Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Smitten Golden Rye Ale

I saw a bottle of Smitten Golden Rye Ale on the shelf a few days ago and decided to give it a try. This is an American Pale Ale with a rye twist brewed by Bell's Brewery in Comstock, Michigan. This bottle was packaged on 01/23/13 A. The label has a nice illustration of a daisy that has all but one of its petals plucked off. She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me... Definitely smitten!

Not a powerful aroma but some spicy rye and hints of pine are there. A light orange citrus hoppiness starts things off. There is also some fruity sweetness in the background. Then some spicy rye flavors show up, peppering your palate with little nippy bites. The finish is resinous.

Not overly bitter, just right. A solid pale ale with an interesting spicy kick. The body is low to medium and carbonation is good. The 6.0% alcohol wasn't very noticeable. I liked it. Check it out.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

SOBE Wine and Food Festival: Amstel Light Burger Bash Hosted by Rachael Ray

Last night I was invited to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. The Event was the Amstel Light Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray. Mmm. Love me some Rachael Ray! Basically, this was "Mega-Burger Fest" meets a Food Network Reunion on steroids! The event took place on Lincoln Road and the beach in Miami Beach, Florida.

First, a word from our sponsor: Amstel Light. Let me just say that though I had a few Amstel Lights, Amstel Wheat was the better of the two. Though I was mega-SURROUNDED by beer retailers and wholesalers, they were not sure if this beer is even available in South Florida. If it is, it's just on draft, at least for now. This review may make them rethink their game.

Amstel Wheat, directly from the bottle, from the bottle, from the bottle, from the bottle, from the bottle, etc. Paired with at least a dozen burgers (quarters, usually) and ice cream and chocolates, etc. Wheat flavor, lightly spicy with hints of citrus. Decently refreshing, light body. Not bad.

Highlights for me, some depicted in the photos below: met Morimoto, met Bobby Flay, fist bumped Guy Fieri, met Marc Murphy (repeat), met Linton Hopkins (repeat), was within 10 feet of Rachael Ray's entourage, caught a cool photo of cooking show royalty: Andrew Zimmern, Geoffrey Zakarian, Anne Burrell. Oh, yeah, and the Amstel Girl Sandwich!

One downer: while I was standing right next to the Sandwich King for 10 minutes, somehow he was not there when I wanted a handshake and a photo. That guy kicks ass and was one of the big winners.

And one more comment here. Though I was given my ticket, I know they were several hundred dollars each. That should have easily covered a more substantial bathroom that didn't rock when people moved, was bigger, was cleaner and was more accessible. Think Cirque du Soleil by AA Arena kind of system please? Though the bathroom was terrible, I did somehow bump into Marc Murphy and Guy Fieri there. Go figure. And the small-talk was to die for. LOL. Here's a pic of the urinal system inside the Ritz Carlton lobby. Could have been used as a template.

Ritz Carlton Miami Beach Lobby Urinals 

I'm going to do a different kind of review somewhere else soon, with more pictures and info, including some of the burgers and participants and winners, so check back and I'll link it here when it's done. But for now...

Friday, February 22, 2013


I recently received a few bottles of Indio from the agency representing the brand. Indio is brewed by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, S.A. de C.V. in Monterrey, Mexico, and is new to the US within the past year. Not available in Florida yet, though.

The label depicts an Indian warrior in full battle armor. The phrase "La Cosa Es Buscarle 1905" is written at the bottom. Loosely, that means "The thing to find [since] 1905". Please let me know if that's not accurate since I only took one semester of high school Spanish (15 years of marriage to a Colombian hasn't rubbed off yet).

Sweet caramel aroma with some toasted bread and herbal character. Similar flavors. Sweet caramel starts but is met with a decent hoppy, grassy answer. Some herbal tea sweetness and hints of bread also stand out. The body is pretty thin, though the flavors are solid. Crisp and refreshing, even on this 50°F Florida afternoon. Brrr. Overall, an enjoyable easy drinker.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wytchmaker Farmhouse Rye India Pale Ale

Today's beer is the second of the four Jester King beers that my buddy in El Paso sent me a few weeks ago. Le Petit Prince Farmhouse Table Beer was most enjoyable. I decided that Wytchmaker Farmhouse Rye India Pale Ale was a good choice for today. Let me first say that the art on this wine bottle is creepy as hell but totally kicks ass. The Witch, dressed as if she were from Salem, has amazing facial features and eyes that look right through you. The colors are amazing and the shiny foil accents really make this art come to life in full 3D!

The story on the side starts with the Salem Witch Trials, moves on to this beer inspiring you to "think about your own transformation ...[into] a free thinker, someone who speaks their mind". I've always had trouble saying what I think and often spend time being a guinea pig, so hopefully I'll get some good karma here. OG 1.060; 7.0% alcohol; and all the other ingredients are on the label too (see picture at bottom).

