Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Holidays from the Hopheads!

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season. Look what Santa brought me. (Ok, Santa didn't bring it to me, I bought it myself, I couldn't resist.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Victory Baltic Thunder

This bottle wasn't as cool as the Sam Adams one, but I decided to pick it up from the Beverage Barn because it was one of those Victory beers I heard of in passing but didn't really know a lot about. So I figured I would try it out for myself.

Appearance: Pours as a thick brown lacquer with very little light passing through. Almost no carbonation and no head to speak of, as if I just opened up some used Mobil 1. Similar color to the Sam, but you can definitely tell the difference between a bock and porter.

Smell: Roasted, oakey malts with a tiny hint of spice or flowers. No bitterness or hops to speak of.

Taste: Deep roasted malts, but not overpowering, with some hops in there. I was expecting a little more. I'm kind of suspecting that its too cold and I may need to wait for it to warm up a bit before the beer's character really comes through.

Mouthfeel: Thick, almost chewy, and flat, pretty standard for a porter. Leaves a little something for you on the way down.

Drinkability: Porters don't lend themselves to being drunk in massive quantities and this is no exception. While the malts are good I was kind of hoping for a little something more. Seemed kind of generic and didn't really bring something special to the table. At a modest 8.5% abv its not the strongest beer out there but you can't drink too much of it. I'll give it a 6.5/10, which may be a little harsh, but its just not doing it for me. Try it, you might find something in it I missed.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams pint glass

Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock

Ok, just look at that bottle. Can you blame me for seeing that badass in the store and picking it up instantly? The price seemed a little steep for a Sam at $14, but I also knew that the triple bock was priced at $200 according to the late Michael Jackson (not the glove wearing pedophile, the beer god). Hopefully the beer tastes as good as the bottle makes you think it does.

Appearance: Pours thick and dark, with no light whatsoever passing through. Very little head present, about half a finger, and it fades pretty quickly. Slightly carbonated, but for the most part it just looks like liquified chocolate in a glass (who knew?)

Smell: Chocolate, toasted malts with the tiniest scent of hops in the background. I expected the smell to be a little bit stronger and really shove a candy bar up your nose, but its pretty relaxed.

Taste: Cocoa beans and chocolate, but not overly malty like I was expecting, definitely had a good bitterness to it, nothing was really overpowering. Chocolate aftertaste, obviously.

Mouthfeel: Light and kind of watery, a little carbonation which is a plus, I was worried from the appearance that it would be flat, good finish.

Drinkability: I am a huge Sam Adams fan but was pretty underwhelmed with this one. There was chocolate as advertised, but that was it. It left you kind of wanting something else to appear from the beer, but it was over before you knew it. It is a very easy beer to drink thanks to a mild mouthfeel that doesn't try to attack you, and at 5.5% abv you could drink it all night. I just wouldn't want to because the taste isn't interesting. It says "Hey, I'm chocolate in a bottle" and that's all you get. I give it a 7/10, and combined with the pricetag I probably won't buy it again. Maybe one day I'll come across the triple bock.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Stein

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chimay Grande Rèserve

Ok, so this review will mean two out of my last three reviews are about the Chimay Trappist ales, and 4 straight Belgian style ales, but that's what I'm in the mood for as I try to expand my horizons. Don't worry, the next couple will be different, I promise. I'm becoming such a fan of the Chimays I might have to pick up one of those sweet goblets. This one comes with sky high expectations from a combination of what I've read and from my experience with the red label Chimay. I have to give a shout out to my local beer store for having these hidden gems I am starting to find there, so if you happen to be in the northern valley of NJ go to Beverage Barn in Northvale, NJ. On to the masterpiece.

Big Red approves of Big Blue

Appearance: The beer pours similar to champagne, you can hear it fizz as it builds its three fingers of head. The color is a crisp dark brown with no visibility. The head retains pretty well after a few minutes, but not as lacey like the Chimay red.

Smell: A combination of sweet malts, perfume and spicey hops, with what I swear smells like a bit of pepper are the dominating forces of the smell. I can't put my finger on it, but something in there reminds me of champagne again.

Taste: Wow. So many tastes that present themselves then disappear making it a unique experience. The spicey hops kick it off but are gone in a flash as the sweet malts take over, but just when you think its done it finishes with what can be described as roasted woodchips, almost like a dark chocolate, but with just the flavor and not the feel. Speaking of feel...

Mouthfeel: Alive and carbonated but not overly so, still relatively smooth. It feels light but heavy at the same time because of the dark malts.

Drinkability: I am probably not doing this beer enough justice, because it really is phenominal, whether you compare it to other beers of its style or to any beer. Its got many characteristics from a hoppy pale ale to a stout all combined to make a great Begian Strong Ale. Although you wouldn't know by drinking it, the 9% abv makes this a one bomber a night drink, but it is light enough where it doesn't have to end your night. In fact, if you are planning on drinking heavier stuff like stouts or porters later (like I am), you could get away with drinking it first because of its Belgian ale qualities. This one basically met all my ridiculous expectations and gets a 9.5/10 from me. I better put that goblet on my Christmas list.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Duvel snifter

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale (2008 12th Release)

I could not help but compare this fresh hop ale to the one I just had from prestigious Great Divide Brewery. I bought the last 4 bomber bottles of this beer from Ramsey Liquors, Ramsey NJ. Lets see how this one goes:

Appearance: A sloppy pour producing 3 fat fingers of head. Not as opaque as the Great Divide. The carbonation is more of like a fluffy cumulus cloud, and the lacing sticking to the glass is appearing due to the lack of retention.

Smell: Tangy and spicy hops coming from the resins/oils of the freshly picked Yakima, WA hops. Same sweet malt back bone as the Great Divide.

Taste: Well balanced with hops being the dominant ingredient.

Mouthfeel: Exactly as the appearance demonstrated in terms of it being medium bodied. The hop resins surround the palette perfectly.

Drinkability: Better than the Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale, if you want to put the two beers in the same category. 6.7% alc by vol. 60-65 IBUs, Cascade & Centennial hops. 9/10 rating. Would definitely have it again and would love to get my hands on the Chico Estate Harvest! Anybody have this one on draft yet?

Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale

I picked up this bomber from State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD. Ever since trying some of Sierra Nevada's Harvest series, I have been looking for other fresh hop style ales to try. I love the smell and taste of hops, I wish there was a cologne with that scent. Enough of my hop loving dreams, here goes the review:

Appearance: Pours 2 fingers of head due to my awful pouring abilities, but dwindles down to an inch. Inviting carmel cherry wood color that is permeable. I can almost read the label of the bottle when looking through the glass.

Smell: A blend of the crisp Rocky Mountain air and Pacific Northwest hops put a huge smile on my face as I take a deep 5 second long sniff. Oops, I got some foam on my noze. Intense srassy hops with some sweet malts lingering too.

Taste: Very fresh and relieving type of taste. I taste more hops then what the 55 IBUs for this beer is. The sweet and musty malts stand out and hide the lawn grassy hops overpowering taste that I was going to expect (I was expecting that spicy fresh hop taste). It gave me a "Got Beer?" style mustache :)

Mouthfeel: Unlike the appearance, this brew is not as smooth, especially with the constant carbonation attacking the tonuge. The bitterness aftertaste would even be tolerable for a non-hop-lover I guess.

Drinkability: This beer leaves a spiderman web of hop lacing all over my tulip glass. I wonder if it is doing the same thing in my stomach right now. The beer is catergorized as an American Pale Ale, so it is hard to compare to other fresh hop ales. It was easy to consume and I think I could have a couple more...would be a good session beer if the price was right. I will give it a 8/10. 6.1% Alcohol By Volume. Cheers mate!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ommegang Three Philosophers

My final review of the weekend. These bombers are putting a hurting on me, but it's been a hell of a ride. I wish I could drink like I did in college, but then I would be sucking down Natty Light and lighting up the pong table with Jimmy the Face. Young Gunz for life! Ok, enough of that, on to the review.

