1001 Beers: Oak Aged Yeti

Beer Number 5: Great Divide Brewing Company Oak Aged Yeti

I have always heard good things about the Yeti in all of it's various forms and being from the Pacific NorthWest, I was wondering if any brewer could tame our famed monster into a bottle. I had my doubts, but now I am unsure. Did Brian Dunn really meet the beast? Capture him? and unleashed his tasty fury to the masses in a liquid form? I say,.... Yes. I commend thee.

I found a bottle of the original Yeti and Oak Aged Yeti at 99 Bottles, my favorite bottle shop in the PNW and I had to grab them. I wish I found the Chocolate Yeti or the Espresso Yeti but I will take what I can get. I have never had any of these and I have always heard great things.

So I didn't really do a side by side of the two but I had them back to back. I thought the original Yeti was pretty damn good. I mean, it was creamy notes of roasted coffee. A very nice nutty character that interacted with the chocolate. But I thought the beer was a bit to hoppy. Very grassy hops that lingers into the finish. Also, very sweet.

When it came to the Oak Aged Yeti, I loved it a lot. It was very mellow comparatively. I loved how it seemed more milky, but still creamy. The tastiness along with the vanilla, from the French and American Oak blend? really made this beer to die for. Another thing I loved was the fact that the aging mellowed out the hops. I thought they were a tad overpowering in the original Yeti, exactly what I would expect from our beast, but not at all in the Oak Aged. This is an amazing Imperial Stout. I understand why it gets so much hype and I wish I could try the other versions.

996 Bottles of Beer To Go!



The Trip XI, XII, and Tart Lychee

New Belgium and Elysian Brewery. Ever since I first got into beer, and craft beer, I have loved New Belgium. As you probably already know, I am one of their biggest fanboys... and I love it! I am visiting their brewery in the next few days and it would take death to keep me from getting there and I cannot think of one thing that I would dislike about my visit. I hope they are as super awesome as I expect... though, I am sure I would do something to anybody that helped me out in order to keep my high expectations of New Belgium where I feel they should be. I know I should not love a company this much, but really, they have been nothing but good to me. From my first taste of Fat Tire to my latest taste of Tart Lychee, I cannot think of anything I hate about them. This trip will be heaven for me. If I don't make it... I really don't know what to say... I will probably post me crying for hours and hours. Just saying.

So when it comes to the Collaboration between the two breweries, I wish I got into beer sooner. I was really hopeful when I heard about the Trip Series but I shortly found out they are brewed once and then forgot about for life... How does this make me feel being I heard about it from about the time The Trip V was out but I was not able to make it to the brewery until The Trip IX. Yeah, think about it... but it's alright. I mean, there is a lot of beer that I missed out on but there is so much that I am in love with at this point in time. So here we go. Maybe I just got the best of the world and I will continue to see it as it develops, evolves, and makes the world a better place.

This brings us to The Trip XI. I loved pretty much everything about this beer. It was a great Farmhouse Ale. I look for these things all the time when I am out and about in the beer world but they are still hard to find. So my thoughts? Great earthy nose, farmhouse yeast and sage up front. Sweet, spicy, medium mouthfeel, grassy finish. Getting toward the end of the bottle the flavor was all that much more better. In the beginning I guess I was missing the dregs from the bottom of the bottle but they brought a whole new layer of complexity to the beer. It mellowed out a lot, not that the beer was on edge in any way but I think the Saison feel I was looking for was lost at the bottom. I wish I would have shaken it up a little bit or they sold this in 12oz bottles rather than the 22oz bomber.

The Trip XII I thought was very mellow for todays IPAs. I love it. It's more about the hop balance and the flavors of the adjuncts, i.e. the Pink Peppercorn. I think that the peppercorns are really mellow... not that I really know what a Pink Peppercorn is but it isn't hot like I expected. Very nice. A tad sweet initially but quickly chopped down by hops and a bit of spice. Full bodied for sure. They did not want to skimp on any layer of this beer. I love the low carbonation. Truly excellent in every way.

The next beer here... Yeah, Tart Lychee... I have only heard GREAT things about. I cannot believe that I have kept the bottle this long and have not ran out and bought every bottle in every shop that I have seen. I was really hoping it lived up to my expectations. I hate how everyone around me has been enjoying the shit out of this beer and I have been living in the darkness, so here we go...

