Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hocus Pocus

Today I grabbed a bottle of Hocus Pocus, a wheat beer brewed by Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont. This was sent to me by the brewery to check out. This beer was previously retired but was brought out of retirement by popular vote. As the winner, it will now be included in Magic Hat's Variety Pack. Magic Hat worked with voter registration organization Headcount to not only select this winner but also increase voter registration as we approach the Presidential elections in November.

The label is pretty whimsical, featuring a bee that seems to be mesmerized by a swirling circular pattern below him. OK. Let's check this out.

Wheat and dough and a little lemon aroma, not too strong. Lemon and citrus flavors stand out at the beginning. Hoppy, lightly bitter to even a touch of sourness. There is a little wheat but not so much along with hint of crackers and toast.

Good carbonation provides a nice little nip at the palate. Fairly thin but pretty refreshing. I'm about to take a bunch of stuff inside the house and garage so this asshole Isaac doesn't blow that shit all over Miramar, so this was just the motivation I needed.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pretty Things Meadowlark IPA -- Lost in the Beer Aisle Guest Post

You're in for a treat today. Apparently Josh from Lost in the Beer Aisle had minor surgery and some spare couch time, so he agreed to write another guest review. The last one was way back in July, 2010! And on top of that, fighting a PC that didn't work and doing a review from his phone? Yep!

So thanks to Josh. Despite the hard weekend and having the balls to have a vasectomy, he really manned up and came through with this review! Don't worry, dude. I fixed the typos.

Pretty Things Meadowlark IPA

It's a long boring weekend for me here in New England, nothing like the excitement Florida is having over Isaac! Not to say my weekend hasn't been without excitement; on Friday I had a vasectomy. I'm on doctor's orders to stay on the couch all weekend, thus the boredom. If you want to hear the gory details (pun intended), hop on over to Lost in the Beer Aisle where I'll be recapping it.

Luckily I am still allowed to drink beer while I recover. Tonight's brew is Pretty Things Meadowlark IPA. Pretty Things is a Massachusetts company. They are a bit gypsy-like, as they have no brewery of their own... they bounce around using contract brewers.

The Meadowlark poured an orangish hue with some decent head. It has a nice hoppy aroma. In the taste department it's packing a ton of hops, citrus with twist of floral. There is a great amount of malt helping to balance the brew out. The result is a sticky sweet hop profile. Pretty tasty!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Beer Tasting Paired With A Barbecue

Some of you know I had a Beer Tasting and Barbecue a few days ago with some of our friends. Well, I wrote about it here. You should totally try hosting one yourself if you haven't already. It was a lot of fun.

Here's the menu we tasted: Florida Beer Florida Lager. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale. Affligem Blond. Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale. Southern Tier Creme Brulee Imperial Stout. Tripel Karmeliet.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Samuel Adams Imperial White

Today I grabbed a bottle of Samuel Adams Imperial White brewed by The Boston Beer Company in Boston, Cincinnati or Breinigsville, Pennsylvania. Looks like I tried this beer before back in April, 2009. Let's see how this review compares. If memory serves me right, the label on this newest batch is different from the one I had before. The redesign includes an illustration of a Belgian Lion (as depicted on the Belgian Coat of Arms), though it looks a little bit mythological too. "Enjoy now or age it to develop rich and unique flavors." A short intro on the back says this beer "pushes out the boundaries of a witbier".

Rich banana aroma, buttery with perhaps just a hint of citrus and spice. Similar flavors. Rich, thick over-ripened banana flavors dominate the beginning, quite chewy too. Very sweet as well. Make no mistake about the boozy 10.3% alcohol showing itself either. Thick, to the point of syrupy consistency.

Wheat and coriander flavors are also very noticeable. The sweetness never really subsides and is never challenged by any bitter balance at all. The low-ish carbonation and alcohol don't really cut through either.

Definitely creamy and really nice flavors but too syrupy and sweet. The alcohol could be cut by a few percentage points as well, in my opinion, to have a more approachable beer. I guess taking the aging suggestion could be the answer to battling the alcohol, though.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Visit to The Riverside Market Cafe

I didn't make a very big splash at the Kona Big Wave Golden Ale beer launch a few nights ago. (That doesn't mean I wasn't entertaining (to myself at least); you can read though to see what I'm talking about.) After the Kona event, Ed Roberts very nicely took me on a tour of Ft. Lauderdale. Actually, we were just lost, but eventually he found The Riverside Market Cafe (I told them the website's not working). I had actually met the owner of the place earlier that evening at our first stop, not really that coincidentally.

