Sunday, June 29, 2008

He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.

Beer: He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.
Brewery Location: San Francisco, CA
Beer Style: DIPA
ABV: 10%

This is my first beer for review from the Shmaltz Brewing company. I've had several other of their offerings and my particular favorites have been the Genesis 10:10 and Jewbelation 11 anniversary beers. I've been in a bit of a rye kick lately and have been drinking Founders Red Rye and Two Brother's Cane and Ebel quite a bit lately, so I was looking for another rye beer. I found this beer at Party Pak for $6.49 a bomber. I bought two just to be sure. This review is my second bottle of this beer.

This beer has quite the clever name and pays homage to Lenny Bruce with plenty of little quips and other information about Lenny Bruce.

This beer pours a deep and clear ruby color with a decent sized off-white head. The beer sorta glugged out in a syrupy fashion. The first scents bring on the rye mixed in with pine needles and a touch of orange peel. The malt is a beast on the nose on this beer pushing around anything else you could really get a good scent out of. The flavor profile is more of the same with plenty of rye flavor with an almost bready malt being most dominant. The hop profile does a fairly good job though trying to balance out all of the malt, but this beer leans heavier towards the malt and not the hops. The mouthfeel is quite full bodied with plenty of carbonation to go around, but this beer leaves quite a bitter finish. The drinkability is actually quite good, but the 10% ABV will sneak up on your if you have an entire bomber.

I like rye beers, and I thought this beer was a pretty good offering. This beer was quite a bit more maltier than I thought it would be for a DIPA, but it was good that isn't just an over the top hop bomb, but rather a decently crafted beer. If you are a fan of rye and malt I say at least give this beer a try, but you might want to split it with someone.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier

Beer: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
Brewery Location: Freising, Germany
Beer Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 5.4%

It is just plain hot outside! My favorite summer beers are American wheat beers, IPA's, DIPA's, and my first summer love drinking experience started with German hefes. My beer progression started with drinking imports (Yes, I was that guy) and I went through a period where I drank nothing but beer from Germany. One of my stayovers from that period that I always come back to is this beer. The German hefe style is always something I gravitate to in the warmer months of the year. This beer is a really great price as well for the sized bottle you get. I think I paid like $2.39 for it or so. Compared to what I pay for bombers and singles this beer is a steal! The brewery also claims they are the oldest brewery in the world, and that they have been brewing beer for over a thousand years. I didn't take time to check that out, but I will take their word for it.

I hardly ever use my weizen glass, but I love how this beer pours exactly from the bottle to the very top of this glass. This beer pours a wonderful golden straw color that is quite hazy with a huge billowing white head on this beer. Perfect hefe scent on this beer with dominant scents of wheat, lemon, banana, and some clove. The flavor takes over with the wheat in the malt, banana, clove, bubblegum, and a touch of lemon. This has a very interesting flavor profile on it, and everything works very well together. The mouthfeel is very creamy and light and slightly effervescent. The alcohol is not noticeable at all in the mouthfeel. The drinkability is superb and about a fine as you will get for a summer beer.

This beer sets the standard for me when it comes to German hefes. This beer is a testament to what kind of product a huge brewery can send to the masses. This beer is available all over the world and is readily available in most US states. This beer is also brewed in the traditional German Rheinheitsgebot (at one time the oldest consumer protection law in the world, but it was repealed a few years back) and what a fantastic job with just four ingredients with no adjuncts or fillers. This beer is available on tap a few places around town, and my favorite place for a pint of this beer is at the Rathskeller in the Kellerbar. This is just a great beer all around.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stone 11th Anniversary Ale

Beer: Stone 11th Anniversary Ale
Brewery Location: Escondido, CA
Beer Style: IPA
ABV: 8.7%

I haven't had that many of Stone's Anniversary beers. I've only had the 9th, 10th, and now 11th anniversary ales. They just announced they will be doing their 12th anniversary beer and it is going to be a stout. I am assuming that hops prices may have something to do with that. Stone is a beer that I feel pretty lucky we get here in Indy because several states around us do not get Stone distribution (how about that? me praising the beer we get here instead of bitching about beer we don't).

