Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Beer Camp 2016 Sweet Sunny South Table Beer

Next up on the Beer Camp 2016 trail... Sweet Sunny South Table Beer, a collaboration of Southern brewers featuring ingredients including peaches and other sweet fruits, tea leaves, corn grits and honeysuckle.

Breweries that worked on this edition include Austin Beerworks, Bayou Teche Brewing, Creature Comforts, Funky Buddha and Wicked Weed. PKGD 04/06/16. 4.9% alcohol.

Fruity peach aroma with hints of tea, very pleasant. Great fruity peach, mango and pear flavors come first, kissed by some honey sweetness. Really nice. Herbal, sweet tea, a touch of spice. Tangy at the finish with a nice lingering flavor.

Lots of sweetish components but enough hops and carbonation to tone that down. Very refreshing and one of my favorites of the mixed pack.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Longshot 2015 Raspberry Berliner Weisse

Yesterday I grabbed a sixer of the 2015 Samuel Adams Longshot American Homebrew Competition winning beers. Each six pack contains two bottles from each of the three winners (except mine, which had four bottles of one of them, which I'm holding out will be the best!)

I started with a bottle of Raspberry Berliner Weisse brewed by Tim Thomssen. The label is very fun, depicting Tim playing with jumper cables and raspberries over the brew kettle. 4.0% alcohol. 8 IBU. Enjoy Before SEP 16.

Nice raspberry aroma, not over the top bold, both sweet and tart. Lightly tart to start with little bits at the palate showing off candy-like raspberry flavors. Sweet answers, rich body, even a little syrupy. Well, not thick, but not crisp and lacking a little refreshment quality.

Tons of Jolly Rancher going on here. A bit on the too sweet side. I really wanted a little sharper, tarter, crisper, but in the end, I did like it!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

New Belgium + Hof Ten Dormaal Golden Ale

Today I'm checking out New Belgium's collaboration beer with Belgium's Hof Ten Dormaal. This is a Lips of Faith Series Golden Ale brewed with sunflower seeds and carrot herbs to create a beer that brings old and new Belgium together. I'm a pretty smart guy but can't figure out the enjoy by date. Label art is interesting. 7% alcohol.

Grainy sweetness, buttery, very interesting aroma, perhaps a hint of carrots. Definite sunflower flavors start, a little waxy too. Floral, herbal, grainy sweet and a bit peppery and spicy. Grassy bitter balance follows.

Sunflower flavors are definitely a standout. And the carrots, whatever. My mom said, "I smell the carrots but can't taste them." I concur completely. My interpretation is zero carrots, smell or taste. Not in love but a definite A++ for creativity!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Beer Camp 2016 Family Values Imperial Brown Ale

I posted a review of one of my least favorite beers from this year's Sierra Nevada Beer Camp yesterday. I'm following that up with Family Values Imperial Brown Ale, one of my favorites of the series. 8.5% alcohol. PkGD 04/05/16

This beer featured "cooperation and kinship" ingredients from each of the Midwest brewers' states: MN wild rice, IN honey, MO oats, MI hops, and IL cocoa nibs. Oh, and NON-midwest Sierra Nevada estate malt. Brewers included August Schell, Dark Horse, Half Acre, Perennial Artisan Ales and Sun King.

Nice nuttiness and a rich chocolate malty aroma. Pretty interesting brown ale, lots of fun flavors and nuances. Nutty, roasty start, never harsh. Rather, a great honey sweet touch and some milky flavors come next, most excellent.

That nutty flavor comes with a little char and hints of chocolate. Great rich body. Sweet yet nicely hoppy and balanced. The best from this pack and I like the concept behind the beer too! Yum!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Beer Camp 2016 West Latitude Session Rye

I recently went to a live stream tasting at Total Wine featuring the six beers from this year's Beer Camp 12 pack. This year, regional teams of five or six breweries were created to collaborate and brew six different beers. At the tasting, I got to try a "double-thimble-sized" portion of each, so I ponied up my $30 afterward to take home some bottles made by some of the best breweries in the biz!

The day after the tasting, I took one bottle of each to my neighbor's house. We did an identical tasting (except for more volume each and no Sierra Nevada brewmaster commentary) as we watched the Miami Heat go down in flames in game 7 to the Toronto Raptors. Was pretty sweet!

