Tuesday, December 23, 2008

De Struise Brouwers Black Albert

Beer: De Struise Brouwers Black Albert
Brewery Location: De Panne, Belgium
Beer Style: Belgian Royal Stout (Russian Imperial Stout)
ABV: 13%

I certainly hear about all of the new beer that is coming to town, and the hype behind this beer was fairly intense among the beer geeks/blogs/beer forums. I try my best not to read anything about a new beer until after I've had it. I've found that inevitably a beer will never live up to the hype that it is given if you really get yourself wrapped around how good a beer may or may not be. De Struise makes some great beer, and one of my favorites is their Old Fisherman's Ale. If you make a great Quad, I will pretty taste anything you make after that.

This beer was brewed especially for the Ebanezer's Pub in Lovell Maine. The beer was actually brewed in Maine under the specifications of De Struise. They call it a new style: a Belgian Royal Stout, but it was brewed in the Russian Imperial stout style and where it is classified.

Appearance: This pours a deep brown color that is very close to black with a thin swirl of brown froth that quickly dissipated. The beer coats the glass extremely well, but left minimal lacing.
Smell: I let this beer warm for 45 minutes outside of the fridge, and the nose was still subtle with scents of chocolate and dark fruits, and it showed its Belgian roots with the unmistakable scent of Belgian style yeast.
Taste: The flavor profile is heavy on the front of the tongue with coffee and dark bitter chocolate. The middle of the beer gives flavors of dark cherries, plums, and figs before being ending on a bitter note.
Mouthfeel: The warming alcohol quickly catches up with you, but for a RIS this beer has a thinner mouthfeel than I would have expected and has the mouthfeel of a good Quad, but not a RIS.
Drinkability: The alcohol is well hidden for a 13% beer, but the price would keep me away from this beer.

I am certainly glad that I got to try this beer, and overall is was a pretty good beer, but not worth a dollar and ounce though is what is equates to. If this beer were in a four pack around 15-20$ I would buy it often, but 12 bucks for a 11.2 oz bottle it needs to either be one of the best RIS's that I've tried or one of the best Quad's that I've tried, and it doesn't make it into either category for me.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Port Brewing Old Viscocity

Beer: Port Brewing Old Viscosity
Brewery Location: San Marcos, CA
Beer Style: American Strong Ale
ABV: 10%

I've had several offerings from Port/Lost Abbey brewing and this is one that I've not been able to get a hold of from them. The good news is that they are now distributing a large selection of their line-up to Chicago now, so if you are in the area their beers are well worth checking out. I just got this one in trade this past week.

The "American Strong Ale" is just a catch all category here and it doesn't really fit into any particular style. The beer used 20% of the blend has been aged in bourbon barrels.

Appearance: This beer pours a very deep and dark brown color with a very small dark brown head on it.
Smell: The nose starts out with plenty of sweet molasses, licorice, chocolate, and smokey charred oak. The aroma is quite sweet and as the beer warmed toffee and caramel are very present.
Taste: The flavor profile starts out with a blast roasted malt and dark cherries. The finish has plenty of bourbon, anise, and even some coffee lingering in the background.
Mouthfeel: It is very thick and chewy with the alcohol very apparent in the mouthfeel, but at 10% that is to be expected.
Drinkability: I wouldn't reach for this very often, but this sipper is nice if you like bourbon barrel aged type beers.

I personally wasn't a big fan of this beer. The alcohol and bourbon overtook most of the other flavors and the complexity of this beer didn't shine through as well as it should have. I am curious if some age on this beer would mellow out those flavors a little bit, and then I think this beer would be a real winner. I tend to vary more on the side of balance when it comes to bourbon barrel aged beers. If that is your thing though you will enjoy this beer a great deal.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

Beer: Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
Brewery Location: Boonville, CA
Beer Style: Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 5.7%

It seems I've only been in the mood for dark beer latley, but I haven't been in a mood to polish off a bomber of anything lately so I've been working through some of the 12 oz bottles that I have, and this is one that I got in trade recently. You can find them in every single state that touches us, but for one reason or another we don't get them in Indiana. I didn't realize how much beer they must brew based on how many states they are in. Here is the link to their distribution map. The represent the West coast, Mid West, and East coast quite nicely.

Appearance: This beer pours a very dark brown, almost black, color with tremendous head and it left amazing lacing on the walls of my pint glass.
Smell: The smell is rather "soft" and I get scents of chocolate, grassy hops, and roasted grain.
Taste: The flavor starts out with the roasted malt coming in very nicely and was quite pleasant. It was followed with a combination of cocoa, caramel, and there is also an orchard fruitiness to it as well, but that flavor is really hidden nicely, but supports the other flavors quite well.
Mouthfeel: This is the only spot this beer loses points with me. The mouthfeel is quite thin, but leaves a good chocolaty flavor on the back of the palate with medium carbonation.
Drinkability: I would certainly purchase more of this beer, and it will be a new six pack that I will be picking up when I go to Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati.

Overall this is a very nice and quite quaff able stout. I liked that it is a beer that won't get in the way of conversation, and this is a great beer to sit around with friends and relax with. I think this would be an excelling entry stout for people, and a good example of the style. The pricing on this beer is also nice with a six pack running around $8.99.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Tröegs Dead Reckoning Porter

Beer: Tröegs Dead Reckoning Porter
Brewery Location: Harrisburg, PA
Beer Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.8%

I've enjoyed the beers I've had from
Tröegs. It is sad that we don't get it in Indiana as they seem like a really rock solid brewery and brew some great beer across most beer styles. Their Troegenator Doublebock was my favorite a few weeks back when we did a food and beer pairing for Thanksgiving. This is another of their seasonal beers, and it is on its tail end of their most recent run, but you can probably still find it on the shelves if you are in a state that sells them.

Appearance: Pours a very deep brown color with a big two fingers worth of tan head. This beer leaves tremendous lacing and left sheets of it all over my glass until the very end.
Smell: I get loads of caramel and roast grain along with a citrus and piney hop scent that is working well together.
Taste: The sweet caramel rushes to the front of the palate followed quickly by the hop bitterness bite. The hops leave an almost fruity and citrus flavor along with caramel. There is a roasted nut quality as well as the beer warmed. The flavors work well together, and if I hadn't tasted it I wouldn't think that they would.
Mouthfeel: The carbonation is a little high, but it is medium bodied and quite smooth.
Drinkability: This was quite refreshing, and with the ABV I would have another quite easily.

I usually like my porters with the American hop profile left out of them, but this beer combined all the flavors nicely and changed my mind about the American porter if it is brewed like this beer. This is another great beer from


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

Beer: Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
Brewery Location: Denver, CO and Frederick, MD
Beer Style: American Imperial Stout
ABV: 7.8%

I haven't reviewed a single beer from Flying Dog, and until this beer I don't think that I've had a beer from them in about four or five years. They are a very big craft brewer though. I looked through their website and say they are in 46 states. I would imagine that Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams are all fifty states. They must make a ton of beer to open up two brewing locations as well. I picked up a four pack of this recently and this is my first time around with this beer in any vintage.

Appearance: This beer pours an opaque black color with a small mocha colored head that had minimal staying power with no lacing on my glass.
Scent: Black malt and coffee dominate the nose on this beer, but as the beer warmed I also get dark fruit, smoke, and alcohol.
Flavor: The roasted malt comes in full force to start the beer, but is quickly followed by a rather strong hop bitterness. I also get more dark fruit, sugar sweet chocolate, and freeze dried coffee grounds. The flavors seem to be everywhere and nothing is really melding very well for me.
Mouthfeel: The texture is my favorite aspect and is very creamy and full bodied with good carbonation on this offering, but the alcohol was quite present on this offering.
Drinkability: I would most likely only have of these in a sitting, and I wouldn't seek out this beer very often.