This beer is the darkest IPA I've ever seen. Stone calls this an IBA or India black ale. It is a deep and dark brown color with a full slightly dirty tan head on it. This beer left creamy rings of lacing until the very last sip. The scents that dominate this beer lean heavily towards piney hops, loads of tropical fruit like tangerines, mango, and passion fruit with a touch of caramel waving from the back row. My brain is perplexed at something that looks like this beer but smells the way that it does. The flavor profile starts with heavy floral hops notes providing plenty of bitterness, but the malt begins to show its assertiveness with dark roasted malt and dark fruits (plums and raisins) coming to life as the beer warmed. The finish brings back those hops with plenty of citrus and pine and showing you what Stone Brewing is famous for. The mouthfull is a bit chewy and sticky, but yet the finish is actually quite creamy. The drinkability is quite nice on this beer since the alcohol was extremely well hidden on this offering.

This is another tasty beer from Stone. It is certainly hop heavy, but the malt provides some really good balance on this offering. I only have one more of these, and I am curious how this beer will age. Stone 12th Anniversary will come out next month, and will hopefully be in Indy sometime in last July or early August.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bell's Big Head San Diego Style Ale

Beer: Bell's Big Head San Diego Style Ale
Brewery Location: Comstock, MI
Beer Style: DIPA
ABV: 11%

"What is a San Diego Ale? It is an ale that's made with more attitude than hops and, boy, are there a lot of hops." That is according to the bottle on this beer.

This beer was made in a "tounge-in-cheek" manner for the Craft Beer Wholesalers Conference in San Diego. The stories I've read are that some west coast brewers said that no one could make a super hopped San Diego style ale except for the brewers of San Diego, and this is what Bell's came up with.

Sadly, only 72 cases of this beer were made and a chunk of it went to San Diego and the rest was sold in the Bell's general store and eccentric cafe.

I've said before that beer people are good people, and Mike from STLHops sent me this beer for my birthday. Thanks again Mike!

Big Head pours a slightly hazed ruddy amber color with a thin and creamy tan head on it and left decent lacing on the walls of my pint glass. The first scents are classic of a west coast DIPA with loads of hops showcasing citrus rind and sticky pine. A touch of bread soaked caramel is lingering behind a bit. The flavor profile is more malt based than the hops, but make no mistake the hops are still full throttle on this offering. The malt carries the sweet caramel first with an almost unsalted cracker crispness/flavor to it as well. The hops bring in loads of ripe citrus fruit leaning towards grapefruit rind and orange peel with a good dose of pine needles as well (C-hops anyone?) This beer is very assertive, but a bit more balanced with the hops and malt when compared to its San Diego brethren. The mouthfeel is a little "hot" with plenty of alcohol on the palate, but this bigger beer still is quite smooth with a decent amount of carbonation. Besides the beer being a bit "hot" the drinkability is quite nice on this beer, and I certainly would have had another one of these.

Larry Bell has already stated that Bell's will not be making this offering again, and I think that is a bit of a shame. This beer isn't as good as Hopslam, but I think this beer provides quite a different drinking experience than Hopslam, and they both have their own place. I am pretty happy I was able to try this offering though, and a big thank you again to Mike from STLHops for sending me this tasty offering.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Great Lakes Eliot Ness

Beer: Great Lakes Eliot Ness
Brewery Location: Cleveland, OH
Beer Style: Vienna Lager
ABV: 6.2%

I've almost worked through most of the Great Lakes beer I've gotten in trade. This was actually a beer I've never had from Great Lakes and I honestly wasn't much of a fun of the Vienna lager style, so that is why I waited so long to drink it.

You might be wondering what a Vienna lager is, and it is obviously named after the city where it originated. The style has fallen off, and not many breweries actually brew this style any more. When its popularity fell off in Europe the German/Austrian immigrants that went to Mexico revived the style, and today many Mexican beers like Negra Modelo and Dos Equis are Vienna lagers. The biggest name in Vienna lagers that you have heard of is Samuel Adam's Boston lager.

Eliot Ness pours a clear ruby color and will change to rustic brown when held up to the light. A frothy small tan head sits upon this estically pleasing beer. Upon first smell I get tons of the malt scent hitting upfront with the earthy hops coming into play right behind it. I normally don't think of a beer style like this having this nice of a nose on it. As the beer warmed I got more scents of sweet caramel with toasted grains. The flavor profile is a perfect match when compared to the nose. The toasted grain comes through first with a bit of caramel sweetness to it as well and ends with a slight touch of hops in the finish. The mouthfeel is very smooth with great balance and the medium carbonation. The drinkable is very good on this offering and I would like to replace some IPA's in my rotation with this beer.