Big fluffy head which receded VERY slowly. That gave me plenty of time to read and re-read all the panels on the wrap-around label. Nice lacing, too. Citrus and pine aroma with layers of spice and yeasty funky hay.

Orange citrus flavors meet some rye spiciness followed by a yeasty funky flavor and texture that takes over through the finish. It's all about the hay and sweat socks! Earthy, a little herbal and black peppery. There is even a touch of sourness after a few sips when you start to sort through all the flavors.

It's IPA v Saison in an epic caged-match battle. You can totally taste the two distinct styles competing yet trying to be one. I personally would love to try this with a different strain of yeast, no farmhouse yeast. The rye is great. But I find the yeasty funk and texture to be a bit overwhelming for the IPA flavors. And holy dryness, Batman. I have some serious cottonmouth right now. In the end, I wanted more refreshment as well.   The beer was good and I like to try different things, but it wasn't a favorite beer of mine.

Hey, did you see what just happened there? I finished the wine bottle, minus a significant amount of gunk at the bottom, all the while being inspired to be a free thinker and speak my mind. Thanks, Jester King!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Brekle's Brown

How about that picture? Pretty nice, right?
Breckle's Brown was created by Anchor Brewmaster Mark Carpenter to honor their first brewmaster, Gottlieb Brekle. I know, tough break on the name, but at least he could brew beer! The story goes that he purchased a beer and billiards bar and started brewing in 1871, remaining the brewmaster until 1888. Within a decade, the bar was renamed Anchor Brewing.

This is an all malt, single hop brown ale. The citra hop was utilized in this recipe. 6.0% alcohol.

Rich and malty aroma. Hazelnutty with molasses, smells sweet, though you can easily detect the hops in the aroma as well. Malty flavors out of the gate--nutty with plenty of brown sugar. There is, however, a distince citric line running right through the beer.

I will say it's kind of flat, which I didn't love. The roast is nice and not harsh. Herbal with some sugary sweetness followed by a lemony answer. That persistent lemony, hoppy streak started to remind me of Lemon Pledge by the end of the beer. I've never tasted Pledge, but if you can imagine a flavor like that smell, you have it. Overall, good beer. Distinct and different and I think old Gottlieb would have been proud.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jan Olympic White Lagrrr! -- Trevor Nelson Guest Post

Apparently there's a beer renaissance going on in Queens, and Trevor Nelson is going to tell you about one of the breweries and beers that is part of it. Check it out!

Jan Olympic White Lagrrr!

This beer is one of the first seasonals brewed from Singlecut Beersmiths in Queens, NY. The first micro-brewery to open in Queens since before the prohibition, this craft brewery is a symbol of the cultural shift happening in Queens and the development of a deeper pride for the borough. Singlecut prides itself on crafting an often neglected genre in the craft brewing scene: lagers. Or, as Singlecut refers to them, Lagrrr!s.

The Jan Olympic White Lagrrr! is a hazy dark caramel color, with a moderately rocky head. The aroma is strongly herbal with a bit of orange, lemon, and sweet malt. On the palate, this beer has a phenomenal balance of citrus, malt and spice with a surprisingly smokey finish. The mouthfeel is refreshing and light. After walking a few blocks from my apartment in the winter cold to Singlecut's tasting room, this beer was a fantastic way to beat back the cold. It's refreshing balance, perfect mix of spices, and gentle smokey finish has made for my new favorite winter beer. The Jan Olympic has been so popular that the brewery has decided to make it a year round beer. If Singlecut is indeed a symbol of things to come to Queens, I'm excited for what comes next.

Beer review written by Trevor Nelson, staff content writer and beer fanatic for HomeWetBar.com and GreatGiftsForMen.com.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Beck's Sapphire

If you launch your beer with a Super Bowl commercial and spend a bajillion dollars to hype it, I will try your beer. Guaranteed. I actually thought the commercial was very good with a sexy black fish serenading the sexy black bottle of beer. At least Becks didn't mess it up and put it in green glass or something stupid like that.

Anyway, this is a German Pilsner style beer made in the German mecca of St. Louis, Missouri. It's brewed with German Sapphire Hops, which the commercial brags about, and it's supposed to be the smoothest Becks yet. "SMOOTH TASTE" says the label!

Now the orginial Becks is a 5% ABV beer, so the 20% higher alcohol (that's 6%) in this mama might catch those drinkers off guard. Even moreso if you're drinking the 4%-ers that Bud puts out. Be careful.

Nice white head. Sweet grainy aroma, light orange. Sweet flavors, grainy, sourdough, sweet orange. Decent body. Definitely creamy and smooth, so they got what they were going for on that aspect. However, I'll be damned if there is a single hop, German Sapphire or not, in this beer.

