Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kirsch Gose Sour Cherry Bier

I picked up a bottle of Victory Brewing's Kirsch Gose Sour Cherry Bier a few days ago. Victory is one of my favorite breweries, but this style is a bit off the beaten path for them. Actually, it's funny because after I typed that, I read the story on their label and they call this "a bold and bright step outside the norm." 4.7% alcohol.

Electric pink color. Lightly fruity aroma, not that strong, with hints of saltiness as well. Yum. Absolutely delicious from the first sip. Powerful cherry flavors dominate the start, so fruity and juicy and bursting with flavor. Just fills the mouth. Lightly tart, not really sour at all and no puckering qualities, exactly what I was hoping for. A little acidity and saltiness show up at the finish.

Nice carbonation. Extremely refreshing. Sweet and tart and tangy all rolled into one. Fabulous! (However, my wife HATED it, so if this style isn't your thing or you don't care to venture into (even slightly) sour beers, beware).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Screamin' Sicilian Pizza Co. - Quality Pizza Meets Craft Beer

"Assault your taste buds!"
So what do you think the Screamin' Sicilian above is actually yelling and making so much noise about? If you bothered to open up the freezer door at your local grocery store, you'd have heard that he just wants a chance to be your new favorite pizza. With so many options within just a few dollars of each other, why not check out the pizzas that actually look like they might taste awesome?

Screamin' Sicilian Pizza Co. recently reached out to me because they think their pizzas are a natural fit with the craft beer world. Comparisons include the creativity of the naming and packaging, the bold flavors, and the quality of the products. And who doesn't like a great beer with a great pizza? So let me tell you more about their pizzas. Before you ask, yes, I was compensated for this piece, with pizza, props and dough (you know what I mean). But I'm pretty sure you guys know by now I say what's on my mind.

Never heard of Screamin' Sicilian Pizzas? My local South Florida Publix has three of the eight varieties, all of which have very fun names and packaging and stories. Looking through the logo mouth on the box into the pizzas, you are able to see huge amounts of toppings. Their cheese pizza is named Bessie's Revenge and you can see giant slices of Mozzarella on top. Supremus Maximus, well you know what that is, but did you guess it has a mountain of sausage, bell peppers, pepperoni, onions and black olives? And Mambo Italiano is an Italian meatball and pepperoni lovers dream!  I'll have to look around for their Spicy Clucker, Boss Hog, 3 Lil Piggies and the other varieties.

I decided to check out their cheese pizza first, Bessie's Revenge. Of course you know I'm going to pair it with a beer or two. But what beers? Quality ingredients, in this case tons of cheese on top of a crunchy baked crust, deserve a quality beer. I decided that for this pizza, I was going to start with Ommegang's Witte, a Belgian-style wheat ale brewed in Cooperstown, NY. The tangy flavor from the wheat along with the spices the beer was brewed with go naturally with the cheesy goodness, while not overpowering the flavors. Excellent pizza full of yum, and my wife and kids really enjoyed it as well! So much cheese! So much flavor! And the crust is spectacular!

I also tried Bessie's Revenge with Brooklyn Brewery's Sorachi Ace, a beer named after a hop variety known for the zesty lemon flavors it imparts on a beer. In addition to the lemon flavor, some spiciness and yeasty qualities played very nicely with this particular pizza. By the way, both of those suggested beer options have excellent distribution, but certainly try local craft options if you want!

Seriously, why are you messing around with the thin, flavorless cardboard-like pizzas made by your grocery store? For a few dollars more, you can have a spectacular pizza and an enjoyable meal. Think about it... You drink $5 coffee every morning while driving to work in your BMW 8000xl. You're willing to spend 8 or 10 dollars (and sometimes even double or triple that) on one quality craft beer. So why not try an upgrade on your next pizza? Do It!

