Saturday, December 11, 2010

Homemade Chocolate Coconut Cream Stout

I have been slacking on the blog for a while now, but finally I have the motivation to write. Giving my IPA craze a rest and going to try this Chocolate Coconut Cream Stout. A fellow coworker of mine, Dan the man, was kind enough to share this homemade creation of his with me. Let us see what this top chef can do!

Appearance: Pours a free flowing brownish green tone with two fingers of head, that slowly dissipates to one. Looks dark and stormy as I can not see through my tulip glass, but it has a thin viscosity that makes it inviting.

Smell: As I bring my nose to this stout for the first time, I smell milk chocolate as if it was Yoo-Hoo. Not overpowering at all but it paints an impression in your head after numerous swirls and sniffs. Chocolate smelling malts present but not getting any hop aroma. Where is the coconut?

Taste: Not too much flavor but that may be due to the nature of this light and session-able style. Coconut flavors stand out alot more during tastes, especially as the beer warms up towards room temperature. Starting to taste like a mild Mounds candy bar :)

Mouthfeel: Light, almost watery but not due to its stout like presence. Carbonation settles well, not biting at all.

Drinkability: Very impressive Danielson! It is a session beer and can definitely drink more than one. Although it is not my style, I am very impressed with the overall rating being that it is a homeade beer as I have not had that many that interest me. I give it a 7.5/10 for now...need to taste another one or two to hone in on certain characteristics. Great imagination and use of the coconut as I have never seen that before in the craft beer industry! Thanks again!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dogfish Head Miles Davis' Bitches Brew

I know I'm over a week late, but in honor of Sam Calagione's new show Brewmasters on the Discovery Channel, I wanted to review the beer featured in it's first episode, Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. I have only watched the premiere, but it is a good show and I recommend it for beer lovers and even non-beer enthusiasts who are interested in seeing what goes into brewing fine craft beers. Congrats, Sam, and hopefully you get that record deal with Sony.

The episode goes into detail what Sam was looking for in this beer, a fusion of imperial stout and African tej, an Ethiopian honey wine. Usually when I review a beer, I try not to read too much into a label or what I've read on a website about it so that way I don't have preconceived notions on what to expect. Since I've already watched the episode, that's going to be near impossible, so I'll try to pick out the ingredients I saw in the show in what I drink.

Appearance: Pours a dark viscous black with brown lacey head of about a finger. It looks superb and really inviting.

Smell: Roasted malts, chocolate, and coffee really dominate the scent. I could also be picking up some sweetness from the honey, but this is why I don't like prior knowledge because I don't know if the smell is from suggestion or I'm really smelling it. On the other hand, I wish I knew what gesho smells like so I could try to pick it out.

Taste: Very interesting, tamer than what you would think from an ale where 3/4 of the blend is imperial stout and from the strong malt scents. There is still some roasted malts in there, but the honey and earthy hop flavors (I'm guessing the earthy hop flavors is the gesho) are more present on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Between medium and full bodied, smooth, perfectly carbonated, and surprisingly a little thin, but I guess that is the tej cutting into the stout. The bitterness on the finish cuts out any alcohol on the aftertaste.

Drinkability: One of the reasons I love Dogfish Head and Sam Calagione is the willingness to take risks, be creative, and do unusual things. A blend of imperial stout and tej, essentially a honey wine, sounds so out of whack, but they pulled it off. It's so different and strange that it's impossible to classify it and compare it to anything I've had. Not only that, but it's incredibly easy to drink at 9% abv, which could get me into trouble. I highly recommend this beer and the show Brewmasters which airs Sundays at 10p.m. on the Discovery Channel. If you've had this brew too, let me know what you think of it, I'm interested to see other people's takes on it. 9/10

Glass type: Duvel tulip glass
Serving type: Bottle, 25.4 oz.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Witches' Brew Golden Ale

Let me be the last to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope it was filled with plenty of pumpkin pies and pumpkin ales. We should all be thankful that we live in a time where we have so much variety in our choices of great beer...oh yea, and thankful for family, friends, loved ones, yadda yadda. Anyway, I heard good things about this Belgian beauty and want to give it a try.