I thought the flavors were all over the board and the alcohol twinge on the mouthfeel wasn't very welcomed on this beer. I've read that aging this beer really makes it much better. I hope that it does because I wasn't really that big of a fan of this beer, and I had high hopes for it.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ølfabrikken Porter

Beer: Ølfabrikken Porter
Brewery Location: Denmark
Beer Style: Baltic Porter
ABV: 8.0%

I was looking for something a little different to hopefully watch my Ball State Cardinals go undefeated last night, and I reach for this beer that I've had in the cellar for several months.

I really like the Baltic porter style. It is stronger than a regular porter, but not quite a robust as a Russian Imperial Stout. It is a good go-between those styles. We just started getting this beer in Indiana in 22 oz bombers, but this bottle is from Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati. I haven't seen this sized bottle in Indiana yet, but perhaps we will get two sizes of it eventually. I've been looking forward to trying this beer after hearing a great deal of hype over it.
Appearance: Pours an obsidian black color with a decent sized light tan colored head with very good staying power for the entire beer.
Smell: Impressive scents of roasted grain, coffee, caramel, milk chocolate, and a hint of vanilla in the nose.
Taste: The flavor profile is the perfect continuation of the nose with base flavors of milk chocolate, coffee, caramel, licorice, and plums. The flavors combine brilliantly with no harsh alcohol burn as well.
Mouthfeel: This beer is full bodied and very smooth with the warming alcohol coming in at the back of the palate with moderate carbonation.
Drinkability: This was an awesome Baltic porter, I will be stocking the cellar with a few bottles of this tasty beer.

As you can tell I was quite impressed with this beer. I loved everything about this beer, and wished I had another bottled of it after I was through with this one. If you are a fan of big stouts and porters you should grab a bottle of this and give it a try. This was my first beer from Ølfabrikken, and they knocked it out of the park on this beer.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout

Beer: Hoppin' Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout
Brewery Location: Akron, OH
Beer Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.4%

Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout is what the B.O.R.I.S. stands for if you were wondering. Hoppin' Frog is a really nice regional brewer from Ohio. I've tried about five of their offerings and have only one on this site for review. As far as I know I think they only send out their beer in bombers, and their brewery does sell direct to the public, but they do not have any type of brewpub/bar at the brewery. I really liked their DIPA, Black and Tan, Silk Porter, and the Gulden Fraug from what I remember.

Appearance: BORIS pours a very dark black with brown highlights around the edges, and it is capped off with a very thin head that dissipated quite quickly and left minimal lacing.
Smell: The nose starts off with plenty of roasted grain, coffee, bitter chocolate, and some oat flakes coming in nicely as well.
Taste: The flavor profile is much more pronounced than the smell with big flavors of roasted malt, espresso, bitter chocolate, oats, and a thick dark fruit quality as well.
Mouthfeel: The oats make this RIS one of the smoothest stouts with this much alcohol that you will find. The warming alcohol kicks in after only a few drinks in this thick and chewy sipper.
Drinkability: This beer is delicious and very easy to drink.

This is an excellent and well priced Russian Imperial Stout. The addition of the oats really makes the mouthfeel my favorite aspect of the beer. The flavor profile is complex with the alcohol well hidden that you don't find often in many big stouts. This is certainly one of my new favorite imperial stouts.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weihenstephaner Vitus

Beer: Weihenstephaner Vitus
Brewery Location: Freising, Germany
Beer Style: Weizenbock
ABV: 7.7%

Weizenbock is a more powerful and stronger weizen style wheat beer. They tend to be higher in alcohol and will tend to be darker in color than their other wheat beer brethren. Weihenstephaner makes some amazing beer across board, and they prove what a mega brewer can pump out to the public. I may not like a certain style of beer from them, but the underlying beer has been a great example of the style in every case that I've had a beer from them.

Vitus pours a hazy straw yellow color with a very large bright white head that had good retention for most of the beer. I expected for this beer to a bit darker. The nose smells of a good hefe with plenty of banana, cloves, and apples and pears. The flavor follows the nose to perfection, but it also adds in some bubblegum, lemons, and the classic wheat flavor comes in very nice as well. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with some gentle alcohol warming on the backend of things. This is very drinkable and drinks like their regular hefe with more alcohol and plenty of flavor.

If you are a fan of their Hefe you will be a big fan of this beer. This wasn't quite what I was expecting out of this beer, but I ended up really enjoying this beer. I can't remember what I paid for this beer, but for some reason 2.89$ sounds about right at the Crown on 31 and Shelby in Indianapolis. You can't trust stock picks right now, but I am going to put a heavy buy call on this beer. This is another great beer from one of the world's best brewers.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great Lakes Blackout Stout

Beer: Great Lakes Blackout Stout
Brewery Location: Cleveland, OH
Beer Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9%

Can you tell from my reviews recently that it is getting colder outside? I truly love this time of year for beer. Don't get me wrong I love a good APA or IPA in the summer, but even more I enjoy a fine stout or porter during the colder months of the year. I've got a few bottles of this beer and this is my first one in a very long time for review. I am enjoying this beer while watching my Alma Mater Ball State keep their win streak alive against Miami of Ohio.

This stout poured a dark opaque black color with pecan brown highlights around the edges. It was capped off by a small dark brown head that left some incredible lacing for the entire beer. The smell is a combination of roasted malt, bitter chocolate, currants, and a certain nutty quality to is as well. The flavor profile follows the nice very nicely with upfront flavors of dark roasted grain, bitter chocolate, dark fruits, coffee, and anise. There is a hint of sweetness and smoke lingering on the back of the palate as well. I don't get any alchohol burn either from the 9%. The mouthfeel is very thick and chewy, but it still manages to render itself very smooth. Someone needs to tell this beer it has 9% ABV in it, because the way it drank I would have had many more of these.

This is another great beer from Great Lakes. If I could get this locally I would certainly stock up on this beer, and it would be a staple for me through the winter. My bottle was just under a year old and tasted great, and I would like to taste this one fresh and see how I enjoy it, because I think there is a hop prescense that I am not really picking up on this one when has a bit of age on it. Once again, well done Great Lakes for making another fantastic beer.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barley Island Beastie Barrel Stout

Beer: Barley Island Beastie Barrel Stout
Brewery Location: Noblesville, IN
Beer Style: Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 6%

The Great American Beer Fest was last month and Indianapolis brewers swept the category for wood and barrel-aged beers. Here is the breakdown:

Gold: Old Jack, Ram Restaurant & Brewery, Indianapolis, IN
Silver: Buffalo Bock, Ram Restaurant & Brewery, Indianapolis, IN
Bronze: Beastie Barrel Stout, Barley Island Brewing Co., Noblesville, IN

That is a pretty awesome job sweeping the category, and as far as I know, this beer is the only one available outside of the respective bar, and I don't know what kind of availability the other offerings have from the Ram. You can probably still find this in four packs around town, and according to Barley Island's website you can get it on tap at the brewpub.

This beer pours a dark black color with a decent sized two fingers worth of creamy tan head. The nose is quite balanced with scents of roasted malt, bitter chocolate, some wood, and a touch of vanilla. The flavor profile is loaded full of roasted grain, chocolate, wood, and some bourbon on the backend of my palate. The flavors work really well here and a really nice balance without being overpowering. The mouthfeel though is a bit thin for my liking, but overall is silky smooth with moderate carbonation. At 6% I think the drinkability is fantastic on this beer and this is a well balanced stout when you are not looking for something really heavy in body or ABV.

This is a nice oatmeal stout from Barley Island. The low ABV on this stout was actually a welcome change for me and this is one of the better drinking stouts I've had in a while. I would like to make it up to Noblesville and try this one on tap while they still have it.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Founders Backwoods Bastard

Beer: Founders Backwoods Bastard
Brewery Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Beer Style: Wee Heavy Scotch Ale
ABV: 10.2%

Founders is just relentless in the amount of new beer coming out from them right now, and it is hard to keep up with everything, and then in the next few months four or five more offerings are coming out as well. I know Kentucky Breakfast Stout will be coming out in February, and I am not sure on the exact dates, but they will be releasing their porter for the first time in a very long time, imperial stout, and I am sure there is something more that I am missing. This beer just hit Indiana a few weeks ago and I just have not had time to review it recently.