Overall, the commercial will sell a lot of this beer. It's a little smoother with a little bigger body than some other macros, but the flavors are all the same. And it's much too sweet and NOT refreshing at all. Pass.

Friday, February 8, 2013

By The Glass Show: The Mack House -- A Place to Call Home

Holy Mackerel! There's a brewery in Davie! That's right, Bobby Gordash (of Holy Mackerel Beer Fame) recently opened a nano-brewery called The Mack House. Bobby wanted to have a place where he could brew small-batch experimental beers and test them out on his guinea pigs. And the ByTheGlassShow crew was invited out to do an on-site broadcast and be those test subjects for a few of the newest beers. I tagged along.

After Brett introduced the show, we wasted no time starting off with a half mead, half strong ale Braggot called Honey Do This! Sugary with very honey-forward flavors. Sweet and rich, but with a decent amount of hops at the end. The 9.5% alcohol also helped thin out the richness. Ballsy to make a Braggot! Nice job, Bobby G!

Bobby then took the guest mic and told us all about The Mack House and what he plans to achieve with his nano-brewery. He also talked about his new partnership with SmashBurger, a gourmet burger chain that has a beer-paired menu. Bobby mentioned a few of them to consider: his favorite, Spicy Baha Burger with Panic Attack and the most interesting, Cucumber and Goat Cheese Chicken Sandwich with Mack in Black.

While Bobby was being interviewed, we sampled his newest beer, Sour Cherry Porter, served on nitro. You could tell the beer had a porter base, but the sour cherries stood out, especially at the finish. Velvety texture and very enjoyable.

After a break, I moved back into the guest chair and we tried one of The Mack House's guest beers. Bobby told us that he will only have Florida beers on tap there, that there is a bond and partnership between the local brewers. So we were given a taste of Native Brewing's Glades Pale Ale.

Everyone agreed that it smelled like cat piss, with the utmost respect of course. And even Jorge and Jason and their non-IPA selves really enjoyed it. Fresh and clean, quite floral. Hoppy, but with enough malty sweetness to cause some disagreement as to whether it was really a Pale Ale or more like an IPA. It was borderline, but I voted Pale Ale.

Just as everyone was patting themselves on the back for attributing the hoppy goodness to Cascade hops, Adam Fine walked in and let us know that we were tasting a new hop called Zythos. Adam is the brewer of Glades Pale Ale and founder of the awesome craft beer distributor Fresh Beer. The show was almost over, so Adam took the guest seat and chatted a little with the show.

We didn't get to try the beer on-air that I was most looking forward to, their Panic con Pablo, which is Holy Mackerel Panic Attack infused with Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee from Miami. So I ordered a glass of that along with some Ale Glazed Meatballs which are made with a Mack in Black sauce.

You could taste that sugary, fruity, spicy, boozy goodness of the Panic attack, but on top of that was a terrific coffee flavor. The coffee quality was excellent and it really added an awesome touch to an already great beer. Very enjoyable.

Well, that's it. It was nice to finally get to see The Mack House and I'm always happy to be invited back to the By The Glass Show. I've gotta keep up my game to stay ahead of the multiple appearances by Ruth from  Bon Beer Voyage.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New Albion Ale

Sam Adams brewed the original New Albion Pale Ale in honor of Jack McAuliffe and his contributions to craft beer. This recipe was created over 30 years ago. The label depicts a ship on a rough sea, very quaint. Jim Koch did this video with Jack on the history of his brewery and this beer (you should watch it). Enjoy before July, 2013. 6.0% alcohol.

Crackers and grainy aroma, very faint. Malty start, grainy sweetness, distinct dough flavors. There is some hoppy balance, with a little lemon and floral characteristics. Again, the flavors are pretty neutral and muted. Not bland or thin but not very robust.

A little grassy and herbal toward the end. Carbonation is prickly. Medium body. Flavors were good, but I wish they were a little more pronounced. A little spicy hoppy nip would have made me think pale ale too. Anyway, glad to have tried it, and Jack sure as heck had the Buds of his day whipped!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Shiner FM 966 Farmhouse Ale

First, before you even ask, the name of the beer comes from the name of a farm to market road near the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. Yes I realize I could have left that off assuming you'd read the story on the back of the bottle, but I don't have faith.

The label calls this a "Spring Provision Ale" and later says it's "Made For Spring". I guess they wanted me to be sure. Also, "It's Refreshing and Spicy" and "A Season Delight". OK. Here we go.

Hay, spice and a light fruitiness in the nose. A bit sour to start, lemon followed by a sharp Granny Smith apple bite. Definitely some funky hay flavors going on too. There is a sweet contrast to the beer, not exactly balancing, rather a standalone flavor.

The carbonation is big, really helping with the overall refreshment of the beer. Spicy coriander rides along most of the way, noticeable but not overdone. The finish is dry. Overall, a pretty nice beer. Check it out.