Sunday, September 30, 2007

Three Floyd's Brewery

Place: Three Floyd's Brewery
Location: Munster, IN

This weekend was my father-in-law's 50th birthday and the wife and I headed up the northwest Indiana area. I had some time before his party, so I went to FFF's since it isn't very far from their house. The brewery is in the quiet little town of Munster in the "region" of northwest Indiana, and many people that live in Munster commute into Chicago for work.

FFF's is easy to find with proper directions just off of the highway, but when you turn off of the main road you drive into an industrial park and you don't really think a brewery or a restaurant are hiding back here, but you turn on Indiana Ave and there it is. You are greeted with a very cool Alpha King metal sculpture holding a keg with the FFF's on it. It's the picture above. The outside isn't anything to write home about. It really looks like a warehouse that they added a brewpub to, but that is alright with me.

The pub isn't very big inside, but it is very inviting with bright colors, TV's, several couches, and a friendly waitress that sat us down before the front door even closed. There are two rooms to the pub with one side where the main bar area and some table seating are located and the other side with just tables and a window looking into the brewery. The menu is a decent size with traditional pub grub including pizza, burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads. I had the mufalletta sandwich (if you like meat this is your sandwich) and it was really good and the fries to match are also very good. I would come here for food even if they didn't serve beer. We always had full drinks and the waitress was very attentive. They had college football playing on the flat screens. I was very happy. Honestly, this is one of the best brewpubs I have ever been to. Good food, great beer, and great service, and I will be back as often as I can. If you find yourself heading to Chicago for the weekend it is well worth the stop either to or from Chicago.

I also took the brewery tour that they do every Saturday. It's only a dollar and you get a cold alpha king in a bottle to drink. The person leading the tour was one of the brewers. I didn't write his name down unfortunately, but he did a good job. In the brewery I first saw the oak barrels that were aging some of their beers. I can't wait until Dark Lord day '08 and get some oak aged DL. You can read it in the picture and the date.

We were lead around the corner to where the huge sacks of barley are located and were quickly lead over to the bottling/kegging area with the fermentation barrels in the background. He talked about the process and how long it takes usually to get a batch ready to be bottled and sold to the public. The tour is only about 15 minutes, but our guide stuck around for about 30 mins just answering questions and being a good host.

Three Floyd's is known for how "hoppy" their beers are and I was asking about the hop shortage (I will be writing about this soon) and how it was effecting them. As of right now it hasn't really effected them much, but they are very worried about it and are following the hop crop very closely. The water for FFF's comes from the huge water tower that is right behind the brewery, and it sure does make for some great beer. FFF's does about 4,000 barrels a year and our guide told us that there are plans for expansion.

I stated it before, but this place is a great place to come for good food and amazing beer. I will continue to go back again and again.

4.8 out of 5.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Holland Dragon's Milk Oak Barrel Old Ale

Beer: New Holland Dragon's Milk Oak Barrel Old Ale
Brewery Location: Holland, Michigan
Beer Style: American Strong Ale
Serving Style: Bottle/Bomber
ABV: 9.0%

I will preface this by saying this beer should be a sipper accompanied by a cold day. It pours a viscous black and settles into a deep chocolate color with a light brown head. Getting your nose into the glass it is all oak and sweet whiskey and alcohol smell. As the beer warmed I got more and more of a vanilla scent. The taste is dominated by the oak flavor, hints of vanilla, malt, caramel and an alcohol twinge. It's unique and a sipper, but the oak is overdone and is far too dominant for my liking. The mouth feel is actually very smooth and quite creamy.

I think this is a solid beer, but be ready for it. The alcohol is well hidden and it will sneak up on you. I am going to give this another try come this winter and see how it strikes me.

3.5 out of 5.

Two Brother's Cane and Ebel

Beer: Two Brother's Cane and Ebel
Brewery Location: Warrenville, Ill
Beer Style: Rye Beer
Serving Style: Bottle/Bomber
ABV: 7.0%

This is my second review of a Two Brother's beer. This one is a little special though. It's a limited series and what is out on the shelf's right now is all, so if you see it grab one. I enjoyed this before the Purdue game on Saturday night. I enjoyed this one with my great friend and beer drinking buddy Kevin.

It pours a very dark ruddy/reddish hue with a very small off white head that dissipated very quickly with decent lacing down the pint glass. The smell isn't as pronounced as other rye beers I've sampled. I get minimal grapefruit smell with sweet sugar and a small dose of rye. The taste is very bold and well balanced with bready maltiness huge hop pine/grapefruit flavor and leaves a sweet sugar flavor at the back of my palate. This is very unique and very satisfying. I will warn you that the mouthfeel is very thick and coating. I really want one of these on a cool fall day. The drinkability for one is very high, but I wouldn't go back for much more at one time. This really is a very nice surprise and am very happy I got to try it.