This beer is one of those that I see myself, (and others), falling in love with more and more each time they have it. It was a damn good, slightly, sour. The twang it had gave it a character that I have never noticed in a beer before and then the sweetness was very nice and the thing you will remember about this beer. It was a bit juicy, like the fruits you would expect to have on an island. I have no idea what a lychee is or what it taste like but if it is anything like the flavor of this beer, they are a new favorite. Right up there with Kiwi's and Pineapples. The beer had a dry finish but it made me come back for more. Incredible. Everyone is buying these bottles out so I must find some more before it is gone. I love the Lips of Faith series so much so this isn't a surprise but hey. I hope this is on tap when I get to the brewery. Also, La Folie and maybe some other creations that I have yet to have or ones that I missed, though, those are from long years past and I am unsure if they are still brewed.



1001 Beers: Dale's Pale Ale

Beer Number 4: Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale

I don't have much experience with canned beers. I mean, I don't avoid them but there aren't many that I just go up to and say, "I must drink from this can!", but I always hear so many great things about Oskar Blues. Dale's Pale Ale has been recommended to me many of times, as I am sure it has been to others as well. So, I figured would give it a try. Especially knowing that it is in my book, 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die.

I drank this one straight from the can so I may revisit this one from a glass. I ordered this one a nice, cool, Texas night sitting outside at one of my favorite bars, The Friendly Spot. So I just sat there care free and enjoyed this tasty delight.

I was not fully able to get the classic aspects of a review but I loved the strong piney hop, a tad grassy but really nice for a pale ale. I expected the hops to be a little over the top but they are in a nice flavor balance. 4/5

There is actually an interesting story about the start of this beer, or at least the reason it is in a can. This book is full of these little facts, another reason I love it.

A lack of money for promotion in the early years of the U.S. craft-brewing revolution saw smaller breweries asking drinkers to consider the importance of what is in the bottle rather than what is in the advertisement. This changed in 2002 when a tiny brewery in the Colorado town of Lyons began canning its beer--by hand in a barn beside the brewpub where Dale's Pale Ale was produced. Cans, previously shunned by craft beer drinkers, became hip.

Pretty much sounds like the times we are in. I had issues with my first canned beer, not really, but I had no idea if I was supposed to drink it from the can or pour it into the glass. Apparently, either way is fine but the can became popular for its ability to easily be carried around, drank from, and recycled. Sounds pretty bad ass to me.

997 Bottles of Beer To Go!



Freetail Brewing Company

Freetail Brewing Company. This was one of my most anticipated stops in Texas. Pizza, Beer, What more could one ask for? I found out... A lot.

The brewery had a really cool atmosphere. We were there ealier in the day so that staff was not that sociable, (yes, I am trying to justify it), we were pretty much the only ones there and my buddys were stuck watching the TV most of the time. I really don't know what else to say... Anyway, The beer...

I ordered a flight of everything they had on tap. Of course, they would be out of several of their own house beers but thats ok, right? The first tray came out and on it the La Rubia, Rye Wit,Freetail Ale, Primavera Prematura, and Broken Promise. I wish I knew more about these beers or this brewery because maybe that would have helped but I really don't know.

The La Rubia tasted kind of metallic to me. I didn't think that made anysense being it was on draft. There were also hints of apple and it had a creamy mouthfeel. Not really what I was expecting from a blonde.

The Rye Wit was a tad sour up front. I could not tell if it was intentional or just a defect somewhere along the line. I think it could have worked. The beer was really dry and wine like. This may be what contributed to the sourness... It did have a nice rye spicyness, and a wheat sweetness, though.

This is another one of my peeves. Freetail Ale. It is an Amber ale. I understand that everyone has their own style of beer, how they make it, how they like it, and how they drink it but not everything needs to be hoppy, IMHO. This beer wasn't overly hoppy but you lose all the characteristics of the amber nonetheless. Nice bitterness, though over powering in the finish. Grassy. Lingers. Not in a good way.

Just when I was about to give up hope about liking any of the samples that were brought to my table I stumble upon Premavera Prematura, a Saison. There is a lot I like about this beer. It really saved the day. I kind of wish I could have called it quits at this point. The expected yeast character did not come through as I hoped but it was a tad spicy and there was an underlying sweetness. This was probably due to the honey in which they use when they brew it. A floral nose and flavor was also right up front of this one.

Broken Promise EPA... I felt nothing of note for this brew as well. Nice, upfront hops but really, just alright. Very drinkable. At this point I do not know why I decided to ask for the second tray but I did anyway, so shame on me, right?

I am actually glad I did order the second tray though. This is where we got into the interesting beers. Things you would never expect and that no one else is doing. Prickly Fairy Peril, Spirulina Wit, Chile Limon Wit, and Ugly Ollie Stout.

