Thursday, October 30, 2014

Moving Parts: The Ever-Evolving IPA Batch No. 02

When one of my favorite breweries asked if I'd like to try one of their newest series of beers, of course I said yes (and I thought my Christmas cards weren't working). The beer I'm speaking about is Victory Brewing's Moving Parts: The Ever-Evolving IPA Batch No. 02. The Moving Parts series embraces the brewery's "penchant for prolific experimentation," changing an ingredient or two from batch to batch to create an endless stream of nuanced IPAs. MP02 is the second in the series, an English IPA, and is packaged in a 22 ounce bottle. The label has a gear and mechanical watch type theme. Enjoy by 26FEB2015. 6.4% alcohol.

Nice though not particularly strong aroma: fruity, herbal, earthy. Sweet malt and herbal flavors are very prominent from the start. You can taste some sweet fruit flavors there as well, apples and pears, especially as the beer warms up a little bit (recommended). After the initial sweetness, you will be greeted with some lemony and grassy bitterness, along with some light astringency and hoppy spiciness.

The finish is dry. Carbonation is good and a little sharp. Interesting and enjoyable. I won't say I'm in love but I definitely liked it. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


A Florida brewery I never heard of asked me if I'd like to check out their pumpkin beer named Gourdgeous. I can already hear a few of you laughing, expecting that I'd say "No Way!" But Grayton Beer Company from Santa Rosa Beach gave me a few reasons to say yes. Of course I have a soft spot for Florida beers, but this is the first beer that Grayton packaged in 22 ounce bottles. In addition, it's also the first beer in their new Artist Series where local artists will be given the chance to design the beer labels. That and I haven't had one pumpkin beer yet this year, so I need to cave in on that annually.

The Artist Series artist for this label is Grayton Brewer Tyler White. He created a really awesome piece of work which shows three enormous pumpkins replacing the brewing vats. A brewer is actually tending to the beer on the scaffolding and letting out some steam from the pumpkin stems. Very fun concept. A portion of the beer's proceeds will go to art-based initiatives and local charities. 12 IBU. 5.4% alcohol. Oh, and I almost forgot that I got a hand-written note from Head Brewer "Shank" with the beer. Yeah! Shank!

Nice aroma full of cinnamon, brown sugar and pumpkin. Spices big at the beginning but definitely not overdone. Cinnamon and ginger stand out for me. Great malty backdrop of brown sugar, maple and pumpkin. You will definitely taste the pumpkin though it's not super prominent, an issue if that is the reason you drink pumpkin beers.

Not overly sweet and balanced enough, though the beer definitely leans malty. And though this beer didn't convert me to Mr. Pumpkin Beer Drinker, this was pretty good. If you like this style of beer, this will make you happy!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

CrafterNoon Delight

I told you a few days ago to join me at the CrafterNoon Delight Whiskey and Craft Beer Fest! I hope you complied! Even after circling the block a few times trying to figure out Mary Brickell Village parking, my wife and I were 20 minutes early. But you know what? Early bird does catch the worm, including some cool new t-shirts, caps, money clips and GREAT photo ops!

I think the organizers of the event plan on having similar regular festivals, but this was to be the first. There were around 15 beer vendors and five or six in the whiskey category. That might not sound like a lot to you, but seriously, our whiskey "punch cards" (we were allowed 10 spirits samples and unlimited beer samples) went very much unfinished!

I told my wife we were going to start upstairs where all the spirits were located. And Buffalo Trace was an awesome first stop! The representative there was very knowledgeable and gave me a terrific first sip, while making my wife a cocktail with their Benchmark Peach. We each left with a new t-shirt (I wore mine the entire night) and a few other goodies! Mmm. Buffalo Trace Bourbon!

Next stop, the Jameson table for a taste of their new Black Barrel Irish Whiskey. As you can see below, the Jameson woman and I sipped whiskey and watched the sun set together! She and her coworker told us about the new spirit, with the Black referring to a double charred barrel used for the aging process. Was funny, too, as the Jameson woman turned the situation around and took our photo! Should be top of Google Images by now!

Still sticking with bourbons, I headed straight toward a favorite brand... Bulleit! My wife and I each got a new Bulleit Bourbon cap and a helluva tasting. I asked for the Bulleit Rye and my wife decided to check out the bourbon. But after a sip, she took mine and totally fell in love with the perfumey, smooth rye. And it was a perfect swap as I preferred the bourbon. At the same table, I also tried a great George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey, very smooth!

At the adjoining table, we tasted some new Crown Royal and Johnnie Walker offerings. Apparently there are some new whiskeys, and the color scheme for Johnnie Walker has been shaken up recently. We tried Johnnie Walker Platinum, a really nice new blend. I tried it neat though I thought it was really awesome with one cube of ice!

