Sunday, August 31, 2008

Brooklyn Seasonals- Oktoberfest and Post Road Pumpkin Ale

Brooklyn Oktoberfest - This is my first Oktoberfest beer of the season, sent to me from NY. I haven't had many American-made Oktoberfests. In fact the only three I've had were from Sam Adams, Craftsman, and BJ's. Brooklyn's version seemed quite different than any Oktoberfest I've had. Instead of being a pretty light, toasty, mildly sweet lager, this was more like a brown ale brewed with lager yeast. It's toasty, nutty, and has that chocolate malt finish. It's a good tasting beer, I just prefer others, namely Hacker-Pschorr's Oktoberfest.

Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale - Another style I have not really gotten to know. I've tried Buffalo Bill's version which you see everywhere, and I tried one at BJ's last year which was pretty good. This one has a good spiciness in the aroma. Clove is really the only one I can pick out for sure but the combo of cinnemon, nutmeg, and clove give that real classic sweet spicy aroma of pumpkin pie. The taste is a bit different. It starts out a little sweet and then fades into a dry spicy finish that is a bit akward. I'm wondering if that finish is really unavoidable in any pumpkin beer using these spices... I don't know. It's not too bad overall, but I am not really running to the fridge for another.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fall of Beer, and College Football

The start of College Football season this week marks my favorite time of the year. The next few months will be filled with Saturdays doing nothing but watching football (and drinking good beer) and going to USC games (and drinking good beer). We've started taking our USC tailgating to whole new levels with the addition of good beer. The last couple years I've been making sure I have growlers of Ruination filled for the big games. This year I hope to supply growlers of Stone for each tailgate. So over the next few months you can see how we combine great beer with the great sport of college football.

Today our #3 USC Trojans play at Virginia. For away games (that we don't travel to) my sister and I call our friend and fellow USC alum who now resides in Maryland and goes by the name of Brian, aka The Baltimore Beer Guy, for a pregame toast. Last year before the first away game against Nebraska it was a Stone 11th Anniversary. Today we're staying along those same lines and having a nice Stone 08.08.08 to crack open.

This 2008's Vertical Epic beer is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale with a twist... a Stone twist. That of course means a hoppy BSPA. Well I must say they nailed this. It's sad that on Beer Advocate all of Stone's Vertical Epic series beers get ranked almost exactly at 4.0, which means it's a darn good beer, but nothing great. Well this beer has that exact score right now, but it is a GREAT beer. It has all the Belgian Strong Pale Ale aspects, light, fruity, earthy Belgian yeast character, but with a nice hoppiness to finish it off. And the hoppiness isn't abbrassive or very bitter, it just adds a really nice flavor to the finish. I liked it, my sister liked it, and my Mom and Dad liked it. I think Stone nailed this one, and I plan on picking up a few more bottles to enjoy soon. 4.7/5.

Just to note, our friend Brian decided to go with a local brewery for his pregame toast, Flying Dog Double Dog Pale Ale.

As kickoff approached my Uncle arrived with a cooler of a beer I hadn't heard of called Landshark Lager. It looks like Corona, I figured it tasted like Corona, and when he asked me if I wanted one I was more inclined to go open up the Live Oak Hefe growler I had in the fridge. But figuring that refusing a beer that someone has gone to the effort to bring and offer you I skipped the douchebaggery (tip of the hat to The Beer Retard) of declining and went ahead and grabbed a bottle. After cutting a fresh lime wedge, shoving it down the neck of the beer, and then doing the bottle invert thing with the thumb over the hole I was all ready to attack this Landshark. Well I'm really glad I did because it was tasty and refreshing. Sure I don't drink this type of beer all that often (maybe a couple times a year), but it sure hit the spot and I probably downed this bottle in less than 5 minutes. In comparing it to Corona it was light years ahead. It had a nice light, soft, sweet malt taste and no disgusting flavors like Corona. I would drink Landshark again. 3.9/5

As the first quarter unwound it was time to get to the growler of Live Oak Hefeweizen that arrived on my porch Friday night. This hefe is ranked as the #25 beer in the world on Beer Advocate, amongst all those Double IPA's, Imperial Stouts, and high alcohol Belgian dark ales. When you think about it that's pretty amazing, and thus the reason why I even went to the trouble of obtaining a hefeweizen growler from Texas. It was a solid beer that I thoroughly enjoyed but I don't really understand why it's ranked that high. I've actually had better hefe's, but like I said this was still good. If I lived in the Austin, TX area (God help me) I would seek this out all the time. But it's really only worth a one time acquisition (if that) when you live in CA. 4.1/5

The last beer of the game came while still in the first half. I went with a Kernville Sequoia Red that my friend Rene had brought back from his rafting trip there. It was an ok beer, I probably wouldn't buy it even if regularly available. It was pretty highly flavored of toasted malt and very nutty. Very nutty. Not my favorite flavor combination to be honest.