Appearance: After popping the cork (I love uncorking beers, don't know why) it pours a clear crisp golden and orange color with plenty of suds rising to the top to form massive amounts of fluffy head thanks to the bottle conditioning (but does not stick around for long).

Smell: Smacked in the nose with citrus hops, orange, some spices, and almost a champagne style smell. There are some other fruits in there, maybe banana, and a bready yeast smell as well. Delightful.

Taste: Some great flavors in this one, bananas, oranges, lemons, and spices. Pineapples also come to mind as it warms up a bit as the spices also come more into play. There is the slightest bit of sweet candy malt in the background, but just enough to let the hops do their thing.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, smooth, thin, a little watery for what I would expect from most tripels, sufficiently carbonated, a gentle warming alcoholic aftertaste, not as biting or harsh as you might expect.

Drinkability: This might be the easiest drinking tripel I've ever had. Everything about this beer is so pleasant that going through a 750mL bottle is no problem, though you might feel it later at 9.3% abv. The Belgian brewery this beer comes from is Brouwerij Van Steenberge. Obviously this is the first brew from them I've had, so if anyone has recommendations of their other beers, let me know. I highly recommend picking this one up if you see it, even if you're not a Belgian fan. 9/10

Glass type: Duvel tulip glass
Serving type: Bottle, 750 mL

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Port Brewing Anniversary Ale

Time for another (quick) Port Brewing review...HUZZAH!

Appearance: Pours a cloudy golden amber color with a couple inches of head. Trails of carbonation rising to the top.

Smell: Strong floral hop scents with some fruit, oranges, lemon zest, and others. Almost no malt to speak of.

Taste: Huge fruit hop flavor, grapefruit maybe, with hints of spice and fruit zest. The bottle was right, a true hop monster, especially as the brew warms up.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied and a little oily coating on the palate from the hop oils, well carbonated, an alcoholic and hop bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability: The smell and taste are fantastic, but the alcoholic aftertaste makes more than one bomber a little hard to pull off. It's probably better that way since the abv is 10%. Definitely a beer that belongs towards the end of a night of drinking. This beer definitely grew on me as it got warmer...or as the alcohol got to my head. 9/10

Glass type: Dogfish Head bullet/pint glass
Serving type: Bottle, 22 oz.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA

Fresh hops! Fresh hops everywhere! Fresh hop ales and IPAs are the new black for craft beers. Take any ordinary ale, fresh hop it, and BLAMMO...instant upgrade in bitterness, aromas, and oily texture. I'm not complaining; hell, almost every time I see fresh hop on the label, I pick it up and give it a try...just like this little fella which I got from Julio's Liquors in Westborough, MA.

Appearance: Perfect crisp golden color with 2+ fingers of fluffy lacy head. Slightly opaque, though I don't see any bits of sediment floating around.

Smell: A nice mixture of pine and floral/herbal hops, as well as some citrus/lemon scents as a complement. I was hoping for a little more pronounced hop aromas but that's ok. There are also hints of sweet malts that you can guess will be the backbone on the taste.

Taste: Yup, a light caramel malt background then a kick to the teeth with bitterness. Any of the hop flavors you would expect from the smell though is overpowered from raw hop bitterness, though. A slight let down for some, a big positive for hopheads.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, good carbonation, and a little oily from the hop resins, just what you would expect. One of my favorite parts from fresh hop ales is the oily coat over the palate you get while drinking them.

Drinkability: One bomber for me tonight is no problem, and I wish I had bought a second. This beer could almost qualify as a session beer at 6.5% abv (especially for other hopheads who would welcome the bitterness with open tongues was right). The bottle date was 9/21/10, maybe drinking it two months from the bottle date affected the lack of (extreme) hop aromas, but it did not take away from the experience too negatively. 8.5/10

Glass type: Dogfish Head bullet/pint glass
Serving type: Bottle, 22 oz.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Great Divide Hibernation Ale (2007)

Remember this little number? Jimmy and I reviewed our second beer ever and wondered at the end how we "would love to see how aging would effect it." Well, 2.5 years later, we found out, and we couldn't be more pleased.

