1001 Beers: Catch Up

1001 Beers: Green Flash West Coast IPA, Avery Maharaja, & Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier

So, with preparing for different things, Studying for the BJCP Tasting Exam, The Holiday Season, and Heading to Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, I have not been focusing much time on the blog. I really need to get caught up on my 1001 Beers though because I have so many in the fridge and do not want to open too many more until I catch up. I find it funny that this time last year, I also did not post very much... or the year before... Must be some kind of theme. I also have my Homebrew Advent Calendar coming up... I need to figure out how to work those post since I will be at Beer Camp while I am to be drinking some of those...

Anyway, lets get this going.

Beer Number 116: Green Flash West Coast IPA
Southern California IPAs don't differ simply because they contain more hops. Since Vinnie Cilurzo brewed Blind Pig Double IPA in 1994, the San Diego style has signaled paler-colored and less sweet beers, but beers that still have the malt character to stand up to plenty of hops.

So, while this passage seems to be about a different beer, it was indeed in the Green Flash section. Anyway, the West Coast IPA was just what they advertised. A big, bold, hoppy IPA. Very aggressive, bitter, piney. Hazy deep orange and a big rocky off-white head. Fruity and floral and a bite of alcohol in the finish. Sticks to your throat. You know what you are walking into based on the name alone.

Beer Number 117: Avery Maharaja This is one I had before and was not really into it. I mean, it was in no way bad. Just too much for me at the time.
The beer has only been around since 2004, but the idea behind it was inadvertently being planned at the brewery for several years before it came into existence. "The journey toward the Maharaja was actually a long time coming, probably dating all the way back to late 1997 when we first produced Hog Heaven barleywine-style ale," says Avery's marketing director. "Years of brewing and enjoying Hog Heaven made us start asking what the next step was. While Hog Heaven was delicious, we wanted to see if we could make an even more robust, in-your-fave hop aroma and bigger, yet balanced, hop flavor in a beer."

This passage also seemed to be heavy about another beer... hmmm... It is like I picked out these on purpose haha! Sweet, piney, syrupy, malty, a ton of alcohol and citrus. Toasted and smooth but not overly done. Pretty fantastic this go around. Big off-white head on a borderline amber body. It may have been the bit of age it had on it, since it was released in January, but I thought it was amazing where it was at this time... Maybe I should find the next release in a few months and compare...

Beer Number 118: Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissbier
Weihenstephan gets its grains from local farmers, then send them to a malting house where they are transformed into a brewing malt. The Hefe Weissbier is brewed with Hallertauer Perle and Magnum hops and dark and light barley malt, as well as wheat malt. After the ingredients have been mixed and a "young beer" has been created, the liquid is brought to the storage cellar. Located under the abbey garden, the beer sits in large tanks for some thirty days, by which time it is matured and ready to drink.

So, this passage was actually about the beer haha, anyway.... The first pour of this bottle was crystal clear. It was not until I got to the end of it that I realized all the yeast was still there... just needed to be stirred up. Big fluffy white head and a bit spicy on the nose with some citrus. Bitter up front and tingling. Some bubble gum and grassy. Dry finish. Enjoyable for sure.

883 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



New Belgium: Fresh Hop & Yuzu

With the changing season comes changing beer... but this has nothing to do with that. Not really anyway. This is about two beers that have crossed my eyes and my lusting soul recently. I am sure you have heard me talking about them on Twitter or maybe Google+ but now that I finally tracked them down, it is time to drink them.

New Belgium Fresh Hop! Another Release from the Hop Kitchen Series. The second being French Aramis, and the first of the 4 for the year was Hoppy Bock. I already see people (10) drinking Rewind on Untappd but I have not found it yet. Soon... along with my Q4 Folly Pack!

I totally would have grabbed a bottle of this but it was hard to come by in my area... ok, it is not in my area. I had to travel north again. But oh well, in the name of beer!

I guess I kind of hid it in the photo but you can still see it is a very clean, golden ale with a billowy light, white head. The aroma smells of Salmon Safe Hops... wait... what?
Salmon Safe Oregon Hops: In a nutshell, it’s all about keeping the water clean at and downstream of agricultural areas. To get the certification, the farmer has to do a number of things, including: only use approved pesticides; only have pesticides applied by trained individuals; plant more than 100 feet from any waterway, have stormwater mitigation so that runoff from the fields goes into the ground and not a waterway. Visit salmonsafe.org for detailed information.
There goes New Belgium and their Sustainability again. But anyway, out of a pint glass I got a lovely floral aroma that was nice and smooth. A light touch of pine, but I got some really juicy flavors as I moved into this one. A touch of lemon, but mostly bright citrus with a mellow bitterness in the finish. A touch grassy and woody as well. The lacing this beer left behind was very beautiful. Fresh Hop had a nice full body and a great carbonation level. I wonder what this would have been like out of the bottle but I am glad to have had it from a keg.