Just check out the color on the Prickly Fairy Peril. So pink. I really had no idea what to expect. That goes the same for all of these... well, except the stout. On my first taste I was very confused. I could not stop drinking it but I did not want to proceed as well. Everyone else around the table hated it. I saw it as good for a taster but never a whole pint. Great nose. Very sweet, dry, pear flavor. Seems more winesque than beer. A great redeemer.

After that, I was expecting great things from Spirulina Wit... Meh, More of a wheat, don't really know what to say. Nothing stood out. Oh well.

The Chile Limon. Well. It tasted exactly as it sounds. Again. Not much to say. Though, try it if you ever get the chance... or just eat something Chile Limon flavored and imagine it wet.

At least I can say the day ended with a Stout. Ugly Ollie, Love the roasted nose. Dark and cocoa... Ie... Very burnt at the start, mellows out light finish though flavor lingers. Malt bitterness. Coffee is of primary importance to this beer.

That finished up this trip. I was honestly expecting more from this brewery. I enjoyed my offerings from BJ's more, and you know what I was expecting from them. Though, I had hard times finding craft beer in Texas. Only a few companies that I enjoyed and some I wish I could have gotten to.

So Long Texas.



Shiner Tasting

One thing I figured I should do before leaving Texas was to get out to the Spoetzl brewery. The brewers of the beer, Shiner Bock. I had rough plans to get out and visit the brewery while checking out a baseball game and etc etc etc. Well, those plans fell through. Not for any reason specifically but yeah. Well one of my favorite craft beer spots out here, The Friendly Spot, actually had their whole line up in bottles one night. I figured that drinking there would be just as good as visiting the brewery. I love the environment, the people, and I didn’t have to travel way the hell out of my way to do it.

When I got to The Friendly Spot I looked around at what they had that was new or something I could not resist and guess what I found… HOPTIMUM!!! I have been wanting this one so bad. I could not let it go. But anyway, I had to get the night of Shiner drinking going after this.

I started the night by ordering a Dortmunder Spring Ale, Shiner Blonde, and a Wild Hare. I have had the Wild Hare before but I just thought it would be a decent palate cleanser before moving on…

Dortmunder… Well, It had a decent golden hue and was pretty clean. It was really sweet and floral and had a light carbonation… I guess I can see how this one was meant to be a spring ale but overall I was not a fan of it. The Blonde had a hazy straw colored appearance and a butterscotch nose. The blonde was surprisingly earthy and had a light mouthfeel… again, this made me wonder about this brewery. I moved on to the Wild Hare. Which is just a solid beer. Nothing special but not bad. I have had the Shiner Bock before and the Shiner Black. The only ones that were left for me to try were The Hefe and Blonde Light… I decided to say screw it and got into beers I knew I would appreciate. The night ended up being big… bigger than I would have first thought to believe. I had a Lagunitas Censored, a Leinenkugels Summer Shandy, Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard, 512 IPA, and… Dogfish Head Black & Blue.

I have been looking for Black & Blue for quite some time now. Totally exceeded my expectations. Everything about this beer is just simply amazing. The aroma, the flavor, the mouthfeel. It was just everything that I call classic DFH but in a good way and not the usual they are only doing it because they can. This is for sure one I am going to be coming back to time and time again. I hope I can find some bottles of it in store.



BJ's Restaurant & Brewery

I have seen BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery around ever since I first moved down to Los Angeles and then when I went to visit home, I saw that they opened one in my hometown. Kick ass, right? I mean, another brewery, even if it is a chain taking residence and spreading the love of craft beer to the masses. What more could one ask for?

So, not going to lie. I totally thought this place was going to be like Sam Adams. If we have ever talked about beer, you would know that I call Sams the BMC of craft. Oh Boy was I wrong.

BJ’s is actually a pretty decent brewery. Those who have came before me said I should start with their Jeremiah Red and that they did not do tasters so go from there. I asked our waitress, Elena, such an awesome woman who actually appreciates beer and was able to talk to us about everything on the menu and her favorite commercially available beers, IPAs. Green Flash West Coast was actually what she said to be her favorite. That just made the night so much better because she did not look like a beer drinker at all… okay, lost my train of thought… I asked her for tasters, yeah, that’s where I was. She told me Hell to the Score Yeah!

I started form the bottom of the list and tried everything that they had available. I even had a few non/new craft drinkers with me to experience these beers and they are starting to realize what we all love about this drink and realizing it is not just used to get drunk.

The first set of brews were the; Lightswitch Lager, Brewhouse Blonde, Harvest Hefeweizen, and the Piranha Pale Ale. Things started off as I totally expected, as I said earlier. The Lightswitch Lager was a bit grainy and I thought it to be a nice lawnmower beer, though quite refreshing. Not really what I look for in a lager but it was not bad in the least bit. Just about average.

