious. You will not miss the pomegranate pop in your mouth either, another feature of this beer.
I had a great time. Nice food. Nice beer. Nice company. Chef David made another appearance to an ovation. Peter chatted with us afterward as well. I asked him about Bourbon dinners as well since they have quite an extensive selection. He said they want to do them here in Miami and that 5 Napkin Burger already does them in New York. Stay Tuned!
Saturday, July 21, 2012
When Ed Roberts was over the other day for dinner, he brought along Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic brewed by Brasserie Cantillon in Brussels, Belgium. This particular wine-sized bottle was bottled on October 22, 2008. Corked and capped. An impressionistic type scene is shown on the front label, a tree in front of a rural town and homes. On the back, a short set of expectations is given by Master Brewer Jean Van Roy.
Ed took off the cap to find some frightening green discoloration on its underside and around the rim touching the cork. He was calm, but you could tell he was freaking out a little on the inside. So we cleaned all that gunk off with a wet paper towel and proceeded to uncork the beer. Pop! Nice carbonation, and no gushing explosion.
Three pours, including one for my unsuspecting rookie wife. After she gave the most horrible look you've ever seen, I had two glasses for myself. Yep, double fisting Cantillon Kriek! As it turned out, the cork did its job and protected the beer, but I think it was a good timing decision to open it now rather than later.
Sour, tart and a little fruity. Definitely makes you make that sour face. The End! Actually, that's not far from it, but I do have a little more to say. The color was somewhat of a rosé, pink peachy color (sorry there are no photos). An aggressive tart vinegary type flavor marries sour cherries throughout the entire bottle, ever sip. Assertive and militant until the end. The finish was very dry. Nice carbonation heightens the flavors even more. A great beer for sour lovers. Totally enjoyable!
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
A few days ago, Ed Roberts brought his family over to the house for some burgers and BBQ chicken. Ask Ed about the security procedure at the community where I live, LOL. He also brought two really nice beers. §ucaba, a barrel-aged barley wine brewed by Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles, California, was the dessert of the evening (before Ed had me try some Angel's Envy Bourbon, that is).
Section Sign. Let's see any other beer makers claim to have this name already! (Prince isn't making beer now is he?).
This 22 ounce bottle comes packaged in its own box, part of their Proprietor's Reserve Series. Actually the bottle says it's No. 002 in that series. An informative story on the back of the box let's you know that after ten years in business, Firestone Walker started a barrel aging program, around 2006. Each year they have released limited amounts of some of those beers on draft, and apparently this one was so popular that they bottled it.
§ucaba is a barrel-aged barleywine, aged 11 months in barrels that used to hold spirits, wines and other beers. The story concludes with some expectations and is signed by Adam Firestone, David Walker and Matt Brynildson. The bottle is elegant as well, not flashy at all, and provides all the stats for the beer. 2012.
So after the smoky BBQ was turned off and the burgers were consumed, we tasted this beer. The kids were busy doing their own review of a cream soda, getting a mega sugar fix, followed by basically exhausting themselves over the course of the night.
Before I forget to let you know, there are no pictures of the beer in the glass. Sorry, but don't bother asking. I know you guys have great imaginations though so it shouldn't really matter anyway. WOW! What a fabulous aroma! Toffee, butter, vanilla, sweet baking bouquet. Absolutely awesome.
The flavors, also spectacular. Sweet and smooth delicious beginning. Toffee is definitely the driving flavor of this beer, quite excellent. There are definitely plenty of woody, rum and bourbon-like characteristics there as well. Raisins, molasses, more yum. Rich with some great body with a creamy texture I still dream about a week later. Yes, there is 12.5% alcohol in this guy, but that alcohol is a highlight while at the same time being dangerously well disguised.
Complex, wonderful sipper, and one of the best beers I've ever had! I recently tried a bottle of the world-famous Hunahpu, and this beer, well, did one of those reverse Flying Triangle Choke MMA submission things on that beer. Even my wife loved this beer.. "Now this I like!" and she said that after almost spitting out the Cantillon we had earlier in the night. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
|Why, yes. That is Corey from Florida Beer out front!|
After rubbing elbows with the restaurant and brewery brass for 10 or 15 minutes, we were seated with the other guests. It was an intimate crowd, so it was easy to communicate with everyone there. General Manager Carlos welcomed everyone, introduced himself and his staff, and told us a little about the dinner we were about to eat. He then turned the floor over to Corey from Florida Beer Company. Shockingly, this was the first time I'd ever met Corey, after all these years. And Carlos sat down with Ed and I for the evening. Nice company.
Corey introduced craft beer in general and set some expectations for how his beers would complement the different courses. He explained how the beers would either play off similar flavors in the food or contrast them and set them apart. That's when glasses of Key West Southernmost Wheat were served.
Alongside Southernmost Wheat, four different appetizers were offered. For me, the Pickles and Pastrami offering was the most interesting and definitely had the best flavors. I also enjoyed the lobster and endives. The Pork Taquitos and Spinach on Crostini were also very good.