Appearance: Much darker than amber, almost brown, lots of yeast sediment and little head.

Smell: Chocolate, roasted nut, and raisin/currant aromas dominate, with all notions of hops scent away (see what I did there?)

Taste: Nice chocolate taste, extremely mellow, no bitterness, and gets much better as it warms up. Completely different from our original review, which had hops out the wazoo. This was one of the most noticeable effects of aging.

Mouthfeel: Still medium bodied, still perfectly carbonated, but an added dry finish and very little to not at all alcoholic aftertaste. Those last two observations would be the other effects of aging.

Drinkability: Jimmy: A strange cross between a porter, stout, and barleywine, would might be a little early in the day for it, but would be a great nightcap. Mike: Perfectly balanced, great brew anytime. 8.1% abv 9.25/10

Glass type: Dogfish Head bullet/pint glass
Serving type: Bottle, 12 oz.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Bruery Mischief

My love for Belgian beers is runs pretty deep. I'm never afraid to try a new one and they never get old, because every brewery seems to have their own take on a style.

Appearance: Holy head hand grenade, Batman! Ton of typical fluffy lacy head tops a beautifully golden colored brew, crystal clear, and full of rising carbonation.

Smell: Citrus and flower hoppopotamus, spices, cloves, some other fruit in there that I can't discern, maybe pineapple? Nothing to speak of in the malt department.

Taste: Very dry, the citrus and floral hops are gone, some fruitiness, banana, finishes with a little pepper flavor. The banana and pepper are a nice subtle combo, but still bummed I wasn't smacked in the face with more intense hop flavor.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, light bodied, well carbonated, nonexistent alcoholic aftertaste.

Drinkability: Surprisingly easy to drink from a strong Belgian at 8.5% abv. Nothing of this beer really bogs you down, which can be dangerous. I wasn't particularly blown away by this brew, the smell got my hopes up but the taste was kind of a let down. Would I drink it again? Absolutely, but I won't go out of my way for it. Give it a try, maybe I'm missing something, in which case please tell me and I'll be happy to revisit it. 8/10

Glass type: Duvel tulip glass
Serving type: Bottle, 22.4 oz.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA

I'm always excited when Stone releases a brew for their anniversary series. Throw in the fact that the style is an IPA with an aim at its English roots, I'm pretty pumped.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful golden color that's crisp and clear with a ton of head with great lacing. Very inviting, I hope the pic does it justice.

Smell: Great pine aroma with a hint of citrus, maybe lemon spice, but predominantly pine from the English hops (per the bottle: Target, East Kent Goldings, and Boadicea hops were used). Very faint hints of malt, but I could be imagining it. Definitely different than your typical IPA which usually blasts you with strong floral scents.

Taste: Heavy cream and dry malt is offset with pine hops and a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. Side note: I hope I'm not being sucked in by what I'm reading, but I can legitimately say it reminds me of some of the local brews I had at pubs while I was in England. The beverage can't be less than 50 deg. and it works perfectly for the style.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied, bolstered by the breadiness the yeast seems to give it. Seems to be a little hop resin that feels like it coats the palate. Bitterness outweighs the alcohol in the aftertaste. Perfectly carbonated, present but not overpowering.

Drinkability: Easily enjoyable for one bomber bottle, and if I had a second on me I would drink that too. Be careful though, you'll be surprised to find out it punches at 8.9% abv. This is not your Grandpa's West Coast IPA, this is a well done English IPA that has subtlety, style, and class. Kudos to the fellas at Stone for putting so much effort into crafting this masterpiece. It's recommended to drink this beer fresh or age it for over a year, unfortunately I just bought it last week and it had a bottle date of June 2010. I knew I was taking a risk, but it was worth it. I'm going to buy a few next time and review them a year from now to see the differences, but I don't know how it can get any better. 9.5/10

Glass type: DFH bullet glass
Serving type: Bottle, 22 oz.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Smuttynose Gravitation

I've been looking forward to reviewing this Belgian beast ever since I picked it up at Julio's in Westborough, MA. Gravitation is part of Smuttynose Brewery's big beer series, which can be found here.

