Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Upslope Oktoberfest Lager

Upslope Brewing recently released their Tap Room Series Volume 2: Oktoberfest Lager in celebration of, well, Octoberfest! After getting feedback from their local patrons and brewers, they canned it in 19.2 oz bombers for distribution. 22 IBU; 5.1% alcohol. Canned on: 08.28.15. Ingredients are listed on the label too.

Sweet and malty, toasted grain, just a touch of hop aroma. Flavors follow perfectly with sweet grain. Lots of toasted bread as well with just enough bitter balance. Very clean and smooth. Easy, simple drinker. Check it out!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Surplus Honey Citrus Ale

First a cool little story. Grande Lakes Orlando, which is comprised of The JW Marriott Orlando and The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, recently opened an in-house nano-brewery named Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery. The Brewery (in addition to a new restaurant) is named after their 18,000 square-foot Whisper Creek Farm that the hotels use to support their commitment to sustainable cuisine.

The Brewery produces 28 gallons of beer per week, usually two styles each week using ingredients harvested in the farm. Now that's a lot of beer for a small brewery to support a local tasting room. But I'm pretty sure that those two hotel properties have guests that can afford a gallon or two just for a special spa treatment. No Doubt about it! But seriously, to produce enough of its signature beer, Surplus Honey Citrus Ale, Grande Lakes paired up with Cape Canaveral's Florida Beer Company to do just that. And I got a sample and a signed note from Grande Lakes' VP and General Manager Jim Burns that says just that!

"One day, a chef & a brewer ran into a farmer...this (meaning Surplus Honey Citrus Ale) is their story." That's the phrase around the rim of the beer label. A little story on the side goes on to explain that "Surplus" is a term describing the excess honey that bees don't need to survive. What does that have to do with this beer? Well, Grande Lakes has that farm. Remember? And that farm has an apiary consisting of four bee hives. Each hive produces approximately 80 pounds of honey per year for use at the hotel properties in food, spa and now BEER! Yep, this beer is brewed with honey and orange and grapefruit zest. 6% alcohol. (BTW, Whisper Creek also grows hops, uses their spent grains for their chickens' food, grows a bunch of citrus tree varieties among dozens of other sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices.)

I poured into my Florida Beer Company glass for obvious reasons. Zesty aroma, fresh. Nice citrus flavors to start, especially grapefruit. Tangy with a nice subtle hint of honey sweetness toward the finish. More citrus zest comes through with a bitter stretch at the finish. Pretty good beer, interesting and the story makes the whole experience. "Like Sunshine in a Bottle," as the tagline goes. I definitely hope to be able to visit the property sometime and check out all the beer varieties they brew, along with the new restaurant! Check it out if in the area.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Le Terroir Dry Hopped Sour Ale 2015

Le Terroir Dry Hopped Sour Ale 2015? Yes please!

This New Belgium Lips of Faith Series beer is named for the French term used to describe the environmental conditions that affect the way foods taste. You've probably heard the term in the wine industry, but New Belgium took it and applied it to the barrel aging process in making this beer. Besides the different yeast, temperature, and barrels, this beer was also dry-hopped with Amarillo hops.

The bomber art design is pretty cool, showing the terroir around the brewery--wind, mountains, rocks, dirt layers, water. 7.5% alcohol.

You will certainly smell the fruity aroma produced by the dry-hopping process. Fresh, fruity, hoppy, lightly yeasty too. Flavors match the aroma starting off with a touch of tartness, a hint of funk and a more pronounced fruity aspect. Though there is a lot going on flavorwise, each component is itself fairly subtle, a beer full of nuances.

Yeasty, brett funk, dry. May I perhaps say Earthy!?! Tangy, candy, citrusy hops. Sweet mango and peach, fruity, especially in the finish. Not sour but enough tart to grab the cheeks and palate. Lightly acidic too.

Different, interesting. I'd definitely recommend sharing it as the yeasty tartness started to wear on my palate by the end of Big 22. Actually, I did share it but that one ounce my unconvinced wife tasted doesn't really count! Check it out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Estrella Damm Gastronomy Congress: The Changing Face of Modern Gastronomy

Last night, Ed Roberts and I visited Miami and the Estrella Damm Gastronomy Congress held at the Miami Culinary Institute. The topic was "The Changing Face of Modern Gastronomy," delivered by the award winning chefs and restaurateurs Ferran Adria and Lluis Garcia of elBulli and elBullifoundation.