I hope Two Brother's will bring this back. It's a great offering and it's great to see brewers going into categories like rye beers. Great offering.

4.25 out of 5.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tetley's English Ale

Beer: Tetley's English Ale
Brewery Location: Leeds, UK
Beer Style: English Pale Ale
Serving Style: Nitro-Tap
ABV: 5.0%

I had this at Chatham Tap on Saturday. I drank this like it was going out of style when I was England because it was always the cheapest drink in the house, and if you have been to England in the last four years you know that our dollar isn't worth much in the UK. So me being the frugal man that I am, but still wanted beer here was my solution.

I haven't seen this on tap anywhere in Indiana. I've had it on tap at the Map Room in Chicago, but still haven't seen it here. (except now Chatham Tap) If you have leave me a message where you saw it and I will check it out.

This was presented in a 20 oz imperial pint glass with a perfect pour and the cascading head with plenty of movement from the nitro-tap. It had a perfect 2 fingers of dense head strikingly set on top of an amber hued beer . There isn't much smell going on here just a touch of malt is all I can really pick up. The first sip is very light and very creamy and light textured. Beer is well balanced for what it is and is slightly sweet with slight caramel malt overtones. Light carbonation leads to easy drink ability and paired well with my meal that was packed full of gouda cheese and mushroom. This beer is subtle, easy drinking, and slightly sweet. It's a good beer, but not something I am going to be seeking out often. All in all it's a good beer to give a chance, but don't be surprised when it doesn't pack the flavor you might be looking for.

3.75 pints out of 5.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chatham Tap

The newest pub to open up in downtown Indianapolis is Chatham Tap. It just opened at the beginning of September, and I took the wife there today to check it out. It is in a very nice location at the end of Mass Ave close to College Ave. It sits right next to the Scholars Inn and a comedy place that I haven't been to, but have always said I would go.

You first see a big St. George's Cross and the Three Lions (these are national symbols of England) on the window and next you see a Tetley's sign saying they were going to be watching the Manchester City game, so I was excited about that. Since Rob and Jay's Chippie closed down on College it's hard to get a good soccer fix in town. The game wasn't being show because of College football, but I can't win them all. They were playing the 11 a.m. game of Manchester United game the next morning though.

Chatham Tap is a cozy pub very much in the English style (without the stink of cigarettes and old beer though). The bar isn't as wide as it is deep and has wood tables to the back of the pub, and some black and white soccer pictures on the walls, and a standard bar with hard alcohol in the middle flanked by mirrors and the taps. They have a great selection of English beer's on tap and a few locals that was nice to see. Tetley's, Boddington's, and Guinness all on nitro-tap. Fuller's ESB, Bell's Oberon (I hope this will be a Bell's rotating tap) Barley Island, and Hobgoblin. They also had two Kolsch offerings from Germany, but I didn't write them down.

I had a really good meal of a portabella mushroom cap and smoked Gouda. The menu has traditional English fare with steak and kidney pie, fish and chips, and Yorkshire pudding. I was sad to not see any cheesy-top cottage pie, but that will be saved for London only I guess.

I had a Tetley's while I was there and it was really tasty. I haven't had Tetley's on tap in Indiana, so I was very surprised to see it. The next blog entry will be for the Tetley's review.

The food is good, the bar has a good selection, and it's a great atmosphere. I think this is a great addition to the Mass Ave. area, and you should definitely give it a chance if you are in the area.

4.0 out of 5.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Samuel Smith's India Ale

Beer: Samuel Smith's India Ale
Brewery Location: Tadcaster, North Yorkshire England
Style: English IPA
Serving Style: Bottle
ABV: 5.0%

I have enjoyed most of Samuel Smith's offerings, but I have actually never had the India Ale before.

1. For my non-beer geek friends an IPA got it's name from when England ruled over India. In the 1700's they sent hundreds of thousands of men to India, and those men wanted beer. The long trip from England to India via a wooden ship made the regular style ales and porters pretty nasty by the time they arrived. By adding more hops and malt to the brew it really upped the alcohol content and made it possible to transport the beer all the way to India. It was a huge hit with the men in India and also a huge hit with the locals in England.

From what I've read and in my travels to England, IPA's don't seem to be as popular as I would have thought from the country that spawned it, but the IPA style has found a great home in America.

