Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I got a bottle of Gillian Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale from Goose Island a few weeks ago and decided this was the perfect moment to check her out. So I went to BFF Google and typed in "Gillian Beer" and voila, um, nope, no beer. It was all about some famous British academic of that name, worthy of lots of articles and a Wikipedia page! Anyway, I refined my search and actually just went to the Goose Island page about it. I can only dream about having the last name Beer. Mmm. Beer.
Gillian comes packaged in a wine bottle with a reddish brown label and nice yellow and gold lettering/accents. Elegant as usual for their vintage line. The cap is covered with a (I guess you call it a) cover that has the 2013 vintage noted on it. This beer is brewed with strawberries, honey and white pepper then aged in wine barrels. It's also able to mature for another five years in the bottle, according to the label. Mine was bottled on 12SEP13 so you can see I lasted 3.5 months. 9.5% alcohol. 1 800 GOOSE ME!
Sweet strawberries, soft honey, spice and a good dose of funk on the nose. Extremely funky and tart "blamo" on the first sip. I can't say I'm shocked but I think it's always a shock. No distinct flavors to start, just that hit in the mouth. Vinegary, acidic, wine character.
After that initial palate whack, the other flavors start to ease into the picture very nicely. Light strawberries, a bit like Kool Aid, juicy, very soft yet persistent and prominent. What's bigger is the funky, in-your-face yeasty attack. So two total opposites are competing here for your attention.
Spicy, tart and vinegary, wine barrel dryness. More yeasty funk--by the end of the bottle, you will probably agree that it's a bit overdone and you wish like I do for more strawberry and honey in the mix, a bit sweeter competition. Anyway, great carbonation, effervescent. I probably would have saved it until New Year's Eve tomorrow had I know that. Definitely an enjoyable beer, and it certainly took the edge off before my meeting with the Little League Commissioner later tonight!
Monday, December 30, 2013
I decided to give Buffalo Bill's Blueberry Oatmeal Stout a try today. The interesting combination caught my attention. This beer was contract brewed by Independent Brewers United Corporation for Buffalo Bill's. Boring, dated label shows some blueberries. 7.5% alcohol.
Cocoa, some roast and blueberry sweetness for an aroma. Watered-down cocoa water is where we begin. Blueberries are obviously present but give off some strange tartness. A little roast and smoke come before a weird metallic, dry finish. Not that great. Pass!
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Last month Saint Arnold sent me a variety pack of their beers as they entered the Florida market. One of the beers was their Bishop's Barrel 5, a bourbon barrel aged Scotch Ale (Divine Reserve 4 recipe) just bottled this past October. There is a little story on the back that lets you know what they are trying to do with this series. The website offers some other particulars about this beer. For me, the most interesting part was that their 9% alcohol Divine Reserve 4 picked up 3% more alcohol during its 9.5 month stay in the Old Forester barrels.
|For those of you too lazy to click the link above!|
Creamy, big body, enough carbonation. Along with a little warmth came some smokey character that added a good deal of interest. The warmth also balanced the alcohol and sweetness better. So, enjoy, but not right out of the fridge. Very tasty beer!
Monday, December 23, 2013
I asked (my now favorite) Goose Island's PR representatives if they'd like to hear my thoughts about Halia and sure enough, my request was granted. Halia is a Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale aged in wine barrels with peaches. The label on this 765mL bottle is simple, yet elegant, decorated in yellows and golds with a nice foil over the cap indicating the vintage. Bottled on 06AUG2013 and suitable for saving for up to 5 years. 7.5% alcohol.
Yeasty, lemony aroma with lots of fruity tartness and Brett character. The flavors start with LOTS of peaches. It's sour but not with anywhere near the wallop from some of its shocking cousins. Texture is smooth and creamy with a pleasant carbonation.
You will not mistake the wine character left on this beer during the aging process. Woody, acidic, light fruitiness all appear. There is also some saison type spicy flavors including coriander which becomes a little tiresome by the end of the wine bottle. Funky at the finish with a dirty texture
Was OK. So far one of my least favorites of all of their vintage ales. I prefer the crisper, sourer, less chewy and spiced up options. And the price point on this is crazy high, even though I didn't pay for it, so keep that in mind too. Get yourself into some Juliet!
