Friday, May 31, 2013

Sweet Action


After checking out Resin a few days ago, I decided to try Sixpoint Brewery's Sweet Action next. I heard this beer referred to as a Cream Ale more than a few times, but my pounder can doesn't say that. I normally don't go do more research, but decided one more click would be OK today--even the Sixpoint website is confused on style, which is actually perfectly fine with me. I don't care about style guidelines.

There is a story on the back. Actually, I was tipped off by this really cool Boston guy (yeah, I know) that all of these Sixpoint can stories lead with a quote from a poem. Sweet Action's quote happens to be from long-dead poet Hilda Doolittle. She still hasn't been dead long enough to be famous enough for me to have heard of her. Read into that any way you wish. Anyway, you can see the full story in the photo below. The can offers a few stats as well: 5.2% ABV; 34 IBU; 12 SRM.

Citrus and lemony hoppiness with a touch of sweet grain aroma. The flavors are FAR more bitter than I anticipated, and beyond the bitterness, there is even a sour doughy flavor. Grassy and citrus hops meet a spicy zing on the palate with just a touch of flower petals.

Definitely creamy but lacking balance in any way. Perhaps a faint fruity sweetness barely shows just at the end, and you do get used to the flavors eventually, mostly. But I don't want to have to drink an entire beer just to get used to its weirdo flavors. I can drink the sourest of the Puckerington Kingdom beers and be used to them with just a few sips.

Lemony wins all the way, in a bad way. Refreshing at best. Funny aftertaste. Pass.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rye-on-Rye 2013


This might be the last Boulevard Brewing beer I have left from my trade with one of their brewers. Oh, except for the one I'm saving for #QuadDay 2013 on December 2nd. Anyway, Rye-on-Rye comes in a corked and caged wine bottle and is a Limited Release Smokestack Series beer, limited to the 4,123 cases produced. My bottle is from Batch 2013-4 and Best By 12-2014. I've also been sitting on it a while since it's a 12.0% beer, but figured my son's 7th birthday was good enough.

There is a story on the back that I'd title "What the Hell," an expression these guys seem to have used when first getting some Templeton Rye barrels and considering aging a rye beer in them. Your expectations are then set with a self-analysis.



Fine, billowing head! Check out that picture. Whiskey immediately fills your nostrils followed by some sweet caramel and rich toffee. Boozy and barleywinish.

OMG so good! Sweet toffee is prominent in the beginning. Word! (See what I did there? If not, I'll see you in church next Sunday and can explain it then). Anyway, I was expecting Clubber Lang in the way of a whiskey blamo on my palate but instead got nuanced bob-and-weave whiskey finesse. Caramel flavors meet rye spiciness next, and you will taste oak and vanilla after a while too.

Great, creamy texture. More toffee flavors lead into a dry, woody finish. The booze does start to add up by the end of the bottle. I'd recommend sharing if you grab a bottle, a three-way perhaps. Excellent flavors and very enjoyable.

No Instagram Bullshit Either!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Resin



It's Memorial Day and I'm still asleep, so I scheduled this for your early-rising ass!

Sixpoint Brewery from Brooklyn started shipping their cans down here to South Florida recently. It took a Total Wine Grand Opening as an excuse to pick up all the beers they sent. Picture the occasion: brand new store, perfectly and completely stocked shelves, and me shopping for singles in the six-pack aisle because I didn't know what beers were there (Total Wine arranges their singles section by style).

You know what that means right? Yep, broken sixers, or in the case of Sixpoint, opened boxes of 4 packs. Sorry dudes. You'll sell them though. So the beer I chose tonight, Resin, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a pounder like the rest of the beers I grabbed. Yeah, whatever, it's a 9.1% Double IPA. OK. I got a beer in a tall and skinny energy drink 12 ounce can. Things got a little contentious when I openly aired my grievances on Twitter!


The can design is pretty industrial, nothing too interesting. Name of beer, brewery, trademark and some beer stats including 103 IBU and 9.5 SRM. On the back in different font sizes/bolds, not sure... "Whatever flames upon the night Man's own resinous heart has fed. Resin is the sticky quintessence of hops that quells the encroaching malt sweetness." OK then!

The aroma is not that strong, but resinous pine is dominant with some light tropical fruit and citrus in the background. Spicy black peppery start with so much chewy (duh) pine resin that George Brett would have a second fit (BTW, that ruling was reversed, if you recall). Big body.

