Tuesday, September 24, 2013

St. Baldrick's Shaving Event to Benefit Childhood Cancer: Mickey Byrne's Irish Pub, Hollywood Florida

Last Saturday I dragged my two very unappreciative, spoiled children to Mickey Byrne's Irish Pub in Hollywood for a St. Baldrick's fundraiser. The charity, which shaves heads to show support and raise money for childhood cancer research, held its first event on St. Patrick's Day in 2000. Thus, the St. Baldrick name is a combination of "Bald" and "St. Patrick". Individuals and teams of individuals gather donations with the promise to their donors of a head shaving. You can still donate to my team (of one) if you'd like!

This year, the event was hosted by Channel 10's Julie Durda (my favorite) and Todd Tongen. After a bagpiper played some opening ceremonial music, a small army of barbers shaved the heads of over 100 people on the way to over $50,000 in donations. Local politicians, football coaches and some enormous players, business owners, and many people affected by childhood cancer were there to "Get Bald". Heck, even some of the kids that were previously bald because of cancer decided to get shaved as it was finally their own decision to have hair or not!

Dr. Hanif was there to get his head shaved. Dr. Hanif is an expert in the field of Pediatric Cancer treatment and is pushing for more research. He had a fundraising team and is obviously an outspoken supporter of the charity. His daughter was called to start with his "shaving". Channel 10's MJ Acosta asked her what it felt like to shave her dad's head. I'm pretty sure "it's really weird" wasn't quite what they were expecting, but it got a few laughs. Later, a patient of Dr. Hanif took a turn before the pros took over and finished the deed and cleaned him up.

After the "VIP Shavees" took their turns, the rest of us got our shot. I personally thought my few-month-overdue locks were pretty long, but I was wrong. There were hippies, dudes with entire manes, and some enormous beards that got buzzed too. Some even got their eyebrows shaved off. Each person had their own story of why they were there to support he cause.

I'm really glad Julie Durda didn't ask me for my "why cancer research" story. I heard her ask a few dozen other dudes, a few chicks, and even a few children that represent the foundation as survivors that very question. I practiced my "peer pressure/dare" type answer just in case though it never came to that.

The honest answer is that I think childhood cancer is totally fucking bullshit, though I'm not sure that was the appropriate quote to use with my children there!  Hearing the success stories from kids that have overcome and battled cancer was so emotional. Children really shouldn't need to worry about this disease, so let's figure this out!

After I was finished, I grabbed my free can of Guinness Black Lager and pretty much chugged it. It was extremely hot and my kids were all sweaty and begging to go. But I had one last mission before leaving. Of course, the picture with Julie!

After inadvertently interrupting her conversation with one of the charity's cancer survivors, she gladly posed for a photo. I was also promised this signed/autographed photo from one of the event's organizers, but he was busy (though it's in the mail I'm told). Anyway, next year I will sign up earlier and do a better job with fundraising for a great cause! Hope to see you there.

Friday, September 20, 2013

17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA

I'm a pretty big fan of Stone Brewing, like Götterdämmerung Big! So I bit the bullet and bought a bomber of their 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA, a 9.5% Double IPA brewed with pilsner malts and a basket of crazy German hops you've never heard of: Herkules, Hersbrucker, Magnum, Merkur, Opal, Smaragd & Strisselspalt. You can read that as part of their story below as well.

That story, found on the back of the bottle in micro-type, talks about Stone's accomplishments over the past year. This is an August 2013 release and I was reminded to Drink Fresh. 22 ouncer. 9.5% alcohol.

Sweet fruity aroma, lots of orange and a little pineapple. Hmmm. Really hoppy but totally unique and different hoppy. Tropical peaches very strong, very juicy. There is also plenty of sweet orange. Spicier pine and citrus grapefruit rinds are also present. This beer has a big hops basket and many are popping out terrific individual flavors.

Fruity, sweet and bitter simultaneously, fresh, nice spicy bite and an alcohol finish. Nice tangy feel throughout. I dig this kind of experiment, much moreso than those that might use/add weird extra ingredients, like crazy fruits, yeasts from body parts or unknown African adjuncts.

