Monday, November 30, 2015

Green Man Porter

I was up at Brew Hub in Lakeland, Florida a few months ago. I know they are doing some brewing for Asheville's Green Man Brewing, though this bottle of Green Man Porter I think purposely tries to be deceiving. "Brewed and Bottled by Green Man Brewing Asheville, NC" and "Conceived in Asheville, NC" are on the label in different spots. Honestly I don't know where my bottle in Miami was bottled, but it sure as hell makes sense to bring it from central Florida if they are brewing it there. And if that is the case, how about saying so? No semantics ("It depends upon what the meaning of the word "is" is!")

The label depicts the legendary Green Man and a little story to set your expectations. "This traditionally crafted, award-winning British-style Porter, like a true rock star, enjoys a legendary following."6.0% alcohol. 40 IBU. Bottled on: 30OCT15

Nice chocolate aroma which gets bigger with warmth. Really creamy and smooth. Chocolate flavors a really nice, bitter and sweet in perfect balance with no harsh roast. A light char, hints of tobacco and subtle citrus add interest along the way, but mostly this is just a rich, creamy chocolate treat. Not overly complex though also not one note. Delicious and you should for sure try this beer!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nitro IPA

Remember when Guinness launched their Nitro IPA a month or so ago here in Miami? Well, I saw a BOGO promotion at Publix last week, so decided to check it out from the widget can. Nitro IPA is a creation of Guinness's Brewers Project, where their brewers can pretty much experiment any way they want on a journey to develop new and exciting beers and concepts. This beer, created by Brewer Luis Ortega, is infused with Nitrogen and brewed with Admiral, Celeia, Topaz, Challenger and Cascade hops. 5.8% alcohol. 44 IBU.

Nice cascading pour, as expected. Aroma is malt forward, full of caramel and toast. Very malty flavors as well, again with caramel, toast and a hint of herbal character. Hops are pretty muted, perhaps just a faint fruity flavor and spiciness.

Very creamy though tastes flat. Thin body and bordering on boring. Also not very IPA like, not even for an English IPA. The Nitro IPA beers I had on draft a month ago tasted better. This wasn't very enjoyable. I did manage to pawn a few of the remaining beers on my cousin-in-law on her way home to Colombia. Not sure what will happen with the rest though.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale

New Belgium Brewing recently did a collaboration beer with Ben&Jerry's! The name... Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale! The label depicts a cow in full ski gear schussing down a slope. Ski cap, ear muffs, goggles, scarf... Check! A little intro on the label also sets your expectations. Proceeds of this beer benefit 6.25% alcohol. Enjoy by 20MAR16.

Sweet caramel, cocoa aroma, like a sweeter version of your typical brown ale. Definitely tastes like a brownie, though not in an over-the-top way. Nice pronounced caramel, cocoa plays background flavor. Light roast. Not too sweet with a noticeable hoppy balance. Basically, a really well-made brown ale base with some fun "brownie" additions to add a little interest. Check it out! I have another that will definitely be used w some vanilla ice cream!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Feast of Fools 2015

Magic Hat recently sent me a bomber of one of their rarer beers, Feast of Fools Holiday Raspberry Stout 2015. The label is pretty fun, depicting a line of fools standing in the snow all around the bottle. As the snow begins to fall, perhaps each is just hoping the line to buy a bottle of this limited release beer moves more quickly! Magic Hat will donate $5,000 to Vermont Foodbank with proceeds from this beer , providing 15,000 meals for their neighbors. You can help by donating directly yourself as well. 6.0% alcohol. 28 IBU.

Chocolate and light roasty aroma, raspberries only the faintest in the background. However, raspberry flavors burst on the scene from sip one, excellent tartness with a jam-like flavor. That against the backdrop of cocoa and a medium chocolaty rich base and yum!