I also like that Founder has not gone to bombers, and they continue to make their beer in 12 oz bottles. Many brewers are putting all of their high gravity beer in nothing but bombers. The 12 oz bottle is just a little more convenient for me. That is more of an observation than anything else.

This beer pours a dark rustic hue with a thin tan head. The nose is loaded with vanilla, wood, bourbon, cherry, and a slight hint of peat. The flavor profile is pretty intense with initial flavors of vanilla, oak, and dark cherries. The alcohol burn from the bourbon though really took away from this beer for me. It does not meld with the beer and overtook from most of the flavors that I was tasting. I let the beer warm for about thirty minutes and the flavor profile did sweeten a little bit, but the alcohol burn was still quite harsh I think. I really enjoy dirty bastard (the non-barrel aged version) because of the rich caramel malt base, but I never found that in this beer. The mouthfeel is full bodied with plenty of alcohol on the mouthfeel. The drinkabilility wasn't really there for me. I hope with some age on this beer it will settle down a bit.

I was really looking forward to this beer, but the alcohol and vanilla was just overwhelming and made this beer a miss for me. I am going to age my remaining bottles for a while and see if the flavor backs off a bit. Has anyone aged one of these before?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Alesmith Yulesmith Holiday Ale (Summer)

Beer: Yulesmith Summer Holiday Ale
Brewery Location: San Diego, CA
Beer Style: American DIPA
ABV: 8.8%

My best friend Kevin got married a few weeks ago, and he gave me about as awesome a groomsman gift as I could have hoped for. He gave a bottle two bottles of Yulesmith (one summer and one winter) and a limited edition bottle of Brewer's Ale from Rogue. Since we can't get Alesmith here in Indiana I was very impressed at the very thoughtful gift. Kevin knows that Alesmith is one of my favorite brewers and that Yulesmith (winter) ranks as one of my very favorite individual beers. This is the first time I've had the summer offering. I've never found this when I've been down to Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati, but usually have found the winter version. I don't know if they brew the same amount of each for distribution.

This beer pours a nice golden hue with a thick cap of fluffy head on it. I could begin smelling all of the hop goodness as soon as I popped the cap on this beer. The hop smell is very pungent with plenty of grapefruit, sticky pine, candied oranges, peaches, apricots, tangerines, and a very soft caramel malt coming at the tail end of all of those citrus fruit scents. Wow, this is a tremendous nose on this beer. Hops are the showcase on the initial flavors with plenty of citrus flavors ranging from tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit, and sticky pine on the back end of those. The slightly sweet caramel base does its best to balance out the hops flavors and after the beer warmed a bit the malt takes on an almost graham cracker type flavor as well. Even with a few months of age on this the hop profile is still tremendous, and if it has diminished at all a fresh bottle of this beer must be quite the hop heads dream. The mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy, and there is a good dose of warming alcohol in this offering as well. The drinkability is very good and I felt like I could have kept drinking this beer.

If you are a hop head you should seek this beer out. I would gladly take the winter version or the summer version any time I had the chance to have either of them. I said it in my post about Alesmith Speedway stout, but if Alesmith came to Indiana I am pretty sure I would buy enough of it to justify them coming to Indiana.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Southern Tier Creme Brulee

Beer: Southern Tier Creme Brulee
Brewery Location: Lakewood, NY
Beer Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10%

This is another stout that I've had quietly aging for a little while. I knew I would need someone else to drink this beer with me as I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to polish off a bomber by myself. I am not really a fan of Creme Brulee as a regular dessert, but put that flavor in a beer and I will at least try it. I found this bottle when I was in Chicago a few months back. I would think that Southern Tier would come to Indiana in the future because they already have distribution to the west of us, but perhaps Indiana isn't on their radar (or any of Indiana's distributors radar).

Creme Brulee pours a very dark brown color with minimal highlights around the edges, and it is capped off by a light brown head that only left some spotty lacing on my glass. I could smell the sweetness coming from this beer as I poured it. It smells like a concentrated creme brulee dessert. There is tons of vanilla, butterscotch, caramel, hazelnut coffee creamer, and a touch of cocoa. I am amazed how they were able to make this really smell like creme brulee. The taste that follows the smell with heavy tastes of vanilla, custard, cocoa, hazelnut cream, butter, and roasted grain to finish it off. The vanilla is the heaviest flavor, but isn't overpowering compared to the other flavors. This is a very sweet beer, but I don't really find it cloyingly sweet. The mouthfeel is full bodied, thick, and creamy going down. The drinkability is up in the air for me. I wouldn't make this a staple by any means, but I would like to have some around when I would be in the mood for something like this beer.

I think Southern Tier did a damn good job with this beer. I guess I thought this was going to be a little "gimmicky" and it is to some extent, but it really isn't a bad beer and should be enjoyed at the right time and place. This is a good beer for the end of the meal with dessert or just by itself if you don't mind the sweetness of it.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Alesmith Speedway Stout

Beer: Alesmith Speedway Stout
Brewery Location: San Diego, CA
Beer Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 12%

I've had this beer aging quietly for several months and my buddy from work stopped by last night and we enjoyed this offering. I've only ever had a sample of this beer, and this was my first time really getting into it and enjoying it. Alesmith is one of my very favorite brewers and they produce a line up of beer that quite impressive, and I have to say that Winter Yulesmith is probably my favorite beer from them, and probably one of my overall favorite beers. It is hard to rank your favorite beers isn't it? You can get Alesmith in Illinois and in Ohio, but haven't seen them in Indiana as of yet. I would probably drink enough beer from them to justify coming into Indiana. So, if anyone from Alesmith is reading this....hint hint....

Speedway stout pours a deep and dark black with just a touch of murky brown accents around the edges. It is capped off by a small mocha colored head that didn't have much staying power. I could smell all of that delicious stout coming out of the bottle into my glass. I get strong scents of dark roasted malt, espresso, coffee, molasses, and dark cherries. I'm amazed that I don't get much alcohol in the nose at 12% ABV. The flavor profile is a nice melding of coffee, caramel, cocoa, espresso, and roasted grain. I am surprised at how non-dominant the coffee flavor is in this beer. I thought it was going to the main focus point in this beer. The mouthfeel is fairly thick and chewy with moderate carbonation. I still don't really detect any alcohol on this behemoth of a beer. I think the drinkability would hold up nicely for another glass, but I wouldn't push it to much with the ABV.

This is another delicious beer from Alesmith, and one of the best imperial stouts I've had the pleasure of drinking. They make this in a barrel aged version as well, and I would love to get my hands on a bottle of that, but I would be just as happy with another bottle of this well above average stout.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

Beer: Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
Brewery Location: Cleveland, OH
Beer Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.8%

Are you thinking about Gordon Lightfoot when hear the name Edmund Fitzgerald? I have to say that I think of that song before I think of the ship that went down in Lake Superior in the 1970's.

I've reviewed several offerings from Great Lakes, and I have to say that they must be included in any discussion about great Mid-Western breweries, and really around the US for that matter, and every time I review a beer from them I say the same thing: "I wish we got them in Indianapolis." Their beers are set a good price point, the beer is tasty and consistent, and I like they use a bit of history in the name of all of their beer.

This beer pours a very dark brown color with slight ruby highlights around the edges with an inch of creamy head on it. The lacing on this beer is impressive and stayed for the entire beer. The first scents are of coffee, chocolate, and roasted grain. The smell is comforting on this cool evening. The flavor profile is spot on when I think of a porter. I get loads of dark roasted grain, caramel, coffee, and a slight chocolate taste, and a touch of hop bitterness as well. The mouthfeel though I think has a bit much carbonation, and could be toned down a bit. I am not really bothered by it, but I think it could be toned down a bit. The drinkability is very nice and would be a great session porter.