The other six bottles remained so I could really check them out here. I started with West Latitude Session Rye, just randomly. This was a collaboration of California's breweries (Bear Republic, Faction, Mad River, Magnolia; and duh, Sierra Nevada) along with Hawaii's Maui Brewing, which contributed the "aloha" of hibiscus flowers. 5.5% alcohol. PKGD 04/04/16

Very flowers and hibiscusy aroma! Lemony citrus bitter to start. Those flavors were enhanced mightily by an inordinate amount of rye spiciness and a super-aggressive floral sharpness. So far, this is a palate killer.

Citrus, dank hops, a touch of burnt caramel add interest. Maybe you can convince me there's also a little fruity sweet balance way behind the scenes.

Lots of Type A personalities competing here. Interesting but I'd have loved WAY more harmony. Honestly, Sierra Nevada's Ruthless Rye is much more balanced than this beer, and I love that one. I think the Hibiscus is the downfall to the beer. One of my least favorites of this package!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Heavy Melon Watermelon Lime Ale

After 8 hours of baseball in brutal heat, I took a shower and grabbed a bottle of New Belgium's Heavy Melon Watermelon Lime Ale. After all, their website says this beer "shreds through the summer heat." This is the brewery's newest seasonal. 5% alcohol.

Generic yet nice fruity aroma. Fruity and juicy flavors as well. Again, a little generic, but OK, I can say watermelon since you told me so. However, you will not mistake the kick of lime, which is interesting with a refreshing contrast.

Lightly sweet with that burst of citrus and enough hoppy balance. Definitely hit the refreshment channel. Not bad.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Berry The Hatchet

Today I'm checking out Berry the Hatchet, a seasonal selection from Coronado Brewing brewed with red raspberries, blackberries and boysenberries, "a bushel of flavor." My bomber bottle has a new packaging theme than other Coronado beers I've tried. Maybe that's a new thing. 4.6% alcohol

Pinkish rose color. Faint fruity aroma, not much there. But the raspberry and fruity flavors jump on your palate! Pleasant, not powerful, lightly tangy and tart. Flavors disappear as quickly as they come. Sip, fruity tartness hits, nothing; repeat. Simple and nicely refreshing.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Oatsmobile Ale

Oatsmobile Ale? OK. Sure, especially after just calling the Trifecta Box in the Kentucky Derby! Interesting name, a play on Oldsmobile I suppose, along with the horse illustration on the beer label. Bell's describes the beer as "Aromatic. Approachable. Unique. Intriguing. Happy-go-lucky. Full-Bodied." 4.3% alcohol Session Pale Ale brewed with oats. PKGD 04/25/16

Fruity aroma, peaches stand out, lightly floral. Lemony tangy flavors to start. Bright citrus zing, grassy, also fruity. Some malty sweetness in the background adds balance. Good body, nicely carbonated. Flavors remind me of All Day IPA--differences are this one has less hoppy sharpness and a bigger body.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Bretter Day Biere de Mars Ale

Today I'm checking out Two Brothers' A Bretter Day Biere de Mars Ale. 5/5% alcohol. 23.1 IBU. Brewed with house yeast and Brettanomyces. Best By 09/21/16.

Fruity with a distinct yeasty funky sourish aroma. Herbal and fruity flavors to start. But those are overwhelmed with a very Bretty funk, not sour or really very tart, just weird. There is a tangy zing, citrus zesty crispness in the background though I never got past that off-putting flavor. I really tried to get used to the flavor, hopefully have it grow on me, but in the end, I disliked this beer immensely! Tomorrow will be a better day!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Venice Ale House

Los Angeles in April should be hot right? NOPE! Goddamn, when the uber driver left us in front of Venice Ale House on Venice Beach, it was windy and chilly, like 60 degrees at lunch time!

Anyway, this isn't going to be long. This joint had a great tap list and a really neat twist on a flight of beers. Considering the famed local Skate Park, Venice Ale House offered a "Skate" of beers which could be 4 or 6 or 8 in a few different sized pours too, served in a retired skateboard. I think the dudes next to us ordered a full skate, like 12 beers!

My wife and I had 4 half pints, and though I had tried 3/4 of them many times before, fresh and local was awesome: Mendocino Dr. Jekyll Kolsch, Stone Ruination, North Coast Brother Thelonious, Green Flash Le Freak!

We had a great burger, all organic and California and stuff, too.  Oh, and the bathrooms had pretty cool male/female skateboard themed identifiers as well. The end (except we walked to Firestone-Walker Brewery on the way home, another story.)

That happened after a walk on the beach though!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Divine Reserve No. 16

Today I'm checking out Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve No. 16. The label is purple and prominently shows the "16" but you're out of luck knowing what to expect from within (unless of course you were smart enough to Google it beforehand.) Basically, the label tells you zero. Bottled 02/18/16.

