Friday, September 26, 2014

Puppy's Breath Porter

"Hey, Dog Breath!" would be quite the insult, but according to Cigar City Brewing, Puppy's Breath Porter is quite a complimentary name for their beer. The back of the can goes on to explain that because puppies have immature digestive systems and a simple diet, their breath can sometimes smell like chocolate or coffee. The cute "Spokespuppy" on this 2014 can is Henrietta. Canned 08/07/2014.

Great roasty aroma, nutty with light coffee and milk chocolate. Bold roasted flavors are joined by a milk chocolate sweetness in the beginning. Coffee bitterness and some nutty flavors come next. Excellent creamy texture, on the low-carbonated side, but fine. Body is barely medium. More of that roasted malt lingers at the finish. Simple but very nice beer.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A. Le Coq Premium Export

Mi esposa y mi suegra went to Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Estonia, and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt! Actually, I didn't even get a t-shirt, but they did bring me back one can of A. Le Coq Premium Export brewed in Tartu, Estonia. I really do appreciate the gesture but went into this pretty sure it was going to be a pretty forgettable beer at best. Fair right? 331 mL can, 5.2% alcohol. Best Before 05-08-15 which I'm pretty sure means August of next year.

I poured A. Le Coq Premium Export into my Magic Hat Flow glass, exclusively reserved for foreign beers of less than 12 ounces (the glass is diminutive). Faint grain aroma, basically nothing. Sweet grain flavors as well, approaching non-existence, totally bland. Some weird cardboard flavors stick out with not that much else going on. Carbonation is fine. Body is thin and weak. More cardboard and off metallic flavors linger at the finish.

Exactly what I expected, worse than the US mass macros while still kicking the asses of Heineken and Corona! And I did drink the whole can. It was decently average enough.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Maple Orange Imperial Caramel Cream Ale

Saw a stray four-pack of Due South's Maple Orange Imperial Caramel Cream Ale a few days ago at Total Wine, so I decided to grab it! After all, their base Caramel Cream Ale is a very nice and popular local brew! This was originally brewed for Extreme Beer Fest 2014 in Boston and is now being released as the first entry in Due South's new Curiosity Series. "From the Creative Mind to the Curious Palate" is the series slogan. Canned 08-05-2014. Enjoy Fresh!

Big maple and orange aroma, two smells I love. Zesty yet sweet with caramel too. OJ and pancakes in one whiff. OK, I'm done, and that was just the aroma.

LOTS of maple sweetness to start. The next thing that really hit me was how the 8.2% alcohol really brought out and amplified the orange flavors, even with a bit of a "Screwdriver" type feel. Interesting. Definitely creamy!

I thought this was a little too sweet to start, but halfway through the zesty orange really caught up and tempered that notion. Nice flavors. A lot of flavor. Interesting combinations and an interesting variation on their original beer. Probably one at a time is plenty, but the other three I have may be breakfast beers next week!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gordon Biersch Golden Export

I was recently sent samples of Gordon Biersch Golden Export to check out. Actually, six Golden Export siblings and six different cousins to be exact. But the focus is on Golden Export, named because it was exported to other German states back in the 1870's due to its popularity. The story on the back of the bottle will tell you that and set your expectations. 5% alcohol. Bottled On 08/25/14.

I grabbed my Gordon Biersch "crooked glass" for this tasting. Lemony, hoppy, fruity aroma. Sweet grain shows through first in the flavors. Toasted fresh bread. The hops definitely show through with a grassy, lemony bitter balance.

Flavorful, simple. I already drank the other five (yes, on a different day), so you know it's a decent beer (I give all my crappy extras to Ed Roberts for his dad). This was my last chance bottle for pictures and thoughts. Check it out.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Muddy Imperial Stout

Last week, a box with two bottles of The Muddy Imperial Stout arrived at my door with a signed, hand-written note from Goose Island's Brett Porter. Seriously! And two new glasses too. The Muddy is the third in Goose Island's new Imperial Series, and it was inspired by the famous Chicago Blues guitarist and singer Muddy Waters. The label shows an old-time Amplifyer on this beer which has "Amplified Sweetness with Licorice Notes." 9% alcohol. 32 IBU.

Chocolate and brown sugar dominate the aroma, with a light roast and hints of licorice. Brown sugar and caramel sweetness start the flavors, with some spicy vanilla and licorice following. More in the background, roasted coffee, chocolate and pruney fruit flavors. A bit of an alcoholic streak joins each sip as well, a little annoying.

