Friday, September 28, 2012

Interview With Woodford Reserve's Chris Morris

So guess what? I interviewed the Master Distiller of Woodford Reserve Bourbon! The interview is published on the Total Wine Blog in two parts. I tried to ask entertaining questions and Chris didn't disappoint with his answers.

I thought one question in particular about bourbon-barrel aging beers might capture the attention of you guys. Chris said, "Several craft breweries I have visited use various bourbon distillery sourced barrels and you can sure tell the difference between the beer aged in those and a Woodford barrel." Go read the interview to see his explanation as to why that might be.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

BrickellFest Presents Samuel Adams Octoberfest

So Sam Adams and Brickell Fest are throwing a party on October 5th and 6th from 4 pm until midnight each day. Why you ask? To celebrate Octoberfest over some awesome beers, music and food.

There will be 16 different Sam Adams beers available, including the awesome Utopias. Looking at the list, I'm going to say that after Utopias, I find their Noble Pils and Boston Lager among my favorites, and I'm looking forward to trying Hazel Brown and their Angry Orchard cider line.

Anyway, I'll be there Saturday evening drinking beer and signing autographs until they ask me to stop. But you can ask later in the parking lot if you want too. There will also be spirits floating around. No not that kind. Jagermeister and Patron Spirits! I'm thinking everyone will find a beer or cider they like first though.

Read this poster carefully for some great deals and promotional codes; then get some tickets and program your GPS as follows:

1001 South Miami Ave.
Miami, Florida 33131
Ph: 305-375-0179 

If you leave a comment here, you also win... well... nothing. But we can grab a beer at the festival. OK?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Palo Santo Marron -- Galileo's Bane Guest Post

A few days ago, I asked around to see who was interested in doing a guest review here. Twitter pal Darren, aka @GalileosBane over there, not only said yes, but he sent me the review the very next day. Look closely at the picture above, too, and you'll see Darren has framed the prizes from one of my contests. Very cool!

Palo Santo Marron

This afternoon, I decided to open up a Palo Santo Marron, by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, based in Milton, DE. I'll be honest, I'm halfway through and ready for a nap, but not because it's boring. It is anything but boring. The 12% ABV and the rich full flavor of this “brown ale” has slowed me down. Hey, can you toss me a pillow please?

This is an intense beer. Labeled as a brown ale, the Palo Santo Marron is much much more. Deep brown to black in color with a creamy espresso-like head, this beer packs in the flavor, malty with a liqueur (maybe brandy) bite, and the woody flavor from aging. This beer has a mellow mouth feel and the flavors linger on the tongue and lips. The alcohol is concealed well in all the flavor. You feel the alcohol quicker than you taste it.

The label on the side brags about the 10,000 gallon wooden vessel created just for this beer, and tends to sum up this beer better than I could anyway.

The Palo Santo tree is found in South America (Paraguay), and Palo Santo is Spanish for holy tree. A Google search will reveal photos of the not-so-impressive looking tree, but the flavor is good, and oak aging would be too mainstream for Dogfish. Like other wood aged beers, the flavor is a definite part of the beer, dominant really only at the finish.

This is a beer to drink slowly and enjoy. On some weekend evenings, when I sit around the house tweeting while the TV or music are on in the background, I enjoy the Palo Santo Marron as the last beer. And when it's complete I'm ready for a nice night of rest.

Darren U. (Galileo's Bane), Sept 23, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout

An old dude at Total Wine convinced me in broken English that Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout is the best beer ever, so he and I both grabbed a 4 pack and headed to the cash register. I'm pretty sure I've had this beer before, but just never wrote anything down. It's brewed by Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) in N. Yorks, England.

The label is very busy, mostly gold and black lettering on a white background. Who, what, when, where, and medals--all included. The cap and neck of the bottle are covered with a gold foil. This is a tall skinny bottle and is actually 12 ounces, not the typical European 11.2. The story on the back tells about the beer and makes sure you know that it's fermented in stone Yorkshire squares.

Nutty and roasted aroma with plenty of caramel and raisin sweetness. There is a really nice initial sweetness--raisins and cherries and plums and toffee and caramel. Quite delicious! A hoppy balance and nice roast come along and work really well with the sweetness, though sweet wins easily in the end.

The 7% alcohol is noticeable and works with the fruit in a rum cake kind of way. The alcohol percent is just right, glad it's not a liquor bomb. Creamy, smooth, nice feel in the mouth. Finally, a really pleasant aftertaste lingers for a long time. Excellent beer. Great to try or revisit if it's been a while.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2012 Best of Beer Camp #53: Floral IPA

Today I'm checking out the second beer from this year's Sierra Nevada Beer Camp mixed 12 pack. That would be Beer Camp #53: Floral IPA. The label is the same for each beer in the series, except for the changing background border colors. Floral IPA has a green backing.

Nice head. Very floral with a citrus and fruity hoppiness. Certainly well named. Very flowery and grassy flavors start things off. A little citrus orange and lemon meet some herbal flavors, while bread dough and pale malt flavors come next. That doughy flavor takes things to the brink of sourness, a little much and annoying by the end of the beer.