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR). I thought it was going to be harsh but it basically smells and tastes like nothing. Some grain, not too sweet, good carbonation. You guys were right though--I can't help but taste the smug pretentiousness in the finish.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I saw a bottle of Dogfish Head beer that I didn't recognize a few days ago. Next thing I knew, I was checking out with Piercing Pils, "a Czech-style pilsner brewed with pear juice, pear tea and Saaz hops." This is a new seasonal for the brewery. Eggshell colored label. 6% alcohol. I eat a lot of pears so I have a lot of expectations.
Grassy and herbal aroma with crackers and a soft, fruity sweetness, not necessarily pears though. Grainy sweet flavors come first along with some lemony and grassy balance. Sharp carbonation on the palate--I guess that's the piercing part. Fruity middle and recognizable pear finish. Good flavors though I think it could have been a little more bitter.
Monday, December 16, 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout last week, so I couldn't wait to try their new Bourbon County Brand Barleywine. This is a barleywine that is aged in bourbon barrels which then were used to age Bourbon County Brand Stout, so a third use barrel. Simple and elegant label, with the name of the beer in gold foil lettering on a plum-colored background. Bottled 17SEP13. 12.1% alcohol.
Very nice aroma: raisins, toffee, cherries, sugary sweetness. Flavors follow the aroma, beginning with a hefty dose of raisin sweetness. Lots of raisins! And there is no mistaking the bourbon influence on this beer either. Vanilla and oak and toffee and maple syrup. Oh, and the alcohol punch and heat too. More fruity cherry and prune nuances come along as well.
Pretty complex beer. Good body to the point of being slightly syrupy. Enough carbonation to get by. Great flavors, though I'd say the beer was a little too sweet. And the alcohol was just a bit too hot. Overall, really nice. But Sucuba still has my vote.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
So I saw the dude putting six packs of Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale on the shelf this morning and decided to go for it. The front of the can depicts a scraggly pirate with every stereotypical feature included. The back of the can has a microprint story that explains the pirate. Apparently, Tampa Bay is still annually victimized by pirates, and the brewery decided that since they can't beat them, they will join them. Thus the brewing of "a tropical session beer brewed for those long days of marauding, pillaging and pirating." Canning date is smeared but appears to be NOV18 2013. 5% alcohol.
Citrus and pine aroma with a faint tropical background. Fruity flavors to start, mostly orange. Light pine bitterness and a doughy component. Additional tropical peach and apricot join in as well. The finish is bitter. Carbonation could be higher, ditto on the body. And though pleasant, the flavors are all pretty weak, too muted. Not bland, but needs to step it up.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Saw a can I didn't recognize: Brew Bus Brewing Last Stop India Pale Ale. So Brew Bus is based in Tampa and they have a real bus where they take people on tours and to sporting events and bachelor parties, etc. The illustration on the can is of a keg with windows on wheels touring the city. I did visit the website, though, and the real bus looks more like a luxury coach, better that way! They contracted Cigar City to brew and can this beer for them. 7% alcohol.
Nice bright lemony citrus aroma with plenty of flowers and doughy pale malt. Citrus bitterness at the start. Quite earthy too, with some onion flavors I didn't really like. That disappeared with warmth for the most part. Lemon and pine are the main contributors and while the bitterness is very nice, there is a malty balance. A little sourness at the finish too. Crisp, good carbonation, and refreshing!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Right now I'm drinking a New Belgium Wild² Dubbel, an ale brewed with Schisandra berries. The label on this bomber has a bit of a western theme, with picket fences and cowboy gear.
Spicy aroma with cinnamon and cocoa powder and rich prunes and raisins. Quite the malty flavor start: caramel with raisins and prunes. A little sugary and yeasty as well. Tons of spice character comes next including cloves and cinnamon and something-not-quite cinnamon, a little different, probably those Schisandra berries. The finish is dry and black peppery, as predicted by the bottle.