This is an outstanding example of a porter. I've had plenty of porters, but this beer melds the smell and taste together wonderfully. This was just about as perfect a porter as I've had recently.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Founder's Curmudgeon

Beer: Founder's Curmudgeon
Brewery Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Beer Style: Old Ale
ABV: 9.8%

I picked up a four pack of this the same time I picked up a four pack of the harvest ale. Founder's has not bottled this offering since 2006, and I have been wanting to get my hands on more of this offering pretty much since then. I only bought one bottle of this beer from Parti Pak back in 2006. I was just really getting into craft beer at that time, and I had no idea this beer was that limited. I don't have much experience with old ales, but I've drank Third Coast Old Ale from Bell's on many occasions, and that is about my extent of experience with old ales. I do have to say that I love the label art combined with the name on this beer.

This beer pours a dark amber color with slight ruby accents and a small tan head on it that quickly dissipated into nothing and left no lacing. The smell is dominant of dark fruits (plums and raisins) and caramel malt. I consider this a "malty" nose, and I like it on this cool fall evening. The flavor profile hits heavy with all of the caramel malt in the nose coming full force on the palate with other flavors or dark fruit, banana, and a spot of sweet molasses, but the alcohol in this offering also comes through in the flavor profile. The mouthfeel is full bodied with medium carbonation and a good shot of warming alcohol is present. The drinkability is very good on this beer, and I could have easily drank another one.

I really enjoyed this beer, and I am going to assume this is a good example of the style. I am going to search out more old ales to get more familiar with the style. I can easily see having old ales around this Winter. This is yet another great beer from Founders.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Founders Harvest Ale

Beer: Founder's Harvest Ale
Brewery Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Beer Style: APA
ABV: 6.5%

It is that time of year for wet-hop beers. The hop harvest is usually taken in September, and then the hops are dried and pressed into pellet rabbit food looking form to preserve them for the year. Many brewers are now getting the hops straight from the hops fields and making beer from the fresh hops called "wet hop beer" or "harvest ale." The hop cones will have more fragrant oils and will impart different characteristics than the same dried hop variety will produce. Think about it like cooking a meal. If you make the same meal with fresh basil and made it with dried basil there is a noticeable difference in the end products. I am all for wet hop beers, and I was very excited when I picked up a four pack of this beer from Ben at Crown Liquors.

A very gentle pour produces a massive head that took a good five minutes to settle down before I could pour the rest of the beer into my pint glass. This golden yellow beer left sheets of lacing on the walls of my glass as well with staying power for the entire beer. The nose on this beer is hop oils all the way with varying scents of citrus and pine, and I also get more and more earthy undertones as the beer warmed. The flavor profile starts with a big rush of citrus flavor with bitter pine coming in quite quickly and just a touch of pale malt to balance out the hop flavors. The mouthfeel is slick and oily with medium carbonation with no alcohol present on the mouthfeel. The drinkability is very good on this beer and I probably could have killed my only four pack of this last night, but I am at least going to try to make them last through this month.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. I liked the "fresh" taste from this beer, and provided a different aspect to how hops can taste. There is significant bitterness on this beer, but it isn't like any other hopped beer you will taste and is a bit more gentle on the palate, and I've burned myself out on IPAs, but this was a welcome change. This beer was well balanced and quite a tasty treat. I would hunt this beer down in Indiana if you can find any out there right now.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Three Floyd's Moloko Plus

Beer: Three Floyd's Moloko Plus
Brewery Location: Munster, IN
Beer Style: Milk/Sweet Stout
ABV: 7%

When I first heard about Moloko Plus I thought I had heard that name before, but when I saw the bottle I then realized it is in reference to (at least I am assuming based on bottle and movie) A Clockwork Orange. The slang here means "milk" and is most likely a derivative of the Russian word for milk: молоко. Even though the "milk" they were drinking was chocked full of all kinds of narcotics in the movie.

I got this bottle from Ben at Crown Liquors in Greenwood. I can't say it enough to get down there and see his selection of craft beer if you are on the South side.

This beer pours a dark black with some light brown accents when held up to the light. A very thin brown head appeared only for a few seconds before it dissipated into nothing. The nose on this beer hits pretty well upfront with roasted grain, vanilla, coffee, and bitter chocolate. The flavor profile starts with the lactose sweetness on first sip and quickly balanced out by the chocolate/coffee-like malt. As the beer warmed I got just a touch of dark fruit in the background. The mouthfeel is full bodied and very creamy with plenty of sweetness after the swallow as well. The drinkability at only 7% is really nice, and would be a good entry point for people that may not like stouts.

I really enjoyed this beer, and I would like to see Three Floyds make this beer a staple all year long. Many of FFF's bombers cross the $10 mark, but this beer is $6.99, and I would purchase this beer again after my stash of this is gone if there is any to be had around town.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Flossmoor Station Lady Columbia IPA

Beer: Flossmoor Station Lady Columbia IPA
Brewery Location: Flossmoor, IL
Beer Style: American IPA
ABV: 7.5%

This is my second bottled offering from Flossmoor. I was a fan of the brown ale that I had, and I've got high hopes for this beer. They actually brew several varieties of IPAs, and you can tell what one you are having based on the wax top on the bottles. They use the same bottle for each of their IPAs. This blue wax topped bomber is the Lady Columbia IPA.

This beer pours a hazy golden color with one finger's worth of off-white head that faded quickly into decent spotty lacing. The nose hits pretty nicely on this beer and is full of pine, grapefruit, and other citrus spice, and only really a touch of caramel malt base on the nose. The flavor starts with plenty of hop bitterness followed by a big rush of citrus fruit and resinous pine flavor. The bitterness upfront settled down a bit about half way down my glass and then the caramel malt really provided a decent balance to the hops. I think this beer was brewed with only Columbus hops, but if anyone knows for sure please let me know. The wasn't much carbonation in this offering and it left an almost astringent bitterness lingering after the swallow. I am fine with that, but I can see how others would not like that in the finish. I think one bomber was just about perfect for me, and I would very much like to try the other IPA styles from Flossmoor.

I've yet to be disappointed in a beer from Flossmoor Station. This beer runs a bit higher on the IPA meter than most. It has a huge heaping of citrus flavor, but also has the bitterness to match, and many people just don't like that, but if you are a hop-head at all this beer is worth getting your hands on. Another great beer from the duo up in Flossmoor.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA

Beer: Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
Brewery Location: San Diego, CA
Beer Style: American IPA
ABV: 7%

I've got a list of beers that is about 110 beers deep right now, and another one that is about 40 deep with beers that I want to try. The list that is 40 deep is separate because that list contains the name, release date, how much is released, and what the limit is for purchase. (Yes, I am this beer geeky!) This beer is one off of that smaller list. I've really liked all of the beer that I've had from Ballast Point, and this is their highly sought after and very limited IPA. A very easy beer from them to find is called Big Eye IPA, and is also one of the better examples of an IPA I've found.

Ballast Point actually started out as a homebrew shop in 1992, and only fours years later they installed major scale brewing equipment. The homebrew shop is still open, and they have opened another brewing location to try and keep up with thirsty consumers. I am pretty happy to finally have acquired a bottle this beer after a very long wait. Their last release was just a few weeks ago, and they only released 30 cases of this beer.

This IPA pours a gorgeous clear bright golden orange color with a good sized bone-white head on it that left spotting lacing on my glass. The nose on this beer is very unique and interesting for an IPA. I think mango is the strongest scent followed by passion fruit, peaches, lemon and orange zest, floral hops, and a slight pine bitterness as well. The smell on this beer is leaping from my glass, and it never left for the entire beer. The flavor profile is loaded with citrus fruits with grapefruit and tangerines being very dominant followed up with only a slight touch of caramel malt. The hops are extremely fresh and vibrant on this offering. The malt is only barely noticeable, but somehow supports the hops beautifully. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation that left a very dry finish on the back of my palate. The drinkability is superb on this beer, and is one of the best IPAs I've have ever had the pleasure of tasting.

