Friday, June 28, 2013

Hibernal Vinifera Stout

This can of Ska Brewing's Hibernal Vinifera Stout came back with me from a Colorado vacation several months back. There's a second can with Ed Roberts' name on it if we can ever figure out where to meet, park, logistics bullshit. I've had it in my car three times but the rest of the stuff never pans out. Soon!

Four of the original six were consumed after massive ski exercise. When I told my wife one of the nights I had a beer brewed with her favorite wine grape, Malbec, she did NOT believe me for a second. I showed her the can and had my credibility instantly restored. But her face while trying the beer was a little WTF too. Oh, well.

So yeah, this is an oak-aged, foreign-style stout brewed with Malbec juice. The can is decorated with a "harvest-goddess" type woman wearing an Indy checkered flag skirt. I like to refer to the scene as "boobs, bines, barley, 'bec". Around the top rim of the can are a bunch of brainstorming words: solstice and divine and wrath, etc. "Recycle" is there twice and I'm not really sure what "Ngeshtin-Ana" means. Never mind. I bet that's the chick from the illustration.

Rich, pruney, cocoa aroma with a decent amount of roasted malts and grapes (if you beg your imagination). Rich chocolate and smoke flavors are big at the beginning, even with some light charred wood and a little bitter coffee. Those flavors are hit by some grape and cherry tartness which lingers all the way to the finish.

Tannic and acidic wine flavors are easily noticeable. The finish is very dry with some oaky flavors. Medium body, low carbonation, creamy texture. The Malbec flavors linger in the aftertaste. I'd suggest letting it warm up before even opening the beer as the flavors started to shine at higher temperature. Pretty nice beer all around and definitely unique.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

G/I/A/A (god is an american) Imperial IPA Ghost 005

I recently received my second "Official Taste Tester" kit from Adroit-Theory Brewing Company in Purcellville, Virginia. (Remember, this is still homebrew, though they are progressing slowly for a late fall/early winter opening). You might recall they had sent me two versions of their B/A/Y/S Imperial Stout earlier this year, Ghost 002 and Ghost 003. This time, they went the exact opposite direction, creating G/I/A/A (god is an american) Imperial IPA Ghost 005.

If you read their introduction, you will see that this beer was designed to show off the "Revolutionary Aspects" of their brand. They even went so far as to create some post cards with death head moth masks featured on them (see pics way below). If you want one, I will put it in the mail for you. But you need to tell me why you deserve it (leave a comment). Finally, the name of the beer comes from a line in the David Bowie song I'm Afraid of Americans. Click below to listen while you read on.

The 375 mL bottle is corked and caged, designed with that Revolution theme I mentioned above. To the side, the label offers a little story to set your expectations for this "Citra based hop beast aged on Ash wood infused with vodka". Trifecta 1, Ghost 005, Batch Ash, Bottle 292 of 300. Alcohol 11.2%, IBU 89, SRM 12, Serve at 54°-57°F. DAMN!

Candied orange malty sweet aroma meets booziness with a noticeable Ash aroma. Rich and sweet malty start, very chewy. Big alcohol is also noticeable, though well incorporated and tamed. Juicy orange and citrus are quite flavorful and the hops add the perfect amount of bitterness to add some balance.

The Ash also adds a very prevalent flavor throughout and makes the finish very dry. Just as you finish each sip, you get a hint of spirit type quality, that "oof". Big body, low carbonation. A unique, tasty treat!

Monday, June 24, 2013

THE Crisp

Next up, a German Pilsener from Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn. THE Crisp comes packaged in pounder cans which I like. On the back a quote from a poem, as usual. For this beer, Ralph Waldo Emerson had this to say... “There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.” Waldo, LOL! 5.4% alcohol. 42 IBU. 5.9 SRM.