Not bad but definitely a little weird. As the beer warmed, it tasted a little more like your traditional dubbel, though you never can shake that weird spiciness. I'd suggest grabbing Matilda by the arm and not looking back on this one.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Looking around the internets, I noticed that indeed I'm supposed to use the "John Barleycorn" signature on the beer label as part of the full name of this beer: John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale from Mad River Brewing Company. Looks like this is the 2012 version, though it was put on my local shelf on 11/12/13. Hmmm, too tired to do that research, let me know.
Around the label is a quote. "They let him lie for a very long time Till the rain from heaven did fall, Then little Sir John he sprang up again, And he proved them liars all." Wow, good for him! That passage surrounds the art on the label done by Julia Montgomery. It appears as though this Sir John is hiding in a cornfield while a crow watches on. Probably some symbolism this 11.1% beer is making me overlook at the moment.
Sweet maple syrup, toffee and lightly nutty aroma. Rich raisin and prune flavors meet a heck of an initial boozy wallop. Wow! Caramel and toffee come next, also rich and sweet. But that alcohol coupled with a good dose of hops take that edge off a bit. The alcohol, however, continues to be a little rough and hot on the palate and throat. Woody dry at the finish.
Nice flavors, big body, low carbonation. But that alcohol is too overbearing on an otherwise nice beer. Perhaps you cellar types would like this after a few years.
Friday, December 6, 2013
I wasn't a big fan of Upslope Brewing's Imperial IPA back in June, but that didn't stop them from sending me their Christmas Ale. This beer is packaged in a 16 ounce can dressed up to look like a candy cane. Nice design. Ingredients include Snowmelt, Malt, Hops, Abbey Ale Yeast, and Holiday Spices. 8.2% alcohol.
Cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar and a little plum for an aroma. Ridiculously sweet caramel almost put a halt on this beer from the first sip. Luckily, the alcohol came in and knocked it down a little, though not being disguised at all itself was already a second fault of this beer. And we didn't even get to the way overdone clove and ginger and nutmeg gang stepping in. Ugh.
Flat cola, prunes and plums, and a little bubblegum round out a beer that is pretty much all over the place. Texture is yeasty. Weird and alcoholic. That's it. I didn't like it at all.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Grabbed myself a summer seasonal deal this morning at the local liquor store. Pay attention to my Untpd checkins (LOL) and you can probably figure out what beer it involved. Yeah, I did them a favor and cleared some space for the winter and soon-to-arrive spring beers. Anyway, besides the deal, I of course did some other shopping. I decided Victory Brewing's DirtWolf Double IPA sounded like a charming option.
Now I had no clue about the name. No Hop Devil or Hop Wallop cartoons, just an illustration of some crazy plants. After reading the story on the side, it turns out that the those plants are hops, and DirtWolf is the nickname for them and their comeback in the American Craft Beer scene.
Pine aroma with sweet orange and tropical mango. Very nice. Big bitter pine flavors start, chewy and sticky. Powerfully hoppy and spicy with the 8.7% alcohol intensifying that aspect. Yet there is still a softer fruity elegant side, some juicy orange and mango and peach. Great balance, leaning bitter as expected and desired.
Now, the alcohol is on the alcoholic side, a little hot. And the mouthfeel of the beer in general is a little rough on the palate, but those are the only places this beer loses any points (not that I'm keeping score). The delicious flavors and complexity make this a complete success! Check it out for sure!
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Magic Hat sent me a bottle of their newest winter seasonal, G-Thing Ginger Spice Ale. The label depicts a gingerbread man flipping an electricity switch and bringing himself to life. In fact, the neck label says "It's Alive... With Spice!" about the beer. And here I thought G Thing was a Dr. Dre and Snoop Lion song! 5.7% alcohol.
Chocolate roasty aroma with lots of ginger. Gave it a vigorous swirl and interestingly smelled black licorice and some smoke. And the ginger seems less intense after a few whiffs.