Hints of citrus peel do appear and so does the alcohol, not bad but certainly not disguised. Beg me to say there was some fruitiness and I'll decline. Oily texture, a bit sharp and harsh on the palate. Don't get me wrong, I liked it but it was a one-trick RESIN pony. Whoever named it should be given a beer-naming Emmy. You could say, pass me the resin and the generic would mean the trade name (like Kleenex). Tasty, try it!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

HiCü


Stepped out onto my front porch this morning to find a dripping wet box. Good thing that wasn't the Monet I just bought or UPS would have some answering to do. Really, why can't they ring the doorbell or at least put my package where it has a chance against Florida monsoons?

Anyway, Magic Hat was the culprit, sending me a few beers including HiCü, a beer brewed with cucumbers and Hibiscus. I would have probably guessed this a gimmick for almost every other brewery, but this is what Magic Hat does, so let's see how it tastes. The art work is pretty cool, with a pair of fish swimming around the name of the beer. 4.2% alcohol.

Smells like cucumber body wash, and the aroma was powerful even outside on a windy day. Flavors are VERY vegetal and full of flower petals. I know I should have known to expect that, but this really tastes like a glass of ground up garden. Kinda blech, not that pleasant. Add some weird and aggressive metallic bitterness along with an ugly tang and bad aftertaste and what you get is a first class example of a drain pour.

This beer arrived just as Magic Hat sued West Sixth Brewing for trademark infringement. If I thought West Sixth had any case at all (like when Monster Energy sued over the Vermonster), I'd have chimed in my support to their social media case. But seriously, West Sixth is going to lose hard and should not waste any more money kidding themselves. I'm no lawyer but obvious is obvious. So, no, I won't stop drinking Magic Hat beers in protest. Well, except this one. West Sixth, I will not drink HiCu to support your cause!

And in case you didn't get the joke of the beer's name, Magic Hat spelled it out for you on the neck of the bottle.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dark Truth Stout


Decided to try Boulevard Brewing's Dark Truth Stout this afternoon. This beer was obtained as part of a trade as it is not distributed to South Florida. The label is simple with the name of the beer in bold block letters and a glass of this beer in front. The back label gives some insights into the beer and sets your expectations. Best By 02/12/15.

Choco-cherry, pruney aroma. Chocolate flavors come first but are immediately met with a pronounced cherry cordial type flavor, really brought out by the 9.7% alcohol. Some hazelnut flavors come next along with some charred malt, perhaps even some smoke.

The dark fruitiness is really interesting, different, even "out of bounds". Bittersweet, a little hoppy, and very creamy. The finish is quite dry. I liked just how fruit forward and different this stout was. Very enjoyable. Grab it when you can.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Newcastle Bombshell Pale Blonde Ale

The last beverage in my Funky Buddha glass before my son broke it!

Ed Roberts recently said he was surprised that I hadn't reviewed Newcastle Bombshell Blonde yet. So I decided to ask their agency if they'd send me a sample, as they always usually do without me even asking . But while I was looking around for info about the beer, I noticed the thumbnail of a blonde woman in a swimsuit with a beach ball in the middle of the label.

So I decided to question how smart a decision that actually is, considering the blonde woman/blonde beer idea is extremely overdone and considered sexist by many. So here is how I (eloquently) penned my questions which then filtered through to the Newcastle Marketing Brand Manager over at Heineken.

Pain in the ass me: "I wanted to know if you have info/samples about your Newcastle Blonde. I'd like a statement from the brewery about the voluptuous blonde on the label, a cliched overused label idea that Newcastle hasn't explored before. I mean, she's hot, but there are a zillion female beer drinkers in the US now that will not appreciate what the brewery did. I'd like to know whose decision that was."

Brand guy: "I’d be happy to share more information about Newcastle Bombshell...

As you know from reviewing our brand in the past, the spirit of the Newcastle "No Bollocks" brand voice is humorous, lighthearted and dedicated to honesty. In this case, our summer brew is a blonde ale. And the woman on the front of our label is also a blonde – following our inclination to call a spade a spade – and wearing a respectable bathing suit by today’s standards.

Cheers!"

Pretty funny stuff right? I do things like that because I love you!

