Thursday, March 31, 2016

Genesee Brewing Company: A Tale of Two Bocks

I was recently asked by the Genesee Brewery if I'd like to try their Bock Beer with a newly-found cult-like following along with a new Double Bock created from recipes found in prohibition-era log books. I'm pretty sure you know what I said! The brewery sent me a package with each beer packaged in a Dickens-ish box titled A Tale of Two Bocks! I did my best to photograph it with some of my own classics!

Genesee Bock Beer has been released each spring since 1951. The brewery says that people cross state lines to stock up for an annual supply of the beer. The press release says those state lines would be PA, NY and OH in case you're wondering which direction to drive.

Anyway, going to college in Ithaca at Cornell (ever heard of it?), I had my share of the regular Genny. So I figured to give this Bock Beer a go. Nice can design, playful green with a stars design and a happy little goat! 5.2% alcohol.

Malty, lightly nutty, herbal aroma. Same flavors, malty start with some toast. Herbal sweetness next. Carbonation fine, nice crispness. Simple. No flavors really stand out and there's no real wow of any kind, but the beer is fine.

Genesee Brew House Double Bock is the work of Brewmaster Dan Jones and the researchers that "found" old logs of beer recipes from the 1930s. A story on the neck lets you know what the brewers expect you to find from this newly crafted beer. 7.0% alcohol.

Malty aroma, lots of toast and a little spicy. Pronounced malty and herbal start. Some toast and sweet caramel. Spicy at the finish with a hit of alcohol. I didn't like the finish and the rest of the experience was pretty boring. Those 1930's "loggers" probably were playing a joke on their future colleagues! Maybe they even left off an ingredient or step to protect the Genesee legacy from spies! #ConspiracyTheory

Honestly, the regular Bock is good enough, and I saw online that the cost-effective price bumps that review up a little. If price doesn't matter, I pass on both, leaving my portion for my border jumping neighbors!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Maven Chocolate Milk Stout

Today I'm checking out Maven Chocolate Milk Stout brewed by Barley Mow Brewing in Largo, Florida. The can's label is cloaked in secrecy: three robed and masked illuminati members stand guard over the eyeballs peering back at you. The story on the back talks about secrets and mysteries, especially about this beer, "for those those who seek a truer flavor in a complex world."

Pair with BBQ Beef Brisket, Goat Cheese and The Meaning of Life. 6.5% alcohol. 22 IBUs. This beer is brewed with chocolate from the Pinellas Chocolate Company.

Roasted malt and chocolate aroma. Big roasted flavor to start, along with some chocolate and a touch of coffee. Char and smoke hints follow. Nice creamy texture.

Light sweetness in the background takes the edge off an initially aggressive roasty bitterness. And while a little warmth took on some of that harsh roasted flavor, I could have used a little more sweetness and less roasty bang! Check it out and let it warm up a bit.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

7 Mile Bridge English-style IPA

After thoroughly enjoying Two Henrys' Belleview-Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat, I decided to check out their 7 Mile Bridge English-style IPA. Another nice label, designed by RUSH Design, depicts a train crossing the 7 Mile Bridge. The story on the back links Henry Flagler's ambitious railroad venture, building a line from Miami to Key West, to the "audaciousness" of this beer! 6% alcohol. 6 different hops.

Caramel and herbal aroma, maybe some honey, hoppy and bright too. Citrus orange flavors start. Caramel and malty herbal sweetness follow. There is some bitterness at the finish, but it also brings some medicinal and minty flavors that aren't so attractive. Was OK but for sure that herbalness and minty aspect were not my cup of tea! I'd try their Blueberry Vanilla Wheat instead if I were you!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Americano Stout

A new stout from Stone Brewing? Hell Yeah! Today I'm checking out Stone Americano Stout, an imperial stout brewed with espresso beans from Ryan Bros. Coffee. Can't think of  a better way to celebrate my new coffee maker!

A story on the back of the bottle sets your expectations and compares coffee roasting to beer brewing and why they picked these bean roasters. Bottled on 02/14/16. 8.7% alcohol. "Not a single decaf bean was used in the process."

Big chocolate aroma, coffee is secondary. But flavor-wise, holy huge coffee! And you can taste the total quality of the coffee beans. Super creamy and rich. Nice roast with hints of smoke and char, not obnoxious at all, and comes with a hoppy bitter escort!

Sweet coffee stout (though not sweet in the slightest)! Check it out!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Decadent Imperial I.P.A.

