Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Saturday in San Diego

My friend Steve and I got down into SD around noon on Saturday and decided to have lunch and a beer at O'Brien's Pub. This was actually the first time I've been there and let's just say I wish this was my neighborhood pub. It's a tiny little place (though lots of outside seating) with a fairly small but amazing selection. Although here were things like Stone 9th Anniversary, Pizza Port Seaside Stout, and Russian River Pliny the Elder, the minute I saw Alpine Pure Hoppiness I ordered a pint almost without hesitation. Having had Exponential Hoppiness before I kinda knew what to expect, but I was hoping for a little less actually than Exponential which is a very thick, syrupy, albeit tasty double IPA. Pure Hoppiness has a wonderful clean and fresh hoppiness to it consisting of lots of citrus. Being a double IPA at 8% ABV, it still has more of a beefed up body so the malt overshadows a lot of the bitterness found in normal IPA's. However, it's not too syrupy, and goes down really well for a double IPA, a style I have been kinda getting tired with.

After a beer and some food at O'Brien's we headed back up to San Marcos to stop in and have a drink at Port Brewing / Lost Abbey. I had a High Tide IPA that was packed with flavor. The hoppiness you get out of this one is more along the floral, herbal type, and there is a very strong bitterness to it. Maybe the most exciting news of the day is that Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale, a delicious (dare I say as good if not better than New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red) sour cherry beer, is set to be released soon. I thought I heard "February 19th", but maybe it was January 19th since that would make more sense being a Saturday and all. Of course my memory could have just completely recalled it wrong and neither of those dates is right (that tends to happen to me when I'm drinking beer) but the main point is it will come soon. I can't wait. [EDIT: Will be released January 19th per Beer Sage]

After a pint at Port we headed up to Stone to see what was on tap. The list was good, like always, but not a whole lot excited me. One beer that did excite me was Alpine Captain Stout a standard American style stout. Captain Stout is a sweeter stout packed with coffee and chocolate but enough roasted malt bitterness to keep it stout-like. Just another nice beer day in SD.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja

The Lost Abbey may have had a beer called Funky Barrel, but the brewery Jolly Pumpkin out of Dexter, MI might be the one brewery that continuously brings the funk. This is only the second offering I've tried from them (the first being their Winter seasonal) but from what I've gathered I don't think they make a non-funky beer. Jolly Pumpkin states that their production uses open fermentation and oak aging, which I'm guessing applies to all their beers.

La Roja is constructed under the style of Flanders Red Ale and the aroma immediately makes me think I'm in for a Supplication-like mouth quenching experience. That's a little misleading though because the taste is only mildly sour. There are a lot of other woody caramel and fruity flavors that take some of the focus away from the tartness. The high carbonation gives it a very fizzy mouthfeel. A good choice for any sour beer lover.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sam Adams Old Fezziwig

Given that I don't often drink Sam Adams, I really am excited to have this Winter Classics pack, especially after trying the excellent Holiday Porter yesterday. Today I went with the Old Fezziwig Ale which has recently stirred up a little debate on BeerAdvocate over whether this year's version is as good as it's been in the past. Old Fezzy, as they call it, is a malty and spicy beer, brewed with cinnamon, ginger, and orange (peel?), with an ABV of 5.9%.

It poured darker than I expected, though clear at the edges. The smell was largely made up of toasty malt. Given that they say they used a lot of "specialty malt," I'm guessing they used a lot of Munich and/or Victory malt. I also thought I noticed a hint of cinnamon in the aroma, even before I noticed on the label what the beer was brewed with. The taste has that heavily toasty character to it with a certain subtle spiciness that I could not discern by flavor. The spiciness was not too bad because it didn't overwhelm, instead it was only barely noticeable in the background. I thought towards the end I could still pick up on a little cinnamon in the taste, but that might have been more in my head. This, along with the Holiday Porter, is one of the better seasonal beers I've come across this holiday season. Kudos to Sam Adams so far, we'll see how they do with the Cream Stout and the Cranberry Lambic (<<--- not expecting a whole lot). Old Fezzy gets a 4.05 from me, or a B+ on BeerAdvocate.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sam Adams Holiday Porter

I was given the Sam Adams holiday gift 12-pack that contains 6 beers; Boston Lager, Winter Lager, Old Fezziwig, Cream Stout and Holiday Porter. The holiday porter sounded good tonight so that's what I went with. I was figuring that they used spices to put the "Holiday" in this porter, but I could tell I was wrong after my first sip. The aroma was pretty sweet, mainly chocolate and small amount of roasted malt which were both found in the taste as well. The chocolate was pretty strong and was accompanied by a lot of caramel goodness, with the tiny bit of roasty character doing its thing away from center stage. Overall it's just a really sweet porter, maybe a little thinner than you would expect but if I could get this by itself I would be drinking it right along side Black Butte Porter all the time. I rated it a 4.3, or what would now be an A- on BA.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas in Belgium Gift Pack + Review

Though I made a request that nobody buy me beer for Christmas (gift certificates, glassware, and everything else was fine), my sister still felt like purchasing me this Christmas in Belgium Gift Pack, distributed by the Shelton Brothers. I'm actually glad she did cause they look interesting.

The pack contains 5 beers. Two of them are Belgian Dark Ales (Winterkoninkske and Kerstmutske Christmas Nightcap) while the other three are more of the pale ale variety (Pere Noel, Zinnebir Xmas, Serafijn Christmas Angel).