This is a top notch IPA, and is a hop-heads dream. The bitterness is there on this beer, but the soft accents of everything else really helped this beer be much more than just a "hop-bomb." Another tasty beer from Ballast Point that I am pretty excited I was able to try.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Bell's Expedition Stout

Beer: Bell's Expedition Stout
Brewery Location: Comstock, MI
Beer Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%

I've had this beer quietly aging for over two years waiting for the opportunity to drink it. My Alma Mater, Ball State is now 5 -0, and Saturday night was a good opportunity to drink this beer. I will be the first to tell you that I am not a fan of this beer when it is fresh. The alcohol is quite "hot" and the real character of this beer doesn't come out, but when it has been aged for at least six months to a year or more this beer is one of my very favorites, and some of my friends love the taste of this one fresh, but I just personally prefer it aged a bit.

This beer pours an opaque black with no highlights around the edges capped off by a dark mocha head that has surprising staying power on it. The smell is a rich and decadent combination of roasted coffee beans, dark chocolate, roasted grain, and anise. A top notch and superb nose on this imperial stout. The flavor profile starts with roasted grain and bitter chocolate upfront followed by a myriad of dark fruits, a bit of caramel, cocoa, and only a touch of alcohol in the flavor profile. This is full bodied with low carbonation with the alcohol present on the mouthfeel. The drinkability for this beer is as a sipper at the higher ABV, but I could have had another one of these quite easily.

This is truly one of my favorite stouts that I've ever encountered, but aging this beer has everything to do with it. The complex malt really comes to life once the alcohol mellows out in the flavor from a fresh bottle. That was my first bottle from the six pack I bought over two years, and they will hopefully last me through the Winter. The next batch of this beer should be out around November.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tyranena Devil Over A Barrel

Beer: Devil Over A Barrel Imperial Oatmeal Porter
(That is a hell of a name huh?)
Brewery Location: Lake Mills, WI
Beer Style: Porter
ABV: ???? My guess is around 9 to 10%

I've got the itch for heavier beers right now, and I love this time of year coming up with many seasonal releases and special beers that come out in the fall and winter months. I was lucky enough to get a bottle of this from one of my regular trading people as a huge extra. This was a beer I've wanted to try, but I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to get a bottle of this. I've reviewed several offerings from Tyranena, and they are a really good regional brewer, and as far as I know I think they are only available in Wisconsin.

This beer pours a very dark brown with slight amber highlights when held up to the light. A very thin tan head sat on top of this beer, and it dissipated just after the pour, and I expected it on this one. The nose isn't as overpowering with bourbon as many others, but I like that, and I can tell this has more going on for it than just bourbon. I also get scents of espresso, bitter coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. I am really liking the nose on this beer. The flavor profile takes the nose and brings the coffee flavors in full throttle before melding into a rich and roasted full flavored oatmeal porter with a splash of bourbon and vanilla in the background. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, and is bordering on "chewy", with medium carbonation that is velvety smooth. I only really feel the warming alcohol after the swallow on this beer. The drinkability is really nice on this beer, and I wish I had more for the Winter.

This was a really good beer. The trend of bourbon barrel aged beers is becoming almost comical with most brewers, and so many of them are not done very well, but this beer brings together a delicious porter and provides perfect balance with the bourbon and coffee. I hope they make this beer again, and I hope I am able to get more of this beer.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Russian River Brewing's Damnation

Beer: Russian River Brewing's Damnation
Brewery Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Beer Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
ABV: 7.75%

I had a bottle of this a few months back, and I was completly enamored with it, and I had to trade for another two bottles of this beer. I am a fan of Russian River, and I've only been let down by one of their beers, and they have lived up to the hype for me personally. I love a good beer from Belgium, but I also like when an American company knocks it out of the park as well, and this beer is no excpetion for Russian River.

This beer pours a beautiful dark yellow/orange color with a decent sized head that dissipated quite quickly and left spotty lacing on my glass. I get a good dose of fruit in the nose including apples, pears, oranges, and some Belgian style yeast in the nose. The fruit is the most dominant flavor in the flavor profile with pears and apple being the main players, and there are also flavors of lemon, pepper, and a slight hint of banana as well. The mouthfeel has medium carbonation with a fairly dry finish with the alcohol only barely noticeable. The drinkability is quite nice even at 7.75%, and I would have never guessed it was that high if I didn't read it on the bottle.

This is a damn tasty strong Belgian pale ale. Here in Indiana you won't find this beer unless you trade for it, but I think a good substitute would be Duvel. I think Duvel is a slightly better beer, but this beer is really good, and if you ever have the chance for a bottle of this I would jump on it.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sweetwater IPA

Beer: Sweetwater IPA
Brewery Location: Atlanta, GA
Beer Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.7%

I know I said I was out of my kick for IPAs, but I didn't want to open a bomber of something and just wanted a 12 oz serving of something. I've had this sitting in the fridge for about a month waiting to be consumed. I got three of these in trade recently, and this was my last one of those. I've got several other Sweetwater beers to try, but those will be this winter most likely. They have a couple beers with names like "Happy Ending" and "Donkey Punch." At least they have a sense of humor right?

This beer pours a very deep copper/amber hue with a small head that left spotty lacing on my glass. The smell on this beer is really surprising for a regular IPA, and the notes are very clear while pouring this beer. I get loads of fresh citrus fruit with grapefruit, oranges, passion fruit, and peaches dominating with just a touch of spice and pine in the background. It has quite a bit of punch for a regular IPA. The flavor profile is a bit more subdued with the caramel malt coming in upfront before making way to all those citrus flavors, but along with the other citrus fruits I noted in the nose I am also picking up some lemon zest on the palate. The mouthfeel is very crisp with medium carbonation, and I do not really detect much alcohol on the mouthfeel. This is one of the best balanced IPAs that I've had the pleasure of drinking.

This was a really tasty and well made IPA. The balance was my favorite aspect of this beer in the flavor profile, and is really just a well made example of the style. This beer would certainly have a permanent spot in my beer rotation if I could get it locally. This beer is not to be missed if are in the South and get some of this beer.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Weyerbacher Brewering's Thirteen

Beer: Weyerbacher Brewing Thirteen
Brewery Location: Easton, PA
Beer Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.6%

I've fallen out of my trading habit quite bit lately, but there are a few beers that I've tracked down that have come out recently, and this is one that I've wanted to try since I knew it was coming out. According to Weyerbacher this is a beer that was brewed for their thirteenth anniversary and is an imperial stout that is made with a Belgian Abbey yeast strain, and the yeast really comes in strong on this beer.

This beer glugs a very dark black color into my glass with a decent sized dark mocha colored head. The nose on this beer is full of chocolate, roasted grain, and fruity esters are quite apparent from the abbey yeast. The flavor profile starts out with the malt upfront bringing in those dark fruit flavors with rum soaked cherries being quite dominant with figs, raisins, and plums very apparant as well. There is also quite the heavy sweetness present as well on this one, and there is plenty of warming alcohol on this after the swallow. It has both qualities of a good Belgian Quad as well as a Russian Imperial Stout. A really interesting flavor profile that marries all of those flavors quite well. The mouthfeel is quite sticky, but is still incredibly smooth at the same time. The alcohol is quite heavy on this one, but isn't overpowering, and that is quite the feat for the high ABV on this beer. I certainly thought this beer was going to be quite hot, but was pleasantly surprised. The drinkability on this one is quite nice for a beer that clocks in at 13.6% ABV, and was a real treat to drink.

