Saturday, June 30, 2007

Avery Salvation

The unlikely hero of my Saturday afternoon turned out to be the Avery Salvation. Purchased this a few weeks ago, as Belgian Strong Pale/Golden Ales have quickly become one of my favorite styles. What turned out to be a lazy Saturday afternoon consisting of a little swimming and watching episodes of season 5 from Curb Your Enthusiasm, turned out to be a lot more interesting once I cracked open this baby. I admit, when I purchased this I thought it was going to be a world class beer just from the price, but then I saw the reviews on BA, which were good but not top notch. When I finally got around to seeing for myself, I realized it was top notch, at least in my book.

Poured an initial chill hazed rich golden color, though it turned clear as it warmed up. The head, as you can see, was plentiful, leaving a little lace. The taste was very rich with fruit. It definitely had that Belgian yeasty feel to it, but had a lot of sugary sweetness. Interestingly, I could also detect a bit of hops in the finish, which I normally can't in other Belgian-style pale ales. Salvation is 9%, and you could drink this fast. If ever in need of a great beer to give you a quick buzz, look for Avery's Salvation. I must say though, Russian River Damnation is still my all-time favorite Belgian Strong Pale Ale. I gave the Salvation a 4.15 on BA.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

Being a fan of porters, I've had this one on my radar for quite some time. Maybe because its rated so high on BA, maybe because my favorite show Seinfeld mentions the Edmund Fitzgerald during a bit about the Andrea Doria and "Astonishing Tales of the Sea," or maybe because once in a while I hear the song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot emanating from my Dad's iPod. Whichever the case, I finally got a hold of the Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter at a local liquor store, sparing myself the trouble of the setting up a trade with someone in the midwest.

Now, unfortunately I didn't see that this bottle was 2 months past its "best by" date, but I figured it's been kept in fairly good condition given the fact that the liquor store I got it from keeps all their beers in the fridge. Upon pouring I realized it probably was in very good condition, if not it's "best." Despite looking jet black in the picture, this beer actually is a clear dark ruby red when inspected against some light. The head was also very nice and creamy. I enjoyed the taste, rich chocolate, roasted malt (a little more than I see in most porters) and just the slightest bit of coffee at the end. There are also very small periods where caramel sweetness comes through. The part that kept this from being one of my more favorite beers is the mouthfeel. It was almost watery, not much body to it at all. Regardless, it tasted pretty good and was still able to score a 4.05 from me on BA. That makes Great Lakes 2 for 2 in beers that are good but barely miss being in that upper level (by my tastes).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tuesday's Tasting - Allagash Curieux & Moylan's Hopsickle

Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum. My friend Milty went on a beer shopping spree and decided to pop the cork on his recently purchased Allagash Curieux- an oak bourbon barrel-aged Tripel from the highly acclaimed brewrey in Portland, Maine. The Curieux had a lot of the Belgian golden ale characteristics going on with fruity yeastiness and a bit of earthy funk, along with some alcohol warmth due to the 11% ABV. To be honest, I couldn't pick up much character of any kind from the oak in this one, like I have in other bourbon-barrel aged beers. The flavor is very good though and I could see this beer being designated as "dangerously drinkable." Scored it a 3.95 on BA.

Afterwards, Milty/Pat and I came back down to my house to split a Moylan's Hopsickle three ways. The first couple pours had pretty good clarity, and a glowing red/orange hue. The aroma and taste were unmatched among any IPA or DIPA of any sort I've ever had. 'Pungent' would be the best way to describe it in both cases. They intended this to be "Triple Hoppy" and they weren't fooling around. The taste is just a huge bitter citrus punch with a bitter pine finish. You might think things start to get a mess when you start throwing that bulk of ingredients into a beer, but their precision was perfect. I am thankful I was able to split this because I don't know if I would get close to even being able to finish something with this much flavor, my taste buds would resign after about 10 ounces. Props to Moylan's, and it's no wonder why their Hopsickle claimed top spot on Hedonist Beer Jive's Top 25 beers. Scored it a 4.35 on BA.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sticking with IPA's - Victory HopDevil

This is my second run in with Victory HopDevil, almost exactly one year from the first. Back then it was maybe my 3rd or 4th IPA I'd ever had. Since then my palate has developed a bit more, especially with respect to the hop-centric beers. Being new to good beer drinking in general I usually have something new every time I drink. There are very few occasions when I will order a beer I've already had (usually happens with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale & Deschutes Black Butte Porter when I'm out at bars). So having already reviewed this on BA a year ago I decided to compare what I thought now to what I thought then. Interestingly enough, my description of the beer was almost exactly how I would describe it now, but my ratings have changed quite a bit.

