Monday, July 29, 2013
I was looking for something different the other day, so I decided to check out Stateside Saison brewed by Stillwater Artisinal in Stratford, Connecticut. Perhaps it was the snake-vulture standing on its own body depicted on the label that caught my attention. Not sure. Very interesting art to say the least! Bottled 02/19/13.
Great aroma. Sweet peaches and spicy cloves work great with the earthy hops in the background. VERY grassy flavors to start, like I was totally shocked though not in a bad way. After getting used to that flavor profile, there were lots of peppery and clove spicy flavors and a distinct floral element.
Bitter lemon and citrus meets some Belgian yeast, though there was not really any funky saison flavors to speak of. Dry finish with a noticeable touch of the 6.8% alcohol. Tasty and enjoyable.
Friday, July 26, 2013
I was in Naples (NOT Italy) last weekend for a 6 year old baseball tournament. Yeah, I know, they take that shit seriously here. Unfortunately, the team didn't do very well. Fortunately, the Naples Total Wine was easy access to the Hilton. I grabbed a bunch of local stuff including a six pack of Cigar City's Patio Pils Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. Not sure if this is available back at home across the peninsula or not. Anyway, I drank five by myself in our hotel room (amongst many others), but decided to save one for a review.
The label depicts a century-ago guy smoking a cigar. To the side, a story, of course. Cigar City tells how they took an original recipe and modernized it. You can read how by yourself below. They also give a few pairing recommendations. I couldn't even come up with the "good company" one today!
Malty and fruity aroma with some spicy hops, though the whole aroma was pretty muted. Chewy body, sweet fruity to start, much bigger than I expected from any pilsner. Then a very interesting wave of hoppiness shows, bringing distinct tart berry and lemon flavors with it. A little spicy, grassy nip at the palate comes next.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Was looking through my beer stash a few hours ago and stumbled across this forgotten bottle of Noble King Hoppy Farmhouse Ale. My friend in Texas sent me a bunch of Jester King beers months ago and this is the last of them. So I threw it into the freezer to get the wine bottle cold fast and went back to work. Next thing I know, all hell breaks loose on Twitter. Apparently some Dutchess is in labor with the Royal baby on the way shortly. Who knew?
Anyway, I think it's extremely funny that I'm drinking this beer by chance on the same day. But honestly, I do feel exactly the same way the brewers do in their story on the side, "not especially into the whole monarchy thing." Really. Who gives a shit anyway?
The label depicts a regal lion donning crown jewels in his mane. The design and colors are very cool, as the shapes and greens make the lion resemble a hop cone. The other panels of the label tell a little about the beer and list the ingredients it's made with. 5.9% alcohol.
Pleasing aroma, sweet yet soft peaches meet a lemon hoppiness and some wheat. Wheat flavors also come first on the palate. Add in some really flavorful and juicy fruity apples and citrus oranges. Bright, spicy hops add a really nice contrast. Refreshing tartness goes well with the nice lemony nip at your palate.
Not that "farmhousey" at all, no funk. That is perfectly fine with me as I enjoyed this beer immensely. Really great flavors, nice contrast of sweet and bitter, terrific refreshment. Might be my favorite of the half dozen I've tried from these guys, at least one of the top. Noble King >>> Royal King (well, the kid is currently third in line).
Monday, July 22, 2013
Freddy from SweetWater Brewing recently started shipping his Waterkeeper Hefeweizen down to us in South Florida. With this bottle he put a note on the label. You can read it in full below, but basically it's a reminder that clean water is a precious resource, for drinking, skinny dipping, brewing and fishing. Seriously, he's got his priorities set!
The label, plain and boring, just a blue streak river and a logo of a fish. That fish, however, makes the beer project cool. This is a beer that benefits the Waterkeeper Alliance. You can probably guess what their mission is, but if not, or if you'd like to get involved, here is the website. And remember, fix that leaky faucet and don't flush #1 if you're home alone in your underwear all day. Best enjoyed by 09/05/13.