After getting home from a bunch of family stuff last night I decided to jump right into the first one. I did a bit of research via BeerAdvocate on all of these because I'd never heard of any of them before. Kerstmutske Christmas Nightcap is a 7.4% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale. It is brewed by Dany De Smet and his wife who name their brewery "Slaapmutske," which is a term used to describe the last beer had before going to sleep. Dany was formerly brewmaster at Brewery Huyghe (Delirium line of beers). Nightcap pours a deep purplish-brown with an off-white, yellow-tinged head. The aroma contains grapes, sugary candy, and some earthiness from the Belgian yeast. The taste of most Belgain Dark ales is hard for me to pick apart because the malts or more subtle than darker American ales that use a bunch of roasted, chocolate, and black patent malts whose flavors are very easy to pick out. Usually in Belgian dark ales I get a sweet fruit taste, alcohol, and earthiness. That's what I got here, sans the alcohol. The mouthfeel seemed just a tad too light for the beer, but that's only a small gripe. I was very pleased with this beer, an easy drinking dark Belgian that indeed works well as a nightcap.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Night of Beers

The lineup:
1. Alesmith IPA
2. Lost Abbey Judgment Day
3. Alesmith Horny Devil
4. Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme
5. Alesmith Speedway Stout
6. Three Floyds DarkLord (2007)

The Best: The undisputed winner here was Lost Abbey's Cuvee de Tomme. A wonderful blend of oak bourbon barrels and sour cherries, with a hint of sour brett in the background. In the smell comes some bourbon and sour cherries with a tiny amount of vanilla present. The taste gives you a lot more oak, and the bourbon overrides most of the sour brett until the very end of the sip. The carbonation was very low but it didn't detract much... in fact, although it probably could have used a touch more carbonation, too much would have been a bad thing.

The Worst: Three Floyds Dark Lord was the unanimous loser in this lineup. Not one person in the room cared for this beer. The smell carried some chocolate along with a sour type of malty smell, maybe like soy, I dunno. The taste had some bittersweet chocolate, slight coffee in the aftertaste and a real roasted malt tanginess. Tangy. That is actually the best word I could use to describe the beer. I don't even know how the majority of people like this beer. I will never seek it out again. I'm pissed I gave up a Russian River Toronado 20th for it. Live and learn I guess.

Honorable Mention to: Alesmith Horny Devil. This beer pours a rich clear golden color, smells a bit of Belgian yeast mustiness along with a big fruity sweetness. The taste is really great, all of that said above in the smell and then add in the 11% alcohol and you have a very interesting Belgian Pale Ale.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

God Bless Ruination 12 oz. Bottles

The perfect accompany for any lunch. And if my math is correct, buying a 6 pack is way more worth it than buying the same amount in 22 oz bottles.

Price of Ruination 6-pack in So. Cal = $11.99
Oz's in a 6 pack = 72

Price of Ruination 22oz bottle = $4.49
3 Ruination bottles = 66 oz's and $13.47

So you buy a Ruination 6 pack and not only do you get more beer than buying a few bombers, but you get it at less of a price. Add to that the convenience of a 12 oz serving and we got liquid gold! I'm glad Stone decided to sell these in 6 packs in addition to the bombers.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Couple of Winter Ales

I've had some bad luck with the winter beers this year. The first one to kick it off was Deschutes Jubelale which was a huge letdown from last year. Then the season was redeemed by Jolly Pumpkin's Noel de Calabaza. Oh yeah, Sierra Nevada Celebration is a great beer every year, but we already knew that.

But now I've been cold with the last 3 tries. It started the other night when I went for a couple pints at Lucky Baldwin's. They had just finished their Christmas beer festival but they still had some on tap, so I ordered an Anchor Christmas Ale hoping it'd be much better than the 2006 vintage I had last year. Well it wasn't. Most people flip out over this beer, but I just can't grasp it. It's got a huge spicy thing going on, maybe it was cloves, but there was more to it, a much more herbal thing. I just didn't like the taste, plain and simple.

The next attempt was when I ordered Gordon Biersch's Winter Bock while at a work party. This actually wasn't horrible, it just wasn't something very satisfying. It's supposedly a dopplebock, of which I've only maybe 3 different ones in my life, but it wasn't anything like those others, and it surely wasn't any better in its own way. This beer was a big malt soup with a pretty potent alcohol presence thrown in. That's all I can really remember. Still had a good time at Gordon Biersch though!

Finally I had a bottle of Alaskan Winter Ale last night. Another one who wasn't bad by any means, just a little different and not my exact idea of a winter ale. It had a medium malt body but the main attraction was the spruce tip spicing. Let me say that was very interesting! I don't exactly know if/when I've ever had spruce before but it gave the beer a berry taste... like blueberries maybe, but not overpowering. Anyway, I was able to drink that beer pretty easily but I wouldn't have more just because that flavor started to become a bit old by the end.

Well I gotta say I love trying new beers, and I know I'll never like every beer, but this winter I've been disappointed with my selection. Last year I had pretty good luck with Deschutes Jubelale and Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale. To me, those two brews epitomized "winter ale."

Deschutes Hop Trip

Most people are pulling an imperial stout or winter warmer out of their fridge the week before Christmas, but I felt like something a little lighter this afternoon while watching some bowl games. I didn't think I was going to be able to find this around me easily but I happened to be down in Costa Mesa a few days ago and was able to get a bottle of Deschutes Hop Trip. The only other fresh hop beer I've had was Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale which is in my opinion the best beer they make.

Hop Trip poured my favorite color for a pale ale- a burnt orange-red. Pretty weak head, even though I tried my best get a good one on it. The smell was pretty subtle, I guess I'm getting way too used to aggressive IPA's. However there was a lot of citrusy hop apparent in the aroma, along with biscuity malt. The taste started out with some pine but was mainly citrus, and juicy. I would go as far to describe this as Alpha King Jr. Definitely nowhere near the hoppiness or bitterness of Alpha King, but with the same juicy flavor- only toned down quite a bit. This was a pretty easy drinking pale ale, reminding me how it's nice to take a break from any of the copious amounts of big aggressive beers taking over right now. 4.4 on BA from me.

And just for verification, poured sister a taster of it and her reply was "ohhhh, that's goooood.. smoooooooth"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Russian River IPA

Went to Hollingshead's Deli to have lunch and see what they had on tap. A pretty good selection today, the ones I remember being Sierra Nevada Celebration, Alaskan Winter Ale, Avery The Kaiser, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, Victory HopDevil, and Russian River IPA.

I went with the Russian River IPA (pictured right), a great and steady choice of an IPA. Resiny citrus hop oils and a fair bitterness cross the tongue. I usually don't drink beer all that fast, but I was able to get what looked like a 20 oz pour down pretty fast, at 11am no less, giving credit to this beer's incredible "drinkability."