I had to sober up during the 2nd half so I could head down to Stone after the game for some growler fills. We arrived down to there around 6:30 and enjoyed a few beers. Three of us tried the Alesmith/Mikkeller/Stone Collaboration Tripel, which was not bad. It was kinda saison-like within the tripel style. Pretty earthy, sweaty (funky), that sort of thing. That was the only beer I had because it's not worth it to take chances on the road. When 8pm hit I went to the Stone Company Store to get a growler fill of the '05 Imperial Russian Stout which I have to send to the person in Texas who sent me the Live Oak Hefe. I also got a couple Ruination growlers for our USC/Ohio State tailgate in 2 weeks. Yes growlers last that long, easily. Just keep 'em cold, air tight, and they will be good as new.

And if you're asking yourself, "Does Stone really serve Tripels in a shaker-shaped glass?" Yes, they do. See, Stone divides their beers on the menu into two different categories- high and low alcohol. Lower alcohol beers get a nice chalice glass (see the shape of these Allagash glasses) that I think are good for most styles of beer. The higher alcohol beers get this tiny 8oz shaker glass. That means tripels, imperial stouts, double IPA's, barleywines, etc will all be served in this glass. I don't know about you but that doesn't seem proper to enjoy a nice serving of many of these beers. They use to serve these higher alcohol beers in a really nice 8oz snifter (see here), which suited those higher alcohol beers much more. I love pretty much everything Stone does, but for a place like the Stone World Bistro & Gardens to serve these type of beers in this type of glass seems really Bush-League. Maybe they are in the process of upgrading... I don't know. They have been using these glasses for at least 5 months that I know of, and probably longer. Please Stone, get better glassware!

Friday, August 29, 2008

21st Amendment IPA, From The Can

On the eve before the kickoff of USC's football season the beer of choice was 21st Amendment's Brew Free or Die IPA. This beer has just started to become available in stores around California, and while I was somewhat disappointed with their watermelon wheat when I tried it on tap a couple months ago, I figured I would still give this a shot.

It pours a light gold (darker in the picture d/t the flash) with that foamy, frothy cap that lasts and lasts. The beer smells sweet. Not sweet like sugar too much but like some sweet juicy hops. It tastes more resiny and bitter. The semi-sweet malt backing along with a decent fruitiness do all they can to take away from the hops on display. To be honest the overall flavor is underwhelming to me. Like I said, the hops give a somewhat resiny and bitter feeling but there does not seem to be a nice hop flavor, or overall flavor to this beer. Still, it's an IPA, it's a craft beer, and it's not bad. 3.7/5

Fight On and beat the cavaliers!!!

Fall Is Here - It's Pumpkin Time

It might not be Fall for some of you but for me it is. The start of school and the beginning of pumpkin and oktoberfest beer season makes it so. Thanks to a fellow Beer Advocate on the East Coast I'll be able to sample a bunch of pumpkin beers I've never had before. In fact the only ones I've had in the past were from Buffalo Bill's and BJ's, which I thought weren't too bad. Hopefully these were worth the trouble of arranging to be sent.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Menu At The Back Abbey In Claremont

So I noticed someone came through the site recently from Google having searched for "The Back Abbey Menu in Claremont California." Well, it just so happens I had one sitting in my drawer here at my desk, so here it is for that lucky person. Sorry no beer menu at the moment.

(click to enlarge)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just Found A New Beer I'll Be Drinking The Rest Of My Life

It just so happens that Weihenstephaner's Hefe Weissbier is one of the highest regarded beers in the world. I haven't had a full glass of it till today. This is absolutely one of the best beers I've ever had, and it will definitely be a beer that I have multiple bottles of stocked in my fridge at all times.

The thing about this hefe is it doesn't throw too much of one thing at you. There is plenty of wheat, duh, but the clove isn't intense, the banana is barely noticeable, but the combination of all makes for a light, sweet, wheat tasting beer. 4.7/5

For dinner I paired my smoked pulled pork sandwich with the Weihenstephaner Dunkelweissbier. It seemed to be tilted more towards the banana side with a nice sweet caramel malt to it, all alongside the wheat of course. As you can see I initially poured a bit too aggressively, but that head stays formed nicely in the mug. 4.3/5

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Beer Night - Starting Off With A Pliny, Ending With Dessert

The night starts with a little NY Pizza and a mug of Pliny the Elder. I almost forgot that Pliny carries a pretty moderate bitterness with it (usually 92 IBU's on the Russian River chalkboard) in addition to all that great hop flavor. After a while you start to not even be able to detect the bitterness.

