January In Review

So a little bit of December bled into the beginning of January but it has been a fun month. I just wanted to take a look back and see where I had fun and what I truly enjoyed.I did 27 post this month, not counting this one. That is pretty big. Though, I was all over the place at the start of this blog. I am now finally "settled".

I only brewed twice this month, two 5 gallon batches, but they were both special beers. Ok, so I actually did a Mr Beer Kit as well, but that is for an upcoming post in a few days. I just wanted to get my tasting notes into there as well... I don't image it being pretty but lets talk about some good beers.
Pirates Booty, a Robust Oaked Rum Porter that some of the spent grain ended up being turned into Doggy Biscuits.

Also, my unnamed Flanders Red. This sour hopefully turns out good and last the test of time so that it will grow along with the little one for a number of years.

I will post further updates on those as they progress in the fermentation and aging process. I posted about Santa Berry as well.
This month I also wrote two non-beer reviews. A great Bourbon, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and a great Shiraz, Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz. One was kind of beer related but, you know. Still not the same.

I got sent a couple of Beers From Home this year, Silver City St Florian IPA & Fremont Interurban IPA. I actually got a bottle of The Dissident from Deschutes as well, but that is for a review I am writing up after April about Conflux No. 1: Collage. I wish I was into beer before I left Washington, but I guess that gives me more to look forward to when I do go back.

I've done my second Side By Side comparison, The Lost Abbey Mo Betta Bretta vs New Belgium Brett Beer, and I am trying to put together quite a few more. Just need to figure out what beers should be a part of it. The first being Allagash White vs Blue Moon.

I got my first taste of Jolly Pumpkin this month, Calabaza Blanca. Even though I was not a fan there are several others I want to find and try. I got some great suggestions so I hope to find those soon.

And to finish things off, in Alphabetical order, my

Top Beers Of The Month:

Epic Fermentation Without Representation
Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter.
Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine
New Belgium La Folie
Sierra Nevada Narwhal

This seems to have been a big month. I can only imagine what is ahead of me in my Beer-Ventures.



1001 Beers: Golden Monkey

Beer Number 31: Victory Golden Monkey

This is a beer I have had many times before and actually the first Victory ale that I liked. I don't know if something was off with this batch, but it tasted a little different to me this time... I also forgot to take a picture of it before I drank it. There is the bottle though!

Golden Monkey was originally created to be a one-off limited-edition bottling. The reaction to the Belgian-style tripel was so positive that Victory deceded to keep on brewing the ale, adding it to the brewery's year-round lineup. Imported two-row malt, European hops, and crushed coriander seed are the ingredients used to make the beer. The yeast that sparks the ale's fermentation was obtained by Victory from a small brewery in Wallonia, Belgium.
The beer had a golden color to it, which is very fitting given the name and a somewhat billowy, rocky head. It lasted quite some time. The nose was yeasty and had a little bit of spice. On the first sip I got some of the character that I remembered from this beer but overall, something was off. It seemed tangier and more tart than usual and not in a good way.

The, whatever I tasted, stuck with me throughout the whole beer. Usually the first sip of this one catches me off guard but this one bleck. The spices came through in the end and made the finish decent but that taste really lingered. The higher carbonation level did nothing to help either.

I usually enjoy this beer but it was hard to drink. I can't say why. I honestly had no idea this beer was 9.5% until sitting here to write this post. It hides it very well. This can be a dangerous drink... maybe that's why they say the "Monkey Is Dangerous: Respect The Monkey." hmmm...

970 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



L's Ales: Flanders Red

This is a beer I have been planning for months, even years... unofficially. I have always wanted to do a sour beer and I have always had a reason in mind. Beers such as La Folie greatly influenced the creation of this beer. Actually, La Folie was the only beer that influenced this one but if you have ever had it... You will understand.

So the reason I wanted to brew this is to age it for a number of years and drink a little bit of it on an annual basis. Checking for change over the years and to celebrate the day a little creature came into my life. Now that it is happening, I figured this should be brewed and it will probably be named after her. Yeah, this beer officially has no name at the moment but it is in the carboy and I am going to pitch the bugs to make this thing really sweet, (or sour, actually), very soon.

Since I decided to start using some of my spent grain for stuff, I saved more from this batch of beer. Quite a bit more. I plan to make a ton of flour just to have around and this long brewday got me wanting one of my favorite things! Ok, two. Beer and Breakfast!

The spent grain waffles were pretty easy to make I used the same website I used when I made Pirates Booty Into Dog Buscuits, The Growler. Here are the directions. I cut the recipe in half since I would be the only one eating them and I still got 4 waffles out of it. If you want pancakes, I am sure it works the same way. I mean, I use pancake batter to make waffles, right?
2 cups flour
¾ cup spent grains, compressed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cup milk
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your waffle iron and whisk together wet ingredients, except the spent grain. Gradually add in dry ingredients and finally the spent grain. Mix until combined. Pour batter into the center of the iron, about a ½ cup per batch and cook according to your machine’s directions.
I didn't measure the vanilla and I threw in some cinnamon. I love those two things in just about everything. I should have put some Sriracha on it... Anyway, I say give it a try. I still want to make those damn pretzels. Another day. I have a little extra spent grain so I can probably do it before I brew my next batch.



1001 Beers: Gonzo Imperial Porter

Beer Number 30: Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

So, Once I got out to North Carolina I kind of went on a little Flying Dog binge... It was not a bad thing and I was able to find their beers back in LA, but something about seeing them out here just made me go crazy I had to try them all. This happened to become one of my favorites.

After author Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide in 2005, the Flying Dog Brewery chose to honor his memory the best way they knew how--by making a limited edition beer. The first batch of Gonzo Imperial Porter, named with a nod to Thompson's 'gonzo' style of journalism, was 9 percent abv. It proved popular enough for Flying Dog to make it a regular release (although they did drop its strength to 7.8 percent). Ralph Steadman, who illustrated much of Thompson's work and began creating Flying Dog artwork in 1995, drew the label with a skeletal portrait of Thompson and a voice bubble saying, "OK, let's party!"
There is some more interesting information in there as well. Talking about the days when they used to be in Denver and the ties to Thompson, and trouble the brewery had with simple things like Steadman's label. Interesting for sure.

The dark black beer with the big tan head was pretty cool. Wish I could have tried the 9% version but I really wonder how much different the beer way. The beer had an extremely malty and thick feeling to it and a lot of dark, roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and a bit of hidden alcohol... or a lot. But it bit you in the ass on the nose. In 2008 this beer took home a Gold medal in the World Beer Cup. Good stuff. One of my favorite of their releases.

971 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



Fremont: Interurban IPA

Fremont Interurban IPA is another beer that my sister had sent me back from home. Yet again, another brewery I have never had or been to before... Though, I think these beers were on tap at Teatro ZinZanni. I love that place but I cannot remember if they were the ones I drank or not. I didn't write notes or even check it in. That is not a place you go to use Social Media. Highly recommended to check them out. Anyway, back to this IPA.