Clean aroma. Light lemon and grain with some spicy hops. Mmm. Nice flavors. Lightly sweet malty beginning with some crackers on top. Lemony and spicy hop bitterness comes next, a nice little zing with it. Very clean and smooth and fresh. Could use a little more carbonation, but this is an easy drinker. Very nicely done. Highly recommended!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Rolle Bolle

Hot day today! Decided to check out New Belgium's Rolle Bolle, their summer seasonal brewed with soursop and monkfruit. The beer is named after a lawn game played in Belgium, and there is an illustration of it on the label. Best Before 20OCT13. 5.5% Alcohol.

Grassy, lemony aroma, very bright with a touch of sour zing. Similar flavors. Lemony and grassy to start with a little initial bitterness and tartness. A juicy and fruity sweet balance comes next. So far so good. However, there is this persistent earthy, herbal flavor in the background that tastes funny and lingers on the palate afterward. I didn't like that. Thin body but refreshing. OK flavors. Something seemed off. I'd pick something else.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Upslope Imperial India Pale Ale

I was contacted a week or so ago by an agency representing Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado. They recently released their Imperial IPA in 19.2 oz cans and wanted to know if I'd like to give it a try. What do you think I said? The can is tall and sleek. On the side, the INGREDIENTS: snowmelt, malt, New Zealand hops, yeast; and SPECS: hand-crafted, aluminum can, portable, recyclable, good. I'll be the judge of the last one. 90 IBU; 10% alcohol.

Fruity, boozy aroma, some tropical and citrus orange. Fruity, malty sweet beginning with a strong boozy aspect. Some peppery hops come next, but then you start to taste this funny, off, vegetal flavor. That flavor just keeps building too. Blech! That's about as far as I got. Too sweet, extreme booze, unpleasant prominent flavor. I guess since I dumped most of it, that means I don't get that 19.2 bumper sticker for my car?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bengali Tiger

Sixpoint Brewery's Bengali Tiger is next up on my list. I checked out their Resin a week or so ago, so decided to see what this one was all about. Bengali Tiger is an IPA that is packaged in pounder cans. 6.4% alcohol; 62 IBU; 13 SRM.

As usual, on the back of the can, Sixpoint delivers a piece of poetry that relates to the beer in some way. For this beer, they chose a few lines from William Blake's The Tyger. "What immortal hand or eye. Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" Here go read it yourself! Best Before 02SEPT2013.

Aroma is almost non-existent, just a little malty sweetness. Malty orange flavors come in the beginning. Pine, sap, resin and some bitterness from citrus rind. There is a black peppery spiciness that comes with each sip as well. Kind of malty thick texture and not really that bitter at all. 

A little boring, light bodied and I definitely expected A LOT more. Dry at the finish with a light alcohol aftertaste. The lacing story and the poem quote from The Tyger are all that saved this beer from having a fraudulent name. I was thinking this was more of a kitten.

Monday, June 17, 2013

El Steinber -- AntiHero Vinny Guest Post

Guess who's back for another guest review. Yep, AntiHero Vinny, who even broke his own beer dieting rules to put this little piece together! When you have a chance, check out Vinny's drinking games column and follow on Twitter to see him exchange little public love notes with his girlfriend.

El Steinber

Bahl Hornin', Daily Beer Review readers!

Uncle Rob sent out the Twitter Beer-signal (which is a lot like the Bat-signal, if Batman was an alcoholic) asking if anyone wanted to do a guest post, and since there's nothing I enjoy more than working for free, I took him up on the opportunity.

Today's beer is Anderson Valley Brewing Company's El Steinber, a dark lager. I'm a huge fan of the Boonville brewery - I drank about a case of their Summer Solstice last summer - so I was very interested. I saw this tallboy 4-pack while on my first Solstice Hunt of the summer. Barkley, the lovable "bear+deer=beer" mascot, adorns the can sporting some sharp threads that puts Beiber swag to shame.

From AVBC: "Borders. We’ve crossed into uncharted territory with our newest release, El Steinber. In our somewhat unusual take on the style, we add Midnight Wheat malt to give this lager its dark brown color and roasted Indio-Hispano blue corn to lighten the body and create a unique, toasty flavor. German pilsner malt and Saaz hops round out this beer producing a crisp, clean finish and smooth drinkability that is perfect for any occasion."