Up next..... maybe a Stone 08.08.08 in a little while. Sticking with the hops theme. A Belgian IPA sounds kinda good right now.

Well beer #2 came a bit later than I expected, but I had to crack something tasty in honor the Angels actually winning a game tonight. The choice was Southern Tier's Crème Broulée Stout. I wasn't sure what to ultimately expect from this Blackwater Series beer given that I loved their Choklat Stout but despised the Jah-Va Stout. What I did know that this was going to be massively sweet... and it was. Upon pouring the aroma of butterscotch is overwhelming. At first I can't get past the butterscotch but once I get use to it then milk chocolate starts to barely peek out underneath. As far as the flavor goes... Butterscotch mocha coffee, all in that order. This beer was certainly unique, and at 10% abv you will notice that alcohol at times. I had about an 8 oz glass and that's pretty much all I could take. I loved those 8 oz's but I'm not even thinking about drinking more than that. This is a beer that basically requires to be split among a few, or many people.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to the Beer!

Well it was a long and less eventful Summer than I anticipated, though there were some really good times, times, times, and times, and would have been more if I wasn't sick for so long. But with rotations starting this last week I'm out all day and still having to study when I get home at night, which means getting to the beer is a little harder. Well, it's been just about a week since the nectar of the greatest beverage ever hit my lips, so tonight when I got home I kicked off the weekend with a Deschutes Hop Henge Imperial IPA which I've been wanting to try since last year. With Deschutes being one of my favorite breweries I try anything from them that I can.

Hop Henge pours a dark amber, almost towards the brownish side, with a spectacular fluffy foam cap on it that displays a ton of retention (that takes some brewing skill, folks). Something about Deschutes' hoppy beers lately have reminded me of Sierra Nevada. They have a hoppiness that is very distinct to me, and while most people would say "big grapefruit" I never get that too much from Sierra Nevada. But anyway, Hop Henge has this resinous hoppiness to it with a big sweet, toasty counterpart. You can't call it a backbone because this maltiness garners just as much attention as the hops do, if not more. However, as much as I usually hate hoppy beers with this sort of balance to them, I actually enjoyed Hop Henge. It was really easy drinking and somehow the sweetness combined well with the sticky, bitter, lingering hops to create something pretty nice. 4/5.

The next beer I tried was the Mikkeller Stateside IPA. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little skeptical that a European brewery could duplicate the world class IPA's I've gotten to know that are brewed in my California back yard. Well, I was right. This IPA had this syrupy caramelized sweetness to it that didn't mesh well with the citrusy and earthy hops. I wouldn't get it again, but I will definitely try their Beer Geek Breakfast in the future. 3.55/5, mostly due to it's appearance which is really nice and has a very amazing fluffy, frothy head to it. The rest of it is average.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Stone 12th Anniversary Recap

When we arrived the line to walk into the park was one of the longest things I've ever seen. But it moved pretty fast and once we got in my friend Rene wanted to try something from Avery so the group got White Rascal while I went ahead and tried the Fifteen. It's received so-so reviews but I really liked it. Kinda like a somewhat funky, slightly soured hefe. The rest of the day went like this...

  1. BrewDog IPA - floral and perfumy sweet, I didn't like it.
  2. Lightning Pilsner - good
  3. San Diego Brewing Company Saison - very good
  4. Rubicon IPA - good
  5. Papago Belgian Sour - tasted like apple juice
  6. Oskar Blues Gordon - very good
  7. Rubicon Monkey Knife Fight Pale Ale - winner for best name, just an ok beer.
  8. Coronado Point Loma Porter - good
  9. The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel - one of my favorites
  10. Green Flash Le Freak - very good.
In the last 30 minutes of the fest, when many breweries had already run out of beer, there were many people trying to get those last couple pours in. We had been standing in the Green Flash line as they were only pouring bottles of Le Freak at this point. When two of my friends and I had gotten to the front of the line the servers yelled out this was their last bottle. We were the next 3 in the pseudo-line and immediately a group of punks tries to shove their way to the front, shoving their glasses over people to the servers. Sadly, one of the guys actually had a glass poured for him but he was the only one. I ended up getting the last pour from the bottle and that dude's buddies didn't get any. As you can see from my picture, my pour on the left was of the unfiltered, bottom of the bottle variety.

