Friday, July 31, 2009

Obama drinks Bud Light!

As a conservative, I will digress from the political comments. But I just wanted you to imagine how sweet it would be if our president was into micro brews! Example news headline: "Barry Obama looking like he was slapped in the face with a sack of hops after drinking a Dreadnaught IPA." Anyways, cheers fellow craft beer followers and have a handy dandy summer weekend.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Flying Fish Exit 4

Ok, I don't know how many people outside of New Jersey have heard of the latest "controversy" with Flying Fish's Exit series, but here's an article to bring you up to speed. Basically, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) feel that naming your brews after Turnpike exits is promoting drinking and driving. Regardless of yours or mine personal feelings whether they are right or wrong, Flying Fish gets some free press and promotion out of it. Hell, it certainly caught my attention enough to where I saw it at Whole Foods and decided to pick up the Exit 4.

Appearance: A cloudy golden yellow color with plenty of head, this brew dances its bubbles wildly from bottom of the glass to the top, plenty of action and very inviting.

Smell: A light herbal and flowery hop smell, similar to Cascade hops, and a tinge of spice and citrus, like a twist of lemon and orange zest, almost no malt scent, but it might be there on the taste.

Taste: A decent amount of spices and some sweetness, which finishes with a little citrus and almost like ground pepper (?), the taste definitely sticks around and plays with your tastebuds for a while before relinquishing its grip.

Mouthfeel: Pretty crisp smooth feel, plenty of carbonation, and a little alcohol kick, your typical well-brewed trippel, not chewy obviously, maybe a tinge of watery.

Drinkability: If you happen to be one of the few who frequent this site often, you know my love for exploring the Belgians. I give high praise to the usual kings and really dump on those that put up a poor effort. Luckily, this brew has done my state proud, as it is a well crafted trippel that is surprisingly easy to drink at 9.7% abv. You will want to keep drinking more as the beer continues to get better the closer it gets towards room temperature, and its not too heavy or overpowering to make you head for the hills. A respectable 8.5/10 for this Jersey beauty, and I look forward to trying the Exit 11 from the guys at Flying Fish in the near future.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Duvel tulip glass

Friday, July 24, 2009

Schlafly Reserve Barleywine-Style Ale (2007)

Jimbo got this brew as a Christmas gift this past year, and has been trying like hell to fight off the temptation to drink it while it was aging, but six months was all he could manage. Of course, he needed reinforcements for this bad boy because, well, we all know the testicular fortitude of James.

A very cloudy thick brew with very little head, a deep luscious amber brown color, similar to the color of the sap that the mosquitoes were trapped in in Jurassic Park, but we digress...

Smell: A basket full of fruits, grapes, peaches, raspberries, and a little bit of honey, the smell doesn't suggest heavy "I'm going to hang you by your balls" barleywine, it almost reminds us of the fruity ice and sweet wines, very subtle hints of oaky nuttiness, but you really need to search for it, almost no hop scent, very surprising for a barleywine.

Taste: OAK!!!!!!! Holy crap, that's where it was hiding. As we took our first sips, we stared at each other and simultaneously said, in our best Keanu Reeves impersonations, "Woah, oak." We have completely different smell and tastes because that ice wine fruity scent has disappeared from the taste. Some spiciness, but the oak flavors just take over any hop bitterness that could be there.

Mouthfeel: A big deep beer with a dry finish, definitely a sipping beer, well carbonated for the style, aftertaste finishes you off with a faint alcoholic tingle, our tastebuds are starting to become overpowered the more we drink it, and the dry oak taste leaves you wanting some water.

Drinkability: Even though it says its ready to drink when its bought, we would recommend aging it a year or two longer. Jimmy aged it over 6 months and we still feel it has a long way to go before all the flavors and bites mellow. At 10.2% abv, you definitely wouldn't want more than one to end your night. Compared to other barleywines, aged or not, this one ranks pretty low, especially with its ready to drink claim. We give it a 6.5/10.

Glass type(s): Duvel and Chimay glasses
Serving type: Bottle (1pt. 9.4 fl. oz.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stone Thirteenth Anniversary Ale

Superb artistic label and a June 2009 date made me purchase this ale without hesitation at Whole Foods in Paramus, NJ this past Friday. The bomber cost $7.99 before tax but I could not resist the temptation to what Greg Koch and his crew had in store for us this anniversary after last years exquisite 12th anniversary bitter chocolate oatmeal stout.