Part two of this review will be out in a week or two. In that time I'm going to try the other two pizzas available from my Publix. I'll probably ask the store manager what the chances are they might stock a few of the others too. Oh, and of course trying new pizzas is an opportunity to drink some more craft beers. I'll let you know then what works for me! If you get a chance to try Screamin' Sicilian, leave a comment and let me know what you think (and what beers you drank with the pizza).

Saturday, April 25, 2015

BEER & Friends Laser Cut Bottle Openers

BEER&Friends launched their Kickstarter a few days ago and it's already funded! Basically these guys bought a lot of "F**k'n Lasers," which is what you would be funding should you decide to participate. The lasers are used to cut some really fun designs into stainless steel, which then you would use to open your beer bottles.

Now, just because the kickstarter is funded doesn't mean you shouldn't participate. The owner of the company will hand deliver your bottle opener (eye contact not guaranteed) for the right price. And they have simple levels if you just want one for yourself or a few gifts.

They sent me their BEER design of bottle opener which you can see above. In this case BEER = Bear + Deer. I tested it out on Evolution Brewing's Lot No. 3 IPA. Worked perfectly as expected, then went right back into my wallet! Yep, thin and lightweight and better than most credit cards!

Check out the kickstarter page to see other versions as well: Don't Give Two Flying Fox, Hawkward, Jackass, and Koalafied Beer Inspector are my favorites! If you fund the kickstarter, you get to choose the design. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rhye IPA

It's been a while since I grabbed a Smuttynose Brewing beer, not really sure why. But a label with a rhinoceros on it caught my eye a few days ago. And the name, Rhye IPA, what the hell is that? Well it's a combination of the rhino and the rye that the brewery used while brewing the beer itself. Best By 08/11/2015.

Spicy, citrusy aroma. Giant spicy flavors to start on top of a lot of pine. Those give way to some orange citrus, sweet and zesty at the same time, kind of interesting. A light caramel sweetness adds another element of balance right at the finish. The finish is also very dry with a light touch of alcohol noticeable. Pleasant lingering aftertaste.

Good balance with sweet and bitter and spicy and alcy. I liked it and will go to see what other Smuttys are on the shelf next to this one!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Inedit Damm

Last week, security called my house to let me know "Michael" was at the gate. When I asked who he was and why, I was told that he'd like to deliver something to me. So two minutes later, he was handing me a 4-pack of Spain's Inedit Damm, compliments of Estrella Damm's agency here in Miami. Nice! (So many Damm jokes, too! Beware!)

This is a wheat beer brewed with a lot of Damm spices including licorice, coriander and orange peel. It is just recently being introduced to the US in "Personal Size Bottles." It's been available in wine-sized bottles here, but it's funny b/c I didn't even finish my Damm review yet and already cracked open my second 330 mL personal bottle. Perspective!

Inedit Damm was created by famous award-winning Chef Ferran Adria and the Estrella Damm brewmasters. I think this is a highlight though I've never heard of this guy despite watching a Damm inordinate amount of Food Network and other cooking shows. Anyway, given Chef Adria's cooking prowess, this beer was created in such a way that it's extremely versatile and can be "paired with any [Damm] dish." I paired the first two bottles with nothing.

I also didn't follow instructions to serve in a Damm white wine glass, no more than half full, so I could fully appreciate the aromatic intensity. Damm (InEd) It! Best Before end of 01/2016. 4.8% alcohol.

Damm nice aroma, full of lemon and orange citrus with strong coriander. Sweet wheaty grain flavor start. Wow, plenty of corainder and orange too, accompanied by a nice tangy streak. Carbonation is good, adds to the Damm refreshment. Medium body, not too thin.

Inedit Damm does remain on the sweet side despite some grassy hoppy nips and a little zesty citrus. But it's mostly balanced. Pretty Damm easy drinker. Not bad!