Russian River was serving up Damnation and Pliny the Elder. Their line was huge the entire day of course, though now that we can get these things easily around us I didn't even think about going. The Maui line was again huge this year. Coconut porter was gone with about an hour to go I think, even though you can buy it any BevMo in So Cal.

The beers at the event seemed ok, nothing really special that I was looking for, but the big winner in my opinion is Mike's Beer Cheese. This was the first time I've been able to try their stuff and they were serving free samples of their cheese all day. The flavors were Stone Ruination IPA and Mustard, Stone Pale Ale with Sun dried Tomatoes and Basil, Stone Smoked Porter and Garlic, and Napalm Bastard. I loved them all, and the Napalm Bastard was HOT.

Overall, I didn't like the location switch from Stone World Bistro & Gardens to Cal State San Marcos. On the positive side it was much nicer on the feet, with grass and concrete walkways, and some trees for shade (along with the tents they put up). But the area seemed so much smaller than last year it really made it hard to walk around the fest because some lines extended into tents. I think from now on I'll be switching to Session A.
[EDIT: After seeing some of the discussion on BeerAdvocate about the fest, I think overall I do prefer the switch to Cal State San Marcos. Sure it was a lot more crowded this year, but I think Stone has the ability to use the space more wisely which will allow the same amount of attendees to comfortably move around next year. I still think I'll be doing Session A from now on, I don't mind drinking in the morning... ever]

After the fest we made a quick stop over at The Lost Abbey for a beer or two. They had a ton of stuff on tap but we all had a round of the new Witch's Wit. I'm really loving Wits right now so it was really good. There was also a brewer from, *I think*, Downtown Brewing Co. who brought a bottle of their Saison and a bottle of Saison w/ brett. We got samples of both and thoroughly enjoyed them so if he ever comes across this (which is highly doubtful), many thanks for those samples.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hanssens Oude Gueuze

I can't get enough sour beers lately, and usually when talking about sours you hear Russian River... Cantillon... even Lindeman's. But do you ever hear about Hanssens? I don't think I would have any time soon if it weren't for a mention of it by Rick at Pacific Brew News on one of his archived podcasts. I've been seeking them out, with my first opportunity to try their Oude Kriek at the Stone Sour Fest, which in my small sample seemed like an excellent sour beer. This time I was able to get a bottle of their Oude Gueuze and had that with some salmon baked with lemon last night.

If you've had gueuze then you pretty much know how it tasted and don't need a description from me. It was quite sour but the one thing I think that made it different from a few other gueuzes I've had was that it didn't seem as intensely sour. It still had quite a bit of that earthy, old leather type smell and taste. Really good, although I do prefer kriek over gueuze.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stone's 12th Anniversary Celebration

The fest is coming up this Saturday and I've had a bottle of their 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout sitting in my fridge for like 3 weeks now. It pours a deep deep brownish black, and no head forms, although you can rouse a little bit up with some swirling. If your thing is bitter roasted barley and unsweetened dark chocolate then this is for you! It's not for me. I can drink my glass but the bitterness is just a bit overdone for my tastes. Believe me I like the most bitter of hoppy beers, but bitterness from roasted grains is something else. The oats give this a big time thick, oily feel.

Onto the festival on Saturday. Stone lets us know what breweries will be there but we really don't have an idea of what beers each brewery will have. With that in mind here are the booths I'm going to hit first, and hope that they will be serving these certain beers.

  1. Rubicon - hoping they have Hop Sauce.
  2. Valley - Uberhoppy IPA
  3. Papago - whatever they have
  4. Brew Dog - whatever they have, first time I've heard of them.
  5. Alesmith & Ballast Point - looking for any special beers
  6. Lightning - have only had 1 of their beers in the past.
  7. Port / Lost Abbey - you know they'll have something special on (like Funky Barrel last year)
Those are the ones at the top of the list. If I still have tickets left I'll have to see what the trendy new beer is at the fest (like Maui Coconut Porter last year).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Central California Weekend Roundup

Let me just start by saying we probably would have been better off traveling the extra 200 miles north for the Toronado's 21st anniversary party and The Bistro's IPA Fest. There were still a couple bright spots in the short weekend getaway.

I wanted to leave around 2 but we didn't actually get going until 3. We hit the 210 West to the 134 and in a half hour we were in Glendale at Red Carpet Wine to pick up a case of Blind Pig. After that short stop we continued on up the 101. Thanks to Friday afternoon traffic and a crash 10 miles before our first destination of JJ Brewsky's in Camarillo, we didn't get there until 5'ish. This place was quite big and had a pretty large crowd for early on a Friday. The beers I ordered were a Green Flash Imperial IPA (sadly the first time I've gotten around to trying that) and a Sierra Nevada Super 7 Pilsner. The Green Flash was pretty good (more on that later), and the Super 7 was probably not the best choice to follow up such an aggressive brew.