The label takes its "No Bollocks" a little further, calling this "A Real British Beauty" and tells the "Simply Stunning" story on the back.


Usually I'd make you read it in my picture, but this is really good...

"An Englishman's first love is his Brown Ale. However, in the summer he often fancies blondes instead! With this inspiration, we've created Newcastle Bombshell, an English style blonde ale. The combination of Cascade, Hellertau and Northdown hops balance this golden coloured ale's light aroma and bitterness with toasted malt to ensure a silky smooth finish. After one sip of this brew, we're sure you'll agree she's a real bombshell."

As for the beer, it has a grainy, toasty aroma with light lemon. Grain continues into the flavors, but it is attacked by some weird astringent lemony bitterness with metallic on top. Just ugly. The finish was dry. I didn't like it at all. It wasn't just boring--it was unenjoyable defined. Dump.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gold Coast Distributors Welcomes SweetWater Brewing to South Florida


You already all knew that SweetWater Brewing was arriving this month in South Florida. In fact, I saw their initial three beers delivered just yesterday at MY Total Wine. Last month, when I first mentioned the intent of SweetWater to distribute beer here, the brewery still didn't know which distributor would be responsible for carrying their brand. That, my friends, is what yesterday's party was all about!

A few weeks ago, a buddy of mine from Gold Coast asked if I'd be interested in attending the SweetWater launch party at Revolution Live in Ft. Lauderdale. Yep, Gold Coast won the distribution business of the brewery! (BTW, Gold Coast also just launched a really cool Facebook page called SFLonTAP, a hub for all things beer in South Florida, which you should all "Like" or whatever it is you do on FB.)


So apparently this party was going to go down at 4:20. Like, duh! I toke (I mean took) the afternoon off from my paying job to attend (yeah, I got a haircut too, but 4:20 isn't exactly a good time for me). I arrived early, around 3:30 (you hear that, Miami) because I knew there would be some issue. There was definitely no issue finding the place with the huge SweetWater trailer in front. But WTF is up with the private lots next to the venue? The parking spots are numbered but somehow you're supposed to pay the attendant who is not there? Or put coins or dollars into some board slot game and push them through with a key? Let me repeat WTF? Grow up technology. Ask the 30 Gold Coast guys in the lot what they thought of the system. I drove 5 blocks away to a real city lot, not some bullshit scheme crap.

I was told this was at Revolution Live AND America's Backyard. They are next door to each other, and I just followed the pack of Tie-Dyed bodies to the party. Each Gold Coast employee had on a special blue tie-dyed SweetWater T-shirt. Needless to say, I stuck out with my red polo shirt on. Anyway, I snacked on tortilla chips and "Franks in a Blanket" which were labeled in case we weren't sure (see at the bottom for proof).


Not much later, I found myself chatting with the guys from the ByTheGlassShow over a few 420 Extra Pale Ales when SweetWater's founder Freddy Bensch walked in. No entourage, just a cool guy that looked like he was happy he made it at 4:10. Whew!

We chatted a bit since I was prepared and knew some facts about his background. I never did get to ask the question about opening a second brewery in Colorado where he came from (you know, because of the pot legalization and all). We posed for a few pictures, and after all was said and done, I ended with a standing invitation next time I'm in Atlanta to be taken to the Clermont Lounge. Freddy mentioned that the bras hanging from the bar at Revolution reminded him of the place, so I guess there's some kind of nakedness there?



And I might take him up on the offer. My sister lives in Atlanta. Heck, she even served SweetWater's Blue at her wedding reception. Here's a cool picture of a bottle from that day--look closely (picture below), the historic Callanwolde Mansion is reflecting in the top of it!

There were at least 100 Gold Coast Employees there, all celebrating the launch of SweetWater and winning the account. We were told just how quickly Gold Coast was able to get the first three beers into the South Florida market. In just 4 days, SweetWater was in 80% of on-premise target accounts, and using Publix as an off-premise example, SweetWater's 420 and IPA were in 86% while Blue was in 71%, and only because they ran out of stock. That comment left Freddy Sch'weating.


Freddy made a toast at 4:20 while I was double-fisting 420s which was perfect. After downing that beer and a few more, Freddy along with Director of Marketing Steve Farace, Director of Sales Dave Guender and newest sales leader Seth Herman led us in a presentation about the history of the brewery, including a recent recount of how Gold Coast went from "low on the list" to "earning the business, hands down." Freddy said he was so impressed with their presentation that he felt SweetWater needed to "up their game" during the process.