This next beer has caused some stir, an Imperial Berliner Weisse? NO WAY!!! But, I had to try it, even if it is out of its normal realm. Lips Of Faith Yuzu.

I kind of think I should have put my glass up front... but I guess that is for next time. Another very cleanly presented beer from New Belgium. No doubts about that but how would it live it to the style? Or would it taste well out of style?

I found the flavors came across quite light, juicy, and sweet. Now I have never had a Yuzu but apparently they are becoming all the rage. Several breweries have used them now, or at least I noticed it after having this beer. Maybe it was the high gravity of this one but it came across as a bit malty with a medium body. A nice touch of sour throughout that was pronounced in the finish and I am pretty sure in the nose, Yuzu is what I was picking up. A very tasty, tasty brew. Any doubts I had going in were no longer there.



1001 Beers: Celebration Ale 2013

It is that time of year again and there are very few beers I wait to see released. Why don't I just let you know what they are for the fun of things.
La Folie
Celebration Ale
Double Bastard
A short list, but hey. I know what I am looking for. A few others are making their way there but we will see how that goes. I have only had the others once or twice, so lets see if they become regulars... even though some have rotating recipes.

I have had a few Celebration Ales Before. Sierra Nevada knows exactly what they are doing with it. So, here is 2011, 2012, and now we get to have 2012 and 2013.

I decided to save a 6 pack every year and only open one bottle from the collection as a vertical year after year. This is going to be my second year and I am so happy with the results so far.

The 2013 Celebration Ale had an opaque reddish orange hue with a tan to orangish head. Quickly building, and long lasting. Quite a bit of citrus and piney notes in the nose. Quite resiny. Light bready and caramel scents do come through as well. I think this year the hop character may have been a little subdued as opposed to last year, but not to say it was lacking any hop character this year. All of the piney hop character sticks to the back of your throat, bready and caramel notes come through and citrus notes peak in to say hello. Some sweetness as it warms. A nice full bodied ale. One you should not pass up.

Since I drank it back to back with a 2012, and I have notes from 2012, I can kind of do a comparison. Though taste from a year of drinking beers can have some effect. It had the same appearance as before. I thought the head a little longer lasting but I guess that could just be a relative adjustment. A lot more of the bready and caramel character came through after a year but it was still quite piney in the finish. I got a lot more citrus as it warmed.

When comparing notes from fresh to fresh, year to year, it seems that this years beer is more piney and resiny this year compared to last which had more clean and crisp flavors and had a big, bright, floral hoppiness. I don't think a bad change came about this year or even last years version aged, but it will be great to see how things continue to change. Another look at Beer Number 3!



1001 Beers: Mad Elf

Beer Number 115: Troegs Mad Elf

What is better than some new beers to try around the holidays? Well, a new beer to try at any time of the year, really. Though, this one is only available around one time of the year. I happened to get a year old bottle of this one and I would love to taste it fresh, especially after this tasting but, hey. I will take what I can get.
Each season the tiny brewery increases its production, and every year it still manages to sell out before Christmas. Although cherries and honey certainly produce distinct flavors, the deeper character of this hugely flavored ale comes from neither of these ingredients. Instead, it's the Belgian yeast--a Duvel clone--that does the work, slowly fermenting over two months at a relatively high temperature to produce exceptional spiciness. Think pepper, clove, and ginger. Together reminiscent of fruitcake, or perhaps a glass of Malbec.
I did not get much of the spiciness, pepper, cloves, or ginger they discuss. But maybe that is just a side effect of it being aged... or maybe because I happened to be using a lot of nutmeg at this time.

Mad Elf poured a short lived off white head appeared on top of a deep ruby colored body. Pouring it into the glass, it looked pretty thick, almost like a cough syrup. Sour Cherries and some sweet malts were very pronounced on the nose. There was a vinous alcohol scent on the top as well and a touch of sweetness to top it off.