After we stuffed ourselves with a bunch of appetizers and beer we continued another 50 miles up the 101 to Goleta where we stopped at Hollister Brewing Company. For being such a small (yet very promising), young brewery they sure had a nice thing going there. A small, contemporary sports bar type place located in a big shopping center, and it was packed. They had 13 beers on tap so we ordered a sampler of each one. There have only been 2 beers I've ever had that have simulated the dank, pungent qualities of a handful of pellet hops- these being Green Flash's Hop Head Red and Green Flash's Imperial IPA. Hollister had a beer called White Star Extra Pale Ale which had this same hop pellet smelling and dank, resiny taste to it that was as pungent as either of the Green Flash's. It's not a taste I would want in every beer but it's fun every now and then. Another beer that impressed was the 85.9 Double IPA. I think my favorite beer in the sampler was the Kristalweisse which had an awesome clean wheat and clove taste. Least favorites would be a lemon-juice-tasting Wit, and "The J" which they brew with hemp seeds and smoked malt. They said it should taste like bacon and it sure did.

As we finished up our samples our friend Pat and his girlfriend had finally made it into the area and were passing us up to get to the Firestone Taproom in Buellton where we were about to leave to. They got there first and guess what, it's like 9pm and Firestone is closed. Bummer. We ended up having to just go straight to Pat's house in Pismo Beach. And since we didn't feel like going out after all the driving we just stayed in and enjoyed some beverages.

Saturday afternoon, after having breakfast in San Luis Obispo, we went to a pub we usually stop in at when up there called the Frog & Peach. Although we've had some fun times there in the past I probably won't be going there anymore. The beer selection is ok (though never rotates) and the place is really dirty. I usually just stick with Black Butte Porter and that's what we did Saturday with a pitcher of it before moving on.

After Frog & Peach we walked over a street to Downtown Brewing Company (formerly SLO Brewing Co. I think). We finished watching the Angels-Yankees game there (and the Angels 8 run 8th inning to blow the game open) while having some of their IPA which was really good.

Downtown Brewing was just a quick stop before the main attraction of our weekend; going to dinner at the Sea Chest Restaurant in Cambria. We usually get there 45-60 minutes before they open the door at 5:30 to stand in line where people tailgate with wine, beer or whatever. We bought a cooler of Blind Pig to have while waiting. The great thing is they let you bring in whatever you are drinking while in line, so we popped the cap on another round of Blind Pig just before 5:30 to bring in as we sat at the bar. It doesn't get much better than having some Blind Pig in the cool ocean breeze, or in front of a warm kitchen with a bunch of Oysters and Calamari.

Dinner was the climax and everything was downhill from there.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pliny the Elder + Vanilla?

No I didn't mix Pliny with some Vanilla. Well, sort of I didn't. After a long day of helping my friend Steve move into his new place in Long Beach I came home to some leftover pizza and thought, what would go better with that than a bottle of Pliny the Elder? So I popped one open and enjoyed the hell out of it. Just the smell had me thinking I was sitting up at the bar in Santa Rosa. Pliny is such an amazing beer. I absolutely love the pine that comes though in it, giving it a real green, outdoorsy taste. If you're in an area that doesn't get a supply of Pliny, find someone to trade with. Don't pay $70+ for a bottle of it like someone did recently on eBay... you can certainly trade for it at a much cheaper price than that (usually for equal value).

After dinner I still felt like another beer so with some chocolate brownie, whipped cream and strawberry thing my mom made I pulled out a Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. The only other beer I've had with vanilla beans in the past was Stone's Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean, which was amazingly crafted. As I was eating my brownie the vanilla porter went down so smooth and rich, probably due to the chocolate coating in my mouth. It smelled like this beer had some lactose added to it maybe... like a cream stout. The mouthfeel was super creamy and the taste was mildly roasty and very chocolaty, with a sweetness like lactose... I dunno maybe that was the vanilla. Overall, once I was done with my dessert I could tell this beer was really sweet and creamy.. a sipper even if it's only 4.7%, and not something I would quaff.

Another interesting beer on the day was when we first finished moving all the furniture into Steve's new house. In his fridge the only thing there was about 10 beers from a trade he had just received. We decided to have the Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA. He didn't have glassware yet so we drank from the bottle. I've had the beer once before and thought it was "eh"... but out of the bottle, on a really hot Southern California day, after getting a nice sweat going moving furniture, this 9% double IPA did not hit the spot at all. Anyway, so bad choice there. Then, as if it were Anchorman, Steve decides to take about a half gallon swig of milk. I don't think that ended up being a good idea either.