Fencing to keep out the Bear-Deer!
El Steinber pours a very rich and deep, mahogany. It looks opaque until you hold it up to the light to see its true clarity. The head is a pale off white that dissipates quicker than a fart in the wind (majestic prose, right?). El Steiny has a smooth but effervescent (I learned that word from an Alka-Seltzer commercial) mouthfeel. The carbonation keeps it from being "creamy," which is good for the style (I like creamy beers, so I would've been good with a little thicker body).

The malts (Pale Two-Row, German Pilsner, Midnight Wheat, Roasted Blue Corn) balance out the spicy crispness of the hops (Saaz). There is definitely that distinctive Eastern European German/Czech pilsner flavor. The Roasted Blue Corn in the bill adds a nice bit of sweetness, that along with the 5.5% ABV makes Steiny a great beer for a warm Summer siesta (or fiesta).

El Steinber is a solid dark lager that's good for easy hornin', definitely a nice change of pace if I ever get tired of the Solstice (spoiler alert: I won't).

Sunday, June 16, 2013

French Aramis India Pale Ale

One of the beers New Belgium sent me to check out prior to their Florida market entry was French Aramis India Pale Ale, the second in their Hop Kitchen series of beers. This beer was "brewed with French Aramis hops to create an aroma of fresh cut flowers and garden herbs." The label on Big 22 names the beer in a colorful and whimsical way, nothing too fancy. 6.7% alcohol.

Not a very powerful aroma--a little fruity, maybe some citrus and a little rosemary herbs. Floral flavors are very strong at the beginning but become second fiddle with the entrance of the Herb Garden Express. I don't know what this French Aramis hop is capable of, but this beer tastes like it has a tablespoon of Herbes de Provence in it.

Grassy, minty, and quite frankly, a bit unpleasant after a bit. Bring in the alcohol to accentuate the part I don't  like and well, yeah. Hints of fruit and sweet honey smooth things out a little, especially with a little warmth. Very dry at the end with some of that herbal flavor lingering in the aftertaste. Just kind of weird. I really wanted to love this, too. Honestly, I think this probably would make for interesting beer cooking, if I had those skills.

Friday, June 14, 2013

New Belgium and Fat Tire Are Finally Here! (Soon)

A few weeks ago, I was told that New Belgium Brewing picked a date and distributors for their long-anticipated entry into the Florida market. Locally for me, that's July 29, 2013 with Gold Coast Distributors. If you care about anyone else but me here in South Florida, you can read about the other distributors in their network here. So welcome to the neighborhood!

A few days after finding out about their launch, I was contacted by the brewery's communications agency asking if I'd like to be on their media distribution list in Florida. Um, hello? Hell yeah! And I kind of answered like that too. At the same time I asked if they were going to throw any local parties to celebrate. They will let me know specifics later, but you can bet on it!

Anyway, the launch will begin with bombers of some of their most well-known flagship beers: Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, 1554 Enlightened Black Ale, Sunshine Wheat and Lips of Faith. In September, draft and 12 ounce bottles follow. Beyond that, I'd expect their lineup to expand little by little until we have most if not all of their beers.

Because I'm such a nice guy, and because I asked nicely, they sent me a nice assortment of their beers. So to mark the occasion, I decided to do a little write-up for what I consider two of their best-known, most approachable beers, the ones that helped put them on the map.

New Belgium and Fat Tire Are Finally Here!!! Ed Roberts will be so pleased to find out!

Fat Tire Amber Ale

Everyone loves the quaint label on this beer, the red bike parked along a path ready for a ride home. In fact, if you go to, you can "pair yourself with a new bike". The story on the side lets you know the beer is named for a bike ride through Europe. 5.2% alcohol. Best Before 13OCT13.