Hollingshead's Firestone delivery guy had also just dropped off their allotment of Firestone 11 so we were able to buy 1 bottle each. A pretty expensive beer at $16.95 for 22 oz's, but it's not the most expensive bottled beer I've paid for per ounce. That designation might have to go to Lost Abbey's Cuvee de Tomme which was $15 for about 12.7 ounces.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout

This Summer I came across a few products from Stoudts, a brewery in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, and thought it was a bit strange they were even offering something as interesting as an imperial oatmeal stout all the way out here on the west coast. The Stoudts Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout is 9% ABV, with an IBU of 55, and brewed with 3 different hops- Warrior, Kent Golding, and Willamette.

It poured the beautiful shiny black color as you can see from the picture. The smell was pretty aromatic, with sweet dark roasted malts. Though I can't really say I've ever been able to pinpoint an "oat" smell from an oatmeal stout, I thought I picked up what could have been a sweet sort of oatmeal smell. The taste isn't as highly roasty as the aroma. There is actually much more of a chocolate taste to it, which really kicks in mainly after the sip. The deep chocolate is followed by cocoa powder and then a little bit of alcohol. There was suppose to have been a pretty generous hopping to it, but this bottle was probably old enough that they faded into the recesses of the dark thick malt. Pretty easy drinking for a big stout, especially if you have a sweet tooth.

Beer - The Magazine... Yeah Another One...

Lately I've been reading DRAFT Magazine but was given this new magazine simply titled Beer. The cover sure doesn't turn you off, that's for sure. So I started reading and it was pretty apparent from the outset- this magazine has a schizophrenic frat boy vibe. 85% of the time they focus on what most of us craft beer enthusiasts would call the dreaded macros. Yep, on the first real page we have blurbs about Miller Chill, Michelob fruit-infused beers, and Bud Chelada. Later on there is a feature on the Pilsner style. Heineken and Labatt Blue make appearances there. And then the main feature is "Great American Beer Shootout: Blue Collar Beer" featuring Miller Genuine Draft, Olympia, Hamm's, Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, Miller High Life, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Coors, and Budweiser (the winner).

In addition there are articles addressing the lemon in the hefe debate, storing beer away from light and heat, 7 ways to open a beer bottle (oh boy!), and strategies for getting free beer at bars. Lets not forget the 7 pages dedicated to Beer Pong and what toilet paper is the best.

However there is that 15% that makes you think the magazine does know a good bit about its craft beer. The short review section in the back features Firestone Double Barrel, Sierra Nevada Porter, Deschutes Black Butte and Mirror Pond, Stone Pale Ale and Ruination, and Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA and Road Dog Scottish Ale. There is a nice article on the types of beer glassware and an introduction to homebrewing.

This magazine wasn't for me, and chances are the same for anyone who actually reads this blog, but I could understand the demographic they would be targeting.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A New Low - North Coast Old Rasputin

This Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast has been sitting in my fridge for a few months and I've been anxious to try it, given the fact that when I first got into beer and started exploring stouts this was the beer many told me was a benchmark of the style. I've found this not to be the case for my own tastes.

It started off pretty good initially. The appearance, a dark brown to black with a good looking fluffy head was what I expected, nothing wrong there. The smell was a pretty mellow acidic roasted malt aroma, nothing too wrong there. The taste even started out pretty good too. I detected a great amount of roastiness with a bitter chocolate and mild alcohol finish. As it stood this beer wasn't all that bad (not great either). On about the 8th sip or so everything went crazy. The taste became astringent and alcohol-y. I gave it a few minutes to try and recalibrate my senses and on the next sip I got the same thing. It was making me nauseous. I had to dump more than half the beer down the drain. If you had asked me before I uncapped this sucker, that would have been the last thing I would have ever thought I'd have to do. As it stands right now, it's tied with St. Pauli Girl as my lowest ranked beer.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Firestone 11 Is Coming

When is it coming? Nobody really knows for sure but it should hit a very selected amount of central and southern California stores by the end of this week or early next week (when it gets to northern California I have no idea). As you can see, this super premium beer goes for a price of $16.99 for a 22 oz. bottle. If the 11th turns out to be as good as the 10th, that price will be a steal knowing that bottles of the 10th were selling for $100 and up after the word had gotten out how good it was. I've seen one person mention that a certain BevMo is not even planning on putting their stock out on the floor, but will be available to people who inquire about it. That has to be unprecedented for BevMo. You can bet there will be more than a handful of people stocking up with all they can find in hopes of making huge profits on ebay, which has recently become a controversial topic on both BeerAdvocate and I side on that of the beer lovers who are more than a bit annoyed that people are buying up beers that are truly enjoyed by us enthusiasts and using them only to make a profit off of much wealthier individuals who have hundreds of dollars to throw around at single beers. But I digress. Apparently there were only 500 cases total of the 11 produced, so if you want some you better not wait.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Session #10 - 'Tis the Season for Noel De Calabaza

It's about as Winter as it's gonna get here in a mostly rainy Southern California right now. The temp this evening is 51 with an expected low of a frigid 45 degrees. I've seen some talk about a newcomer to the area for the last couple weeks and had been really excited to grab a bottle and give it a try. You have to look pretty carefully out here to find a beer store that carries any Jolly Pumpkin brews, so I was excited to see the first ever at my local Beverages & More. That would be the Jolly Pumpkin Noel De Calabaza, an oak aged "Belgian dark ale." This should be a fun tasting, as I sit down for a glass of this 9% Winter seasonal, moderately medicated due to a recent cold virus I've attracted. I'd normally wait until my upper respiratory passages cleared up, but forget that, I've been wanting to try this for two weeks now, and it ain't gonna be Winter forever.

This is probably not the type of beer you think of as a Winter seasonal. As we know, there are a huge amount of malty, maybe spiced, high alcohol beers that are made specific for the Winter, but how many sour beers do you see released? Kinda cool I say. The initial whiff I get is of some subdued funk and the Belgian yeast earthiness with a tart fruit (cherries to my f'd up nose) body. Initially it starts out with a really funky taste which rushes over the tongue really fast and leaves a tart and then dry bitterness in the throat. A lot of the earthiness leaves as you keep drinking and it becomes more of a fruity tart sort of beer, though it never loses that wild yeast character. Very nice beer, regardless of the temperature outside or the season.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

New Glarus Raspberry Tart

I was saving the New Glarus Raspberry Tart for a special occasion, and the anticipation was becoming too much, considering how much I loved the cherry flavored Belgian Red this same brewery makes. No better night to crack one open than after USC beats ucla.

