Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Big Eddy Cherry Doppelschwarz 2014

A month or so ago, I butted into a conversation on Twitter about Jacob Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Cherry Doppelschwarz. Now we get a lot of Leinie's beer down here in South Florida, but my friend from Tenth and Blake in that conversation confirmed this would not be one of them. She was so nice, however, to make sure I got a sample or two! So that brings us to today...

Though named a Doppelschwarz, Beer Advocate categorized it as a Doppelbock. Honestly I was just looking for a few sentences to set my expectations, so call it what you want. This beer was brewed with Door County, Wisconsin cherries. Oh, and the name comes from the fact that that brewery was founded on the Big Eddy Spring in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. 8.5% alcohol. Best by APR2015.

Chocolate and sweet generic malty aroma with the faintest hint of cherries. Cherry flavors take a much bigger role--interesting, tart and they carry an alcoholic streak through a rich choco-caramel sweet base. The contrast between sweet malt and tart cherries was terrific and complex. The cherries linger with a slight cleansing tartness at the finish. I liked it. Have a few for New Years Eve tonight!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lucky 7 Porter

I decided Christmas was the perfect day for a beer named Lucky 7 Porter. (Yes, I realize you're not reading this on Christmas, but it is when I drank it). First, I'd like to be lucky today (or tonight), but second, this is the time of year that my Uncle and I used to drive around Easton, PA looking for a Christmas Eve location to drink. That always ended up being Porters' Pub! This beer is brewed by Evolution Craft Brewing Company in Salisbury, Maryland and is available exclusively at Total Wine if you're buying in Florida.

The label is simple, just a few sprigs of barley on a brown background. The tagline states that this is "a PORTER brewed with 7 lucky malts." 5.8% alcohol, 14.5°P, 24 IBU.

Sweet chocolate and light roasted malt aroma, not powerful but nice. Flavors start with much more roast than the aroma let on. Coffee, chocolate, not sweet, not bitter, though that roast approaches "aggressive." Smooth. More lingering roast at the finish. Simple but nice flavors. Check it out.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Shock Top Shockolate Wheat

Screw you guys for hating me for checking out Shock Top Shockolate Wheat, a Belgian-style wheat ale aged on cocoa and vanilla beans, and with natural flavors and artificial sweeteners. Yum! This was "specially crafted for the season," which I'm guessing is winter considering a few snowflakes on the label (Miami problem). 4.3% alcohol.

Cocoa powder and vanilla for an aroma. This totally tastes like a chocolate cola! Noticeably flat right from the start though, and I hate my soda flat (and beer too)! Very smooth. Vanilla is noticeable though not a big player. A little sweet but not overdone. Which leads to a bland cocoa finish.

Not very flavorful. Wife said, "so-so, doesn't taste like anything!" Not unpleasant but very boring and double-very forgettable! I dumped the rest (not worth the calories).

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Reprise Centennial Red Ale

Today I decided to check out Reprise Centennial Red Ale brewed by 4 Hands Brewing in St. Louis, Missouri. The can shows three hop cones nicely worked into an orange, red and gold color scheme. The name of the beer comes from the centennial hops it's brewed with. Food Pairings: sharp cheddar and grilled beef. 6.5% alcohol.

Orange citrus and faint caramel aroma, not very noticeable at all. MUCH more bitter than I was expecting and quite medicinal. Not a good first impression. A tad of malty sweetness begs its way in but this just isn't a good beer. Astringent, lemony. Not hoppy. Rather, medicinal bitterness is just blech and lingers long after you wish it were gone. Dump! You can easily find a lot better!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Blood Orange Gose Orange Ale

After loving Anderson Valley Brewing's The Kimmie, The Yink and The Holy GOSE Ale several months ago, I decided to grab another beer in their Highway 128 Session Series: Blood Orange Gose Orange Ale. Nice can art with the beer series name turned into a road sign. 4.2% alcohol. Bahl Hornin'!

Plenty of fruity, juicy orange in the aroma, sweet and tangy. Big orange ade flavors to start, with a sudden tart grab at the sides of the neck. I wasn't shocked and that reaction went away, but that tartness was just right. Some sweet orange flavors repeated themselves to rebalance the situation at the finish. So for a recap: orange ade, swift tartness, sweet fruity return.

Smooth, a bit low on the carbonation but still fine. And damn the saltiness builds a lot by the end of the can. My wife hated it, though that's not really a knock on the beer (rookie). I finished it easily--a very nice Gose that I will probably buy more of next trip to the liquor store!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Dogfish Head Seasonal Artist Jermaine Rogers Signed Label Contest

It's a Christmas Miracle! Yep. Another contest. First of all, thanks so much to Dogfish Head for supplying each of their seasonal beer labels and to Seasonal Artist Jermaine Rogers for taking the time to sign each one for me!