Fremont takes pride in their local area as well. This place opened up about the same time that I started hombrewing. It would have been awesome to get out there in the early days but my loss, right? Here is a little story about their IPA from the website.
Interurban India Pale Ale

Named after Fremont’s most famous outdoor sculpture, Waiting for the Interurban, Interurban India Pale Ale offers the adventurous beer lover a warm embrace of roasted pale malt swirled with a hand-selected blend of flavor malts and filled with the rich spice of Chinook, Centennial and Amarillo hops. Interurban India Pale is a session beer, eminently drinkable throughout the year.

I would not agree with their description of this beer being a session ale since it sits at 6.2% ABV, but after having tasted it, I can see how this beer can be a good conversation piece. Maybe drink it slow and then pick up their 77 Fremont Select. I have not had that one, so I cannot talk about it but that beer actually fits in the session category. It is even about to be released according to their calendar.

When I first cracked this bottle the hoppy aroma filled the room. I take that as an instant plus. I wish I knew when this beer was bottled. I believe it is code dated but there is no other indication of date on the bottle. When I poured it in the glass it was a golden honey color and a big rocky head formed on top. The nose was very fruity and tropical.

I really enjoyed drinking this one. This was a very juicy IPA. It started off sweet and a lot of pineapple and grapefruit I would say. Some pine with the bitterness creeping in and this is where you get some very earthy flavors. The finish is a little grassy and quite dry. Medium bodied and I thought it was nice this beer was a little bready. Highly drinkable and a great conversation piece, but I would not call it sessionable. I could definitely feel this one. It was hard to stop drinking it. 4/5. Also, I love their slogan.

Because Beer Matters



Woodford Reserve: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Yes, This is another "Not Beer" post but after reading about it on Distilled Reflections I had to pick it up. I actually got the bottle for Christmas and I had no idea it was going to be there. I love that people actually get me things they know I like. Hell, my sister sent me a few bottles of beer from back home. That was pretty damn awesome.

This Bourbon was pretty damn good. It was my first time having this one and it will not be my last. I have no idea how many batches they have produced so far but I am assuming this bottle is fairly new. Batch 652... though, I really have no way of telling. I will have to compare it to whatever batch number I get the next time I pick up a bottle. Very soon. For those who don't know, this is how the different categories of Whiskey are broken down via Copy & Paste from Wiki.
Bourbon whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% corn (maize).
Corn whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 80% corn.
Malt whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% malted barley.
Rye whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% rye.
Rye malt whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% malted rye.
Wheat whiskey, which is made from mash that consists of at least 51% wheat.
Now I am not sure exactly what a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is but that is how this bottle is labeled and it clocks in at 45.2% alcohol. This is a straight sipper. One meant to be enjoyed, not just shot. I am kind of interested in making a Manhattan with it. They have a few recipes on their website. I thought they had some recipes from a contest they were holding featuring different bartenders around the country but I cannot find that link. Oh well.

On the nose I picked up some spice and vanilla. It was nice buy you got a little fire up in there, too. I let an under-appreciating buddy have some with me and he pointed out that it, "Smells really strong.", whatever that means hah! I wonder if liquor has a term for it but I in beer you are looking for lacing in your glass and in wine you are looking for the legs in the glass. This Bourbon had something similar to legs going on for sure. You would take a sip and just watch the way it creeps back down into the glass. I should look into that. Is it a sign of body? Hmm...

I picked up on quite a bit of honey and I would say that vanilla character in the nose comes through in the glass as well. A bit of a nice spice and fire on the back end as it goes down. I rolled it around my tongue for quite sometime before I did give it that swallow. It is a very smooth drinking Bourbon. I loved a lot about this one. I hope to be able to get more out of it once I try other Bourbons and find the little nuances that exist in those. I'd love to try a Rye Whiskey. I love using Rye in Homebrew, so I am sure it would be good in this situation.



1001 Beers: Anchor Steam

Beer Number 29: Anchor Steam Beer

I was once in San Francisco and I had intentions on finding the Anchor brewery. I wanted to try some beers and probably bring home a growler. But after a long day and a horrible time at 21st Amendment trying to find Anchor was just not a priority. Next time for sure when I visit the family... hopefully anyway.

I was actually at The Flying Saucer when I ran into this beer. I love their selection. Things may not be the best or the coolest, but they sure do stock a lot. This was my time to see what I missed out on in SF!

Steam beers were once widespread across the American West: they were an attempt to re-create the lagers familiar to those coming from the East, where migrant German brewers held sway, but without ice cut from the rivers and lakes that abounded in colder climates. The resulting beer was a hybrid, lager yeast fermented at ale temperatures. As for the term "steam," the old books refer to the high pressure of the beer and the cloud of "steam" released when they were tapped. Anchor is the last of this breed and owns the trademark on the word "steam".
One of the awesome things about pouring this beer was the big rocky head up there. I kind of poured it all funny-like but that was a cool sight to see. The beer itself was slightly sweet and very creamy. A clean ale. Not too much seemed out of place flavor wise. It has a light caramel flavor to it and it is a bit dry. Seems like a nice ale for a nice day. Anchor's Former? President, Fritz Maytag, described the beer like this.
It's not a radical beer, just mellow, pleasant, rich, and satisfying.
Simply put.

972 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



Birra Etrusca Bronze

Dogfish Head has done it again. They have found an ancient artifact that was suspected to be used to drink a beer from way back in the day. They had it analyzed and put together the ingredients to create another Ancient Ale, Birra Etrusca Bronze. This beer was discovered with the help and research of a couple other breweries and an archaeologist. They are all releasing a version of this beer from what I understand. Apparently this ale changed the game. They went out of their way to show that Italians not only like wine, that they also had room for beer at their dinner table.
Birra del Borgo and Baladin also will brew a version of Birra Etrusca, and to add complexity and variety, each brewery will ferment its batches with different traditional materials. Dogfish will use bronze, Baladin will use wood, and Birra del Borgo will use terra cotta.
The list of ingredients on this one were kind of wild. The bottle list Honey, Hazelnut Flour, Heirloom Wheat, Myrrh (which I had no idea was so valuable), Gentian root (whatever that is), Raisins, Pomegranate Juice, & Pomegranates. That is quite a bit of ingredients. I would probably never track down any of that stuff to make a brew. Then again, that is their thing.

I totally bet this was intentional but I love how this ancient ale was bronze when it poured into the glass. I thought the aroma was kind of weird. There was a lot going on but it was hard for me to pinpoint much of anything. I can say it was herbal and I want to say I got some pomegranate and yeast. Again, hard to determine.

Tasting this beer was a little tough to figure out, too. There was a sweetness to it and some spices. Malty but thin with a medium body... if that makes sense... I enjoyed the pomegranate, wheat, bread... I had to think about this one a lot. Maybe I need a guided tasting of this one since it is so different from anything else out there. It reminded me a bit of Midas Touch.

Honestly, I don't know where to stand on this one. It was not bad, but it was not great, IMO, either. Very Complex. Just There. So Different. I wish I had others around me when I opened this so I could have gotten their opinions.



