1001 Beers: India Pale Ale

Beer Number 48: Goose Island India Pale Ale

I have not had many beers from Goose Island. Today, I actually had one randomly while getting a slice of Pizza at the mall, Mild Winter. Before today, I think I've only had Matilda and Bourbon County Stout and that was at a bottle share. I think it is funny how both of those beers are part of this series. It looks like I have to go out and get them for myself this time. I remember liking them, so I am not too worried about it.

This bottle of India Pale Ale was bottled on March 1 2013 so that sounds pretty damn fresh to me. I kind of wish I drank it right after I picked it up a week ago, but I doubt it has diminished that much, if at all. For all of you Craft vs Crafty guys out there, SUCK IT! Goose was making great beer before the acquisition, and as long as they continue to make great beer now, I feel it changes nothing.
The IPA reflects the Goose gestalt perfectly: a great example of a beer that's only as complicated as it needs to be. Just a single malt, mashed with a simple infusion, brewed similarly to the English examples that inspired it. It's a testament to the amazing nature of well-made malt that such a simple recipe could result in this kind of depth. Aroma is provided by four hops: Styrian, Golding, Fuggles, and Cascade, then the brew is dry hopped with Centennial for a bright and fresh hop aroma. The yeast is an English strain that brewed more than 200 batches before being recultured. As a result, it developed its own unique character and is the workhorse for Goose Island's ale production.

The beer fits with the English Notion that beer is for drinking, not sipping. "We wanted more of an English-style IPA," says Greg Hall. "We are not anti-hop," as some online beer raters have claimed. "It's about making a balanced, drinkable beer."
A white, rocky head formed on top of a golden, malty bed. The nose was grassy and a bit piney. It drank fairly creamy, I must say with a pleasant bitterness and a small amount of juicy fruit flavors. Some spice lingered around as well. This was honestly exactly what they said it is. A very good IPA made for drinking, everyday.

953 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



New Belgium: Cascara Quad

Not too long ago, I picked up a slew of New Belgium Beers and, as you probably assumed, I was really excited to try the new Lips Of Faith offerings. Between the two new offerings, I decided to open the Cascara Quad first based on a recommendation. I really had nothing to go off of besides the descriptions. Though, The Heavenly Feijoa sounds like one I would really enjoy.
Local roasters Novo Coffee turned us onto Central America's Cascara, the fruit or husk that surrounds coffee beans. When dried, it can be made into a tea with hints of cherry and tobacco. Blend that into a Quad fermented with gorgeous malts and date sugar for a crazy complex beer to warm your winter nights.
It's been nothing but cold around here recently, so that is exactly what I was trying to do. Though, I'm open to the idea, the Date Sugar really turned me off from the get-go. I had another beer recently that used Dates as a major part of the beer and, while I thought it was good, it was just not a flavor profile I was looking for. Then, I was not 100% positive that it was Dates that contributed the flavor, but now having a second beer, I know for sure.

Cascara Quad poured a magnificent, deep reddish hue with a big off white head that recedes rather quickly. The nose is a touch sour, a bit of cherry, and some very nice deep coffee and date tones over top. The nose of this beer was really complex and I think it has gone to levels never before seen by New Belgium.

There were instant hints of spice, a twang that was a bit tart and a nice full body. Those dates I was referring to, really take off and cover the greater amount of flavors in this one. Roasty in the back end and it really sticks to your throat. Coats the whole mouth. All of the flavors are pretty sharp. Even hints of clove and banana appear before the beer dries out. As complex as I thought the nose was, it has nothing on the flavors that come through.

Overall, I was not too big of a fan on this one. While it is well made and there is a lot going on, just trying to get passed the Date flavor was the hardest part. I did, however, hoard the whole bottle to myself! There was a lot of good, but it saddens me to say, in this case, Baby Trish Was Not Impressed.



A Night Out

So, this last weekend I got out to a new brewery to me, a new brewery to the world (or at least North Carolina), and to Bottle Revolution who happened to be hosting an event. Two new in one night, not bad. Though, I wish I would have been able to visit for a longer period of time. Having everything bumped up together let me get a good taste of what these places were like, but not enough to fully know what they are about.

The first stop on my insanely fast brewery tour across two cities was at FullSteam, where I got a brief introduction to from Bryan since I ventured into his hood. Of course this place has already hit my radar but having an expert there really helped out. I only had two beers here but the first one really made an impression. Apparently, that is what they were specifically setting out to do. Bryan told me that Cackalacky was brewed with the intentions of taking the beer, and brewery, nationwide.

Cackalacky is a Ginger Pale Ale that actually made good use of the flavor. Not overpowering or offensive at all. Great on the nose and great on the tongue. I had a half pint, so I am not sure how much one could actually drink of this but I can see myself having a couple in a sitting. Highly recommended. The next beer I had was the Rocket Science IPA. It is a nice IPA. A nice balance and not going to destroy you if you want to taste anything after that or while you are eating food. It sucks that I left at this point but it gave me a good baseline for next time... Yes, there will for sure be a next time here. Awesome spot, and I will even bring my dog.

I briefly stopped by Raleigh Brewing Company where I met up with The Cellar Monk. RBC had their Scotch Ale on Cask with Maple for Firkin Friday. I thought it was a bit too sweet, the maple character did not really come through, and it did not really hit the mark for a Scotch ale.

I did not try the original version but from doing some talking around the bar, the brewer had similar concerns. This was the first time brewing this beer, I think they said and they wanted to get more of the Maple next time. It would be interesting to keep tabs on this one and follow it along the way. Another place that I need to stop by when I have more time to see what their full line up is about... and I can even bring my dog!

After I got out of there, I stopped by my favorite Bottle Shop in North Carolina, Bottle Revolution. They had an event going on, and honestly, what is there to say? It was an awesome time and they had some awesome beers on tap and cask. Allagash Confluence, Terrapin Mosaic, Foothills Jade IPA... just to name a few. Glad I was not driving.



