Monday, December 26, 2016

New Belgium Spiced Imperial Dark Ale

New Belgium brewed a Spiced Imperial Dark Ale in collaboration with Villers-Devant-Orval Brewmaster Anne-Franciose Pypaert to create a new Lips of Faith Series beer. This beer was brewed with Spruce tips and Grains of Paradise then aged on Oak spirals. 9.5% alcohol.

Noticeable evergreen in the aroma, but sweet caramel and candied fruit preserves are more prevalent. PLENTY of Spruce and Oak flavors! Caramel, figs, raisins, hint of cherry. A mixed bag of spices and some alcohol at the finish. So-so, kinda Meh.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Krunkles Down Under IPA

Seriously, I could never figure out this Krunkles legend. I think that's the way that Terrapin Beer wants it to be. Apparently he's on an adventure now creating IPAs with different hops from around the world.

Today I'm checking out Krunkles Down Under IPA brewed with hops from New Zealand and Australia. The can doesn't have a turtle but rather a very cool peacock pattern on it. 6.6% alcohol. Drink by 4/26/17.

Fruity and floral aroma, lightly tropical. I wanted a bigger smell from the glass. Tangerines and oranges, nicely sweet to start. Honeysuckle, citrus, very juicy. There is a great hoppy answer to balance that initial sweetness.

Interesting hoppiness, unique. Dry at the finish. And I like the idea of Krunkles around the globe. "Where in the world is Krunkles?"

Saturday, December 24, 2016

House Beer

Today I checked out House Beer brewed by House Brewing Co. in Denver, Colorado. Their website says Santa Monica, so I guess this is contract brewed. These guys only brew one beer, House Beer, a 4.8% craft lager. They recently sent a 12-pack in the mail, and according to the agency that set that up, "they will never make a seasonal brew."

House Brewing also gives 1% of sales to environmental causes each year. Hipster retro can style. The story on the back lets you know this is brewed with noble hops and crystal malts. "Always in Good Taste."

So I put away half of that 12-pack last night. I would have had them all except I wanted to take a few pictures and write a review. So here we are...

Sweet grain and honey aroma. Similar flavors with a nice hoppy bitter balance following. Crackers, lightly grassy, a hint of spiciness. Simple pleasant flavors last long after each sip. Definitely a tasty beer.

Honestly, I would never go to any bar or brewery if this was the only beer there. Yeah, I could easily take a 12-pack and put it away on a December beach day (Miami). Highly drinkable with nice flavors.

So I really don't understand why a successful brewery would stop with one beer. And if I know brewers, doing one beer over and over is a way to lose a brewer. Maybe unless they are partners. Hmmm. My guess is that this brewery changes its mind and does do other beers. Write that down.

Friday, December 23, 2016


New Belgium recently put out a new collaboration beer, this time a wood-aged imperial sour stout done with Maryland's Hard Rock Band Clutch. The story on my bomber says to expect "a pronounced bass line of dark chocolate, coffee and black malts [that] bridge the sourness of dark wood for a fluid riff."

The label art is pretty cool. The sun looks like it's sticking out its tongue delivering a key. Below that, the name Clutch is artistically drawn, maybe also like a key but I'm not sure. Maybe if I had ever heard of this band I'd know. Lips of Faith Series. 8.5% alcohol. Best Enjoyed By May 6, 2018.

Big aroma of chocolate and coffee. Sweet chocolate flavors start but are immediately met by a thread of sourness that continuously runs through the beer. Woody, cherry and pruney flavors add some additional interest. And a faint hit of smoke.

Dry at the finish. I'm not sure this is my thing but it was OK and definitely interesting!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Pennsylvania Tuxedo

Dogfish Head recently sent their Pennsylvania Tuxedo Pale Ale to my local Miami liquor store, though I'm pretty sure I didn't get to try it last year. This is a "collaboration" beer with the outdoor clothing retailer Woolrich. I'm from PA so I've heard of them and worn some of their clothes.

However, I've never heard the term "Pennsylvania Tuxedo" before which apparently refers to head-to-toe flannel. 8.5% alcohol. Bottled 10/21/16.

Citrus, fresh Christmas tree aroma, grassy, spicy, BIG. Juicy flavors, spruce. Orange meets bold evergreen. Super fresh, lots of citrus, cleansing, a hint of alcohol. Light doughiness and sourness.