We then hit the Anchor Distilling table. Anchor is an awesome beer brand but you'd be surprised how many spirits options they have. I loved trying Junipero Gin another night, but at this event I tried KaVaLan Whisky from Taiwan. Was really terrific!

My wife was already worn out from the whiskey portion of the event, so we decided to check out the beer vendors for a change. Down the steps to the entrance (remember this was all outside, among dozens of other businesses open and doing business), we checked out our first beer table. None better than Guinness! But what is this Guinness Blonde they had to offer (no, not the model)? It was a nice beer, unlike the Guinness everyone knows, grainy, toast, fruit, pretty good! Do you think I look like a "typical dad" in the photo below (minus the power tools)? Just curious.

Out front by Guinness, SweetWater, Sierra Nevada, Samuel Adams and Abita showcased their beers. The new South Florida Sales Rep pouring SweetWater beers seemed jealous about missing their introduction to South Florida, but she did mention meeting Freddy, which made everything just fine! Freddy has a way of making that happen. I'm pretty sure we had our own 420 moment anyway.

Sierra Nevada was offering the beers from their new mixed winter pack (brrr 78° Miami night), including two new offerings. The coffee porter was great. They also had this year's Celebration Ale! It might have been whiskey fatigue, but it didn't seem that bitter this year. Could just be me, though I'm sure I'll check it out again soon when I'm fresh.

Abita was serving a new pilsner along with their AndyGator, both good options, while Sam Adams had a pumpkin shandy among a few other beers. Oh, and they also had fake mustaches from that same Curious Traveler brand. I had a few more shots of Celebration Ale before we moved our way back to the second floor, home to a bunch more beer brands!

We went through sponsor Fado's Irish Pub on the way back, checking out their really cool bar. If you look closely, you can see that Wynwood Brewing's La Rubia and Funky Buddha Floridian beers are on tap. Along with many other spirits options that make the Confession Box worthy of its name. Check out this bar!

First stop on the second floor, Wynwood Brewing. Pops was there pouring a few beers. Yeah, Pops from the "Pop's Porter" that won GABF GOLD recently! Cigar City had Jai Alai on tap along with a few others, and Terrapin was there with Moo Hoo and some of their kick-ass IPAs.

Jessica from Duvel was there pouring the Duvel beers, and Duvel's newest brand Boulevard Brewing had its own table. Double-Wide IPA? Yes, please! It was pretty funny that half of this beer festival took place immediately outside an enormous LA Fitness. My guess is that many gym members said "fuck this" and joined us outside!

I took another handful of beer brand t-shirt photos too (you can see them below, not a separate post like usual). One guy recognized me from last year's Grovetoberfest, saying I took his pic in a Lagunitas shirt! Nice.

I hope that this concept takes off, regular beer and whiskey festivals. I think that beer and spirits totally complement each other. You don't need a lot of vendors, just quality. And if each treats the guests like at this event, the venture will be a total success. My wife and I Shook It Off by dining at a Brother Jimmy's Carolina Ribs in the mall. Good price, good people watching! Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gringolandia Super Pils

I'm not sure I've reviewed any 5 Rabbit Cerveceria beers here, but I couldn't pass up their Gingolandia Super Pils the other day. You know, because I'm a Gringo and all living in the foreign country of Miami? Anyway, the story on the label lets you know that this beer is a salute to the multicultural input used to craft their products, their "Latin-meets-Chicago experience." The label has a background full of thumbnail sketches of many cultural symbols: picnic tables, jalapenos, baseball caps, skulls, boom boxes, and guns (go figure). 7.2% alcohol. 65 IBUs.

Kind of cloudy, unexpected. Light lemon and light grain aroma, faint but sweet. Grassy and flowery flavors kick things off, fairly sharp and building throughout the beer. And though that initial bitterness persists, some sweeter than expected apple and fruit and grainy flavors do show prominently. 

Carbonation is good. Each finish has a hoppy, bitter, lightly alcoholic streak running through it. And while flavorful and clean, I feel this pilsner was lacking the refreshment one would expect in the style, for sure not meeting what I deserved after four hours in the garden this morning!

Dear 5 Rabbit: This banner is on your website this morning. You can see I had this from a bottle, not draft.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

DECAPITATOR by Corkcicle

Corkcicle sent me a beer-related product in the past that I wasn't in love with, but I decided not to say anything about it here. Yesterday, an unexpected package arrived at my door. Inside, a new product to check out: DECAPITATOR by Corkcicle!