1001 Beers: Obliteration IX (V)

Beer Number 47: Midnight Sun Obliteration IX (V Substitution)

I am not saying that this beer should NOT be in the book, but I feel that it is really weird the contributors would put so many one off/limited release beers into it. I mean, I am sure the beers are that good and they want you to taste them, but if it was released once what are the odds of tracking it down years later? Copyright 2010, it is already hard enough rounding up beers with some being retired. For this one, they even knew it was part of a series.
Obliteration V is the fifth in a series of experimental beers brewed by Midnight Sun, an award-winning brewery based in Anchorage, Alaska. In each of the Obliteration brews, Midnight Sun uses different hop varieties so that the imbiber can experience the character that each hop variety contributes to the beer.
Now, with all that said. I thought this beer was AMAZING! The hop variety in Obliteration IX, (you can see how many in the series I have missed up to this point), are Citra & Saaz. I love using Saaz in homebrew so I was looking forward to this combination. I thought it was quite interesting.

Obliteration IX poured very thick and visually viscous. Golden with a small white head but it left behind some amazing lacing. Tons of rising carbonation and very resiny and grassy on the nose. A splash of pine and citrus.

The first sip sent a spicy rush over my tongue and then mellowed out and brought out a slightly syrupy texture. Lemon, honey, mango, some other tropical fruits, and a touch of mint. Decently bittered sitting at 80IBUs and 8.0% ABV. Very drinkable.

I got this beer in a trade and I wish I would have asked for a few more bottles or that I lived close enough to grab some myself. I wonder how Obliteration V tasted, but I feel no loss since I got a winner here.

954 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



Huske Hardware House

I pretty much talk about every brewery I have been to and rank their beers. I have been slacking a bit and missed one or two... Actually just two, but hey. I have been to The Huske Hardware House a few times now... Actually, quite a bit for how often I was expecting to go here.

I was surprised to find out it was a brewery the first time I heard about it. I literally thought it was a Hardware House. Come on! I moved to a new area and everyone has their own local shops. The guys I talked to about this town before I moved out here only brought up The Mash House, never The Huske. So how was I supposed to know?

The first time I went there I did what I always do when I go to a brewery. I ordered the flight with all of their beers. They only have 6 on tap so that made it easy. The task was to figure out what beer I was getting a growler fill of since I try to leave every brewery I go to with a piece of glass. I deemed their best beer at that time was the Sledgehammer Stout. Though, they had a Watermelon Wheat beer that completely blew the 21st Amendment version out of the water.

This most recent time I went they had 2 new beers. Clearly I had to get a taster of each... even though I should not have been drinking then because it was literally the day after I got my wisdom teeth pulled. They looked identical and the server was pretty sure that I would get the two confused... Yeah, no way. One was The Raspberry SourPatch and the other, The Honey Badger.

I had very little information about either of these beers but, as the name would imply, The SourPatch was sour and as for The Honey Badger, that beer was aged in Jack Daniel Barrels and clocked in at 13% ABV. I told the waitress I hated it and to bring me a glass of the SourPatch. She told me The Honey Badger was one of their most popular recently... Yeah, at 13% and from what I know of the people that live in this town, NO SURPRISE!

I took home a growler of The Raspberry SourPatch this time just because it was different. It was pretty good and quite a big change from anything else on their menu. I think both of the breweries in this town had very decent food, but this one definitely had the better beer selection. I would not mind drinking their blonde again...



My Top 13 Beers

So, the other day the Brewers Association sent out an email to its members telling them to submit 20 picks for their top beers that are commercially available. I figured, why not do it? The form had an auto fill feature and you would just got ahead and hit enter when the name of the beer you wanted popped up, so as I was doing that I guess I miss keyed something and then it submitted my entries after only 4.

I tried to go back and enter more but I was denied. The error message was telling me that I already voted. So I figured, screw them. I will post my own top list because every beer on your list will probably end up being an IPA.

So, here is my list. I was trying to put it in order from 1 - 13, (Yes, you get 13 entries from me), but at times, that got hard. These are all 5 star beers in my eyes and I figured I'd share them with you in the order I thought of them, so obviously number 1 is my favorite but the list gets hazy as it goes on.
1: New Belgium 1554 (Reviewing Soon. My first beer love.)
2: New Belgium La Folie (Nuff Said)
3: Epic Fermentation Without Representation (One of the best Pumpkin Ales I have ever had)
4: Stone Double Bastard (The best of all the Bastards. Better with some age one it. 3+ years)
5: Sierra Nevada Porter (One of the most underated Porters in my eyes)
6: Deschutes Black Butte (My favorite Porter of all time. Especially the anniversary editions)
7: Harviestoun Old Engine Oil (Taste it. I dare you)
8: Allagash White (The first Wheat beer that I actually loved)
9: Stone Levitation (It is just beautiful in every way)
10: North Coast Old Rasputin (I feel every Russian Imperial Stout should taste like this. The definition of the style)
11: Williams Brothers Fraoch Heather Ale (Have a special version in my cellar)
12: Sierra Nevada Torpedo (A classic brewer making a classic beer)
13: Russian River Supplication (Probably my favorite sour ale. That damn good)
I need to review the ones on this list that I have not. You know, to make it official, but they are all some of my top beers. I am sure things may move in or out of this list and I am sure maybe something that I truly love missed the list because I cannot think of it... but we will see. I love the number 13. I can see things changing as time passes and I have taste more beer.



Getting Back To My "Roots"

When I started this it was meant to be a blog about My Beer Adventures and Homebrewing. While I do take note of pretty much all of my adventures; i.e. GABF, Beer At The Movies, and Almost Every Brewery Visit, there are some that I missed and this has morphed into more of a beer review blog. That is not what I wanted at all. I feel my old format was more fun and this one is becoming a bit,... routine.