Upon entering, we went over to the fridge to pick out a beer. Great craft selection! If you hadn't guessed already, The Riverside Market is known for being a craft beer establishment, and it was no mistake that we ended up there. Ed and I decided on Unibroue 2011 Grande Reserve 17, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale originally brewed for their 17th Anniversary in 2007. Yep, people apparently demanded they brew it again!

After opening our beer and grabbing a few frosty glasses, we each ordered a light snack. I had a tuna melt, and just because I know he loves food pictures, I'm going to post it here for Brewkkake.

Very cool place. A guy walked in with his Labrador Retriever. Another group brought their own board games. Everyone just kind of did their own thing, grabbed the beers they wanted, and opened them with the bottle openers hanging from the ceiling above each table.

So Ed and I thought our first bottle was awesome. Unibroue makes some great beers. In my opinion, they are totally underrated! This former Anniversary Beer of theirs came in a wine bottle with a very simple yet sophisticated looking label. The story on the back will set your expectations.

Excellent aroma of caramel and dark fruit. The flavors followed with more of the same caramel coupled with some raisins. The 10% alcohol added a slight touch of booze but was dangerously-well incorporated into the beer. Belgian yeast was very noticeable and worked well with the butter and brown sugar flavors. Sweet but not too sweet.

A little vanilla, some light spice and a cake-type flavor I couldn't stop thinking about. Not very much oak at all, but whatever. Complex and world class. Ed and I had another beer though it didn't even come near this one. Just forgettable.

After we decided to call it a night, we went up to the counter to pay. Honor System? Wow and Awesome! We told the cashier what we consumed and that was the end of it. Just as we were leaving, the previously mentioned owner, Julian Siegel, came back. We chatted and listened to a few minutes of his entertainment. Funny guy!

I'm sure you remember that I started my night out with that SOPRANOS NJ License Plate in the Bimini Boatyard parking lot right? Well, I decided to end this post with one I came across just as I was almost home. This red Beamer exited on Red Road in front of me. I followed it trying for a great photo for miles. You can probably see the DEW ME plate on the crappy photo below, but remember taking night iPhone pics while moving is not easy. And she turned into Hialeah before I got a better opportunity. Next time!

The Riverside Market Cafe can be found at 608 Southwest 12th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. (954) 358-8333

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kona Brewing Launches Big Wave Golden Ale

Last night I went to little gathering at Bimini Boatyard in Ft. Lauderdale. I was invited to the launch of Kona Brewing's Big Wave Golden Ale. This beer has been around for over a decade but is just now being released outside of Hawaii. From the moment I arrived, I knew I was in good hands. The car next to mine had a personalized NJ license plate "SOPRANOS". Seriously!

Anyway, Ed Roberts and I went into the little banquet area where he introduced me to many people from the industry: Kona Brewing employees, distributors, local retailers, etc. We also were given the option of Big Wave Golden Ale on draft or bottle. Since I never go out anywhere and I can buy the bottles to drink at home, I started with the draft. 

Even though I had plenty of drafts and bottles, I will likely write a better review of the beer at a later time, especially considering these guys sent me home with an entire case of it! But quickly, Big Wave has a nice fruity and grainy sweetness up front, then offers a citrus and hoppy balanced bitterness. Nice carbonation and refreshment. An easy-drinking summer beer, though this is a year-round offering (which is cool considering it's always summer here in Florida). The consensus of the guests was that the bottle had a little more citrus hoppy nip to it, but both were basically the same.

Now guess what? Kona didn't just pour a few beers in a stuffy room and call it a night. They invited Stand-Up Paddleboard Professional Girard Middleton to the party to provide lessons and a chance to try riding one in the marina behind the restaurant. I came prepared with my suit and towel and was surprised not that many people actually took the opportunity.

Oh, now I see why not that many people tried the Paddleboard... The outside patio of the restaurant had dozens of people watching in addition to all the beer industry people that you know secretly wanted me to fall in the water. Girard gave a 5-10 minute lesson on the basics: how to stand, how to hold the paddle, steering, form. And then it was time to give it a ride!