So I went in blindly, hoping for some mid-ranged alcohol and approachable beer! Bam! Big aroma of cherries, caramel, brown sugar and no mistaking this beer for some alcy pop!

Flavors start out similarly with cherries, prunes, cola. Some sweet brown sugar and honey also show a lot in the beginning, not to mention the aforementioned alcohol kick, slightly harsh.

After a few sips, there was some char and savory character to the beer, not intense like one of those smoked beers, rather subtle yet distinct and noticeable. Some hoppy bitterness also manages to tone the initial sweetness.

It turns out that this beer is brewed in a relatively rare style called an Adambier (Beer Advocate listed it as an Old Ale). And yeah, 10.0% alcohol. Lots of nuances, interesting, different.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

21st Amendment Brewery Beer Dinner at Russo's Coal Fired Italian Kitchen

Monday night I had the chance to return to Russo's Coal Fired Italian Kitchen in Pembroke Pines for another awesome beer dinner! A few months ago, the featured brewery was Anchor Brewing. And I missed one in the interim with Coppertail Brewing while I was on vacation.

As you can see, this is quite the beer dinner series that Russo's has ventured on. Gold Coast Distributors has partnered with them to host a monthly beer dinner, and the one I'm talking about a few nights ago was paired with the beers of 21st Amendment Brewery.

Now I've tasted 21st Amendment beers here and there, traveling or trades or shares, but sneaky somehow they are now being distributed here in South Florida! The Gold Coast guys worked with Chef Jason Arroyo to create a menu that showcased local ingredients and incorporated and paired the beers.

And both Jason and the Gold Coast guys really showed off the food and beer marriage! My favorite dish of the night was the Compressed Watermelon (though that pastrami crusted fish was money) and favorite beer was the Monks Blood Belgian-style Dark Ale (though Hell or High Watermelon is an iconic star)!

We had a lot of beers on draft, but you should definitely check out the cool cans and packaging done by 21st Amendment.

Teaser, not confirmed, but expect a kick-ass beer dinner featuring the beers from Brooklyn Brewery on 6/20. Sign up NOW! I guarantee a very fun and informative presentation from both Gold Coast and the brewery! If you call Karla at 954-431-1131 she will be super happy to tell you all the details!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tropi Cannon Citrus IPA

I love Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA! This Tropi Cannon Citrus IPA is a version brewed with mango, blood orange and grapefruit. A portion of the proceeds benefits CleanWater.org in the region where is was purchased. 7.25% alcohol. Best By SEP 07 16.

Mango and sweet blood orange very prominent in the aroma and flavors, with generic citrus also showing. After a sweet start, big grapefruit and hoppy bitterness answer the challenge. Dry, a little astringent, light alcohol flavor at the finish.

Basically, this is a totally different beer than their Loose Cannon IPA. Tropi Cannon takes the lovely sweetness from the original and replaces it completely with a bitter monster. The original is way better.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Adroit Theory: DARKO signed beer labels

Tell me those beer labels aren't fucking rad! (or whatever word you kids use these days). You remember the Adroit Theory label contest I did last year with designer Shawn Johnson, right? Of course you do.

Well when I saw the brewery post the awesome picture below using two bottles to capture the full label, I noticed they were a decidedly different style than what Shawn had done. Yep, these labels were done by "DARKO".

I only have a few of each, but here's how you win them. First really good answer wins a set of each. Subsequent correct answers win one of the labels until I don't have more to give away. Basically, I'm judge and jury, but I want you to help me figure out who DARKO is, what art he's done, where he lives on social media, a website, etc.

I have a few clues I might drop if this takes too long, but I don't even know all the answers, so be sure to provide some factual basis for your answers as I'll check with the brewery to validate them. Contest ends when it ends. I'll post all winning answers in the comments. Email me answers DailyBeerReview@yahoo.com

5/18 Update: OK I realize I've pretty much given you nothing to work with so far, LOL. Clue #1. Yes, the artwork is pretty "dark" but this line from Wikipedia is your clue. "Darko (Serbian Cyrillic: Дарко) is a common Slavic masculine given name." Also, I'm not 100% positive but I'm pretty sure that DARKO's signature is written with the Cyrillic alphabet as shown in your clue!

5/19 Update: 3 or 4 great but incorrect guesses so far so... Clue #2. DARKO has illustrated the covers of numerous books, including at least two series.