I still plan to review Special Beers, anything from New Belgium, and since picking up the 1001 Beers book, that is now another part of my journey. I want to do more Side by Sides. Those are fun. I will have to figure out beers to use though. Maybe I will do some more BMC vs Craft or Clone Brews vs The Original. And of course any Random Rant that I feel to post. So here we go trying to get things back together.

In order to do that, I went out and bought a couple of Whiskey Barrels! Two Jack Daniel Half Barrels to be exact!I figured they would be the perfect planter to grow some hops! At first, I thought they were totally impractical but after looking around at the rest of the selection I found that the only comparable sized planter that I would have bought was only $10 less. It is always nice to save money but I really did not want to look at a plastic green planter in my yard everyday. These barrels are so me... Even though I do not like Jack.

I ordered Chinook and Cluster rhizomes being they are two of three key ingredients in one of my IPAs. The other being Cascade. I really want like 6 or 7 different varieties. Maybe I should go over this list and make it more practical but what can be bad about having multiple plants in my yard?

The first step to growing hops in these pots is to fill them with dirt. Crazy right?!?! But the pots do need drainage holes so I slapped a few into the bottom of each. I even made sure to coordinate my drill with my outfit. Check that out!

One thing that confused me is that the reccommendation that came from the supplier suggested planting them vertically but all of the books I own say to plant them horizontally. Hmm... What do I do?

I decided to plant one Vertically and one Horizontally! They sent me two of each. What is the worst that can happen? The bigger of the two I did horizontally and the smaller, the other. I don't think I will be able to see any notable difference without digging the two up based on their proximity but yeah. It is done.

I cannot wait for the first sprouts to break ground and I will be posting pictures of that and when I get my trellis set up. I think at first I am just going to use a tomato trellis and then maybe some string to let it run up the side of my place, but we will see. I am hoping it is not too long. It's getting pretty warm here and others have already reported growth. One of the coolest things I think about my planters, are that they are Westley Approved.



Highland: Kashmir IPA

Something I just noticed, I pretty much have Highlands whole Year Round collection in my cellar at this moment. I did not do this on purpose, not that I would not have if I thought about it. The only one I am missing is the Black Mocha Stout. Expect me to find it and review the others really soon.

When I first had a beer from these guys, I was at Twin City Taps. At that point I knew I had to find them again because they only had two beers at the festival. The Gaelic Ale & The Oatmeal Porter. I was being a little lazy and did not do my full 1001 Beers research at that point. Not that I feel it would have mattered because they were handing out 2oz pours. I have done beers on that size before but figured that some should have a full one devoted to this cause. Or at least a better setting. A flight at the brewery would definitely have been acceptable as a small quantity. Not really at a festival. I spent most of that day talking with different North Carolina people and breweries trying to figure out the scene anyway.

The more recent beer I have had from Highland was in a bad situation as well. While out at the Mellow Mushroom trying to taste the Gaelic Ale again, my order of drink was a mistake. A great time but I killed my palate. I will be revisiting that one as well as drinking the fourth of their year round beers that I have, The St. Terese's Pale Ale.

That brings us to Kashmir IPA. The first beer in this bunch that I will be properly tasting. The brewers notes.
A full-bodied India Pale Ale. This beer is golden in color with a moderate malty character with full hop flavor true to the classic ale that has traveled on sailing ships from England to India. Bold and brazen.
This IPA is brilliant and bright. Lots of carbonation, as I am sure you can see in the picture. It was just racing out of control until this beer was gone. Pretty rocky head and a faint piney nose. Hard to really get a whiff of this one through the clouds. I wonder if that is how the beer was meant to be? The bottle had no date on it so there was no way to guestimate it's age.

I thought the body on this beer was more medium than full and well balanced. A nice herbal hop character that finished quite citrusy and dry. All in all, I thought this was just alright. Just the way everything came together I began questioning this ones age. I guess the only way to find out is to have another one. Hopefully find it on draft or when I get out to Asheville try and taste it at the source. Though, I would need a better reason not to try something else.



Foothills: Hoppyum

Foothills is a very unique brewery. I can honestly say that I have never heard of anyone that does beer they way they do. No, I am not talking about things such as Sexual Chocolate. I am talking about them, their philosophy about beer, and the way they serve it. I mean sure, some of it sounds similar, but there is a major kicker.
We believe drinking truly fresh beer is one of the greater pleasures in life. We guarantee that FOOTHILLS beer is as fresh as nature allows because it flows directly from our serving tanks to your glass. You just can't get beer that taste any fresher.
So, I may have to verify this, but it sounds to me that the beer for consumption at the brewery is all flowing out of a bright tank and into your glass... No keg, No... well, nothing else. I think that is pretty sweet. They even take pride in their food. They have a fancy chef, make their own condiments, use their own beer in several menu items, and the part that again will throw you off because all of the rest sounds common, they make their own pickles! WTF, right? Who does that? A brewery that wants to show they take pride in the full experience while you are dining or having a beer or three at their location.

As you would expect, they take their beer seriously, too. I mean, They have to, right? What kind of brewery would not? Hoppyum IPA
Do you like hops? Our HOPPYUM IPA is full of citrusy American hops with an emphasis on Simcoe hops, an especially pungent hop variety. This brew finishes dry, making it a great session beer to come back to.
So I may or may not have given this beer a very aggressive pour but look at the monster head this Hoppyum put forth! It did leave behind some nice lacing all the way to the end of the glass. Notes of pine, citrus, and a little bit of tropical character comes across in the nose. I found it to be a little resiny and sticky. The earthy flavors and the citrus worked together well as well. It was built on a nice malt background and you get orange rind on a dry finish. There are some sweeter flavors in here that I feel cover up a bit of the bitterness until the finish.

The bottle tells me 78 IBUs and 6.25% where the site claims both of these numbers a little bit lower. When I said this was one of the better IPAs I have had in a long time it was suggested to me that I find the Jade IPA they release... Now my only issue is finding it. Oh where, oh where, can it be...