Just as with the Belgian Red, I really don't have much of a description for this one. The name pretty much tells it all. It's fully flavored with raspberries, and it is very tart. You know how your mouth starts watering when you smell something sour? That's what happens with this. It's pretty acidic, so I couldn't drink it all night (even with it only being 4% ABV). The mouthfeel is really spritzy, almost tastes like a champagne cooler or something. A couple small (like 4 oz) glasses is enough for me. If you love raspberries you may want to do whatever you can to get this beer ASAP.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale (2007)

This would be my first Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barelywine. This is the 2007 version, released earlier this year. Barleywine is a style I stayed away from when I first entered beer geekdom (late 2004). I had gone to a Stone tasting at a local liquor store and after that hop assault to a then-newbie I decided I would try to pick up the barleywines at a later time. Earlier this year I actually had my first, going back to Stone Old Guardian, and I thought it was really good.

The Bigfoot Ale was exactly what I expected it to be, based on what I had heard about it. This thing is hoppy. Very floral hoppiness to it, and there's tons of malt in there that initially gives off quite a lot of sweetness. As you get further and further into it the hops just keeping hitting you and seem to take over any of the sweetness you got from the malt. The bitterness is pretty heavy and leaves the back of the tongue and throat tingling. I expected a really soupy sort of beer, but I was actually pleased that this was no more viscous than about medium, maybe medium-heavy. I tend to not like really viscous hoppy beers (like some double IPAs) so that was a big score for this beer in my book. This still isn't a style I can drink all the time, but I imagine this was a pretty good representation of the style.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What I'm Drinking Tonight

Deschutes Jubelale. This is the 2007 version. Last year was the first opportunity I had to have this beer from a brewery I very much like and I enjoyed it very much. Somehow this year's version just didn't seem to impress me the way last year's did. That version I remember as more fruity, toasty and/or roasty, and a bit of berries in there as it warmed up. The 2007 version is largely toasty malt on a much thinner than anticipated body. Supposedly generously hopped though I didn't get that sense, other than it did balance it out a bit, but nothing extraordinary. Not a bad tasting beer, but a seasonal "Winter warmer?"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Port Brewing/Lost Abbey Older Viscosity Release

My sister and I drove down to San Marcos Saturday to meet a friend of ours in from Florida and do a little beer drinking centered around the release of a few beers from Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey. The feature beer was Older Viscosity, a bourbon barrel aged version of the strong ale Old Viscosity. The other beers to be released were Gift of the Magi, a unique Biere de Garde using ingredients such as bark of Frankincense, Myrrh, and brettanomyces, and Santa's Little Helper, a Russian Imperial Stout. By the time we got there we joined a small line of about 25 people as we put our orders in. While waiting I had a taster of Santa's Little Helper which was fantastic, especially since it was my breakfast. As the line kept moving so did the tasters. Gift of the Magi was also on tap, so I tried that. It was a very complex beer that one would need more than a 4 oz taster of to be able to describe well.

We purchased our beers and headed over to Stone to get some food. The tap list at Stone was pretty good this day (when isn't it?), and it took no hesitation for me to order a 2004 Stone Imperial Russian Stout when I saw it was on the list. Compared to the 2005 and 2006 aged versions I've tried recently, this one was probably the best. The chocolate and roast had really melded nicely to create an incredibly rich and smooth drinking experience. The other new beer I tried was Anderson Valley's Brother David's Tripel. Not really the best interpretation of a tripel I've tasted but a good beer nonetheless. As we were leaving I picked up a growler of Stone Ruination for the USC game against the bRUINS next week. I'm hoping we will indeed "ruin" them.

Sage guilted me into returning to The Lost Abbey after Stone (even though I "needed" to get home to study) because he said they had a special keg of Older Viscosity on (I'm sure it will cost me a few points on my infectious disease midterm, but that's worth it). I must thank him for that because it was my first REAL taste of the Older Viscosity and it was awesome (way better than I remember it during the barrel tasting, but then again that had been after like 12 other beers). Older had some deep chocolate, tons of oak, and heat. It was a super rich beer that went down incredibly smooth. Probably the best "sipping" type beer I've experienced.

That pretty much did my day in right there. How I even tried to study for an hour or two at night baffles me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner

Some Lost Abbey Avant Garde....

Thanksgiving Morning

So after our annual football game, and annual post-game slurpee from 7-11, I came home and fixed myself a quick scrambled eggs and toast breakfast. And what better to go with it than a Founders Breakfast Stout. I'll cut right to the chase and say that this was an amazing stout. The coffee, the chocolate, the roasted malt all comes together so nicely, and for a pretty viscous 8.3% double stout it is very easy to drink down.

Though there's no dating info on it, I'm guessing this was bottled last fall, since I obtained it in a trade this summer. The aroma is more tilted to the chocolate and roast side, whereas the taste gives you all that plus a ton of coffee. At the start you really feel that coffee but as the glass wears on the roasted malt and chocolate assert themselves some more. Again, so drinkable, and I actually had to slow myself down a couple times otherwise this might have been gone before I finished breakfast. It has to be up there in my top 10 beers.

(Breakfast. Hey that's the best I can do, but more important is the beverage)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve, the start of a Mini-Beer-A-Thon

If it's not a recognized holiday it should be. It marks the start of a 4 day vacation for me. That of course means we can get to heavy beer drinking, which sounds fun since I haven't touched a beer in about a week.

I started off the night at home with a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale that I purchased earlier in the day. This would be about the 3rd vintage of this stuff I've ever had and it's always one of the most beautiful beers I pour. Plus, if the label art of this beer doesn't get you in the mood I don't know what will. Of course, there are not that many holiday IPA's out there (I can only think of Winter Yulesmith), but just seeing the clear orange it pours with a big fluffy and rocky head makes my mouth water in the Winter. As far as this years' version goes, you know from the aroma you're gonna get a lot of pine, but it smells like sweet pine. It comes across the palate as pretty sweet with nice and fresh piny hops also. After that the bitterness really coats the mouth and you get quite a piny experience the rest of the way. Off the top of my head I'm going to say I liked last year's better, but this is pretty tasty anyway and I wont have any trouble finishing off the rest of the 6-pack.