Widmer: Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout

I get to try another Widmer brew today. Another selection from my Beermas collection. Like I said before, I like the direction the company is moving... or have I just not noticed it before? This Beer seems to have only been brewed a few times. I found an 2008 Entry, 2012, and 2013 of the Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout. This beer is part of the Alchemy Project, which is very hard to find any information about on their website. I had to go to other sources in order to figure it out. I found the press release on the Seattle Beer News site.

PORTLAND, Ore. – March 28, 2012 – Widmer Brothers Brewing has released Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout ’12, the second offering in the brewery’s recently launched Alchemy Project, a series of three bold, vintage-dated craft beers that can be enjoyed immediately, but are brewed to improve with age.

Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout was first brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in 2008 for the Portland Holiday Ale Festival. In the summer of 2011, Widmer Brothers brewers discovered a barrel of the initial batch, which was known as Babushka’s Secret, in the brewery’s cellar. After tasting the beer and realizing how well the beer aged with time, the brewing team decided to brew the beer again as part of the Alchemy Project. Beginning this year, Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout will be released once a year as part of the project.

“This is our unique interpretation of the Russian Imperial Stout style, with the addition of red raspberries during the fermentation process,” said Ben Dobler, brewer at Widmer Brothers Brewing. “The use of Midnight Wheat gives this beer an extra layer of complexity, and the antioxidant-rich red raspberries give this beer storage-ability and age-ability.”

So, there you have it. Pretty much a limited seasonal... or not so limited. I can't really tell. They are trying to promote vertical tastings, nonetheless. This is my first, and the only one I have had in the series.

I have no idea where they got the visualization that this beer is "purplish opaque"... I'd call it pitch black. Even when I hold it up to the light, I get nothing. The beer had a brown head that dissipated rather quickly and a sweet raspberries on the nose and you can tell this beer has a big malty background even before taking the first sip.

This beer is very assertive. The strong, tart, sweet, bitterness that opens this beer pretty much sets you up for the rest. It does mellow out and then you get a lot of chocolate and raspberries. This beer is quite roasted and thick, though it drank really smooth. I wonder if the body or the fruit hid the 9.3% alcohol. Either way, it was an interesting beer.

I don't think I would pick it up again. I think the bomber was just way too much. A 6oz pour of this would probably be perfect. It has an awesome bottle though, I will have to keep that and try to turn it into a glass, even though I have been having great success with that so far...



Olde Hickory: The Bean

Bottle Revolution has teamed up with Olde Hickory Brewery and together they created, The Bean. Bottle Revolution has been around for almost a year and a half and do not seem to be losing any steam. I know this isn't exactly an anniversary beer but I wonder if Bottle Revolution will go ahead and create a similar tradition to Bottleworks. I think just about any local brewery would agree to make a second anniversary ale and then see what happens from there. Bottle Revolution is kind of World Renowned.

Bottleworks is the only other bottle shop I know that has had a brewery make a special beer for them. They are located back home in Seattle. I am sure others may have done it, but I cannot think of one other instance. Bottleworks has gotten with some pretty big breweries in the past for their anniversary beers. You may have had or remember quite a few of them. #9 From Russian River, #10 From New Belgium, #11 From Big Sky, #12 From The Bruery, & #13 From Stone. That was as far back as I could confirm, and I wonder who is going to take #14...

Anyway though, I kind of got way off target. Here is the Bottle Revolution Announcement.
Olde Hickory Brewery has brewed a beer for us!!! Behold: 'The Bean' is a stout with vanilla beans & coffee. The quick story on the lovely pooch in the picture: Bean is my dog, an SPCA adoptee ... and one of the most fabulous dogs you'll ever meet.
With that said, The Bean.

This beer came as an instant shock to me when I popped it open and poured it. Nothing unusual. It had a deep, dark brown appearance and a small tan head that dissipated rather quickly. Probably as a result of the coffee bean oils. But when I took my first whiff of this one... SPICY SPICE SPICE in my nose. It was not overly spicy or even hot for that matter. Just the coffee came off a lot stronger there than I was expecting. Though, don't get me wrong it is not that strong on the nose at all either. Confusing, huh? Go get one.

The Bean had a fairly light body and a rush of coffee initially. You get a little bit of chocolate and vanilla that help to smooth things out and the carbonation just bubbles around your mouth in a fairly nice manner. This stout is pretty sweet but very easy drinking. I poured it at 52f, but it gets better as you drink it. Each sip is better than the previous.

If you are expecting a radical, out of control beer, this is not it. The Bean is well crafted and I feel it goes back to the basics of what a beer should be. More brewers should do this. Take a step back and brew a good beer instead of trying to push the envelope. Personally, I would have expected this beer to have a bit more roast character to it but that may have been cut back due to the coffee and vanilla flavors in it. I am not sure what BJCP styles this one was brewed to specifically, but I feel it is a great example of 13B, Sweet Stout. 4/5



1001 Beers: Hefeweizen

Beer Number 28: Widmer Hefeweizen

Widmer is a brewery that is fairly close to me back at home and I saw it everywhere I went. You could get a Widmer Hefe pretty much anywhere that sold beer and it was a common pick up for people, from my memory anyway, before Blue Moon became what it is today. Again, from my memory. Maybe it was just the local, hometown beer thing. I can't really say.

Widmer is actually changing a lot about what I remember it as. Or maybe I am just noticing more of what they are doing since now I am into beer... again, all the questions about beer at home I just can't answer. I do remember the packaging changing, the release and retirement of a lot of new and old beers, plus their brew and glass set series, thing they are doing. That I know for sure is all new. When it comes to this beer though, it definitely says something about home.

In 1984, brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer opened either the first or second microbrewery in the state of Oregon (accounts differ). Widmer Hefeweizen came about after a local pub owner asked them for an exclusive beer. It is brewed with U.S. hop varieties Cascade, Alchemy, and Willamette, and four types of barley and wheat. With a Hefeweizen that has crisp, clean flavors, but does not have the signature character of its German cousins, the Widmers created the new U.S.-style Hefeweizen. It has won gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival twice, in 1998 and 2006, and has been awarded a gold medal at the World Beer Cup in both 2004 and 2008.

Widmer is the best-selling Hefeweizen in the United States and is popular year-round.
Again, what I was saying. My memories of this beer all revolve around cut up slices of Orange and them sitting in the beer or on the glass. Not really how I would like any of my beers presented to me... And actually, my memories don't revolve around a glass. The orange would be cut up and shoved in the top of the bottle and you drink it from that. Oh, how far I have come since those days.

This beer is quite hazy on appearance and comes with a decent pure white head. The nose is very light and citrusy. Oranges. But you expected that. When you drink it, once again, more oranges. Oranges throughout this whole beer. It is a very light and mellow hefe though, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you are drinking a glass of orange juice or biting into one, it is still beer. The flavor is just througout. Fairly refreshing and a tad earthy.

This is not my style of Hefeweizen. I like to taste bananas and cloves. Some grapefruit maybe. But that is just me. Like the book said, this is the best selling hefe year round... I wonder if that is still true with Blue Moon what it is now...