Natty Greene: Southern Pale Ale

Finally back to drinking some NC Beer. Guess I got side tracked with a variety pack I bought and some 1001 Beers fun... I did just buy a New Belgium Folly Pack, though...

The Southern Pale Ale is from Natty Greene's. I was going on their website trying to find a little bit of information about the brewery but it is kind of a read. I am too lazy for that atm. Maybe when I get out to the brewery I will talk to them and find out some history but reading the first 4 paragraphs of the about us page, I had to stop.

One thing that was easy reading though, was about this beer. Very clean and simple.
medium-bodied, deep golden ale with distinct, bitter character and a hoppy, piney, citrus finish
Let's see what I though.

I was shocked to see the head on Southern Pale Ale to be off white. Just very unexpected from this golden beer. A pretty big one at that, too. The nose was grassy a tad fruity, and you got some sweetness in it as well. Taking my first sips of this I found it to be very mellow for what I was expecting. Though, it had a nice round bitterness. Some citrus notes, toasty, and finished a little fruity. I thought this beer was a little thin but overall, this beer surprised me. Actually a pretty decent pale ale. One I would get again, that's for sure.



Mother Earth: Sisters of the Moon

Alright, another beer from North Carolina. Mother Earth has quite a reputation. I had never heard of it until I moved to NC. I have heard of others from here, such as Duck Rabbit and... Ok. I think that is the only I have heard of. People asked me about Olde Hickory once I got here so I guess I should have been watching out for them. I learned a bit about NC Beer and the breweries at a festival last summer, so that is a plus and I first tasted Mother Earth at The Great American Beer Fest. I tasted a few good ones but lets see what this beer is about.

According to the website, I should have drank this one in a stemmed glass, but I did not pour this beer myself. So I guess I cannot complain too much. Not that I always get beer into it's proper glassware. But, you know.
Made with hops grown in the good 'ol USA... you'll proudly support American farmers when you drink this beer! Light copper in color, it has an intense hop aroma and strong hop bitterness. Our hopback process uses fresh hop cones to take this IPA to unexpected places. Prepare for a mouthful of flavor.

On top of this golden IPA I got a finger width head that dissipated rather quickly. I wonder if the aroma of this beer suffered any because I see that it has a bottle date of 11/02/12... Again, I need to quit getting caught up by the new, huge display in the front of the store. Damn You Sam's Quik Shop! I should have known something was up... The nose was kind of faint but malt forward with some nice citrus notes. That could be all there is to it in this beer but they do boast about using a hopback.

The texture is very creamy and it has a good malt base. Low carbonation level but an immediate citrus rush over. A touch grassy and an added sweetness with orange zest lingering in the back of your throat. Overall, it was a decent IPA. I think it actually conformed to it's style and did not try and break the mold. Something that should be done more often, if you ask me. I wonder how this is at the source...



1001 Beers: Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.

Beer Number 46: Shmaltz Brewing Company Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.

This beer really caught my attention due to the fact that it was a Rye IPA. Technically, it is a Double IPA. It says so on the bottle but what does that matter? They advertise the fact that this beer is brewed with an obscene amount of malt & hops on the bottle and they call it a tribute to Jewish Stars. One in-particular makes this beer very special to Shmaltz. They post his whole story on the side of the bottle in very small print.
Throughout his controversial career, Leonard Alfred Schneider was better known by his stage name, Lenny Bruce, and he was only forty years old when he died penniless of a drug overdose. But he left his mark. As a result of his many arrest and trials for obscenity, Bruce became a symbol for free speech, inspiring countless others to push the boundaries of artistic expression.

This beer uses 7 varieties of hops, five malts, and 3 kinds of rye. That is pretty insane if you ask me but I guess based on that alone I can see how they get away with advertising, "shocking flavors".

The head on this beer was tall, soft, and tan and the beer was a very deep burgundy. Vert appealing, if I do say so myself. When I took a whiff of it, I got a nice strong spice, a lot of malt character, and a widely sweet aroma. Dark fruits and alcohol rounded this one out.

Shocking flavors... I would not go that far but this one was a citrus explosion in my mouth. A ton of grapefruit coated every inch of my mouth that it could. It is very thick, malty, and very syrupy. A straight kick in the face. A ton of bitterness as well. I would say everything else that is going on balances the bitterness out but it is, again, is a big kick that stays with you for a long, long time. I feel that the lingering of the grapefruit is more overpowering than the bitterness.

This beer was not for me. It was not bad, but everything together was just way too much. I prefer my IPAs to be more clean in both the body and flavor profile... the exception of course would be Dogfish Head. Their various minute IPAs mix malty and hoppy together in ways that just should not work, but they do.

955 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



SweetWater: Exodus Porter

Last beer of the Tackle Box. Maybe I should actually take one of these things fishing... or find out what is behind all the fishing references on the Sweetwater brand. Which is kind of funny. Remember how the other day I said there is no information about the brewery on their site? Well, I was wrong.

The guys over at the SweetWater Twitter account tweeted me and gave me a direct link to all that I was looking for, How The Water Began To Flow. I completely overlooked this information. +1 for them -1 for me. This was actually a good read. A lot of about us sections on brewery pages are long and drawn out. I tend to lose interest on those pages. This one was short and sweet. Answered everything I was looking for the other day. Maybe I have to take a trip down to Atlanta and learn a bit more about them.
First brewed on Bob Marley’s birthday, This Legend-ary porter initially delivers distinct irie hop notes which transcend into rich waves of chocolate, creating a multidimensional taste experience!

I will take that and raise them! Let us see. It starts out a very dark, deep brown that hardly lets any light through as you put it up and carries a tan head. Big and fluffy. The nose is very roasty and malt forward. You can pick up a nice sweetness in there as well that kind of finishes sour.