Back in 2010, I checked out a bomber of Decadent Imperial I.P.A. Today I'm going to repeat with a can of the same beer. Despite the packaging difference, the artwork depicting a skeleton in a suit and top hat, hop branch in his teeth, remains the same. 10% alcohol.

Lightly fruity aroma, orange, not very noticeable. Flavors also not overly pronounced. Orange marmalade, honey, rich and chewy body to start. The alcohol is definitely not shy letting you know its presence (and I definitely didn't really like that aspect)! Citrus, a little spiciness. Dry at the finish. "Decadent" didn't come to mind, and again, the alcohol needed to be incorporated much better.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tropic of Passion Passion Fruit Wheat Ale

My wife left with some friends to celebrate her birthday in Wynwood a few minutes ago. I think their first stop was Concrete Beach Brewery. So as I waved goodbye, I cracked open a can of Tropic of Passion Passion Fruit Wheat Ale, canned at the brewery pretty recently though the enjoy before date supposedly stamped on the bottom of the can was MIA. Get it? Nice purple and yellow artsy can design.

I did try this beer at the brewery at a party back in November, but decided to check out a full can. LOTS of floaties! That, by the way, it NOT a knock, just an observation. I love me some floaties! They are tasty.

VERY fruity, tangy aroma with plenty of passionfruit. Flavors follow, fruity and full of passion fruit. Wheaty twang, some flowery component, and some spicy elements. Lightly tart. And while the initial flavors aggressively jump on you, they just as quickly limp away and drop out completely. Mega to mini in a few seconds, then left with just a bland finish. Was OK.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Twist of Cane Double IPA

Today I'm checking out Tomoka Brewing's Twist of Cane Double IPA. Really nice label design with a twister forming over a field of sugar cane. There's a story on the back of the can too, setting your expectations for a "perfect storm of complex taste." 8.6% alcohol. 75 IBU

Nice bright citrus orange with a caramel sweet background. Sweet flavors to start: malty, sugary, rich caramel. A decidedly bitter citrus and pine answer follows along with some spiciness. There is some alcohol and astringency at the finish, which I'd have preferred to not show as much. Definitely a hoppy monster though. Check it out!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Anchor Brewing Beer Dinner at Russo's Coal Fired Italian Kitchen

Tuesday night, Russo's Coal Fired Kitchen in Pembroke Pines, FL hosted their third monthly beer dinner. This was an extra special version! Pioneering Craft Brewery Anchor Brewing was being featured alongside a four-course meal prepared by Chef Jason Arroyo (previous Sous Chef of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink). AND... Anchor Brewmaster Scott Ungermann was in the house to speak about the beers, including two new ones from their Pacific Siren Series.

Before the dinner, I had the opportunity to chat with Scott and some other representatives from both Anchor and distributor Gold Coast over at a quick and informal beer tasting at neighboring Total Wine. Yum, Liberty Ale! And that Anchor Saison is money!

Chef Jason Arroyo and Brewmaster Scott Ungermann
Scott is a professionally trained brewer with a long hands-on career over at Budweiser. When given the opportunity to work for Anchor, he jumped at that, despite knowing many changes to come. Scott told us one unexpected change was how much interviewing he'd be doing! Go get a job with Anchor!

Also in the house was long-time "Anchorman" Bob Brewer, with the brewery for 30 years. He is semi-retired now but still travels for some special events. He had a lot of great stories from his sales days. Some of Anchor's local people along with corporate marketing are making some rounds now in the Southeast, spreading the Anchor Gospel.

Chef Jason Arroyo and Brewmaster Scott Ungermann signed the menu
Back to the beer dinner. People mingled as they arrived and were given shrimp toast with miso and micro herbs paired with Meyer Lemon Lager. This welcome dish was awesome, a great little bite during introductions and while everyone grabbed a seat. And the beer was great with just enough of a tangy lemony nip to add some real interest.

And you could tell that Scott was  really passionate about this particular beer (and the Mango Wheat for the next course) as they are the brewery's newest beers and he was responsible for crafting them. It's totally awesome to still brew the Anchor Steams of the world, but when you also get to tweek that recipe and add in your own signature, pretty special.

We proceeded to be served an awesome fresh green papaya salad with tamarind vinaigrette. Crunchy and sharp and worked so nicely with the flavors of the Mango Wheat beer. Anchor Steamed Mussels with Anchor Steam beer? Yes, please! And I'll eat those belonging to my seafood-shy neighbors too! Oh and please refill this shot glass with more beer!