Long day, but tomorrow we head out to Pismo Beach for the weekend. Our itinerary looks like this: Leave around 1pm, after about an hour and half arrive in Camarillo at JJ Brewsky's, grab a drink there and then head into Goleta for Hollister Brewing Company. If we're on schedule after that we'll continue up to Buellton and meet our friend Pat who is driving separately and leaving a bit later than us, at Firestone's Taproom. If we're ahead of schedule then we'll still head into Buellton and probably stop off at The Hitching Post for a glass of wine or something. Once we get into Pismo we will most certainly be hitting a favorite dive of ours in San Luis Obispo, the Frog & Peach, with a Saturday dinner at the best seafood restaurant in the country (fact!), the Seachest in Cambria. There's also a really cool looking Belgian beer and frites place in SLO I want to get to, Bel Frites.

Smuttynose "Finest Kind" IPA

As I've found out in the past year, Smuttynose Brewing Company in Portsmouth, New Hampshire makes some fine beers. I've tried their Shoal's Pale Ale, Robust Porter, Old Brown Dog Ale, Big A IPA, and now comes their standard single Finestkind IPA.

The thing that I noticed first about this beer was how cool the label is. Two elderly dudes just sitting on lawn having a beer. That is what I hope my post-retirement years are spent doing.

The beer itself is quite good. It delivers exactly what you're looking for when you decide to pull an IPA out of the fridge. Good hop aroma, flavor, and a brisk finishing bitterness. I like the dryness of this beer which really helps showcase the bitter grapefruit citrus, earthy and spicy hops.

They have a notched "best by" calendar on the side of the bottle, which scores Smuttynose extra points. This bottle was dated as best by Nov. 2008 so I know I got it really fresh. A good representation of the style. 4.0/5

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Parallel Blog Tasting #2 - Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

This is the 2nd parallel blog tasting conducted between myself and my friend the Baltimore Beer Guy. This time we take down another Dogfish Head Beer. If you missed it, the previous tasting was of Dogfish Head's Palo Santo Marron. Here we go with Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA....

SOB (6:45:48 PM): shall we knock out the 120?
SOB (6:45:57 PM): it's only 9:45 back there
BBG (6:45:58 PM): can either of us handle it
SOB (6:46:06 PM): I can handle maybe 3 oz
BBG (6:46:14 PM): what container does it need?>
SOB (6:46:24 PM): I think I'll go with the old Stone style brandy snifters
BBG (6:48:58 PM): gosh damn 21%
BBG (6:49:00 PM): thats amazing
BBG (6:49:11 PM): it ate the whole wheel of cheese
SOB (6:49:24 PM): it might be fun to see how stupid we get after a few ounces
BBG (6:49:29 PM): alright
BBG (6:49:30 PM): lemme go get it
BBG (6:50:11 PM): the sooner to get me to bed anyway
BBG (6:50:16 PM): if I want to get to B'More tomorrow
SOB (6:52:27 PM): LOL
SOB (6:52:34 PM): ok what is your bottle dated on the neck
BBG (6:52:54 PM): 07
SOB (6:53:00 PM): ok i'm gonna go grab my 07
BBG (6:53:04 PM): 5/10/07
SOB (6:53:35 PM): mine is 10/10/07
SOB (6:54:26 PM): liquid looks pretty clear in the bottle (unlike my '08)
SOB (6:54:29 PM): which is hazy as shit
BBG (6:54:45 PM): oh yeh I remember you saying that
SOB (6:55:41 PM): ok gonna uncap and pour now, probably a tad cold for it but I don't reckon I'll be drinkin this that fast as it is
SOB (6:56:11 PM): wow that smell while its still in the bottle is sweet
BBG (6:56:20 PM): stings the nostrils
BBG (6:56:21 PM): literally
SOB (6:56:24 PM): smells like shnapps or something
SOB (6:57:59 PM): OMG
SOB (6:58:01 PM): yowza
BBG (6:58:10 PM): that is one yellow head
SOB (6:58:49 PM): I didn't get much head
SOB (6:58:56 PM): some bubbles, white tho
BBG (6:58:57 PM): me either
BBG (6:59:04 PM): but what did appear was bright yellow and went fast
SOB (6:59:10 PM): man that smell reminds me of something i can't place
SOB (6:59:21 PM): maybe nail polish remover... yeah... that's it
BBG (6:59:32 PM): lol
BBG (6:59:38 PM): Mines more like root vegetable
SOB (6:59:41 PM): can't really detect hops i nthe aroma to be honest
BBG (6:59:42 PM): Earthy
BBG (6:59:54 PM): Me either
SOB (6:59:58 PM): actually it's like stingly alcohol but really fruity
SOB (7:00:15 PM): time to taste
SOB (7:00:28 PM): wow that is fruity sweet
SOB (7:00:35 PM): sticky
BBG (7:00:49 PM): fruity is a good word
BBG (7:00:51 PM): passion fruit
SOB (7:01:03 PM): the finish is really strange
SOB (7:01:07 PM): like sugary something
SOB (7:01:16 PM): like burnt marshmallows
SOB (7:01:23 PM): like when you set the mallow on fire
SOB (7:01:31 PM): and then you taste that carmelized burnt outside part
BBG (7:01:39 PM): lol
BBG (7:01:43 PM): not so much for me
BBG (7:01:47 PM): wait no
BBG (7:01:48 PM): actually
BBG (7:01:50 PM): yeah
BBG (7:01:51 PM): lol
BBG (7:01:53 PM): I can buy that
BBG (7:02:01 PM): interesting observation and dead on
BBG (7:03:29 PM): not getting much alcohol
BBG (7:03:32 PM): really interesting beer
SOB (7:03:42 PM): dad really liked his sip
BBG (7:03:46 PM): heh
SOB (7:03:49 PM): well i dont know about really liked, but liked
SOB (7:03:57 PM): alcohol seems to all be in the nose
BBG (7:04:02 PM): yeh theres some kind of fruit in there
SOB (7:04:41 PM): i hate to use the term for so many beers but maybe it's like an orange marmalade
SOB (7:04:55 PM): certain hops really give off that sorta sweet orange flavor
BBG (7:04:58 PM): eh
BBG (7:05:18 PM): dammit
BBG (7:05:21 PM): maybe you're right agian
BBG (7:05:26 PM): I think my brain is lagging
BBG (7:05:36 PM): and then when I put two and two together it makes sense
SOB (7:19:46 PM): Regardless of ABV content, this thing is so sweet i dont think I would want the other 9oz of the beer
BBG (7:20:25 PM): wow
BBG (7:20:29 PM): I can probably finish it
BBG (7:20:37 PM): my heads already starting to get the buzz tho