Big banana in the nose right from the bottle. Fruity, spicy aroma with a little tart zing too. Nice wheaty flavor and texture coupled with that same banana start the flavors off. There is also plenty of lemon. Spicy cloves and light fruit round out a pretty simple beer. Well carbonated. Texture a bit grabby on my palate, which detracted from overall refreshment. I could use a little less of that, but this was an enjoyable easy drinking brew.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
|Sorry it's a little blurry. It was almost dark.|
Fruity aroma, spicy with light pine and some mint? Not that strong a scent. First taste... very herbal, a total explanation for that minty aroma and a really dominant flavor start. Hoppy but not too bitter. Light citrus undertones, floral, and some sweeter fruit touches.
Crisp feeling in the mouth, and you won't mistake the 8.5% alcohol giving your palate a regular wash before starting over again with another sip. Lots of zip and zing from many angles. Good body and carbonation. I honestly could have done with a lot less of that persistent herbal flavor and been happier. A pretty decent beer, though the category is full of stars. Let me know what you think.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
So I did this trade not too long ago with a guy in Colorado, and he decided it was a must to try Wynkoop Brewing's Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. This beer, part of the brewery's "Even Smaller Batch" series, is not your ordinary American Stout. Nope! It's brewed with bull testicles! As the story on the back of the can states that I should be expecting "a luscious, uniquely ballsy stout with notes of roasted barley, coffee and nuts." 7.5% alcohol.
Rob Burr said I was trying a "Rum With Balls" just a few days ago so I figured I'd give the Beer With Balls a shot today. I was sure this was going to be flat based on the sound opening the can. I poured vigorously and to my surprise, enormous head. Great aroma of cocoa, sweet caramel and coffee. The chocolate and caramel continue into the flavor profile with some roasted coffee and a hint of vanilla.
At first, I thought I was convincing myself about a salty and savory flavor that I detected. You know, had to be the balls, right? But I'll be damned if that flavor didn't persist throughout and even build as I drank the beer. Yeah, it was a little out of place, but what's a brewer to do when roasting up bull balls for his brew?
Anyway, NOT NUTTY at all as the can suggested. If they can make a wishful thinking joke, I can certainly have a comeback right? Creamy, good carbonation, good body, nice flavors. There is that strange token flavor, but not bad for what is surely a novelty beer to remember. Check it out.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Brand Manager Brady Walen explained that this is a big release for Craft Brew Alliance and Widmer Brothers. Widmer Brothers doesn't do that many collaborations while Cigar City does a lot. Widmer Brothers is an enormous brewery especially compared to Cigar City. Widmer Brothers is on the verge of its 30th anniversary while Cigar City is only a few years old. Not to mention their locations are about as far apart as possible within the continental US. The breweries thought all those differences could lead to a pretty special project. And it was born.
Widmer Brothers flew down Brewer Ben Dobler for the launch at Tap 42 in Ft. Lauderdale and other events scheduled throughout the week. Marketing Manager Ciea Palmer (who also invited me) introduced me to Ben. Ben is one of 18 brewers with Craft Brew Alliance, but he explained he focuses mainly on the experimental and smaller batches for Widmer Brothers, which includes Gentlemen's Club. Ben echoed Brady with his excitement to work with Cigar City. He talked a little about the process of making this beer, but we also chatted about some of the brewery's other offerings among other things. Ben was a very personable and knowledgeable guy, and it's always cool to be drinking a beer that the guy next to you made!
|Me, Ciea Palmer, Ben Dobler|
So I arrived early expecting no people, but Ed Roberts was there already so I knew that the party had already begun. Apparently 6 pm was kind of a bullshit time. I sat down in an awesome seat by the window and got to try not only the three versions of Gentlemen's Club but also a few other Widmer beers I hadn't tried--Alchemy Ale, Citra Blonde and Hopside Down. Add in those conversations with Ben, Brady, Ciea, the Tap 42 staff, and all the others there to support the launch and this was a great event. It was cool to meet some new people and re-meet a bunch of people that I don't see too often (because I'm a homebody). I'm looking at you Phil!