I liked that Samuel Smith's uses brown bottles. I am not sure why, but so many English beers tend to come in clear bottles. It's hit or miss with them, but I have never had a bad or "skunked" beer from Samuel Smith. I like drinking out of a 20 oz imperial pint glass and this beer is exactly enough for a full imperial pint.

It pours a an amber hue with a small white head that dissipated very quickly and left minimal lacing on the glass. I could get a good smell of the floral hops and malt as I am pouring. The same smell dominates at rest. I didn't expect for this beer to smell this way, and I guess I was expecting something like American IPA's. The dominant flavor is of biscuity malt and English hops and mineral water. The end of the beer as it warmed tasted more bitter, but still not what I was expecting. This really isn't much more bitter than a regular English session bitter. It is easy drinking with light carbination and a great overall mouth feel.

This is a good offering from Samuel Smith's. I think I am more used to American hops and American IPA bitterness and so it didn't live up to what I wanted, but overall it's very satisfying and I would drink it again. This would pair well with fish and chips.

3.75 Pints out of 5

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Beer: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Brewery Location: Chico, CA
Style: American Pale Ale
Serving Style: Bottle/Bomber
ABV: 5.6%

This offering from Sierra Nevada is their flagship beer and available in about every grocery store, big box retailer, and liquor store around. Hell, you can even find it at Wal-Mart. I have no problems with this at all. If the masses are going to expect more from their beer it needs to be readily available to them. It's been a while since I've had this pale ale, so what better time than now to give it a whirl again.

It pours a nice golden copper hue with two fingers of fluffy white head that dissipates quickly, but leaves a decent amount of lacing on the glass.

1. Non-Beer Geeks: When I say "fingers of head" I am talking about the amount of head on the beer with my fingers as sizing units to measure the size of the head.
2. When I say lacing I am talking about the little bits of head that are left streaking on the glass as the beer is consumed. (My non-beer geek friends asked for this)

Back to Live Action:
The aroma is vibrantly floral fresh and is very inviting with a touch of hops but you have to put your nose into it to really get a good smell of those cascade hops. The first sip is a little bitter for an APA, but it finished crisp and very smooth on the back of the palate and a creamy malty finish. This beer just tastes natural as the brewer wants with no additives in the brewing process. The mouth feel is very light and the finish goes down very easily. I am not sure if it's because I have a 22 oz bomber for sample, but by the end of the beer my mouth feels dry. I could get in trouble with this easy drinking pale ale. If you have a friend you want to move over from BMC's I think this is a good starting point for them. Great representation of the style and just a good beer.

4.1 Pints out of 5.

Party Pak

I do the bulk of my beer buying at Party Pak Liquors just off of Stop 11 and Madison on Indianapolis's south side.

The first time I went there I wasn't expecting what I would find there. The outside of the building isn't very inviting or indicative of what you will find inside it's doors. Walking in you see huge stacks of the big three from floor to ceiling. (The big three are Bud, Miller, and Coors or BMC) and you look to your right hand side and there are rows of shelfs with the best selection you are going to find of craft beer, import beer, or style of beer you could imagine. The store is set up to easily find craft beer from another state, a whole section of just Indiana craft beer, a whole section of just bombers (22 oz bottles), one entire four shelf rack dedicated to Belgium, the same for Germany, England, and Canada.

Something I really like is that ability to break up a six pack and create your own six pack of anything (or 3 pack or 5 pack it's your choice). It's a great way to really start testing your palate and a way to discover what you will and won't like. It isn't much fun buying a sixer of something and taking your first drink and it tastes horrible or doesn't agree with you and you still have 5 unopened beers staring you in the face that you don't want to drink.

My only downfall of this place is pricing labels. I will have to admit that a new person came on taking over the beer section and the labeling problem seems to be getting fixed, but still about the half the store doesn't have pricing, so you have to keep asking the price at the counter, but I think the new guy is getting it fixed. It's so packed in the store with beer it isn't easy to move around, and in the very front of the store it's hard to see what's on the bottom shelf, but that's not a bad problem to have. It can be annoying though.

You will not find a better selection of beer anywhere in Indy. A few others try to come close, but you just can't beat Party Pak.

4.5 Pints out of 5.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Three Floyd's Fantabulous Resplendence

Beer: Three Floyd's Fantabulous Resplendence X Anniversary
Brewery Location: Munster, IN
Style: American Strong Ale
Serving Style: On Tap (YES!)
ABV: 10.5%

This was my second beer of the night at The Heorot. This was a real treat. This is pretty difficult to find on tap anywhere and it will soon be all gone. This was brewed to commemorate 10 years of the Three Floyd's brewery. This is quite the offering from the boys in Munster. Three Floyd's is an amazing little brewery in NW Indiana and very well known for having the number 2 ranked beer in the world according to BeerAdvocate and shown here, and also well known for the hoppiness of their beer and the artwork that adorns their bottles and brewpub. According to the bartender this was a special keg brought in as a birthday present to the great mind behind The Good Beer Show. Thank you, Sir!