Appearance: A great dark brown color with that signature lacey finger deep head of most Belgians, it retains its head pretty well, taking quite a bit for it to disappear, couldn't see a damn thing through if I tried, without the head and the carbonation rising, you would almost mistake it for a stout

Smell: Fruity hops, mainly cherry, which is no surprise since the bottle touts that 2% of the beer is ale with added cherries, the one drawback being that no malts come through the smell because of the cherries, but that could just be my sensitivities

Taste: Wow, not what I was expecting at all, only the slightest hint of cherry with the oakey malts playing a huge role in the taste, the cherry and other fruits leave a great finish though

Mouthfeel: Well carbonated all the way down, heavy body leaves a full presence in your mouth, in between light and chewy

Drinkability: This beer definitely makes its presence felt at 9.8% abv. A good nightcap for me, but I definitely would not have more than one or two of these. I know you shouldn't make direct comparisions between two different styles of beer (although they are both Belgian, this is a Quadrupel and the Chimay is a Trappist Dubbel), but you can definitely notice the difference of styles. The Three Phils is aggressive in both feel and taste with distinct parts while the Chimay is more subtle and lets the ingredients play with each other. However, I do recommend this beer and will probably buy it again. It's hard for the American breweries to truly do it like the Belgians, but this puts up a fight. I give it a 8/10.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Duvel Snifter

Chimay Première

I know I pretty much say "I'm excited" for every beer I review, but I mean it this time. My first true Trappist, brewed in the walls of an existing trappist monastery where beers have been brewed for hundreds of years. Each new beer coming out of these monasteries end up taking the characteristics of those brewed before it.

Appearance: The Chimay greets the glass with a dark reddish brown color, along with extremely well laced and long lasting head about 2 fingers deep

Smell: Lightly spiced hops with bits of fruit are the main character of the smell, almost a hint of apple, specks of light sweet malts in the background

Taste: The apple and fruity hops take center stage as the spiciness I smelled adds just a touch to it, but don't dominate, which creates a great taste, the hops don't stick around for long as the malts create this wonderful aftertaste on the finish, a combination of sweet and almost toasty chocolate, very complex flavor that bring your tastebuds for a ride

Mouthfeel: Short version - Awesome. Tolstoy - a perfect combination of carbonation to tickle the roof of your mouth, but a smooth finish, a little bite just to let you know that yes, this is a strong Belgian, but like the hops the bitterness is gone in a flash

Drinkability: I enjoy the Belgians so this is truly heaven. I could drink this alll night, and thanks to a not so earth-shattering 7.0% abv, I can. Every sip you take you will notice something different you didn't catch the previous time. I would absolutely recommend this to Belgian lovers and even non-Belgian lovers, give this a shot. I give it a 9.5/10 and it has passed Duvel as my favorite.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Duvel Snifter

Friday, December 5, 2008

Brooklyn Local 1

I've been trying to experiment with more Belgians so I'm extremely excited to try this bad boy from Brooklyn. This will be my last review for tonight because I won't be able to distinguish between flavors soon, nor would it be coherent enough to print.

Appearance: Pours like you would expect, cloudy golden color with 2, maybe 3 fingers of lacey head, bubbly and alive

Smell: A scent of piney and perfumey hops greet the nose with a slight hint of herbs, very interesting mix, malts are very hard to distinguish as the flowery hops hide the rest

Taste: That mix of hops are prevalent in the taste, with a hint of spices on the aftertaste, again malts are too hard to distinguish, but it's not that the hops are overly aggressive, they just might be too subtle for my tastebuds at this point, overall a great balance because the hop flavors are at the right concentration

Mouthfeel: Extremely clean, well carbonated, plays around the palate before finishing nicely, smooth with a little kick at the end

Drinkability: Scarily easy to drink at 9% abv, you can start sucking these down before you realize your bomber is gone. Not as biting like you would expect from something like an IPA, but it definitely is stronger than other Belgians. I would definitely recommend this beer, especially for those looking for something extra in their Belgian beer; however, I would also recommend you be careful in how much you drink as the bottles can pass you by. I give it a 8.5/10 and would like to add that I like it almost as much as I like the Duvel Belgian Golden Ale.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Duvel Snifter

Lagunitas Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale

Very excited to start the night with this bomber. I'm a huge fan of red ales and I have heard good things of Lucky 13.

An amber to red clean color with about 2 fingers of head, constant stream of bubbles heading to the top, looks refreshing

Smell: A great combination of hops and malts from the smell, the former being floral and citrus, and the latter has a background contribution of sweet malts

Taste: Good flavor with a little more bite than expected from the smell, floral hops are present and have a bitterness similar to an IPA, but with more subtlety, some sweet malts but they take a back seat as the bitter hops dominate

Mouthfeel: Lighter carbonation than the appearance would suggest, but it's not too weak, also a good mix of texture, not chewy by any means, but it has more substance than other reds I've had

Drinkability: I enjoy red ales about as much as anyone, but this one had an interesting twist with how bitter the hops were, containing 76.92 IBUs. At 8.3% abv, a bomber bottle should be enough to get you started for the night. I would recommend this beer and will definitely buy again, but it isn't something I will go out of my way for. I'll give it a 7.5/10. I enjoy hoppy beers, but this one threw me for a loop because I wasn't expecting it to such a degree. I'm noticing that as I'm drinking it, I'm definitely liking it more, so I'll bump it to an 8/10. Maybe Alex should weigh in on this one; he is another red ale lover.

**EDIT** While finishing the bottle, I realized what was irking me: although I was enjoying the bitter hops, it was just a bit too sweet. The combination of the two wasn't as great as you might think. I still really enjoyed this beer, don't get me wrong. However, I wasn't blown away like I was hoping.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams Glass

Weekend Lineup

Admiring the lineup

Buon giorno, fellow hopheads! I stopped by my local beer store and found a pretty good lineup that I wanted to tackle this weekend. I'm excited because according to my memory I haven't had these yet besides the Harvest (2008). I could have had Lucky 13 before, but I can't remember. From left to right: Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale (2008), Ommegang Three Philosophers, Chimay Première, Brooklyn Local 1, Lagunitas Lucky 13, and another Harvest. A feature I just discovered is that clicking on the pics will give you the full sized pic. Being one of the creators and authors, you would think I should know these things. I'm so pumped right now, I'll keep you posted (pun intended).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving at Alex's

A lil' pre-turkey round of beers with the family.

From left, Sierra Nevada Harvest 2008, Rock Art 2008 Holiday Bock, Stone Vertical Epic 2008, Rock Art Vermonster, Rogue Hazlenut Brown Ale, and North Coast Old Rasputin.

The standout for me was the Stone Vertical Epic. Really interesting garden taste to it. Basil or Mint. I'd buy again definitely, and am looking forward to picking one up to age.

Hope your holiday was enjoyable, Cheers.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We wish all of our family, friends & fellow beer drinkers a wonderful Thanksgiving! Sneak in a beer with that turkey.

-Hopheads in Training

Some beers my family and I have consumed sometime this November

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale

Alright, we know we have been slacking for a couple of months now, but we are going to try to ramp up the action as we approach the holiday season. There has also been some discussion about beginning our experimentation with homebrewing, so be on the lookout for those updates after the holidays. Enjoy the new color scheme, relax, and on to the reviews.

I was able to pick up this wonderful brew at my local beer store. It's very hit and miss what I find there, like I was able to pick up this and 4 24oz. bottles of Sierra Nevada Wet Hop Harvest (2008).

Appearance: A dark red/brown lively color with about a finger of creamy laced head, very clear, alive, and inviting

Smell: I do have a bit of a cold, but I would say toasty, smokey malts are in the forefront, with the tiniest bit of hops in the background. I wish I could be more specific with the hops, but the cold isn't helping.