The first sips are nice and roasty that is then cut with a bit of residual sweetness and a light bitterness. This beer drank quite a bit lighter than I was expecting. I mean, I was not thinking it would be super thick or anything, it was just kind of lighter than I thought for this style. There was a nice hop bite in the back end it finished like some bittersweet chocolate.

Another decent brew, but I feel the LowRyeDer was probably my favorite in the collection. Totally worth the random pick up.



1001 Beers: Old Brewery Pale Ale

Beer Number 45: Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Pale Ale

This beer is one of the more common ones in this book. Not saying that there are a ton of hard to find beers, it really depends how you look at it, but you do not have to go to a special bottle shop or specialty store to pick it up. You can find this one in most, if not all grocery stores that carry just a small amount of beer. I have never had this one before but I have been a fan of their Nut Brown for some time now. Let us see how this one comes out.
Other brewers have stainless steel squares and some are even round, but tradition means much at Sam Smith's and its squares are not only square but made with Yorkshire stone, too. Other aspects of the brewery's traditional means that the grist of pale and crystal malts is boiled in traditional mash tuns and the hops are Golding and Fuggle; added late these bring a dash of spice to the beer. The yeast has been used at the brewery for more than one hundred years, and its vigor and vitality create the beer's rich, frothing, foaming head in the fermenting room. The original well at the brewery, sunk in 1758, is still in use, and the brewing water for Old Brewery Pale Ale is drawn from deep underground. The brewery even has that rare unicorn of brewing, a cooper, who still makes and repairs all the wooden cask that are used to serve a cask-conditioned version of Old Brewery Pale Ale in many of the company's pubs.

I had mixed expectations for this beer. I did not expect it to be anything like the Pale Ale that we have here in the states, but I thought since my palate is probably wrecked it would be underwhelming. I tend to prefer milder beers but you just don't get them over here. More Hops & More ABV is what "We" say. This beer actually shocked and pleased me.

I tried to put it in the closest thing I had to what I feel would be the traditional glass. Not in the right volume but I think I got there, close enough. A very nice, clean copper hue with a huge off white head that left a beautiful lace all the way down the glass. I should have snapped another pic of it, like the last time I had beautiful lacing. It did fade rather quickly, though. Bready and a pretty sweet toffee in the nose.

This is where the beer got interesting. It had a great body! Nice and full. Very creamy, toffee and herbal characters. A lot of dark fruits, which was very surprising. It then got a little acidic and vinegary... It really worked though. I do not know how to explain that one. I want to try another bottle and see if that was just my tongue playing tricks on me. And throughout the whole beer there was that nice, bready quality which backed the whole beer up.

Tasty. I very much enjoyed this one and it is definitely on my list of beers to try again. 1001, we have found another winner.

956 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



SweetWater: LowRyeDer IPA

Once again I open up the Tackle Box and reach around until I find just what I am looking for. This time I pulled out the LowRyeDer IPA. This is fantastic because I am a big fan of beers with Rye in them. Not necessarily IPAs, but that is all it seems like the breweries are doing these days. It would not be bad to see a Sahti or a Roggenbier to pop up, but I have no control over that unless I brew it myself... which is in the works.
A flame throwin’ Rye IPA ignited by a 25% shot of rye malt and capped by a booty hoppin’ blast of Mt Hood and Centennial hops that makes this IPA bounce!

I think this is my favorite one out of the bunch. The nose on this one was quite earthy and had a nice strong spice and a touch of grapefruit, as it would seem. Bready and spicy all the way through this beer. This one lingers on and is nicely bittered. Crystal sweetness cuts through and helps keep this beer balanced and sits on a fair, grainy body. I have to see if I can find this one around here in a six pack or something.



SweetWater: 420

420 is the next beer that is coming out of this Tackle Box. It is labelled as a Extra Pale Ale and the only beer that comes to mind when I hear that is, Torpedo, which is absolutely one of my favorite beers. 420 has some mighty big expectations to fill. Though, I feel it would be unfair to not judge this one on its own merit. After having a great experience with their IPA, I only expect the best.
SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale, our most popular brew, is a tasty West Coast Style Pale Ale with a stimulating hop character and a crisp finish. 1st brewed on April 20th 1997.

I found the nose on this one to be sweet, grainy, and herbal... or did I just want to find the herbal hops in this one... The head on this beer was fairly long lasting which is always a plus in my book. Bready, a touch sour, sweet and a tad burnt. A nice medium body and the floral hops come through here as well. Finishes dry.

This was another good offering from my Tackle Box and one I'd visit again and again. Hard to pick a favorite so far, but I have two beers left.



New Belgium: Transatlantique Kriek

Transatlantique Kriek is a beer that is very special to me. Not just because of my secret New Belgium crush that no one knows about, but the fact that this is the first of three beers that SWMBO actually likes! I picked up a bottle of it in 2010, or 2011, just because it was a Lips Of Faith beer and I had to collect them all.

Back then I tried to make her taste everything I bought just because I was hoping to share my obsession with her. I was certain she would hate it but after one sip, she was like "Pour me a glass of this one." Woot!!! Win!!! We went back to the bottle shop the next day and bought all the remaining bottles off the shelf. I refrained from drinking much just so she could enjoy it. Fast Forward to February 1st, 2013.

Ok, so we can actually go a little past that. I was not in Colorado, so I was not able to go to the launch event. Though, you know I so would have been there if possible. But once this beer got to North Carolina, February 18th, I made a mighty big beer run to get some of the good stuff. Yes, the day it was released! I did not want to risk any of it selling out! I even picked up that Folly Pack that I searched for at every store within a 20 mile radius. It sucked I had to travel so far to find that simple little pack but now I have it... Until the other ones are released later this year...