There is a video. If I can figure out how to upload it, I'll consider putting it here.
Getting on the board from the dock was probably the most challenging part, though it wasn't so difficult. If you try this out, you'll see that Girard's analogy to riding a bike was really good. Standing still was a lot harder than once you got moving. Back and forth between the yachts, a few hundred yards at a time, for 20 or so minutes. Girard said my form and technique were good and I didn't fall in. As an aside, I did take note from my video that I am way too fat and apparently need to do a lot more Paddleboarding!

The beer was really nice, but the Pro Paddleboarding lesson was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, my favorite part of the evening. Of course, the beer was even more refreshing after coming back from my lesson. Overall, the event was entertaining and enjoyable. Oh, and informative too (not sure I was supposed to pick up the Big Wave Golden Ale talking points and sales/marketing strategy packet or not, LOL).

Thanks to everyone I met and Ed for inviting me to tag along. We went to The Riverside Market Cafe afterward as well, but I'll leave that story for another day.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marionberry Hibiscus Gose

Yesterday I picked up Marionberry Hibiscus Gose brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Oregon. This beer is another member of their 924 Series, which have been mostly pretty strong. The label says this was brewed with coriander, marionberries and hibiscus. "Perfecting the Art of Tart" also leads me to believe this will have some pucker power. Bottled May 8, 2012.

Dark pink to maroon color, with a hint of neon in there. Loads of banana accompany some berry and wheat scents. This smells a little like Yankee Candle Shop, pretty nice. Again with the rich banana flavors opening things up, but that is quickly answered by some tart berry. The coriander is also noticeable right from the start.

Another flavor starts out slow but grows and grows. Tastes like vegetation and earth, perhaps flower petals, so I guess that's the hibiscus they added. It's a little weird and as the flavor builds, it becomes a little undesirable. Wheaty thick texture; carbonation could have been a little bit better. Just an OK beer though there are points for being interesting.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Batch 69 Double Cream Ale

Today I grabbed me a wine-sized bottle of Batch 69 Double Cream Ale brewed by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida. Yesterday morning, say around 9:01, my appearance disrupted the morning Total Wine employee meeting. First Customer! One of the guys up front thought fast and showed me that they had a few of these Batch 69 bottles behind the counter. At $8 I decided what the heck, despite knowing I'd be falling of the Bomber Boycott wagon.

The story on the back gives a little inspiration. This beer is "a nod to [Cigar City's] earlier, maybe slightly more immature days," which, based on the beer name and some of the other comments, I think means they don't laugh when someone says "69" anymore. The label is simple, showing the name Batch 69 on a background also made of a 69. Bottled July 30, 2012.

Nice head (good thing considering the name). Quite fruity, mostly peaches and apples. Sweet smelling candy and caramel. Peach cobbler flavor with a very noticeable kick from the 9% alcohol. Also fairly syrupy and very sweet. Apples with a mix of roses and flower petals and perfume come next. Fragrant in the mouth, if you know what I mean.

Very creamy texture, one of its best aspects. A little spicy with some vanilla beans too. Overall, too sweet, candy-like and sugary throughout. The alcohol was not integrated enough and kind of worked with the apple flavors to heighten an unpleasant fruity alcohol spirits-type flavor. The finish also has a funny taste of cardboard and paper. I was hoping with some warmth, the beer would be a little friendlier, but I'm sad to say that didn't happen. I'd save your $8 or buy a six pack of Florida Lager instead.

Hey Look! It's Still 69!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA

Every beer guy and gal has tried Stone Ruination. I first tried it in February, 2009, just a few months after starting this website. You can see that my palate was somewhat shocked, yet still intrigued. Fast-forward 3.5 years and Stone Brewing Company has come out with an anniversary edition of Ruination IPA. This one is their Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, marking 10 years since they first brewed the beer.

No, Stone didn't just change their fancy marketing and packaging and gargoyle pose for this beer. They also doubled the amount of hops used and cranked the alcohol content from 7.7% to 10.8%. Greg Koch made a video to tell you a little more, and it looks like he may have lost track of time while doing so. Don't you think he looks like he should be wrestling grizzly bears in the wilderness?

On the back of the bottle, some additional information, a little less braggy than usual. This story tells you about how Stone was one of the pioneers in creating Double IPAs. Russian River had their Blind Pig for several years, but Stone was the first to brew a full-time double IPA and bottle it. Seems to me like everyone does that style, but surprisingly, it really hasn't been around for so long. Very cool.

"Ruining Palates for Ten Years" is the catch-phrase on the front of the bottle, as a classic gargoyle prominently holds the fort. Enjoy Fresh. Big 22 bottle.