I was quite surprised by this beer. As I said before it is like a Belgian Quad and a good imperial stout have been mixed together quite successfully. This was a little "hot" in terms of the alcohol, but at such a high ABV that is to be expected, and I am really curious how the other bottle I have will age. This was almost like drinking dessert in a glass.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Flossmoor Station's Pullman Brown Ale

Beer: Flossmoor Station's Pullman Brown Ale
Brewery Location: Flossmoor, IL
Beer Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 6%

I was recently at Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery just outside of Chicago in Flossmoor, Illinois. I've been wanting to visit for a very long time, and they even won best brewpub and best small brewer in American at the GABF in 2006. When I heard they were bottling their selections over at the Flossmoor blog I really wanted to visit even more. I really enjoyed the meal I had there, and the people I was with also really enjoyed their meals. I had several selections from the bar that were also very good. I didn't bring my camera, so I didn't write any notes from those beers, but I remember Panama Limited Red Ale being very good as well as the station master wheat were well crafted and above average beers. I had to get a few beers to go with me though and this is my first review of those beers.

I am first struck by how nice of a bottle this beer comes in. I like the screen printed bottles from Alesmith and Stone, but I think this is probably the nicest bomber I've seen in quite some time, and you can tell some quality production went into these, but I am curious if plans are to keep them this nice as the bottling run increases.

Pullman brown pours a very dark brown, almost black, with brown highlights around the edges. It is capped by a small mocha colored head that left some spotty lacing on my pint glass. The nose is quite vibrant for a brown ale and is full of molasses, cocoa, hazelnuts, and chocolate. I am quite impressed with this nose. The flavor profile is equally as robust and pleasant as the nose. Roasted malt character upfront with a bitter chocolate finish with a slight coffee characteristic to it as well. It is almost porter or stout like in the flavor profile, but a little softer. The mouthfeel is really rich with medium carbonation with no alcohol present on the mouthfeel. The drinkability is really nice for this beer, and I certainly wish I could get more of this beer. I would make a session beer out of this in the winter.

I think this is an outstanding brown ale. It has the characteristics of an American brown, but has one of the best noses and flavor profiles I've ever had in a brown ale. If you are in Chicago or traveling there Flossmoor Station is well worth your time, and if you find this beer I would highly recommend it. Anyone want to send me some more of it?


Monday, September 8, 2008

Trappistes Rochefort 10

Beer: Trappistes Rochefort 1o
Brewery Location: Rochefort, Belgium
Beer Style: Quadrupel
ABV: 11.3%

As I posted in my last post I've been getting away from IPAs and the like right now, and giving that style a break for a while. I've had a few Rochefort 10's sitting back, and it seemed like a good time to open one up. I usually buy several of these when I find them around town, because it seems like if I see them one week they are sold out the next time I stop by my local craft beer store. This is a beer that is quite respected on the beer rating websites.

This beer pours a hazy dark brown/reddish hue with a small creamy off-white head. The nose is a combination of dark fruits like raisins and figs, candy sugar, slight banana, fruity esters, and you can smell the alcohol in this beer as well. The taste is quite complex with the main players being banana, dark fruit, caramel sweetness, vanilla, and some peppery spices. A really nice combination of flavors and they work really well together in this Quad. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and quite smooth with moderate carbonation, and I certainly get the warming alcohol on the mouthfeel as well. The drinkability is really quite nice for a beer that is 11.3% ABV, but it is a sipper and not your everyday type beer.

A really complex and delicious beer that is well worth having if you find it in stock. The fall of the dollar and transportation costs have raised the price of this beer though. I remember buying this beer two years ago for $3.99 a bottle, but is now $5.99 a bottle at my local beer shop, and I've read they can cost several more dollars than that around the country, but I still think it worth the indulgence every now and then.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Founder's Breakfast Stout

Beer: Founders Breakfast Stout
Brewery Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Beer Style: American Double Stout
ABV: 8.3%

I've been running behind on posts recently. It has been really crazy for me lately and the blog was not all that high on the priority list as of late.

I've been waiting rather impatiently for this beer to come out. I worked through the last of my stock of this beer, and this is one of my favorite beers. I am not sure when or where it happened, but I would tell you that I am a die hard hop-head, but I think those days are gone. If given the choice I would take my favorite stout over my favorite DIPA or IPA given the chance on most occasions. I think I just burned myself out on that style for a bit.

Breakfast stout pours a very dark black with slight brown highlights at the edges with a thin mocha colored head on it. The nose on this beer is an assult of rich and complex bitter coffee, bitter chocolate, roasted grain, oats, and wood. This is truly one of the best noses you will find on a stout. The flavor profile is a perfect match for the nose with a rich wave of bitter coffee at first quickly followed by a rush of bitter chocolate. The roasted grain also makes an appearance as does cherry and vanilla, but those flavors are lingering in the background when compared to the coffee and bitter chocolate. The mouthfeel isn't as thick as one would probably expect, but it is medium to full bodied and velvety smooth. I don't get a great deal of alcohol on the mouth, but I do feel the warming alcohol in my stomach. The drinkability is really fantastic on this brew, but I wouldn't have to many of them in one sitting, and would be best in moderation.

This is a really fantastic brew. I would like to see a bit more viscosity in the mouthfeel, but that isn't really a big deal for me. This is one of the finer uses of coffee in a beer that I've had along with Peche Mortel. This just hit Indianapolis this week, and get it while you can because it won't be around for very long most likely. I really think Founders is one of the best brewers in the country and one of my personal favorites.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ballast Point Calico Copper Amber Ale

Beer: Ballast Point Calico Copper Amber Ale
Brewery Location: San Diego, CA
Beer Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 5%

I haven't written about Ballast Point very much, the beers I've had from them have all been excellent, and I really enjoyed their Big Eye IPA. They don't have a very extended distribution, but they are in California, Arizona, and Nevada. I was watching the Cubs game, and decided to finally get around to opening up this beer that I received in trade. It is nice to get away from my normal IPAs and DIPAs. I am ready for the colder months and heavier beers that I will be gravitating towards in the very near future.

This beer pours a nice amber (duh!) hue with three fingers worth of sticky white head that dissipated quickly, but left a very nice collar of lace for the rest of the beer. The nose on this beer is dominated by caramel, toasted grain, and some floral hops coming in to round everything out. The flavor profile starts out with the sweetness of the caramel malt upfront with a citrus bitterness of grapefruit rind that balances out the sweetness quite well. The mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth with moderate carbonation with no alcohol present as well. The drinkability is fantastic on this beer, and is one of the better amber ales I've ever had from any brewer.

I really enjoyed this beer. I think it sticks to the American amber ale style, but with more attitude with the hops in the nose and on the palate. I will certainly be trading for more beers from Ballast Point, and this will be one of them I will be after.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Anderson Valley 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA

Beer: Anderson Valley 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA
Brewery Location: Boonville, CA
Beer Style: DIPA/Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.7%

Yes, another California DIPA.

This beer pours a very dark amber color with a massive three fingers worth of white head on it and it left small and spotty lacing on the walls of my pint glass. The nose was a little strange. It has the usual players in it including: citrus fruit, slight earthiness, and floral hops, but I also smell a certain medicinal smell as well, and it is almost like what a bottle of asprin smells like. After the beer warmed up a bit I get more caramel malt in the nose than hops. The hops do not seem as prominent as I would have expected when the bottle says they used twenty varieties of hops. The flavor profile starts out with a decent amount of bitterness that is offset by the caramel malt. The hop flavors are again muted in the flavor profile when compared to the malt. I really get just two main flavors, and those are citrus fruit and dry pine. The malt though is really nice with plenty of toffee and caramel sweetness to it, but I think the malt is showcased over the hops here. The mouthfeel is slightly chewy that rendered itself to be quite dry with medium carbonation. The drinkability is decent for what it is, but I am not usually a big fan of malt driven DIPAs.