Appearance - The first time I gave it a 4.5. I like the deep amber, nearly clear pour with a nice fluffy/pillowy head. This time the pour is the same, very nice, and I must say because I love the orangish/red/brown/amber type pours, this will still draw a 4.5 rating in my mind.

Smell - The first time I gave it a 4, noting that an exaggerated hoppiness is not present (at that time I was probably comparing it to Stone IPA), which was a plus to me for the style back then. Now I must downgrade the aroma to a 3.5. It is good, there is a bit of hops, along with a slight toasted aroma (is there really toasted malt in there or is it my imagination?) and caramel. But you have to show me a lot of hops to get a 4 or above now. I want to smell the dry hopping in an IPA, much different from what I wanted a year ago.

Taste - I gave it a 4 the first time, and this time I will still give it a 4, but for a different reason. The first time I liked that it was on the lower end of the hop-assault spectrum for an IPA. This time I still recognize that fact (going against what I normally prefer), but I also will realize that it is tasty enough to allow you to drink a few (kinda crosses over to drinkability).

Mouthfeel - Gave it a 4.5 the first time, and a 4.5 the second time. There is nothing wrong with the mouthfeel. It is lively but not overcarbonated. It slides over the tongue without too much abrasiveness.

Drinkability - Gave it a 3.5 the first time, but upgraded to 4.5 now. Back then I probably couldn't have stood more than 1 IPA at a time. Now I realize this is a very drinkable beer, and being use to hops, I could easily have a few of these.

The overall rating dropped from 4.1 to 4.0. This is a good beer though, the kind you want to keep a 6 pack of through the spring and summer (and winter too if you're not too busy with all the winter beers).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

IPA Fest Samplings

Arrived at Lucky Baldwin's Delirium Cafe for the week long IPA fest last night and was able to sample some really good beers. I first got there and ordered a pint of Russian River Blind Pig IPA. This beer tastes similar to your standard IPA hopped with the C's. What makes it one of the better IPA's out there is the aggressive bitterness and juicy hop feel. The citrus coming through gives it a sweet twang that is very nice, and it finishes dry. Enjoyed this very much.

The second beer I orderd was an 8oz sampler ($2 for IPA's and $3 for DIPA's) of Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA. I've wanted to try this beer for a while but it's pretty expensive at the store, I think around $7 for a bomber. I was glad I finally got to try this, definitely a tastey DIPA. It is one of those DIPA's that falls under the more syrupy/sweet designation (for reference, Victory Hop Wallop and Lagunitas Maximus are good DIPA's that don't). Not much bitterness to this one, just a big soup of sweet malt and citrusy hops.

Next up was the Rogue I2PA. Had an unfiltered appearance to it, and came out looking very similar to a hefeweizen. The taste didn't appeal to me either as the astringent hop character was not my cup of tea. Finally I ended with a Stone Ruination DIPA. I have had Ruination from the bottle before (22 oz) and thought it was so-so. My bottle must have been a bit old because now I see why people love this so much. Not only did I love the taste, the mouthfeel was one of the best I've seen for a DIPA being that it wasn't too slick/syrupy, but it had just a bit more body than a normal IPA.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

This was beer 2 of 4 that I bought that are impossible to find on the West Coast. Three Floyd's Alpha King was fantastic, but this one was a let down. I didn't find the Commodore Perry IPA to be as full flavored as what we normally find in California. The smell was very subdued and uninteresting, which I would describe almost like a good pilsner. The taste definitely lets you know you are drinking an IPA though, with piney and grassy notes alongside a pretty strong and lingering bitterness. The taste wasn't very complex and although I occasionally like something very unbalanced that will deliver hops in full force without anything else getting in the way, this just didn't grab me. This is not to say I thought it was bad, I still enjoyed being able to drink this rare beer, but I also would go for many other IPA's first if I had a regular choice.