Not really a very balanced beer, but not because it's overly hoppy. Rather the sour just makes things a little unpleasant. A bit of the 5.9% alcohol shows on the finish. So this was just an OK beer, and keep that statement in mind when you recall what a fan-boy I am of their Pale Ale. The mixed 12 pack is still worth the buy, so you should get to try it as well. Let me know what you think. So far, Imperial Red Ale >> Floral IPA.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2012 Best of Beer Camp #65: Imperial Red Ale

I recently grabbed (my second) Sierra Nevada's "Best of Beer Camp" mixed 12 pack. In my opinion, this box is one of the best releases of the year to look forward to, despite this being only the second year. Four new beers, all solid to great, at a reasonable price? Damn Straight!

I find the label artwork very fun and playful. Front and center is a vessel that resembles a genie's lamp of some kind, even resembling the Sam Adams Utopias bottle with the shape and sliding window in the body. There are hops pouring out of the top of it and actually strewn all around. In the background of this imaginary land, flying hop-copters and a covered bus patrol the forest, probably looking for this downed bottle. Who knows? I wish the artist were named.

Sweet caramel aroma with pine and some hoppy spiciness. There is also a light tropical fruity scent. Very nice.

Sweet caramel flavors are also front and center, with a light roast behind it. Citrus and pine bitterness do have an answer, and I love the spicy, peppery nips that add to the balance. Chewy and resinous body. Medium carbonation is just fine. The finish is dry and shows some of the 8.1% alcohol.

Malt-forward, a little different for the style, while still being balanced. My favorites are still Lagunitas Imperial Red and Cigar City Tocobaga Red. Those totally kick ass, though I wouldn't kick Beer Camp 65 out of my bed either, if you know what I mean. Grab this mixed pack--you won't regret it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Grovetoberfest Beer Festival Ticket Giveaway

Grovetoberfest will be held this year on Saturday, October 13 at Peacock Park in Coconut Grove. And it looks like a helluva lot of fun. Several hundred beer choices, a home brewing competition, live music, and plenty of food? Yes, please!

Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it this year, at least not without some of your most creative help. You see, Grovetoberfest weekend 2012 is the same weekend that my sister planned her wedding in Atlanta. And I could never miss that day for my only sister. Or could I?

The team from Grovetoberfest was nice enough to offer up two tickets for me to give away to readers here. And I know you guys all love my contests! I decided to make this one much easier than normal, though.

Between now and 11pm Eastern next Thursday 9/20 (yes, that's a week), leave a comment that gives me the best excuse I could deliver to my sister on why I can't make it to her wedding. (Yes, of course so I can go to Grovetoberfest!) Creativity, originality, wit, sarcasm, and believability will weigh in on the judging. Enter as many times as you'd like and I'll pick a winner shortly after the contest ends. The winner wins both tickets.

Um, if I don't know how to contact you, you can't win, so leave your name and email or twitter handle or something else; you could even email me if you want (but the entries must be in the comments, not emailed). You must abide by all Grovetoberfest rules to qualify as well. Like if you're not 21 or older, you can't win, and whoever you take with you must also be 21+. Also, no one is going to get you there or back--transportation and a designated driver are your responsibility.

Win or (probably) lose, I hope you'll check out the festival and let me know how awesome it was. You can buy tickets by following this link. Peacock Park is located at  2820 McFarlane Road, Coconut Grove, FL 33133.


Today I'm drinking HI.P.A. brewed by Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont. This is one of their IPA on Tour series beers, and it was provided to me by the brewery. The label artwork is interesting. There is a woman that seems to have the galaxy for a hairdo, a modern day Jetsons chick perhaps.

Orange and lemony citrus aroma with an equal dose of bread dough. Biting lemon flavor start things off and carry all the way through to the finish. It's really a harsh rind and unpleasant bathroom cleanser type flavor. Light pine, grass. I'm still searching for any sweetness in the balance. Bitter, yet not really hoppy, and astringent.

Carbonation is good. Dry finish with a touch of the 6.7% alcohol. Not horrible but keep walking.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stone 16th Anniversary IPA -- AntiHero Vinny Guest Post

My friend Vinny came through with a guest post today. After you get a good look at the pictures he apparently took in a cave, you'll be glad to know that Vinny is an aspiring writer, not photographer. Either way, a smart-ass writing beer lover is OK in my book any day!

Stone 16th Anniversary IPA

My first beer was a lukewarm Pabst Blue Ribbon fermented under a college senior's couch. The townhouse belonged to a girl who was 4 years older than me, and who I would date 3 years after she graduated. I think she was attracted to my ability to choke down really terrible beer. Through my time in college my beer of choice would shift from PBR to Labatt Blue to Bud Light to Coors Light to Coors Original (!) to Budweiser (colloquially known as Bud Heavy or Bud Diesel but never "Bud" in a college town). There was even a Milwaukee's Best phase that we don't talk about... it was college, I was experimenting.