On first sip there was a sudden rush of cherries and on the back end a bit of sweetness. I thought it was a tad medicinal at first but it kind of grew on me and that flavor went away. Maybe it was the 11% alcohol by volume that was just doing the talking and tasting for me at that point, but who knows. A light carbonation and a bit of spice and dark fruits to finish it out. Quite a chewy mouthfeel.

Like I said, this one grew on me. Glad I got to taste it but based on distribution and price tag, I don't think I will be seeing it again for a while.

886 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



Stout Day At Railhouse Brewing

By now you should have known that Friday, the 8th of November, was International Stout Day. One thing you may not have know, is that I decided to make Stout Day the date of my Inaugural Brewery Ride and I would head out to The Railhouse Brewery to kick things off! Though, I have mentioned it a few times over the week...

Well, the trek out there was 30 miles so we assumed it would take about 2 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes. Following good old Google Maps... Well, lets just say it had us trying to ride through a compound that only people who do not exist can get into... So, we decided to reroute ourselves and take a road we knew fairly well... One called Longstreet... Yes, the name should tell you a bit about it. We were to ride 18 miles down it before switching off to another road. Sounded easy and simple. I mean sure, we are stuck in the middle of a pit so no matter which direction we left we would have to climb, but I had no idea that at one point the pavement on the road totally went away.

I guess I should have being I have been down it for work time and time again, but I never thought about it or considered it for riding. So for about 11 miles we were traveling extremely slow through rocks, clay, very soft white sand... yeah, just everything. My bike was continuously slipping in certain materials, but luckily this way it was essentially down hill and gravity kept me from sinking too bad.

I know people do work and train on the weekends, but I did not really think about them doing this on a 4 day weekend. We were passed by a squad of Bradley's, which was the first time one have ever passed me while I was just out for a stroll... Kind of odd, but hey I usually do not see them unless I am working.

Anyway, once we got out of the sand we had only 10 miles left to ride... of course, right in front of us were some major hills. We attacked them and arrived feeling great! It took about 2 hours and 49 minutes but we could have killed it if we just would have found a way around to the paved road. Oh yeah, and we rode through a Cemetery...

Once we arrived we were greeted by the owner and the marketing director, who I have been talking with for a while about this ride. We got a tour around the brewhouse and the history of each of the members as well as the brewery. We found out that the Railhouse is a Veteran Owned and Operated brewery. Which is totally awesome, especially given this area. Each branch of the military was represented in some way and you could see their pride in that fact just by looking around and the stories they tell.

The Railhouse Brewery has only been open since December 2010 and their reach is a bit further than I was expecting. I thought it would just be around North Carolina, which is typical around these parts. Maybe even just the Eastern side of the state, which is also typical. But nope! They distribute in Fayetteville, Raleigh, Charlotte, all over South Carolina, and even in an area of New York where the namesake of their K(A)-Bar Brown Ale is located. Seriously, not what I was expecting but that is truly awesome that they can do that given the number of Barrels they produce each year.

I will share a few pictures from the brewery but it is something you really have to see. Each of those flags have very significant meaning and were given to the brewery by the people involved in the events of which they came. They even have a wall of honor for those who have fallen in battle. A new one is coming in soon that will pay a bigger tribute to those who fought to defend our nation. Since today happens to be Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect on those who have been there for you and the real meaning behind what today is.

One thing I was not expecting when we got to the brewery is that a second brewing company was on site, Dirtbag Ales! I had no idea that the Railhouse was one of the only breweries in the State that does/allows contract brewing but that is pretty awesome. Talking with the Dirtbag Ales brewers/owners it was cool hearing their story. They have only been in existence since August and both of them were medics, as well. That gave us a few interesting things to talk about.

It finally came down to the time to try the beer. They were out of the brown ale, on this trip but hey, it was Stout Day! Though we did get an array of beers, and even one from Dirtbag Ales that was on tap, The Kolsch. I found it interesting that they brewed the beer with Blood Oranges. I should have asked how many pounds went into one batch, but it totally slipped my mind. They were working on an IPA in the brewhouse that day.

The Kolsch was a bit different from the ones I am used to. Maybe it was the use of real fruit rather than just pulling out esters from the yeast but I feel the bitterness from the hops and the blood oranges played well together. The citrus flavors and even scents on the nose were balanced and made this one quite enjoyable. I am usually on the fence for fruit beers but this is one I would have again.

The first beer from The Railhouse was the Pale Ale, which had a clean and crisp though, I picked up very distinct scents of apricots on the nose. Not out of place, just intersting to find that. A nice malt sweetness and light bitterness to balance it out. And only at 11 IBUs.