Lucky Baldwin's IPA Festival

For one full week every Summer Lucky Baldwin's (Pasadena & Sierra Madre, CA) transforms all its taps into IPA's, DIPA's, and IIIPA's. Most of the IPA's are from the West Coast area, but there are others like Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA, La Chouffe Houblon IIIPA, and Stoudts IPA. Last year I was only able to make it one night, and was able to try a Pliny the Elder and a Oggi's Hop Juice for the first time. The IPA fest is just underway and I plan on heading over there in a few hours, so a report will come later on the festivities.

Someone just posted the tap lineup on BA so here it goes:

Ballast Pt. Dorado DIPA
Ballast Pt. Big Eye IPA
Russian River Blind Pig
Russian River Pliny the Elder
Russian River IPA
Pizzaport Wipeout
Pizzaport HOP15
Alesmith IPA
Alesmith Yulesmith
Avery Maharaja IIPA
Lagunitas IPA
Lagunitas Maximus DIPA
Bear Republic Racer 5
Green Flash IPA
Stone IPA
Stone Ruination DIPA
Sierra Nevada Harvest
Sierra Nevada IPA
Rogue Brutal Bitter
Speakeasy Double Daddy DIPA
Marin IPA
Full Sail Son of Peter DIPA
Rouge IPA2
Leftcoast IPA
Leftcoast Hop Juice
Anderson Valley Hop Ottin IPA
Lost Coast Indica IPA
Craftsman IPA
Anchor Liberty
Humbolt Nectar IPA
Flying Dog DIPA
Blue Frog BIG DIPA
Meantime IPA
Belhaven Twisted Thistle
Mad River IPA
Rubicon IPA
Red Hook Longhammer
Craftsman Point5
Shmaltz Lenny RIPA

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Three Floyds Alpha King Pale Ale

Three Floyds (Munster, IN) brews many nationally renowned beers such as Dark Lord, Gumballhead, Dreadnaught IPA, and yes, Alpha King. Hell, Dark Lord has its own release day festival that draws thousands from multiple states. Being that pale ales are one of my favorite styles, I have had the Alpha King on the radar for quite some time. Problem is, Three Floyds doesn't distribute anywhere close to California. Until I gathered wind about the aforementioned gem of a beer store- Lone Hill Liquors, I had no hope of obtaining this except maybe down the line in a trade. Well, having picked up a single 12 oz. bottle of Alpha King today for $2.99, I could not wait to crack it open.

I went into the living room, flipped on the ASU/OSU College World Series game (quick shout out to my undergrad university's baseball team, UC Irvine, for their fantastic run in the playoffs), and poured myself a glass of Alpha King. I'll jump right to the point, I had great expectations for this beer and it held up and surpassed every one of them. What a fantastic beer. The pour alone excites me. I love pale ales that are orange in color, its just one of those things. Alpha King pours a slightly cloudy but darn near clear color with a beautiful fluffy white head. It's not much of a surprise that this beer delivers two of the most common elements in most pale ales or IPA's- citrus and pine character. The aroma consists of mostly fruit and citrus. The taste starts out with a burst of berry and citrus transitioning to a subtle pine finish. Lots of pale ales and IPA's contain these flavors, but the way Three Floyds does it with Alpha King... well there's just something near perfect about it. If this were a standard craft beer that we could find in the store for $7.99 a sixer, I would be buying it ALL the time. Unfortunately it would cost me about $18 a sixer. Oh well, it was great to at least have the opportunity to try a bottle. I scored it a 4.65 on BA.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Local Liquor Store Heaven = Great Beer Haul

Decided to finally hit a much talked about local hot spot for some beer today, which is thankfully only about 10 miles from the house. The place is called Lone Hill Liquors (Glendora), a standard run of the mill strip-mall liquor store... at least from the outside. The only difference is that its run by a hardcore beer enthusiast. He has about 6 coolers focused on top notch beers. The items that get this store the most buzz are beers that are impossible to obtain out here unless a trade is set up with someone local to that brewery (Midwest and East coast stuff).