Freddy started in the industry with Boulder Beer Company washing kegs in the early 90s. After a visit to Atlanta for the Olympic games, he decided to stick around and open his own brewery. SweetWater Brewing, named for SweetWater Creek, was founded in 1997, when the brewery was on the outskirts of the city where the only things you could buy nearby were "beer, hookers and crack. That first month we sold seven kegs. We also drank seven kegs, but we were really excited!" The brewery moved to Atlanta in 2004, and they've undergone a major expansion in the past few years, the reason they are now able to sell to the demand in South Florida.

For now, we have 420 on tap and 420, IPA and Blue in bottles. But I was told we can expect that core line to be expanded over time, with more beers on draft and seasonals to follow. I had to leave just as the presentation was ending, but I had a great time and am excited to have these beers in our market.








Monday, May 13, 2013

Madame Rose 2012



Finally I'm getting to the third sister from Goose Island's Vintage Ales collection. Madame Rose is a Belgian Style Brown Ale brewed with cherries and aged in wine barrels. And thanks again to (no more)-Marathons Marie for trading me for this and the other two ladies, Juliet and Lolita. If this is any bit as good as they were, I'm in for a treat! This is the 2012 vintage, bottled 07/31/12, just short of one year of the five the bottle says you can age it.

Simple label on this 22 ouncer, yet classic. Eggshell background with an illustration of some red foil colored cherries and other red accents. The name of the beer is in some script style from the days when they invented calligraphy.


Dark reddish-brown color. I thought it was going to be a little brighter, but whatever. Tart cherry aroma, not overpowering, with some fizzy little bubbles.

Tart fruity flavors start, generic at first, but then becoming identifiable as cherries and apples. Strong acidity is there, but this is certainly less puckering than either Juliet or Lolita. A little sweetness from the cherries adds some nice balance. Wood and wine tannin flavors from the aging process are very obvious throughout and work great with the cherries.

There is very little Brett character in this beer, though I know that it was used. A little flat but still OK. The finish was a bit dry. The cherry flavors linger on your palate, a nice touch. I didn't really notice the 7.1% alcohol at all, except perhaps for a glimpse with the dry ending--very nicely incorporated. Overall, I really liked Madame Rose, though I missed just a hint more of the blatant tartness her sisters provided. Nice job, Goose Island Buds.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Orange Avenue Wit


I saw Coronado Brewing's Orange Avenue Wit and thought it might be cool to check it out. So here we are. The label depicts a mermaid holding a huge mug of beer while her hair and the beer's head blow briskly in the wind. The story on the back explains that this beer is named for Coronado's main street, where the brewery is located. Orange Avenue was once lined with orange trees, so they brewed this beer with orange zest, coriander and orange blossom honey. "Its Belgium by way of Coronado." I probably would have proof-read that part before I sent it to the printer, but that's just me I guess.

Huge wheat aroma with tangerines in the background. Grainy and spicy too. Wheat is also a dominant flavor from start to finish and provides a thick texture on the palate. Toasted grains, some spices and just a touch of orange. A little/lot more orange would have been a welcome balance to the wheat.

On the sweet side of balanced, but not overdone. Carbonation is good, body medium. The chewy texture knocks down the refreshment quite a bit. The flavors are OK though overall. I'd probably keep looking before grabbing this again.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Long Strange Tripel



Today I'm checking out Boulevard Brewing's Long Strange Tripel, a member of their Smokestack Series which I acquired in a trade with one of the brewers there. Beyond the beer name, the label continues with that "Dead" hippie type feel with the crazy letter font and colors and roses. In addition, they have a thumbnail of a dude with long hair and a substantial beard. Nope, it's not Jerry Garcia. It's the longest-tenured employee of the brewery, Trip Hogue. Trip is also found repurposing a well-known song on the back label. Check it out below. Best By 08/09/13.

Sweet honeysuckle aroma with hints of tart apples, lemon, and yeast. Nice fruity peach and pear and apple flavors open things up. Honey and bubblegum work nicely with those fruits. Chewy consistency at the beginning. Some citrus and maybe even grape tartness does loosen up the sweetness next, one facet totally complementing the other.