A bit later a few of us guys then went out to the new TAPS Fish House & Brewery that opened up in Corona (there has been one in Brea for a long time). TAPS makes some great beers, and has won numerous medals. Most recently they came home from the GABF with a silver and bronze for their Russian Imperial Stout and Cream Ale, respectively. Unfortunately, they usually only have 5-8 beers of theirs on tap, and last night in Corona they only had their Pale Ale, Cream Ale, Porter, Irish Red, and Hefe, and nothing on cask like they normally do. None of these beers really got me excited (I really wanted to try their Pumpkin Ale which I hear people rave about), but I had a Hefeweizen anyway. It's a Bavarian style hefeweizen which was ok (maybe it's really good, it's just not my favorite style). LOTS of wheat taste to it and quite a bit of cloves too, with just a touch of banana. After that my beer night was over, we went to a casino and everyone won money except me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Thanksgiving and Beer Ideas

I haven't really gotten much into food and beer pairings until this last year, especially after reading The Brewmaster's Table by Garrett Oliver. Since Thanksgiving dinner is one of the more popular occasions in our country why not get serious about pairing some beer with it for the first time? I have so much beer here at home I'm gonna do this with what I have laying around.

This Thanksgiving is going to be a long day for me. In the early morning my friends and I traditionally hit the local park to relive our high school (and college for some) football glory days (in 1999 we finished ranked #13 in the state of CA!). After the game at about 10am we are exhausted and grab a slurpee from 7-11. This year I plan to head back home and fix a quick breakfast and have a Founders Breakfast Stout with it, strictly for replenishment purposes of course. Hey, I only have one bottle of it so I wanna do it the right way... for breakfast. After that I can say with about 99.9% certainty that I will fall asleep for a while.

Dinner this year will most likely be centered around the start of the USC/ASU game at 5pm that we will be at home to watch. To go along with some cheese and cracker appetizers I think it will be a Saison Dupont. I don't know much about cheese but Beer Advocate tells me to pair that with some earthy or pungent cheeses including Camembert, Fontina, Gorgonzola, and Limburger. Maybe I'll go out and try to pick one of these up. Usually around our house we just have some sort of cheddar or Parmesan. For actual dinner I'll try a couple of biere de gardes- Lost Abbey Avant Garde and St. Amand French Country Ale.

For a digestif either a Cuvee de Tomme or New Glarus Raspberry Tart.

We'll see if I can really stick to this regimen. But at least I'll give it my best try. I'm interested to hear what other type of specific pairings people are planning on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Telegraph Popping Up Around LA

Telegraph, the small brewery out of Santa Barbara, CA, is one I don't hear about too often. They have a couple bottled offerings but after a short search this last Summer I learned the closest place for me to buy them was about 3 hours north. After that I pretty much forgot about them until I saw their California Ale appear on tap at Father's Office in Santa Monica. I made the poor choice of ordering that after a Pliny the Elder, but I saw enough in it to want to give it another go eventually.

In addition to this, I saw the Telegraph Stock Porter on tap at Lucky Baldwin's last night and ordered a glass. I wish I had known the details about this beer at the time because it has some interesting properties. What they do is blend two batches of beer to make this porter. One batch is higher alcohol and barrel-aged in American Oak while the other is lower alcohol and not barrel-aged. What I've also unofficially found out is that they use a Belgian yeast strain to ferment this porter (though it is quite obvious in the smell and taste). The beer came to me dark brown in a Piraat tulip and had a huge tan rocky head on it. The smell screamed out Belgian yeast all the way. The taste was very similar to some Belgian strong dark ales I've had. Earthy, spicy, roasty. It was quite a challenge to the brain, with the name trying to convince you it's a porter while everything else about it argued a dark Belgian ale. Well, you gotta hand it to them for producing not only something you don't see often (or at all?) but making it pretty good to boot. That glass wasn't bad, but now I'll really be looking forward to getting back to the California Ale, which I had also seen on the menu at Lucky Baldwin's.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Much Anticipated Lost Abbey Angel's Share

The much anticipated release of this year's Angel's Share happened Saturday morning and I had to be down at the brewery to get a few bottles. Believe me when I say I understand how high in demand this beer is. In the last 6 months or so I've seen many people all over the country looking for bottles from the previous release. I had an opportunity in August at the Lost Abbey's First Annual Barrel Tasting to try this batch and I know it gave me a fairly good impression (it was the last beer in a long line of beers that night). In fact, if I had liked the barrel-aged version that night, I had loved the non-barrel-aged version they served alongside it. So anyway, although I'm not the biggest fan of whiskey, bourbon, scotch, or brandy, I'm pretty surprised I've liked as many of these new barrel-aged beers that are coming out (especially ones that are aged in used bourbon or brandy barrels). Taking this into account, I just had to grab some bottles of this to really sit down with.

It took about 11 hours before I called a couple friends over to share a bottle. Some vitals to note, 11.5% ABV, with "copious amounts of dark caramel malt to emphasize the vanilla and oak flavors found in freshly emptied oak barrels." You can see the pour in the picture. The aroma contained a lot of oak, a little fruit, a little sugar all intertwined with that big alcohol content. The taste confirmed that this indeed was a heavily oaky beer. You get a real oak-alcohol-molasses combination finishing with just the slightest sweetness of sugar at the end. For my tastes, this combination of flavors isn't what I'm use to liking, as was previously stated. With that in mind I finished my glass and poured another. For what this beer is, it sure does it well, and being beer enthusiasts I think we have to keep that in mind, even if you don't particularly like a style. I couldn't drink this every day, I probably couldn't drink it every week, but the two small glasses I had proved to me that this is a pretty darn good strong barrel-aged ale.

Birthday Goodies & A Day of Fun

Yesterday I took the entire day off of studying to revel in the fact that I've made it another year. I rarely make a birthday list or give people ideas of what present they should buy me, mainly because I hate asking for things but also because it takes away the element of surprise. So as my family has really picked up onto my beer hobby, I had a suspicion of what most of them would get me.