The main purpose of this quest was to see if any Stone Vertical Epic 07.07.07 was in today (this is the first day of its release). After meeting the owner and talking about some of his inventory for a few minutes, we browsed through and started selecting beers. Just as we were doing this the Stone delivery truck pulled up with their shipment of 07.07.07. Perfect timing! He quickly pulled a couple for me and then also told me he had a couple Russian River goodies in the back if I was interested. He brought out Redemption and Supplication, so I snatched those up since they are impossible to find anywhere right now.

The complete haul looked like this:
1. Stone Vertical Epic 07.07.07 (2)
2. Russian River Redemption
3. Russian River Supplication
4. Three Floyds Alpha King (single 12 oz)
5. Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA (single 12 oz)
6. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (single 12 oz)
7. Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA

Now I am completely stocked up beyond where I want to be. My mini fridge is packed with stuff I don't want sitting out in the summer heat, yet it's not big enough. I guess I will have to reverse the trend and start drinking faster than I am buying.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale

Red Barn is classified as a Saison, brewed with adjuncts such as orange peel, ginger, black pepper and grains of paradise. I must add that this is the first Saison I've gotten around to trying. When exploring the Belgian's I've gone mostly for the strong dark ales and the strong pale ales. I checked out the BJCP Style Guidelines for Saisons to see roughly what I might be expecting, and although BJCP goes into quite some detail, it's summed up nicely with a little history background and then the overall impression of the beer:

History: A seasonal summer style produced in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. Originally brewed at the end of the cool season to last through the warmer months before refrigeration was common. It had to be sturdy enough to last for months but not too strong to be quenching and refreshing in the summer. It is now brewed year-round in tiny, artisanal breweries whose buildings reflect their origins as farmhouses.

Overall Impression
A medium to strong ale with a distinctive yellow-orange color, highly carbonated, well hopped, fruity and dry with a quenching acidity.
The appearance is a very nice clear and rich golden with orange overtones, though when Loren got it on tap at Stone last weekend it looked a bit more to the orange side. Anyway, it also formed a huge fluffy and rocky head. The aroma was dominated by fruity sweetness, spice, the classic Belgian yeast funk we're all so accustomed to, and a bit of sourness. The taste was light overall, sweet and light malt dominated, a bit peppery in the finish. This beer was simply a pleasure to drink. Chalk up another winner for Port Brewing.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Opinion: Beer Reviewing Sites

I kicked off my beer enthusiasm via the internet in the Fall of '04. At that time a simple Google search pointed me in the direction of, an extremely friendly community of people. I did only a tiny bit of browsing through the site's articles and spent most of my time in the forums asking questions and reading old posts. It took me all the way until February '05 to find the site I use the most now, (BA)- one of two heavyweights in the beer reviewing world. I didn't get around to checking out the other ( until a year or so ago, and I don't use it much as I don't like the format.

What I like: The best thing about either of the beer reviewing sites is the fact you can review the beer and it is then listed in your profile. It's an easy way to keep track of all the beers you've tasted/reviewed. I try to review all the beers I taste, even if I'm not taking notes while I'm out at Lucky Baldwin's or Father's Office (I don't take notes anywhere I go), but I don't have much of a problem with that because I am doing the reviewing for myself and not others, and I can remember the general idea of the beer I drank.

What I don't like: I will preface by saying there is some great camaraderie on BA. However, if I took some of the questions I was able to ask and get very thoughtful responses to on RealBeer when I was first starting out, I would more than likely get a thousand smart ass degrading comments on BA. While I find the local group forums (I participate in the Pacific forum a lot) to be very helpful and benign, the more general forums ("Bar Talk" and "News & Opinions") contain quite a lot of junk as far as responses go. Ask a question like "I think the flavors in my X beer seemed a bit off in X way, has anyone else noticed this lately" and you will get smothered with responses of "Bring it to me and your problem will be solved"and other pointless answers - admittedly funny the first time a response like that was every given probably back around 800 B.C. While these sorts of comments don't litter the forums to unreadable levels, they do make the general browsing of forums a bit frustrating.

What I don't like (2): There seems to be an overall jockeying of position by many on the site to announce their own supreme beer knowledge and denounce others'. I can't tell you how many threads I've seen turn into name calling because of the beer terminology or facts they decided to use were "ignorant."