No sooner did I sit down than I was introduced to a "flight" of the three Gentlemen's Club versions. Ed told me the direction I wanted to sample. New Oak, Rye Whiskey, Bourbon. I really enjoyed all of them and I think my favorites changed with each new sample. These were rich bold beers brewed in the Old Ale style with a recipe that was trying to mimic the Old Fashioned Cocktails you might find in the Gentlemen's Clubs of a century ago. New Oak was aged with oak spirals. Rye Whiskey and Bourbon were aged in used barrels, and the spirits addition was apparent.
I really enjoyed the Oak beer. But for me, the rye whiskey and bourbon characteristics in the other two made the other two versions much more interesting. I loved the spicy rye and the sweet bourbon flavors imparted by the latter two. Ed liked the Oak one better (it was also very good). Despite the 10.5% alcohol (9.5% for Oak), I didn't feel any hotness from these beers.
Tap 42 was a great host for the event. I was thinking about ordering one of their $5 Monday Prohibition Burgers, but just as I was about to order, tons of appetizers were put on the tables. Chicken wings, calimari, this great watermelon sushi dish, pretzels, etc. Service was great. I also met Paige, who is in charge of the cocktail program for the restaurant.
What else? I think I only stuck my foot in my mouth one time (could have been more). Ciea gave me a really cool bottle opener. I took a few crappy photos. I had an idea to take pictures of the logos from all the brands there. You can see those below. Decide for yourself if it was a good idea or just stupid. Oh, and I highly recommend reading a real journalist's take on the evening, note pad was flying. Doug Fairall did a great job!
Thanks to everyone!
|Ben, Brady, Ciea|
Monday, July 15, 2013
Beer stock in my fridge is running low. Luckily, I still had this bottle of Pluot that New Belgium sent my way a few weeks ago. I understand that this beer from their Lips of Faith Series will be one of the ones to make it into South Florida soon after their launch at the end of this month.
Before I even bothered reading the label explanation, I asked BFF Google what the hell a Pluot is since this tripel was brewed with its juice. Apparently, it's a cross between a plum and apricot. Sounds yummy. Big 22 Best Enjoyed by May 2014.
Fruity aroma, apricots and other soft fruits along with a little booze. Not really that strong. Sweet with a syrupy, thick texture to start. Peaches and pears and apricots come through and work great with a nice spiciness. Very juicy, and there is a cider-like zip with each sip as well.
The 10% booze is not in your face, but you will feel it in EVERY SIP. The alcohol works pretty well with the sweet fruitiness. Bubble gum, honey, flower petals and Belgian yeast are other subtleties you might taste (and probably will considering you have a lot of beer to ponder). The flavors are very nice, but it's the intense sweetness that is hard to overcome. Over and over, it just attaches itself to the palate. Tone that down a lot and it would be a lot better.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
It has little aroma, little hop flavor and not a lot of the expected bitter finish. And this is called a Double IPA? Maybe I should label it a Midwest IPA...bland, fairly boring, simple, with some rolling hills, corn fields, cows and a new town every 10 miles, each with 5-6 churches and a blinking red (yellow) light. (I grew up in the Midwest, I can talk about it if I want.) The Boatswain, Double IPA Twin Screw Steamer, from Rhinelander Brewing Company in Wisconsin is what I'm drinking now (or at least at the time of this writing). Twin Screw Steamer... hmm?
I've only seen beers from this brewery at Trader Joe's stores, first in Charlotte, NC and then at the closest one to us (presently) in Gainesville, FL. We were in town the other week and Trader Joe's was on the list of activities for the day. It was an inexpensive bomber, and a double IPA, so I decided to give it a try.
It does have a nice golden color and a persistent white head, thanks in part to the special IPA Glass. It tastes OK, but just not a lot of pop to it, if you know what I mean. A little bland, and pretty dry overall, at least for the style. Not a lot of sweetness to it, though I can get a little malty flavor. Wait a minute! Is there corn in this? That could explain it. After all, it is from corn (and cheese) country...
As it warms, I get a little more character from it. I'm finding some alcohol solvency. Some additional dry hopping would have done this one some good. After a swirl in the glass, I can get a little more aroma, a little piney. And maybe that is a stretch. Not too much citrus in this one.