Interesting beer: fresh juicy hoppy bitter resinous and a hella tree component!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Roundhouse India Red Ale

Today I'm checking out Bell's Roundhouse India Red Ale. The can says, "This IRA features bright juicy, tropical fruit and citrus aromas balanced with a judicious amount of toasted and caramel specialty malts." Also, this beer is brewed with Michigan honey. The can shows the back corner of a boxing ring. 7.5% alcohol, PKGD 091416.

Beautiful red/garnet color. Citrus, orange and lots of tropical scents with a big whiff. Great flavors! Juicy tropical fruity peach and tangerine flavors with just a touch of sweet honey. Caramel sweetness also present.

Those initial sweet flavors are balanced by some excellent spicy hops, citrus, and a nice little sharp prickliness on the palate. Nice lingering fruity flavors left on the palate. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Extrovert IPA

Left Hand's Extrovert IPA appeared recently at my semi-local liquor store. Their website shows the bottled version though my beer came in a green can with lots of abstract nods to hops. 7.1% alcohol. 75 IBU. Best By 02/21/2017 which I have no clue when that means it was brewed (drank on 12/11/2016 if you figure it out.)

Tropical fruity and pine aroma. Resinous pine and big bitterness first sip. Spicy too, a little sharp with nips at the palate. I did notice that rye is a listed ingredient so that is probably where a lot of that character comes from.

Hints of fruity sweetness are there and add just a touch of balance; however, the citrus and orange are hoppy and full of rind zest. Super dry at the finish with plenty of lingering bitterness and rye spiciness. Not bad, though I prefer a little more sweetness, not so much dryness and not such a roughness on the palate.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Genesee Brew House Winter Warmer

Genesee Brew House keeps putting out some "non-Gennyesque" Pilot Batch beers. Today I'm checking out their Winter Warmer with some unfair preconceived notions. 9.0% alcohol. 30 IBU.

Light chocolate aroma with some raisins and a nod to rum. Malty caramel flavors start. There is a lot of raisin and brown sugar as well. Rich and smooth. The alcohol enhances every single flavor and puts a little heat in your chest.

Carbonation is low yet fine. A little on the sweet side. However, a tasty morsel!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Modus Hoperandi IPA

SKA's Modus Hoperandi IPA is currently a Total Wine Brewery Direct beer in Florida. Around the rim of the can: WALK, KITE, RECYCLE, HIDE, SEEK, PLANT, RECYCLE, GROW, SHOWER, HHH, TUBE, RECYCLE. 6.8% alcohol. Best By MAR 01 17.

Citrus aroma with some light orange. Bigger aroma with some warmth. Huge grapefruit flavor with some citrus orange secondary. Astringent, dry, band-aid flavors. PASS big time on this batch. However, I've been skiing in Colorado in the past few years when this beer was great locally. Not sure what to say except the can I had wasn't that tasty.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Goodwood Bourbon Barrel Stout

Goodwood Brewing Company out of Louisville recently sent me a few bottles of their Bourbon Barrel Stout. The beer is barrel aged after being brewed with limestone water, the same water used in making bourbon according to the notes I was sent. Bottled October, 2016. "touched by wood. brewed with limestone water." 8% alcohol.

Choco, cocoa aroma with some sweet bourbon underneath--had to work for it! OMG, sweet, thin and alcy are my first impressions. Also chalky, so I already dislike that they brewed this with limestone water.

Muted chocolate is attacked by sweet, alcohol-drenched cherries. A touch of oak and roast follows before more of that unpleasant chalk lingers into the finish. Kind of flat and a shiver even at only 8% alcohol.

Sorry, this beer has zero redeeming qualities, and I needed a shot of Bourbon to kill the memory of this. I hated it!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Squeeze Box

Grabbed a bottle of SweetWater's Seasonal, Squeeze Box IPA a few days ago. The story on the label asks you to "Slice open citrus Heaven," referring to the five hop additions and brewing this beer with grapefruit, so my expectations are high. 6.1% alcohol.

Big citrus and juicy but no grapefruit. Lots of citrus fruity flavor to start as well, both sweet and bitter, nicely juicy. I drank half the bottle and was asking myself where the grapefruit was. I suppose it's imaginable but hardly a "squeeze box."