Not sweet or bitter, very well-rounded. Great raspberry flavors complement the cocoa perfectly. Any "stoutiness" is cut by the fruity tartness, even to the point where it's hard to recognize this as a stout. Yummy malty fruity beer? Yep! Check it out!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

New York Oyster Stout

Blue Point Brewing decided that since oysters are so prevalent around their Long Island brewery, they wanted to try their version of an oyster stout, a style that's been around for over 100 years. New York Oyster Stout uses those local oyster shells and bay salt to help keep this tradition alive. 5.5% alcohol. 27 IBU. Bottled on SEP092015.

Nice cocoa with lightly roasted malty aroma. Super creamy and velvety texture, even milky, really nice. Cocoa flavors come first with some coffee nuances. On the thinner side, though the beer really coats the entire palate and sticks, just an observation. As the beer warmed up a bit, the roasty flavors gained a little momentum, even showing some smokey aspects.

Each sip also had a background briny, salty "hint of ocean" type finish to it. Interesting though not pronounced, a little weird in a beer (not just this beer, rather just this style), though not off-putting in any way. I liked it just fine!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Allie's Donuts Double Chocolate Porter

Narragansett Brewing recently did a collaboration with an iconic Rhode Island donut shop, making Allie's Donuts Double Chocolate Porter. According to the story on my pounder can, a trip to Allie's is somewhat of a family tradition. So hell yeah! Time to make a beer to honor that tradition. 5.5% alcohol. Hi-Neighbor!

Really nice aroma, like a bakery. Sweet cocoa and butterscotch are very inviting. Mouthfeel from the start is very thin, a little unexpected based on the smell. Cocoa and cola flavors start with just a touch of coffee. Light cinnamon spiciness. Creamy, nicely carbonated. But in the end sort of bland, especially for what the story and aroma promised. Was OK.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hot Cha Cha Cha Hard Cider

Woodchuck Hard Cider recently released the sixth installment in their Out on a Limb rotating seriesHot Cha Cha Cha Hard Cider. In this unique case, Bird's Eye Chili Peppers were infused into their apple cider. On the label, even the really cool-looking pepper has watering eyes and is obviously suffering from the heat of drinking this spicy cider. A little story on the back sets your expectations. Nutritional facts are also on the back: Per 12 oz: Calories 270; Fat 0g; Sodium 10mg; Total Carb 33g/Sugars 25g; Protein 0g.

Sweet apple and spicy, peppery aroma, singed a few nose hairs. Sweet apple flavors start, initially tame with that vinegary "cidery" tartness you may expect. But just like you were prepared to expect, WHAM! a spicy kick to each finish that travels directly to your throat and leaves a lingering dull burn.

I would say by the third sip, however, that if you have any love for things spicy, you will find this cider easily manageable and actually growing on you. Repeat! More sweet and spicy playing off each other. I thought the carbonation was also a really nice aspect, bringing out both the apples and chilis. A fun twist for a cider. My lips are still tingly 20 minutes later. Check it out!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

HopShock IPA

I tried Mr. Pineapple earlier. I hope that I enjoy SanTan Brewing's HopShock IPA a little bit more. This can also has a super-boring dated design, showing three hop cones with lightning bolts in the background! The story says I should expect a "Southwestern IPA that will jolt your senses with a bolt of exotic Nelson-Sauvin hops." Aren't those hops from New Zealand? So this is a Southwestern (Pacific Ocean) IPA? 7.1% alcohol.

Tropical fruity aroma, nice peaches. Very fruity flavors, lots of pineapple (way more than the Mr. Pineapple beer they actually added pineapples too, for the record) and peaches. Tangy, citrus, light hoppy resin.

A spicy, peppery middle angle then takes hold and kind of alternates with the fruitier sweetness from the start. Definitely a hint of alcohol and dryness at the finish. Balanced but an excellent bitterness leads the way for sure. Enjoyable though I'd have preferred to have the tropical fruity aspect more juicy and prominent. Definitely a winner!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Our Special Ale 2015

Craft beer pioneer Anchor Brewing recently shipped its 41st edition of Our Special Ale, their annual beer brewed to celebrate the newness of life. Each year, the recipe of this Winter Warmer changes, as does the beautiful tree artwork on the label. This year's tree is Cedrus deodara or Himalayan Cedar, which can be found in Afghanistan, Tibet, Pakistan and India. Besides the beautiful tree, I love that Anchor puts Merry Christmas and Happy New Year front and center. 5.5% alcohol.