Appearance: The color is a very deep red, almost brown, that is opaque, cloudy, and very little in terms of carbonation rising. There is a thin layer of lacy head, but just enough to coat the surface. Looks pretty menacing, like Chimay Grande Reserve (blue).

Smell: Citrus, fruity, and sweet with some hints of caramel. There's some raisin, apricot, and something else I just can't put my finger on. The scent is pretty bold but inviting.

Taste: Caramel and toasted malts with a spicy finish. Very sweet, sort of like licorice, so much so that it overpowers almost any fruit or citrus flavors. You expect quads to be on the sweet side, but this seems a little much.

Mouthfeel: Pretty smooth, medium bodied, coats the palate and little carbonation. It does leave quite an alcoholic kick on the aftertaste that takes a few sips to get used to.

Drinkability: I definitely wouldn't drink more than a bomber in a night because of the sweetness and the whopping 12% abv. There is no exact bottling date shown, but there is a notch in the label saying this beer was bottle-conditioned in 2010, so it must be relatively fresh. I wonder how this beer would age to see if the sweetness would mellow out just a bit. There's nothing wrong with the beer, I just wasn't overly impressed. 7.5/10

Glass type: Duvel tulip glass
Serving type: Bottle, 22 oz.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Avery Anniversary Lager - Seventeen Dry-Hopped Black Lager

I've recently been getting more into black lagers, also known as "schwarzbier" (German for... anyone?... Bueller?... black beer). I did have a Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir Black Lager that I did not review, but it was absolutely delicious and will have to pick one up again. Combine that with my love for the Avery Anniversary series and my expectations become pretty high.

Appearance: Poured into a Duvel tulip glass that becomes impossible to see through due to its black-as-night color. TONS of tan creamy head that leaves some lacing on the glass as it recedes.

Smell: Piney hops and a bit of roasted malts, maybe some honey, then finishes with a little bit of fruit and citrus. Every time I go in for another whiff, I pick up something new, very enticing.

Taste: A swirl of roasted and chocolate malts are the undeniable backbone of this brew, but not overpowering. Hints of citrus hops, but extremely subtle. This is about what I expected since most of the hops from the scent are coming from the dry-hopping. However, it's just enough hop bite because the malts can definitely stand on their own.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with perfect medium carbonation, I don't like when something is overly carbonated and doesn't let the flavors of the beer shine through. This has just enough to tickle the palate while coating it. A tiny bit of bitterness on the aftertaste and almost no alcoholic bite, which leads to...

Drinkability: What a smooth beer! Some might see the black appearance and think it would give you the same chunky full bodied feel of a stout or porter. Some might see the 8.69% abv and think you wouldn't want more than one or two in a night. Some people would be wrong. This bomber is going down so fast I could go for another bomber of this or even a nightcap barleywine. I would like to have more black lagers before I give this a perfect rating, but if they are all like this one, I may have discovered my new favorite style. 9.5/10 and highly recommended next time you see this in your local beer store.

Glass type: Duvel tulip glass
Serving type: Bottle, 22 oz.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA

Been a while since the last review (I seem to say that before every post recently), but I wanted to make sure I reviewed this one from my most recent trip to Julio's Liquors in Westborough, MA. I've heard some good things about it so I'm a little pumped.

Appearance: Pours a nice deep amber color with about half a finger of head. It has a great crisp look to it with a steady flow of carbonation rising from the bottom.

Smell: Strong hop aromas blast the nose on first whiff, a combination of floral and herbal hops with some spiciness. After a few more sniffs, that spice turns to sweet with a background of pine and fruit. I can't make out which fruit, maybe mango or pineapple?