No stand out flavors. Kind of muddled fruitiness with a super generic bitter streak. I wanted a crisp, bright, hoppy-ass-motherfucking-grapefruit-bitter beer. I was disappointed by this OK beer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Total Wake Up Call Coffee Stout

Today I'm enjoying Barley Mow Brewing's Total Wake Up Call Coffee Stout. This beer was brewed in honor of the "early risers and go getters" from Total Wine! I happened to pick this beer up at my "local" Total Wine, so this is definitely appropriate, as an adult!

The can includes a little story that sets your expectations as well. And the art work includes an abstract old-school alarm clock (and it's like 3:15 am). Pair with "Espresso-rubbed steak, peanut butter and chocolate pie and all-nighters." LOL! 6.2% alcohol. 26 IBU.

Aroma full of cocoa powder and yummy coffee, very pleasant. Sweet chocolate to start with an excellent creamy texture. Terrific coffee flavors add perfect bitterness and balance. Faint roast, a hint of char and just a touch of smoke. I want to say "leather" as well.

By the finish, the beer leans more bitter. Very nice. SOLID!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Clown Shoes Mango American Kolsch

Um... Welcome Back, Clown Shoes to the Miami market! We used to have dozens of beers from this brewery here at super reasonable prices. I used to think the awesome label art was a gimmick to buy the beers but quickly found out the product was legit too!

Anyway, originally a Total Wine "Brewery Direct" option, these guys are returning with a more traditional distributor middle man approach, a little more pricey and definitely more limited options. Probably what they were going for right!?!

Today I'm checking out Mango American Kolsch. Honestly, I can't understand the Crunkle Sam story on the neck label, something about bastardizing, and I really don't get the Barleywine mention at all. I think it has something to do with not following the German purity laws and adding in some Mangoes to the mix! The label art is awesome as usual! 5.5% alcohol.

Sweet mango aroma. Crackery malty flavors to start with some floral hoppy balance. Sweet mango washes over the palate, juicy but not overdone. Maybe a hint of honey. Just enough bitterness and spicy nips at the palate to bring the sweetness into check. Nice beer.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Tinsel Holiday Spiced Ale

Largo's Barley Mow Brewing recently sent their Tinsel Holiday Spiced Ale to my Miami market. Excellent label presentation on this can, super festive, nice little thumbnail pieces make a great presentation.

A story on the back side lets you know what to expect of this beer, "Classic like a Dickens novel!" According to the brewery, this beer pairs with London Broil, Roasted Chestnuts and Giving! 7.3% alcohol. 47 IBU. "Good Tidings to You!"

Nice caramel aroma, a little spicy. Rich caramel flavors come first along with a little toffee. Some spiciness comes next, maybe some cinnamon but mostly super generic, and I didn't love that.

A little metallic into the finish with a hint of alcohol, also unpleasant. That alcy flavor fades with some warmth, however, I'd pass on this one for half a dozen other beers in this brewery's roster! I hate tree Tinsel anyway, so I guess I'm part of the "Scroogiest of Souls" club!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Pale Joe

Founders Brewing released a new beer into distribution earlier this year. Pale Joe is an ArtPrize beer, celebrating and supporting a local Grand Rapids art competition. Founders' Cellar Operator Aaron Rossell won the right to have his art featured on the label this year.

Label Pale Joe isn't so pale--he's got a weather-beaten and dirty face covered with a full beard. But he is awesome, sipping his coffee! Beer Pale Joe, well this beer looks like a typical beautiful pale ale. But as the story on the label describes, one whiff or one sip will tell you something different!

Pale Joe is a pale ale brewed with Ethiopian coffee roasted locally by Ferris Coffee & Nut. 5.4% alcohol. 15 IBU. Bottled 8/10/16 which is 4 months ago and just hit the shelves?

So looks like a pale ale, smells like an awesome coffee porter with lots of citrus orange and grapefruit in the background. Flavors are similar. You will definitely notice the coffee flavors first, yet while omnipresent and full of deliciousness, they are still subtle. Just a light roast goes with that.