As I was writing this review, someone retweeted a tweet Alyssa Sutherland sent me (she's the Damm hot actress from the History Vikings show!) So I tweeted pictures of the new Damm packaging and bottles to Alyssa, considering it's a beer she likes. Man, Estrella Damm must be stalking me (see response below). Damm Funny. OK. Done, for now!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spencer Trappist Ale -- Heath McKnight Guest Post

Spencer Trappist Ale Review

The past few weeks, Ive been on a Belgian beer kick, specifically Trappist and Abbey beers, brewed of course by monks. Ive enjoyed Chimay Blue and Red (though I thought the White wasnt all that good in a bottle) and St. Bernardusfamous Abt 12 and Prior 8, along with some American-style Quads (Barrel of Monksline-up in Boca Raton, FL; Boulevard Brewings The Sixth Glass; and Brooklyn Local 2).

Im partial to the Trappist and Abbey beers, and the 10 Trappist monasteries brewing beer are mostly in Europe (6 in Belgium, 1 in Austria, and 2 in the Netherlands), and one in the United States, the Spencer Trappist Ale, brewed by the monks at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. (I wont go into the whole Trappist vs. Abbey beers.)

My buddy was able to grab a couple of bottles of the Spencer Trappist Ale, which is a blonde ale with 6.5% ABV. According to Wikipedia, the monks at St. Josephs Abbey made preserves, but started looking at brewing beer to pay the bills. They did their research and went to the Trappist breweries in Europe, and were told to brew one beer for a few years. This is that beer.

Though its a blonde ale, and has a slightly higher alcohol content (similar ABV to a dubbel), its really close to a singel,or Enkel, but also commonly known as a Patersbier. This beer isnt usually sold, and the monks drink it and has an ABV of less than 6%. Thats why Im a little surprised this one pushes nearly 7%!

Like pretty much all Belgian Trappist beers Ive had, it pours a nice head, nice yellow color. For a Patersbier, you can taste that higher alcohol content vs. a more mellow one. Keep in mind, Ive only had one other one at Barrel of Monks in Boca Raton, and it had 4.5% ABV, much milder. Anyway, the Spencer had some nice fruity flavors, plus some honey and good carbonation. Good beer.

The price for a 4-pack is about $15 to $16, which is steep, but imported Trappist beers can cost about $20 to $22 for a 4-pack. The brewery just announced there will be 750 fluid ounce bottles coming soon, but no details on a firm date yet. Also, on their Facebook page, they said theyve been sampling other famous Trappist beers, in the styles of Dubbel, Trippel, and Quad.

Find out more at

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Guy on a Buffalo Coffee Stout

Today I'm checking out Great Northern Brewing's Guy on a Buffalo Coffee Stout. The brewery sent me a sample of the beer along with one from Montana Coffee Traders, the makers of the coffee they used while brewing the beer. This is part of their 2015 Weathervane Series and is packaged in a 22 ounce bottle which has a sketch of the brewery on its label. 5.4% alcohol. 29 IBU.

Plenty of roasted coffee along with a dose of sweet chocolate on the nose. Very smooth and creamy texture. Huge coffee flavor, and clearly a quality coffee product (I'm going to try that sample tomorrow morning to verify!). Chocolate flavors are secondary but a good complement to the coffee. Body is medium at best, not too rich or robust. Roast is present but tame, thankfully. Very simple. Also very pleasant, good flavors, enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Delicious IPA

I grabbed a bottle of Stone Delicious IPA a few days ago--they are kings of the style after all. While reading the story on the back, I learned that Stone tried to craft this beer to reduce the amount of gluten in it, despite using barley in the brewing process. At the same time they decided to try to create a recipe that would be bold enough for hopheads yet approachable for those new to hoppy beers.

This is their 2015 release. Brewed with Lemondrop and El Dorado Hops. 7.7% alcohol.

Nice aroma, citrus and fruity, though not very powerful. Wow, delicious flavors! Whoever named the beer deserves a raise. Excellent lemony citrus comes first, sharp with a tangy flavor to it. Some light tropical fruity sweetness adds a hint of balance. This beer is bursting with fruit flavors.