Dudes and dudettes, this little project took some time, so no whining about having to answer questions that take a little thought. "This is too hard and time consuming!" Boo-hoo! There are not any other places to get this prize, not even eBay, so suck it up! (Seriously, I was warned about selling just the unsigned labels on eBay, and these have the artist's signature!)

Pick 3 of these 5 questions and answer them in the comments (if you have problems commenting, email the answers to me, which I will publish in the comments, so no matter what they will be seen). And don't try to copy other entrants' answers--it'll be pretty obvious. There will be at least a few winners, but depending on the number of successful entries, I'm not sure how many. I'll pick winners based on correct answers, clever answers, answers with real thought. I am the judge--whatever I say goes and is final. I will try not to change rules, but heck, maybe we'll add in some "culinary curveball" or some "cutthroat crap" along the way. (Questions are below label pictures.)

Again, you need to get 3 correct, so if you're not sure about an answer, it's OK to answer more just in case. And it's also OK to enter more than once, but you need to have different answers for each entry (which should be "cake" with these multiple-answer and opinion questions). And if I can't figure out who gave the answers, well, you're shit out of luck. Be sure to give me an email or Twitter or some way to know how to contact you. Contest ends 12/31/14 at midnight and I'll pick the winners on New Years Day!

1. Name two other Dogfish Head Label Artists.

2. This is the third seasonal artist that I have had a contest with, though the first two didn't have their work featured on the seasonal labels (they had done others prior). What brewery labels and artist specifically do you think I should approach to sign his/her labels for a next contest? Basically, which labels do you think are cool and who designed them? Links to pictures would even be a plus (PS. Don't stay Ralph Steadman and Flying Dog).

3. Name two significant Florida craft beer events (news, brewery openings, etc) that happened in 2014.

4. Here's another opinion one. Look at and give an honest opinion in 2-5 sentences (grammar should be pretty understandable). What do you think needs improvement? What is good? Say what you want as long as it's honest (and publishable).

5. Which of the 4 Jermaine Rogers labels above do you like the best and why? Do you think Dogfish Head should continue putting the work of their seasonal artist on the actual seasonal labels?

Thanks a lot for participating.

Update 12/29/2014: Thanks to Jermaine for publicizing this contest on his Facebook page and calling DailyBeerReview "the monster beer blog"! My comment and email inbox just exploded. I guess I really will need to make some hard decisions for winners this time!!! Thanks to everyone that took the time to answer the questions and play along.

Update 2/1/2015: Winner Chris sent me a picture of the labels mounted next to some coasters that match. Very nice!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Brick Store Pub

After a morning with the new Frisbee at my sister's house in Atlanta, we learned that our plans for that evening had changed. My best friend from high school was sick with a fever--too sick to go near the family, especially with my new little infant niece. I'm pretty sure I heard my sister mutter "wussy" under her breath, though!

Last time I was in Atlanta, I missed my chance to go to the Brick Store Pub because we were visiting those exact same cancelers! So karma said let's make that bar trip right now. My brother-in-law and I pawned off the trip as a family excursion to see the quaint and unique little shops of Decatur. But we ditched all the kids in the first store and headed up the street for a few beers!

Brick Store Pub has a daily menu of Local, American, Belgian and Coming Soon Beers. I personally try to drink local some beers I haven't tried yet, then move on to the best sounding brews. Apparently there's a brewery in Athens, GA called Creature Comforts (I confirmed with the bartender). I asked for a glass of their Tropicalia IPA. Freakin' delicious! Fruity, juicy, orange citrus with some tropical fruits as well. Delicious with a nice balanced bitterness.

Just about then my family arrived! Ugh! We weren't there for even one beer. We left the bar stools and took a table that could accommodate two kids and a stroller. But then my wife and sister ordered some beers, and my kids got the most enormous glasses of OJ and Coke I've ever seen, so we were back in the zone! My sister's beer was delivered as "Bernie Christmas" by a dude with a beard that would put Santa Claus to shame! Our check said the same.

We explored the upstairs Belgian Beer and Whisky Bar. Without family, would have been Heaven. But we returned to our table and had another round. I finished with DuPont Avec Les Bons Voeux, an excellent Belgian strong pale ale full of fruit, orange, yeast, and a kick. My wife liked that one too.

Great staff. Great beers! And I swear even the beers you never heard of came with a branded glass for that exact beer. Very relaxing environment, though my sister said we were an hour or two away from a packed Saturday evening crowd. Can't wait to return!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

SweetWater Brewing Tour

My family and I drove from Miami to Atlanta last week to see my new niece. Before we left, I connected with one of my friends who works with SweetWater Brewing, and she totally hooked us up with complimentary tour passes. On Sunday afternoon, four adults and three kids took the tour. The adults got to sample some of the beers too while the kids complained that they wanted to leave. And since my 4 month old niece tagged along, the subtitle to the post is "Baby's First Brewery Tour"!