Thank God I didn't need to transcribe this micro-type enormous story:

Life is never dull at Stone, but the last year has been one of the most eventful yet. We threw open the doors to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, our second decidedly eclectic brewery restaurant, installed in historic former Naval Training Center buildings (including their original mess hall). We outfitted it with a 10-barrel brewhouse, 40 taps serving Stone and guest beers, a huge outdoor garden area, and 650-plus seats. Hey, “small” is for other people. Well, come to think of it, we do have our own version of “small” in our brand-new-as-of-August craft beer-centric Stone bar and eatery in Terminal 2 of San Diego International Airport. At any rate, plan your trip accordingly. And we doubled the size and production capacity of our brewery, built the new Stone Packaging Hall and, oh yeah, found out we’re now the 10th largest craft brewing company in the country. We can hardly believe we fit that all into one paragraph, much less 12 months. Through all that growth, like hop bines rooted in fertile soil (see what we did there?), we kept our feet securely planted on terra firma, remembering that it’s all about the beer—we’d be nothing without it. And so, as we prepare to celebrate 17 years of straining the seams of the ale envelope, we again focus squarely on beer via our annual anniversary offering, while at the same time laying to waste long-held concepts of what German hops can and cannot do, as well as what the world has come to know about San Diego IPAs—thanks much in part to our family of beers.

Inspired by new experimental German hops, our brewing team is celebrating our 17ten Jahrestag by taking palates on an unconventional tour of Deutschland by way of Southern California. In doing so, we used a grain bill comprised exclusively of pilsner malts and German hops with crazy awesome names: Herkules, Hersbrucker, Magnum, Merkur, Opal, Smaragd & Strisselspalt. Dry-hopping with Sterling, a U.S. hop with Saaz parentage, lends a bit of familiarity, but be forewarned, this is a unique beer that takes the IPA—a style we’ve already pushed far beyond its previous limits over the years—to interesting new territory. Schumpeter chose economics; we chose beer. Our creative destruction has been aimed squarely at the previously-held-dear conventions of what beer can and should be. Stone 17th Anniversary Götterdämmerung IPA is the latest in a long line of innovations, but nowhere near the last. Not by a long shot.

Greg Koch & Steve Wagner, Co-Founders, Stone Brewing Co.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

St. Baldrick's Head Shaving for Cancer Event

Adios, lovely locks!
Apparently I'm signed up to shave my head this Saturday at Mickey Byrne's Irish Pub in Hollywood, Florida. Wife is in Italy so I'll have a week to regrow the hair and think up my story!

I am shaving my head for Children's Cancer Research for St. Baldrick's, the largest contributor to this cause besides the Federal Government, so if you're reading this please donate a few dollars to the cause. I put up $50 so you know it's not just the normal hot air you may be used to here.

At the very least, check out and comment on my crazy before hair! After hair pics will be plentiful! Thanks.

Oh, and I'm getting an autographed (and maybe lipstick kissed) photo of host Julie Durda for showing up. Don't let me down!

Update: you can find the after photos and recap here!

Honey Do Wit and 6 Sense Belgian Ale: 2013 Gold Coast HomeBrew Entries

As Gold Coast Distributor's 2013 HomeBrew Competition wrapped up recently, Ed Roberts from Team Honey Do Wit and Brett Hubbard from Team 6 Sense gave me a bottle of their entries to check out here. I enjoyed both on the spot, given a few ounces of each. Let's see how the full bottles compare.

Honey Do Wit won the $500 prize for Best Label/Name, and it is a very cool concept. Behind the beer name is a "Honey Do" List, a pretty tough one too. I guarantee my wife never has dig a ditch on her list--poor dude with the shovel and hard hat on the front! And I like that the "I" in Wit is a line of check-boxes. Very creative. This is a Belgian-Style Witbier made with Florida Orange Blossom Honey and Basil. This homemade label even has the Surgeon General's warning on it!

Nice aroma. Fruity, sweet honey, herbal and a big dose of Belgian yeast--everything the label says is already fulfilled on the nose.

Sweet honey flavors, quite chewy and syrupy. There is an interesting bitterness but nothing like I remembered from the event. Rather, this bitterness is way more subtle. Orange sweetness follows with an herbal finish. The Belgian yeast adds character and is very prominent throughout. Flavorful but a little too sweet. Nice job, team Honey Do Wit!