Taste: A deep but lively/moving taste of toasty, even oakey, malts, and finishes with a hint of spicy hops on the aftertaste, a good clean taste that lets both the malts and hops play their part, and the American oak wood chips this ale is aged with make their presence noticed (and welcomed!) while tasting

Mouthfeel: Carbonated, but not overly so, travels nicely over the tongue and down the throat, making you want to drink more, smooth, and surprisingly light and heavy at the same time, a very unique experience indeed

Drinkability: This heavy hitter is shockingly easy to drink at 7.2% abv. You definitely wouldn't start your night with it, but it won't knock you out for the count either. The tagline "You're not worthy" is appropriate for this great brew. I've had the non-oaked Arrogant Bastard, and I feel the oak wood chips do add that something extra to distinguish itself among other heavy ales. I look forward to drinking this again, and though I normally avoid putting a number on the beers I review, I figure I might as well conform to my cohorts and give this a 8.5/10.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams Glass

Rogue White Crane Bitter Ale

I picked up this tiny 12 oz bottle at State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD. According to the label, this brew made its way all the way from Monbetsu Hokkaido, Japan to Rogue country at Newport, Oregon. But then it says brewed and bottled by Oregon Brewing, so I am confused. Oh well, let me just review the damn thing!

Appearance: I poured it carefully and I still got a solid three fat fingers of head. The color reminds of Thanksgiving with blends of yellow/orange/red at different angles of light. Very clear and alive and looks like a light style beer.

Smell: Dusty malts and staley yeast aromas. Can not distinguish any hops, which surprises me for a bitter ale.

Taste: Alot sweeter compared to what the smell told me. Not as sugary dense as a soda pop, but it must be the sweet raisin malts coming through. Starting to remind me of an ESB.

Mouthfeel: Thin and definitely over carbonated. That bitterness of hops finally tingles my palete.

Drinkability: I would give this beer another try perhaps if it was free. I think I paid $8.49 for it, which is a ripoff. Went down with ease like a college student competing in Teen Jeopardy. Good to try something new, but I will give it a 6/10 hopheads.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Max's Taphouse

Max's Taphouse is located in Fells Point section of Baltimore, MD. I went about a month ago and had 3 quality beers:
  1. Pint glass of Avery Ale to The Chief
  2. Pint glass of Troegs Nugget Nectar
  3. Pimp goblet of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale
There is plenty of space with and upstairs and downstairs bar area. The two bartenders manning the massive bar downstairs were absolutely stellar in serving their customers with excellence. I even ordered some Jolly Rancher Shots (don't laugh) for the crowd I was with and they had no problem. Not too sure of how often they rotate the taps, but I am sure it done on a proper schedule. Would definitely go back again in a heartbeat and sample some of their food. My only complaint from this trip is that is was getting quite crowded and that I had to chug my Bigfoot at the end because we had to leave (Stevie helped me so she gets mad props). 9.5/10 hoppy hops ratings.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stone Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

This is THE best time of year! Baseball is in the postseason, Football is in high gear, and Hockey is just beginning (Basketball starts too, but I don't really follow it). All four sports at once! And if that isn't enough, it's the time of year that stouts and porters become an absolute necessity for the beer lineup.

Last weekend, while watching another poor effort by the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Redskins, and another Sunday of awful play-calling, at least I was able to enjoy a couple things... The Phillies, led by Pat the Bat, beat the Brewers to make it to the NLCS, and this fine brew by Stone:

Color/Appearance: 1/2 thumb of head served in my goblet. When held up to light, nothing got through. Nothing but pitch black stouty goodness. The color of the head was a very inviting as well: biege/dark grey. I was tempted to scoop some off the top to taste because it looked amazingly creamy, but thought better of it and just dove right in.

Smell: Like smelling mom's cookies baking in the oven. A noticed sweetness to the smell, but not too overpowering, with subtle scents of oats and roastiness.

Taste: Sweet to start with a roasty bitterness created with the hops and chocolate on the tale end. The roasty smell comes through in the taste as well, especially on the finish. When I let the tastes roam I really am able to enjoy the combination of the oats and chocolate working together to give it a very filling and sweet taste. I did notice a bit of an alchohol aftertaste, but nothing that would take away from the beer.

Mouthfeel: Coats very nicely. On first taste, it starts off smooth, followed by a very zippy bitterness. Seems to be lightly carbonated, which is to be expected.

Drinkability: 8/10. Coming in at around 9%, and being a pretty heavy stout, I am quite content after 1-2. Seems to be the kind of stout I'd want to come back to (just like their imperial Russian Stout). I just hope that since it's an anniversary beer, that it isn't limited to this year.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale

My dad bought a case of this from Shangy's out in PA and I have been secretly taking from him. Finally I review it as the case is now gone.

: Poured one fat finger of head and a deep ruby red color that glows when held against light. Looks cloudy and secretive but very tempting to taste.

Smell: The aromatic qualities of this are hard to decipher. It is Amarillo dry hopped and has piney, resinous hops. Vague traces of yeasty bakery type malts.

Taste: Hopped up for sure! The hops clearly dominate the flavors and I straight up love it. Simply refreshing and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Perfectly carbonated that just mellows out as you let it linger in your mouth. IPA type aftertaste :) Thick for a red ale I feel.

Drinkability: 9/10. Finally a red ale that I like. Well, its not your normal red ale due to the hops and shocked there was only 45 IBUs (I was expecting around 60-70). Would definitely buy again (FYI - I drank their IPA and Imperial IPA before). West coast hops are whats up. Served out of a tulip glass from a 12 fl oz bottle.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ithaca Cascazilla Red Ale

Let's give this another go. Time for round 2 of getting back in the review game. We picked up the Casca Zilla at the same Wegmans in Syracuse as the Abbey Ale. (Pic is coming when I get home, blah blah...)

Appearance: Dark amber with two fingers of head, this one just screamed "drink me!"

Smell: The aroma immediately was floral and a little spicy. The hops are at the forefront with a little nut malt in the background. An interesting but great mix I feel for a red ale.

Taste: The nuts and spices make a great combination as the beer makes its way down your throat. The 6.5% abv is definitely noticeable and provides a great kick, almost comparable to an IPA.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, but not thick. Not overly carbonated, but still tickles the mouth with the alcohol feel.

Drinkability: The 6.5%abv is perfect for this red ale, strong enough of a kick, but light enough to drink more than a few in one sitting. This was my beer of choice from my few days in the Thousand Islands. I am a big fan of red ales and that doesn't change with this one. My review probably doesn't do it justice, but I will try to leave comments later to clarify.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Pint glass

Ommegang Abbey Ale

Wow, it has been a hell of a long time since I have posted a review. Hope I still have some sort of ability to review beers. On the way up to the Thousand Islands in NY, the girlfriend and I stopped at a Wegmans in Syracuse and came across this beauty. I have never had it before, and don't really know if it's any good, but I have wanted to try more Belgians, so here goes nothing. (Pic will be added once I head home)

Appearance: Dark orange/brown glow, about a finger of head, very bubbly, very inviting. The head holds for quite a while, keeping the smell and flavor trapped in the beer.

Smell: Sweet malts kiss the nostrils with a slight hint of caramel. Maybe its just my hiatus from beer reviewing, but the hops seem very faint and a little dank. I need to get back to practicing distinguishing the hops and malts. Or maybe its exactly what Ommegang was going for...lets go with this theory.

Taste: The malt smell translated well into the taste, with the sweetness being the first noticeable aspect. The hidden characteristics of an oaky/caramel flavor become prevalent on the aftertaste. Very little hops if at all, which makes me think my smell assessment was correct. This is a great balance of malts and hops for this style though, as I feel any stronger acidity from the hops would ruin the flavor.

Mouthfeel: An interesting sensation as the beer floats around. It is simultaneously light, heavy, chewy, and thin. It is perfectly carbonated as there is a slight tickle on the roof of your mouth, but not that blast back up the throat and nose.