Cocoa powder and a nice malty roasted flavor start things off. That roast gets intensified as the flavors seem to become more smokey and charred after a few sips. The ginger is also definitely there--OK at the start but built to an annoyingly dominant crescendo. Didn't like that part and didn't finish the bottle. Amen.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
After my appearance a few weeks ago on the ByTheGlassShow featuring Saint Arnold Brewing, I talked the brewery into sending me a few samples to review for this site. Remember, eventually they will be distributed here in South Florida. One of the beers not featured on the show, Icon Bohemian Pils, was part of the package.
The label is black with a red foil Saint Arnold and lettering over it. Very difficult to read because of the lack of contrast between the two. The story on the back label explains that the brewery uses their Icon Series to experiment with new recipes and put out some new beers. Bottled 110513.
Not a very powerful aroma, hoppy with lemon and grass. Nice sweet and bitter contrast with the flavors. You start with some lemon and grassy bitterness, quite spicy with a nice fresh sharpness on the palate. Grainy sweetness with toast add balance before you are again whisked into an excellent bitter finish. I liked it. Simple, easy drinker, good flavors, recommended.
Monday, December 2, 2013
I traded for today's beer many months ago in anticipation of today's Second Annual #QuadDay. Yes, December 2 every year, since it's easy for me to remember my own birthday. I decided that False Summit, a bourbon-barrel aged Quadrupel brewed by Elevation Beer Company in Poncha Springs, Colorado would be the lead Quad this year.
Seriously, though, before you get too much into another "beer holiday," keep in mind that this one was invented to basically mock the other "corporate" type evangelistic ones. Just so you know, I don't really give a shit if you drink a Quad or any beer. I don't care if you post pictures or use the hash tag. Drink whatever you want. If you want, go ahead and curse at me in the comments. There will be no fanfare or prizes or badges (at least none I worked on setting up). There are no clubs. Let's just drink some delicious beer!
False Summit is part of the Brewery's Double Black Series, named after the double black diamonds used to mark ridiculously difficult ski slopes. "False Summit is a beer to drink while mapping out your next adventure, and it should help motivate you to always keep moving to the top." Funny how the full wine bottle is killing my motivation, but I'll probably be good again in the morning. Bottle #00077. 11.1% alcohol. 30 IBU.
Rich raisins, caramel and touches of honey come to the nose first. Candi sugar is also noticeable along with just enough bourbon character to know this beer has been in those barrels.
Sweet caramel flavors plus lots of dark fruity intricacies: raisins, prunes, cherries. Creamy smooth and silky texture. Candi sugar and maple syrup sweetness really pile on to an already sweet opening. Luckily, the big alcohol component was not only noticeable, but it also helped take some of the sweet edge off while bringing out some additional flavor nuances. There is also a light spiciness that prevails as well. Good body, not syrupy at all.
The sweetness takes some getting used to, no doubt. I probably could have used a bigger hops infusion or perhaps a little less of the candi sugar addition to start with. That being said, I finished the whole bottle, with the last sips still delicious at almost room temperature. This was quite the flavorful beer. Very enjoyable with each component complementing the others. I'd suggest sharing with a friend or two when you go find a bottle for yourself.
Anyway, Happy #QuadDay !
Friday, November 29, 2013
Goose Island will be releasing three new beers between now and the end of 2014 to "celebrate the aroma and taste of hops." The first, Ten Hills Pale Ale, will be available nationally starting in December. The brewery bottled and numbered 100 bottles, giving 50 lucky people a pair to check out before the official roll out. I happened to get bottles #75 and #76. In addition, the label on those 100 bottles is also customized with the Goose Island brewer's signatures: Brett Porter, Keith Gabbett, and Jared Jankoski.
The Ten Hills name refers to the original planting of hops for Goose Island at the Elk Mountain Farms in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Today, Elk Mountain Farms grows over 200,000 hills of hops for them.6.2% alcohol. 48 IBU.
|Elk Mountain Farms hop farm|
That initial sweetness is met by an ample amount of hops to bitter things up perfectly. Nice balance leaning bitter, especially in the finish. Carbonation is prickly and refreshing. This is a flavorful and tasty beer. I'd check it out!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I was recently approached by the PR Agency representing Goose Island and their new Ten Hills Pale Ale. A few exchanges, a few questions, and one thing led to another. Next thing I knew, I had a few bottles of the pale ale AND some other gems, including the soon-to-be-released 2013 vintage of Bourbon County Brand Stout. I have never tried any version of this beer, and they've been brewing it since 1992, so it's about damn time.