It was a chilly afternoon, so almost everyone there skipped cornhole and watched the second half of the Falcons game instead. It was a fun atmosphere, especially with the Saints getting destroyed! We jumped right in on the first of consecutively run tours. Our tour guide was extremely peppy. She told us the history of the brewery and showed us around all the tanks. She told a few stories as well. My favorite was the one about drinking a gallon of beer a day for 80 years (or something like that), but the story describing their experimental Dank Tank was good too!

The tasting room had eight beers on tap for sampling. But I only had six tickets, and Hop Hash cost me two tickets. So here's a Pro Tip for you guys. When you do brewery tours, bring your nursing sister and lightweight wife with you! You'll get more samples and have a built-in designated driver!

The brewery was big. Outside giant grain silos. Inside 15 fermentation tanks that held 1000 barrels each. SweetWater also has a bottling line in the new part of the expanded brewery and a very new canning line, though we could only see that part of the brewery from behind some yellow tape. Apparently while the system is in production and moving, they don't like a bunch of drinkers there with all that glass!

My favorite beers were Hop Hash and 420, while the rest of the gang loved Blue and SpinnerBait Belgian-Style Red Ale. The staff was great, knowledgeable and we enjoyed our visit! Check it out when you're in town!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Single Speed

Next up from 4 Hands Brewing is their Single Speed Ale, brewed with Jasmine. This is another of the newly canned beers the brewery sent me to check out. The can art shows an old-time bike (which has a name but I'm too lazy to look it up), but this bike has wings ready to take off, like beautiful Victoria's Secret wings. Food Pairings: Poultry or Camembert Cheese. 5% alcohol.

Floral aroma, very floral. Grainy to start with a big flowery middle, lots of jasmine. And as big as the jasmine hit in the middle, it is double intense in the finish. There's a honey sweetness that persists as well. Light body, simple. Decent flavors but Jasmine just gets annoying by the finish.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Divided Sky Rye IPA

After being blown away by 4 Hands Brewing's Resurrected IPA, I figured that their Divided Sky Rye IPA should be next. I love me a good Rye IPA too! The can art on this beer depicts an enormous tree with a huge root system with all its branches blowing against a mighty wind. A little Avatar-Tree-Of-Life-ish. Pair with blue cheese or spicy food. 6.5% alcohol.

Nice Aroma. Fruity sweet orange and apple with plenty of spicy rye. That apple flavor continues, and you will not miss the pine and spicy rye. After a few sips, I was missing a little sweet balance, though some caramel flavors do show as the beer warms a bit.

The finish shows some alcohol. And the aftertaste is a bit medicinal. I could have used a little more sweetness and a little more carbonation. Not bad but there are several rye beers that I love. And I'd pick up Resurrected IPA all day over this one.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Olde School Barleywine 2012 -- Galileo's Bane Guest Post

Guest poster "Galileo's Bane" sent me a review and a reminder to dig the Olde School up from my back yard. I had completely forgotten!

2012 Olde School Barleywine

Luscious, smooth, decadent.  This is the result of 2 years being buried in the back yard (or in the back of the closet for us lazy ones).  I’m drinking a 2012 Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head. Yeah, this is one of those with the special “beware, high ABV” bottle cap on it.

My memory isn’t perfect, but two years did wonderful things for this beer.   Keep in mind that at 15%, even if not good, it will do good things for you.   It pours deep amber or brown.  It looks a bit like it was in the back yard…fairly dirty looking.  A modest white head appears and then dissipates after a few moments.  Moderate carbonation.

Aroma is of raisins and a touch of anise. Very inviting!  Not much for hops in flavor, rather complex dark and dried fruit.  It is fairly sweet, with a nice alcohol finish.  It was worth the wait.

BTW, this was in the old standard long neck bottles, before Dogfish began bottling with the special embossed logo bottles.

Dig yours up, Rob!  Just be careful, as the shovel and glass don’t usually play well together.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hop Gun India Pale Ale

Meet your new wingman! According to Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park, Florida, Hop Gun IPA is up for the job! Hop Gun and Floridian Hefeweizen were recently released as the brewery's first two bottled beers. The Hop Gun label pushes the "Top Gun Meets Beer" theme with fighter jets firing warheads with hop cone tips--pretty busy scene! The story to the side sets your expectations, again using the wingman lingo. 7.0% alcohol.