I got up in the morning and had my friend Steve come pick me up around 8am so we could get down to The Lost Abbey by 9:30 and get in line to pick up some Angel's Share. We also picked up another friend, Pete, along the way so we could get a few extra bottles (6 per person). We got in and out, the ordering process was very organized, and we were headed to Stone by 10:30. Once at Stone we ordered some food and I had a Monk's Cafe Flemmish Sour Red Ale and then a Pizza Port Carlsbad fresh hop IPA I think it was. The Monk's Cafe was pretty good. I've really developed a love for sour beers, though the particular style of Oud Bruin I had not yet touched. It was not so high on the acidic side, but contained a nice tartness to it that was combined with a big malt presence and grape. I found myself drinking this really fast and enjoyed it though I wouldn't say it was interesting enough to want to drink all the time (I gave it a 3.9 on BA).

As far as beer presents went, my little sister decided to walk through the beer isles at Beverages & More, knowing as little about beer as one can know. She said she knew "I liked ales," and that she made her selections based on how cool the bottles or labels looked (she also knows I like Stone since I took her and the family there this summer). Well she went 4 for 4 on making great decisions. She picked out an '07 Double Bastard, Stone Pale Ale, Alesmith IPA, and Alesmith Horny Devil. My parents grabbed a few for me as well. Lost Abbey Avant Garde, Samichlaus, Stone 11th anniversary (they didn't know I already bought a bunch), and St. Amand French Country Ale which I'm excited to try. I also got a bunch of BevMo and Stone World Bistro gift certificates. And I can't forget that a week ago my buddy Brian got me two Lost Abbey Red Barn's, a St. Bernardus Abt 12, and an Alesmith Speedway Stout. It was definitely a very nice beer-oriented birthday.

Later in the evening I enjoyed a Red Barn as I watched the USC/Cal game and then had a couple friends over to enjoy an Angel's Share in celebration of USC's 24-17 victory. I will give The Angel's Share its own entry :-)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Upcoming Stuff

Another final bites the dust as we just finished our endocrine therapeutics module and prepare for what should be the worst class to come; infectious disease. However, I have a whole 9 or so hours tonight before I have to start worrying about that. I'll probably be celebrating the end of another class with a Judgment Day or Speedway Stout, or maybe both while I watch the MNF game.

Not too much on the schedule in the near future, but we have tentative plans of making another trip up to Russian River in mid-December.

This weekend being my birthday (I'm not big on my birthday, I hate celebrating it actually), gives me a good excuse to treat myself and head down to The Lost Abbey in the morning to pick up some Angel's Share and hopefully Older Viscosity. With the USC vs. Cal game later in the day it might not leave enough time to study, but I guess we'll see.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My First and Last Weihenstephaner Festbier

In the last few months I've heard some pretty good things about Brauerei Weihenstephan out of Germany. I passed up some of their regular stuff, most notably their hefeweizen, and went with their seasonal festbier. Nowhere on this bottle does it say "oktoberfest" or "marzen" so I am not holding it to those guidelines. However, I was disappointed with this beer anyway. In a nutshell this is a light bodied lager (with fairly generous alcohol of 5.8%) that I just couldn't figure out what they were trying to do with. Is it suppose to be light and quenching like your "typical" lager, or is it suppose to have a little something extra unique for the season? It seemed like it wanted a little bit of sweetness to come through it but it was very hard to tell through the pale malt & alcohol sharpness. If I'm in the mood for a light lager, I would reach for this. If I'm in the mood for a fall seasonal- something supposedly brewed along the lines of the whole Oktoberfest type tradition, I wouldn't go for this again. 3.05/5 on BA.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bell's Double Cream Stout

I couldn't really wait to get started on the stash of stouts I have so last night while studying pharmacy nutrition seemed about as good a time as any. Bell's Double Cream Stout is a 7.5% brew that is produced between November and March each year. This bottle that I received was from the '06-'07 batch. It pours as a clear, dark brown liquid that appears black in the glass. The head is pretty creamy and substantial at first, almost reminding me of a Guinness or nitro-tap head, but not really. It subsides into a sticky froth after a short time. The aroma is roasty with a milk chocolate-like sweetness and the taste is also again some roasted malt (on the more subtle side) with a creamy lactose sweetness to it. A chocolaty mocha flavor sticks around in the end. None of these flavors are really extreme, they are all pretty straight forward and not out of hand, to make for a smooth (yes the mouthfeel is soft and creamy), flavorful, easy drinking sweeter stout. BA score of 4.05 given.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Alesmith (Summer) Yulesmith

With the hops probably dwindling away in my Alesmith Yulesmith Summer release, it was time to open it up and get the double hoppy goodness that awaited. This would actually be my first experience with the Summer version, released every July, though I had the Winter Yulesmith imperial red ale last year. The guys at Alesmith have pretty much perfected the art of a pillowy, rocky head in a double IPA. The smell is really citrusy, piny, with a bit of that earthy kind of foliage aroma too. Somewhat of your standard double IPA aroma more than not. Oh, there's some caramel malts detectable too. The taste blasts concentrated hop oils and a competing sweetness before leaving an earthy bitterness in the back of the mouth afterwards. It has a medium body, not crazy syrupy but close. It's a nice double IPA overall, even though I'm beginning to get somewhat tired of them (unless I come across a fresh Pliny on tap). This one gets a 4.1 from me on BA, and for reference, the Winter '06 version got a 4.45.

I was also able to score some nice beers this week in anticipation of a fun Winter break which starts for me on December 13th. I was able to grab a couple bottles of the 2006 Alaskan Smoked Porter that a local store still had, while also getting a couple bottles of the 2007 version that was just released. While I was at it I also picked up a 6 of the 2006 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale since it sounded like a nice winter sipper (have never had a bigfoot, and the only barleywine I've had was Old Guardian, which I liked). I guess I've been a little reluctant to get into barleywines.

