Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dark Lord Day 2008

Event: Dark Lord Day 2008

I am back safe and sound from another Dark Lord Day at Three Floyd's brewery. I've been looking forward to DLD pretty much since last DLD. I am a huge fan of Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout, but I am a bigger fan of just hanging out with beer people and having a good time. I've said it before, but beer people are almost always good people.

I got there about 8:30 (and a huge THANK YOU to Mike and Gina from Hoosier Beer Geek for spotting me) and I couldn't believe a line was already forming at the door to get in. I hate to talk about the "last year" but last year there was so much more interaction between people at the tasting tables. I heard some of the conversations going on around me, and the vast majority of people were there to have a good time at a beer festival, but I also saw/heard people that didn't understand what they were getting into or just wanted to put up their bottles on Ebay. That was quite upsetting. Below is what the line looked like when I got there, and the line that stretched past the fire house.

I also met up with a Mike from STLHops who brought along some amazing homebrew and some tasty beer from O'Fallon and Schlafly. He gave me a Pappy Van Winkle from O'Fallon that is hand bottled and numbered. I can't wait to give that a whirl.

The line was out of control. I figured there would be a mad rush for the door once it opened, but it wasn't a bad as I thought. Last year there were only three people taking money rather haphazardly, but this year there was a long table with six or eight people taking cash. I bought my fill of Dark Lord and got a bottle of Hvedegoop that is a collaboration between FFF's and the guys from Mikkeller. Below is a shot of inside right near the tables for Dark Lord. To the right of the picture is where the guest breweries were, and the stage were the bands were playing.

The real fun of DLD happened after I got through the line. I met up with Mike again and hung out for a while just tasting beer and discussing all things beer. I had to leave more abruptly than I thought I would have to, but I still had a great time. They had to turn away many people on Saturday, but I think the number of people that showed up took FFF's by surprise. As you can see in the picture the line for DL stretched a good five blocks down the street. HBG's have a great map of how far the line went. I am not sure what else could have been done except for offering less DL to the masses.

FFF's are taking some heat right now at the major beer websites about how things were organized, but given the lines that I saw I don't really see what else could have been done. Even limiting people to two bottles of Dark Lord I think they would have run out. I certainly would like to see somehow though the Ebayer's get weeded out, but that is just wishful thinking. It just irks me that good beer people were turned away because of people there trying to turn a profit.

I had a great time, and I will certainly go back again next year.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lagunitas Brewing Hop Stoopid

Beer: Lagunitas Brewing Hop Stoopid
Brewery Location: Petaluma, CA
Beer Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.2%

It is getting hotter outside and there is nothing better to me than a tasty IPA or DIPA on a warm day. If it is downright hot though I prefer a pale wheat ale if I am going to be outside. In any case I got a bottle of this brew in a trade recently, but I know it is available in Illinois and Ohio. I heard a rumor once about a year ago that Lagunitas was coming to Indiana, but I haven't seen it anywhere as of yet. I've had a few beers from Lagunitas, but this is my first IPA from them. I've had their Lumpy Gravy and Censored Ale. I really enjoyed the Lumpy Gravy, but wasn't much of a fan of the Censored Ale.

Hop Stoopid pours a light golden amber color with a small, but tight white head. It did leave sheets of lacing on the walls of my pint glass. The nose is very vibrant with fresh scents of pine, citrus fruit, and candy sugar. I don't get much malt in the nose, but just loads of fresh hops. The flavor profile is dominated by sticky pine and orange peel. I also get plenty of grapefruit in there, but the pine stays as the most dominant hop flavor. The sweet malt comes into play only slightly and is pushed around by the floral hops, and it never quite makes itself fully known. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly creamy with no alcohol on the mouth. The drinkability is top-notch and I would gladly buy more of this beer if I am able to get any more.