Taste: Not what I expected, mostly a sweet caramelized malt flavor with just a hint of citrus hops, but not nearly as appetizing as the smell would indicate. The aftertaste has a strong bitterness to it (112 IBU's), letting you know this triple IPA isn't messing around. The after-aftertaste is of resiny hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, coats the palate and tongue, slight carbonation but good for the style, alcoholic bite, I would consider this a cross between a DIPA and a barleywine.

Drinkability: Between the 12% abv, the bitterness, and the alcoholic bite, this is certainly a nightcapper. I was a little let down because the scent was so full of wonderful aromas but the majority of flavor revolved around the sweet malt backbone. Then again, I should have remembered that this behemoth was a triple IPA. Maybe it's just not my style, maybe it was the batch, maybe I just need to have another one, but I give it a pedestrian 7/10. I really hope I'm off base with my review because I love Founders and everything they brew.

Glass type: Dogfish Head bullet glass
Serving type: Bottle, 12 oz.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Southern Tier Iniquity Imperial Black Ale

Remember when I said I hope to be doing a lot more reviews as the summer progressed? Yea, about that...I have the sufficient stockpile of great brews, but have recently lacked the motivation. They say the first step is the hardest, so maybe this will jump start a slew of entries...or maybe I'll continue to be a lazy bastard.

Appearance: Surprisingly, black ales are black! This is a different black though, like your soul gets sucked into the glass and never returns black. It is capped with a little under a finger of creamy beige head.

Smell: I first noticed some earthy hop tones that mix with coffee/chocolate malt notes. Then came a hint of floral hoppiness that piqued my interest in this beer.

Taste: Chocolate malts dominate the palate then finishes with a faint alcohol and bitterness combo. The more sips I take however, the more I notice the floral and piney hops from the scent.

Mouthfeel: Relatively smooth, medium bodied, dry finish, slight alcohol aftertaste, and just a hint of carbonation, great for letting the other characteristics shine.

Drinkability: The appearance may be off putting, giving you the impression that this would be a filling thick stout, but that's not the case. The smoothness and medium body make it a relatively easy beer to drink, considering it weighs in at 9% abv. The bottle boasts itself as "The Antithesis of Unearthly" which is an accurate description and part of its appeal. I don't have much experience with black ales, but because it's so new and fresh to me, maybe that's why I like it so much. 9/10

Glass type: Duvel tulip glass
Serving type: Bottle, 22 oz.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Avery Salvation Belgian Style Golden Ale

Wow, I think we now qualify as the biggest slackers on Earth. I could just blame our busy schedules, but hell, I'll just admit I've been lazy. The sad thing is I have a TON of beers lined up that I've wanted to review. Hopefully my reviews will pick up during the summer. On to the beer!

Appearance: A nice clear golden color with a frothy finger of head, plenty of carbonation constantly bubbling. A very inviting appearance that makes me yearn for summer.

Smell: Great fruity hop aroma along with other herbs and spices. There are hints of orange peel, lemon zest, maybe some apricot, and some light spice I can't make out, maybe cinnamon. Overall very pleasing aromas emanating from the glass.

Taste: Mmmm, there's a lot going on there. It starts off with that orange/lemon combo, then follows it up with a sweet malt that I did not notice in the smell, and finishes with a bit of cinnamon spice that dominates the aftertaste. (Sidenote: I'm enjoying some Provolone Dolce with some little toast crackers. This might throw off my taste buds, but I claim it's enhancing them.)

Mouthfeel: Light, slightly watery, thin, a little bready/yeasty ( I know those aren't words, just bear with me), fully carbonated, a little bit of alcoholic aftertaste but not the patented kick I am used to for similar styled Belgian ales.

Drinkability: This was not the heavy impact Belgian I expected like some others I've had, but 9% abv is still nothing to sneeze at. However, with the bite throttled back, it makes this beer really easy to drink, perfect for those upcoming summer BBQs. One bomber of this is a pretty easy task and a good introduction into Belgians for those looking to expand their palates. I give is a solid 8/10 mainly because the mouthfeel wasn't what I was looking for, but the smell and taste were money.