DECAPITATOR is a bottle opener that looks like none you've ever seen. It's designed to place over the bottle, push down firmly, and voilĂ , your bottle is opened. The pressure down activates a mechanism that opens the bottle, and a magnet inside catches the cap too. I used it to open a few bottles of one of my favorite beers: Victory Golden Monkey.

DECAPITATOR totally kicks ass! I went to their store but couldn't find it anywhere--my guess is that it's completely sold out for being such an awesome product, so I'd check back another day.

Here you go. You can get at Amazon too!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dark Penance

I went to Grovetoberfest this past Saturday. Of course I visited the booth of one of my favorite breweries numerous times: Founders Brewing was serving All Day IPA, Breakfast Stout, and Dirty Bastard to start off a hot-ass Miami afternoon. But they also had a special tapping time for Dark Penance, their newest specialty brew. Of course I didn't make it back in time for that--either that or I was too impatient to wait in line to try it. But fear not, citizens! I had a bottle in my fridge to check it out!

The label depicts an old woman, eyes closed, bowing her head in prayer. I'm not sure what her dirty laundry is, but it seems like she's trying to absolve herself of the sins, first by praying but secondly by throwing back a bottle of this 100 IBU beer. 8.9% alcohol. Bottled On 09/23/2014.

Malty, burnt sugar and plenty of hoppy citrus in the aroma. Heavy bitter citrus flavors start things off, along with plenty of roasted malts. Bitter but there is a nice sweet balance, at least at first. A definite alcohol cleansing action is also there throughout, heavily synergizing the bitter hoppy effects.

Pine, very floral, sharp grapefruit, astringent and intense. This is the kind of beer that will drive your wife to the guest room because she says you have alcoholic breath. I tried to explain that it's the hops, not the alcohol, but no go so far! Overall, quite bitter from many angles. Roasted, burnt malty flavors are also very good and do not even go near the asshole levels many in this category pass. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CrafterNoon Delight Whiskey & Craft Brew Fest

Update! Yo, go check out the actual event!

Craft Beer and Whiskey in one festival? Yes, Please! Of course I'm talking about the CrafterNoon Delight Whiskey & Craft Brew Fest taking place this Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 6 - 10 pm at Mary Brickell Village in Miami. Fado Irish Pub and Zevents have teamed up to create this boutique festival featuring over 15 craft brewers and 5 of the largest Whiskey and Scotch producers.

Mary Brickell Village is located at 900 South Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33131. You can find a 40% off promotional code through Instagram @ZeventsMiami as well. Hope to see you there! I can personally already taste the Bulleit Bourbon and GABF Gold Winning Pops Porter from Wynwood Brewing!

Update 10222014: Here's a LIMITED deal I was just emailed from your friends at Grovetoberfest!

Use Code GFEST25 to get the $65 ticket for $25.

Use Code GFEST35 to get the $85 ticket for $35.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Grovetoberfest 2014

This past Saturday, Peacock Park in Coconut Grove hosted the 4th Annual Grovetoberfest! I don't know how the organizers do it, but they always get some of the most gorgeous days to host their events. And Saturday was no exception--not a cloud in the sky! But it was HOT, perfect weather for beer drinking! Yes, even the stouts!

My wife and I made the rounds, stopping by almost every table to see what beers they were pouring. It was cool to see a bunch of new breweries there--Biscayne Bay Brewing, Saltwater Brewery and Boulevard Brewing off the top of my head. We started with some of the local breweries that we knew would be mobbed later in the afternoon, especially with their special tapping times on a few beers. Funky Buddha, Due South, Cigar City, Saltwater, Wynwood, Biscayne Bay, Native, Miami Brewing, Florida Beer, Islamorada. Don't kill me if I missed one.

After grabbing some food, we headed to the name brands everyone loves. My personal favorites were Lagunitas, Founders, Terrapin, Green Flash, too many to name! We bumped into a lot of regulars and friends and even some people we never thought liked craft beer--go figure! I took a bunch of pictures of people representing certain beer brands with their shirts!

Besides the beer vendors, there was plenty of food, a loud rock-n-roll band, pretzel necklace makers, homebrew competitions and cooking demonstrations too. I didn't see the Most Interesting Man in the World this year, so I just hung out with Sam Adams and the Blue Moon girls instead! In the end, my favorite beers of the day included Founders Breakfast Stout and All Day IPA, Terrapin Hopsecutioner, Funky Buddha Bonita Applebum, Boulevard Tank 7, and Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' to name a few.

I tried to return the cap I stole from Biscayne Bay Brewing's mermaid as I had promised, but in the end was told I could keep it! I'm already looking forward to Sprung! in the spring and Grovetoberfest 2015 next October! Put it on your calendar now! Hope you enjoy the photos.