Grainy, toasty aroma with some caramel and tea and a hint of lemon. Flavors just like the aroma. You start with sweet caramel and a little herbal tea. Some toasted and buttered bread and sweet orange come next. There is just enough of a bitter citrus hoppy nip to tone the sweetness. Creamy, decent body. More carbonation, please. Pleasant flavors, easy drinker.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale

This beer was developed from a library book in Belgium. This was no normal library book though; rather, this was one that was really old and falling apart and used words and measurements that have been long dead. Anyway, the recipe they used as a template dates to 1554, thus the name. The label depicts a glass of this beer next to that book, both on top of a barrel of beer. 5.6% alcohol. Best Before 08DEC13.

Roasted coffee, light smoke and a distinct nutty aroma are intriguing. The roasted malt and smoke are prominent in the beginning. A blend of sweet chocolate, caramel and coffee come next, not really distinct, but rather more like a mochachino frappiano (or whatever that stuff is that Starbucks sells). Something tells me to say this is a little salty, even as my palate is feeling a drying effect. Good body. Very neutral overall, smooth, balanced. Another easy drinker to check out!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Maggie's Peach Farmhouse Ale

I was done beer shopping yesterday at Total Wine and on the way to cash register when Maggie's Peach Farmhouse Ale caught my eye. The distributor rep was building a display with it, and I think my taking a single from one of the packs didn't really please him, but whatever. I'm gangsta like that.

Anyway, Terrapin tells a little story on the side and concludes that this beer is "just like granny used to brew". I believe the old lady turtle with the basket of peaches and bifocals on the label is Granny herself! This is their Summer 2013 Seasonal. 5.3% alcohol.

Big-bubble head all the way to the top of the glass, but I'll be damned if it wasn't half gone before I could take a picture. Didn't help Tropical Storm Andrea was causing some big winds and blew over the bottle cap part of my presentation. Very powerful peach aroma--juicy, fruity, a little exotic and intoxicating!

Peach flavors from the start are very good though not nearly as rich or juicy as the aroma promised. But I'll say it again, very good. NOT sweet, which I was expecting, but rather with a little dose of sour tartness, just a nice little tangy zing. Reminds me of a tamer Festina Peche.

Calling this a Farmhouse Ale is like me calling my Mazda a Ferrari. There aren't any farmhouse qualities to this beer whatsoever, sorry. Not even any that you can force yourself to believe are there because you read it on the label. Peachy, orange ade flavors, low-medium body, OK carbonation though I'd have preferred a little more bubbly. Refreshing, enjoyable, and the perfect beer to recommend to that "I don't like beer" friend of yours. I would drink more for sure.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Shipwrecked Double IPA

And another new brewery at my local Total Wine. South Florida is seriously on a roll! Today I'm talking about Mission Brewery from San Diego, California, and decided to check out their Shipwrecked Double IPA first. Beyond the name, the label art continues the theme with a black flag decorated with a skull wearing a pirate's eye patch. On the side, a few sentences describing their beer, with lots of adjectives. You can read it below.

Tons of pine in the aroma with a little black peppery, rye-like spice. Sweet, malty melon and pineapples start, and let me tell you they are dripping in a 9.25% boozy infusion. Pine resin and a little orange citrus step in with plenty of pungent bitter hops. That bitterness along with more of that rye bread spicy flavor really build and are the dominant aspects of the beer.

Good chewy body, sappy. On the flat end of the spectrum. More alcohol heat and a little burn in the throat come toward the finish. Decent balance, decent beer.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fleur De Houblon Summer Ale

I decided to try Fleur De Houblon Summer Ale today. This is a Belgian Pale Ale brewed by Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York. The label depicts the Fleur de Houblon, translated to Hop Flower, a very simple little impression on the front. On the side, a story about the beer and what the brewery hopes you experience while drinking it. Serve at 40°F. 6.8% alcohol.

Lemony aroma with quite a bit of yeast and a light fruity sweetness. Yeasty hay flavors and lemony hops dominate right from the beginning. Carbonation is prickly yet you still have a nice creamy texture. Sweet honey and orange add additional flavor nuances, and there is a little peppery spice toward the end.