973 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



Magic Hat: Humdinger Burnpile

Another beer that I got for Christmas was from the Humdinger Collection of Magic Hat Brewing. I still have quite a few Beermas beers and I should probably get working on them since a couple happen to be seasonal. Anyway, I have no idea what a Humdinger is or what this collection was about. I originally thought that was the name of the beer but once I actually payed attention to the bottle I discovered that it is Burnpile, a Smoked Porter. They even promise that there is, A Performance In Every Bottle.
A Humdinger is a very special breed of Magic Hat. Sometimes in 750ml bottles, sometimes only on tap at the Artifactory, Humdingers appear when our brewers want them to appear. Beers like Braggot, Thumbsucker and Chaotic Chemistry are all of the Humdinger species. They're of a single batch and are very limited. But it's worth the suspense if you can get some on your tongue.
I have not had many beers from Magic Hat. I thought Number 9 was alright and I plan to revisit that one fairly soon. I picked up their IPA collection and there were a few of those that were alright but nothing really stood out to me. One that I really want to get my hands on is the "Heart Of Darkness". Not because of anything I heard about the beer. I just want to drink an "Art Of Darkness", "Tart Of Darkness", "Heart Of Darkness", and a "Darkness" if I can get my hands on them. Though, it seems like it will be nearly impossible in some cases.

Smoked Porters are a style that I have had limited experience with and I am trying to seek out. I had a good one from Stone and it's variations and an American Style Smoked Porter from Belgium, Viven. So, I was kind of looking forward to drinking this.

This beer poured a deep black with a quick fading brown head. There was some smoke on the nose but it seemed a bit off. It was a fairly light smoke at that. I think it seemed like more of an off scent that an intentional one. What really caught me off guard were the first sips. This beer was thin as all hell. I was expecting a lot more body. This was pretty much like drinking sweet, roasty water.

You get some dark fruits in here. I cannot exactly put my finger on what... I was thinking plums but it was not that sweet. I also think it was a bit metallic. This is not what I was expecting out of a Smoked Porter. Hell, this is not what I was expecting out of a Porter. I'd give this beer a 2/5. I think it missed all of the key points of the style even if there were issues with my bottle. I was just expecting more.



Jim Barry: The Lodge Hill

Yes, I know, this is not beer. But hold on. This is one of the best wines I have ever tasted. I have probably had 5 bottles of this to myself in the last year... and besides, I am going to oak some oak chips on this for a Flanders Red I am brewing in a few days! The chips will be going into the secondary. I just have to decide the right window to add them in since I am also throwing some bugs in there.

The Lodge Hill is a Shiraz from Jim Barry down there in Australia. It is made with a grape that seems to only grow well in one section of Australia, and the vinyard Jim Barry owns in that area is called, The Lodge Hill. I guess they got lucky with the location of the vinyard way back when, in the 1940's. I am pretty sure that is when I was told the winery was opened. I should probably do a little research but I think my... bartender? Winetender? Knew what she was talking about.

I first had this wine at The 20Nine which is an awesome wine and pizza bar. I don't typically like Mushrooms but the Fungi Pizza was pretty awesome. This wine paired well with it. I don't know much about wine, pretty much nothing compared to my beer knowledge but I am going to give this a shot...

So, I take it this wine has some pretty good clarity. It is hard to tell because it has a very deep purple color. The nose was nice. A little spice, like pepper but mostly fruity and juicy. Kind of like the blackberries I used to pick in my grandmas back yard. With that wine scent as well.

This wine must have some good body. While I am sitting here swirling it around looking all fancy and the like, the legs, (kind of like the lacing of a beer), are very pronounced running back down the glass. The first flavors that open up this wine are very juicy. Kind of like the blackberries I was referring to earlier. Some cranberry and maybe, is that chocolate I taste? As I swallow it goes down with a slight sour touch that turns into a kind of herbal, minty freshness. Very good.

Whatever Wine People Say When They Drink!... Ok, Just Cheers!


Flying Dog, Part 3

Now that we are at Part 3 of this Flying Dog takeover, where to start this one? I finished with Old Scratch last time so... Hmmm.... UnderDog Atlantic Lager?
Don't be an underdog in this crazy game called life. Now is no time to be a pawn. The kings and queens rule the board, so that's who you've gotta be. Keep your head up, stand tall, and carry on. We're pulling for you.

This beer had a touch of a grainy malt feel to it but the caramel really rounded it out. The crisp sweetness and the grassy hops are really what made this lager. It poured nice and bright with a rocky white head. The message this beer was trying to send across did let its true purpose be known. Always listen to the bottle.

Another seasonal that came out of nowhere, Garde Dog. The excerpt on this one is kind of hillarious.
Wee Wee (insert dirty French laugh here). Biere de Garde is a traditional French farmhouse ale brewed in March for drinking during the spring and summer months. Like another great French tradition, surrender your taste buds to Garde Dogs toasted aroma and spicy malty sweetness. Wee wee. Haw haw haw.
Ok, I guess it was pretty straight forward but the start and finish really got me. You have to admit, that is funny.

This beer presented the sweet malts up front and it was quite earthy. So far living up to the expectaions they set. The flavor has some clove and pepper but an odd, dry finish. I don't really know how to explain this one. Oh well I guess.

This next beer is a style that I do not know what to think of. I guess this one was not bad, but it did not sell me on the point either. Not everything has to be an IPA. Some things are good as is. Why try and reinvent it? Raging Bitch Belgian IPA. See, or maybe you don't... It was quite interesting. Grassy hops, medium body, a lot of the belgian character came through fro sure. but I just don't know... The excerpt on this one is a bit long... not that has stopped me before, but I guess I will let you pick up this bottle and read it while you figure the beer out.

Pearl Necklace says nothing interesting. Oh, well. Though the proceeds from purchase go to benefit a good cause... more oysters... probably for beer :D I have only had one of these before. I believe it was from Taps Fish House but it really intregued me. This one was very assertive and had a dark bitterness mixed with a soft feeling in my mouth... quite you. I don't really know how to pick out oysters but I am sure they were there. Maybe it was that twang I tasted. Not quite salty, but not quite meaty... maybe I don't know what I am talking about...

El Dorado. The Golden One. The ultimate prize legions spend their lives seeking. With overwhelming citrus aroma, sharp hop bitterness, and a crisp dry finish, this is the end of your journey. This is probably one of the best single hopped beers I have ever tasted. I mean, I know I have not had many but this one for sure takes the cake. Everything about this is amazing.

Horn Dog is a big malty monster of a brew. Fortunately, its wrath is moderately hopped and tastes like licorice and chocolate. Horn is such a robust beast that we have to keep it caged and contained at the brewery for a couple months before letting it integrate with the public. This beer pretty much is a description of me. I don't know how else to put it. The small tan head, a purple to deep ruby color and nice carbonation. Very malty with ripe fruits that are only a tad hot. Surprisingly though, it is very mellow though very complex. Robust but smooth like chocolate. I do get some of that licorice they were describing but the deep dark fruits are key. A great barley wine.

Wildeman His axe is stained with the blood of a thousand adversaries. We fall in behind him as he leads us into the darkness. He turns his gaze on us. "Tentanda via est!" The way must be tried. I am still torn on this style of beer. Nothing was done to convince me. I think that maybe IPAs and Belgians should not meet up. I mean, I preferred this to the Raging Bitch, but yeah...