(after this we really got sidetracked with talk of Lightning Brewery, New Zealand beer chicks, downtown Baltimore and more specifically Brewer's Art, and beer dinners).

SOB (7:47:02 PM): B / 3.6 for 120 minute from me

Bottle Of Russian River Blind Pig

Where I live in Southern California I can now have Russian River's Blind Pig IPA on tap regularly at 2 places within a 30 minute drive. It's not the most convenient thing in the world but at least I know it's fairly close if I'm out in those areas. (conversely, people in San Diego can probably find it at no more than a 10-15 minute drive from them, wherever they are). Anyway, I still wanted to get a bottle of it to see how it drinks from there.

I know there seems to be plenty of people who can tell huge differences between tap and bottled versions, and there already have been a bunch of complaints of the bottled Pliny the Elder not living up to its tap version, but to me they taste pretty close. I really love this beer but I must say I think as far as regular IPA's go right now I would give the notch to Russian River IPA over their Blind Pig.

Lost Abbey and Russian River Sour Tasting

Last Saturday my friend Steve decided to host a little gathering at his house. This would of course include beer but being the amazing chef that he is it also included ribeye steaks, tortellini, an assortment of good cheeses and much more. I got up there a bit early with my friend Pete to do a little warmup drinking of some Double IPA's I had laying around before the sour beers that night.

We started with a growler of Alpine Pure Hoppiness (one of my favorite beers for all of you who just joined in) and moved onto a new beer to me, Hair of the Dog Blue Dot Double IPA. This was the first Hair of the Dog beer I've finally bought, and I wasn't disappointed. This was an excellent beer showcasing some earthy and mildly citrus hops on a light body. They brew this with rye which is exciting to me, but I couldn't detect it at all (more of a knock against my weak palate than Hair of the Dog). However, at $8 a bomber I probably won't be buying it again any time soon. We kept the Double IPA's rolling and moved onto Legacy Brewing's Hoptimus Prime from Reading, PA. This was an Ok beer, with a tad thicker body and a more resiny hop flavor/feel. It did have that sweet backbone I don't care for but it wasn't as off-putting as others I've had. The final beer in the DIPA warmup was ReaperAle Sleighor Double IPA. The best description I can give on this beer is that it reminded me a lot of Stone's 10th Anniversary DIPA. While I'm guessing 99% of anyone who reads that prior sentence has already left the room to go try and find as much Sleighor as possible I won't be any time soon. As opposed to the thousands who loved Stone's 10th I was not a fan. I'm not so much into the sweet hop syrup IPA's and this is what it was similar to.