Body is medium, a little low for an imperial stout. Creamy texture. The finish is long and sweet, but this is where the licorice flavors really build. A little too much in the aftertaste. Not bad, but I'll personally just wait for some more Bourbon County Stout!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Warsteiner Premium Dunkel

Today I'm trying Warsteiner Premium Dunkel, provided to me by the agency representing the brewery in the US. Brewed in Germany. 330 mL bottle. 4.8% alcohol. Best Before 21Nov14.

I reused the Warsteiner glass that the agency had sent with a previous sample. Pretty cool glass! Nutty, bread aroma with hints of herbal sweetness. Good roasted and toast flavors. Sweet with toffee and brown sugar yet hoppy enough to be balanced. The aftertaste leaves more of that herbal character lingering for a while. Decent body. Not bad.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Stiltsville Pilsner and Rica Wheat India Pale Ale

I was recently invited to an event at the newly built Concrete Beach Brewery in Wynwood (Miami), Florida. Well, it happened yesterday, but I wasn't able to make the 3-6 event time. Coincidentally, Ed Roberts passed along two sample bottles of their beers just a few days ago: Stiltsville Pilsner and Rica Wheat India Pale Ale. So I figured it would be as good a time as any to see what this brewery is making.

Stiltsville Pilsner:

The label depicts a house on stilts, thus the name. It also says that it was brewed by Concrete Beach Brewery in Boston. I was told that's because this brewery is owned by Boston Beer and because it is a sample of what's to be made in Miami. Both bottles also say "Beauty is overwhelming. Enjoy in moderation."

I poured the beer into my Concrete Beach pint glass. Light grain and lemon sharpness in the aroma. Nicely bitter lemony flavors to start. Some fruity apple also makes an appearance. Medium body. Simple but nice flavors. I personally like my pilsners a little crisper and sharper with more bitterness on the finish, but this was definitely enjoyable.

Rica Wheat India Pale Ale:

Rica is named for the cultural richness of Miami. Also a sample bottle brewed in Boston. 6.5% alcohol. 60 IBU. Big wheat aroma with lemony citrus showing through. The flavors are full of lemon, but it's more of a pine sol type flavor than citrus and very astringent. And the alcohol is bringing that out in a menthol cleansing type of way. My nose is clear now! The finish is very dry.

Not really my kind of IPA. No fruity, tropical, pine, citrus, hoppy, dank, fresh, spicy, etc, flavors. I much preferred Stiltsville Pilsner.

Anyway, the brewery will be opening soon, and I can't wait to check out the brewery itself and try the beers being brewed locally. And of course I want to meet the team and see what their plans are for the coming months and year. Good luck, Concrete Beach Brewery!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Visit to Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Yesterday evening I got to visit Biscayne Bay Brewing Company. Along with Gold Coast Distributors, the brewery invited some people to check out their brewery, taste a few beers and chat a little about the brewery and their plans. Biscayne Bay Brewing is located over near Miami Airport in an area that my wife calls "her territory," full of her freight-forwarder customers. But I wasn't with her--Ed Roberts and I were there for the launch.

We got to taste three different beers: Miami Pale Ale, Biscayne Bay Saison, and 1513-MDXIII Golden Ale. The saison was my favorite and really good, rich and full of fruit flavors with an alcoholic streak through it--I had thirds if I recall correctly. Ed and I learned that this isn't a regular beer for the brewery, but rather the first "wild card" they brewed. The next wild card is already being brewed, Double Nine Imperial IPA. Saison, however, was received so well at a Key West beer festival recently that we were told it would surely make a return.

The other two we tried will always be available, along with La Colada Coffee Porter and maybe one or two more for now. Biscayne Bay Brewing has a lot of space and it's a nice touch that it's completely air conditioned, even in the brewing areas. We were told about the plans for a tasting room and moving some of the offices around to maximize the area.

You should start seeing beers around Miami shortly, with Broward and Palm Beach to follow. You can check out the same three beers I tasted last night tomorrow on Biscayne Bay's Tap Tour. They will be making three stops to kick-start what is sure to be a successful brewing venture.

Tap Tour: Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lunch @ 12:00PM

5800 S.W. 73rd St, Miami
FL 33143 

Happy Hour @ 5:00pm

The Butcher Shop
165 NW 23rd St, Miami, FL 33127

Late Night @ 9:00 PM

Taurus Bar
3540 Main Highway Coconut Grove, FL 33133

I made a friend on the way out too (you can see her below). Best of luck, Biscayne Bay Brewing!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ballantine India Pale Ale

I was recently asked if I'd like to give my opinion on "America's Original IPA," Ballantine IPA, first brewed in 1878. I hesitated for a... well, no I didn't. I said sure, and a week later, I received this really nice Ballantine wooden box with a wine-sized bottle of Ballantine IPA and a new branded bottle opener as well. The label is nice, and I was going to call those Olympic-style interlocking rings (yes I know they are 2 short), but the back label calls them Borromean Rings, signifying purity, body and flavor.