Anyway, if you don't know, this is on the super-short list of most beer geeks. The label is simple and elegant, black and white with gold accents. As with most of their premium beers, it is suggested that this beer can develop in the bottle over 5 years. 14.2% alcohol.
Chocolate and brown sugar and vanilla and bourbon and oak aroma, rich and delicious! Oh, wow! Cream-a-liscious. Caramel flavors are so beautiful and luscious. Decadent deliciously sweet chocolate. And the coffee flavors are absolutely perfect.
The alcohol is definitely not missing, though it feels nowhere near 14.2%. It really makes the vanilla pop and intensifies all the other flavors. It makes the lips a little tingly and puts some heat in the chest too. Nice body, low carbonation but not flat, just right. Great balance and not too sweet.
Lightly hot and I bet a year would take some of that edge off. This was an excellent beer worthy of all the hype and praise. I will be grabbing a four pack when it enters my Florida market soon and giving that aging theory a try.
Monday, November 25, 2013
On a semi-dare by Ed Roberts, I picked up Sprecher's Fire Brewed Hard Root Beer earlier this week. I love root beer. My wife says it smells and tastes like toothpaste or Pepto-Bismol but she is of course wrong. This hard root beer has a great aroma of brown sugar and honey with touches of anise, maple and vanilla. YUM!
Flavors very much imitate that of the aroma, but the 5% alcohol provides a noticeable kick and even light burn. The alcohol worked well with the sweetness of the soda base, highlighting the anise and vanilla while giving a bite at the palate. Great flavors, nice that it now takes the edge off too!
Friday, November 22, 2013
For the past 39 years, Anchor Brewing has brewed a winter warmer called Our Special Ale. Each year, the recipe is different as is the tree on the label. The trees symbolize rebirth of the earth and its seasons. This year's tree is a kick-ass evergreen named Abies concolor var. Lowiana, aka Sierra Nevada white fir. The label wishes the beer's drinkers Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Apparently I missed the 2012 version, but you can see 2011 here, which also links back to several prior years. 5.5% alcohol.
Rich, malty caramel and prune aroma, lightly spicy with nutmeg, a little roast, and I can't help but think of new leather shoes. Pruney dark fruit flavors dominate the beginning, and the beer is a little sweeter than I was expecting. Nutmeg and cinnamon spices are present but not overdone. A good dose of hops controls the rich caramel and fruit backbone--good balance.
A little roast and light smoke. Dry finish with spices remaining on the palate. Pretty good!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I decided to give Founders Brewing's All Day IPA Session Ale a session this afternoon. These guys make great beer, and I expect nothing different from this one. The label is very nice, depicting a station wagon carrying a canoe on a dirt road. My family had that exact car and canoe too when I was a kid. This session ale clocks in at 4.7% alcohol and 42 IBU.
Pine aroma with tropical tangerine and pineapple backup and a light citrus zip. Fruity and very juicy flavors come in the way of big citrus, not really any of that tropical fruit like from the aroma. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits--fairly bitter but still with plenty of malt balance. Doughy biscuits and pale malt work their way in there.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Cigar City Brewing + New Belgium Ale Brewed With Anaheim And Marash Chilies. WTF? Is that the best these two brewers could come up with for a name? Anyway, this is a collaboration between the two breweries and a member of New Belgium's Lips of Faith Series. This bomber will be available locally shortly if not already; the brewery was nice enough to let me give it a whirl to introduce its arrival.
There is a story on the side: "We're about to light up Florida with this Cigar City Collaborative brew. Our Belgian yeast tangos with Anaheim and Marash peppers along with loads of citrusy hops to create an ale full of spice. Aged on Spanish Cedar to salute our mutual love for wood!" The label is pretty boring with just the facts I relayed to you, the story, and a decorative border at the bottom. 8.5% alcohol. Best Enjoyed By November 2014.