Team 6 Sense made a Belgian Ale. The label shows a VooDoo doll with pins sticking out of it. The label on the bottle had definitely seen better days. In and out of the ice, wet then dry, etc. Anyway, you get the idea here. The beer is what matters the most.

Love the aroma--citrus orange meets tropical apricot. And the flavor profile continues along those same lines. Fruity and juicy orange and peach flavors are prevalent throughout, a combination of citrus and tropical playing off one another. You will detect pale malts and some light bitterness as well. Quite refreshing, low-medium carbonation. Simple and flavorful, a very enjoyable beer. I'd put a few of these away no problem.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Saranac Legacy IPA

Saranac beers brewed by Matt Brewing Company in Utica, New York have a special place in my heart. I went to college at Cornell in upstate New York, and those Saranac beers were some of the first beers I tasted that stood out against all the crappy lagers so readily available. After graduation in 1994, I continued to drink Saranac regularly.

I haven't had so much lately, though. In fact, I'm not even sure they still distribute to South Florida. However, I still receive their press releases and recently read about their Legacy IPA, brewed in celebration of their 125 year anniversary. They used founder FX Matt's IPA recipe and added some modern techniques, while also using hops dating back to 1888 and blending with those used in American IPAs today.

I asked the brewery if they'd send me a sample or two, and the rest is history. The beer comes in pounder cans with a simple angel and beer glass decoration. 60 IBUs. 6.5% alcohol.

Nice tropical mango aroma with some nice spicy hoppiness as well. Really nice orange citrus flavors open things up, and those tropical nuances follow. Good bready flavors too. Hoppy, spicy, fresh, a little oily, lemony. More tropical flavors come through as the beer warms a little as well.

The alcohol shows through toward the finish with a little dryness. Leans nicely bitter. Balanced. Excellent flavors. Terrific!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The 2013 HomeBrew by Gold Coast Beverage Distributors

Last night, I attended The 2013 HomeBrew by Gold Coast Beverage Distributors at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, FL. My mom is in town so I took her along with me. We arrived on time, of course. First person I see? Bobby Gordash, formerly of Holy Mackerel fame and now working for Florida Beer Company. We parked next to each other, so said our hellos on the way in to the Sport of Kings Room.

After registering and getting a t-shirt and sampling cup, we walked into the ballroom where Ed Roberts showed us around a little. I said hello to the people I knew including Brett and the crew from ByTheGlassShow.com. Then we grabbed a plate of food and a few beers belonging to Gold Coast's portfolio from the bar. I had Sierra Nevada's Flip Side and got my mom a Fat Tire. But this was not an event about commercial beers. This was a team building event held to showcase the homebrewing talents of Gold Coast's employees.

There were 24 entries this year in widely varying styles. We decided to check out Ed and his team's entry first. Honey do Wit is a Belgian Style Witbier made with Florida Orange Honey and locally sourced basil. For me, it was surprisingly bitter yet still balanced with a nice honey and orange sweetness and spicy herbal finish. Ed gave me a bottle at the end of the night too, so I'll do a real review in the next few weeks.

That's when I bumped into Doug Fairall from New Times Broward-Palm Beach. We had never actually met but know each other online. Nice guy. I'm sure he'll write an excellent piece about the event too. We worked our way around to every booth and tried all of the homebrews. After all, how can you give your Booth Lover's and Beer Lover's votes without doing so?

Along the way, I had my picture taken with two models in some pretty spicy outfits. After all, "What happens at HomeBrew, stays at HomeBrew!" Well, not really, my mom posted the picture to Facebook and tagged my wife, LOL. An official photographer also took the same photo and gave me a nice printed version at the end of the night. And at least I kept my hands where they belonged!

Beer styles ranged from saisons to wheat beers to fruit beers, Belgians, browns, IPAs, stouts and even a cider. Standouts for me included Brett and Team 6 Sense's Belgian Ale (Brett gave me an extra bottle at the end for a real review too). Great tropical and citrus fruit flavors, a little spicy and a nice hoppy bite. Team 18 MangoMon made a pale ale brewed with mangoes. Great mango flavors with a delicious pale ale, great.