In addition, my big stout lineup is growing very nicely. It looks like I'll really be able to take a serious look into the world of imperial stouts soon. The ones I've acquired are...
1. Three Floyds Dark Lord ('07)
2. Founders Breakfast Stout
3. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
4. Alesmith Speedway Stout
5. Stone Russian Imperial Stout
6. Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper ('06)
7. Port Brewing Old Viscosity
8. Bell's Double Cream Stout
9. North Coast Old Rasputin
10. Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout
*Italics denote ones I've sampled before

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Football, Maui CoCoNut Porter, and New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

Another glorious day of college football was upon us and as I'm studying in my room my sister shouts to me, "Get a good beer ready so we can do our toast." Since she always calls up our friend in Florida to do a pre-USC game toast, for games that we are not at I must have a good (and preferably strong for her tastes) beer ready for action. Today I went for taste above potency and reached for a Maui CoCoNut Porter, a silver medal winner at this year's Great American Beer Fest in the specialty beer category. Having tasted it only once in a small sample I was pretty excited to get a larger glass of this. It comes in a 12oz can with live yeast, pours as a clear Coca Cola color though looks very dark in the glass. The smell is mostly roasty but has a certain creamy sweetness to it that I would not guess is coconut if I didn't know. The taste is much better if you let it warm up. If you attempt to drink it straight from the fridge it will be very roasty and mildly sweet with the coconut coming in only in the lingering aftertaste. As it warms up it all sort of blends together and becomes a sweet porter. Not too bad, but I actually prefer the Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla more for a flavored porter. 3.9 on BA for the Coconut.

With USC wrapping up a 38-0 victory of Notre Dame in South Bend I decided to bring out a special beer for the family to celebrate with. That beer would be the New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red that I've been holding onto since summer. I poured this into champagne flutes and it received a "WOW" from everyone. My Dad said things like that ought to be illegal it was so good. It pours a dark red but shines vibrantly around the edges and when hit by light. The head makes a brief appearance and then leaves without a trace. This might be the easiest beer to describe of all time. The smell is sour cherry and the taste is sweet cherry pie filling with a very faint tartness to it. Not complicated but damn tasty. I scored it a 4.6 on BA.

(Family enjoying the last few minutes of the USC game with some New Glarus beer)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The 2nd Perfect 5 - St. Bernardus Tripel

I headed up to Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena during another school break on Wednesday, looking forward to their Oktoberfest celebration this week. Unfortunately, and as is often the case, they were out of many of the oktoberfests. So I decided to pull one from the standard menu that I hadn't yet. My friend Loren had recently given me a recommendation for the St. Bernardus Tripel after he had had it a few weeks ago at the same location. They served it in the St. Bernardus chalice (different than pictured) and it looked amazing. Great hazy golden color, great fluffy white head and the aroma was standard Belgian yeast earthiness and tiny malty/sugary sweetness. The taste was a perfect balance. Everything about this beer I couldn't imagine being better. It now joins Russian River's Sanctification as the only other beer I've rated a perfect 5 on BA.

In quick addition to that, it was also Urthel Night on this particular night. They had 3 (or 4) Urthel beers on tap and a complementary Urthel glass offer with purchase of a beer. So I ordered up their quadrupel called Samaranth. It was standard high strength, 12% ABV, but when it came I seriously thought they poured the wrong beer. It was a dark golden, not the dark brown that I expected. But apparently that's actually the quadrupel. And it was strong. It started out with a nice and very sweet fruity taste but the back end brought lots of alcohol, mostly causing a bitterness at the end and then a minor burn. I gave it a 3.75 on BA, but at least I got a cool Urthel tulip glass as well.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Great Divide Hercules Double IPA

This bottle came via a trader on the East Coast. It's a bummer that some Eastern states can get Great Divide beers, which hail from Colorado, yet CA can't. The first beer I tried from this brewery was the Titan IPA, which I really liked. Hercules Double IPA is 9.1% ABV and the side of the label states, "Hercules Double IPA is not for the faint of heart. It is, however, fit for the gods. Hercules Double IPA delivers a huge amount of hops from start to finish. Its hefty backbone of nutty, malty sweetness balances its aggressive hop profile."

Upon pouring from the bottle you can tell this thing is going to be a bit viscous. It glides down into the glass and begins to form a frothy white head when poured aggressively. As I noticed with Titan IPA, this head is great looking and has great retention. The initial smell of the beer is an orange citrus type of hop aroma as well as some sweet floral hops. All is pretty much as expected at this point, and unfortunately the taste was as I expected as well. You see, based on the viscosity I could see it pouring with and the syrupy sweet aroma, I could tell this fit into the sub-style of double IPA's I don't normally prefer. I'm talking about some great beers, but also ones which I just can't wrap my head around. To name a few I would say this was like Alpine's Exponential Hoppiness, Avery's Maheraja, Ballast Point's Dorado, and Dogfish Head's 90 minute IPA. Every one of those is renowned by beer geeks all over, but I just can't get into the syrupy alcohol, malt, hop soup mess. On the other hand, just for reference, I prefer double IPA's that I don't perceive to have these characters, but still pack a huge hop punch (Victory Hop Wallop, Pliny the Elder, Port Hop 15, and Stone Ruination to name a few). Getting back to the Hercules, the taste was a barrage of thick malt, resiny hops, and pronounced bitterness. Maybe on another day I could have finished this bottle...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Getting Back to Belgians

I had a several hour break between school stuff and stopped by Lucky Baldwin's in Sierra Madre for a couple beers. Lately I've been really into lighter Belgian ales such as pale ale's, tripels and blondes. I really love the idea of having a complex yet light, tasty and easy drinking beer. I thought Leffe Blonde may be that beer... until I had Affligem Blond the other day. This beer was a fantastic and easy drinking Belgian pale ale. It's very soft all around. The flavors aren't too sharp and just roll through the mouth really nicely. A little bit of earthiness, a little bit of sweetness, and a great ability to really be gulped. An instant favorite of mine and worthy of a 4.65 on BA.

The next beer up was Het Kapittel Prior, a 9% Belgian dark ale. Poured into a tulip, this beer had the most amazing head retention I've ever seen. It sat there for at least 10 minutes without moving while I let it warm up a little, and it wasn't about to go anywhere. The taste wasn't so exciting though. On first impression it definitely has that Belgian dark ale flavor of roasted malts, sugar, and Belgian yeast. The high alcohol was effectively hidden. Where I thought it went wrong was during the very end of the sip, when a massive sugar quality was picked up. So sweet it was hard to drink. This was my second sampling of a beer from Brouwerij Van Eecke, the first being the Poperings Hommel Bier which I didn't think was that good, but wasn't horrible. Same goes for the Prior.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Russain River Tempation

Felt like a lighter beer (in body, not in taste) after getting home from school today and this was about all I had that would be new to me. The Russian River Temptation is a blonde ale that is inoculated with brettanoymces and aged for about a year in french oak chardonnay bottles. It was finally bottled in October of last year meaning it was about 2 years ago that this was brewed and put into barrels.