This beer was apparently a kick-ass craft beer many decades ago. Read this really interesting story about the history of the beer. Though the label still stays it was brewed by P. Ballantine & Sons, that is now owned by Pabst. But whatever, I'm not a snob. 7.2% alcohol. 70 IBU. Bottled 08/05/2014 in Cold Spring, Minnesota.

Very hoppy aroma, fresh, a little spicy and with a good dose of citrus rind. That big citrus continues in the flavors, nicely bitter. There is also plenty of pine and a ton of fresh, green, dank hops. Just a touch of caramel sweet balance as well. Exactly what an IPA should be, and it kind of reminds me of Sierra Nevada's Torpedo Extra IPA. The difference though is that this beer has a distinct woody character, flavor and dryness. From reading the story I linked above, that's because the brewers used American Oak in the brewing process. It's noticeable!

Also noticeable is the alcohol, which really brings out a lemony bitterness in the finish. Carbonation and body are perfect. It's too bad this was forgotten for a while, but I must say the brewery definitely recreated something excellent. Very enjoyable all around!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Boulevard Brewing Coming to Florida

Since you guys don't read the headline titles, here's a hint about a new brewery that will hit the shelves here in Florida in early October!

Looks like they will start with Unfiltered Wheat Beer, Pop-Up IPA, 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer, Single-Wide IPA, Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, and Double-Wine IPA. Brown Distributing will be Boulevard Brewing's partner for the entire state.

I'm pretty excited as these are all excellent beers! Check out the brewery on Twitter and Facebook for specific launch dates and locations. Heck, let's hope for a party somewhere!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Squatters Off Duty IPA

Today I'm checking out Squatters Off Duty IPA brewed by the Utah Brewers Cooperative. On the front label is a tranquil photo of a person chilling out in a hammock while drinking a bottle of beer. On the back of the bottle, it's explained that's because this beer is perfectly relaxed like that hammock.

Well, I bought a really awesome hammock from some artisan on the streets of Villa de Leyva about 10 years ago. But my impatient wife couldn't wait until the trees in our yard matured enough to support it. So she sold it and that still pisses me off to this day! Anyway, this is a multiple GABF and multiple gold award-winning beer. 6.5% alcohol.

Hoppy aroma full of nice orange (cuties) citrus with a fruity, tropical edge. Terrific flavors! Citrus, orange, light zestiness. Sweet tropical fruits show through more on the taste buds too with cantaloupe and mango standing out. Hints of spicy and piney hops shift the beer back to bitter. Off Duty IPA is sweet and bitter, not a boring middle. Nicely balanced and very tasty, two reasons I can easily understand it winning multiple medals.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Stone Coffee Milk Stout

I grabbed a bottle of Stone Coffee Milk Stout the other day. I hadn't seen it before and thought I'd give it a try. The back of the bottle describes it as a "bittersweet, creamy, coffee-laced stout" and gives a little insight to its origin. Apparently, one of Stone's brewers created this as a limited edition beer for Stone World Bistro & Gardens, and its popularity led to becoming a full production beer that I was able to easily buy in South Florida. 2014 release. 4.2% alcohol.

Big head, though it's mostly my fault. Holy roasted coffee aroma, Batman! And some smoke, but that's it. The flavors are a reversal of that aroma--the coffee flavors seem like an afterthought buried beneath a giant smoky, malty campfire. Fairly creamy. Hints of chocolate and sugar, though overall the beer leans bitter. And again, that's pretty much it, very simple.

Low to medium body. I guess the big smoky, even ashy, flavors probably met what you might look for in a bold Gargoyle beer, but this isn't what I was expecting at all. Very one dimensional, lacking the intricacies I've come to expect from practically every Stone beer. Besides that, too smoky for me. Doesn't make me really think "milk stout" in the slightest. Try it for yourself if you want.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Beerology: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Beer... Even More

I recently received a copy of Beerology: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Beer... Even More by Mirella Amato. Mirella is a Certified Master Cicerone, BJCP beer judge and all-around beer expert. And based on this book, I'm betting she's also pretty amazing to hang around and drink a few beers with!