The 9.2% alcohol shows through, enhancing the fruits while toning the chewiness. Belgian yeast is prominent and you can also taste some hay and spicy character adding interest. Creamy texture and great carbonation. Terrific beer, complex, and a little different from many other tripels. Or perhaps it was just better. I don't know. Either way, check it out!

Dedicated to my newest favoritest brewery Marketing Communications Manager, Julie Weeks.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cinco de Mayo with Tecate and Tecate Light

I spent a small part of yesterday, Cinco de Mayo, partying with two of my buds, Tecate and Tecate Light. The agency for these brands thought I might enjoy these Mexican beers as part of my celebration. My sister and brother-in-law and cousin-in-law were over for dinner. I cooked Big Ass Ham with some corn on the cob. The mood for the evening was perfect.

Tecate Light: Grainy blandness, thin cardboard flavor. Slight hoppy bite but still a bit too sweet. Refreshing enough. For you fitness buffs: Per 12 FL. OZ.: 110 calories, 7.9g carbs, 0.9g protein, 0.0g fat.

Can't wait to try this baby!
Tecate: Fuller body than the light. Also much more corny graininess throughout. Cardboard, light skunk along with other weirdness, a little buttery. Not refreshing. Bad. Sub-par, like in a non-golf-goal kind of way. 

Shocked!
Don't worry, guys. I had PLENTY of other delicious beers. I'll be OK.

Enjoy By 05.17.13


Stone Brewing makes some of the awesomest hoppy beers on the planet. So when the beer geek community starts raving about their newest invention, you kinda need to give it a whirl. What they've done is to create a series of beers named after the date that you are supposed to drink the beer by. Enjoy By now has a handful of dates that follow it. Mine was bottled on 04/12/13 and is named Enjoy By 05.17.13, exactly five weeks later. Not sure if all are five week periods, but I wouldn't be surprised if that window was consistent.

The story on the back gives you a little background as to what they are doing with this series, but they basically implore you to drink this the second it's been refrigerated, and not wait a second longer. "We brewed this IPA specifically NOT to last" and "LIVE for the NOW, the present" and "There is no BETTER time than RIGHT NOW to enjoy THIS BEER" are just a few tips. The label front is simply the name with their gargoyle (looks like a gremlin to me) watching over.


Wonderful "make-out-with" kind of aroma. Seriously! Tropical pineapples and peaches, juicy orange citrus, and some piney peppery hops in the background. 

Super juicy flavors. Grapefruit rinds crash into peppery and piney hoppy flavors from the first sip. Not really very bitter in the beginning as there is ample sweet malty balance. The 9.4% alcohol adds a nice kick, really amping up each flavor. You know this has some bite to it!

The spicy hops continue to take little nips at your palate, and the bitterness builds, becoming more pungent as you get through this 22 ouncer. Some very soft fruity flavors do start to appear as the beer warms, but they are background and not reminiscent of that nostril love in the beginning.

The finish is pretty dry and a little alcoholic, though not in a bad way. Fresh (their label says "devastatingly fresh". Not sure I'd go that far, but that could be my fault for leaving it in my fridge for a week. And keep in mind I was going to wait until 5/18/13 to celebrate my son's birthday, just to disobey the gargoyles.) and tasty. Loved the aroma, easily the best part. Taste was delightful and flavors were bold. For sure grab one if you can.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gaspar's Porter


I saw that Florida Beer Company recently released a beer that's been on hold for several years, most recently available as one in their Ybor Gold line. That beer is Gaspar's Porter, brewed with a new recipe and bottled with a cool new label design. The label depicts an angry Gaspar with an eye patch and huge mustache sneering at you. The beer is named for Gaspar, a pirate in the Caribbean that drowned himself with his ship's anchor before being captured.

Nice roasty aroma with some milky sweetness and a hint of smoke. Sweet and roasted malt flavors come together in the beginning. There is also just a little cocoa, but not that strong. Hints of smoke come through as well. However, there is a very prominent and persistent and sharp, weird, tangy flavor that just dominates. And it's not a pleasant flavor, a very unenjoyable aspect. Body and carbonation are medium and fine.

I really like Florida Beer Company and their lineup of beers, so it pains me to hate on this one. But this is by far my least favorite of all the rest. Glad I bought some Key West Southernmost Wheat yesterday to follow this up with.