Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gillian 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

Buffalo Bill's Blueberry Oatmeal Stout

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

Bishop's Barrel 5

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!
Cocoa, vanilla and raisins with some roasted character in the aroma. Flavors start out with big chocolate and caramel. Super sweet raisins come next and last a bit but are eventually knocked down by the big alcohol. Vanilla is noticeable and appears with the woody flavors. Bourbon sweetness and hotness.

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

Halia 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

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

Piercing Pils

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

Bourbon County Brand Barleywine

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

Invasion Pale Ale

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

Last Stop India Pale Ale

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

Wild² Dubbel

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

John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale

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

Upslope Christmas Ale

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

DirtWolf Double IPA

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

G-Thing Ginger Spice Ale

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

Icon Bohemian Pils

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

False Summit

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 !