This bottle was from batch 002, and the Russian River bottle log told me to cautiously open the bottle under very cold conditions due to being overcarbonated. It ended up fizzing over a little but I didn't lose much beer. The smell was a great blend of chardonnay wine and sourness. After it warmed up a little and with some swirling I could also get a bit of very mellow musty/earthy/barnyard type funk. I won't say it was horseblanket because I don't know what a horseblanket is or smells like (and I don't think half the people that use that term do either). The taste was standard Russian River sour beer amazingness. Very chardonnay winy (imagine that), and a pleasant but heavy sourness. In many ways this beer is what I remember Sanctification tasting like, though maybe that was higher on the sour side and less on the wine side. In addition this beer is very "drinkable." The acidity doesn't burn me as much as Supplication did, which I thought was that beer's only drawback. This blonde ale is very puckering yet easy to drink. Another great beer from Russian River. I haven't had a bad one yet. I haven't had a mediocre one yet for that matter. From their Pale Ales, to their Stouts, to their Belgian's and wild beers, each one is top notch. In fact, they are so good I'm thinking about making a return trip up to Santa Rosa this Winter break. 4.65 on BA for this one.

Allagash Tripel Reserve

This would be about my 4th offering from Allagash. I loved the Grand Cru, but was not too excited after I had the FOUR and Curieux. I probably wouldn't have tried the tripel for a long time but the owner of the best liquor store in the area threw this in during a purchase as it was one of his favorites. Since I do like tripels I was pretty excited to try this (especially in my awesome new Ommegang chalice that my buddy Kevin picked up for me from their brewery recently).

It is very clear in the bottle at room temp but develops a massive chill haze when refrigerated. The smell is pretty much right on, as far as I can tell for the style. A very nice yeasty/earthy aroma. The taste is that great unique yeast taste along an underlying sweetness. The best feature is how well the 9% alcohol is hidden. It is very well balanced, much more than the last tripel I had (Maredsous 10). It looked like Allagash once again redeemed itself. Maybe I'm not so much into their big/expensive beers (for lack of a better term) but the two regular releases I've had from them I've really loved.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Balsamic Vinegar + Beer

I didn't even realize that the first Friday of the month was coming up, so I missed out on the The Session #8 which was about beer and food. However, this last week while listening to some old Craft Beer Radio podcasts I noticed something interesting that is semi-related. In show #70 titled "Stouts" they talk about a study that was done where bar patrons were blindly poured two of the same beers, but one with balsamic vinegar added. What they found was that the majority of people liked the one with the vinegar more. The reason I find this more interesting than I normally would is because when I was in Santa Rosa a couple months ago I was talking to the owner of a bar that carries a lot of Moonlight beers. We were talking about the special brown ale Moonlight tap they were carrying that day (which my friend had ordered a glass of). He gave us a more or less "secret" tip, saying that it becomes even better when you get a light coating of balsamic vinegar on a spoon and dip the spoon into the brown ale. Apparently this tip even came from the man who creates these beers. It sounds interesting, so if you're on 4th street in Santa Rosa stop in at The Flavor Bistro and see if they have the brown ale on tap along with their other standard Moonlight taps, or try it on any old brown ale and see what you think.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Maui Brewing Big Swell IPA

I selected the Maui Brewing Company's Big Swell IPA to accompany my pork chop dinner tonight and what a good choice it was. This beer comes as a bottle conditioned can, and I decided to dump the whole thing into my glass, yeast and all (usually I try to keep as close to 100% of the yeast out as possible). Anyway, the beer pours a dark copper color, though probably a little lighter than the picture indicates (flash). It has pretty good clarity until that yeast gets dumped in and a great looking rocky, sticky, airy head. The smell is very floral and reminds me a lot of the Ballast Point Big Eye IPA. Since Big Eye uses only centennial hops, I'm guessing that the Big Swell is dry hopped with centennial. Regardless, it gives off a very fresh and floral character that I thought was great. The taste is pretty well balanced. It's no Green Flash or Stone IPA but what it does is nice anyway. A more balanced IPA, but really tasty. The malt doesn't come across sweet, it's more of a lightly caramelized and toasted type of character. The hops still have that floral taste you expect from the aroma and the bitterness is pretty mild. Big Swell feels really good in the mouth, maybe due to the yeast I poured in that probably added some body to it. Overall it was a really good beer, and a lot better than it's current score of 83 (3.65) on BA. I gave it a 4.1, and luckily I still have 1 more can.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Catching Up With Oktoberfest

I've been getting really busy lately with having to study so much, and unfortunately that won't let up until December 13th, but I've found a few moments here and there to enjoy some beer. I've been on quite an Oktoberfest kick, after having that informal tasting with a few friends last week. What I've noticed as I've had a couple more bottles of each is that Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest is the shit. Spaten is also very good too, but I feel like it's just slightly better from the tap than it is in those green bottles.

Last night I was able to get out to BJ's in Rancho Cucamonga, hoping they would have both of their seasonals on tap- an Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ale. Well they had one of them so I ordered up the Oktoberfest. The appearance was beautiful, a perfect clear burnt orange color. This one was high on the toasted malt, but also had quite a bit of caramel type sweetness (though I've been schooled before that this isn't caramelized sugars in oktoberfests, it's actually sweetness from the melanoidins- like I can tell the difference). Anyway, it was pretty good. They poured it way too cold, so it gives you a nasty carbonated burn if you don't let it warm up.

I know Craftsman Oktoberfest is making it's way around Southern California right now. I'm sure Father's Office and Lucky Baldwin's have it on tap and I would definitely recommend looking for this one because it is tasty.

I also recently bought the Avery The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest which I will have soon, as well as a complimentary bottle of Allagash Tripel which was thrown my way by the coolest beer store owner ever. Fall is great isn't it? That is all for now.