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!