Drinkability: I decided to do the first four sections before dinner and then decide on drinkability while having the rest of the beer with a pasta and salad dinner. Surprisingly, this 8.5% abv beverage went pretty well with food and can be drank a few in a night, but I personally would save it for night time. I don't feel its a refreshing afternoon bbq brew like I was somewhat expecting, but still a very good beer all around. The label boasts fruity aroma, yet I just didn't see it. Give it a try, maybe I missed it. I would still drink this again and recommend it. (Girlfriend's analysis: "Good." That's riveting stuff right there.)

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Pint glass (I know, I should have used a snifter or my Duvel glass, but I gotta deal with being a snot's throw from Canada and five hours from home.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Interesting article in the NYT

The Other Extreme: Low-Alcohol Beers

I came across an interesting article yesterday on the New York Times website. The craft brew awareness is really just beginning to fully blossom in the United States (even Bud is making an "American Ale" that they are positioning as a craft beer). But this article brings to light a Renaissance occurring within the still-young craft brew phenomenon in the U.S.

Many of the beers that Jimmy, Mike, Alex, and myself have tasted and reviewed on this site are full-flavored, high alcohol, punch-you-in-the-face, beers. But it appears (at least this article offers us) that craft brewers across the nation are beginning to find a refreshing challenge in brewing low alcohol beers, that don't skimp you on the flavor. In the article, the author also interviews Jason Ebel of Two Brothers Brewery, whose Cane and Ebel Hopped-up Red Rye Ale was reviewed by me almost two months ago.

My initial reaction is that the full-on Hopheads will continue to steer towards the high ABV's. That's just the way it is. I understand the negatives that the author presents at the end of the article: "real" beer drinkers will always go high %, low % beer's taste gets lost in all the extreme flavors, etc.

I really think it has another side to it, though. Consider all the people on the "fringe". All the people that are intrigued by craft brew and "really want to get into it", but they are intimidated by the extreme flavors and high ABVs. Perhaps these low % beers could act as stepping stones for these "fringe" beer drinkers, providing them with a brew that has a good amount of flavor, but not as extreme as the high ABVs. It's just a thought, but in this growing market of craft beer, it's definitely worth a try.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout

The Darkness comes through again with another beer for me to indulge in. Please convince him to be part of us Hopheads dammit!! I had this stout to go along with my desert consisting of dark chocolate and gingersnap cookies. This lil' 12 ouncer was served in my mini Pocono beer fest pint.

Appearance: aka. The Dark Knight, this Batman was pitch black with a nut brown 1/3 finger foam head of glory.

Smell: Complex meteoric scents of roasty and toasty malts oh my! Dark chocolate and almond odors.

Taste: Very balanced and complex, I feel like every kind of malt and hops are in this one. Savory bittersweet/dark chocolate combined with a dark french roast coffee. I wish I could have this instead of coffee in the morning!

Mouthfeel: (SIDE NOTE - As I swirled the stout in my mouth and let it sit, I knocked over my beer, lost half of it! and it poured all over the left side of my keyboard, down my desk, onto my desktop and then the carpet. Fu*k me in the ass). Thick and creamy, the way I like my women. Carbonation lightly tingles and leaves a wonderful bitter velvety finish, almost like an IPA in a way.

Drinkability: (SIDE NOTE 2 - Some of my keys on my keyboard are starting to stick from the beer party foul spillage. Its as if somebody peed on my keyboard, university Vee-Tranny style.) Awesome. 9.5/10 and chills at 6.0% abv. Would have this beer either at the beginning or end of the night. I thought it would be weak sauce since it wasn't an imperial, but it exceeded my expectations. You can grab this stout from Bell's year round.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Urthel Hop-It Belgian IPA

Some fleeting thoughts on this beer:

I brought a nice big bottle of Urthel's Hop-It along with me for some delicious sushi at a restaurant that happens to be BYOB.

Appearance was pale, living up to the moniker I'm paraphrasing off the bottle "hoppy blonde ale."

The style "Belgian IPA" is no joke, though I would place it on the more Belgian end of the flavor spectrum. There was some bitter hop smack to the finish, but to my nose and taste buds (however distracted by sushi they may have been), the trademark Belgian sourness was up front and center.

Mouthfeel was light and bubbly. Good texture to go with my sushi.

I almost let the light feel fool me, until halfway through the bomber bottle I remembered this was a 9.5% Belgian. Maybe limit yourself to one bottle a night?

Overall it was a very interesting beer to drink. I don't get Belgians very often, as I'm usually drawn to the punch-you-in-the-face-with-hops offerings our American brewing brethren have to offer. Hence my purchase of the one called "Hop-It." I liked what I tasted though, and would recommend to any IPA drinker wanting a stepping stone over into the land of Belgians.

Urthel Hop-It Page
Thanks to Jimbo for the photo of his bottle of Hop-It. FYI, the bottle I got had a new, different label.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Anchor Bock Beer

I like the label on this beer so I got it (When I say "I got it," I just took it from my dads stash). It is some farm animal, perhaps a goat eating a branch with hops on both ends (kind of like a dumbell...lets call it a hopumbell). I also wanted to try a different style beer from my typical hop blasters that I love, so I got this. It may be from San Fransicko, but that is not stopping me from trying bottom fermenting lager.

Appearance: 1 fat finger of head after a bittersweet pour into my snifter. Dense and thick as it pours out like a stout, but the color is a mahogany farmhouse brown.

Smell: Very little hop aromas. Sweet malts that remind me of a red wine.

Taste: Sweet flavor with some fresh brewed coffee roast-y-ness going on. I even taste some kind of fruit (raspberry or red grape).

Mouthfeel: Thick and definitely creamy like a stout, but not overwhelming. Slight bitter but sweet after bite. It makes me want to drink more.

Drinkability: Raging at 5.5%, this beer exceeded my expectations. I am glad I gave this a try, I am sure the beer gods would approve my open taste to all kinds of beer (except Bud Light lime). Wouldn't mind having another for a day, but not more than two. I would keep this towards the beginning to middle of a beer cycle. 7/10 on the Jimbo scale.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mishawaka Brewing Founder's Stout

The Darkness gave this classic dry irish-style stout from Indiana to me back in April and it has been sitting in my fridge ever since. Yes I am a slacker for not drinking it sooner. I am sure this Silver GABF'05 and Gold WBC'96 winner is disappointed in me.

Appearance: Watery pour with barely any head, even when I poured it fast. Black bear brown with some blood red glare when held up against a light. Despite the low density look, you still can't see through it.

Smell: Inviting scent coming from the nine types of malts and 3 hop varieties. Burnt-bitterness with some roasted chocolate whiffs.

Taste: Nothing like the smell at all. Roasted malt presence dominates my taste buds with no hops. Dry coffee taste with a lactic acid presence as it warms up.

Mouthfeel: Watery like the appearance. Goes down quite smooth. Awful acidic aftertaste, probably due to it being unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Drinkability: This bomber bottle was too much for me to handle. I am glad I gave this style a try however. Perhaps my bottle was skunked and deterred my taste buds from its true being. 5/10.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Blind Tiger Alehouse, Greenwich Village, NYC

Ah, the Blind Tiger. Where to begin. My love affair with this bar began after a buddy of mine had heard good things on BeerAdvocate. We went before a show his buddy's band was playing around the corner and while we could only stay for two beers, it was an awesome tease. I've since returned with another friend or two or three, including fellow Hopheads-in-Training Jimmy and Mike. Almost every time I've made it up to the city and I'm in the lower west side in any shape or form, I've been lured there.

The bar features 28 delicious craft brews on tap as well as a few others featured on cask and gravity. Selection is therefore great and in constant rotation. They keep an updated draught list on their website, though if its close to a week old, it is probably half out-of-date. Good beer comes and goes quickly I suppose.

The Blind Tiger has a great atmosphere, especially in the spring/summer when they open the windows. Awesome for an afternoon stop before dinner. Its got a nice look to it, wooden and homely. It was fairly crowded at popular drinking times on the weekend, but I never had a problem finding standing room. Wait around long enough and a table or seats at the bar will open up. The customer base seem to be a lively bunch who all love beer, as is true of the staff, who are knowledgeable, at least enough to explain what each of the beers on the board are, no matter how obscure they might be.

