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.