Pirates Booty Becomes Doggy Biscuits!

Just a few days ago I brewed one of my favorite homebrews I have ever created. Pirates Booty! This year is my second time making it and I hope that the first time was not just beginners luck. I hope that this years version, same recipe and system, can live up the previous batch being everyone loved it. This will for sure make it's way into my line up every year from here on out. After it is bottled and properly conditioned I will decide if I need to make any changes to it.

Pirates Booty is a Robust, Oaked Rum Porter. I soaked the oak cubes in Bacardi Gold. I figured it was decent enough to sanitize the cubes and being it is extremely easy to find I would not have issues with finding it in the future. Inexpensive too... When the end of the brewday came, I decided that I wanted to do something with some of the spent grain this time. Before I have tried to make some breads. Hated most of them, but really liked one... wish I knew what recipe that was. I haven't done anything else but I would not mind trying a pizza crust. I did a little googling and came across this site.

The layout is pretty crappy but it talked about spent grain flour, dog treats, waffles, and another bread. I may give all of these a shot. I try to use the spend grain from batches that have a variety of grains. Pirates Booty carried a good variety of light and dark roasted malts so this is definitely one that I would want to use. As much as I would have loved to do the bread and waffles, this time I stuck to the spent grain flour and some dog treats. I thought it would be nice to take care of the brew dog.

Making the spent grain flour took forever. It was an annoying process more than anything at the time. Very simple though, Bake for a long time, mix it up to help it dry evenly, throw it in a blender or something. Came out looking like this.

After mixing all the ingredients together it was just as simple as cookies. Take a cutter and cut out the rolled dough. Very Simple. Bake.
Spent grain dog treats


4 cups spent grain
2 cups flour (can use spent grain flour here, or a blend)
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. olive oil


You may need to adjust the amount of flour in the recipe based on the amount of liquid left in the grains. Using your hands, mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Then shape using a cookie cutter or cut into rounds using the open end of a drinking glass with a floured rim.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes for softer, cookie-like treats (great for older dogs or puppies), or bake at 225 for 2 hours to achieve a more biscuit-like treat.
They come out looking like this... Ok, fine. They aren't really Bat Mustaches but, I had to do it! You can't tell me you would not have! It did not effect the final product.

Which is here. They look and fancy and stuff. What do they taste like you might ask? Would I taste them? HELL YEAH!!! The ingredient list did not look bad at all. If you wouldn't try at least a bite, you have issues.

They were actually pretty flavorless, I thought. I should have added twice as much peanut butter. Brew Dog didn't seem to mind though. He kept eating them until I stopped giving them to him. The recipe made a ton... Fun stuff though. Gotta love it.



Mo Betta Bretta vs Brett Beer

I don't think I have had the opportunity to drink two beers side by side that were the same beer but by different brewers. This one was going to be a real treat. Especially since I have never had Mo Betta Bretta before but I did get to experience Brett Beer at the New Belgium Brewery. Also, being I cannot get beers from The Lost Abbey here, @LouieM23 sent me a bottle.

From The Lost Abbeys blog.
A long time ago (well, 2004) in a Pizza Port not so far away (Solana Beach, CA), Tomme Arthur and New Belgium’s Peter Bouckaert brewed an all Brettanomyces beer they called Mo’ Betta Bretta.

In April of this year Peter flew from Colorado and the two joined forces once again — this time at The Lost Abbey — to do a refresh of that beer. Below is a video of what happened that day. The beer was released at the brewery on June 9th and should be hitting shelves near you the week of the June 18th.
Here are the facts from the New Belgium page on the beer.
The best part of collaboration is discovering mutual passions. With Lost Abbey, it is the wild, Belgian yeast Brettanomyces. The Lost Abbey Collaboration is brewed simply with pale malts, accompanied by Target, Centennial and Sorachi Ace hops for a hint of citrus. But the brettanomyces is in the spotlight; a full brett fermentation offers bold pineapple overtones and a funky, sour edge. The shining, golden shade is specked with haze, and the beer is warming and dry. The Lost Abbey Collaboration is full of wild wonder and will leave you wanting more.
Going through all that, I was wondering how I would like it. I decided to start with The Lost Abbey version of the beer, Mo Betta Bretta.

The Mo Betta Bretta was pretty nice. Dry and grainy but there was enough citrus on the back end to make it pleasing. The beer had a great body and a nice bubbling sensation in the mouth. Not too floral or spicy but a great herbal character. I expected it to be more sour than it was but I guess that was not the approach of this beer. Something I would drink day in and day out. An excellent beer.

Now it was time to move onto the New Belgium Beer. I thought the Brett Beer was very bready and the Belgian tones were more in your face than that of the Mo Betta. The graininess of this beer was fairly light by comparison though it did still have that poppy bubbly feeling. The spiciness of the beer was at a minimum. I heard that this version was accidentally pasteurized. I don't know if that has anything to do with it but you know.

Maybe it was not a good idea to do these two side by side because I feel they are both excellent beers but when looking at them like this, the Mo Betta Bretta is clearly the better beer. I could only look back on my notes for it while I was drinking the Brett Beer. I guess that goes to show you though.



Saint Florian IPA

I may be from Tacoma, WA and a Big Beer Dork, but I don't get much opportunity to drink Pacific Northwest Beer. I get Deschutes, Widmer, and a lot of the bigger, well known beers but the smaller, local beers I have no idea about. It is not because I don't seek out the beers. It is just because I left the area and when I did live there I was still drinking not the tastiest of beers.

I got Saint Florian in the mail from my sister, so I guess my family really does know what I want. I have never had anything from this brewery before, but I would love to check it out once I go back home for whatever reason. Saint Florian India Pale Ale is actually a beer with a cause. Which makes you feel that much better as you are drinking it.
Saint Florian, the Patron Saint of Firefighters, is now a Northwest IPA. A portion of Saint Florian’s proceeds will go to a Washington State Council of Firefighters Benevolent Fund. Silver City Brewery has a long standing partnership & tradition of working with our local Firefighters. The Benevolent Fund supports firefighters and their families as well as the general public, in their time of need.
This beer has the classic citrus and piney flavors of a West Coast IPA but it is not over powered or over bittered. Very well balanced and it has a very nice malty body and mouthfeel. I like that a lot. The flavors of the beer build on and come together with each other. I am sure it mellowed out a bit but I would love to try this fresh. I think the bottle is date stamped 100912. I got this in the mail, so I can't really help that but it is still a very nice beer.

Though, there is something in this beer that I do not like. I wish I could pinpoint what exactly the taste is. I have had it in several other beers but in this one it is not so heavy and pronounced. At first I thought maybe it was the hop Nelson Sauvin. But in all the beers I have had, there is nothing that leads me to know for sure. Silver City list the ingredients for this IPA and Nelson Sauvin is not one of them. Maybe it is the yeast... Anyway though, this is still a damn fine IPA. I enjoyed it a lot more than many others I have had despite that flavor. This one goes in all the right directions. Even though it was not fresh. 4/5



1001 Beers: La Folie

Beer Number 27: New Belgium La Folie

I don't even know where to start. This is one of my favorite beers ever! I wish could have tasted earlier bottles of this, you know, before my first taste of 2010 especially since I found out that they used to be corked! I always love the bottle art on the Lips of Faith series as well. I want to collect them just for that. It sounds like I am not the only one excited about this brew either!
New Belgium releases a variety of beers that draw their flavor and character from wooden barrels, but La Folie was the star the moment it was first released.