Glass type: Duvel tulip glass
Serving type: Bottle, 22 oz.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blue Point Winter Ale

Blue Point Brewing Company out on the eastern part of the island in Patchogue, NY is an under appreciated brewery in my opinion. I always tend to see their six packs of Toasted Lager or Blueberry Ale on the shelves at craft beer stores (both of which have great drinkability and refreshing taste) around the tri-state area. They also tend to have frequent drafts at bars throughout the New York area, especially out in Long Island (had their GABF silver award winning Rastafar Rye Ale on tap at Legends on my way out to the north fork a number of times) and NYC (amazingly fresh 10th Anniversary IPA off cask and draft at Blind Tiger awhile back) . And lets not forget my favorite HOPTICAL ILLUSION, which tastes like west coast hop angels when it is fresh and on draft.

So how come I do not get Blue Point more often if I like all of the beers that I have had by them??? Wish I could answer that one but am not too sure. Perhaps because they are readily available in my area or just because my blood thrives on high octane hop explosions from the west coast? Does anyone else experience this perplexing dilemma like my troubled self?

Anyways, lets get onto the review (haven't done one of these in a while so please object to any point!...this goes with anything we ever say in our blog in general). Bought a six pack of this Blue Point Winter Ale for $10.39 at BevMax in Stamford, CT:

Appearance: Pours an autumnal brown with 2 fingers of head narrows down to a dense looking half after a couple of minutes. Clear pour but the color seems to be a deep stained mahogany with shades of sunset red. Carbonation bubbles are a-blazing up from my Dogfish laser etching.

Smell: Wooden campfire sweet malts. Smells as if it has been aged in a barrel and also detecting some faint chocolate nibbles. Hops do not stand out at 30 IBUs but I do detect that they are a bit spicy, as well as a clean yeast aroma.

Taste: Bottle? - I poured it into a glass but my first sip tastes as if I am drinking straight out of the bottle. Sweet malt presence still there, but now with a nutty interaction with some kind of spice I can't detect...nutmeg?

Mouthfeel: Biting bitter finish that fades to a mellow smooth malt cleansing of the palette.

Drinkability: Not a big beer at all coming in at 5.5% abv, so it goes down easily. The past couple of winter seasonals that I have had (Anchor, Sam, and now this) seem to have that bready "spice" to it. Intriguing beer and I am glad to have tried it, but my taste buds would only want one in a night. Nonetheless, solid creation and ingenuity. 7/10

PS - The artwork on the label really gravitated me towards this purchase. I like the winteresque setting and backdrop with the green lighthouse bottle cap

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chatoe Rogue First Growth Wet Hop Ale

Hello dear readers, haven't posted anything in a while. My attention span lately has been more Twitter and less Blogger. Sorry about that.

I picked up the Chatoe Rogue First Growth Wet Hop Ale (CRFGWHA for short?) at the inimitable State Line Liquors in Elkon, MD, along with a bunch of other great beers. I was unaware Rogue was putting out a fresh-hop, so when I saw the last one sitting on the shelf, it was all over. I cracked it open Tuesday night with some Cabot cheddar cheese my uncle Bob from VT gifted me with the weekend before. Let the reviewing commence:

Appearance: Poured a dark amber color with good head retention. Color was darker than I anticipated, but it that's not a bad thing.

Smell: Fresh hops are obviously front and center. Grassier than an IPA with kiln-dried hops, the organics of the fresh hops used here remain.

Taste: A lot sweeter than the smell let on. I was surprised how much the sweet malts came through, but I guess I was in more of a DIPA mindset going into this beer. This is a pale ale by my standards, but the fresh hops add another dimension to the mild bitterness. It went great with the cheddar.

Mouthfeel: Nice and balanced, medium carbonation. No aftertaste really stuck around too long.