Braised Osso Buco with spätzle, mustard greens and pickled fennel with Anchor's Winter Wheat. Very tasty! Not your obvious Italian dishes for a beer dinner, at least that was my impression, but not a negative one. I guess I'll have to go back to check out the pizzas and calzones! Oh, and that Hoppin' Cake n' Shake with bruleed meringue paired with Anchor Barrel Ale was the best finish!

I walked out with a new Anchor beer glass and a menu autographed by both the chef and brewmaster (was funny Chef Arroyo was caught by surprise someone would ask for that)! Definitely check out next month's beer dinner at Russo's -- rumor has it the 4th monthly event will involve Tampa's Coppertail Brewing! Not confirmed so pay attention to Russo's Facebook page for all info! But that brewery is so awesome!

Thanks for a great dinner, excellent service, fun people and conversation!

That's Bob Brewer in the middle!

I Am Providence Imperial Red Ale: Lovecraft Series Chapter 3

Today I'm checking out Narragansett's I Am Providence Imperial Red Ale: Lovecraft Series Chapter 3. This series is dedicated to H.P. Lovecraft, with Chapter 3 touching on his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. There are a lot of nonsense words on the pounder can, including "Cthulhu Mythos," some shared writer stuff, which you can see on the picture below for more.

Go ahead and read the story of H.P. and what to expect from this Chapter 3 salute. The can depicts what I called an elephant monster hugging the Providence Capitol building. Then I found out that nice monster was really Dread Cthulhu waking to devour the Rhode Island Statehouse. Illustration by local artist GunSho aka James Quigley. 8% alcohol.

Caramel aroma, straight up. Nice rich caramel flavors followed by an interesting toffee. Citrus orange, lightly zesty. Very spicy with a big hoppy bang.

Candied hops, sweet but with a great hoppy, bitter, spicy answer. A little astringent and alcy at the finish but I can overlook that. I liked it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

CitruSinensis Pale Ale

A new hoppy and fruity Lagunitas beer? Hell yeah! You know this is going to be good! Of course I'm talking about CitruSinensis Pale Ale, brewed with blood orange juice. This beer is a member of Lagunitas's 2016 OneHitter Series.

Around the edge of the label... "There's no shame in being a One-Hit Wonder. It's hard to be right even once. This series of rare beers, brewed in our smallest fermentors all are experiments, liquid ideas, salubrious ruminations built on our 23 years of edgy brewing at the edge of brewing." 7.9% alcohol.

Bright, tropical tangerine aroma. Super juicy flavors, full of tropical oranges and hints of pineapple. Citrus, nicely tangy. Light hoppy bitterness at the finish. Alcohol was totally disguised. Fairly simple but very good!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Brewers Project: Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter

Guinness recently released two more beers from The Brewers Project in the US: Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter. The Brewers Project was created to give Guinness's brewers freedom to test brew new styles or reinterpret old ones at their St. James's Gate Brewery.

Dublin Porter was created by researching the diaries and annals of Guinness all the way back into the late 1770's. The result is what modern day brewers think the likes of Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker may have enjoyed, "a time-traveling beer." 11.2 oz bottle. 3.8% alcohol.

Light roast with some chocolate aroma. Chalky chocolate flavors come first. Cocoa, coffee, sweet with a nice bitter background. VERY THIN! Light roast, hints of smoke. On the "sorta flat" side. Super simple, enjoyable enough, good story.

West Indies Porter was created using the original 1801 export recipe with some tweeks. 6% alcohol. 50 IBU.

Nice caramel aroma. Tons of flavor! Great toffee and caramel with hints of chocolate, nicely sweet. Great body too. Nice roast and an ample bitter balance to the initial sweetness. Carbonation is good. Totally tasty!

Without trying to compare apples to oranges, I preferred the West Indies Porter by a mile though I certainly appreciated the research and nostalgia involved with the Dublin Porter. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Pirata Pils

About a year ago, Bradenton's Darwin Brewing launched their beers into distribution in Southeast Florida. I had the chance to try a bunch of beers that night, but none were packaged for drinking alone at home. Darwin Santa Maria is the namesake of the brewery, though they have incorporated a Charles Darwin Finch into their theme, along with their "Andean Influenced Beers" tagline.

Well, some of their beers are finally being canned and distributed here in Miami too, and I picked them up this afternoon. I started with Pirata Pils, "an authentic German pilsner" and probably not one with too much Andean flavor. What a terrific design on this can! Skeleton pirate with head armor is all pissed you're not buying more Pirata Pils! 4.9% alcohol.