Team 3 GrapefruitHead made a hoppy wheat brewed with grapefruits. Very refreshing and a great grapefruit zing. And my mom and I both liked Team Brown Noser's Brown Ale brewed with vanilla and cocoa. Served with a pork slider, it was very flavorful and my mom said it reminded her of Kahlua. Finally, we thought Team Ol' Malty Bastard and their Sweet Potato Stout was really great. Sweet and thick, unique, creamy. Tastes of whiskey really make it stand out.

Back to the mountains of shrimp cocktail for me. Mmm! And then the judging and presentation from Gold Coast CEO Frank Schwiep. Frank's welcome and introductions were very entertaining, with a little bit of a "roast" style to them. He picked on Ed and the judges and other guests. He also gave a few shout outs (do the kids still use that?), including two for DailyBeerReview.com! Then there was a panel discussion with the judges.

These judges were not your everyday Tom, Dick and Harry, either. This was Tom Moench, creator of OBP Orange Blossom Pilsner. Tom called himself a "beer dork" that is trying to become a business savvy dork too. Tom Blanch from Sierra Nevada, who mentioned they are now running test batches at their new brewery to check the quality with their main brewery. Dick Leinenkugel from Jacob Leinenkugel Brewery talked about nine generations of beer making, wow. Sorry, no Harry. But Jill Farver from Boston Beer's Sam Adams brand was there to round out the judging panel. She mentioned their own company's Longshot homebrewing contest and said they all need to brew at least once a year!

Finally, how about the winners? Honey do Wit won the Best Beer Name/Label; Plum Crazy Pale Ale won Booth Lover's Choice; and MangoMon won the Beer Lover's Choice. The pro judges picked the top three beers with 3rd place going to Brown Noser, 2nd place to Ol' Malty Bastard and the winning beer, with a prize of an All Expense Paid Trip of Choice, went to Scatterbrain IPA.

I had a great time and hope to be invited back next year. Although I didn't agree completely with the final results, who am I to argue with Toms, Dick and Harry Jill? Thanks to everyone for a nice evening.

Rob with the MangoMon guys

The DJ for the evening

Bobby Gordash's Sweet Florida Beer Ride

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2013 Belgian-Style Black IPA: Beer Camp #94

This year's Sierra Nevada Beer Camp series had only three beers in it. 2013 Belgian-Style Black IPA is the final one for me after the Imperial Red Ale and IPA. Three IPAs in the same box was a little disappointing for me I must say, even if they are quite distinct within the general category. The label is very cool; there, I said it again. On the back label, you are told to expect a unique hop profile due to the addition of Sorachi Ace and Nelson Sauvin varieties. 7.7% alcohol.

Huge head. Yeah, I even lost a little over the edge so be careful. And that head takes forever to recede. Big roasty aroma, smokey with chocolate and a fruity, hoppy hint.

Wow! You can really taste the interesting hoppy profile. The story was not just a pretending, wishful thinking little blurb of what the brewer wished and dreamed would happen! Sorachi Ace and Nelson Sauvin are two of my favorite varieties. Though they are not used very often and I don't have a lot of experience with them, Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace and Widmer Brother's Nelson Imperial IPA really are amazing beers that highlight what the two varieties can do!

From the start, you will taste a lot of tropical fruit and bright, sharp lemon flavors. And it is really interesting the way those profiles work with an equally distinct, heavy-duty roasted, smoky, even-burnt malt. There is also some coffee and a slight hazelnuttiness (could be me thinking about the morning coffee). 

Now I am really not generally a Black IPA fan at all. All that burnt malt bitterness to me just kills a beautiful IPA. And this beer had that profile! I honestly say that I didn't find any Belgian influence in this, so whatever. But the promised fruity, hoppy character really worked well together with that malty backbone. Very unique and interesting, nice flavors, enjoyable. 

I really liked the Imperial Red Ale too, so this year there's a toss-up between those two for the winner.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Magic Hat sent me another beer from their newest seasonal box, a saison known as Séance. The abstract graveyard scene on the label is pretty interesting. An owl, candles, chalices, strange people, leaves: gaze at it for a while. This is supposed to be "a liquid dance through life's trance." 4.4% alcohol.

