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 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 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].

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.

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!!

Mad River Brewing Co. Steelhead Double IPA

My dad split a case of this with his friend; I thus took a bottle of the California beauty and drank it. First time I had a beer from this brewery. Lets see how it goes:

Appearance: Vermont honey glow. Don't even try to look through it. 1/2 finger of head.

Smell: I don't know if its my stuffy nose, but I am having trouble sniffing this one. Sweet malts and perfumy hops stand out the most to me.

Taste: Where did the malts come from!! Quite surprising for this style of beer I feel. On the sweet side.

Mouthfeel: A little coarse in texture and leaves a mild dry hop aftertaste. The hops definitely prevail the maltage in this category.

Drinkability: I wasn't blown away but still a decent brew. It was missing that bang that I get from my favorite style of DIPAs. Despite my criticism, still a decent 7/10.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Lagunitas IPA

Thanks to my brother for picking this bomber bottle up at Ramsey Liquors in NJ. 45.6 IBUs and 1.059 OG.

Smell: This California brew blows you away with a citrusy gummy/pastey hop aroma. About a finger of head.

Appearance: You can see through this golden brownish color hue that is quite inviting.

Taste: Malts definitely overpower the west coast hops in this brew.

Mouthfeel: On the watery side and leaves a dry hoppy resinesque taste in the back of your mouth.

Drinkability: My comments above may seem on the negative side, but this beer is pretty damn good for an IPA. Lagunitas has the correct formula for this india pale ale. 7/10