They also feature a huge selection of bottles, but with the tap selection, I haven't felt the need to dabble there. They also have a kitchen serving up hot food. Jimmy and I each took down one of their Chipoltle Chicken Quesadillas, which was quite delicious, especially after a few potent brews.

All in all, the Blind Tiger did not disappoint. If you're anywhere near the corner of Bleecker and Jones in New York City, do yourself a favor and stop in.

Blind Tiger Website

Picture by Richard Moross

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Two Brothers: Cane & Ebel Hopped-up Red Rye Ale

On a warm Summer's night in June, three of my friends and I decided to pay a visit to Saint Stephen's Green. Located at 17th and Green in Philadelphia, it's literally a stone's throw away from my new apartment. With terrific food and a vast beer selection to boot, this is the perfect place to have just around the corner.

After a quick talk with the tender about the place, I gathered that the owners take great pride in their beer selection. I was told they try to rotate in new craft beers on tap from across the US as kegs are finished week to week. The couple times I've been there, they've had brews from the likes Lagunitas, Southern Tier, and Bell's to name a few. To accompany their 10 or so beers on tap, they have a list of upwards of 30 bottled craft beers to choose from. They range in company and style, making sure there's something for everyone.

On this particular night, I was in the mood for a red ale. When I saw the name "Hopped-Up Red Rye Ale", I had a winner:

Looks: As I held the beer up, a deep, dark red came through. Since the waitress poured the beer, there was very little head involved, but judging by the makeup of this brew, it would have been very slight anyway. It most likely would have formed and subsided rather quickly. Some stats: 17.0º Plato / 68 IBU / 7.0% ABV.

Smell: The hops led the parade, giving me both flowery and piny aromas. With rye and malts working as the sideshow, this brew treated me to a very refreshing and exhilerating aroma.

Taste: There was a rush of hop flavor. The rye taste, as it was with the smell, compliments the hop flavors, while not being too overwhelmingly obvious (which I like). The finish is pleasantly sweet and smooth with very little bitter aftertaste, leaving me refreshed and wanting more. All in all, this was a very full flavored beer that lived up to the name.

Mouthfeel: A very low carbonated but zippy feel. It coats the mouth nicely, tingling as it moves along. Goes down smooth.

Drinkability: The Two Brothers truly impressed me, and have me looking to try more of their brews. Cane & Ebel is certainly one beer I will be coming back to, and I can only hope that the Two Brothers' other brews are on the same level. At 7%, you're fine with one, but could easily reach for another. 4.25/5

Friday, June 27, 2008

Victory Hop Wallop

This "very hoppy" ale has been sitting in my fridge for too long. Time to crack it open and experience the ride.

Appearance: Dirty school bus yellow with a 2.5 finger head (I poured it like a waterfall). As it gradually settles, there is just a vague covering of head up top while tiny bits of carbonation slowly creep.

Smell: Sweetie malts but the dank hops straight up trump that. They don't call it HOP WALLOP for nothing.

Taste: Sweet taste that is quite refreshing to my palette. The hops are more herb-ey now.

Mouthfeel: Bitter aftertaste that tapers off just waiting for you to take another sip. Such a beautiful seasonal cycle [sip - swirl and dance in mouth - bitter aftertaste - give me more].

Drinkability: I would definitely have another. One of my first DIPAs that I ever had back at school. A reliable one for me out on the east coast, even though I like to venture out to other areas. {side note - this was really good on tap at the Victory brewpub}. Chillin' at 8.5% abv with my rating of 8/10

Friday, June 20, 2008

American Craft Beer Festival

The Hopheads in Training will be attending the American Craft Beer Festival in Boston, MA tomorrow for the afternoon session from 1-4:30pm at the Seaport World Trade Center! We toyed with the idea of doing a live blog or running diary of some sort, but decided on making one HUGE report of the festival when we returned. Keep it tuned here for pics, insight, and commentary of what should be a fantastic festival. Or, if you wish to drown yourself in the awesome collection of beer with us, details for the event can be found by clicking the giant bottle cap to the right.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Trio of Troegs

Over the weekend, I made the huge move (7.6 miles to be exact) from my old stomping grounds in East Falls to the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. Before the day of the move, I picked up a variety case of Troegs to reward my friends for all their help with the move. The case went over well with everyone, which I kind of expected. I managed to horde a few for myself to review:

Rugged Trail Nut Brown Ale:

Dark at first glance, but when held up to light you can see through it to see the the nice chocolatey-redish brown color shining through. 1/2 thumb of head, served in a pint glass.

Smell: A very sweet and malty aroma. I'm picking up a subtle nut smell, but I feel like I'm getting more chocolate and roastiness from it.

Taste: Somewhat sweet with a great roastiness on the backend. The malts I'm getting are chocolatey and roasty, very tasty. I'm getting hints of nut, but I feel the nut taste is a bit subdued considering the name. There is a slight and subtle lingering chocolate aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: This might be the only real let-down in what was really an awesome beer. I'm still learning, but it just felt like the Rugged Trail had more carbonation that I expected and wanted from it. Judging by the color, I was hoping for a feel that would coat nicely and feel more full. The carbonation made the brew feel light to me, where I was expecting a very hearty and thick brew.

Drinkability: At 4.4%, this makes for a great session beer. An awesome mixture of earthy aromas and tastes, with a subtle hint of sweetness and nutty flavor. 3.75/5 (would have again)

Hop Back Amber Ale (the headliner for Tröegs):

Color: True to form, a very nice and rich amber color is shining through. It has a nice offwhite head (served at 1 thumb). I enjoyed this dandy in a pint glass.

Smell: Leaning in and taking a wiff, I knew I was in for a treat. Flowery hops and subtle caramel malts both sang in unison. From the smell I can gather there is a nice balance of the two for an amber ale.

Taste: Awesome balance, not unlike that of a tightrope walker. On the initial taste, the hops were clearly apparent, with a flowery and crisp and spicy taste. But, the hops quickly gave way to malts on the backend for a very smooth and fulfilling finish. There is also a noted caramel flaver coming through. As the beer began to warm ever so slightly, the balance of the hops and malts became much more apparent as the flavors of both were at their best.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation stings the mouth, much like many ales, but it certainly does not destroy the palatte. It's also not overly bubbly either, which I think allowed me to note the balance of the hops and malts.

Drinkability: After having this brew, I can definitely see why this is considered one of the better varieties of Troegs. It was amazingly balanced and really gave me everything I would expect from both the hops and malts in an amber ale. 6% ABV. A wonderful beer that I wouldn't mind to have 2-3 of in one sitting. 4.25/5 and I would DEFINITELY have again.

Dreamweaver Unfiltered Wheat:

Color: Foggy yellow-orange color, leaning more towards the yellow side.

Smell: Citrusy and tarty, with a spiciness in the aromas.

Taste: Very sharp/tart and citrusy taste with a spicy note on the backend. I'm also picking up a slight fruit flavor reminiscent of banana, but I can't exactly put my finger on it. A noticeable citrusy aftertaste lingers a bit too long for my taste.

Mouthfeel: Perfect for the wheat style. There's an acidic and refreshing tingling when I let it roam around. It coats and finishes pretty smoothly, but the tingling comes right back with the aftertaste.