Ed and I arrive characteristically early. When the event started, we were invited to probably a dozen tapas and as much Estrella Damm as we could drink. My favorites were easily the ceviche and the killer roast beef sandwich, though there were other fun and tasty bites as well. The Estrella Damm bar area was very cool, especially the presentation, glasses, and tap handles (and the beautiful servers, though my wife might be reading).

We mingled and bumped into at least a dozen people we knew including representatives of the brewery, the distributor and other "Foodies From the Block"! Wow, five beers go down Damm easy! Time for the presentation.

Ferran and Lluis gave their remarks in Spanish--despite the translator machine, it was really awesome to be in the company of such a famous duo and their totally adoring fans, and a huge crowd. And while it was really cool to see how they perceive the modern restaurant and what they did with theirs in Spain, I much preferred the cooking demo that followed.

Ferran Adria: Peace Out!
Chefs Diego Munoz from Astrid y Gaston in Lima; Fran Agudo from Tickets Bar in Barcelona; and David Gil for Albert Adria's Barcelona restaurants then proceeded to do the live cooking demonstrations. The actual cooking was broadcast on two large screens on each side of the room. Each chef made at least 3 or 4 plus dishes, very intriguing and interesting. I almost rushed the stage to get a bite (and to impress Chef Adrianne Calvo, who was also in attendance). Instead, I just had another beer and asked Adrianne for a photo after. I know, super boring!

Interesting event. Good to see and meet old and new people. Got a phone number. Fun to learn about what world-renowned chefs think is the future! And beer!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Contest: Tallgrass Brewing Beer Cans Signed By Artist Neil Camera

After having the opportunity to check out some of Tallgrass Brewing's terrific beers, I arranged with their marketing department to run a fun little contest. And I know how you love my contests! This one is going to be a little different though. Yes, the artist did sign his work, but this brewery cans its beers, so there are no labels, just actual unused signed cans with the art on them!

Before working full-time for Tallgrass, Artist Neil Camera was making a name for himself as one of the lead designers for the Topps' Garbage Pail Kids series and as an illustrator for Bazooka Joe cartoons. He is a well-known as a cartoonist by his peers and fans, so I think it's totally cool that we can do this. I found this super-ancient website to be a fun source of a lot of Neil's art as well.

I have three different signed can designs, thus three prizes. You make this a great contest and I'll push for future follow ups! Between now and midnight (whatever time zone you're in) on next Sunday 9/27/2015, answer at least three of the five questions below. I prefer you leave a comment but will not deduct points if you email answers to me at DailyBeerReview@Yahoo.com. However, don't think emailing me makes your answers anonymous--I will publish them with your name in the comments for you.

When you answer the questions, if you don't give me a way to contact you back, you lose no matter how awesome your answers are. The questions are pretty much opinions, so don't copy the answer above yours. You can enter more than once if you'd like as well, but your answers must be unique.

I will choose three winners based on creativity, following instructions, just fun, well-thought-out answers to open-ended questions. Since the three prizes are different, I will let the first place person choose first, etc. If you don't reply back to me in a reasonable amount of time (which I determine), you also lose. Anything else I forgot, I'll make up new rules along the way. And I'll pick the winners within a day or two of the contest end.

Questions... (remember, at least three though you can do more if you'd like)

1. Start by reviewing Tallgrass Brewing's beers: Core, Seasonal, and their new Explorer Series. What is your favorite label and why? If you can't pick one, tell me about two. (Obviously your answer doesn't need to be one of the three signed cans from this contest).

2. Use Google and find one interesting fact about Neil Camera that I didn't specifically tell you above.

3. Name one or two interesting facts about Tallgrass Brewing. There are plenty of recent fun and newsworthy things going on in Kansas!

4. Besides the art on the actual cans, Neil Camera also needs to work on other supporting designs for their products. Find one you like and tell me why. Here's a softball tip--go to their Facebook page.

5. Name a new beer that Tallgrass should (according to you) put in their new specialty Explorer Series. Besides suggesting just a name, you need to describe the style and/or expectations for future drinkers!

The End. Hope you win one of these unique, one-of-a-kind prizes! Thanks to Tallgrass and Neil for their efforts as well!