I discovered my "eureka" beer (or accurately, my "hallelujah" beer) at Pearl St. Beverage Warehouse in Colchester, VT. While walking to the back room where they kept the munitions of inebriation in stacked 30 racks, a bottle in one of the coolers caught my eye. "ARROGANT BASTARD" it read. "YOU ARE NOT WORTHY." Hey, man, I'm an upper-middle class white male at a country club college in f**kin' Vermont; I think I'm PLENTY worthy! The Stone gargoyle emblazoned on the front kept smiling his mocking smirk. So I bought my first craft beer... and the rest is history.

Every time I see the Stone gargoyle in his various incarnations I think back to that day and how far I've come. Not as a person, mind you, but as a beer drinker. So when I saw Stone's 16th Anniversary Double IPA, marked by a full-winged, gargoyle thrusting a might mug skyward, I snatched it up.

16 is to Stone IPA what Coke with Lemon is to Coke... and I mean that as a compliment. But if you failed the analogies portion of your SATs (what up!), it's like Stone IPA but with more bite, both from the hops and from the lemon. There's a lot going on in this bottle, almost like a battle on your tongue.

Appearance: Light to medium amber body with a slightly off-white head.

Aroma: Hop-forward like you'd expect with hints of citrus, specifically the lemon. Mint?

Taste: Clean and smooth, but with that classic West Coast hop-bitter finish, that says "you ain't from around here, are ya?" to the uninitiated. (Sorry, I wrote this while watching The Sopranos). Depending on where on your tongue you hold your swig you can either get the zesty lemon flavor or a little bit of spice, but with most Stone beers the hops are the moneymaker that's shaking. 16 earns every one of its 85 IBUs and most of its 10% ABV.

Mouth-feel: Like any IPA, after enough sips you start to feel your palate disintegrating. The feeling is a revelation the first time, but by my Untappd count, 16 is my 747th unique beer -- plenty of those were IPAs -- so to the regular IPA drinker, expect the usual IPA burn. There's a little heat in the throat from the alcohol, but overall the lemon really helps balance the hops to a more refreshing mouth-feel than you'd usually get from a DIPA.

Overall: 16 is a solid beer, which you should have come to expect from Stone. Is it anything earth-shattering? No, but if you were to write home about it, it would still be more interesting than the letters I wrote home from college.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bohemia Old-Fashioned

Today I took a try at a beer cocktail. The agency representing Bohemia beer wanted me to give this one a try to mark Hispanic Heritage Month (starts 9/15) or Mexico's Independence Day (9/16), considering this is a Mexican beer. So even though this is a little early, consider those two events as inspiration. Maybe you'll try this out on those days.

My drink came out pretty good too. To me, it was way more cocktail and spirits driven than anything the beer did, so I published the recipe and opinions on my site. That's not to say the beer offered nothing, but you'll have to click over to read more about that.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blue Point White IPA

I grabbed a can of Blue Point White IPA at the insistence of the distributor the other day. Usually he steers me in the right direction, though perhaps it was an omen that he was talking about pumpkin beers being his favorite. We'll see. So this beer is a Belgian-style IPA brewed and canned by Blue Point Brewing Company in Patchogue, New York and Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

The design of the can is simple yet very nice. The WHITE and IPA are designed into a tile mosaic that you might see in a subway in the area. FRESH and 12 FL. OZ. are incorporated as graffiti on the mosaic. Malt beverage brewed with spices. 6% alcohol.

Nice lemony citrus aroma with just a touch of tropical fruit, spicy coriander and yeast. The coriander is pretty in-your-face over the first few sips though, a bit too much. That flavor leads to some lemony, hoppy citrus flavors that take some of the spice edge off. Yeast is prominent.

More lemon and citric tang comes in, this time building and eventually feels unchallenged, almost to the point of sourness. Chewy, a bit thick, losing points in the refreshment department. Just decent.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Newcastle Werewolf

Today I'm drinking Newcastle Werewolf, a Blood Red Ale (Irish Red) brewed by The Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh, UK. This beer is part of Newcastle's Limited Editions series and was provided to me by their communications agency. The information that came along with the beer talked about the Mythical Newcastle Werewolf that is said to roam the countryside near the brewery. But then they made sure to tell you that "No Bollocks", they are using that story to generate interest in this brand and sell beer. Haha.

The bottle label continues with that same story and theme, and even decorates the label with wolf fur and some claw marks. The neck says, "Escaped From Britain". 4.5% alcohol.

Herbal and sweet aroma with some nutty and toasted grain qualities. It has that distinct aroma that makes me think "British beer". Not sure if you know what I mean but if not, sorry.

Caramel sweetness in the beginning leads into a lingering berry tartness. Herbal and earthy, with a strange metallic bitterness at the end. That berry flavor builds to a point where it starts to taste a little sour and astringent. Decent body; good carbonation. The aftertaste is just not that pleasant. Perhaps average... No Bollocks. I have another bottle if anyone would like to try it.