Drinkability: This is a very nice and refreshing wheat beer. Although, I feel it falls into the fray of all the other wheats out there. Also, the acidity of the citrus limits one from having more than a couple. 3.5/5 Very good beer to try though.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

U.S. Open Sunday

Just wanted to share with you silly hopheads my lineup of brews Father's Day Sunday watching my boy Tiger Woods try and win the U.S. Open. Great round of golf and great brews. Here they are:
  1. Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager (2008) - Simply refreshing. Could definitely drink more than one, especially if outside at a picnic or BBQ
  2. Rogue Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale - The dryness of the beer stood out. More sweetish malts than I expected, but overall was good.
  3. Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale - I bought this for the Preakness back in May so this can has traveled from a cooler to room temperature to back in a fridge. Caused it not to taste as great.
  4. Mad River Brewing Steelhead Double India Pale Ale - Time to kick it up a notch and hop into the after dinner brews (more than 6% abv) with this one
  5. Port Brewing Hop-15 Ale - Amazing. Definitely top 3 double IPAs that I have ever had. Highly recommend; I still remember the piney hops :)
  6. Dogfish Head Fort - I had to tackle this whole bottle by myself and it was painful. The 18% abv will creep on you with the snap of a finger so be careful
  7. Bell's Hopslam Ale - I passed out drinking this lovely ale watching game 5 of the Celtics/Lakers. I woke up at 3am, finished it up (about half left in snifter) and went on up to bed for work in a couple of hours. My mouth was so damn dry of hops the next morning!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bell's Two Hearted Ale

I popped my cherry with this brew a couple of months ago out of a mini keg can (kind of like the Heineken one). This one was from a 12 fl oz bottle however. Some stats I found out about my brew (taken from the website) are as follows:
  • Batch # 8330
  • Package 2/18/08
  • Original Gravity: 1.058
  • Alc. by Vol: 7.0%
Appearance: Golden honey with shimmers of red cavernous sparkles as the humidity forms on the outside. 2 fingers of head during pour that quickly evaporated to 1/4 finger (I served this one in a snifter).

Smell: Shockingly metallic with hints of mold. It doesn't smell like beer to me. A wild floral hop aroma from a scene in Harry Potter comes to my mind

Taste: The metallic smell resides in the taste. Sweet hops with a floral presence. Vague maltiness coming from the deep pines of Comstock, MI.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light thickness to it without too much carbonation. The longer you leave it in your mouth the more drastic the aftertaste is.

Overall: My comments above may seem mostly derogatory but there is something that makes me wanting more of this fine brew. That something is HOPS!!! Unique hoppiness for an IPA that is crisp and refreshing on this 80 degree day. 7.5/10 for me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Southern Tier: Un-Earthly

On a recent trip to the Crawford compound in Long Island, I came bearing gifts in the form of 22 oz. bombers. One of which was the Southern Tier: Un-Earthly. I had made a trip earlier in the week to The Foodery on 2nd & Poplar (which I will talk about on a later post for sure), and this beer came highly recommended by the guy that worked there. Unfortunately for me, this bomber was not opened on either of the two late nights on the island, including the night that "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" was danced to and the Maharaja was slain.

I was so curious and intrigued by the brew (because of the great recommendation, that I made a trip back to the Foodery to purchase myself a bomber of it:

Appearance: If it was a Crayola Crayon, it's name would be "Foggy Gold". It was a very nice gold, bordering (but not quite) on amber.

Smell: The hops filled my nostrils on first whiff. Although, it was not as strong as I would have anticipated. The hops smell was very sweet and flowery, very pleasant.

Taste: Much to say about the taste. Being an Imperial IPA, the hops were clearly apparent on the first taste. Contrary to the name, the hops were very earthly, tasting both sweet and flowery, just like the smell. There was a very sharp and refreshing taste at the start of the gulp, but on the finish, Un-Earthly was very smooth. As I continued tasting, there was a very subtle malt taste coming through, but I'm assuming that it is the result of getting used to the hops.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation tickles and tingles the mouth more than it kicks you in the face. It is carbonated perfectly to compliment the taste. Leaves a very slight bitter (although pleasant) aftertaste (very, very brief).

Drinkability: "Deceptive" was the one word that came to mind. On the surface it's both sweet-tasting and refreshing, but at 11% ABV, it has as much punch as Rocky Balboa. Seems like a perfect summer night-capper. Would definitely purchase again.

The Standard Tap (Philadelphia, PA–Northern Liberties)

On the corner of 2nd and Poplar, in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, is a watering hole that is everything a "corner bar" should be. I was introduced to this diamond in the rough two years ago, on a reconnaissance mission into Northern Liberties to meet my friend and colleague Jason K.

From beginning to end, the experience was awesome to say the least. Perhaps it was the fact that Jason's friend was the 'tender that night. Or maybe it was jukebox ripping off everything from The Kinks to The Smiths just loud enough that you had to use 3 foot voices. Or, it was the ten or twelve Pennsylvanian craft beers they had on tap for its patrons to enjoy. All I know, from that point on, it became the default pub for me to visit when in the neighborhood.

Above the bar are two chalkboards, side by side, revealing everything they have to offer. On one side the "Standard Taps" and on the other, the food.

The beer lineup at the Standard Tap is riddled with Pennsylvanian breweries, including the likes of Victory, Weyerbacher, Troegs, Yards, Stoudts, and the brand new Philadelphia Brewing Company (whose logo now appears on the Standard Tap's pint glasses). It should also be noted that their lineup has been different every single time I've gone (which includes two trips in 3 days).

The food at the Tap is astounding. The selection is very eclectic, ranging from burgers and roast beef sandwiches to liver mousse or pork cheeks.

A burger...a few beers, a few laughs...

It's a great place with good food, good drinks, and better people.


Monday, June 2, 2008

New Addition to Hopheads

Our newest member to the blog Ryan is coming straight from the streets of Philadelphia, PA. He will be representing the hopheads operations out there. The city is arguably one of the best in terms of beer in our country and he will represent it proud. Ryan had his first sip of beer at the age of 3 and is still cranking away. His enjoyment for beer goes hand in hand like peanut butter & jelly. He is normally the first one to start drinking at lunch and will be the last one standing to the wee hours of night. Welcome and make the beer gods proud. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale

Appearance: Copper hue, about a finger of head, maybe more. Served in a pint glass.

Smell: Pretty standard hoppiness, sweet, nothing really blows me away.

Taste: Similar to Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale. Light and hoppy with pine-y bitterness. Not real citrussy but there is a sweet aftertaste to go with the bitterness left on your tongue.

Mouthfeel: I bought some of these for memorial day festivities, and this is a leftover from the weekend. I bring this up because I seem to remember a little more carbonation in my earlier experiences with Mr. Dale. Who knows, but this particular beer's mouthfeel was a little flat. I think some more bubble action could have made this a little more lively of a beer.

Drinkability: By no means a bad can of beer, but for $18 for 12 I might be inclined to go with a Sierra Nevada 12-er instead. 6.5% ABV.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

Alright, here is the finale of my night. Even though the screen is spinning a little bit, I'm trying as hard as I can to give you as good of a review as possible. I present to you, the Gonzo Imperial Porter. Flying Dog is a big Hunter S. Thompson fan, and thusly paid homage to him by naming their porter 'Gonzo'.

Appearance: Dark...very dark. Pretty much black. I tried to get as much head out of it as possible, which was about 2 fingers of head.

Smell: Malts, malts, and more malts. There's a ton of chocolatey, roasted, and oakey malts present in the beer on first smell. No hops are present, which is obvious since its a porter.

Taste: Smooth and very chocolatey. Definitely the malts come to the forefront in the taste, with no hops present. It is perfect for an imperial porter, with malts playing the dominant roll in both the taste and smell.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and rich, no carbonation, no bite at the end or back of the tongue. Malts are definitely sitting perfectly on the tongue throughout the travel down the throat. Presents itself clearly, and I have no idea what I'm saying right now.

Drinkability: Yea, don't drink too many of these. Only have it as a nightcap because it will kick you in the ass at 9.2% abv. Great way to finish the night. Goodnight hopheads!!

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams Glass

Friday, May 30, 2008

Flying Dog Horn Dog

Alright, things are getting serious. Next up is the Horn Dog barleywine.

Appearance: A very dark amber color, with a max of half a finger of head that quickly disappears. Looks smooth, but also looks like it wants to kick you in the nuts.

Smell: Roasted, chocolate malts are at the forefront with a slight hint of citrus hops. Smells veeeery good.

Taste: Malts, malts, and more malts, all the way down. Very little hops, if at all, that present themselves in the taste. Definitely roasted malts are in there the whole time, from tip of the tongue to the throat.