This beer does not have enough malt bite to be a DIPA though I personally don't think, but I am not going to split hairs on this one. This beer is very tasty, clean, and a very refreshing IPA. This was about perfect sitting outside on a warm day enjoying spring.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Port Brewing Hop 15

Beer: Port Brewing Hop 15
Brewery Location: San Marcos, CA
Beer Style: Double IPA
ABV: 10%

My first offering from Port Brewing was the Wipeout IPA which I thought was very tasty, and this is a DIPA from them, so I am pretty excited to give this beer a try. I've been hooked on California IPA's and DIPA's thus far this spring. I liked the artwork on the front of this bottle. It is a squadron of bombers dropping hop bombs into a pint glass. This beer was named as a 15th Anniversary beer and uses 15 types of hops added to the boil every 15 minutes. I split this bottle with my best friend Kevin at his place.

Hop 15 pours a hazy golden deep copper color with a small but dense off-white head with minimal carbonation. It already looks like I am going to enjoy this DIPA. This beer left sheets of lacing for the entire beer. The scent is first dominated by oily hops with scents of candied grapefruit, orange zest, and earthy grassy notes. I can smell the caramel sweet malt coming to life more as the beer warmed a bit. The flavor profile is at first very heavy on the hop bitterness with each drink bringing on tastes of pine, grapefruit, and fresh orange peel. The malt does come into play here, but never quite balances out the hop bitterness with just a slight touch of sweet malt. The mouth feel is smooth and medium bodied with a touch of alcohol in the mouth as well. Drink ability is a also very good, but one bomber was enough for me for the time being.

I think this is another really great beer from Port Brewing. I wouldn't call it by any means my favorite DIPA, but it is well worth seeking out again. If you are a hop-head you should at least try and get your hands on a bottle of this beer.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale

Beer: Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale
Brewery Location: Lyons, CO
Beer Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%

Ricebier ist nicht gut! All of the cans of Oskar Blues that I've seen have had some little quip on them, and this is on the one on this can. If you are not much of a German language fan it simply means that ricebeer is not good. It is taking a poke at some of the big boys that use rice in their recipes.

The can also states this beer is: "A Huge Voluminously Hopped Mutha Of A Pale Ale." As a hop-head I laughed at this, but I will at least give it the benefit of the doubt after having a bottle of Gordon and a can of Ten-Fidy.

It pours a clear golden amber hue with a thick and frothy white head. It leaves great lacing on the walls on my pint glass. I can smell the American C-hops as I pour this beer. The nose has good scents of grapefruit, pine, and orange peel. The flavor profile isn't quite a vibrant as the nose, but it still has balanced flavors of flowery (at sometimes pungent) C-hops and a sugar-cookie malt base rounds everything out nicely. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation that is crisp and refreshing. The drink ability holds up very well, and I would reach for this if it were available locally.

I thought this was a very tasting offering of Oskar Blues take on an APA. It had all of the citrus flavors that I love in American hops, but it wasn't quite a bold in the flavor profile as the nose would lead onto. Dale's Pale Ale it isn't my favorite take on this style, but does warrant further research by this hop-head.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bell's Oberon Ale

Beer: Bell's Oberon Ale
Brewery Location: Comstock, MI
Beer Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.8%

Baseball season is here! I love baseball, I love the Cubs, and I love good beer on warm day. Oberon is one of the Bell's seasonal beers that I first started with when I first got into craft beer. This beer is brewed to correspond with baseball season, but also helps signal that spring and summer are here. I have very fond memories of this beer and the summer time at college and playing golf with a sixer of this in tow. I had a bottle of this over at my best friends house, and this is my first Oberon of the season. Something you may not have known is that Oberon was once called Solsun, but Molson sued over the name and Oberon was born.

Oberon pours very hazy orange/amber hue with one fingers worth of thick white head that dissipated very quickly and left minimal lacing. The nose is loaded with spicy wheat and orange citrus zest scents are very apparent upfront with a little bit of lemon lagging behind. The taste isn't as bold as the nose would indicate, but the flavor profile is an equal combination of fresh citrus fruit (mostly orange) with the soft wheat malt apparent as well. There is also maybe a touch of clove hiding in there as well and accented with the spicy saaz hops. The mouthfeel is very light and crisp and slightly effervescent. I will certainly be drinking more of these this summer, and they are 8.49 a sixer at Trader Joe's.