That was the before dinner lineup. The after dinner lineup was not as exciting to me, since I had already had many of the beers before but there were a couple new additions.

We went through the Temptation-Supplication-Beatification series and then Cuvee de Tomme and Red Poppy. I remember finishing with a Lost Abbey Bourbon Barrel Aged Angel's Share. I've had it before but not since my sample at the release. This is a truly fantastic beer. In between all of that I remember the Boon Mariage Parfait Geuze, 2003. That was a pretty good Geuze, quite sour with very noticeable funky/wild smell to it.

It was a fun night and the beer was just slightly better than the food that was prepared, if you can imagine that.

Random Drinking - Deschutes 20th Anniv. Wit and Smuttynose IPA

The 20th Anniversary Wit from Deschutes is now fairly easy to find in the Southern California area and I usually get anything I can from Deschutes at least once, and for many of their beers, multiple times. In the last 1+ years I'm really starting to like a good Witbier now and then, though it's not something I would choose to drink all the time. The aroma is predominant wheat malt. Clove-like phenolics are present with that and those two make up the main aroma except it seems like there is a slight sweetness, maybe a fruitiness at a very low level giving it a candy-like "undertone." The taste plays out the same way with wheat, clove, and then for a brief second at the very end of the swallow a slight sweetness comes through. The carbonation seemed fine at first, at a moderate high level, though it really lost a lot of that carbonation really fast.... and I wasn't drinking this slow either. Anyway, it was EASY to take down this entire bomber in under 20 minutes, and thoroughly enjoy it at the same time. 4.35/5

The Clipper City Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale is one of the many good IPA's I've tried recently. This here is a 7.25% citrus bomb of an IPA. Clipper City says they use a lot of Amarillo hops and when used generously it's pretty notorious for giving an orange citrus-like flavor, which this was packed with. Overall it wasn't too complexity... this was a pretty straight forward flavor, but I like it that way. Not too bitter, but enough. Mission IPA (gold medal at the GABF last year I think), made down here in San Diego is one that this reminded me of, though Mission has a more harsh bitterness which I really like. Anyway, this beer and the pale ale I've had from Clipper City have both impressed me. 4.15/5

Monday, August 4, 2008

Summer of Beer Suffers A Blow

Just the other day the camera that has documented my travels though the world of beer took a major hit as it was uploading pictures to my computer. I got up fast from my desk, tripped over the cord, and the opened lens took a nice two foot fall to my soft carpet. Now the lens is stuck and the LCD only registers "lens error." The thing that makes it somewhat of a bummer is it was a graduation present from my parents a few years ago. Well, life goes on and I ordered a new camera that should be arriving at my door on Wednesday.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mammoth Making Some Excellent Beers

I've now tried two beers from Mammoth Brewing Company in Mammoth Lakes, CA and they've both been excellent. Beers that I would want to have my glass refilled with multiple times. The first was Mammoth Double Nut Brown, the latest being Mammoth Floating Rock Hefeweizen thanks to my friend Rene who brought a bottle back on his trip to Mammoth. The taste on this is really balanced between wheat and spicy phenolics. Some banana is noticeable only if you really search for it. It is quite drinkable, as they would say. 4/5

Oh, and recently when I said I've hit the doldrums of beer drinking, well that corrected itself pretty fast with some of the great beer I've received in trades recently and the latest taste of my homebrewed batch of IPA... mmmmm mm.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Another Two Top 100's Bite the Dust

Last night I found myself out at The Back Abbey and amazingly not only was my first choice still on tap, so was my second! Two for two is beating the odds when ordering something off a draught list these days. The first beer was Beer Advocate's 63rd ranked beer in the world, Aventinus Weizenbock made in Germany by Brauerei G. Schneider & Sohn. This was the first of the style I've ever had and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's wheat, banana and clove meets chocolaty, raisiny malt. I really loved the balance as the flavor wasn't dominated too much one way or another but created a balance which could be experienced each sip. I gave it a rating of 4.55/5.

Next order was the Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel, the 81st ranked beer on Beer Advocate's best beers in the world. I was very skeptical of this as I've never enjoyed any hoppy Belgian beers. I just don't (didn't) see how that hop flavor and aroma could work with those earthy phenols the Belgian strains pump out. Well I was wrong. While I didn't exactly like it as much as I do my American IPA's it was still quite good. At first there was a strong earthy and spicy flavor but after getting acclimated for half a glass I started to pick up citrusy notes of the hops. Overall very nice and easily drinkable earning it a score of 4.3/5.