Of course when I opened up this bottle, SWMBO got the first pour and most of the bottle. I even let her have the first taste... mainly because I was jotting down my appearance notes, but that is besides the point. After reading the side of the bottle, she was actually worried about drinking this beer. She asked me, "What if I only liked this one when it is aged?"
Two Continents, One Beer. We partnered up with Frank Boon's Brewery in Belgium back in 2003 to create a unique Kriek with A Tart Cherry Nose and A Pleasingly Sour Finish. Lucky for all, We Did It Again! Travel to NewBelgium.com
Fair question based on this short description. I told her it was fine and we bought enough bottles to age for quite some time. The Verdict: It was not the same beer she fell in love with. She was able to continue drinking it but does not want to open another bottle for at least one year. My thoughts: A different beer, for sure. Though, that should not discourage anybody.

Transatlatique Kriek looks like a fine wine. A beautiful Blood Red color or even reminiscent of Cranberry Juice. Pours a big pink head that is just amazing to look at. Sour cherries and some funk on the nose. It does smell pretty fresh and young right now. The scents are so vibrant and not subdued at all.

First sips of this one are tangy, musty, a little tart in the finish and you pick up a dryness you would expect if you were eating nothing but cherry skins. Of course the cherry flavor comes along with that. The carbonation dances all over your tongue but it seems to have a low carb level. Figure that one out.

I honestly did prefer the batch that we got from 2010 as well. I mean, I really enjoyed this one and I wonder what or if anything will happen to this beer over time, but it is different than before. I asked them about it on twitter and got a response that makes perfect sense.
There you have it. I did not think of that at all but hey, that is part of what beer is about. I will still keep note of what happens over the life of these beers.



SweetWater: IPA

I know I said I was going to be drinking some Local Beers, but I just happened to pick up a Tackle Box, so I figured I should knock these out. Especially since there has been a lot of talk about them recently with people I know. The first beer I pulled out of the box was the SweetWater IPA. I hear this is one of the best IPAs brewed in the Atlanta market. Granted, I have nothing to go off of because this is my first, but I will see if there is any truth to this.

There is not a lot of information about the brewery on their website, but a little searching has lead me to believe this company got its start in Boulder Colorado before making the move to Atlanta. I am not sure how long they were around before the move or how long it has been since. Anyway, SweetWater IPA.
This mammouth India Pale Ale is loaded with intense hop character and subjected to an extensive dry-hopping process. Our IPA is unfiltered and as always, not pasteurized, leaving all the natural flavors intact.

The Beer You’ve Been Training For.

The best by date on this beer is 3 months out from me drinking it. I wonder how close that means it was to bottling. I take it though, this is very fresh. The brilliant golden hue of this beer sits beneath a short lasting white head and it has a high carbonation level. Some great tropical scents and grapefruit in the nose, a little resiny and sweet.

Decently bittered but well balanced. You do not get a bitter bite at all. Very smooth and easy. Grapefruit and some juicy, tropical fruits with a little spice. This beer was sitting on a good malt background. It was not just relying on the hops. I found this one pretty good but I wonder what else the box has to offer.



Deschutes: Black Butte XXIV

Black Butte XXIV is a beer of celebration. Not just 24 years of Deschutes, but also a personal moment for me. I brewed a beer for this day, and I originally wanted to drink my Black Butte XXIII being Black Butte is my favorite porter and I have been holding onto it for sometime. The reason I went with XXIV is because, well, it all happened on the 24th.

The anniversary issues of this beer are all different recipes and aged in whiskey barrels after fermentation. I believe the first year they did this was 2008, for Black Butte XX. Not like the bottle of Black Butte XX I drank, but the actual anniversary edition. I cannot be sure. I probably should have just wrote them to find out, but I am just thinking of it now. Anyway, I would like to introduce you to, "The Baby Of The Grain"! Though, she completely hated being surrounded by Belgian Pils and Cluster Hops.

While maybe I should have opened a New Belgium La Folie or some other Flanders Red because that is the style of beer I brewed, I really wanted to drink the Black Butte. Ever since moving from the Pacific Northwest, I have really missed this brewery. I never thought it would be so hard to get beer from them. This is super crazy. I am holding onto a bottle of The Dissident, The Stoic, Conflux #1, and The Abyss 2011 on top of the other Black Butte, but I am missing out on a lot of their other beers.

Here is, "A 'Few' Extra Ingredients", Deschutes write up about the process of making this beer. There is a whole lot of intersting stuff in there and worth a read.

This edition of the beer was brewed with, "artisanal dark chocolate nibs, deglet dates, and mission figs". They claimed it could be their best edition yet, but we will see. On the bottle it had a best after date of 07/23/13, but I was not going to wait for that... Maybe I should check my XXIII and see if that one has a best after date.

This beer had a lot going on, but that is to be expected of it. It poured a deep, dark, oilesque black and formed a small brown head around the top. No light was getting through this beast at all. On the nose you get those figs that they threw in there. A very strong experience. A lot of sweetness and light hints of chocolate. Saying you could not pick up alcohol in this one either, would be a complete lie. This one clocked in at 11%.

This is where they make their money. I feel there were literally figs in my mouth. There was a weird overlying flavor that I cannot exactly define what it was but it was there throughout the whole beer and it lingered on and on and on. Maybe those dates that were highlighted in this beer. Some hints of coffee, chocolate, sweet, and syrupy. This beer coats your entire mouth and surprisingly enough, you cannot taste that 11% burn at all, though it did have some bourbon like characters.

I loved this beer a lot. So much good and no bad. Just what I have come to expect from their birthday beers and the year round edition of it as well. They feel it is their best edition yet, I am not sure. XXIII made me weep and call home crying about how I never wanted to drink another beer. I still have a bottle of it so once it's open, I guess I will see. Though, I do not see this taking the throne. I hope I can get a bottle of the XXV once it is released as well as the Class of '88 beers since it is about that time. I wonder what those hold in store for us.