5/22 Update: Winners/comments are below, but here are some facts about "DARKO"

1. DARKO should probably be posting some of this beer label work online. It kicks ass and I'm sure there are many others that would love to hire him. Maybe he's just independently wealthy. For this comment, it's less "fact" and more opinion, LOL. But lack of posting is why no one could solve the puzzle initially.

2. DARKO is DARKO TOMIC and these are the best links I can find about him. The one not in English shows his picture and some other info not seen other places. But for sure check out his art and maybe even drop him an email!

Main page the brewery supplied to identify the artist: http://www.darkotomic.daportfolio.com/about/

Here's an interview done by one of the authors that used DARKO to illustrate his series of books: http://jamesawest.blogspot.com/2014/03/spotlight-on-art-darko-tomic.html

Bio, sketchbook, contact: http://paganus.weebly.com/

Bio with pic, use Chrome and it will translate that for you: http://kile.weebly.com/biografija.html

Monday, May 16, 2016

Full Moon Brew Work's Chalawan Pale Ale

My wife and I spent a free day (on our vacation, LOL) in Phuket, Thailand exploring the Patong Beach area, known for its rowdy nightlife. That's precisely why we arrived at 11 am and left at 4 pm!

Right near the shopping area where our hotel shuttle dropped us off were two billboards advertising Full Moon Brew Work's Chalawan Pale Ale. But the ads gave no address or directions on how to get there. The hotel concierge in front of the signs gave us wrong directions (and later we saw it was 50 yards from where he was standing. LOSER!!!).

Advertising Works, but include your address and website and phone number, duh
Anyway, we explored the beach, Tiger Bar, did souvenir shopping and headed back to our designated meeting area. That's when we saw Full Moon Brew Work was in the shopping center adjacent to our pick up.

We sat down at the bar but quickly decided we didn't have enough time (the 1030 pm return bus was full and yeah, 1030 pm anyway), so we grabbed a sixer to go along with a dozen or so pictures. I couldn't use my credit card because I didn't meet the 500 Baht minimum yet still had to pay approximately $14.40 for my pale ale sixer! 482B at 33.5B/dollar! That's more expensive than my retail of Stone Pale Ale sixers and you know how kick-ass that beer is!

Anyway, I took some pictures of the place. Seemed cool. They had some other renown beers in their coolers too, as well as other taps. Maybe next time in the area I'll get to try them.

Chalawan Pale Ale (after I begged for some ice to chill it at the hotel).

Chalawan is the Alligator King and also a womanizer. And I thought I heard it all living a few miles from the Everglades! From their website (their Facebook is failing), "Chalawan Pale Ale is a good thirst quencher and flavorful party beer." 4.7% alcohol. 330 mL bottle. Electric sparkly green gator and a dangerous chick adorn the label!

Light fruitiness to start backed by lots of pine and citrus bitterness. Light medicinal character with some astringency. Dry at the finish. Very refreshing in repressive heat! Also totally different to the omnipresent Singha.

Good intro to this country for a craft beer and pale ale, though nowhere near at this price. Granted, this joint was in tourist central, but retail take out was not a good price. And I also saw the beer in a deli at the airport for $6 a bottle, 2.5 times the already jacked up airport rate of Singha.

I lifted this picture from their website

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sumatra Mountain Brown

Fucking Money! Just go buy it yourself! I may or may not add the rest later.

Here's the rest, though the one liner above definitely can stand alone!

Founders put a great description on the back label to let you know more about "this bold brown ale." Read it yourself below! Bottled On 04/05/16. 9.0% alcohol.

Great nutty aroma full of malty sweetness. Milky sweet flavors to start, chocolaty. Nutty and a strong quality coffee come next. Roast is excellent. Alcohol not shy though well incorporated. Hoppy, bitter, though never harsh.

I guess that review sounds pretty average, but the flavors are rich and decadent, not overly complex but fantastic. The End!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hop Stimulator Double IPA

Today I'm checking out Hop Stimulator Double IPA, Funky Buddha's most recent bottled option. The label shows what happens when one of the brewers takes a sip of the beer--he is transformed in several stages to a huge hop monster, not unlike the Incredible Hulk when he got angry. 9.5% alcohol.

Orange and tropical fruity, juicy, sweet aroma. Very sweet and juicy tropical fruity flavors also start. Chewy body. Pretty delicious. Plenty of piney bitterness answers the initial sweetness, also lingering long after each sip. Resin builds as well. You also will not miss the semi-alcy finish, which I'd have preferred more hidden. Anyway, repeat the above steps many times as the beer has some great flavors!