I just went back to read a review I did a few years back of their BPA Belgian Pale Ale, a beer I remembered really enjoying. Part of the reason I went back was because of how much this beer reminded me of it. Maybe this is a little sweeter, a little fruitier, but they are definitely relatives. That house yeast these guys use really has a distinct flavor. Anyway, I liked it. Grab one when you can.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hoptimum -- Galileo's Bane Guest Post

You guys probably remember when Darren did that guest review of Palo Santo Marron last fall, right? Well, he's back with this little gem. Check it out!

“Write drunk; edit sober."  ― Ernest Hemingway

(I won't say I was drunk, but drinking the Hoptimum, and it was late at night, and the following contains only minimal edits to the original.)

The art on the label could pass for the next monster on Doctor Who... the Non-weeping Silent Cyber Hophead!  Flavor abounds!  Hop goodness from the initial aroma to the finish.  This is a terrific beer. Smooth, wonderful, hops front to back.

All whole cone hops is the bragging point with this one.

I'd like to put this against the 90 Min, Hopzilla and Hopslam. Thinking about it, the 90 Min will be balanced, the Hopzilla will lean toward pungent (with firm malt flavor) and the Hopslam leans toward the sweet. This is right where is should be.

The 90 Minute is great, but the local grocery store sells it.  Give me a limited release to get excited about.  And three come to mind; Bell's Hopslam, Terrapin Hopzilla, and the reigning champ of them, the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum! (starting to sound repetitive, I know.)  Hop heads only need apply.

If you combine the three above, you may get one as good as this.

The Imperial IPA is one of my favorite styles.  Nothing wimpy about it.  Bam!  The flavor hits you right in the eyes (and mouth).

From the aroma, to the initial sweetness of flavor, and then then raising crescendo on the finish... It's like a symphony of taste.

A persistent thin white head acts as a protective canopy for the hoppy greatness.
Beautiful gold color, like an imperial IPA should have.

I like the hop head logo on the label. It fits so well with the style of this beer.  And reminds me that "bow ties are cool."

Get it while you can!!!

Darren U.  @galileosbane

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Funky Buddha Brewery Opens in Oakland Park

Funky Buddha Brewery opened in Oakland Park, Florida yesterday. For those unaware, that's basically Ft. Lauderdale, and yep, Broward County! My original plan was to arrive at opening around 4 pm so I could see the official ceremonies and ribbon cutting type stuff, but alas, mother nature combined with Little League baseball kept me at the field for 9 hours. I arrived around 6:30 or so to a blocked off road, massive traffic (due to the opening), distant parking and big-ass rain.

Whatever. No umbrella, I walked 8 blocks using the Dixie Highway train tracks and flashing police lights to guide me like a lighthouse in a dark stormy inlet. So yeah, the brewery was mobbed. Outside were three food trucks, a Funky Buddha beer tent, tents selling beer tickets, merchandise and a live band. I got poked at least three times in the face by umbrellas before deciding it might be OK to check out the great indoors, now armed with half a dozen beer tickets.

On the way in, I bumped into the first person I recognized--Bobby Gordash of Holy Mackerel Beer fame. He told me he'd be starting a new gig next week, so watch out for his next adventure. Oh, and he asked me if I had lost some weight. (Thanks for noticing Bobby!)

The new Buddha was busy, but not wall-to-wall, elbow-to-elbow, college-dive-bar crowded. You could maneuver no problem. The bar is long and wraps along an entire wall with a few dozen taps. There was an ample amount of employees and volunteers there to pour everyone their beers very quickly, and the ticket system worked perfectly as a time saver.

The taproom was very big with many tables and bar seats. In addition there were outside areas in front and back. From the taproom you could see the brewing space and so many huge tanks for brewing. If any of you have ever been to the old Buddha in Boca Raton and done their "brewery tour", well, this will shock you, the grand growth scale happening here. They now are using a 30-barrel facility, and speaking of tours, they will take place Saturdays and Sundays starting June 15, 2013 at 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm. I would recommend calling (954) 440-0046 or emailing before just showing up so you're not disappointed in any changes.