Mouthfeel: At first, suprisingly, there is some carbonation present giving the tongue a little sensation. Not bitter at first, but it does have a distinct bitterness at the end of a sip.

Drinkability: Like most barleywines, they aren't made to be drank more than once in a night, and this one follows suit. At 10.2% abv and 45 IBUs, its about just what you expect from a barley. Not the best of its kind, I feel, but definitely better than the Old Godfather I had a while back. I do think that if you haven't been accustomed to drinking barleywines and want to get in on the act, this might be a good one to start with. Time for the finale.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams Glass

Flying Dog Double Dog

Well the Kerberos Tripel was a good warmup, but now it's time to kick it up a notch (BAM!)...I promise I will never do that again. The Double Dog is a double pale ale, expecting a ton of bite to it, so here goes.

Appearance: There is a deep amber color with about a finger of head. I don't know why, but this beer looks like it means business.

Smell: Piny hops with a kick of oaky/roasty malts. Its not inviting like the tripel, but you do get excited in anticipation of the great taste and bitterness about to touch your lips. If bitterness had a smell, this would be it.

Taste: Pine hops are at the forefront, with very little malts presenting itself in the beginning of the taste. On the aftertaste, the roasted malts wake you up, reminding you that they are still there. Not as overpowering of bitterness as I expected, but its noticeable.

Mouthfeel: Little carbonation on the tongue, bitterness is definitely there. The beer is pretty lively as it travels around your mouth and down the throat, very enjoyable. A beer not afraid to kick you in the mouth.

Drinkability: The great taste does its best to hide the alcohol taste, but it is noticeable, and the bitterness does make it a little hard to drink repeatedly in a night However, at 11.5% abv and 85IBUs, I highly recommend adding this to your rotation, especially for those more experience hopheads in our audience. I guarantee you will enjoy this brew, and if not, you can...well...you can send me nastily worded emails, but thats about it. On to Round 3.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams Glass

Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel

The first in the four pack is a tripel. I've been looking forward to trying more of the Belgian styles ever since my experience with Duvel.

Appearance: A mix between golden and amber color, with about a finger of head on first pour. Plenty of carbonation though, as bubbles continue to make their way to the top minutes after the pour. Very inviting.

Smell: A strong citrus hop smell greets the nostrils, maybe with a touch of floral hops. Malts are hidden pretty well, maybe a bit of sweet malt, but overall a very light smell, as expected from the Belgian class of beers.

Taste: Hops are present, but so are the malts now. Definitely a sweet malt complimenting the hops. Not bitter at all, does not taste as strong as advertised.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation shows itself as you let the beer slide around your tongue and palate, down to the back of your throat. No real bad aftertaste, and no kick at the end like you would expect from a pale ale or such.

Drinkability: To me, this is the perfect type of summer beer, light feel with great taste. Strong but not bitter. You don't have to fight its way down your throat. A good combination of percent alcohol and bitterness with 8.7% abv and 27 IBUs, I could drink this all night. However, duty calls, and I must move on to the next brew. I look forward to checking out more tripels in the future and expanding my knowledge of the Belgian beers.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams Glass

Flying Dog Canis Major

Hello there, hopheads. Well, it's a Friday night with nothing to do, so why not make it a beer night? I perused my local beer store and came across a variety four pack from Flying Dog called Canis Major. I haven't had Flying Dog before (that I can remember), but I have heard good things. My expectations are pretty low, so I should be easy to impress, especially with the lineup offered in the pack featuring some of my favorite styles: a tripel, a double pale ale, a barleywine, and an imperial porter. I don't think there is a beer below a 7.8% abv, so I apologize in advance if you can't exactly read my later posts. I'll try to clean it up when I awake from my beer coma in the morning. Enjoy! Pics to follow.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

InBev looking to buy Anheuser-Busch?

If you follow the news or financial markets at all., you might have noticed this rumor pop up in the past day or two. InBev, maker of Stella Artois, Beck's, and Brahma, is possibly looking into buying Anheuser-Busch, the American brewery with the majority of the market share in the U.S. This is not the first foreign takeover of mainstream American breweries, as Canadian company Molson bought out Coors Brewing and Miller Brewing was bought by SAB (South African Breweries, now headquartered in London).

Ok, now that we are done with the geography lesson, let's look at how this could effect the beer market here in the U.S. With the top three companies in terms of market share in America (A-B, Miller, Coors in order) being owned by foreign entities, this leaves Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams) as the largest American-owned brewery. What does this mean? Well, in terms of quality and recipes of beer, probably not much. As mentioned before, Miller and Coors have been foreign owned for quite some time without little notice from the average beer drinker, mainly because there was probably little change to their formulas. If A-B is bought by InBev, there will be no impact on Bud, Bud Light, etc. However, as craft beers continue to rise in popularity and Americans begin to expand their beer palates, foreign companies might begin to see the profitability of bringing their brews here.

So, we might not see any impact or change on the popular brews we are used to, but could possibly see an increased variety of imports, making it exciting times in the beer community. Between the craft beer and microbrewery explosion, and the addition of these imports, America is in for a treat. Below are the USA TODAY and MarketWatch.com articles with a better explanation than I can give, but MarketWatch is slightly weary on whether the transaction could actually happen. I say bring it on! What do you think? I also added an article from the Toronto Star I read a while back about America's rise in craft beer.

Toronto Star

UPDATE: Looks like InBev has a Plan B with SABMiller.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bell's Special Double Cream Stout

The Godfather picked me up a 6pack of these 12oz bottles back in April. Batch #8273 (packaged on 12/19/07). I served it in the 1995 GABF glass. [Side note: Great brewery; check out their selections at www.bellsbeer.com].

Appearance: Poured dark as night with shades of bat violet with a whopping 3.5 fingers of head. Kind of intimidating but I had my "Golfer Bear" to protect me.

Smell: A clusterfu*k of malts (the label says 10), so I am getting all kinds of aromas ranging from a Twix bar, to coffee, to chocolate milk and even to roasted walnuts.

Taste: Very complex flavors. Remind me of the taste of S'mores with bittersweet chocolate

Mouthfeel: Creamy, bubbly/foamy & thick viscosity. Soft and mellow/yellow aftertaste that keeps you asking for some more.

Overall: Yummy. Definitely drinkable for multiple glasses at 6.1% abv. I would probably stick to this for desert or late night even though it doesn't have that night cap kick to it; Just don't want it make me full for dinner. A lot better as is adjusts to room temp from the fridge. 8/10

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale (2008)

Picked up this bottle at State Line Liquors down in Elkton, MD (great store; highly recommend; I will review it sometime soon hopefully). I couldn't find it initially because I was looking for a 4 or 6-pack and had to ask for help, and got directed to the bomber bottles. 24 FL OZ of fresh hops from New Zealands and bottled at Chico, CA. Can't wait!!! Side note: I have never had a "Fresh Hop Ale" before.

Appearance: Dark pumpkin-esque orange tone with shimmers of ruby red in it. 1/4 finger of head and got up to a 1/2 when I poured it in fast the second time around. Looks clear but can't see through it.

Smell: Bitter vicious hops from across the globe dance and prance around my nostril hairs. Wish they could make a cologne out of this one. Floral aroma as well as you take a swirl with hints of honey.

Taste: Immense bitter aftertaste. Overall taste is very similar to the smell with some piney hops now. Having trouble tasting the malts

Mouthfeel: Quite light going down with bubbly hoppy carbonation. The longer you leave it in your mouth, the more you notice the oily hop resins and the beer grows to a medium body.

Drinkability: Reminds me of a cross of an ESB, Pale Ale, and a light IPA. Refreshing. Would like to try this again, especially off tap and maybe other "Fresh Hop Ales" to grow to this style. 6.7% abv. 7/10

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Max's Taphouse

Headed to this bar in Fells Point - Baltimore, MD over a month ago on a Saturday night and what can I say but WOW!!!. Amazing selection of drafts and bottles there. It was getting towards the end of the night so I could only have a chance to taste 3 brews: Rogue Black Brutal Bitter, Lagunitas Lumpy Gravity, & North Coast Old Rasputin. My favorite of course was the night capper Old razzy. It was served in a goblet!!!