The book has an attractive cover decorated with beer coasters, each naming one of the chapters inside. On the back, some words of praise from Garrett Oliver and Sam Calagione. I picked the book up at 10 pm last night and read through it in one sitting--it was a little hard to get up this morning for work and to get the kids to school!

I must say I love the fun tone of the book! Quotes from the first line of the book, on page IX for God's sake, include "What drew me into the beer industry? The answer's simple: beer. It's delicious!" Mirella is dropping science! The same page states that "every beer is worth trying at least once" which is correct except for those sorghum anti-beers (and the extremely dump-able Moritz and that despicable Rascal's Wild Red nonsense). One final quote I saved for my wife when she gets back from Finland this weekend... "Beer is an everyday beverage and can certainly be enjoyed as such!"

Beerology is divided into four parts with four to six subdivsions each. It's really laid out well. A lot of beer books start off with a "What is Beer?" type section, and this one did too. I usually skip that part but thought this book had exactly the right amount of details, facts, interesting history and little tidbits not covered everywhere else. And Beerology took that a step further to storing beer, how to present beer (temperature and glassware), and how to taste beers (there's a tasting sheet in the back of the book too).

For me, the meat of the book started in Part Two: Beer Styles. Mirella is not hung up on the geeky beer styles despite her enormously geeky BJCP bunch of beer styles. Basically, for this book, Mirella turned off the judge and focused on the readers, dividing the book into categories that everyone could understand: Refreshing Brews, Mellow Brews, Striking Brews, Captivating Brews, and Brews Beyond (which includes sours, smoked beers and those gluten-free ones we know about but don't talk about).

Refreshing Brews is dotted with low-alcohol, highly carbonated beers like lagers, pilsners and wheat beers. Each named style gives a description, an overview with a little history, food pairings, and both Canadian and US examples (there are other countries too for some styles). Mirella is from Canada, and you will get used to the Flavour! I found the US examples pretty interesting as well, not exactly any beer geek list at all. And this is not a craft beer snob list either: Coors Light and Miller Lite are prominent on one particular category. Remember, "every beer is worth trying at least once."

Mellow Brews (Bock, Porter, Stout), Striking Brews (IPA, Sour, Fruit), and Captivating Brews (Saison, Tripel, Russian Imperial Stout, Barleywine) follow. Same thing: more interesting information and more interesting examples suggested.

Part Three gives you some info on how to set up a beer tasting, pairing beer with food and entertaining with beer. I probably should have read all this before hosting my own beer dinners, but whatever. There's also a beer cocktail section. There's a section for beer games that was more technical than I was expecting. All the games revolved around the beer and styles. I'm not sure exactly why I thought the games would be less beer geeky. But there were no "pouring ritual" games or "what would you have named this porter" games, without even going near beer pong or other games of everyone's past.

I still haven't hit the glossary, but this was a fun, entertaining book. I personally would have dissed Bud and Coors with more than terms like "the vast majority," but then again, I'm more of a dick and less of a people person than I guess the author is.

Nice book, Mirella. Give me a call when you're in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Liquid Bliss Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter

You probably remember Terrapin Beer's Andy Rattner telling me on ByTheGlassShow about their Liquid Bliss Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, originally Side Project Volume 18, becoming one of their newest year round beers. Right? Well, I saw it on the shelf at Total Wine a few days ago for the first time. It was kind of funny since I can't remember ever trying a beer like this, but I recently also tried a six pack of DuClaw Brewing's Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter (no review so here's BA) while vacationing in New Jersey.

There's a Swami turtle meditating over his glass of beer while a Yin-Yang Gong sits behind him. A little story sets your expectations, but know this was "Brewed With Peace Of Mind." Best if enjoyed by the first week of February, 2015. 6.1% alcohol.

Huge Peanut Butter aroma, and I eat a lot so you need to believe that as fact! Fresh roasted peanuts and second-fiddle cocoa are also aroma nuances (I'm pretty sure fiddles are big in Athens too, no?) The aroma is make-out-with-it fabulous!

Flavors start with cocoa and some roasted malt. The peanut butter is there but seems really watered down. Smooth texture but feels pretty flat on the palate. The bold chocolate and peanut butter flavors you are begging for (based on your knowledge of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups) do not translate in this beer. Instead, all the flavors seem to blend into one weird meh flavor.

The aroma >>> flavor, and weird flatness things are exactly what happened with my Sweet Baby Jesus beers too, and my entire family agreed. I did get my Sunday School Teacher mom to laugh about the name though. And I will say that Liquid Bliss' aroma destroyed DuClaw's version. And though the beer was okay and I did drink the entire bottle, I'd have left this on the Side Project History Shelf. Fun experiment though.