A great summer brew for those lazy summer days, or the days when you've been working outside. I think this years batch isn't nearly as sweet as the 2007 batch, but if I had my choice I would still reach for Three Floyd's Gumballhead over Oberon. Personally, Gumballhead sets the standard of pale wheat ales for me.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Russian River

I've been trying to get my hands on Russian River for a while, and a trader I've had a long term friendship with hooked me up today. In the middle is a bottle of Temptation and a bottle of the very much sought after Beatification. I can't wait to start in on these, but I also want to hoard them, but beer is for drinking!


Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster

Beer: Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster
Brewery Location: Athens, GA
Beer Style: American Amber Ale
ABV: 8.3%

This is only my second offering from Terrapin. I've only had beers from their "monster beer tour" series. I've never had anything from their regular lineup. I am curious what this imperial red is going to take like since it has a bit of age on it. This beer only comes out in the fall each year, and Terrapin releases a new "monster beer" every quarter. This bottle is from the 2007 vintage.

Pours a very dark copper color with deep ruby accents when held to the light. A very thin layer of off-white head leaves spotty lacing on the walls of my pint glass. The is extremely malt dominated with heavy scents of dark fruits (figs, plums, and raisins) with only a slight pine scent rushing to the nose. It is not as hop dominated as I thought, but I am assuming the age on this beer is contributing to that. I taste the hops more upfront, but is still rather subtle. The hop profile is a combination of pine and light citrus fruit that is almost earthy with a mineral water quality to it. The malt however steps up the plate and takes over where the hop profile falls flat. The malt tastes of caramelized soaked doughy uncooked bread and sweet toffee. The malt profile is very tasty, but doesn't have much zing without the hops. The mouthfeel is creamy with low carbonation. I certainly would drink this beer again, but it would have to available locally.

Overall, this was a very tasty brew, but doesn't cross into the "monster" territory as the name states. I would like to try this beer this year though when it is fresh and see if the hop profile is a little more vibrant when it is fresh.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Surley Brewing Bender

Beer: Surly Brewing Bender
Brewery Location: Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Beer Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 5.10%

This is my second beer from Surly. I really enjoyed Furious when I had it, and was happy to get some more in trade. I wrote before that Surly is another company that is exclusively canning their beer and not bottling it. I have no problem at all with beers that come from a can. I like the 16oz cans that Surly is using. I honestly think that there will be many more brewers that will be at least partially moving to some canned beer. I see companies always makings bottles, but also putting some of their lineup in cans. It is easier to ship, pack, and costs less for brewers, and also I think that as the craft beer movement continues to get bigger consumers will demand it. That is just my take on that though.

Bender pours with a very dark brown body with a two finger frothy tan head on it. It left great lacing that lasted the entire beer. The nose is earthy and nutty with caramel undertones with loads of chocolaty malt coming through. The flavor profile is a big surprise for a brown ale. The malt base with the chocolate and caramel is coming through very strong. Secondary flavors also include grassy hops that go from earthy to an almost slight pine that seems to fade in and out with each drink. As the beer warms I get some bittersweet coffee and vanilla beans in the flavor profile as well. The mouthfeel on this beer is creamy and velvety smooth that leaves just a slightly dry finish. The drinkability is very top-notch on this offering and at this ABV is quite sessionable.

In terms of being a brown ale this beer is impressive. I didn't really find this to be a brown ale though. It has the complexity of quality porter and the hop profile of an APA. Whatever style this falls into I just know it is a tasty offering, and I look forward to trying to get my hands on some more of this beer.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Port Brewing Company Wipeout IPA

Beer: Port Brewing Company Wipeout IPA
Brewery Location: San Marcos, CA
Beer Style: American IPA
ABV: 7%

It is officially spring here in Indiana, and I couldn't be happier about it. This past winter wasn't a bad winter in terms of how much snow we got, but it just always seemed like it was either raining or snowing here. As soon as it gets warm outside I start moving to IPA's and pale wheat ales for the summer. My best friend Kevin and his soon-to-be wife Courtney were over last night and I split this bottle with him.