Overall this beer is just alright. I was neither wowed nor unsatisfied by this offering.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial IPA

Beer: Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial IPA
Brewery Location: Novato, CA
Beer Style: DIPA/Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.2%

I am still on my kick of California IPAs and DIPAs, and this is a beer I had plans of getting on my last trip to Chicago, but Binny's was out of it when I was there, and I ended up trading for it. This brand is available in Chicago, and I am not sure about the rest of Illinois. I've had this beer before, but it was just before I really got into craft beer and it wasn't up my alley at the time, and it is nice to revisit some things now that I didn't like before I really stared with craft beer.

This beer pours an amber hue with three fingers worth of head on it. It left great lacing on my pint glass. The nose is pretty potent on this beer with the the hop cone being the sole focus. There is plenty of citrus fruit, grapefruit peel, earthiness, and sticky pine as well. I am not getting much in the nose in the way of malt though. My first sips of this beer is a fairly intense rush of bitterness followed by a slight bit of syrupy sweetness as well. The hop bitterness is hard to pin down and is all over the place. I get quite a bit of oily hops, citrus fruit, tobacco, pink grapefruit, and lots of sweet caramel trying to balance the flavors out. This beer is just all over the place, and after about eight ounces really became too much for me. I couldn't really pin down any of the flavors and the malt sweetness was completely separate from the over the top hop bitterness. The mouthfeel was slick and oily that was medium bodied with the alcohol quite present. The drinkability is only good for me for about six ounces of this beer, and after that fell off quite quickly.

I think of myself as a hop-head, but this beer was a big miss for me. The flavor profile doesn't do a good job of combining the many flavors coming from the hops, and the malt sweetness doesn't meld together at all with the hop profile. This beer rates pretty well on the beer websites, but I personally didn't enjoy this one.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale

Beer: Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale
Brewery Location: Farmville, NC
Beer Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 5.6%

I've written about Duck-Rabbit several times, and have been a fan of the "dark beer specialist" quite a bit since first trying them. I find it quite interesting that their entire lineup of beer is a complete niche of nothing but dark beer. There is a good article in this months issue of Beer Advocate about Paul Philippon, who is the founder and brew master of DR. According to him, DR will never brew a pale ale or an IPA, and that is just the way he likes it. Just out of curiosity do you see a duck's head or a rabbit's head when you first look at their logo? I personally see the duck first, but that is just me, and if you can see both.....well.... look harder. I traded for this beer, and there was some tape on the label and it ripped and you can't really see the logo that well on the bottle anymore.

This beer pours a deep brown maybe chestnut color with a small fingers worth of tan head on it. The scent is dominant of malt and caramel with some background scents of earthy hops and nuts. The flavor profile is full of caramel and nutty chocolate upfront with roasted grain in the middle and a hop bitterness to finish. The flavors are all quite distinct and work well together. This beer has a nice and smooth creamy finish that left no alcohol on the mouth. The drinkability is great on this beer, and temperature be damned, it was very nice to have on an 80 degree day.

Overall this is a pretty solid brown ale with a little bit of hop bitterness to it. Another fine beer from The Duck-Rabbit. They are currently available in North Carolina and eastern Tennessee if you find yourself anywhere near there. I will continue to trade for Duck-Rabbit as often as I can.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russian River Pliny the Elder

Beer: Russian River Pliny the Elder
Brewery Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Beer Style: DIPA
ABV: 8.0%

I've had a pretty good few days. We had a tremendous party at the Brugge Brasserie for the Hoosier Beer Geeks 2nd anniversary party, things are good at home, and I've finally gotten to try my own bottle of Pliny the Elder. The downside to everything is that my refrigerator went out on Friday morning, and I had to wait until today to drink this beer. I didn't want to buy a new fridge, but once your compressor goes out and needs to be replaced and then they tack on labor it just doesn't pay to have something fixed these days.

A huge thank you to my friend Nate for bringing me back a bottle of this beer from his recent trip to California. It is really nice to have friends that know good beer and bring stuff like this back for you. Russian River just started their new bottling line for Pliny, and this doesn't get much fresher than this bottle unless it would have been from the tap.

This beer pours a very hazy orange color with a decent sized solid white head. The head died down a bit, but it left patchy lacing on my tulip glass. The nose on this beer is very fresh and vibrant. The citrus scent is the most dominant with plenty of earthiness and pine scents nipping at the heels of the citrus scent, but no malt to really speak of in the nose. The flavor profile starts out with loads of hop bitterness leaning towards pine bitterness with the citrus fruit and tropical fruits flavors really coming in about mid-drink. The flavors are very pronounced, but they do not overpower you in anyway, but rather combine for a very pleasant flavor profile. The initial rush of hop bitterness if huge, but somehow the finish is soft and clean. I am very surprised as well at how low the malt flavor is, but still supports the hops brilliantly. The drinkability is really amazing for a DIPA with the alcohol well hidden, and I would have gladly had another bottle of this beer.

I wish I had another bottle of this beer for another go around. This was indeed one of the better DIPA's I've encountered, but I need to have a few more to know where to place this beer on my top DIPA list. Either way I really enjoyed this beer a great deal, and hopefully can land some more of it the future. Thanks again Nate.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Terrapin Rye Squared DIPA

Beer: Terrapin Rye Squared DIPA
Brewery Location: Athens, GA
Beer Style: DIPA
ABV: 8.5%

I wasn't all that impressed with my last selection from Terrapin, but I have high hopes for this beer. I've enjoyed their special series of beers that they have done seasonally, and I only have one more to try out of the four they do. Their Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal stout has been my favorite thus far. For this beer they took their regular rye pale ale and doubled up all of the ingredients.

This beer pours a nice golden orange color with a small off-white head on it. This beer left a thin blanket of head for most of the beer, and didn't really leave much lacing to speak of. The nose starts out fairly pungent with aromas of the rye malt being quite dominant with the floral/citrus scents of the hops coming in nicely after the initial rush of the malt scent. The flavor profile is quite unique and complex. I initially got mostly malt sweetness upfront, but the rye spice and bitter hops came in about mid-drink. I never got the heavy malt sweetness again though during the beer. There is a good deal of pine and grapefruit in the hop bitterness here, but the spicy rye also helps to keep things in check a little bit. This is quite interesting to say the least. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, but there is a good amount of alcohol kick in the finish as well. The drinkability is good even with the little shot of alcohol in finish.

I enjoyed this seasonal offering from Terrapin, but I still have to say that the Wake-n-Bake is still my personal favorite thus far. I don't know how long this will be on the shelves in the south, but if you can get any I would recommend it.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale

Beer: Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale
Brewery Location: Paso Robles, CA
Beer Style: English Bitter/Amber
ABV: 5%

I have to talk about the beer pricing again. I am not sure how California brewers keep their prices where they do, and beer prices in Indiana don't seem to be even in the same ballpark as them. This beer was only $2.99, and I received it in trade recently. I can't think of a bomber of beer that I can get in Indiana for only $2.99 that I would drink often if given the chance. Most of the beers I've been drinking from California (except Alesmith and Stone) have all been below $5 for a bomber of beer, and they have been some top notch and above average beer.

I've had several beers from Firestone Walker, and have been at least very satisfied with their offerings. The first beer I had from them was their Union Jack IPA which I really enjoyed and would like to be able to get some more of it. I am also not sure what style this beer is. The beer websites say it is an amber ale, and Firestone says it is an English bitter, and after having this beer I would go with an English bitter, but there must be a reason it isn't. I think it is because the amber style category is a catch-all for many beers that don't quite fit in somewhere. If anyone knows please let me know.