Great aroma, full of rich grain and buttery toasted bread. Flavors are really nice too. Toast, nice bready sweetness. That is challenged by some lightly fruity, spicy and hoppy bitterness. Good body. Nippy hits on the palate.

The lingering toast flavor and bitterness are great, though I wish the bitterness was a little sharper. I could easily down a lot of these and my wife LOVED it! Grab a sixer!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tangerine Soul Style IPA

Green Flash Soul Style IPA now has a sister, Tangerine Soul Style IPA! The bottle looks the same, with a tangerine adjustment to the name and a different story to set your expectations titled A Refreshing Tangerine Paradise. Also a new set of buzz phrases: Zesty & Bright; Hop Shangri-La; A Sip of Sunshine. Best By 23 AUG 16. 6.5% alcohol. 75 IBU.

Hoping for my "one way ticket to taste bud paradise" here. Huge, bold citrus and tangerine forward aroma. Very juicy. Tons of tangerine, huge citrus. An initial sweetness is taken by a gigantic zesty hit. Floral, a little spicy, nippy hits on the palate. A touch of alcohol and astringency comes at the finish, which I didn't love, but was fine.

Solid though not a favorite, not even near a Green Flash favorite. But Soul Style is my style!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Buster Nut Brown Ale

Durango, Colorado's Ska Brewing beers aren't distributed here in South Florida. I've tried a few here and there while on vacations or business trips, but nothing to speak of. So I for sure said yes when asked if I'd like to try a trio of their lineup.

The can has a black and white cartoon "wise guy bully" theme. This particular bully is about to stomp on your day with his shoes, probably Buster Browns. Actually after relying on Wikipedia, I see that the comic character is original with the shoe company adopting the mascot shortly afterward, over 100 years ago.

Buster Nut Brown Ale, which according to the can is a winner of many GABF awards. Though the awards (including two Golds) are dated to 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, that's still much respect! Same panel, "Lip Up Fatty" with a hot chick dancing and making out with a skeleton. Hmmm.


Nutty aroma with a light sweetness. Delicate flavors but tasty. Nutty to start with plenty of roasted malty and grain and brown bread flavors. Light chocolate. On the light side of a medium body. Generically malty with a light hoppy bitterness. Very simple but enjoyable, and as it warms up, the flavors are a little more pronounced.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Raja Double IPA

I grabbed a can of Avery's Raja Double IPA a few days ago. Great Brewery and great reputation with IPAs. This particular can dubs this beer "The Prince of IPAs" so I am expecting a lot! The story to the side says this beer is "Brazenly Bitter. Dashingly Dry-Hopped." The art shows an Indian Prince, turban, earrings, lots of facial hair. 8.0% alcohol.

Freakin' awesome aroma! Tropical tangerines and pineapples with some bright candied citrus. Ditto. Drop the mic for the flavors! Good night!

Juicy, fruity, tropical pineapple flavors to start. Citrus orange. Spicy hoppy bite. Bitter, yeah, but plenty of beautiful sweet balance. Alcohol dry at the finish. 

Had to write short sentences to control my enthusiasm! Lots going on. Fabuloso! A true prince!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Beer To Drink Music To Belgian-style Tripel

So Dogfish is brewing a new Tripel called Beer To Drink Music To. This is the Official Beer of Record Store Day! I've never been to a record store despite being 44 years old. I had records growing up, but in like the early 80's max, Disney stuff! So OK, record store beer, bring it with your 9% alcohol!

Soft orange and peach aroma, very pleasant. Sweet, sugary, fruity flavors to start. Then the spices come in and add an interesting touch! Fruity orange. Peppery. Not sure I've had cardamom recently, kinda forget that flavor, though there is a definite spicy wild card that I think is it!

The alcohol shows at the finish. I liked it though on the sweeter side. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Art Car IPA

Saint Arnold Brewing has been sending their beers to South Florida for almost a year now. Last year, I had the chance to meet owner Brock Wagner and a few from his team. The local sales reps were driving some interestingly decorated cars, done to celebrate Houston's Art Car Parade. Today I saw a can of Art Car IPA, "A Very Hoppy American IPA." The can is full of the brewery's color and depicts Saint Arnold, The Patron Saint of Brewers. Canned on 12/22/15

Big head. Bright citrus with lemons and tangerines, very aromatic. Citrus, hoppy, oranges, tangerines. Tangy with a candy sweet background. Are candied hops a thing? Tasty and not overly bitter despite their "very hoppy" tagline. Grab one!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cochon555 Miami 2016

Cochon555 will be returning to Miami's Ritz-Carlton South Beach on April 3, 2016 for another kick-ass pig feast. This year the main event will be preceded by two full-course dinners on April 1 and 2, all benefiting Piggy Bank, a non profit founded by Cochon Boss Hog Brady Lowe to create a heritage breed pig sanctuary that provides free genetics and business plans to emerging family farms.