But this beer is definitely a pale ale at heart. Nice fruity orange flavors, pleasant sweetness and bitter citrus hoppy all come through. Two intriguing spectrums are both standing out. I'm not positive they go together perfectly, but they are definitely not arch enemies. Interesting is an understatement!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Meet The Brewer and Play Bingo with Tampa Bay Brewing

Last night, Tampa Bay Brewing Company was in the South Florida spotlight. First with a Meet the Owner, David Doble (he did say "I'm a brewer first" like 50 times though) at the Craft Beer Cartel; and second with some bingo over at Riverside Market across the street with Julian, the Beerical Gangsta himself!

David was accompanied by Head Brewer John Rankin (awesome beard, personality, brewing knowledge, storyteller, spare beers in the car cooler, etc.), Local Rep Dan von Husen, Tampa Rep "Brandi with the New Tattoo," and a handful of other local personalities were also there (Julian, Adam, Ed, Ian, and reps from Brown Distributing). 

At the Meet the Owner portion, the group was small, and David told a few unrepeatable stories! Too bad you missed that. We tasted all of the beers TBBC is currently canning, of course only in Pounder Cans. 

But we started with a most awesome beer  on tap, Last Days of Summer Peach Mango, a "sour" that hit the perfect tartness. Super refreshing, full of fruity flavor, just tart enough, not puckering, delicious. Tough to start off the night with the BEST BEER! The beer was discovered accidentally after one brewer covered up a mistake and then improved upon that recipe year over year.

Honestly though, Old Elephant Foot was a favorite of mine until the recent introduction of Reef Donkey APA, my new bestie. The stories about the naming of these beers is also pretty fun, from an old elephant foot garbage can to fishing nicknames to superstitions about the moon. And the can art is awesome, including the red rims which hint to the well-known diving flag.

OK, later Adam. Though you should all definitely check out the bottle shop and homebrewing area at Craft Beer Cartel. Oh, and the kick-ass bottle cap floor is spectacular!

When we arrived to Riverside Market minutes later, Dan offered us a choice of two seasonal limited release beers: Egg Nog Lager and Gingy Imperial Stout. Of course the choice was which one first! 

Egg Nog Lager was so rich and awesome, kind of like a pumpkin beer with the cinnamon and nutmeg and spices yet different, and definitely no pumpkin. I actually preferred the Gingy Imperial Stout, super rich and full of chocolaty goodness, not to be outdone by the ginger spicy accent. Oh and goddamn that beer is 11% of unnoticeable danger! Big and bold and beautiful!

Beers! Babes (especially that spry server that pretty much told us to clear the aisles)! and Bingo! (Yeah, Bingo) Julian said they do it monthly, especially when they can get a super personality like Dan to call numbers and inject a lot of fun into the night. 

So what happens when the owner of the featured brewery calls "Bingo!" first round?  Yeah, he wins a t-shirt he probably paid to have made to add to his collection. Nah, someone who bought a Reef Donkey pounder was the beneficiary! But that didn't mean David wasn't competitive the rest of the games either!

LOTS more stories, a few pizzas, killing the Reef Donkey supply at Riverside, some intense distributor talk, more pictures, some "spanking" when a patron incorrectly called Bingo. 

That's it. A fun night out with some great people from an excellent brewery that will be establishing themselves more locally here in Miami in the next few months. They've also opened a production brewery in the Westchase area of Tampa which allows for more distribution. 

Definitely grab some Reef Donkey, which if you bother to read the can, will let you know is a nickname for a local game fish. Thanks for the invite and I'm looking forward to seeing more from TBBC!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hop Hammer IPA

DuClaw Brewing is now available in Florida! Today I'm checking out Hop Hammer IPA. There is a story on the label to set your expectations. 6.3% alcohol. 45 IBU.

Bright citrus aroma, lots of tangerines, a little spicy. Beautiful fruity flavors, orange, tangerine, citrus. Spicy and peppery next, a little sharp on the palate. Hints of tropical pineapple add a nice nuance. Nicely bitter at the finish, also dry.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Genesee Brew House Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter

Genesee brewing good beers? Or at least non-Genny beers? Come on! No way! I went to college in upstate New York so I'm aware of the expectations.

Brewmaster Dean Jones is apparently trying to create some innovative new beers including Genesee Brew House Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter. This is a Pilot Batch English-Style Porter brewed with Hedonist Artisan Chocolates. 6.5% alcohol.

Beautiful aroma, and my wife said the same thing! Big caramel with a hint of coffee and bittersweet chocolate chips, wow!