Not long after the began at New Belgium in 1996, brewmaster Peter Bouckaert bought twelve used wine barrels. He purchased a variety of Brettanomyces and other wild yeast, then found others along the way--harvesting what returned in old kegs of other New Belgium beers, for instance. Bouckaert tasted the beer every fourteen days, and the tastings became among the best attended at the brewery. When the time came to bottle the first batch in 2000, employees from the brewery enthusiastically pitched in.

The first batches of La Folie were sold only at the brewery, before being released to a broader market. When it comes to bottling this sour ale, employees from throughout the brewery still show up to help.
Now I don't know the exact pronunciation of this beer but it is damn delicious. I'm down to my last bottle of this one... Though, maybe I should have found more bottles before I killed my supply :'(

2011 La Folie

So, I remember having this one after it first came out and a few times since then but I do not remember it being this SOUR!!! I love it :D There is a generous vinegar sensation that just fills the palate but nice cherries just sneaking in and giving you something to rub up against the faint tones of citrus and funk. This is the beer I want to be drinking. Like all the time. I am seriously considering buying at least six bottles of 2013, finding it in a bar and only drinking it there until I feel compelled to open my first bottle... That could be only 1 week though... Maybe I better come up with a better plan...

974 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



L's Ales: Santa Berry

This is an adventure in homebrew. One of the weirdest brewdays I have had actually. Not really, but I wrote a recipe and then, while not changing the grain bill had brilliant ideas along the way. The result, L's Ales Santa Berry.

Every season I want to brew a beer to match... or even out of season I brew just because I want the style. I guess that is part of the freedom of being a homebrewer. Brew what you want, when you want it. I decided a winter warmer would be good for this year. I have never done one before but after the batch this year, I will be doing it again. Probably this same, or adjusted, recipe.

Santa Berry is an ale brewed with Cranberries and Sage. The cranberries came from the grocery store and the sage from the garden. I wish I would have wrote the recipe to an actual style instead of just calling it a Winter Warmer but looking back on it, I'd probably call it a Brown Ale.

When I wrote this recipe I had no idea how I was going to incorporate the cranberries. I did not want to add them in secondary. I wanted to use them in the boil. The last 10-15 minutes sounded like it would be a good idea but when I started gathering the first runnings I decided to pull off half a gallon of it and steep the cranberries in it. Why? Why not! Sounded like a good idea.

I miscalculated the amount of water I needed and I got close to the 9 gallon mark after my second runnings which is far too much for my brew kettle to hold and get a boil without boiling over. Sounds like a reason to upgrade to me! But for the time being, I decided to pull another 1.5 gallons out of the kettle and put it with the cranberries I already had steeping. My intentions were to add this back to the wort in the last 15 minutes of my boil. My concern with this was, well the wort will have been boiled but this that I ran off will not have and the volume may be a little much since there is no reduction... So I decided to boil this one too.

I have no idea how that effected IBU's or even how to calculate it. The Original Gravity as well. It was now that I realized, (ok before now I wanted one but hey), that I really need a refractometer because I was not able to take any readings on this beer. It would have been nice to take a reading before blending the two samples and after. My hydrometer had broke so I could not have used that. Like I said, I have no idea how the cranberries effected the OG, how the boil addition effected the normal process, or even where this beer started and finished. All I have are my BeerSmith estimates that I think are off because of all my adjustments to begin with.

Overall, I think everything I did worked. I kegged it and tapped it the day before Christmas... Maybe next year I need to get started sooner. I wanted to be drinking it on Christmas, not into February. HAH!

Santa Berry has a Deep Ruby appearance and a soft, rocky, a little tan/reddish head. There is a certain sweetness in the nose. Similar to when you smell cranberry juice... don't tell me I am the only that smells just about everything they drink? You can pick up on the ounce of Sage I added at the end, as well.

I thought there was a bit of a burnt taste, maybe from boiling the cranberries for the better part of an hour? But it was not distracting. I think it melded with the bit of sourness and the full bodied maltyness of the beer. I feel I over hopped this beer. As drinking went on they have mellowed out a little bit but not to what I was going for and my first sips of it were almost like this was meant to be a borderline hop bomb. The cranberries and the sage come in on the finish as well.

Overall, I am happy with this beer. A few changes I plan to make in the future but I will be doing everything in a similar process. I have to get gravity readings on it next time for sure.




I pretty much wait around for anything new that is released from Sierra Nevada. Whether it is a seasonal ale or me anticipating something completely new that they just announced. Well, this, is just that.

Narwhal Imperial Stout. When this beer was first rumored, way back when, people thought it was going to be similar to the 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken.
Our 30th anniversary stout, brewed with craft beer pioneers Ken Grossman and Fritz Maytag and aged for over a year in charred oak Kentucky bourbon barrels. This rich black stout has notes of coffee and dark chocolate and a delicate hint of smoke supported by a velvety body that showcases the flavors of oak, vanilla, and toasted coconut from the extended barrel aging. A slow, satisfying sipper of a beer.
I don't know, I have never had that one. But it sounds amazing. I wish I could get my hands on a bottle but I doubt there is much anybody with it would be willing to trade for it. I still have a bottle of Jack and Kens and the 30th Grand Cru but you know... Sierra Nevada broke down the beer like this.
Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come.
This beer was really assertive. There is a pronounced dark malt bitterness but then comes a cocoa like bittersweet chocolate and a coffee blend thrown in there. There is an overlying creaminess to it all. It has a great full body and mouthfeel a little burnt and some toffee as well. Overall, a 5/5 beer.



1001 Beers: Estate Homegrown Ale

Beer Number 26: Estate Homegrown Ale, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere

There is a ton that I love about Sierra Nevada... as if you didn't already know. They are one of my top 3 breweries. I just have a hard time deciding who number 2 is. I love just about everything they release and it is the only brewery that I have been to that let me play with their hop supply. I may have jumped into it like a swimming pool if that were allowed. Maybe when I have my own brewery, one day.

The, Organic, Estate Homegrown Ale is one of the beers that somehow I get my hands on every year. I don't seek it out but it does come home with me. Same thing with the Hemispheres. Lucky for me, they landed in this book. Gives me, yet again, another excuse to love on these brews... or find out what I really think about them.
For a long time, wine has stubbornly owned and held on to the concept of terroir: the influences of soil, climate, and other factors that can be tasted in the glass. For a couple of hundred years, beer has been an industrial product, cut off from the land. Now that brewing has gotten more hands-on again, it's useful to remind people that it is fundamentally an agricultural product.
These beers are a prime example of what that means. I get the feeling that this is why they decided to use ingredients from their fields for the Estate Ale and for the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere ingredients from Yakima and New Zealand, respectively.