Wow! I better pace myself for the real three courses, right?
Next up. Key West Sunset Ale paired with Bacon, Ale and Gruyere Soup also made with the same beer. This was one of the most popular pairings of the evening. Carlos also seemed to really enjoy the way the Sunset Ale worked in the actual cooking of the meal, how the malty sweetness took some of the bitter edge off of the Gruyere. And he also let everyone know that moving forward, that soup would be made with this beer from Florida Beer.
Hello Florida Lager. This beer was paired with either their Avocado Ranch Burger or their Veggie Burger. Carlos told us that the Avocado Ranch Burger was their best seller, so it was a no-brainer to order that one. He also let us know about how Chef Andy D'Amico came to start the 5 Napkin Burger restaurants. Apparently, his fine French restaurant in New York started offering a burger. Not just any burger, one that was so popular that it inspired and named the new 5 Napkin Burger restaurant.
Before the burgers were served, we were shocked to see multiple side dishes. Fries, spiced fries, onion rings, and these really cool tater tots with mashed potatoes inside. ALL. PILED. HIGH. As we sat in awe, our beautiful burgers arrived. Lots of guacamole too, mmm. Honestly, I've never heard so many people order medium-rare, but I must say those people seemed really satisfied. Maybe next time! I finished my burger, but I think many of the guests were absolutely stuffed by then, including myself.
|Mood lighting was on. Sorry it's a little dark.|
After all the food was served, Carlos had Chef David come out and say hello. Was a nice touch. Corey was looking for favorite beers and pairings for the night. I heard several people say the soup while others mentioned the dessert. For me, I liked the other two pairings better, the appetizers and burger. I remembered the beers better than the last time I had them, and I think they all were great with the paired food.
If you're not convinced by now, you probably were just skimming this article. However, I think what you should do right now is sign up for next week's beer dinner featuring Holy Mackerel Beers. I'm sure you won't be let down!
On the way out, we were given a Florida Beer pint glass. My wife was thrilled with that. Perhaps I'll save it for my first glass of Bermuda Triangle (Devil's Triangle) IPA, the newest beer that Florida Beer is working on!
Here are some additional pictures. Enjoy.
|Child Friendly, but not for the beer dinners|
Saturday, July 14, 2012
I decided today was the right moment to open my Bottleworks 13th Anniversary Ale brewed by Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, California. This "behemoth" of a beer was brewed with 13 grains and 13 hops, but could only manage a wuss 11% alcohol. LOL. Those grains and hops are listed on the bottle, which you can see below. On the front of the bottle is a giant 13 between the names of both breweries. Simple yet classic design on Big 22. You are also told this is part of the Imagination Series. Cellar at 55°F or below.
Lots of cocoa and caramel, sweet, milky, creamy aroma. Similar flavors in the beginning too, mainly cocoa powder and caramel, along with a bit of spice. Some raisin fruity sweetness is also prominent. Now, don't be surprised by the hefty dose of alcohol you are about to taste and feel. Quite boozy with lots of heat and just pure unfettered alcohol.
Coffee flavors synergize with some annoying roasted malts, smoke and a light char to make for an unpleasant repeating flavor profile in the middle. Medicinal cherries with some bitter pine come next. This beer has zero cohesion and is all over the place with flavors that don't work well together.
More alcohol, with some burn and dryness. Hot. Well, at least the initial sweetness didn't go unchecked. Hoppy citrus rind bitterness can also be found. Repeat everything. For me, the alcoholic roasted char and medicinal cherry alcy aspects of this beer were too much. There were good flavors but there were at least as many bad ones. Pass.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
|Florida Beer Swamp Ape IPA|
A seated three-course dinner will then be served featuring Ale and Gruyere Soup followed by a choice of their Avocado Ranch Burger or Veggie Burger and by Porter Granite for dessert. The meal will be complemented by Florida Beer's Key West Sunset Wheat, Key West Sunset Ale, Florida Lager and Swamp Ape IPA. All very nice beers.
The dinner courses include Mussels Steamed in Ale followed by a choice of 5NB's Barbecue Burger or Veggie Burger and a Watermelon Wheat Float for dessert. Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale, Panic Attack and Mack in Black beers will be served with these offerings. First hand, these are interesting and delicious beers, and I'm sure they will pair perfectly with this menu.
I hope you can make both dinners, and if not, pick at least one. The cost for each dinner is $35 per person or you can attend both for $60, with tax and gratuity included. Purchase tickets here. Tell your friends and let me know if you'll be there by either leaving a comment here or letting me know on Twitter. I'll be sure to say hello at the event.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I recently stumbled on Cucumber Saison brewed by Cigar City Brewing Company in Tampa, Florida. I've heard some chatter about this beer over the past few months so decided to give it a whirl. My wine-sized bottle has a green-hued label. The bolded name dominates with a run-down farm shack and old farm machinery sitting in a field behind it.