Bar upstairs and downstairs with sweet-ass bartenders. The one bartender complemented my taste for the Old Rasputin as it was a Saturday night and many were ordering PISSSSSSSSSS, aka Bud Light. Wish I lived near by so I could go at least 2 times a week. HIGHLY recommend if you are in the area. 10/10. http://www.maxs.com/

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Speakeasy Old Godfather Barleywine

I picked up this barleywine while at Shangy's with Alex and Jimmy (Yes, that is Nok Hockey in the background, the greatest game ever from my childhood. Yes, I still have it, big whoop, wanna fight about it?) Wanted to try a barleywine I hadn't had before, and since Speakeasy Ales and Lagers is located in San Fransisco, CA, I doubted I would have had a chance to pick one of these up again. If someone does a formal review of Shangy's I'll give you my input on it. To say the least, it is contrasting to what my cohorts felt. I've had this brew between when I bought it and when I'm reviewing it, so I'm trying to keep my mind open when doing this.

Appearance: A cross between ruby red and golden brown. I poured pretty aggressively to see what kind of head I could get, but only got about half a finger ( that sentence sounds so wrong, but I digress.) Very little carbonation, but looks clean and inviting.

Smell: The sweet malts are the first thing your nose will notice, but it mixes well with the floral hops, creating a pleasant scent. So far so good.

Taste: Once again the sweet malts dominate the taste buds with a slight aftertaste of the floral hops. There is quite a bite to it, very bitter, but that's typical for this style. The first time I drank this, I remember noting that it should have been sweeter and a little less harsh. Yet thinking it over, it's taste is more on par with other barleywines.

Mouthfeel: Little carbonation, but you still feel a tingle as it sits on your tongue. A little harsh going down, but not bad. It's an interesting combination in that while smooth, you feel a bit of a bite.

Drinkability: At 10.2% abv, you might want to take this one easy. Definitely no more than two at the end of a night, because 1) the high alcohol content could put you to sleep, and 2) the bitterness will skew your palate if you are looking to taste something else. Being from San Francisco, there aren't many of these around here in the North Jersey area, but I don't think I will go out of my way for it again. It's a decent barleywine, but not in the top group.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams Glass

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Stone IPA

So my family officially spends so much damn money on beer. Chicks:clothes::Dudes:BEER!!! My brother picked this one up at our local favorite Ramsey Liquors in Ramsey, NJ. Just as a side note, I picked up a case of this at the Beer Barn back at school out in Lewisburg, PA. It was my first official case that I bought as a 21 year old.

Appearance: Yellow-orange typical beer color with some golden reflections in the light. Light in nature. I poured it in fast to get 2 fingers of head because the beer was still cold and wanted it to warm up a bit.

Smell: Hops, hops & hops oh my! Piney in nature and a sudden sweet malt sense as you swirl the beer in your glass.

Taste: Bitterness at the hops stands out like the Smuttynose IPA and I just LOVE it. It makes the Natty/Miller/Bud/etc. Light lovers just scream ewwwwwww. I really love it. So crisp and refreshing.

Mouthfeel: No bitter aftertaste for me; but that may due to my hot sauce laden tasted buds that love hot sauce and hops. Leaves you wanting more and more. Goes down light and smooth.

Drinkability: One of my favorite IPAs. 9/10 rating and at a whopping 6.9% abv (kind of high for an IPA?) I wonder what the IBUs are?

North Coast Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale

I write this having drank my last of several of these beers I bought at Shangy's in Emmaus, PA. Quite the selection, though PA's case law is in effect there. No matter though, since most of the beers there are so good a case just fine. But since there were 3 of us there, we each bought something different and mixed and matched. The Red Seal Ale was "my" case.

From the name, I thought this was a red ale, so thats what I went in expecting. My first thought was that this beer was a little weak. Red Seal is technically an amber ale however. Its funny how your impressions of how something does taste change when they line up with your expectations of how something should taste. Red Seal turned out to be quite delicious.

Appearance: My first clue that this wasn't a red ale. Its not red! Its a nice amber hue, on the dark side. Kinda fluffy head (if you pour aggressively, it can get thick, and ends up resembling merangue. Not a bad thing, haha). It stays there till the end.

Smell: Pretty mellow, but with a little hop kick to it.

Taste: Like the smell, I thought it was fairly understated, till the hops take over the aftertaste. Nothing wrong with that, not every beer has to kick your ass. This is a refreshing beer.

Mouthfeel: Pretty bubbly, adds to its refreshing nature.

Drinkability: 5.5%ABV, 42 IBUs. Red Seal Ale is a lighter beer (for this blog at least), and would taste good this summer, but great all year as well.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sierra Nevada Harvest (2007)

So I was looking for some Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest, their fresh hop ale that they brew with New Zealand hops in the spring, within a week of their harvesting. I asked my local storekeeper, and he was unaware of the brew. However, he did have some of the Fall 2007 harvest, where they use Washington hops within 48 hours of their harvest, stashed in the back. I bought two, with hopes of comparing to the Southern Hemisphere if I come across any. I brought one 24oz bottle to Hibachi tonight. What a good move.

Appearance: Lovely copper color and plenty of suds on top.

Smell: Hops! Lots of interesting hop notes here, very complex. I'm excited at this point.

Taste: More hops! Delicious bitter hops with great oily flavor rounding it out. Its going perfectly with this hibachi.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, but not thick or creamy, the carbonation keeps it alive. I had it not too cold, as it was BYO, and it only helped I believe.

Drinkability: 6.8% ABV and 60-65 IBUs. Utterly drinkable. I'm gonna have to get some more so I don't drink the one I'm saving for comparison. I've never had a fresh-hop beer before, but I really enjoyed the oily characters added by throwing those hops in before the kiln-drying process. Though this brew is no longer made, I can't wait to try the Southern Hemisphere variety, and I'll be first in line when next fall rolls around.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

5/2/08 Beer Lineup

My Uncle Rich from Tennessee came up to our place for the weekend. We watched NASCAR Friday and Saturday night and drank some beers. Sorry if I didn't review some of these.

Friday Lineup:
  1. Heineken (haha, don't laugh)
  2. Rogue American Amber Ale
  3. Thirsty Dog Hoppus Maximus American Style Amber Ale
  4. Southern Tier IPA
  5. Lagunitas IPA
  6. Port Brewing Wipe Out IPA
  7. Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
  8. Lagunitas Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale
  9. Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye Specialty Ale
  10. Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial Triple Ale Hoppy
  11. Three Floyds Dreadnaught Imperial IPA
  12. Moylan's Old Blarney Barleywine Style Ale
On Saturday, we did a Bigfoot cycle year 2003 to 2000. Quite tasty!!!

Great Divide Old Ruffian Barley Wine Style Ale

So my dad was cleaning out the cellar and found this bottle aging in the dark. It was covered with dust and he estimated it was 2-3 years old.

Appearance: Glowing brick red with 7/8 finger of head. More inviting than a $100 dollar bill laying lonely on the street.

Smell: Heaven to the nose. Earthy hops and caramel malts all built in with complex aromas that change every time I take a big whiff.

Taste: If it didn't make me an alcoholic, I would drink this for breakfast, lunch, dinner & desert. The hops of this barleywine are magnificent, especially as you let this get warmer. It reminds me of a butterscotch/caramel sweetness mixed in with Crown Royal Special Reserve and the smell of hops. :)

Mouthfeel: The alcoholic taste is there, but it is so hidden by the complexities of the beer that it does not even alter your impressions. Smooth and velvety; an absolute perfect touch to the palate.

Drinkability: 10.2% abv at 85-90 IBUs. This is a serious barley wine with attitude. I don't give this out often, but definitely 10/10. It might have had to do with age, but it was perfect. Great Divide Brewing Company out in Colorado has it going on!!