This beer pours a medium amber color, and it started with two fingers worth of head, but it quickly dissipated leaving a thin blanket of head for most of the beer. The nose isn't overpowering, but I did get scents of toasted malt and caramel, and an ever so modest "grain" scent coming in as well. The flavor profile is quite well balanced between the sweet malt and decent touch of bittering hops with secondary notes of oak, vanilla, bitter tea, and maybe even a little pine. The mouthfeel is a little watery for my liking with low carbonation, but the drinkability is really nice and sessionable at only 5% ABV.

This is a very solid session beer from Firestone Walker. I would only like to see a bit more bitterness and heavier mouthfeel. This was a good offering but nothing groundbreaking, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ballast Point Big Eye IPA

Beer: Ballast Point Big Eye IPA
Brewery Location: San Diego, CA
Beer Style: IPA
ABV: 6%

Did I mention that I love west coast IPAs? I've traded for some things from Ballast Point recently, and I've only ever had this beer before and their Big Marlin porter, and I should be working my way through the rest of them in the near future. Ballast Point is another brewery making a nice name for themselves out of San Diego.

Big Eye pours a nice rustic amber color with a good sized and slightly off-white head on it. It left spotty lacing on my pint glass. The smell is packed full citrus fruits with notes of oranges, tangerines, and lemon peel. There is some slight caramel notes coming out of the malt as well, but not well pronounced. I don't think I am giving the nose justice there, but this is complex and wonderful nose on this IPA. The scents leads right into the flavor profile with the bitter hops upfront flooding with flavors of grapefruit, pine needles, lemon zest, and finally the caramel soaked bready malt comes out in the finish. The flavors meld very well together and create a unique and balanced IPA for a hop-lover. I would think a non IPA drinker would find this offering quite harsh though, but not me. The mouthfeel has plenty of carbonation for this medium bodied beer that leaves no detectable alcohol in the finish. The drinkability for a hop lover is excellent and would also be quite session able at only six percent.

This is just a really nice IPA. It certainly isn't a DIPA by any stretch of the imagination, but this also isn't an entry level IPA. It has more bitterness and more malt than your average IPA. I am guessing that is because they only used one type of hops, centennial, for bittering hops and for dry hopping purposes. This beer is well balanced, clean, and quite refreshing. I would go so far as to say that it would be in my normal rotation in my fridge if I could find it locally.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Terrapin Hop Shortage Ale

Beer: Terrapin Brewing Hop Shortage Ale
Brewery Location: Athens, GA
Beer Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.2%

I've been back to beer trading recently after a nice break from it. I've had some beer from Terrapin, but I've been wanting to give this beer a chance. Despite the name of the beer, according to the bottle they wanted to make a hop-bomb during the hop shortage we are currently in.

This beer pours a clear golden/orange hue with two fingers worth of fluffy white head that dissipated very quickly and left minimal lacing on my pint glass. I get a pretty good aroma of this beer as I am pouring it. The nose is full of citrus fruit being heavy on the orange scents, but the heaviest scents lean towards sweet and bready malt. I wasn't expecting that out of the nose on this IPA. The flavor profile is also strange to me for an IPA. I do get citrus and pine on the palate, but I get more sweet malt upfront with a moderate bitter finish. All of the flavors are there, but they are not really all that prominent. I am not getting much of a hop bite over the malt sweetness. It is not cloyingly sweet, but just sweeter than most IPAs I've drank. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, but finishes a little watery. The drinkability is decent enough for this beer, and would enjoyed if you like your IPAs on the sweet side.

Overall, this beer was a miss for me. The malt sweetness was heavier than I personally enjoy, and I would have liked to see some more body on the mouthfeel. This wasn't really the hop-bomb that the bottle said it was going to be.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Three Floyd's Fantabulous Resplendence XI Anniversary

Beer: Three Floyd's Fantabulous Resplendence XI Anniversary
Brewery Location: Munster, IN
Beer Style: American IPA
ABV: 7%

I can't believe a year has passed already since the first Fantabulous came out last year. I had heard it was out in Chicago, but didn't know it was around Indianapolis already, and got lucky when I went to the store, because a whole case of it was sitting on the floor just waiting to be put on the shelf. I've got one bottle of the X anniversary left, but that was a DIPA and could hold up to aging, but I won't be aging this years offering because of the lower ABV. Everyone who reads this blog knows that I am a fan of FFF's, and was excited to give another one of their beers a try.

I will also preface this by saying that you should try and have this as close to cellar temp as possible. It really opened up at that point and was a much better drinking experience. It was too cold when I served it and everything was quite muted, but it really opened up as it warmed.

This beer pours a light copper color with a small one fingers worth of head, and it didn't really leave any lacing on my glass. The smell is a nice change of pace from FFF's. The hops are still there quite a bit, just not hit you in the face boldness. I get plenty of floral hops in the bouquet, earthyness, pine, and a bit of pineapple and grapefruit. The flavor profile starts off with a good dose of earthy bitterness quickly followed by the citrus fruit upfront. The malt really comes out nicely to balance out the bitterness. The malt has plenty of caramel and soft toffee notes for balance. I do get a bit of a bitter tea like flavor in the finish. This beer was brewed with jasmine, (unconfirmed, but that is the rumor) but I can't really say if that is the flavor I am picking up on. I think it is a nice mix of flavors that compliment each other quite well. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with just about the perfect amount of carbonation. I do pick up the bitter tea/tannin flavor strongly in the finish, but the alcohol is well hidden. The drinkability is quite nice on this beer and well balanced. I will be having my other bottle in the near future.

I like how this showcased some more range out of FFF's. This isn't an over the top hop-bomb, but a well crafted and balanced beer. The herbs they used in the brew really come out and compliment the hops better than I would have thought they would. My only real complaint about this beer is the price. It was $11.99 for a bomber of this beer. That is pushing my limit for a regular IPA, but since it was a limited brew I gave it a shot. Enjoy it while you can find it around town.

Here is also another write up from a blog-o-sphere friend. Generik's Tap.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Green Flash West Coast Imperial IPA

Beer: Green Flash West Coast Imperial I.P.A.
Brewery Location: Vista, CA
Beer Style: American DIPA
ABV: 9%

I am not sure what my blog holds for the future, but I've joined the Hoosier Beer Geeks, and will be doing postings over there as well. My individual beer format doesn't really fit in over there, so I think I will continue to post those here, but any beer news, trips, or events will be housed over there. My whole intention of this blog is simply to help me train my palate and taste some pretty damn good (and sometimes awful) beer. I am happy to hear that some people have gotten something out of this blog at one point or another, and if you haven't, well I can't give you back any minutes of your life.

You know I love my West Coast IPA's and DIPA's, and this one is well respected among West Coast DIPA's. I personally traded for this bottle, but if you find yourself in Ohio it is distributed there, as well as Chicago, and if you really want this beer you can buy it have it shipped to your directly at Liquid Solutions. I've used LS on a number of occasions and they are a great operation.

This is my very first beer from Green Flash.

It pours a wonderful golden hue with a huge billowing three fingered head on it. This had great head retention until almost my last sip, and left decent spotty lacing on my pint glass. The nose is no surprise for a San Diego style DIPA. It has loads of fresh citrus fruit leaning towards mostly grapefruit with pine and a certain earthiness that comes through, but not with much potency, and I think that works well for this offering. This is a very pleasing nose to this hop-head. The flavor profile almost does a 180 though. The pine and earthiness that was more muted in the nose comes out full force upon first sip with plenty of bitterness and pine needles. The citrus flavor comes in about mid-drink with plenty of grapefruit and tropical fruit into the finish. The malt tried to come in, but just didn't have the power to get over the hops. The mouthfeel is bordering on full bodied with low carbonation, and the warming alcohol is quite well hidden. The drinkability is also very good on this beer for one bomber, and I would most likely split this with someone if I had another bottle of it.

This was a pretty good beer overall, but it wouldn't crack my top DIPAs. I would have liked to see a bit more malt on this offering, and slightly more carbonation for my liking. I certainly wouldn't say no to this beer again though, and would purchase more of it most likely if available in Indiana.