Rich, sweet malty aroma full of prunes and cinnamon and nutmeg. A little tart and fruity to start, cherries, plums. Cocoa and cinnamon and some light hoppy bitterness follow. Body is a little thinner than the aroma promised. Nice flavors. Always worth the annual checkup!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wet Hop Pilz

When I left Blue Point Brewing's Seafood & Suds event a few days ago, you know I had a few goodies with me, right? Although their Wet Hop Pilz was on the tasting list that evening, I wanted to check out this bomber bottle by itself without seafood or other competing beer flavors.

Wet Hop Pilz is brewed with fresh Saaz hops harvested from Elk Mountain Farm in Idaho. The hops are picked and rushed to the brewery in Long Island for use within 48 hours, thus getting the "wet hop" name. 5.9% alcohol. 20 IBU. Bottled on SEP182015.

Nice sweet grain and honey aroma with a fresh, hoppy, floral counter. Very fresh and floral, hoppy flavors to start as well. Pleasantly bitter with sharp hoppy and spicy nips. A sweet honey flavor balances out a very enjoyable beer. Crisp, refreshing. Check it out.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tarte Nouveau Session Sour

"Session Sour" caught my eye in a Weyerbacher beer I hadn't seen before: Tarte Nouveau Session Sour. I'm sure this was a fairly recent addition to the shelves at my local liquor store, so not sure how it's already past its 10/06/15 best by date. 3.9% alcohol.

Lemony aroma, touch of sweetness. Lightly tart, lemony, vinegary flavors to begin. Those are then balanced by some toast and honey sweetness. A hint of acidity. Not sour in the slightest and actually pretty well balanced. Simple yet pleasant flavors.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Headwaters Ale

Victory Brewing recently rebranded its Headwaters Pale Ale as Headwaters Ale, I guess because they wanted to focus on the key word in the name: Headwaters. Victory sent me one of their new cans along with some information about their approach to brewing and passion for water. Of course, only the highest quality ingredients, water being the most crucial, can make quality beer!

Victory would like this beer to stand for its many green initiatives, especially those that revolve around the funding of local and national watershed conservation groups. Craft beer definitely makes an environmental difference in addressing environmental challenges, and that's what this beer stands for! To commemorate this rebranding, Victory also sent a cute little flower pot and some Forget-Me-Nots which I just planted (see below after a week or so)! 5.2% alcohol.

If you bothered to click the links above, you'd have known my original opinions about this beer. Again, new can, yet Headwaters is just as exciting as ever! Malty sweet grain alongside some hoppy sharp lemon citrus zesty aroma. Very nice.

Hoppy with a nice citric lemony flavor and bitterness to start. Great tanginess, super fresh. Very refreshing. Terrific residual flavors linger long after each sip. That tang really grabs your taste buds too! Definite beer to enjoy regularly!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Orange Blossom Pilsner 2

When I was up at Brew Hub in Lakeland, FL a few months ago, I asked for Orange Blossom Pilsner 2 but it was unavailable at the time. They are currently brewing OBP2 for Orange Blossom Brewing. So I picked up a can recently to check out. The can has a fun little scene with honey combs, bees and a jar of honey. That's because this beer is brewed with "Half the Water. Twice the Awesome." That awesome being a double-dose of honey. "It's the bee's knees, brahs." 11% alcohol.

Big honey, big alcohol aroma. Rich honey flavors come first, syrupy and thick texture. Candy and fruit flavors are secondary, and you will not mistake the alcohol streak from start to finish. Honestly, this has no characteristics of a pilsner. Tastes more like a tripel hybrid of some sort.