Flavors are similar. Caramel and chocolate dominate early, pretty sweet but there is some salty contrast. Rich and creamy. Some coffee shows at the finish along with some bitterness, but I still wanted a little more bitter balance. Really nice flavors. From aroma to flavors, like a big chewy rich brownie! Yum!

Crappy, blurry photo, I know!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Anchor Christmas Ale 2016

Surprise! Anchor Brewing created another Christmas Ale this year, 42nd year in a row with a different recipe. And another beautiful label, this year depicting the 1000 Mile Tree, Pinus solitarius. Atop the tree this year, look closely, is a person sipping on a mug of beer. I thought you also might enjoy the labels from each of the years, super cool! 6.5% alcohol. Under the cap: To Niels SKAL!

Caramel and fruit aroma, a little nutty as well. Dark fruit flavors, smoky, caramel and cherries, some roast and decent bitterness. Spicy, hints of tobacco. A sourish cherry lingers at the finish. Style guess for me was Old Ale, but since Anchor lists everything "Top Secret" perhaps "Winter Warmer" is the place to leave this.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

True Blonde Ale

Today I'm checking out Ska Brewing's True Blonde Ale. 5% alcohol. Light fruity apple, lemony aroma. Similar flavors with some toasted grain. Again with the lemon and apple, a little tartness and bitterness. Not bad.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Coppertail Brewing Tap Takeover at Wynwood's BoxElder Craft Beer Market

I would have gotten a better angle but traffic was crazy busy and standing middle of the road not wise!
Thursday night, BoxElder Craft Beer Market hosted a tap takeover with Tampa's Coppertail Brewing. The event took place in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood just as the annual Art Basel got underway. Traffic was crazy but I still arrived early, you know how I am.

When I walked in, I bumped into two guys that looked like they owned the place, one wearing a Coppertail Unholy shirt. I asked if they worked for Coppertail and the shirt one said, "I wish!" They proceeded to ask if I was there for the event and to tell me about the beers on tap.

Funny story, I found out like 3 hours later that the guy with the Coppertail shirt actually is the owner. LOL. Glad (I don't think) I didn't say anything stupid. I asked Owner Adam Darnell later why he didn't tell me he was in charge from the beginning. He just laughed it off, super nice guy. I should have known too, he had too much info, beyond a regular beer geek!

Anyway, the Coppertail team arrived a few minutes late after walking over from a dinner they had before. Brewmaster Casey Hughes, Sales Director Will Isaacson, Miami Rep Jio Torres and Brand Ambassador Sam Bips came in ready to get the party started. I  recognized Sam from my February visit to the brewery!

Sam, Jio, Will, Adam, Casey
Coppertail label artist Evan B. Harris, out of Portland Oregon, was also with the group. Coppertail sponsored his trip to Wynwood for the Art Basel celebration this year. Evan is in the process of creating two murals around the corner from BoxElder. Adam and Evan both told me that both murals are 50% done at best, so I decided to just go back and check them out when completed. If you take a picture when it's completed, please send it to me to post.

Evan was awesome to chat with. This guy was so surprised to have so much adoration about his label art. I don't think that he actually saw much of the marketing materials before his trip since Coppertail beers don't make it to Oregon. The coasters, t-shirts, posters, skate board, etc. I talked to him a long time and so many people complimented him, so humble. There were other brewery reps there just to meet him. Very cool.

Evan B. Harris (on the right)

As the Coppertail team got things started, Will set me up with an awesome starter beer: Unholy Manhattan, which is Rum Barrel Unholy Trippel blended with Wine Barrel Unholy, then aged on house bitters and treated with oranges and cherries! OMG so awesome!

I tried most of the options available. Stand outs for me besides that Unholy Manhattan were the Guava Pastelitos, a guava vanilla Berliner Weisse, Rum Barrel Choco Coco Imperial Stout, and Expresso Super Void, another imperial stout brewed with expresso coffee.

Anyway, Coppertail does have their four core beers along with some specialties bottled here in Miami. But Will told me that they work with BoxElder continuously to bring other cool offerings to this area on draft. You can also buy Coppertail (and other) bottles at BoxElder too. Stop by!

What a nice group of people and excellent beer!

Update: Here are Evan's two murals, the first at an elementary school and the second on one of the walls in Wynwood near BoxElder.

photographer @sandroabate