Some specifications... 75 IBUs. This is actually on the low side for a Double (or Imperial) IPA. According to the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) Guidelines, an Imperial IPA should have an IBU (International Bittering Units) range from 60 - 120. Not that it really matters too much...but let's continue. Original Gravity is stated on the label as 17.15, which is clearly a Plato number. This translates to just over 1.070, which is right at the bottom of the range for the style at 1.070 - 1.090. Yet, it has 8.4% ABV...which explains it even more. It is a fairly dry beer. According to the calculations, the final gravity must be somewhere between 1.008 and 1.009 then...pretty dry. Where does this fall within the guidelines? Final Gravity range is at 1.010 - 1.020 for an Imperial IPA.
At least the 8.4% ABV makes it worth the price... I think it was like $3.50 or something. That may explain the lack of wow factor too. If it was terrific, there would be a higher demand, and thus a higher price. Or at least I'd drive back up to Gainesville and buy up the rest from the shelf.
Friday, July 12, 2013
Along with G/I/A/A Imperial Stout, Adroit-Theory Brewing Company sent me their Cannibalism Milk Stout as part of my second "Official Taste Tester" selection. This is the highest end homebrew I've ever seen, from the corked and caged packaging to the label art to the stories to the quality of the beers. Can't wait for them to actually open later this year!
This is the first beer in Trifecta 2, a group of 3 beers with a common theme. You tell me the theme of this trifecta based on their names: Ghost 007 Cannibalism, Ghost 008 The Devil Made Me, and Ghost 009 Harbinger.
Here's the catch with this beer. This beer isn't brewed with water!!! "We chose something else..." I'm playing along and didn't bother asking the brewer what they chose. My best guesses are 1. Beer--they brewed a beer to brew another beer with. This makes sense as well considering the name of the beer. How clever. I hope that's the answer. 2. Blood--it's not water and the guy on the label with the machete and giant fork that just scalped the decapitated head has plenty to work with. 3. Brains--liquified of course.
I already mentioned the cool label. The name of the beer is written in blood and is dripping down the label. The cannibal's name is SAM, as you can see from his "Hello, my name is..." sticker on his jacket. To the side, the story about "no water" and some suggested food and cigar pairings.
I poured a little too aggressively and got a huge amount of head that just would not go away. But patience is a virtue, so I waited. Sweet chocolate and caramel with distinct hazelnut aroma, like you might find in a luscious coffee creamer.
The flavors are very similar, still sweet too, though chocolate is not nearly as prominent. Roasted coffee and licorice join the very unique hazelnut flavors to make a really nice basket of flavors. Sweet, but enough roast and hops to tone it down. By the end, the coffee flavors really start to build. You know the 7% alcohol is there but you can't really taste it, perfection there. Overall, very enjoyable, start to finish, and like I said earlier, I can't wait for the brewery to open their doors.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
A few weeks or so ago, I received a few beers from an agency helping Utah Brewers Cooperative launch their beers in to Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I don't live in either, but I know some of you really cool people reading this right now do. Utah Brewers Cooperative of course brews the beers for the Squatters and Wasatch brands of beers.
I tried all the ones they sent before (including the one shipping fatality) except Wasatch Ghostrider White India Pale Ale. If you have to try one for sure, it's their Polygamy Porter--gimmick name but really nice beer and cool label art. But let's see about this one too. Born on 05/22/13. 6.0% alcohol.
Fragrant though not powerful hops, full of citrus and floral scents. Very floral and somewhat bitter hops are the first thing to hit the palate. Lemony kind of Pledge type flavor with some doughy backup, a little astringent. Pale malt, light spice, more citrus rind zing. There is also a wheaty texture. Crisp, refreshing, fairly bitter, pretty decent. I'd drink it again for sure.
Monday, July 8, 2013
Wife and kids are at the movies so I decided to crack open La Folie Sour Brown Ale 2013. Eventually, this will be sold in South Florida. Until then, I was lucky enough that the brewery sent me this one. This is a Flanders-Style Reddish Brown Ale aged in French Oak barrels according to Big 22. This beer is part of New Belgium's Lips of Faith Series of beers. Bottle decoration is a sea of abstract flowers with the name of the beer in the middle. 7% alcohol.