Appearance: Thick vampire desiring blood red with shades of mahogany as you hold it up to the light. Constant rise of carbonation bublets that concludes with a delicate lacing of head atop.

Smell: Caramel richly sweet malts that masks the dank resiny smell of hops attempting to be the boss of this ale at "90+ IBUs" (

Taste: Like the smell, caramel sweetooth taste. However, more hops are present for this red ale; particularly spicy pine with a hint of alcohol at the finish

Mouthfeel: Rich and succulent throughout every deep sip I take. Goes down smooth for me with my favorite hop bitter tongue tantalizing afterbite :)

Drinkability: I was not in awe with this brew at first, but as the ale warmed up from the frigid temperature of the beer refridgerator, I started to get a microbeer hardon. This was well balanced between the overpowering hops that I go ga-ga for and the sweet spicy malts. I give this a 9/10...pick it up now while it is fresh!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great Divide Hercule Double IPA

Man oh man, am I glad I didn't see the review for this beer here yet, because I've been wanting an excuse to drink one of these since I picked up the four pack a little while ago. If there is a review of this already, then big whoop, you're getting two perspectives then. We had this all star out of a keg for Jimmy's birthday/Hophead reunion and it was spectacular, but as you can imagine, none of us were in any condition to write something up or even remember specifics.

Appearance: Pours to a dark amber color that's clear and alive, very inviting, along with two fingers of light creamy head with great retention.

Smell: An explosion of smells with heavy floral and herbal hops and a hint of sweet and bready malts, absolutely perfect combo.

Taste: Wow, almost as good as on tap, it starts with a heavy caramel and sweet malt flavor, then comes in with an almost barleywine style of hop bitterness, grassy and herbal for sure.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, not watery, perfectly carbonated and full bodied, so it doesn't taste too syrpuy despite great malt presence, a decent bite and alcohol aftertaste which makes this brew border on a barleywine.

Drinkability: At our gathering in June, we were able to drink this like water at the end of the night since we were probably a little drunk off of the Brutal Bitter, however, at 10% abv you should be careful when drinking more than a couple in a night. Luckily the alcoholic bite might be able to remind you to take this one easy. I absolutely love this beer and highly recommend it if you are up for a great DIPA. 9.5/10

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams glass

Friday, July 17, 2009

Long Trail Brewmaster Series Double IPA

I was impressed with the Rockart Vermonster last week so I decided to pick up another VT level 4 type beer, once again at the ever so popular Whole Foods in Paramus, NJ. What caught my attention to purchase this bomber were the phrases "A taste of Vermont" and of course "Double IPA" on the label. [Side note: I am on a mission to drink every single Double/Imperial IPA out in the micro USA beer economy].

Appearance: Is this really a double IPA? It literally pours a clear golden yellow stream of Miller Light piss. Lackluster looks, 2 fingers of head after a careful pour and it appears clear upon initial glance, but I can actually see some unfilteration going on.

Smell: Is my nose stuffy or not working? Very faint whiffs of Chardonnay with hints of lemon zest. No malt presence but I am detecting minor floral honeysuckle hops.

Taste: Sweet droplets of fancy grade A type honey and the bitterness definitely comes out from its hiding place. The IBU presence reminds me of biting into the rind or the inner skin of a grapefruit.

Mouthfeel: Looks clear, smells bland but it actually has some chewy body to it; definitely more than meets the bare eye. Kind of a minor unpleasant aftertaste as the ale digests; reminds me in a ways (no where near as bad!) of a warm natty light aftertaste.

Drinkability: Smooth as my skin was when I was a baby. I would say this is more of a mellow India Pale Ale than a Double, even though it is clocking in at 8.6% abv. My heritage lies withing my favorite east coast, but those west coast hop bombs just trump my coast and make them look like the NY Mets!!! 6/10 for me (this was like a government regulated DIPA, but I kind of liked the laid back stoner character to it....)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rock Art Vermonster

I picked this bomber bottle up at the mighty Whole Foods in Parmus, NJ about a month ago for $5.99 pre-tax. Fellow hophead Alex the Vredhead had this bottle on his kitchen counter for display, so I must have it of course. Side note: my taste buds might be off as I had 4 glasses of Avery Hog Heaven off tap from growlers before hand.