I've never had anything from Port Brewing, but they have a very good reputation and between three brewpubs make a huge lineup of beer. I love the aggressive take of California IPA's, and this one sounds no different.

This beer pours a blazing peach color with two fingers of sticky-white head, and it left spotty lacing on the walls of my pint glass. The nose on this beer just reminds me spring time. Loads of grapefruit, earthy pine, and grassy floral notes, and sweet caramel at the base. The flavor profile delivers right where the nose ends. This is how I like my IPA's. The hop flavor is bitter and aggressive with flavors of pine and ripe citrus fruit. The sweetness of the malt comes in very late to round things out on the palate. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with slightly above average carbonation on it that left a slight "doughy" texture on the back of my palate. The drink ability on this beer is fantastic and I want more!

This beer signaled the coming of summer for me. If this beer were available in Indiana it would go into regular rotation for me. It is a hoppy and aggressive IPA that was just right for this hop-head.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Oskar Blues Gordon DIPA

Beer: Oskar Blues Gordon DIPA
Brewery Location: Lyons, CO
Beer Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.2%

Ever since I had the pleasure of trying Ten-Fidy from Oskar Blues I've been trying to get my hands on more beer from this brewery. A very kind soul sent me a bottle of this beer. Oskar Blues normally puts all of their beer in cans, but back in 2003 and 2004 they made this beer in 750ml bottles. I split this with my friend and the person that helped push me back into craft beer Joe. I took the cap of this beer and found a cork sitting inside of the bottle as well to keep it fresh.

This pours a very murky and deep brown with amber highlight on the edges. A huge three fingered head sat atop of this dark brew. The amount of head and lacing is very impressive for a beer with this high an ABV. I can smell this beer as I was pouring two glasses of it. I get good scents of caramel and sweet brown sugar. The hop presence takes a back seat to the malt, but it does provide good scents of woody pine and grapefruit rind. I served this beer a little too cold, but once it warmed up I got some really nice flavors. The malt was the main player in the flavor profile with loads of caramel and candied fruit. The hop profile is indicative of classic American hops. Tastes of tropical fruit and earthy wooded pine dominate the hop profile. The hops do not quite balance out the malt, but they still pair very nicely together. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, but still somehow is a little chewy as well. There is also a slight alcohol finish on the tongue. Drinkability is very good and I would have polished off another one of these bottles quite easily.

They call this a double IPA, but I think it had more qualities of an English barleywine/IPA. The years of age left the hop profile a little more subtle. I won't be able to get another one of these bottles, but I am happy to have had the opportunity. I would love to try this out of the can now.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Southern Tier Unearthly IIPA

Beer: Southern Tier Unearthly IIPA
Brewery Location: Lakewood, NY
Beer Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 11%

I have been stockpiling beer, and I need to stop it. I had a friend over from work to help me try and put a dent in some beer I've been meaning to try to get worked through.

This was my very first offering from Southern Tier. This beer has a good reputation among beer geeks, and I traded for a bottle of this beer. It does come in a very nice silk-screened bottle with the most amount of information I've ever seen a company put on their bottle. It tells you the IBU's, type of hops that went into it, and the malt it contains.

Pours a very clear orange color with a small creamy white head on it. It left patchy lacing on the walls of my pint glass. I get a good whiff of this as I pour it. Dominant scents include sticky pine, ripe citrus fruit, and subtle earthiness. I also get some lesser scents including bready malt and an underlying honey sweetness smell. The taste is of very sweet honey-like malt and bitter hops. There is a bit of a caramel undertone to this beer as well. The hops seem a bit subdued and do not have the quality on the palate as they do in the nose. The mouthfeel is medium and the alcohol is very well hidden. The drinkability did not hold well for me on this beer. It was very sweet and I suspect underattenuation on this beer. That would explain a nice body and mouthfeel and an overall sweet taste.

I was very excited for this beer, but it just didn't live up to my expectations. I suspect this may have been a bad bottle with the underlying sweetness that was present here. I will certainly give it another try, but I won't be trading for it.