Drinkability: I doubt anyone would have too many of these on hand at once, but this beer is very drinkable. At 6.4% ABV and 40 IBUs its not too strong to enjoy a couple pints if you see it on tap anywhere. As Jimmy noticed, there's at least one more beer in this Chatoe Rogue series, so I'm looking forward to see what else they can cook up with their own hops in the kettle.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Beer Travels

Greetings fellow hopheads and hoppy twenty ten to all of you! I hope it brings good fortune and pleasure to your lives and beer senses all around. For the New Years weekend, I decided to travel down to Annapolis, MD to visit the magician himself P-shoe. Here is a recap of my travels:

On my way down from snowy Connecticut that New Years Eve, I had to get off at the first exit once I crossed the border of Maryland on I-95. The exit is 109B and it is for Elkton, MD home of the infamous State Line Liquors. This place is so legit that I have a frequent flyers card that gives me deep discounts on some select items. Another pat on the back goes to State Line because they have been ranked the number 14th best beer retailer in the country. The main beer guru there is Bob and you can literally talk to him for hours upon hours about anything related to beer. His passion for the industry is like none other and is the main reason why I like to stop at this store anytime I drive by the area. I managed to walk away with spending over $100+ once again :o with beers like 21st Amendment Monk's Blood, Dogfish Head Olde School, Great Divide Hercules, Caldera IPA in cans, Green Flash West Coast IPA and some other sexy looking bombers. The only thing I miss from State Line is their ability to fill up growlers due to some bogus state law. Couple years back they had Old Rasputin growlers to fill up!!! Anyways, I highly recommend you check this place out if you are ever traveling along Interstate Ninety Five between Delaware and Maryland. [Note: picture above taken at State Line at another Chatoe Rogue bottle - Dirtoir Black Lager. I have only had their Wet Hop in this line before. Looking back now I wish I bought but I was way over my budget :(]

So after the ball dropped and 1/1/10 was coming along, we decided to head into Washington D.C. for some fun. First stop up off the metro was to grab a bite to eat at Capital City Brewing Company within pissing distance of the White House. For food, I split a nacho appetizer and some pretzels, and then commenced to devour a savory burger. This blended well with their Blackout Stout (bit too sweet for me) and and IPA (well balanced ride; difficult to distinguish from a pale ale). I was feeling extremely bloated and full after that meal so I stopped appreciating craft brew and went to the dark side of macros and mixed drinks for the rest of the evening at a couple of bars around Dupont Circle.

Instead of driving home back north on 1/2/10, fellow fraternity brother Johnny Crazy Balls and I decided to extend our weekend and venture into the city of brotherly love Philadelphia, PA to visit a good friend and beer aficionado Sir D. Allen. Before visiting Dave, I made a stop to fellow hophead Ryan!!! and his lovely lady beer godess Lex! We chatted for a bit and slayed a bomber of HERCULES HERCULES that was fresh and bottled in December 2009 :). After the Hayes camp stop and bathroom break, I ventured over to meet JB at Brauhaus Schmitz for some beer and food, which is also where Dave bartends. I forget what beer I had but it was damn good and blended perfectly with the meter long sausage we split for dinner. I also want to say that 1) I wish I knew more about German and international beer 2) Brauhaus had an extensive selection of beer glasses in all sizes and shapes...even a das boot!. Solid place, chill atmosphere and waitresses wear dirndls? (hot and sexy opposite of the male ledorhosen)...check it out next time you are in Philly on South Street. PROST!

Up next on our Philly visit was a stroll through the bitter and windy streets until we arrived at Varga Bar at the corner of 10th and Spruce. Place was quaint and busy as expected for a Saturday night, and was full of cute waitresses and a beer menu that would make you go ga-ga. We had to stand for our first beer, Yard's Old Batholomew off cask but lucked out on seats at the bar after a couple of minutes (Some head honchos from Yard's were there but I was too timid to shoot the beer grip with them). At the bar, I proceed to have Port Wipe Out IPA and Greenflash Hop Head Red by the pint in between conversations with the group, bartenders and waitresses. In the end, we were able to grab a table (food menu looked superb! but I was too full to taste anything) and I finished off my time at Vagra with some Rogue XS Imperial Red :) :).