So, I am not sure if the idea has changed from what was said in 2008/2009 or if these beers are still meant to be together but that is the way I am going to drink them.
"We wanted to show people what goes into beer," says Sierra Nevada's chief executive Ken Grossman. The first in the series of three Sierra Nevada Harvest beers is the Wet Hop Harvest Ale.
I am assuming that beer became what is today known as the Estate Homegrown Ale. It only makes sense in my book. They Chinook, Cascade, and Citra all from their farm in this one. For the grains, they used their own two-row barley and caramel. I wonder if they malt it themselves?
This Estate Ale is rich with the flavors of the valley-featuring hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas and barley with mild sweetness and smooth, toasted flavors. Together, these crops grow alongside the brewery to make a truly unique brew. Enjoy!

I have finally figured out how to open a waxed bottle. This one took me no time at all to pry open. Cheers to that! Anyway, I thought the color of this beer was interesting. It was a very deep golden color but looked a bit peachy in appearance when I held it up to the light. That pink/orange/ruby color... if you know what I mean?

On first sips I guess I was not ready for it. Hop explosion and complete domination. That's what drinking water does to you people! On the next few sips everything mellowed out I picked out some tropical flavors, grapefruit, a bit of toastiness, (I need to quite using fake words), to the beer. This beer is quite earthy and a bit spicy in your mouth and in the nose as well. I would say the fruits draw you away from that sensation. This ale finishes quite dry. Enjoyed this one.

Southern Hemisphere is actually the next brew I am going with. For no other reason than when I was looking at the scroll bar on the site, it goes Estate, Southern, Northern. I also had this bottle for about 9? months now. Maybe 8, so I guess it is time. This ale uses two-row, caramel and fresh hops from New Zealand. Pacifica, Motueka, and Southern Cross. These are not hops I know too much about but I used Motueka in a homebrew once. That was pretty exciting.

In 2008, we launched the southern counterpart to our popular Harvest Ale, featuring fresh hops picked, dried and shipped from New Zealand within seven days of the fields. Southern Hemisphere is a south-by-north fusion that showcases the intriguing floral and herbal flavors and aromas of New Zealand-grown Southern Cross, Pacifica and Motueka hops.
This beer throws out the same, interesting color that I was describing earlier. The aroma on this one is very piney and malty. I am beginning to think that all of these beers have an initial hop bite that you need to watch out for... or maybe it is just too much water. Deep roasted Caramel and sharp citrusy flavors come over next. This beer seems a bit thinner, watery, than I was expecting. This one finishes bitter and dry.

I wasn't too big on it when I had my first Pint... err, the pour wasn't really a pint, at Tony's Darts Away but I have picked it up time and time again. When I was at the brewery, my almost personal tour guide (there was one couple there besides SWMBO and I), told me that people have saved this one for years and even served it with a few Martini Olives in it. That just sounds weird but maybe after another year or two, that is just what this beer needs?

Northern Hemisphere uses the same two-row and caramel that the other two brews used but this time takes Wet Cascade from Yakima that are picked and shipped to the brewery overnight, and then added into the beer as well as Centennial hops. Of course I would want to try this one as well!

Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale is the beer that launched the “wet hop” craze here in America. Brewed with wet hops plucked straight from the fields in Yakima, WA, and into our brew kettles within 24 hours of growing on the vine, Northern Hemisphere does not take shortcuts. Because hops are incredibly perishable, using hops “wet,” or un-dried, preserves all of the precious oils and resins for a unique drinking experience.
This beer pulled off that same color as the rest. Kind of weird to say this, but it took me until I cracked this one until I realized maybe they use the same grain bill... The aroma was big and citrusy, piney and a bit spicy. This beer filled my mouth with grapefruit and a nice touch of bitterness. Juicy and piney.

Damn fine. I wonder how it tasted the day they released it. My favorite of the three brews, but I kind of expected that just looking at the line up and ingredients. All of them seemed pretty earthy but that is one of the things, I feel that show off the terroir of this beer.

975 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



Viven Smoked Porter

Walking through the bottle shop and saw this Smoked Porter from Viven laying on the shelf and picked it up. The site doesn't give much information on it but the bottle talks about brewing Belgian tradition and a little bit like that. Apparently this brewery isn't that old at all. Dating back to 1999. Not that it matters, but I was just surprised to see such a young brewery from that part of the world.

This was a nice little smoked porter. Not as aggressive as some American versions I have tried. This was more so about the texture and layering of the beer itself. Once I popped the bottle, the smokiness of this one kind of filled my general area. I thought it was weird that this beer had such a thin mouthfeel but it did not detract from anything of importance. It was burnt and toasty but with an underlying layer of sweet chocolate. The smoked malt carries on long but it is still very nice. I was told I should pick up some of their other offerings and I think I will. It was very nice.



1001 Beers: Hibernation

I was actually lucky enough to have this next beer in the brewery. I have had a couple of Great Divide beers in the past but not many. I was glad to find that the brewery was right down the street from where I was while I was trying to Find Abbey.

Beer Number 25: Hibernation

I have never had or heard of this beer before but apparently it is big news. This was my first encounter with it so I had no idea what to expect. I also had a few other beers while there. A couple of tasters and two other "pints". Not that I care the pour size I get, I really base it on the beer, but I wish they would not just call everything a pint... but that is for another time.
In the late 1990s, several Colorado breweries attached the suffix "-ation" to beers released for winter drinking (no doubt in homage to the German practice of adding "-ator" to the names of their cold weather beers)... The Denver-based brewery makes Hibernation each July but does not release it until the beginning of November. Many of its fans will further age it for a year or more in their own cellars to give it a richer and deeper flavor.
Either they started releasing it earlier or I got lucky with being able to get it before the release by being in Denver. Pretty bad ass if you ask me.

This beer was, as you can see a very dark, wintery brown. Up to light it had a ruby appearance. It was a bit toasty, malty, and maybe a bit of sweet chocolate. You can also pick up a little brown sugar and fig or something in there. I am sure there is quite a bit that I missed in there. It was a crazy day and a crazy weekend. All of the flavors seem random but the way they come together you can tell this beer was meant to be enjoyed on a cool night in the company of the things, or ones you love... or by yourself, but hey.

The hops come in late, though they are barely there. Earthy is how I would describe it... Kind of at the point where you are smacking yourself because you are shocked at how smooth it seemed when you find out it is almost 9% alcohol and you were just guzzling it. I gave the beer a 4/5 while sitting in the brewery.

Some Hoss

976 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



Calabaza Blanca

For Beermas this year I had got my first Jolly Pumpkin beer ever, Calabaza Blanca. I know, right? Or are they not as popular as I seem to think? Nonetheless, they have amazing label art for most of their beers. This one was no exception. I am glad the sticker peeled off of the bottle easily, because now that is permanently part of my bar.

A few things made me wonder about this beer. The description the brewery gave for it,
Calabaza Blanca, an artisan white ale brewed in Belgian's biere blanche tradition. Spiced with orange peel and coriander, you'll find it refreshingly tart, with a wonderfully dry finish. A year round favorite for sure!
and, well, just curiosity for beers I have not had before.