Murky brown color, so I know something different is up, though I am not even slightly surprised. Caramel and herbal scents mix with some spices and yeast... and mint? Herbal flavors to start with plenty of roasted, slightly smokey malt. There is a flat weak coffee flavor too, very noticeable. Sweet cola meets this saltiness that I just can't shake.

A bit of lemon does add some citrus brightening and relief from the sweeter malts, but overall, that didn't show through as much as I would have liked. Thin, undercarbonated. More roast at the finish and into the aftertaste. Not unpleasant but way too much all over the place. Weird is an understatement. Pass.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout

So you guys remember when Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale first came to South Florida right? Ed and I rubbing shoulders with football great Fran Curci? No? Time to set up your free subscription! Well, Alltech's Lexington Brewing also makes a stout! And I grabbed one a few days ago.

The labels on almost all of the bottles were peeling off. Yeah, I know, South Florida humidity. Time for some better and increased amount of adhesive for bottles headed this direction. The label was very simple, basic background decoration with the name of the beer, all in black and white. The label states that this is "stout brewed with coffee and aged in oak barrels with Haitian coffee". I wonder what type it was brewed with? Just regular Folgers? Anyway...

Black, really black! Only a few bubbles too. Nice roast in the aroma, tons of coffee, and a little chocolaty sweetness. Very inviting.

Extremely sweet to start with lots of pruney dark fruit flavors. Some coffee flavors come next but still that sweet prune dominates. More sweetness, but I can finally get a hint of that bourbon character from the barrels, though it is extremely muted, especially considering the beer's name.

Hints of chocolate and oaky dryness (cottonmouth) round things out. Not that complex, pretty pricey, decent. Medium body, low-no carbonation, smooth enough. The 8% alcohol was perfect. Coffee was the main flavor by the end, though I'm not sure if that's from the coffee this was brewed with or aged with. Overall, too sweet and a little boring. I think it was $13 for a 4-pack and I got my single for $4. Too much money for what I got. If you can forget the price, go ahead and check it out.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2013 IPA: Beer Camp #93

Today I'm checking out 2013 IPA: Beer Camp #93, the second for me from Sierra Nevada's 2013 annual 12 pack after the Imperial Red Ale. Hopefully they spent the time not used thinking about the beer's name crafting its recipe. 6.9% alcohol.

Doughy aroma with pine and a little orange. I really had to work for it as it wasn't very powerful. Pine and juicy orange citrus are the prominent flavors in the beginning. There is also plenty of sweet malty balance. Bread and caramel seem to be the most obvious flavors, but some tropical mango sweetness lingers toward the end.

Basically, this is Torpedo's cousin, the one that is a little more refined, doesn't burp in front of guests and has an inkling about what manners are. Solid IPA. Nice flavors and nuances. Enjoyable. Now hand me that Torpedo!

Monday, September 2, 2013


#NowDrinking ALTeration, an Altbier brewed by Hops and Grain in Austin, Texas. The brewery thought I'd like to try this beer, so they sent me a can. They also sent me a little fact sheet about the beer and style, etc. They noted an addition of black malt to the traditional recipe for this beer, which I guess is the alteration? Is that a stretch? I've been drinking.

There is a lesson on the back, something about new ideals and dollars. I never was that good at philosophy, so please feel free to enlighten me with an explanation. See the picture below. Again, this brewery uses sustainable methods of brewing and tells a little story on the side about Aluminum. ALT Glass, pfft, whatever. Serve at 45°F. 5% alcohol. 40 IBU.

Malty aroma, a little nutty, with some light sweetness. Smells like a brown ale. (That's kind of funny I wrote that (to me) because after I was done, I went over to Beer Advocate to see exactly what the hell an ALT is-->German-style Brown Ale, LOL). 

Very interesting tobacco flavors come first, really prevalent from start to finish. Roasted malts galore! Combine those two flavors with a hoppy, grassy and spicy bitterness and you have a very interesting beer. There is an underlying sweetness that is caged in and dying to be free. At least we know it's there; rescue teams are on their way. Medium body with a low-medium carbonation.

Pretty good beer though my preferences are Pale Dog > The One They Call Zoe > ALTeration. However, if in the Austin area, I'd suggest making a visit to see these guys!