Big pine and tropical aroma. A little orange and citrusy too. Hoppy and a bit spicy. Very welcoming. The flavors are really intense and rich. Tropical fruity beginning, pineapples and peaches, extremely juicy and fresh. Pine trees come next, big and bold. Some hoppy and citrus and spicy bitterness, yes I can taste you. But there is still plenty of sweet caramel and malty balance.

The 10.8% alcohol is disguised almost to disappearance; however, there is definitely some heat, and I feel the alcohol enhances the peppery spiciness a bit. Oily, sticky texture, leaving a nice coat on the entire palate. Good body, nice carbonation.

The finish is the most bitter part about the beer. A little alcohol dryness shows toward the end too. NOT overly bitter as marketed but extremely delicious as promised. Juicy, oily, fresh, hoppy, enjoyable. Pick yourself up a bottle today!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Faithfull Ale

I finally decided to break out this bottle of Faithfull Ale brewed by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware. This is a Belgian-style Golden Ale made to celebrate Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary of their TEN album. That is a great album too! On theme, the beer has 20 IBU and has had TEN additions of black currants. I was doing a bit of celebrating myself, as I crowned today #BelgianStyleGoldenAleWithCurrantsDay over on Twitter! Pretty coincidental, right? Party on!

The label on my wine bottle has block letters that say PEARL JAM TWENTY with little pictures cut into the TWENTY. It's a little hard to make some of them out, but I think they are just a bunch of scenes from the band playing. A little story on the side sets your expectations about the beer.

Yeasty aroma, berries, fruit, fairly weak. Sweet fruit, malt and honey are the main flavors in the beginning. The Belgian yeast is also very noticeable. There is a spicy tangy thing going on, which seems to be working with the fruity flavors. I guess that is the currant additions being known.

A bit sweet overall, not unlike Eddie Vedder. Dogfish probably had that in mind when they brewed this beer. The 7% alcohol was a little annoying right out of the fridge, but as the beer warmed, it became indistinguishable. Carbonation is good. Finish is dry.

Again, as the beer warmed, in addition to losing the alcohol presence, I felt the flavors blended together better. The yeast really started to grow to a crescendo. The sweetness never faded. Pretty decent beer overall. Not all wacky Dogfish, more like sorta-normal Dogfish, which was OK with me. Check it out if you can.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kapsreiter Landbier

Here I am looking at Kapsreiter Landbier brewed by Brauerei Kapsreiter in Schärding, Austria.I thought this was going to be the third beer from Brauerei Grieskirchen that the US Importer sent me, but nope, this one stands alone. Different brewer.

The 16.9 ounce bottle has a swing cap style cork, like the ones that you see on Grolsch (or used to, at least). The label describes part of the brewing process: 8 days slowly fermented. 66 days matured in a stone cellar. There is an illustration of a farmer in a field of grain, with an endless amount of other fields behind him. He honestly better get to work! Production Number 02 11 0104.

Grainy, sweet aroma. Sweet grain flavors too. Light toastiness with some caramel and honey flavors as well. Quite sweet with little in the way of a hops answer or balance. Decent body, carbonation OK Not very refreshing and just too sweet to be enjoyable. I'd pass.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grieskirchner Weisse

I decided Grieskirchner Weisse brewed by Brauerei Grieskirchen (Google Chrome will translate it for you) in Grieskirchen, Austria would be the second of the series of three that I received from their US Importer. The Pils was delightful.

There is a no-frills label on this Metric Pounder (I made that up for 16.9 oz bottles. Hopefully I'm the first to coin the term.) As with their Pils, a small country scene is depicted, this time in color and focused on a tall church or town hall in the middle of the village.

Very cloudy and murky yellow color, typical. Plenty of wheat and tons of orange and banana in the aroma. Fruity, with a light spice, but not an overly strong aroma.

Wheat flavors are big up front and throughout. And unlike the aroma, the spices really pop. Cloves and coriander really stand out prominently as an orange flavor provides a nice palate to do so. There are also some banana flavors that are fairly noticeable.

A nice tangy zing is present and welcome, helping to brighten up an otherwise thick and wheaty coating on the mouth. However, I would have certainly preferred that to have been quite a bit sharper. Good balance, lightly sweet throughout. Carbonation was solid. Body decent. 5.1% alcohol not noticeable. Not a bad beer and it certainly grows on you as you drink the entire thing.