This white ale is dominated by murky, earthy yeast and oranges in the nose. A little sourness can be smelled too. Oranges in the taste with a little spicy tartness. Tangy in the finish. They say it's barrel aged. I think there is a bit of that in the finish but other than that I cannot detect it... and that is me reaching. Though, I wonder why in this day and age you would barrel age a white ale? This beer finishes really dry and the citrus is left lingering. It isn't that bad when you aren't thinking about it but you want to wash it down when you are.

Overall, I was not a fan. A bit too much that I could not get behind. I guess Jolly Pumpkin is currently 0 for 1 in my book but they have more for me to try. At least I got a cool sticker for my bar!



Fermentation Without Representation

Epic Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City, Utah... which I did not know they made beer in Utah until having found this brewery... released batch number 8 of Fermentation Without Representation sometime last year. Very specific, I know. But that is not what is important. What is important is that this was one of my 12 Beers of Beermas! This is actually the beer that I rang in the New Year with. Not for any special reason, just because I went into my beer fridge and grabbed it. It was an amazing grab!

This is probably one of the best beers I have ever tasted. No lie. I have liked every beer I had from the Exponential Series but I have not had any of their other releases. I haven't really looked either. Not because I don't want them but when I am walking through the bottle shop these labels, no matter how plain you think they seem, always stand out. They are so different from everything that is around them. And this series has a whole lot of different options to offer. It only makes sense to pick it up!

This beer pours a solid black and displays a billowing head. Very roasted nose almost like a when you are baking a pie and you can smell the pumpkin in there for sure. A little vanilla and cinnamon, but like I said, baking a pie. It gets even better when you taste it. The pumpkin and vanilla blend well with the very robust body of this beer and cinnamon. It is a bittersweet symphony of goodness. Ginger and nutmeg, creamy and fluffy. This beer really sticks to your mouth and lingers in all of the best ways. One of the best beers I have ever tasted. Can't wait for future releases.



1001 Beers: Utopias

Again, a late post but I am finally being able to catch up on everything. This year at The Great American Beer Festival I was able to find a few things that I was unable to get before and things that I had no idea I would ever run into. I guess that is the point of the festival... it is what you make out of it no?

Beer Number 24: Samuel Adams Utopias.

I did not get a picture of this beer. I happened upon the tent at just the right time to get a pour of it. I did take the time before drank it to pull out my 33 Beers notebook and a pen though.

But first,
Utopias is essentially made like any other beer, albeit with an insane amount of barley plus maple syrup that produces a wort whose gravity is an unheard-of-48 degrees Plato. The alcohol is produced completely by yeast fermentation, the company says--no distillation or added spirits. It's then aged in a variety of barrels, including bourbon, Madeira, and brandy, and blended with previous batches dating to 1994. Each vintage differs, but is generally sweet and malty with vanilla and caramel notes.
I have refrained from buying this beer even though I had it in my hands once or twice in the past because of the price tag. I would have dropped like $20 on a shot of it in a bar but I never came upon that opportunity. Only the whole bottle. Wish I had someone willing to go in on it with me... Maybe in a few years after I am more financially set I will pick it up, but now... nah.
29% ABV for our 2012 batch, our 10th Anniversary celebration of this unique brew. Rivaling the world’s best ports and cognacs, this extreme beer is uncarbonated and ruby black in color with sweet flavors of honey, toffee, caramel, cocoa and vanilla balanced by distinct notes of molasses, raisins, plums and berries imparted from aging batches in a variety of barrels over the years.
2012 was a year of Tenth anniversaries but we won't get into that now. This beer was very aromatic... I mean, straight hot of alcohol. I know I had a 1oz pour and a small glass but all I could smell was fire. Even upon the taste. It was insanely sweet, oily I think there was caramel but I cannot be sure. All I know is it was very hot, very tasty, very sweet. The end. Great beer. I hope to have it again someday. Hopefully get some better notes and not be in the middle of an insane, but amazing beer fest, when I do.

977 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



Victory Yakima Glory

I used to live about 30 minutes from Yakima. I went to college in that area. That is really the only reason I moved that far over the mountains from home. When it comes to making a beer that captures the essence of the area... I wonder if these people have even been there.

This is the sign that you see after the second Yakima exit and right before you are heading out of town. By Palm Springs, I think they are referring to the amount of Cocaine that comes through this town. If you are hungry get off after this exit and you can hit up IHOP, Denny's or a few other spots with some good and cheap food... I think this Denny's serves beer for what ales (lagers, actually) yah! Anyway, but yeah.
The tenacious grip of big, juicy hop aroma and character slides smoothly into rich, dark malts. This heavyweight battle between fresh, Yakima Valley hops and dark, roasted malts is resolved harmoniously as the flavors merge to deliver complex satisfaction with a warming edge. Bask in the “glory”­ of the bright and brassy hops!

There are some CDAs out there I can really get behind but this style is just so poorly made. Deschutes knows how to do it right, but they live in the area known as Cascadia, so they better! I have even heard reports of IPLagers... I won't get into that.

So, Yakima Glory, a deep dark amber on the pour with an off white head. The hop aroma come off pretty light and grassy and earthy. Though on the first sip you see a very aggressively hopped ale. The bitterness attacks you immediately and you taste the grassy, dirty hop flavors. Very warming on the finish and a citrusy layer comes in then as well. It does have a nice light, easy drinking mouthfeel but everything together detracts from it.

I guess they were going into the whole west coast hop thing with but they failed to balance it correctly with the beer. Not my style of beer. I do like IPAs but you can't just go brewing them without thought. Too many people do that. Especially if you are trying to copy the style/pay tribute to an area. It gets better as you drink on but it is still not something that I think I will be visiting again.



Williams Brothers: Scottish Session and Heavy

For Christmas I got a couple of ales in my Beer Advent Calendar that I would not normally expect. Ones that quite surprised me actually. Not because they were some super cool, super rare beer but because they were out of the ordinary. Beers that one would not normally pick up. But these ales were from a brewery that I loved in the past. I got a gift set of Williams Brothers beers a while back now and then I picked up another one of their ales, Kelpie. So when I got this Scottish Session and Scottish Heavy it actually blew my mind.

The Scottish Session was the first one I opened and drank. It is not often that you find a 3.9% beer in these parts of the beer world. Everything is the bigger the better, right?

Session came across as, well, what I would call a session ale. Very nice and light. Easily drinkable a fair amount of body and tone which one might feel is not possible to obtain at these low levels of alcohol but the biscuity character that the beer held and a little bit of lemon and dryness made this a great beer for a hot or cool day. Besides a homebrew or two I made, I think this is my first true session ale.

This is actually a style I do not have much experience with either but what a better way to start than with a trusted brewery. The Heavy had toffee notes running throughout and it was very fruity. I swear I got hints of bubble gum and juicy fruits mixing with a sweet funk in the nose. It also had a kind of slick mouthfeel and when it went down it was still really good. Only 4.2% alcohol on this one and this once again affirmed to me that this brewery makes damn fine ales. They may just become one of my regularly purchased and regularly drank sought after breweries. Very nice.