Big Boss: Angry Angel

Recently I picked up a lot of local, North Carolina, beers. So this month I will probably get through them all and find some more to try out. Maybe even get to a brewery or two... but we will see.

One I have been wanting to get to for a while was Big Boss Brewing. I believe they have 5 year round beers and quite a few seasonal selections. I had their Monkey Bizz-Ness a while back and thought it was great. Not only was it that beer that got me wanting to check out the rest of their selection, but just the reputation that they carry. They have been around for a while by standard of NC Beer, since 2007 (2006), but a lot of breweries in this area are only a couple years old or younger. There is a lot of change going on in this state, as you may already know.

From their website,
ANGRY ANGEL KÖLSCH-STYLE ALE is a refreshingly pale German style Ale. It is cold-fermented and cold-conditioned to achieve a beautiful balance between biscuit malt flavors and floral hop notes. It is light-bodied and finishes somewhat dry to enhance its easy drinking nature. ABV 4.5% / IBU 20
Kolsch style ales are ones that rank pretty high on my list. The simplicity behind them but the way they are able to do so much when it comes to your emotions. Give a few a try and you will see what I mean.

It poured a nice pale, yellow color with a small white head. Grainy nose with a touch of sweetness. A nice layer of bitterness that had fruity, citrus notes on top of the grainy and herbal character of this beer. There was a slight twang in the finish but it really added. Angry Angel is a quencher and really easy to drink. I can't wait to see what else Big Boss has to offer on a day to day basis.



1001 Beers: Kirin Ichiban

Beer Number 44: Kirin Brewery Kirin Ichiban

One of my favorite foods right next to Breakfast, Omelettes, Tacos, Pizza, and Chinese, is Sushi. Since moving to NC I have not been to many sushi places but I have to find somewhere to get my fix every so often. It was a plus that they had a very small beer selection as well. They had the common beers like, Blue Moon, Bud, a local BMC-esque beer, and a few imports. Kirin Ichiban was one of them.

I like that at places like this they usually have a Chinese or Japanese beer on the list. Before I got into beer I thought they were all Japanese at sushi places, but I was wrong. Being this one was on the list it seemed like a better time than any.
Kirin Ichiban Shibori boast a unique claim to fame, one happily uncontested by the majority of beers in the world. It is , says its brewers, the world's most expensively produced beer. Unlike other beers that sparge the mash with hot water to extract lingering fermentable sugars, for Kirin Ichiban this practice is eschewed. Instead, there is only one draining of wort from the mash. This wort should contain less bitter tasting tannins, arguably resulting in a beer that is mild and smooth to taste.

This beer came to me with everything I expected. I find the brewing process of this beer quite interesting and it gets a few points for that. Honestly, this was a decent brew. It was just right for the occasion. The flavors of the beer did not distract at all from my food. If anything, I feel they accentuated it. The higher level of carbonation, and dryness of this beer were just great and it was very easy drinking.

As you can see, or maybe not because of the dark environment, a very clean straw color with a white head. Some lemony flavors but you get more green apple than anything. It had a better body than I was expecting. I thought it was going to drink fairly light, but that was not the case. Maybe because in 2010 they moved away from using about 25% rice and corn and it is now an "all malt" beverage. This beer even had just the right amount of bitterness. Noticeably there, but not overpowering at all.

Some people would write it off as being similar to Budweiser or maybe give it extra points because it is imported. But I think this one, and where I had it, goes to show you that each beer has it's own situation. I mean, there are some bad beers out there that should just never be touched but for others, you just have to find that time. Would this beer have been great out one night tasting a whole lot of craft? No. Sitting down for dinner where my main focus is on the food and I wanted something that would not distract, Yes. I feel some of my favorite beers may have destroyed this same experience.

957 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



Battle Of The Hype: HopSlam vs Nugget Nectar


Today is a very exciting day in the world of Beer Fights. Tonight we bring to you one of those never ending battles of the, "Overhyped" beers. Thanks to our Unofficial Sponsor, Randy, we are able to bring it right into your home. One of the biggest showdowns that people should go out and taste... or maybe sit it out because it is not worth all of the trouble that it takes to get it.

Bell's Hopslam vs Tröegs Nugget Nectar.

This may seem like an unlikely match up, but there is a lot to these beers that bring them some attention.

Tale Of The Pour

Bell's Brewery, Inc. Michigan, United States From Tröegs Brewing Company Pennsylvania, United States
January-February Availability February-March
Imperial IPA Style American Amber
10% ABV 7.5%
70 IBUs 93ish
12oz Ounces 12oz
Hallertau Hersbrucker, Centennial, Glacier, Vanguard, Crystal, Simcoe. Simcoe Dry Hop Hops Nugget, Warrior, Tomahawk, Simcoe, Palisade. HopBack Hops: Nugget

Bell's Hopslam

Bell’s Brewery began its life back in 1983 when Larry Bell opened a home brewing store called Kalamazoo Brewing Company. Bell's Brewery, Inc. began in 1985 with a quest for better beer and a 15 gallon soup kettle.
Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell's Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell's repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.

Tröegs Nugget Nectar

Chris and John Trogner have been working hard to get Central Pennsylvania on the brewing map. Since 1997, these Mechanicsburg natives have been handcrafting world-class beers that combine traditional English brewing techniques with the eclecticism of new American brewing. But how they reached this point is as compelling as where they are headed.
Squeeze those hops for all they’re worth and prepare to pucker up! Nugget Nectar Ale will take hopheads to nirvana with a heady collection of Nugget, Warrior and Tomahawk hops. Starting with the same base ingredients of our flagship HopBack Amber Ale, Nugget Nectar intensifies the malt and hop flavors to create an explosive hop experience.

The Fight

Round 1: Appearance

HS: Poured a very clean, clear golden yellow with a small, white, short lasting head. Nice color for a DIPA. Very attractive. Constant reminder of the carbonation bubbling up the glass.