To the side, a story in extra-micro print tells the story of the gherkin, trying to build it up from being more than just an afterthought on a salad. There is reference to cucumbers being used to "justify obscene spa service fees" which made me LOLOLOLOL. I was thinking the exact same thing about adding them to beers! Dated June 2012.
Aroma is terrific. Classic saison with cucumbers on top. Lemony tart and hay and yeast. The cucumber addition is fabulous... so far.
Wow! Whoever said cukes taste like water or nothing is a big fat idiot! (Introspection is valuable sometimes, you know.) This beer starts with pungent cucumber flavor domination right from the start! After those flavors begin to subside, a very nice underlying saison appears, magically. Lemony, yeasty and with a touch of some wet blanket funk.
Some peppery spice and even a little herbal dill come as you finish each sip. Carbonation is creamy and nice. Though the cucumber certainly grows on you as you drink an entire big boy bottle, I'd have preferred that addition to be a little more subtle and complementary to the awesome base saison. This was a fairly simple and straightforward beer, though I certainly appreciate the balls it took to say "cucumber" during the Cigar City brainstorming meeting.
Interesting, refreshing (especially from the Sorachi Ace hops), and I'm glad I tried it. Check it out!
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Today I finally opened my bottle of Hunahpu's Imperial Stout brewed by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida. Ed Roberts grabbed this 2011 bottle for me last year when it was released, and it's been sitting comfortably in a Bacardi box in the corner ever since. I guess if I need a reason for the season, it is my brother's birthday (though he is 1000 miles away and I might not even call him, LOL).
So, yeah. This is the famous Hunahpu's Imperial Stout. It is so famous that I bought the website domain name when I first acquired the bottle. If any of you are super fans and can think of something better than I could create, make me an offer for it. http://www.hunahpu.com/
The wine-sized bottle has a depiction of Hunahpu on the front and was designed by Juan Alvarez of Humblewear.com. The front and side panels both let you know that this stout is aged on Peruvian cacao nibs, ancho and pasilla chiles, cinnamon and Madascar vanilla beans. Sounds fabulous to me!
Awesome color, especially the mocha brown head. And OMG, this is one of the most fabulous beer aromas ever. Smells like rainbows made from puppy kisses! (Feel free to quote me on that.) Sweet milk chocolate comes first, overlapped by some nice spicy chiles and a good dose of cinnamon. Hints of vanilla and licorice also do not escape the nose. Pure love.
Sweet chocolate flavors start and are immediately followed by some lightly bitter roasted coffee. Good balance. Spicy cinnamon comes next, very noticeable, and all of those flavors are trailed by a low-grade chile-pepper heat/burn. Thick body. Low carbonation.
The chocolate is not as powerful as the aroma suggested and definitely not as sweet. With each sip, the peppery heat builds, though never gets annoying. Underneath the main advertised flavors, which really are the stars, plenty of prune and cherry flavors pop. It's like they were brought forth by Hunahpu himself (that is a euphemism for the 11.5% alcohol, right?).
The alcohol is very well disguised, and though the finish is spicy and heated, I'd attribute that to the peppers and not the alcohol. The finish and aftertaste show some peppery and vegetal flavors that are not awesome, and though they do linger, it's not a total turnoff. Overall, you have a complex, interesting, flavorful beer. I'm glad I finally tried it and it's definitely pretty cool that people worship one of our local beers!
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Tuesday afternoon at 3 pm, can't think of anything more I'd rather be doing than drinking a Weyerbacher Seventeen, celebrating the brewery's anniversary: 1995 - 2012. Congratulations. The label is simple, not their new artsy stuff yet, and just shows a giant XVII behind the spelled out name. You are also made aware that this is a saison brewed with orange, lemon and grapefruit peels, as well as pink peppercorns.
An aroma of peaches and yeast and spices, all soaked in booze. Very fruity flavors kick things off, sweet peaches and oranges. The Belgian yeast is very prominent as well, start to finish. While it's not hot and annoying burny, there is a helluva boozy kick from the 10.5% alcohol. If you read the link I put above, Weyerbacher has a self-imposed alcohol minimum of 10% for its anniversary series. Hmm.
After a few sips and getting used to the sweetness, you will be able to start picking out the zesty lemon and citrus flavors. Bitter yet candied, still able to help take some of the sweet edge off. Cloves and coriander and pepper add nuances to the spice basket.
The alcohol really does a nice job making the flavors stand out, especially the fruits, like how spiked fruits in a melon bowl might taste. Big body, heavy, chewy, sticky. Very nice flavors, though this is anything but refreshing, and is obviously a style all its own. Don't buy it because you enjoy the light airy tartness of saisons, because this is not your beer. Perfect beer for a Miami afternoon in July (yeah, I'm inside, of course, duh).
Update 10 minutes later: I thought my review was done, but I'm still drinking the end of the glass. The alcohol heat in my chest is building up, not necessarily in a bad way, but you can feel it.