It pours a golden/cloudy orange hue with one finger of off white head, and I can't wait to take my first sip. The smell hits your nose before you can get a drink. This is a big and bold in-your-face beer with huge aromas of fruit, serious hops, and an ever bigger scent of malt coming through. The first sip is all malt. It's sugary and chewy malt upfront and then the hops take center stage. I can't explain how bold this beer is on your palate. Hops, citrus, pine, and malty sweetness are at the back of my palate. The warmer the beer got the more I could taste the alcohol twinge and with each drink it was just more and more in my face. This is full bodied and very bitter through the whole pint glass.

I actually really enjoyed this beer for all the complexities and flavorings it had going on with it. This is not a beer I would imagine most people would enjoy though that are not either hop heads or fans of strong ales, but for me this was a great offering. It could be a nice staple for Three Floyd's if it were a little more balanced with the malt and hops.

4.3 Pints out of 5!

Dead Guy Ale

Beer: Rouge's Dead Guy Ale
Brewery Location: Newport, OR
Style: Maibock/Helles Bock
Serving Style: Draft
ABV: 6.5%

This was my first beer on my trip to the Heorot Pub in Muncie, IN. I have actually never had this in any form, so I was excited to give this a try. It pours a very nice deep amber color with one finger of white head on it. Sweet malt and floral aromas are the first thing that hit me. The first sip is very malty and well balance with medium carbination. As the beer warmed I got a good taste of toasted malts and a unique yeast flavor I am not familiar with that added something for me. This is a very well made beer and taste like real beer should taste. I am going to give this a try in a bottle and see how it lives up to the freshness and crispness of being on tap. Great offer from Rouge here.

4.0 Pints out of 5!

The Heorot

Place: The Heorot Pub
Location: Muncie, IN

The wife and I were bored yesterday and decided to drive to Munice. I graduated from Ball State University (The Harvard of the Midwest!) and haven't been back except for one homecoming. One of my favorite places though when I was there was the Heorot. I couldn't wait for Friday's because at the time a person could get a pint of Guinness and a decent pizza for only 5$. That's a pretty good deal. (The Pizza's are now 2.50$ instead of $2.00 and $3.00 Guinness drafts are only on Sundays)

The Heorot may just be the best beer bar in Indiana. It's oddly tucked away in downtown Muncie. The area just doesn't seem like a place where you would find this beer haven. The first thing noticed when walking in is how dark it is in the place quickly followed by the Norse/Germanic themed items all over the walls. I don't know what a Viking Mead house would look like, but this is pretty much what I am going to go with. Once you get over the decor you look and see an amazing array of tap handles. There is stuff on tap here you won't find anywhere else in Indiana and maybe even the Midwest. We were there in the early afternoon and the place was very quiet with only about five other patrons. The bartender knew his away around good beer as well. I asked for something that I couldn't get in Indianapolis and he quickly asked if I was going to be having multiple beers from different brewers. He wanted me to start off with lowest IBU's (International Bittering Unit -the scale used to measure hop bitterness) and work my way up. I was going to ask this same question, but he beat me to it. Bonus points for him and at least 25% tip from this point. I was always well taken care of and asked about my next selection before my current beer was empty.

This place is great. You can't beat this place in terms of selection and character. I would love for this place to be closer to me, but it's probably good that it isn't because I would be there more than I should. I hope that I can somehow pay to buy something from the cellar as well. I have never been in it, but have heard it might just be the best beer cellar anywhere near here with selections and vintages from all over the world. You can see some pics of it here.

4.75 Pints out of 5!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bellhaven Scottish Ale

Beer: Belhaven Scottish Ale
Brewery Location: Dunbar, Scotland UK
Style: Scottish Ale
Serving Type: Nitro-Tap
ABV: 5.2%

My second offering last night at MacNiven's is one of their staples that is always on tap. Being a Scottish themed place it's only fitting.

This is a fantastic offering and is perfect as an after dinner pint. It was served on Nito-tap with a beautiful deep amber body and a solid white head with the nitro cascade. Ecstatically, this beer is beautiful. The first sip getting through the thick head is very pleasing. It's very malty and creamy almost thick, but somehow it's still rather light going down. At the back of the palate you taste the mineral water flavor that many beers from the UK have going for them. The smell is slightly malty, but not very well pronounced. This beer is very highly drinkable. It's clean and slightly sweet. I am not sure if I would want this with dinner is the only drawback, but if I was out with friends or an after dinner pint this is a can't miss. This would also hold up well as a session beer.