So 5 Chefs, 5 Pigs, 5 Winemakers! This year’s competing chefs include Anthony LePape of Ritz-Carlton South Beach, Xavier Torres of Drunken Dragon, Alex Chang of Vagabond, Michael Fiorello of Beachcraft/1 Hotel Miami and Diego Oka of La Mar by Gastón Acurio. They will be making over 30 dishes from one whole hog each for guests to sample. If you check out the event page, you'll also see that there will be ample wine and spirits on hand.

Besides the obvious local chefs' dishes, some of my favorite stations include the Perfect Manhattan featuring Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace bourbons and the table where you can watch one of the pigs being tattooed with the Cochon555 brand before being butchered right in front of you! There will also be a TarTare Bar, Artisan Cheese Station, Raman Bar and Pop-Up Pie Shop!

Oh yeah, and I can't wait to see what craft brewery these guys invite this year! Back in 2014 they had Goose Island and last year they had local favorite Gravity Brewlab serving their Sunshine State of Mind.

Remember, this is a competition supporting Piggy Bank. Guests have the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite chef. The winner will be crowned Prince or Princess of Porc and have the opportunity to compete against the winners from the other cities along Cochon555's tour at the finale in Aspen on June 18, 2016.

This is a must-attend culinary event! Fantastic food, awesome local chefs, terrific environment, just a lot of fun in a beautiful hotel in South Beach! Heck, it's going to be my 19th anniversary, and I can't think of a better place to celebrate it! I'll see you there!

Double Bag Double Altbier

I checked out Long Trail Brewing's Limbo IPA recently as part of a Brewery Direct shipment to Florida Total Wine stores. That beer was terrific, so I decided to try their Double Bag Double Altbier next.

The label shows two cows on a farm in front of a mountain scene. I'm guessing their totally full udders might be the "Double Bags" from the beer name. Not sure. Bottled On 1/15/16. 39 IBU 7.2% alcohol. "Best enjoyed 'til the cows come home..."

Malty, herbal, caramel aroma. Similar flavors full of sweet caramel and herbal tea. Tons of buttery toasted bread follow, even that brown bread. Creamy texture. There is a tangy orange bitter thing going on at the finish too.

Very interesting and different. Of the 4 great beers we tasted today, my wife decided the rest of this bottle was hers! Winner! Check it out!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Miami Weiss

Today I'm checking out MIA Beer Company's Miami Weiss. Gotta be Don Johnson in a glass, right? Very nice electric pink and baby blue can, reversed on the opposite side for the Spanish-speaking crowd. This was brewed and canned by Lakeland's Brew Hub on FEB/15/16. 6% alcohol.

Light fruit, light spice, really had to work for the aroma. The flavors, however, jump at you. Nice wheat flavor and body to start. Spicy cloves along with plenty of orange and banana come next. Great carbonation enhances the spices. Crisp, clean, tasty, refreshing. If you are in Miami, visit the brewery!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Huntsman Red Ale

I grabbed a can of Barley Mow Brewing's The Huntsman Red Ale a few days ago. You'll probably recall that this was a favorite over at the brewery last month during #EpicTampaBreweryTour.

The can art is pretty foreboding! Abstract Skeletor is riding his devil horse alongside a vicious pack of wolves while the scavenger birds wait for the carnage left behind. That's probably my interpretation, though not bad since the explanation of who "The Huntsman" is can be found on the back of the label. The brewery tasting room was dark but I didn't know they were dark this way too!

Anyway, the story goes on to set your expectations for the beer itself. Pair with roasted pork tenderloin, smoked gouda and howling. I howled just for the fuck of it! My wife was not amused! 7.0% alcohol. 61 IBU

Huge caramel aroma. Similar flavors follow, with a spicy and hoppy citrus balance that follows immediately. A little herbal. And some alcohol flavor on the finish, a slight turn off. Medium body and definitely not the leader of the wild hunt, but still pretty tasty. Liked it.