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/chow-town/article26055133.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Grovetoberfest 2015... What T-Shirt Will You Be Wearing

OMG! Grovetoberfest 2015 is just around the corner! This is probably the best beer fest west of Mars or Jupiter or something like that, so make sure you check out this event in Coconut Grove in just a few weeks, Saturday, October 17, 2015! Every year there are more breweries, more beer, more hotties, more everything. So I expect nothing less this year!

Last year I wore my Green Flash Le Freak t-shirt and the Biscayne Bay Brewing cap I swiped from their mermaid on a brewery tour. Both of those breweries will be there again. But this year, I think I'll let you decide what shirt to wear. I thought I had a few dozen shirt options but only came up with eight. I swear my wife is repurposing for cleaning rags! You can check out the modeling below to help me choose. Also pick a beer cap to solidify my wardrobe!

One of my favorite things at this festival is how many different beer brands are represented with their awesome beers! I'm going to drink them all! But I'll also be checking out the beer shirts people are wearing. From super-craft to super-swill, you will find everything represented. Check out Grovetoberfest 2014 Beer T-Shirts and Grovetoberfest 2013 Beer T-Shirts! I'm totally going to try to outdo both of these two prior festivals combined! And I expect that you will help me out.

Leave a comment to help me decide what to wear for myself, shirt and cap. If you're a brewery, it's not too late to send me another option. And if you are going, be sure to send a preview of what you'll be wearing! Comment or email me a photo and I'll publish it! Be sure to say hello at the event, and let's get a picture together!

See you there on October 17th!

Sam Adams Boston Lager
You've heard of Guinness right?

Concrete Beach

Green Flash Le Freak (PS I wore this last year)

Victory Brewing

Biscayne Bay Brewing (I wore this last year)

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales



Today I'm checking out New Belgium's PUMPKICK. I wasn't sure what the name was going for (sounds like a new Nike shoe) until I read the little story on the side. Basically, this is a pumpkin beer with a twist. That twist is the "kick," a cranberry juice addition that will add tartness and "have you hunt and pecking for more." The label is fun, depicting one of those nasty black birds decorating a jack-o-lantern by placing cranberries where its eyeballs should be. 6% alcohol.

Pumpkin and nutmeg aroma, pretty nice. The up front pumpkin flavor was also nicely sweet and melded beautifully with the nutmeg and cinnamon. What usually happens in a typical pumpkin beer is that sweetness and spice builds and builds and becomes super annoying. But NOT with PUMPKICK!

After that initial intro to a nice traditional pumpkin beer, you are greeted with a sharp contrast, a tart cranberry fruity flavor that added a lot of interest and balance and relief. Sweet, spicy, tart all in one. That tartness lingers into the finish and really cleanses the palate. Great idea and twist on a style that I typically avoid! Check it out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rod Bender Red Ale

Today I'm checking out a can of Rod Bender Red Ale brewed by 3 Daughters Brewing in St. Petersburg, Florida. The can depicts a good-sized fish being pulled from the water, presumably for dinner, and presumably the "Rod Bender." The story on the back of the can titled "SWALLOW IT HOOK, LINE AND SINKER" suggests we'll be lured in then hooked by the finish! 5.9% alcohol. 23 IBU.

Sweet, malty caramel aroma. Flavors follow with some pleasant caramel sweetness. Pretty one-dimensional though the flavors are good. Not too sweet either. Simple easy drinker.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tricerahops Double IPA

Today I'm checking out Tricerahops Double IPA brewed by Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene, Oregon. The label is very simple, but the back label story promises "double everything... fiercely flavorful, guaranteed to satisfy." SEP 25 2015 is stamped on the bottle which seems pretty soon for a drink by date, considering this was just put on the shelves mid August. But whatever! 8.0% alcohol.

Almost nothing aroma, was disappointing. However, the flavors did make up for that! Rich and malty to start, orange with some light tropical peach flavors, slightly herbal as well. Then a wash of bitterness took over and never really looked back.

Fresh and dank hops are noticeable but the flavors are really a combination of pine and citrus and some hops resin. That bitterness lasts into the finish, long and tasty! My wife said, "this is your kind of beer!" She knows me so well. Anyway, very enjoyable. Check it out, especially if you're in Florida since this might not be more than just a one time chance!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tell-Tale Tart

Today I picked up a bottle of Boulevard Brewing's Tell-Tale Tart, "a slightly sour ale" playfully named after Edgar Allan Poe's short story. In a short story of their own on the back label, Boulevard describes its approach to this beer, looking to make "a sour ale that suggests, rather than [announces] its tartness." Tall, skinny bottle. Best By 12/07/15. 6.2% alcohol.