4.0 Pints out of 5!

beer pics

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA

Beer: Brasserie d'Achouffe's Houblon Dobbelen IPA
Brewery Location: Achouffe, Belgium
Style: Belgian IPA
Serving Style: Bottle
ABV: 9.0%

Ahh... Belgium. I have never had a beer that I wasn't ready to at least give a try, but I have never met a Belgian beer that I didn't love. This offering from Chouffe is no different. Chouffe is from Brasserie D'Achouffe in the Ardenness of Belgium.

It's called a Belgian IPA. The style actually isn't that old at all. It was made for the American market and American drinkers. According to beeradvocate a Belgian IPA is actually to hoppy for the the locals.

I was looking forward to trying this all day long. I tried it once about six months ago, but I am usually more excited the second time around to try a beer. The first thing you really notice about this beer is the coloration in the bottle. You can easily see that the beer is bottle conditioned and there is sediment at the bottom of the bottle. This is something about Belgian beers that I really love. Some Belgian beers use spontaneous fermentation. That just means they simply pour the wort (Essentially beer before yeast) into a vat and leave it out overnight. Instead of inoculating it with yeast cultures they let the special Belgian air do it naturally. I don't know if this beer was made that way, but hey, at least you learned something new.

I poured this into a La Chouffe glass. It pours an amazing straw gold color. You have to be careful because of the amount of hops in this beer it creates one of the most amazing billowy white heads I have ever seen on a beer. The head is very sticky and not only leaves lacing on glass but large chunks of white head clinging to the glass all the way down.

The smell is something you would expect from a Belgian, but with a nice twist of florals and grapefruit. I just can't get away from the smell of the yeast though.

The taste isn't really an IPA in the American sense. It's toned down, and I really like it. Many IPA's are just hop bombs that cover up mistakes by the brewer, but this is light, clean, crisp, and slightly malty on the way down. The alcohol is very well hidden I can barely pick it up and this beer is 9.0% ABV.

This beer is an amazing offering. If you can't quite get into American IPA's give this a try. The only thing keeping this from being close to 5 Pints is the price. I would drink this much more often if it were not $5.00 a bottle, but in terms of a Belgian that's not bad, but as Stone Brewing says "It's not expensive, I'm just cheap."

4.45 Pints out of 5.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Two Brothers -- Hop Juice

Beer: Two Brother's --Hop Juice
Brewery Location: Warrenville, Ill
Style: American Double IPA
Serving Style: Bomber
ABV: 9.9%

Hop Juice is a Double India Pale Ale with a serious 100 IBU's and 9.9% ABV.

I am a fan of Two Brothers and I hope they continue to offer this. The bottle states it's limited run beer and when it's gone it's gone.

I poured this from a bomber into a 20 oz imperial pint glass.

It pours a beautiful dark gold hue with a small off white head. My first smell is of bready malt and pine. As a hop head I can't wait to take my first drink.

It's very heavy on first sip. As the bottle states this is for a hop head. It's big and tart on first sip, and then a wonderful caramel flavor hits the back of my palate. For being 9.9% the alcohol is very well hidden. As the beer begins to warm a little I start to really taste some grapefruit and pine. Light carbonation and very easy on the mouth.

Overall this is well balanced, very easily drinkable for me. My favorite DIPA is Dreadnaught from 3Floyds, but the Hop Juice was 5.99 for a bomber. In terms of a value I would grab two of these for a little more than 1 dreadnaught. With a little more malt this would be competing with Yulesmith and Dreadnaught.

If you are not a hophead I would stay away from this. If you are a hophead, this is a must try.
4 full pints out of five!


I love beer. I am sure many people would say they do, but I would call myself a beer geek. I rate it, spend way to much money on it, follow beer news, go to beer tastings, and can't wait to try my next offering.

I don't drink to get drunk. I drink because I love the combination of four amazing ingredients, fermentation, and flavorings to create something amazing. I love the social aspect of beer. Beer people are almost always good people.

Particularly I love craft brewers. It's really amazing to take your first drink of a brewers offering you know they put their soul into it. I live in the mid-west and have access to some of most amazing craft brewing in the country right now. Three Floyds, Bells, Founders, Arcadia, Stone (I know they are from California, but I can get them here) Two Brothers, BBC, DogFishHead, and a host of others.

My plan is to review beers, events, and general ramblings that will have occurred at something beer related.