Fruity, juicy orange and tangerine aroma with just a hint of spice. Sweet with woody dryness to start--the cedar is very noticeable and dominant. Juicy apples and oranges are nice and match up well with the chili spices that come next. Crackers, earthiness, a bit yeasty too.
After a while, the beer starts to feel a bit acidic and alcoholic, especially at the finish. Between the cedar aging, a bad idea that crushed the other flavors, and the alcoholic prowess, I'm not a fan. I will say the alcohol mellowed with a little warmth but not completely. Spicy heat lingers on the palate and in the chest long after each sip. I'd pass but if you can't control yourself and buy a bottle anyway, let it warm up for at least 15 minutes before opening it.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Last night, the By The Glass Show crew celebrated the arrival of Saint Arnold Brewing's beers to Florida. As of this month, people on the Gulf Coast are kicking back in their hammocks sipping sixers of Fancy Lawnmower Kolsch while they watch someone else cut the grass (that's why the lawnmower is fancy, get it?) But I hear it won't be too long until the expansion moves into my home Miami territory. So yes, by celebrate, I do mean we tasted six of their beers.
Brett gave us a little history about the Houston brewery and let us know that Florida is only the 4th state where Saint Arnold is distributed, despite being a relatively large craft brewer, 45th largest in the US. I was paying attention but made sure we started drinking too. First up, Fancy Lawnmower. I tried this beer many years ago when a friend brought it home from a business trip. I don't even remember what I thought then though. Great aroma, toasty and lemony, earthy, herbal. Very flavorful as well. Nice bitterness balanced with a grainy sweetness. A little citrus, more crackers. Creamy, balanced, crisp and refreshing.
We then moved on to Weedwacker just as Saint Arnold's founder and owner Brock Wagner called in to the show. As we started the conversation, Brock told us this is an identical beer to Fancy Lawnmower with the exception of the yeast used to brew it. Apparently this one is brewed with a Bavarian Hefeweizen yeast. For me, the flavors were pretty subdued though there was a light spiciness and fruity flavor hanging around. But heck, what do I know? It won a medal in the German Wheat Ale category at GABF this year!
So why Florida? Brock said that the styles of beers they make are perfect for the climate "enjoyed" in Florida, just as they are in southern Texas. And they are expanding slowly, as the Houston market still accounts for around 70% of their sales.
The back and forth of the interview was great between Brett and Brock. They should do a radio show together or something. And the beers we were opening got intertwined in the story. We then opened the Amber Ale. Brock said as a homebrewer, he never brewed the same beer twice. Then all of a sudden he had to choose a beer he was going to brew forever. And the Amber was what he went with when starting the brewery. Interesting too. Toasty, hoppy, a little astringent and bitter. Brock wrapped it up nicely, describing it as "an American Pale Ale from 20 years ago."
Brett ended the chat with a question about their Divine Reserve series, the one the beer geeks all drool over. Brock said it's a one-off series of bigger beers like barleywines, scotch ales and imperial stouts. The idea was to make limited edition beers that would last in stores for a few weeks. He said he's shocked that it has come to the point of people lining up in front of stores before they open and the series selling out "in 17 seconds." One day I'll get to try one of them!
Adios, Brock. Hola, Saint Arnold Brown Ale. Toasty biscuit aroma. Fruity, no real roast, didn't really taste like a brown ale. Was good though. Elissa IPA was next. Orange citrus aroma though not that powerful. However, there was lots of flavor. Great bitterness, fruity, floral, citrus, herbal. Yet still balanced. Brock mentioned that his philosophy is all about creating balance in his beers.
Finally, a Christmas Ale with a story. Yeah, I read it out loud to the group! Spicy aroma. Spices came through in the flavors too but were not the often obnoxious ones you find in this type of beer. Rich caramel, very malty.
I'll wrap it up with a quote from Brock. "Beer is about facilitating enjoyment with your friends!"
|Belly Dancer on Hollywood Blvd. in Front of the Studio|