Great Lakes has another well made and delicious beer. This is a tasty lager that I would have around if I was able to get it locally. This beer absolutely blows Sam Adam's Boston lager out of the water though. As Eric Asimov puts it "this is a beer that won't get in the way of conversation." He didn't say that about this beer, but it fits here for me. A great beer for about any occasion that I say again, Great Lakes please come back to Indianapolis!


Monday, June 9, 2008

Hop shortage is hitting home for this Bells fan

It was reported today that the European hop grower for Bells Brewing is pulling its contract for Saaz hops, and that next year's batches of Oberon could taste completely different because of it.

I like Oberon, but as I've said before it isn't my favorite summertime beer, but this might also change the recipe of one of my very favorite beers: Two-Hearted. I do really like though that Larry Bell has stated that he will tell his consumers what is going on, and will return to original recipes as soon as possible. I am pretty confident though in what Larry Bell and company will come up with, but I just hate to see this happening, and hopefully the recipe change in Two-Heated will somehow make it better.

I should also clarify that the saaz hops won't make a difference in Two-Hearted since it doesn't use any, but the hop shortage may change the recipe for Two-Hearted.

Here is the article.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Goose Island Pere Jacques

Beer: Goose Island Pere Jacques
Brewery Location: Chicago, IL
Beer Style: Dubbel
ABV: 9%

I am not that familiar with the Dubbel style like I am with other beer styles. I do know that it is a style what was popular in the middle ages, but died out, and then came back in the mid to late 1800's. They re-started with the Belgian Abbeys brewing them again. I have enjoyed all of Goose Islands bigger beer series they have been doing. I was extremely impressed by their bourbon county stout I had a few months back.

This beer pours a deep brown with amber accents with a light tan head on it. I get scents of this beer as I pour it and I get scents of sweet toffee, candy sugar, malt, and a yeasty scent coming to life. It borders on being too sweet, but it is just really a nice nose on this beer. The flavor profile is a melting pot of caramel, figs, plums, and some spiced rum. The flavor profile on this beer is delicious and focuses on the sweet and complex malt profile. The mouthfeel is very full with lots of carbonation that makes this offering quite smooth and refreshing, and for 9% ABV I only barely noticed the alcohol warmth in this beer. The drinkability is superb on this beer, and I am thinking about what kind of food can I pair with this beer.

Another tasty big beer from Goose Island. I do have to admit I am on the fence about most of Goose Island's offerings, but the special beers they have been putting out are really superb. I also like the fact that the bottle lets you know that you can age this beer for over five years, but this beer wouldn't make it that long around my house.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Victory Brewing coming to Indiana

I've reviewed several of Victory Brewing's offerings (my personal favorite is the Storm King Stout), and word on the street is that Victory should be in Indiana by the end of next week!

I am very excited to hear this news.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Oskar Blues Gordon

Beer: Oskar Blues Gordon
Brewery Location: Lyons, CO
Beer Style: DIPA
ABV: 8.7%

My friend from Colorado came into town a few weeks ago, and he was so very gracious and brought me a four pack of Gordon. Thanks Chris! I've had most of the main stream line-up of beers from OB, and this is one that had eluded me for a bit. I did try the Gordon in a bottle that had a few years of age on it, but this is obviously the fresh version out of the can.

Gordon pours a very deep ruddy amber color with a small sized, but well lasting, head that left plenty of sticky lacing on the walls of my pint glass. A big DIPA nose greets me that is very heavy on the pine with a touch of citrus fruit (mostly tangerine) and sweet sugary malt coming in as well. The flavor profile is again dominated by the resinous pine flavor that was in the nose with other hop additions like grapefruit rind and earthy hops. The biscuty malt is big here, but doesn't quite stand up to the hops, but that doesn't bother me here. The mouthfeel is very smooth with medium carbonation that left only a touch of alcohol in the mouth. The drinkability is very nice for what I would consider a bigger beer, and I would drink several of these in one sitting.

Overall I really liked this offering from OB. I would certainly have this beer on hand most times if OB was available in Indiana. OB is expanding to many states to the east of us, and hopefully we will see OB here in Indiana soon.