Yeah, a little fun blur. If you want crisp ones, ask me.
After checking out the place, I bellied up to the bar, and there were at least half a dozen seats so I plopped my butt down and used my tickets, being sure to save some for the special releases set to happen at 8 pm. I sat there for around 75 minutes and was amazed that every single beer on the tap list was regularly ordered, over hundreds of orders, not a single one neglected.

And it's funny listening to some of the questions customers say to servers. One dude asked how a particular beer tasted, if it was good. Server told him, "all of our beers are shitty!" with sarcasm noted by each as they had a chuckle. Next up, the chick that wanted to know if they had any wine. She was a HEAT fan too, so I wasn't surprised. Anyway, no wine, at least not last night. Finally, a woman clearly overwhelmed by the tap list asked for a recommendation. The back and forth banter was priceless but after she said "girly", the server brought back a Pina Colada Wheat. And she liked it!

There were special releases scheduled for 6 pm and 8 pm, and some at the later time were some of the brewery's most popular. So my seat at the bar was fortunate as those desperate for a (plastic) glass started to swarm around 7:45. Right at 8, an employee dressed as a banana came out to release the specials and the taps started to flow. By my own account listening to the staff, the first keg of No Crusts PB&J Ale kicked in 18 minutes.

Before giving up my seat to go find Ed Roberts, several trains sped by the back of the brewery. Yeah, this place is right on the tracks! I thought the studio location of was close to those tracks in Hollywood, but this was a record. Everyone seemed to think it was cool though, and not annoying, so good on that front. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the growler station. State of the Art beers in 32 oz and 128 oz (don't bother asking for a 64 oz, and don't ask why either) sizes to go. Was only Hop Gun IPA for the grand opening, but others will be there soon.

While looking for Ed, I bumped into MikeLovesBeer and spotted Ian from Fresh Beer though he was bolting for somewhere and I didn't get to say hello. Two of Ed's friends were there as well, a beer rookie and local personality Photographer Jarret, who I think is involved with that Crossfit cult. I met some new people and Ed pointed out a few others by name.

I think the Funky Buddha did a great job against a crappy rainy day, handling several thousand patrons (and I heard that they were not expecting nearly that many). The ticket system was great, customer service terrific, the taproom was beautiful and new and welcoming, despite sticking to the floor by the end of the night. I wanted to slip into the actual brewery section, but since there was a police presence outside ready to arrest me, I resisted. The City of Oakland Park (and City Hall is down the road, between the brewery and where I parked-->see pic if you didn't believe that I had to walk) is a lucky community to have this brewery in their city, and Broward County residents should support the Funky Buddha not only because of its locality, but because they brew some of the most awesome beers you can find ANYWHERE! I WILL BE BACK!

Since I mentioned that I tasted a few beers, here's a rundown with a few notes and impressions. In order...

Blueberry Cobbler Ale: Delicious. Luscious creaminess. Great blueberry flavor and I'll be damned if it doesn't also taste like a cobbler. Seriously, the name of the beer is a huge "duh". So perfect in every way.

Pina Colada Wheat Ale: Fruity, tangy, nice wheat flavor and texture. Refreshing and awesome.

Nib Smuggler Chocolate Porter: Nice cocoa flavors with some pleasant bitterness. Very smooth.

Hoppy Berlinerweiss: Wow, very hoppy yet tart at the same time. Interesting fruity refreshness.

No Crusts PB&J Ale: The jelly flavors are freakin' awesome, a beautiful grape. A little sourness and unique tart jelly. Great!

Bonita Applebum Apple Pie Ale: Nice flavors of apple and cinnamon, tastes like you're baking an apple pie in your mouth.

Passionfruit Berlinerweiss: BEST OF THE NIGHT! Passionfruit flavors are spectacular and the sour tartness is to die for. Such an awesome and flavorful beer.

If you don't comment, the terrorists win.