Getting older sucks, but the night is not over! Up next in our adventures came the Irish Pol, a Jagermeister joint gone beer wild over the past couple of years I believe. Place wasn't that crowded but the 40+ beer taps on the wall was jam packed!!! While here, I stuck to my favorite IPA style and had Ballast Point Big Eye IPA and Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA. I was a a bit disappointed of the Great Lakes one, but it could have been my taste buds losing their swagger. The first time I was here back in the spring of 2009 I took a body shot off some hipster chick, but this time was laid back and enjoying the warmth and craft draft beer.

Last bar on the agenda was actually a club, called something like Dancing With the Stars. I had some shots and a Stone's Pale Ale and that was all she wrote before I got my dance on or lack thereof....

Happy 2010 to everyone and hope the best of beer to all of you!!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cable Beverages

Here comes another beer store review for Jimmo! This time I am trekking across the border from my NJ hometown into Rockland County, New York. The place is called Cable Beverages and is located in the town of Bardonia, NY, of which I never knew existed in Rockland prior to visiting this tiny establishment. I heard about this place through 3 sources from current to past:
  1. Uncle Bob (Hophead Alex side of the family) - On our way down to Dogfish Head Brewery and Brewpub this late fall, he mentioned to Mike, Alex and I about this place right off the thruway near our respective NJ hometowns. He made us drool because he picked up a case of Ballast Point Sculpin (a DIPA I have never had!!!), some Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and some additional glassware. Thanks Uncle Bob for the recommendation because without it, I would not have thought to venture onward to the store (ps - I will visit your liquor store in Stowe, VT someday!)
  2. Stumbles - A fellow fraternity brother of mine mentioned 3 years ago of a legit beer store near his hometown of New City off of Route 304. I didn't think twice at the time because my hypothesis was that Ramsey Liquors was the only quality craft beer store around a 15 mile radius. Thank you two Stumbeezy, master of the nine ball.
  3. Dad - After Stumbles recommendation, I asked my dad back in the future if he knows of something in the New City area in terms of a quality craft ale store. He mentioned Cable Beverages but said he has not ventured over there since the 80's to fill up his keg CO2 tank and doubts that I would fall upon beer treasures. On the contrary poppa bear!
Alright, my shout outs are done so onto the good stuff. How was this place? Check out there latest beers in stock!!

Looks nice on the outside off 304, but the back parking lot creeped me out with all of the trucks and trailers (I had beer 100% on my mind so it didn't bother me). As you walk in through the sketchy back, it is a tight and somewhat dark setting with about 7 aisles 20 feet long and narrow. You had to be careful to not knock anything over. As my thoughts were beginning to feel as if I was regretting coming here, they started to change as a bomber x10 bottle size of Stone Arrogant Bastard? stared down to me off the shelf as if he was king and I was pauper. Then low and behold I found Brooklyn Black Ops, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Lagunitas, He'brew, Founder's, Ithaca and other hidden gems in throughout all the nooks and crannies of the store. Yes, there could have been better organization and more space but it was enjoyable to find such quality craft ales randomly in a tight confined space.

I spoke to 4 salesmen over there and they were all very nice. Excellent level of service from 2 knowledgeable reps helping me find the beers I wanted, to the cashier talking about distribution in the area as well as handing me his business card and the latest copy of ASN. Then to finish it off, they carried all $100+ of fine beer out to my car and carefully placed it in my trunk.

I would also like to add that they have draft ale on tap in which you can fill up growlers!!! They had about 4-5 rotating taps I believe. I remember seeing Sam Double Bock and something from Left Hand out in Colorado. My choice was a growler of Sixpoint Bengali Tiger IPA, which was refreshingly balanced, fresh and went down rather quickly :)

All in all, I would give the store a 7.5/10 for now. Definitely want to go back next time I am in the area to see what I can get my hands on and to fill up a couple of growlers. Check it out if your ever along the Thruway 87/287 in Rockland County New York!!! Hophead Jimmo over and out!