The Brewhouse Blonde was very pleasant, sweet, and had a nice, mellow hop flavor. I didn’t find much more about this one to like but it was good none the less. At this point I was not regretting coming here for beer but still, just living up to my expectations and I could not wait to get done with these first 4 to get to the much anticipated red. Harvest Hefeweizen. A very mellow spiciness on top of a lemon citrus and it had a semi sour finish.

Piranha Pale Ale. This is when we started getting into their tasty beer in my opinion. I would call this a well made pale ale. The bitterness was nice throughout, it was not overpowering the flavor of the cascade hops was completely delicious. A very great example of the style. This is the point, too, where I ordered my second set of 4 beers… They had a new beer on the menu as well. I do not know how new, or if it is a seasonal or anything. Questions like these are the ones I should ask when I am sitting around. But I failed to do so… too bad.

Hop Storm IPA: Again, BJs did really good with brewing a beer style that is overdone. This beer was really balanced and smooth. It uses 6 varieties of hops and it had a ton of the hop flavor. It was more like an explosion, but it was not a hop bomb. I overall thought this to be a very good IPA.

Jeremiah Red. This is the beer that everyone told me to start with. They said this was the best of their whole line up and everything else falls short compared to it. I thought it was good, but did not agree it was the best. Jeremiah Red had a nice malt backbone with toffee sitting up front and a nice, mellow, sweetness. There was a lot of great flavor to this beer. This was one of the better beers here, but not the best.

Nutty Brewnette was very toasty and the hazelnut was all throughout this beer. It had a sharp finish and a lasting flavor. Good brown ale.

PM Porter. What does the PM stand for? I have no idea… I thought I did at one point but meh, not important I guess. One of the better porters I’ve had that was not already one of my favorites. Caramel and Chocolate fighting with each other for dominance, very robust, dark malts bite the tongue. Beers that drink like this are what makes Porter one of my favorite styles.

As we are about to head out, Elena decides to bring me the last beer in their lineup. The Tatonka Stout. When she brought it to the table, watching the head flow from the bottom to the top just got me really excited about this stout before I was even able to smell it. This stout reminded me a lot of coffee. From the flavor, to the creaminess, the roasty-ness, and how burnt it was. A great beer to finish the night out with and my first time ever at BJs.

This place really impressed me. I guess I came in not expecting too much but I left wishing I could have taken a few of these home. At least I know this restaurant/brewery is everywhere so I can get back to it if I ever felt the need.



The Alamo Draft House

For this post, it will be kind of hard, but I will try and hide my excitement. This was honestly one of the best experiences I have ever had in a movie theatre… and not just because I saw The Avengers. I was nearly as excited when I went to see SpiderMan 1, Inception, The Matrix, and countless other films… but you should have expected that from me already. This was simply because of the fact that it seemed as if the theatre catered to my every need… when it comes to food and craft beer that is. I also kind of pulled a dick move to see this movie, but I REALLY wanted to see it, and those who know me understand me know exactly why I purchased tickets even though there were not enough for our complete party available.

So, as you have expected, I went to the Alamo Draft House in San Antonio, Texas. I really wish I could have been there a few weeks ago in Austin for the Off Centered Film Fest, but I clearly missed that. Sucks. I heard Dogfish Head was there with some great stuff… and I would have loved to experience Austin. But, oh well, there will be other times… or maybe what I was looking for was just not worth it in the first place… Then again, my experience with 512 has been awesome so far. I wish I could get out there and see what they are all about.

That gets me to here. Over the course of the night, I had about 5 pints. I was actually disappointed they cut me off when they did. They did so with everybody but I was just not ready to stop. The movie just started to get interesting at this point. I started the night off with a Ranger Creek OPA, (Oatmeal Pale Ale), just because I have heard quite a bit about it and they were actually having a “release party” for it at another restaurant tonight.

It was dark in the theatre and cell phone use is kind of prohibited so I don’t have many pictures, but notes, quick, fast and to the point. I had a couple amazing beers tonight. Made the top of my top list, so here I go.

Ranger Creek OPA: Very Nice. Not what I was expecting from an IPA… though, the oatmeal probably had something to do with that. It had orange character, bready, but pretty much a Pale Ale.

After this beer I followed it up with a 512 Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter… This beer I thought was just amazing. It kind of threw me for a loop at first because the nose is overly intoxicating with the scent of the whiskey barrels, but not in a bad way. I thought the flavor would be completely over powering but it was actually quite smooth. I mean, I could totally taste it in there but, compared to my experience with the normal pecan porter, the pecan flavor really came through and lingered into the finish. I really appreciate this beer and hope to have it again someday. It was just what I needed on a day like today.