NN: Poured a nice golden bronze. Quite a bit darker and it falls into the Amber category quite well. A decent sized off white head that had a little more staying power than the Hopslam, though it dissipated rather quickly as well.

Winner: Nugget Nectar. This was a hard choice because they are both great looking beers but Nugget Nectar got the edge due to the longer lasting head. Longer head, is always a plus.

Round 2: Aroma

HS: This beer is bursting with a lot of tropical and fruity scents. Pineapple comes to mind. You can tell there are a lot of hops in this beer based on the nose, alone. It has a very nice aroma profile.

NN: This beer smells sticky. Very resiny, big, and sweet. Floral, caramel, and clean.

Winner: Hopslam. While Nugget Nectar did not smell bad at all, it just could not stand up to the scents that Hopslam gave off. The aroma is a very important aspect to the style that these two beers are brewed.

Round 3: Taste

HS: It came along very light at first, and then that initial, big rush of bitterness. Mango, passion fruit, and that bite that mellows out shortly thereafter. Floral and a tad peppery with a sweetness that rolls along to balance out the bitterness.

NN: This one started off sweet and moved into a huge wave of bitterness that followed grassy, citrus, resiny, sticky, earthy hop flavors. They all melded well together and tasted damn fine. This seems as if it would always be enjoyable.

Winner: Hopslam. While Nugget Nectar was very solid in the taste department, it just could not stand up the the flavors that Hopslam brought about. Maybe it is just me, but great fruity flavors will always out do earthy ones. No one eats vegetables and tropical fruits make everything taste better.

Round 4: Mouth Feel

HS: I thought this one was a bit syrupy for my liking. A decent medium bodied beer that lingered on and on and dried you out as it finished. A nice carbonation level.

NN: The carbonation level on this one was great as well. Almost carried a medium body, but it had a nice mouthfeel, nonetheless. This one lingered, as well, and I thought it was better balanced with the lower alcohol level.

Winner: Nugget Nectar. I guess I may have given this one away a bit in the last little bit. But it is true. I thought this one was superior when it came to the, insert macro beer buzz word, drinkability of the beer.

It looks like the breakdown at this point is Hopslam: 2 Nugget Nectar: 2. Only one more category but it is the moneymaker in any beer. The way you actually feel about it.

Round 5: Overall

Hopslam is a very good DIPA. A lot of good flavors and very well balanced and made, I say but it is not as good as everyone makes it out to be. I don't understand why people went out and stalked this beer opening day to get it. Is it because it is only around once a year? If this was always on shelves, it would sell better than the Two Hearted Ale, but it would be pushed aside for other beers that are readily available such as, Pliny The Elder, which is also highly sought after but people don't go all crazy about it.

So, as you probably assumed based on that last little section,

The Winner! Nugget Nectar

That makes it 3:2. I just feel that Nugget Nectar was a well rounded, more solid beer... even though it fits in no style at all. They call it an Amber ale... No way in hell. I think it would be safe to call it a IIPA or something. I bet more brewers will start to do something like this in a while and then we will have a new style war to deal with... I do not want to get started on that though...

I would like to thank you for coming out to this fight tonight. It was truly a great battle and I am wondering what your thoughts on these two beers were. Which did you like better?



Bavarian Hefe Brewday

This has probably been one of my least eventful brew sessions. Not that I am saying that is a bad thing, but just that it was. From Crush to Chill, I want to say I made record time and I even got some breakfast made for me in there. Just an amazing brewday all around.

I have been wanting to brew a Bavarian Hefe for a while but I just had no idea what to do with a wheat beer or where to even look for basis on recipe. I turned to one of my most recent book purchases, Brewing Classic Styles and found a bit of good information in there. Randy Mosher even has some good information in his books.

I knew for a while what I wanted in this beer and I guess that should have been the basis for the writing of this recipe but I was just not sure how to accomplish certain things, such as, a grapefruit character as well as banana and cloves. I went back and forth between adding a second hop addition for flavoring, throwing a whole orange in the boil, or maybe adding some grapefruit juice or nectar in before fermentation started. I even thought about adding coriander to the boil. But all this was stuff that I did not write in the recipe. Just ways I thought I could achieve the flavor profile I wanted.

So just like brewing any beer, yeast selection and fermentation was very important for what I wanted. As you can see, I chose a yeast that matched up perfectly. The hard part though was finding the right fermentation temperature. I scoured the net for contradictory post on forum to forum and just decided I would ferment at the same temperature I do everything at. 60.

After a last look in Brewing Classic Styles, they suggested 62. I am not sure that made a difference at all. I set my temp for 62, pitched my starter and about 5 hours later already bubbling away and a temperature check gave me a 67/68 degree fermentation. The yeast really got going and took over this beer.

I have not sampled it at all yet but really looking forward to it. I wonder how it is going to come out. This is for sure one of the lightest (in color) beers I have ever brewed. The runnings just really confused me and made me think I did not get proper extraction early one, but my OG came out a few points higher than I was expecting so there goes that.

The recipe for this one was 50% Wheat, about 10% Rye, and about 40% Belgian Pils. Why did I add the rye? Because I had it lying around and it did not seem like a bad idea. It fit what I wanted from the beer... on paper anyway, we will see how it comes out in the taste. Going to be kegging it up and tapping it soon. Making any adjustments needed from there.

I am glad I did not do all the crazy stuff I thought about while brewing this beer but we will see how happy I am with just the straight forward recipe. One thing I am glad I did though, was pick up rice hulls before the brewday. I was honestly going to go without them. I thought all those stuck sparge stories were just for fun. At the last second while leaving the shop, I grabbed them. Just because. Again, no issues here at all.

I guess maybe there was one thing I had a problem with. I wanted to use the spent grain from this beer to make bread with... or something at least, but all the rice hulls would have been a major issue so I just put all the grain into the composter. That could have been interesting and maybe this time it would not have looked like poop. I guess, maybe next time.