Because it was Stout Day, the next one we jumped into was the Mastiff Oatmeal Stout. I picked up roasted malt on the nose, kind of sharp, which also held over into the flavor realm. Balanced out by a smooth, creamy body to finish it out while not being overly heavy and full. Just flavorful. Apparently this is one of The Best Beers Being Produced In North Carolina, with multiple awards this year! So that has to mean something!

The vanilla porter was next in line and that was just a smooth drinking beer. The vanilla flavors lingered throughout this fairly light bodied porter. A nice blend of flavors and without overdoing it.

FCA IPA had a lot of tropical scents going on with it. I should have asked what hops they used, especially being it is a fairly new recipe compared to the rest of their line. A nice bitterness and a touch grassy in the finish. It is defined as a North Carolina IPA. No East Coast, or West Coast Distinction. Something all of it's own.

We were lucky enough to get a rare tasting of a batch of Beergasm that has been aging in a barrel for about 2 years... and I feel the name of this Barley Wine pretty much summed it up. A lot of dark fruits comes through on the nose, a nice malty character, and exactly what you would expect. A slight alcoholic burn. Though, when it came to drinking it, it was fairly well masked and and just there in the background. A light char, cherries, and residual sweetness made this one worth savoring every last drop. They bottle a version of it, but I don't see how it could compare to this. There are a couple of kegs out there for local events. Those of you that get to taste it, are extremely lucky.

I had a great time there and was even told to stop by on a brewday and help out around the place... If a day off works out with a brewday, I will for sure make it out there. Given the distance, it is totally a good place to ride out to on the weekend just to get my mileage in. Though, I will not be taking the sand road... So I see myself going back there on my bike for at least that reason. Check this place out for sure if you are in the area... Just make sure you watch out for the trains!



Learn To Homebrew Day

So, as we all know, or should know, The American Homebrewers Association's Learn To Homebrew day was November 2nd this year, 2013. People all over the country had set up events or even just something as simple as inviting their friends over for a lesson. Breweries, homebrew shops, etc etc etc. Just who ever wanted to share the love of homebrew.

For those of you who were not able to go out or had no events in your area, this year The Craft Beer Nation set up a hangout to briefly talk about homebrewing, the ingredients, and things you might need to get started. You can watch that video here. The Beer Fairy - Ashley, and I showed up to talk about all that. I hope we answered most basic questions but if you are watching you and you have further question, feel free to ask here, Twitter, or on Google+.

For Learn To Homebrew Day I figured I would make a new beer for Christmas. One I have been wanting to do and trying to figure out for a few years. Eggnog is one of my favorite drinks and I am disappointed that without making it yourself you can only get it at one time of the year. So, hopefully, finally I am able to get this Eggnog Milk Stout to work. The only way I thought to accomplish it was to use Lactose, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Bean... maybe I will add some Vanilla when I keg it. I guess it depends the character I want/get.

The brewday went off without a hitch. Honestly, a very simple brew. One hop addition for bittering, simple mash, and a 60 minute boil. I considered doing it for 90 minutes but I didn't. I came in a few points low but that could be because I was aiming for 1.088 I think... I'd have to look at my notes instead of thinking off the top of my head. I added all my spices and lactose at the 5 minute remaining mark because it was suggested to me that any earlier and I would lose the aromatic quality of my spices. Not what I want to do at all!

So yea, once it ferments out I will take my first sips and report back how it taste. I hope I hit the mark and can finally have another form of eggnog!



1001 Beers: Black Forest

Beer Number 114: Matt Brewing Company Saranac Black Forest

I have only had 1 other Schwarzbier that I can recall. That one was brewed by The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery and I thought it was truly, exceptional. One that I want to hunt down again and again, so that gave me high hopes walking into this beer.
With this dark, malty Schwarzbier, The Matt Brewing Company, established in 1888, has reached back to the very roots of its pioneering founder. Francis Xavier Matt was already on the road to success as a trainee at the famous Duke of Baden Brewery in the Black Forest region of Germany when, in 1855, he decided to move to the United States. His dream, like so many other immigrants from the Old World, was to open his own business.
It goes on and on to talk about his brewing and brewery but nothing really significant stood out to me in the passage. Just the same old, same old. I guess it is time to get to the tasting.

