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.