So I poured a glass, got ready for a picture and FUCK, I hit the glass with the bottle, breaking a whole in the bottom of the globe. So around 12 oz or so of my beer is still on the table and back patio. And I'm pretty sure the neighbor kid learned a new word now. But at least I had almost a full glass for a repeat (and of course to drink). Was one of my better glasses too!
Aroma (and I had a whole table full to smell) full of vinegar and cider and fruity apples. Even a touch of nuttiness there. Flavors are sour to start, no shock, but this was never obnoxiously sour. And for sure I was not led to "Mouthpuckering Perfection" as the bottle suggested. For me though, this was a perfect sour and tartness.
Friday, July 5, 2013
I grabbed a bottle of Weyerbacher's Eighteen Weizenbock a few days ago. It was nice to see an anniversary beer sold in a 12 ounce bottle and not an overpriced bomber, though this single was a high end $4. The label is simply decorated with XVIII and the name of the beer over it. There are little hop and barley accents around it, and the new jester is also on the neck. The bottle cap also is very cool with a W for Weyerbacher on it.
Big banana and cotton candy aroma. You will also smell prunes and caramel and know there is booze disguised behind them. The flavors are identical. Lots of bananas, like very sweet overripe ones. Cotton candy sweetness comes next. Then more rich sweet prunes and peaches too.
Boozy from the start, thanks to the 11.1% alcohol, and a little hot going down. Yeasty and spicy. Chewy body, low carbonation. This beer went way beyond overboard with the super sweet banana flavors, the overwhelming syrupy texture, and the boozy alcohol. Unenjoyable. I dumped more than half. That doesn't mean I don't love you, Weyerbacher!
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Another beer New Belgium was nice enough to send me was Paardebloem, a collaboration beer they did with Red Rock Brewery and a member of their Lips of Faith series. This beer was brewed with peach juice, grains of paradise and dandelion greens, then blended with wood aged beer. The label on Big 22 shows a bunch of abstract dandelions growing, like my yard. Best Enjoyed By May 2014.
Sweet syrupy peach aroma with Belgian yeast all over it. Peaches with a candy sugar sweet coating come first. Boozy too, like "I-got-a-little-shiver" boozy from the 9% alcohol. A weird earthy bitterness is also prevalent from the start.
Herbal, spicy, strangely sour. Toward the end, you do feel some woody dryness and finish with more flowery dandelions, which I didn't like. I will say that the beer got a little better with a some warmth, but there was really no reason to force myself to drink this beer. Not quite yuck, but close enough, like a leaner in horseshoes.
I think it's about time breweries start to swing the pendulum back and simplify things. How about more honest flavors instead of throwing every possible ingredient into a beer and seeing the reaction. That was so 2010! I was talking to a famous bartender just yesterday about this very topic, and though we were mostly rapping cocktails, it's the same damn thing! To paraphrase, he said, "Don't overthink cocktails and add a lot of unnecessary or esoteric ingredients just to make it exotic. Just make delicious cocktails."
PS. How about everyone comments about my little rant and names as many BS ingredients you can think of that brewers have used which you think ruined the beer. You don't have to call them out, just a list.
Monday, July 1, 2013
Today I'm drinking Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout brewed by Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. This beer was part of a trade I did as the brewery doesn't distribute to South Florida. The label shows the snout of a cow eating a few blocks of milk chocolate, while the side panel explains what is going on. Lugene is the name of the guy who takes the spent grain from Odell to feed it to his dairy cattle. So this dude gets the grain and a beer named after him, lucky dog!
Um, there was a bunch of floaties in my beer. That doesn't really bother me, but I wasn't expecting it. Anyway, the aroma is full of rich, luscious, milky chocolate with a light roast and alcohol component there. Not an overly sweet aroma, though.
You start with a big dose of chocolate, duh. And this beer is quite milky. The 8.5% alcohol really makes the chocolate pop out, too. Beyond the chocolate, some definite fruity cherry and prune flavors stand out. There are also nuances of coffee, vanilla and allspice.
Creamy body, not too thick. Low carbonation. Lugene is on the sweet side but there is just enough roasted bitterness to balance things out. That roasted malty balance comes mostly at the end and lasts into a pleasant aftertaste. I enjoyed the beer and would drink another given the opportunity.