A short lived brown head on a deep amber, close to brown liquid. Very malty but quite thin at the same time. I got metallic hints in the nose of this beer but high acidity along with the bready malt flavors and caramel with every sip. Light carbonation, bubbly on the tongue and a bit of dark roast... Totally not a fan. I did not care for any of the beers I got in this variety pack, but I guess that is one of the trials of trying new beer.

887 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



1001 Beers: Cottonwood Pumpkin

Beer Number 113: Foothills Cottonwood Pumpkin

I had a taste of this one at Twin City Taps last year, but I was not thinking about the list or even if I should count something that was just a sample where it is readily available.

So this beer was originally a Carolina Beer Company beer but I guess they were sold as they became defunt... or something... I don't know the full story. I think I remember someone telling me one day, but I can't remember what they said...
Carolina Beer purchased the Cottonwood Ales brand from the original Boone brewery in 1999. The Pumpkin Spiced Ale is Carolina Beer's most popular seasonal brew.
Even though another company is now in charge of this beer I can see why. It was simply fantastic. Some would say you never hear that about pumpkin ales, but it is true in this case.

Cottonwood Pumpkin poured a golden amber color with a short lived white head. Maybe a finger width in height before it began to fade. A very clean and clear ale with a bit of spice, nutmeg and all spice on the nose. Up front there was some sweetness, a very light sensation being brought over the palate and the pumpkin spice flavors are pretty welcoming. A medium bodied mouthfeel with some fruits and spice in the finish and a nice sour touch. I very much enjoyed this one.

888 Bottles Of Beer To Go!



The Craft Beer Nation Bottle Opener

Not too long ago I was contacted by a company that sells customized bottle openers, along with a complete collection of other items. Seriously, just about anything you can think of to put a custom design on, you can find. If not, I bet you could talk to someone there and they may be able to find a way to make it happen.

When they asked me what design I would like to place on it, at first I was thinking an L's Ales logo... but I have nothing of the sort made up haha So I decided to go with the next, most obvious design... No, not the New Belgium logo... but that would have been awesome. The logo of a community I moderate for on Google Plus, Craft Beer Nation... You remember Google Plus, right? Everyone seems to think it is dead but I just think they never took the time to look.

So first off, I am not saying I expected it to take a great amount of time to get my bottle opener to me, but when I was looking at their order numbers, and considering the type of stuff they already had coming through the pipeline, I thought it would be a little bit of time before I received my product... NOPE! They showed up really fast. I don't know how long it took to produce them, but I was very excited to see them once they arrived. They claim a 7 business day turn around on the site, but I am not sure it even took that long.

The style I received was the Surfer Style Powder Coated Steel Bottle Opener that you can place your own order, with your own design at this link. The specifications are also laid out as so.
Ships In 7 Days
Size 7" x 1 1/2"
Imprint Size 1 1/8" x 3 1/2"
Imprint Method Printed or Laser
Max Imprint Colors 2
You are getting a pretty decently sized opener and I noticed mine had a little weight to it. It is not a flimsy little piece of metal. The coating on this thing is pretty solid around all of the edges, too. I noticed one point on both openers that were slightly exposed but I feel that may be a holding point or something for the machines that it runs through. It is on the inner corner of the "decapping" edge, so I expect that area to see some wear anyway.

I decided to put one of the openers through a series of test just to see how well it will hold up. I have never done anything like this before so trying to decide what to do lead to a little bit of a problem. Obviously I am going to open numerous beer bottles with it. That is just a given. I also decided to throw it through the dishwasher. Why? I don't know. I thought it might show some sort of wear. I don't think I have ever put a bottle opener into a dishwasher before but I needed something to test. It came out just as it went in. I only ran it through once, but like I said, I probably never would have done that anyway.

After many successive bottle openings, and even taking it over to a party, (where I used it on twist top caps), the only major signs of wear are exactly where I was expecting them. On the lip where the cap comes into contact with. It is not that much of a degredation, but it is there. I tried to do some fancy flair opening with this as well and all I was able to uncover from that is I suck at flair bartending. The opener still worked and I could totally grab bottles with the end that I usually use to twirl it around my finger tips.

The printing on the opener I thought was pretty fantastic, too. Very smooth and you can see the quality in the design that was printed. No bleeding colors, just very crisp lines. No smudging, no blurry imaging. Crisp and clear just as the design I gave them. A very high quality job.

I would definitely check this company out for any of your custom order needs. I am really happy with my opener and I hope my Sierra Beer Camp voting campaign contest winner will be happy with his as well.