Nicely spicy, zesty lemons everywhere, good hoppy bitterness with a little bite. And a little alcohol kick and dryness at the finish. Tasty and very enjoyable. Loved the hops combination.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Shiner Prickly Pear

Checking out "The Official Shiner of Summer" today, Shiner Prickly Pear. This is a summer seasonal brewed with Prickly Pears and other natural flavors to create a "crisp and refreshing alternative to drinking from the hose." Apparently, prickly pears are the fruit of a cactus that grows in Texas where the brewery is located. 4.9% alcohol. "End Your Drought!"

Bold fruity aroma, sweet. I can't say I've smelled or tasted prickly pears before, but this has to be it. That aroma translates over to the flavors. The sweetness didn't come, however. Rather this is more tart and bitter. And very dry too. But sorry, I don't like this fruity flavor or its combination with citrusy hops in the slightest. Kinda blech.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

You Suck at Drinking by Matthew Latkiewicz: Book Review

I received the book You Suck at Drinking by Matthew Latkiewicz from the publisher last week. Apparently they heard I'm an avid reader that likes to curl up by the fire with my afghan and just be swept away by good writing! Actually, I read the whole fucking book last night but didn't remember shit when I got up this morning. To answer your question... Yes, there is a chapter and even an "Inebriation Rating Chart" that will help you deal with similar situations.

I consider myself to be an excellent drinker and not just beer like you may think. I also have spirits blog and often attend events where there's not a drop of beer to be found. But beer is my first love! Let's see what Matthew has to offer in his desire to create a better class of Drinker.

You Suck at Drinking provides tutorials, pictorials and guidance on practically every situation you may want or need to drink in. The book tells you who you may encounter along the way and how to deal with them, like the "Rocker Bartender, who clearly does not give a fuck." It offers suggestions on what to drink in certain situations. Even a photo guide on how to determine what kind of liquor is in the bottle strictly by looking at the label. Fun stuff!

You will learn what drinks go with breakups, with defensive drinking situations like gambling, drinking while doing dangerous work, and when you're out drinking with your boss. The book concludes many things, depending on the situation. You'll need to read yourself to find out why "wine is for people that don't drink" and why "beer is the perfect drink". In the end, I think the author is a gin and tonic and Sidecar kind of guy based on multiple recommendations.

An entertaining book all around that can be summed up by an early quote... "Remember, nothing tastes as good as being drunk!"

Friday, April 3, 2015

Going to the Sun IPA

I recently had a chance to check out Great Northern Brewing's Going to the Sun IPA. After enjoying their Wild Huckleberry and Wheatfish Wheat Lagers, I expected another solid beer here. The label shows an enormous sheep climbing from a valley into the mountains surrounding it. 5.5% alcohol. 50 IBU.

The aroma had a little caramel but was mostly muted. Sweet caramel flavors come first and last throughout. Some hoppy citrus flavors appear toward the finish of each sip, adding some balance. A light spiciness lingers on the palate afterward. Pretty simple and straightforward. Nice flavors though I prefer IPAs that lean a bit more bitter. This was a little too sweet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Stealin' Time Summer Wheat

Magic Hat sent me their new summer seasonal, Stealin' Time Summer Wheat, which is to hit shelves this month. This is a wheat ale brewed with ginger. The label depicts a super close-up of a woman's face, the sun reflecting in her sunglasses. 5.5% alcohol.

Wheat aroma, really had to get my nose in there to find any ginger. Lightly sweet flavors to start though balanced. Next, a tangy twang aggressively shows up. At the finish is where you will meet the ginger. The ginger shows up unassumingly, but as you drink the beer, it does start to grow. Thick texturally which hurt refreshment. Was OK and as much as I love ginger, it got a little annoying by the end of the bottle. Check it out. It will be widely available.