Since this is a Smokestack Series beer, I poured Tell-Tale Tart into my Smokestack glass. Fruity, candied-lemon tart aroma. Tart cherry and lemon and unripened grape flavors come at the beginning, lightly acidic. Noticeably tart but definitely subtle by "sour" standards, very approachable. In the background, a sweeter backbone adds some balance, maybe prunes or some richer fruit.

The back-and-forth, tart then sweet profile is pretty nice. Tell-Tale Tart cleanses the palate, delivers lots of interest, and I spent the entire beer trying to figure out the nuances. A "Tale of Madness!"

As promised, a non-blurry replacement photo from a trip to the liquor store!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rain Check Spiced Stout

As the story on the label goes, Sierra Nevada created Rain Check Spiced Stout to help them forget about the construction delays at their Mills River, NC brewery caused by tons of rainy weather. That is the "Rain Check" they wish they had been able to take. Rain Check is brewed with ginger and lime, which is pretty interesting. The label depicts a very cool sketch of the new brewery, one I can't wait to visit! 8.9% alcohol. PKGD 03/04/15.

Chocolate, roast and maybe a little spiciness in the aroma. Flavors are similar but lean heavily on the roasted malt in the beginning. Chocolate, baked goods and burnt sugar (like it dropped on the bottom of the oven and no one bothered to clean it up) flavors show up next. There are definitely hints of spice and citrus, though hard to pinpoint as ginger and lime. Good body, nice lingering flavors. A hint of alcohol warmth hits you at the finish, but the alcohol is surprisingly undetectable for 8.9%. Not bad! Check it out!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Belleview Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat Ale

Belleview Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat Ale

From Two Henrys Brewing Co.

By Heath McKnight

Back at the end of July, beginning of August, my fiancee Amy and I went up to St. Pete, Florida for the Tampa Bay Comic-Con. We really had no idea what the weather was going to be like in South Florida, we had finally got our rainy season, but Tampa and the surrounding area had been deluged with non-stop rain and flooding. And thats how we ended up at a small Two Henrys Brewing satellite storeand tasting room near St. Pete Beach.

Amy and I came pretty close to bailing out of our trip that Saturday, but we decided to stay until Sunday. At the Con the day before, I met some awesome artists and writers whose comics I grew up reading, mostly Iron Man. Autographs and artwork in hand, the plan Saturday was to head to St. Pete Beach, specifically The Hurricane near Pass-A-Grille Beach, and of course, hang out on said beach. Well, it wasnt raining, but it was cloudy and windy, so we ate and drank at The Hurricane and tried walking around the beach.

After a while, the rain started, and we ended up driving around aimlessly; it was too late to check out, so we were stuck another night. I love the area, and helped produce an indie film back in 2008, so driving around brought back memories. It was then that we stumbled upon a small building/tasting room for Keel & Curley Winery and Two Henrys Brewing Company. Literally, just drove past it, and I made a U-Turn and we went back. (The night before we found Three Palms Brewing Co. in east Tampa, but thats another story.)

Youd almost think, from outside, the tasting room was a retail store, or liquor store, but its a place to sample wine and beer. Amy and I went with sampling some beers over wine, and had two flights. The beer that stuck out for us was their Belleview Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat Ale, which Id put up against any major blueberry beers, like Sea Dogs.

We bought a few cans after having an additional pint, and brought them home, and they pretty much taste close to fresh-on-tap, which is a big plus! Ive noticed some local breweries seem to have issues with how their beers taste canned vs. smaller batches we drink onsite. Not so with this particular beer from Two Henrys.

I opened the final can up recently, and it still tastes good. The fridge mellowed it a little bit, but it still pours a nice cloudy wheat, and you can smell and taste the blueberries, but they arent too upfront, if you will. The vanilla also mellows the tartness of the blueberries, much better than some of the other blueberry beers you can drink during the summer.

Accordingto Two Henrys’ site, the beer is seasonal, but as of early September 2015, its still on draft at their Plant City headquarters. Seek this beer out in the greater Tampa and St. Pete area, since its summer 365 days a year in Florida.

By the way, Two Henrys refers to Henry Plant and Henry Flagler, two historic figures who helped shape early modern day Florida.