Anyway, regardless, much too sweet, like way beyond OK. Obnoxiously alcoholic, almost a shiver, and expect a lingering hot alcy burn in the throat. Sorry, big dump!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Blue Point Brewing Presents Seafood & Suds at 3030 Ocean

Blue Point Brewing Company out of Patchogue, Long Island recently forged a culinary partnership with Chef Paula DaSilva. To celebrate, they put together a Seafood Spectacular dubbed Seafood & Suds, held this past Tuesday evening at 3030 Ocean in the Ft. Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort.  A variety of Blue Point beers were paired with the seafood creations of Chef DaSilva and her protégé and new Executive Chef of 3030 Ocean Adrienne Grenier.

Besides the All-Star chefs, Blue Point President Mark Hegedus was on hand to chat about the brewery and beer and partnership. Mark told us a little about the history of the brewery, named after the Blue Point Oysters prevalent near the brewery on the south shore of Long Island. Being linked to seafood since its inception, making this culinary partnership was a no-brainer. As the night progressed, Mark was very generous with his time to chat about his beers!

First Wave. We started off by sampling Blue Point Toasted Lager, their top seller, along with Mosaic Session IPA. Those beers were paired with an awesome assortment of four fresh oyster varieties (including the Long Island Blue Points) and a killer fresh fish ceviche made with local veggies from Swank Farms. They also had a beer cocktail called The Swanky Blue Point in honor of the farm that has supplied so much food to Chef DaSilva over the years. Also, many thanks to Chef DaSilva's duo of friends that were tasked with shucking hundreds of oysters!

Second Wave featured Blue Point Oyster Stout, made with local Long Island shells and bay salt; Wet Hop Pilz, brewed with fresh, green hops from Elk Mountain Farm within 48 hours of being picked; and White IPA, a bitter-leaning wheat beer with tons of flavor. Match those beers with a spectacular Crostini with Smoked Mahi Dip and Pickled Jalapenos and an awesome Clam Chowder made with Blue Point Toasted Lager (among many options), and OMG!

Mark Hegedus, Rob, Chef Paula DaSilva
Chef DaSilva was serving the food herself and chatting with all the guests about the food and what she was doing now with Blue Point. That's pretty much when I asked for a selfie with her, which turned out really crappy. She even asked if I was good at selfies, and no matter what I said then doesn't matter! But from here on out, she's Paula! We're buds!

Third Wave: Dessert! Beers were great, especially the Imperial Stout with Sour Cherries. Nice chocolate and coffee flavors with excellent cherry nuances and an alcohol kick. Apparently there is a very limited Heavenly Hills Bourbon Barrel-Aged version too called Jingle Mingle that I expect to try soon. Be nice and I might share! The barrel aging supposedly makes the cherry flavors pop, so I can't wait! Pair that with some of Paula's sweets and, well, I had thirds.

Long Island Blue Point Oysters
Who else was there? Royalty! Dave Butler from FloridaBeerBlog and winner of Concrete Beach's "What Brews You" Contest with his Mojito Cream Ale! I tasted it last week and it's awesome! Jamie and Kym from the awesome Stephens Distributing, though Kym starts next week at a new job with Big Storm Brewing! Ed Roberts from Total Wine. The Swanks from Swank Specialty Produce. Chef Grenier was there and made a brief appearance but was apparently busier than the Chopped episode she won a few years back. I met some other cool beer and restaurant and media people as well during the evening.

So if you're a seafood lover, the new 3030 Ocean is your spot. When we left on Tuesday night, the place was packed, which is obviously a sign that they are making awesome food (I pretty much already told you that)! My favorites for the night were the Raw Oyster Bar, the House Smoked Mahi Fish Dip with Pickled Jalapeno on Crostini, the Ceviche, and the Clam Chowder, but everything I ate was really terrific.

And if you're a beer lover, Mark (who BTW created the Goose Island Migration Week program when he was there) said that Blue Point would be launching a Toasted Tour (named for Toasted Lager) in 2016 with a visit to Miami in February! Keep your ears and eyes open.

If you're interested in great beer and seafood, stop by 3030 Ocean on your next trip to South Florida! Thanks for the great seafood and beer and conversation! I'll look forward to another visit soon!