Appearance: Scary movie dark ruby red with a finger of head at the pour. Doesn't look inviting at all, but dark, stormy and cloudy like a horror movie.

Smell: Intense and predominant roasty malt backbone that blends with ease from the grassy VT hop character. Smell is pleasantly homewarming; I want to keep coming back for some more.

Taste: Reminds me of a stout in a ways but not as bitter/coffee/chocolate tinge that I am used to. Not overpowering as the barleywine style suggests, but definitely up there with a rich well-balanced blend of hops and malts

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, well carbonated and just made you feel full afterwards. Other than that, thick, dark and stormy = I am going to be hurting in the morning.

Drinkability: 10%abv with 100IBUs from the stoner state of Vermont = very impressive. This beer is BIG!!! I like it lots, debating whether to age another bomber???? 9/10

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ommegang Hennepin

I've seen this beaut staring me in the face in the beer store the last few times I've gone; I would pick it up, browse a little more, and find something else that I really wanted and put this one back. Today I took a stand and made sure that I hung onto it no matter what else I picked up, which is good because I picked up a 4 pack of Hercules, so I walked away one happy Hophead from the Beverage Barn.

Appearance: That was the most violent cork coming off of a beer I've ever seen! Anyways, pours with an energetic opaque golden color, with the opaqueness coming from the yeast and sediments aplenty throughout the brew, and has waaaay too much lacey head, so I will update later on a second pour for a more accurate reading.

Smell: Some light fruits, tiny citrus, and some herbal scents, no real maltiness or sweetness to come by, pretty subtle smell.

Taste: A good fruit/spiciness mix and a tiny sweet/bitter aftertaste that you really have to look for to get it, simple yet subtle, and done very well.

Mouthfeel: Typical Belgian carbonation, a little warmth to let you know the alcohol is present, but not a burning sensation, light, smooth, and not watery.

Drinkability: Wow, for something that's 7.7% abv, it's almost as drinkable as a session beer. This might just be me and my afinity to Belgians, but I could drink this all night long. I have also been meaning to try more Saisons the more I read about their roots in brewing these bad boys in farmhouses and open areas to gather some of the country aromas and even some natural yeasts as well. Looking back at my review, I didn't really write a lot describing the beer, but there really isn't much else to say. However, that's a testament to it's greatness in that sometimes brewers try to overcomplicate their brews and fail, yet some brewers know just the right combination of a few ingredients will give you perfection. 9.5/10

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Duvel glass

Monday, July 6, 2009

Southern Tier Gemini

Sorry for the delayed review, but like I said, packing for the July 4th weekend took temporary precedence Thursday night. Fear not, fellow beer nuts, for I present to you Gemini, Southern Tier's creation from 50% unfiltered Hoppe and 50% Unearthly. I believe someone here has reviewed the Unearthly, but not too sure about the Hoppe.

Appearance: Pours with a slightly cloudy golden color with a finger and a half of head, whose retention is very good.

Smell: Great earthy, herbal, and floral hop overtones that have a slight background of citrus, also present are some lighter malt scents, almost reminding me of a combo wheat/Belgian, all of this done to perfection.

Taste: Unfortunately, the taste does not live up to the smell, it seems like there is too much going on to really get good identifiable flavors in there. Don't get me wrong, its quite good, but the smell sets such a high standard that it can't be matched. The hops that seemed to team up well before now just seem to mash together to give you one big bitterness bite, although the wheat style malts I mentioned earlier do complement this well.

Mouthfeel: Perfectly carbonated, not too heavy or thick, and relatively smooth for an unfiltered ale, a tinge of alcohol aftertaste reminds you its an imperial.

Drinkability: When I read the label and saw 10.5% abv, I was shocked at how easy it is to drink, which can be credited to the wheat malt flavor balancing act described before. You probably don't want to dirnk more than one bomber in a night, but it won't knock you out for the count (that's what the barleywine is for). I know it seems like I was harsh on the taste, but the smell gave me such high hopes that this brew could reach the 9.5 or even 10 point threshold that of course I would be let down when it didn't live up to it. Still, it is a very good brew with a good concept, which still gets an 8.5/10 in my book.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams glass

*Side note: I hope one of the other Hopheads posts some pics from the epicness that was Jimmy's birthday and our attempt to kill the Brutal Bitter and Herc in a weekend. Good times...