What I don't like (3): Jay at Hedonist Beer Jive has suggested this before, but the ratings are significantly skewed to the aggressive, huge alcohol beers. Why might that be? Is it because the higher alcohol beers need more malt, hops, or both, creating an increase in the overall flavor? Maybe. Is part of it because with this new sort of beer revolution were are going through right now people are jockeying to anoint their palate supreme over everyone else's? Definitely. It's almost to the point where if I ever had a Dogfish Head 12o minute IPA (at 21% ABV) and didn't like it, I'd be cast to the peon level of the beer community just for not having great taste. This is definitely not to say everyone is like this, but a large enough number to skew the results.

What I think is funny: The feud, almost like a cross-town rivalry, between the BA and RateBeer communities. The funniest part I would have to say is from the Dark Lord Day reports. From what I understand there is a general table or area where BA's congregate, and a general area where RateBeerians congregate. I've seen a couple complaints of someone coming from the RB table to the BA table and taking bottles to much disdain. I've also seen BA's describe RB's as unsociable jackals and BA's as some of the nicest people you could meet (might be true).

Overall: In light of the many complaints, I still love BA. The positives far outweight the negatives, which are really more like nuisances. It functions for me as a way to generate an ongoing list of beers I've tried with ratings attached to them as future reference. It also serves as a great way to find out the local news and happenings (ie the "Pacific" forum for me). I also think it does do a good job of giving readers an overall sense of what they might expect in a beer if one is researching before buying. I would have to say I recommend BA over RB just because I think the layout of the site is better, in my opinion.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


This might be the ultimate sign of geekdom, but my glassware collection is steadily growing. Some just because I like to bring home souvenirs from breweries, but also because I like to drink certain beers out of what they are intended to be drank out of.

The Pint Glasses
Can't say I have a favorite here, though I do have a soft spot for the Deschutes glass as it was a gift from my fellow beer loving Trojan friend Brian. The BJ's glass I got for free from a waitress :) and the Port Brewing and Firestone glasses were results of visiting the brewery gift shops while buzzed.

The Bigger-Than-Pint-Glasses
Out of this group I'd say I get the most mileage out of the TAPS glass. It really is a versatile glass. From IPA's to Stouts to Barleywines, it has seen em all. Secondly, the English-style nonic pint glass in the middle I also like a lot- with English beers. And of course the USC weizen glass which was also a gift from my buddy Brian.

The Belgian GlassesThe Chimay glass is handy for the occassional Dubbel, but my favorite by far here is the La Fin Du Monde glass on the right, which is great for many types of beer, especially Belgian Pale Ales which are becoming my favorite style at the moment (Damnation is the $hit). The New Belgium globe glass I don't particularly care for, its hard as heck to pour a beer with a nice head in that glass.

The MugsI haven't used the glass on the right in over a few years. It's a 32 oz'er that we lifted from a local alehouse back in the days of BMC drinking, which I'm not too proud of anymore (bad karma). My new USC mug though I like a lot, it really forms and holds the head pretty well.

The Newcomers
I intend to use that Stone IRS glass for imperial stouts, barleywines, double IPA's, the occasional Tripel, among other things. The Stone IPA flute glass will be great for IPA's. I already had a Stone IPA out of it and man it looked good. Ok enough of the nerdy stuff for now, but I really need to stop buying glassware otherwise I'll go broke.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday at Stone World Bistro & Gardens

Got a few of my friends- Loren, Steve, and Pete to head down to Stone with me Sunday morning. We left Upland around 10:45 and arrived at Stone around noon. We were quickly seated for brunch and got a nice table that was on the border of the outside and inside area. We sat down and looked over the beer menu while ordering some Arrogant Bastard Onion Rings. This month is basically a celebration of IPA's, so there were many hop bombs on tap. Steve Timmins and I ordered the Russian River Perdition which they told us was a Belgian Pale Ale, though BA says its a Biere de Garde (I would agree with the latter)- excellent, one of the best beers I've had. We were all very satisfied with the food, as we got Duck Tacos, and Buffalo Burgers. The atmosphere was excellent, it was sunny and warm, maybe 75 degrees with a nice cool breeze sitting in the shade. After lunch we went to the bar and ordered another round as we waited for the 2pm tour to start. We got some beers and sat in the sun in the gardens for a while, nothing beats that. I had the Alpine Exponential Hoppiness which was a pretty good double IPA.