Under the cap: ENJOY THE JOURNEY. Fruity, tropical aroma with light pine. Fruity, big citrus with tropical pineapple nuances to start. Then big pine and grapefruit flavors show up with an excellent bitterness. The spiciness works excellently with the carbonation, and you get a touch of alcohol dryness at the finish. My wife said, "not bad" but that just means she's comparing great against great since I'm in charge of all beer selection around here! Great beer!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lot No. 6 Double I.P.A.

So you probably remember my little story about Evolution Brewing's recent trip to Florida thanks to Total Wine, right? Well, tonight I'm bumping up from that initial Lot No. 3 IPA to Big Brother Lot No. 6 double IPA. Pretty creative beer naming, right? The label is just as creative with a drab green hop cone (same as on the other beer) on a brown background. 8.5% alcohol. 18.5°P. 75 IBU.

Now, I love beer names and am very passionate about beer label/can art, so when a brewery neglects both so egregiously, they better make fucking awesome beers! Oh, and same goes for beers with extremely well-done artistic labels or crazy stupid creative names (Clown Shoes delivers on both at that end of the spectrum, for example).

Beautiful dark orange color--looked great in the sun! Huge pineapple aroma, very inviting! Sweet, tropical orange and pineapple fruity flavors in the beginning. But loads of bitterness follows--fresh, hoppy, bitter, bitter (did I say that?). This beer has that unique quality of having both an excellent balance between sweet and bitter, though NOT some generic middle...rather both sweet and bitter complement each other throughout.

The finish is spicy, peppery. Good body, nice lingering flavors left on the palate. 2 for 2 with All-Stars for this brewery so far. Porter and Winter Beer to follow! Make sure you never miss a beat!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Floridian Hefeweizen

Funky Buddha started selling their Floridian Hefeweizen and Hop Gun India Pale Ale in bottles just a few days ago. I splurged for one bottle of each since I've had both many times on tap. But big step for the brewery--congratulations. I mentioned on Twitter buying them at Total Wine, and this chick asked me where she can buy the beer--of course I totally created a solution.

This review is about Floridian. Hop Gun for another time. According to the label, Floridian is a "Suntan for your soul!" The label depicts the Funky Buddha "logo Buddha" on a hammock at the beach watching the "brilliance of a golden Florida sunset." Stay Funky: Recycle. 5.2% alcohol. Pour into a pilsner glass at 38°F.

Under the bottle cap it says BEER IS LIFE. Orange and banana aroma, with some spice. Big fruity orange flavors, sweet and citrus. Spicy cloves add some interest. Wheat and yeast are prominent. Body is a little chewy with some lingering sticky sweetness. Good beer. Funky Buddha will do awesomely with this now out in the market in bottles.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Boulevard Brewing Beer Dinner at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables

A few nights ago, Duvel Moortgat continued their celebration of Boulevard Brewing's arrival to South Florida with a beer dinner at The Biltmore Hotel's Fontana Restaurant. And you know how much I love that kind of celebration! South Florida Market Manager Jessica Suarez put together a dinner featuring four of the brewery's core beers paired with some awesome dishes!

Now... I say Miami, you say tropics. But let me tell you the al fresco dining started in the 60°F's and ended in the 40°F's. It was just a little nipply, and I'm talking about myself! But the Biltmore staff was super attentive and awesome. They had these portable heaters that made everything just comfortable enough until the 90°F car ride home!

Just as we were getting started and everyone was introducing themselves, I overheard a question referring to the brewery, "So [Boulevard] is like a microbrewery?" I asked around, and because the question obviously meant to equate microbrewery with quality, it was determined that Boulevard is in fact like a microbrewery! And Jessica said yes too--perfect definitive answer!

We started the meal with a Crispy Duck Leg Confit with Fried Duck Egg and a Mustard Maple Syrup. That was paired with Boulevard's Single-Wide IPA. Jessica introduced each beer as the chef delivered the food to the table. Everyone loved this beer! And the food was really great too!

You can see the photo of the entire menu above, but we had four awesome, unique courses, each paired with a different Boulevard beer including Pop-Up IPA, The Sixth Glass Quadrupel (I think the crowd was shocked at the contrast between this one and the others, but still really enjoyed it), and 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat.

I will say my favorite dish was the Prosciutto Wrapped Sea Scallop, and though I really like the Pop-Up IPA it was served with, the winning beer of the night was the Single-Wide IPA (sorry Sixth Glass-- but maybe tonight).

Conversation was great. Roland from Brown Distributing was dropping knowledge about the Three Tier System like it was his college major. The group of women from Vine Communications was very fun and interesting (They have an office in The Biltmore-didn't know that existed, but I guess you learn something every time you drink). And thank God my wife took some pictures because mine mostly sucked.

Apparently we were supposed to take the glasses with the Boulevard Smokestack logo imprint. Or at least I hope so, because I washed them at home the next morning. Nice evening and dinner. Thanks to everyone.