Rob, Dave from FloridaBeerBlog

Toasted Lager Clam Chowder

Sarah Powers talks with the Swanks

Chef DaSilva finally shucks a few oysters of her own! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sex Panther Double Chocolate Porter

I'm really drinking a beer named Sex Panther Double Chocolate Porter? Yep! Apparently, SanTan Brewing decided this is the perfect name for this beer. This can has the best of the super-boring art designs, showing a tiny thumbnail of a smooth panther with shades and cool clothes lifting a glass in a toast. Reminds me of SNL Parody The Ladies Man. At least it's "sensually crafted [with] lots of love."

Nice sweet cocoa aroma, milky, hint of roast. Rich cocoa flavors with a very tame roast. Silky, creamy, smooth. Hints of vanilla show. A little flat. One dimensional at best. But I do taste the love. However, in the end, this sex panther is providing the most boring sex ever (like in the video above).

Monday, November 9, 2015

Higher Math

You guys remember when I used to give Math Lessons here, right? There was one particular lesson focused on the Dogfish Head "Minute" IPA series, so I find it particularly awesome that Dogfish Head's 20th Anniversary beer is named Higher Math! Check out their post about it and be sure to watch the quick video with Sam.

As the label says and Sam said in the video, this is their 20th birthday cake in liquid form, a luscious chocolate-cherry birthday cake weighing in at 17% alcohol. Yep! The label is dynamite! Forest green background with gold foil highlights and lettering in the form of the actual birthday cake. And the Dogfish Head logo is turned vertical to be the candle in the Giant 20 on top! Bottled on 10/20/15. Oh, and almost $10 for a 12 ounce bottle, but I feel a must for a fan of the brewery.

OK. Dogfish is one of my favorite breweries, but my only Dogfish glass was long-ago broken. So I decided to pour this treat into a snifter from another favorite brewery, Funky Buddha. Lots of cherries in the aroma, both sweet and tart. If you take your time, and you will, eventually the chocolate component starts standing up to that cherry in a great contrast.

Mega-rich sweet toffee and butterscotch flavors start. Tart cherries add an immediate contrast, followed by hints of vanilla, sweet raisins, and that rummy cake they make at the holidays. There is a definite chocolate flavor, too, and that builds more as you let the beer warm up. I taste some leather and smoke nuances linked directly with that chocolate.

Now, you will NOT miss the boozy sherry type alcoholic aspects in every sip, along with some light heat in the throat. But for a 17% alcohol beer, this is major danger, so well incorporated.

Super interesting, crazy nuances and complexities. A sipper to check out for sure. Sweet yet the alcohol helps balance from being over-the-top. Huge body, syrupy, sticky, full of flavor.

Finally... You know what happens when you drink an entire bottle of 17% beer? You basically give up on math, especially higher mathematics like algebra and geometry (which ironically my 13 year old son JUST asked for help on, LOL. I told him to text his genius classmate! Parenting rules!) Higher Math is no academic tutor!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mr. Pineapple

Total Wine recently brought in SanTan Brewing beers as their (I'm pretty sure) third big brewery direct shipment for the Florida market. SanTan out of Chandler, Arizona crafts "Southwestern Style Ales," and I picked up three of the five cans I saw on the shelf today for a review.

I started with Mr. Pineapple, a pineapple wheat beer. The can artwork could use a serious upgrade. There is a thumbnail of a pineapple with shades giving a thumbs up and toasting his glass of beer. Very dated and like one of those retro T-shirts you see hipsters wearing, maybe Orange Crush. The story on the back calls this a "stylish wheat with a tropical personality." 5.0% alcohol.

Light pineapple aroma at best, more like nothing. Faint wheat flavor and texture, light spice. The weakest of pineapple or orange show, but I seriously can't really taste anything. Super bland, to the point of being neutral in every aspect. My wife said it tastes like bad pineapple, and while I don't find anything not to like, there is just nothing here. Pass, unless you  are dying of thirst and need water (or you need a palate cleanser for another beer.) And seriously, hold a community college contest to design a better label!