We hit the tour but it only lasted about 20 minutes (usual 45 minutes) because they had a fill-in tour guide today as it was the Stone Company picnic and most regulars were gone. So the tour wasn't anything exciting but it still gave Pete and Steve a chance to try the full Stone lineup which they hadn't before.

After some tasting we headed back to the bar as Pat met us there. We sat down for the next couple hours and had some food (the Really Soft & Stinky Cheese Plate was great) and beer, all excellent. I tried the Russian River IPA and the Avery Maharaja Double IPA. Every beer I had today was top notch. For the last half hour or so we hung out down in the garden area as the sun receded a bit and cooled down. I can't think of a better atmosphere or place that offers a better beer experience. This is the 3rd time I've been to Stone and it's been spectacular each time.

Before we left we hit Stone company store and I picked up a Stone IRS glass, a Stone IPA flute glass, and got my 2L growler filled with Oaked Arrogant Bastard to drink tomorrow at Pat's house as we watch Sideways.

EDIT: Picture of fresh Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard I brought home in a growler. I got lucky because their website said Friday and Saturday only for Oaked growler fills but they had leftovers for Sunday thankfully. The first time I tried the Oaked was actually the first time I ever went to Stone and I wasn't sure if I liked it so much because it is a great beer, or if it was just because I was stoked to be drinking beer down at Stone. After getting this growler and drinking it at home (with help from Pat and Steve) I've realized it was the former.

Pictures of the entire trip can be found here:

Lucky Baldwins Craftsman Brewing Company Festival

As mentioned earlier, the Craftsman Fest at Lucky Baldiwns Pasadena is from June 9th-17th. I arrived there last night with my buddy Loren to sample some of Craftsman's rarer brews.

The tap list looked like this:

1. Poppyfields Pale Ale
2. Heavenly Hefe
3. Craftsman IPA
4. 1903 Lager
5. Orange Grove Ale
6. Triple White Sage
7. Smoked Black Lager
8. Biere De Blanco
9. Biere De Marz
10. Edgar's Ale
11. Baldwin's Abbey Ten
12. Cabernale
13. Roggen Rauch Bock
14. Honesty Ale
15. Point Five (cask)

Quick notations about the ones I tasted-
Triple White Sage: I don't eat much Sage and didn't really like the Sage aspect of this beer. The sage imparted a strange dry bitterness in the last half that wasn't appetizing to me. I don't doubt that people who like Sage will like this beer.

Baldwins Abbey Ten: A Belgian tripel that was very nice. I guess Craftsman made this one especially for Lucky Baldwin's 10th anniversary celebration late last year. VERY yeasty and sweet in the nose, lots of candy and sweet fruity esters in the taste. Enjoyed this beer.

Honesty Ale: I thought this was going to be an American Pale Ale as per BA, but only after being very confused and then getting back home and researching it a little more did I find this is actually a fruit beer brewed with cherries. Makes sense now. It was light, no hops, but very berry-ish, though I didn't notice cherry directly. I might have liked it a bit better had I known what they were going for.

Point Five: My first cask-conditioned beer! Wish it could have been a bit of a better experience. The point five is a "Half-IPA" at 3.7% ABV. It tasted like a harsh watery IPA, I didn't really like it.

Loren had the Smoked Black Lager, Orange Grove Ale, IPA, and Abbey Ten and liked them all. I plan to go back Wednesday or Thursday to sample a few more.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Upcoming Events I Plan to Cover

I planned on getting out all over Southern California this Summer considering I only work 3 days a week, but with my rent probably doubling by next month (finding a new place to live on my own) I have to be a little careful with my money (there are only so many student loans I can get). But I'm still trying to make sure I do a lot this Summer and here is what I have planned for the upcoming weeks.

Sunday, June 10th: Trip to Stone World Bistro & Gardens. It is Ruination nation month at Stone so I plan to drink some mighty fine IPA's and I'm really looking forward to Alpine Exponential Hoppiness and Alpine Duet.

June 9th-17th: Lucky Baldwin's Craftsman Celebration. LB's usually has about 3 or 4 Craftsman taps, but this week they will have 15 different kegs hooked up. I have tried a few of these before and have been satisfied but there are some people who really love this brewery so I plan to give them a thorough drinking.