I decided to go with another Austin brew, from the Independence Brewing Company. Stash IPA. I am all about trying new beers from anybody out there and, even though this was an IPA, I said, “Why not, bring it to me!” They know exactly what they are doing. This IPA was very mellow. As if they actually paid attention to the history of this style and did not just try and hop bomb it. Very balanced. The malt was very present in the back and cut through the piney/orangey flavor of the hops. There was a bit of residual sweetness from the caramel malt I’d say.

After this I went with a semi familiar beer, just because I did not know what else they had and what I should do. I was very into the movie and it was dark, and I didn’t really want to try and read through the listing of beers and miss more than I already did being I had to; 1: Break the seal. 2: Trying to read the menu once already. 3: I don’t really have a three, but I didn’t want to create one either.

Magic Hat #9. I only had this beer once before and once again, it did not disappoint. Totally a mouth full of pretzel and cheese… or was it mustard… wait, I mean apricots… Stay focused. But the pretzel was awesome. There was a light bitterness and it was very delicate. Something meant to be enjoyed but not over done. I would love to try more from this brewery for sure.

The Last beer of the night was Shiners Wild Hare. Why did I get this one? Because I thought my waiter said it was Wild Hen. I have never heard of it and said, “That is what I want. BRING IT!” yeah, oh well… not saying Wild Hare isn’t good. It’s just I’ve had it time and time again. I guess it was a solid beer to go out on but I was trying to go for the unfamiliar. FAIL!

Well, here is a little something to enjoy as you finish this off.



Craft Tasting With Non-Craft Drinkers

What A Day, What A Day. Converting the masses one person and one tasting session at a time. Just this last weekend my buddies were throwing a house party and I figured, you know what… ,I will try and make this one a little more interesting than the usual BMC, Beer Pong, Shots, Wrestling, and Loud Music. I picked up various bottles of my favorite brews and a random collection of ones I have not had before. We still had the usual stuff for the party but I was actually able to enjoy beer this time around. I even picked up some little disposable wine glasses to add to the character of the night.

The hardest part of setting this thing up was trying to decide in what order we should get the tasting going. Wells Banana Bread made the top of the list because I wanted to show them that beer could actually have quite a bit of flavor and it isn’t that fizzy yellow drink that they are so used to. I had a request for the Golden Monkey to be next. Not what I would have went with but I was not going to disappoint my tasters either. After this I set up the rest of the night like a taster tray and poured the Dundee beers. I have never had these ones before but the variety pack was actually a pretty good deal and gave us more of a variety. Poured the English Ale, Nut Brown and Porter. Followed that up by a personal favorite, New Belgium 1554. Probably my favorite beer. For sure my first beer love. After that Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Delirium Tremens, Sierra Nevada Pale and to end the night Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA.

I am going to let one of the tasters who is actually beginning to appreciate beer give his opinions on the brews. He actually took the time to find flavor, see what I was talking about, and tasting it for himself. Besides the Dundee’s, these are all some of my favorite brews that I have had and will continue to have time and time again. Though, when it came to the Nut Brown and the Porter, Dundee did not disappoint. I thought the English Ale was pretty solid but not one that I would go back to with other options around. So, here are his thoughts…

Wells Banana Bread: Your drinking bananas. It was fantastic, I had never had a banana beer before but it made me want to find other ones. Mom’s banana bread in a blender. Simple as that.

Dundee Nut Brown: One of my favorites of the night. I remember a hazelnut taste that was just enough nutty. The after taste lasted all the way until it was time to try the next beer, and because of that I didn’t want to try the next one. I had a permanut taste in my mouth.

Dundee Porter: mehhh… I’d say it was ok. Not a huge Porter fan in the first place, I remember it being a lot more hoppy than I expected. Of the 3 Dundee beers that I tried this was my least favorite, only because I enjoy beers that arnt so hoppy. Everybody else that had it really seemed to like it though, so I think it all just came down to my preference in beer. Try it for yourself, see what you think.

New Belgium 1554: This beer made me want to take a beercation to Belgium. 6 stars on a 5 star scale. I loved it. This is the beer I will open on the day of the birth of my first born son. I want 1554 body wash so I can smell like it at all times. Actually scratch that, I just want it to come out of the showerhead. I went out and bought 1554 footy pajamas. This beer made me cry, not because I was sad… It was just that at this point in my life I knew I was complete.

Sierra Nevada Summerfest: I
Delirium Tremens: Was
Sierra Nevada Pale: Too
Sierra Nevada Torpedo: Wasted.