June 23rd - July 1st: Lucky Baldwin's IPA Fest. After attending this event last year I can't wait to go back. They should have Russian River's Blind Pig IPA, Pliny the Elder, and Pliny the Younger on tap again- reason alone to go back.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Hi-Times Beer Haul Review #4 - Lagunitas Pils

Lagunitas "Czech Style" Pilsner: It's always good to throw some kind of lager in there to remind yourself how, even though generally less flavorful than most ales, they still have much more flavor than the BMC product you drank back in the day, or now and then when you have no other choice. The Lagunitas Pilsner had all the light malt flavor you would expect, but this one was also light on the hops. I expected the hops to really be showcased much like the Victory Prima Pils, but this one went down with hardly a hop flavor or bitterness. The one thing it did have was pale malt sweetness- bready, crackery, slightly tart. But the smooth mouthfeel on it also makes it EASILY drinkable. I probably drank this beer faster than any beer I've had in the last year. Not saying I would willfully want 2 or 3 of these when there are more flavorful beers around, but if I were out and this was one of the better choices I would have no problem putting a few of these back. I gave it a 3.55 on BA.

Hi-Times Beer Haul Review #3 - Ommegang Abbey Ale

Ommegang Abbey Ale: I really haven't drank that many beers from the East Coast. Shipyard IPA, a bunch of Sam Adams of course, DFH 90 Minute IPA, and that is seriously all I can recall off the top of my head. I've been tempted to buy some of the Ommegang offerings every time I walk past them at BevMo or Hi-Times.

Onto the tasting. The nice thing about taking a picture when you pour the beer is that you then don't have to describe it in a blog like this. So anyway, the smell of this beer was huge. Volatile grapes sting the nostrils. It smells like pure grape juice, and a bit of alcohol. It has that belgian dark ale smell, almost reminiscent of what I remember St. Bernardus Abt 12 to be like (though that was a year or so ago, and I haven't revisited it yet). The taste is tart with lots of sweet grapes coming in as well. The finish is sweet. This beer defintely doesn't lack flavor. The mouthfeel was actually quite light considering its darkness and flavor, but it wasn't sticky or too slick in the mouth. You almost don't even think about the 8.5% ABV in it. This was only a single 12oz bottle I purchase, but it's usually seen in the 750mL bottles which I would bet is even better (from what I hear about Belgian Ales being better from the large corked bottles). Good beer. I gave it a 4.3 on BA.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Double Beer Review - Green Flash West Coast IPA, Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

Green Flash West Coast IPA- This bottle comes with quite a bit of sediment at the bottom. I wanted to drink this a long time ago but the guy at the liquor store turned the 6-pack on its side to scan the bottom and everything got stirred up. I poured a 12oz bottle for myself, and one for my Dad as well. Disclaimer on my Dad- he will drink whatever is around- be it any sort of BMC, or a bottle of Stone Imperial Russian Stout I happened to leave in the fridge last weekend when I was gone that disappeared into his and my Uncle's bellies by the time I got back. His lone comments on this IPA were a) "That has quite a flavor to it," b) "spicey," c) "I think it's a little too bitter for my tastes." I would say for a casual beer drinker like him, those are pretty accurate comments, though I could argue a bit with the last phrase. Anyway this pours a beautiful copper with a tinge of red and a big old frothy head that leaves beautiful lacing. The taste is big on pine and citrus (shocking huh?), and there is a very aggressive bitterness I would compare to the Wipeout IPA. The mouthfeel is full bodied for a regular old IPA- but with an ABV of 7% this is getting close to that line dividing IPA's from DIPA's. Good beer though. I gave it a 4.2 on BA.

Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA- I have had a few run-ins with Speakeasy Ales & Lagers from San Francisco, and all have been pretty pleasant. The Prohibition Ale (amber) was very good, and the Untouchable Pale Ale pretty good. This one comes out a slightly hazy golden color and has floral hoppiness written all over it. As the back of the bottle claims it should, the finish is very dry. Let me re-emphasize that. This is probably the driest beer I've had next to the good old Abbot Ale. It's not too bad overall, and as an IPA it does what it's suppose to do- deliver you a nice dose of hops. Drinkable, but a tad too dry for my tastes. I gave it a 3.75 on BA. As a quality control measure I poured the last 2 or so ounces for my sister who has become a fan of the IPA's and she announced her approval.