Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sam Adams Noble Pils

The first time I had this beer was the other night when a friend surprisingly offered it to me from his fridge and it was a delicious treat as I drank it straight from the ice cold bottle (that's how we roll). It left enough of an impression to pick up a 12 pack at the grocery store today. After reading some of the discussion on Rate Beer about the beer's apparently poor shelf life I made sure to find the freshest batch out right now (best before July '10). I came home, popped an ice cold bottle into a ice cold glass and enjoyed a couple bottles. But not as much as I enjoyed it the other night. Maybe it's best enjoyed straight from the bottle, or maybe I was just more thirsty that first time. It was still good tonight and I look forward to drinking the remaining 10 bottles, but out of the glass it just doesn't come off as clean and snappy as a couple of my favorite Pils- Moonlight Reality Czech and Sly Fox Pikeland Pils. Snappy is the descriptor I give the most weight to when describing a pilsner. Either it snaps or it doesn't. Reality Czech snaps, Pikeland snaps, Prima Pils snaps, even Lightning Elemental Pilsner snaps, but Sam just didn't reach that height tonight. Maybe next time.... oh snap.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Younger day in Temecula

Barley and Hops Old World Tavern in Temecula.

1) Russian River IPA on tap. Probably my favorite single IPA out there (ahead of Blind Pig too)

2) Keg tapped at 5. We were towards the front. Keg lasted about 30 min.

3) Younger.

Must say, this is about the 4th year I've had drinking this stuff and it finally didn't blow me away this year. I don't know why, my palate has not matured nor fatigued any more than the last couple years at the very least, but Younger just didn't wow me this year on either occasion that I had it. Oh well, on the positive side it means less waiting in lines in the future.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Alpine Bad Boy DIPA Outshines Pure Hoppiness

Alpine Bad Boy Double IPA. It's better than Alpine's flagship beer, Pure Hoppiness, which is another double IPA (and was one of my all-time favorite beers). Maybe a year or two ago I would have never said that, but something about Pure Hoppiness has changed recently and I'm not digging it one bit. Bad Boy is fresh, green, bitter, and DRY. Pure Hop on the other hand just tastes old (even when fresh) and tastes muddled and weird- a far cry from the snappy, citrusy, dry beer that let the hops shine through so well a couple years ago. Thoroughly enjoyed this pint of Bad Boy at O'Brien's today.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Younger, Pizza Port, and Tales Of A Garage Session

Before we get to this week's garage session shenanigans, the week started out with a bang on Wednesday night when Stone put Pliny the Younger on tap. I drove up that evening to imbibe and stumbled outta there after 5 glasses (only 8oz pours) and managed to get home somehow. Better judgment will prevail next time, I promise. The Baltimore Beer Guy's dad was snowed in trying to get back to Maryland and was staying with BBG's brother (who lives in San Diego), so they happened to be out on the beer trail at that time, at Oggi's, and met me up at Stone to share some Younger. I must publicly thank them for their generosity in buying me rounds of Younger, and I am now in debt of what I would call a large package of Pliny the Elder and other goodies which will eventually make their way out to Baltimore to ring in the spring days. Younger was phenomenal, although I can't say it tasted as good as I've known it the last couple years. Maybe I put it on a pedestal.

On Friday night my friend Pete the mad Greek Anagnostopoulos met me in Escondido at Stone for some beers. I had a Vertical Epic 09.09.09 which, while being a solid beer, doesn't really excite me much. Tastes like a porter. Nice. Next up was Avery DuganA which I must give high compliments to. This is a sweet beer that I wouldn't want to drink a whole pint of, but in a cold 8oz pour it is very nice. Smells and tastes like fruit loops. Kinda reminded me of Bear Republic's Apex IPA, just kinda. The next morning we got up and headed to Pizza Port in Solana Beach. Perfect day for that. It was about 70 degrees out and sunny. I started off with a beer called Night IPA or something which was dubbed as Solana Beach's clone of San Clemente's El Camino IPA. It tasted quite similar and was very good. Then I had their American brown ale called One Down Brown. That was a good, somewhat hoppy brown ale.

Onto O'Brien's where I finally got to try some Port Mongo DIPA. Wow this was an aggressive beer. Bitter as hell and super hoppy. Probably the most aggressive IPA i've had in a long time. Really unbalanced (just how I like it!) with delicious juicy hops.

The night concluded with a garage session with the J's (and B + A). First up was a growler of Stone Old Guardian which had been Belgianized. It had a lot of similar qualities in terms of that Belgian yeast flavor + the hops to Green Flash Le Freak, or really any Belgian IPA for that matter. The second beer was a bourbon barrel aged Partridge in a Pear Tree from The Bruery. This was the unanimous beer of the night for everyone (I think). The bourbon just exploded from the glass (which is fine with me!) to add to an already great base beer (quad).

Since we didn't have any dead rats or broken chairs infiltrating the session by this point we pressed on. Lost Abbey's Duck Duck Gooze was mouth puckeringly sour. Tasted like that lemon bubbilicious. I don't really have the palate to describe sour beers beyond "sour" and "funky." This one was pretty much all sour to me. Loved it. Founders Backwoods Bastard was next. It was good, just don't remember anything about it, and by this point at garage sessions I've long forgotten to keep up with my tasting notes.

This was a good beer too. Super sour as usual for the Cantillon beers... I hear it's even better out of the bottle.

After this delicious Duvel the night concluded with the obligatory game of Horse, which wasn't even finished this time (meaning I'm still the reigning champ).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ritual Tavern and Alpine

Last week included a couple stops I hadn't been to in quite a while. First I finished up work downtown and drove out to Alpine for a few Super Bowl weekend growlers. Picked up a Duet, Pure Hop, and Token Imperial Porter. Headed back into North Park and hit Ritual Tavern. I love their bar area. It's got a dark, cozy, classy, old school feel to it. They had some good beers on tap, as usual, but I felt like ordering something on cask for some reason (stepped outside my comfort zone for once... err make that twice in one night). The cask pour of Lightning Amber was a new beer to me, in any form. Can't say I've had an amber ale in a very long time. This one was good. It tasted like my 2nd batch of homebrew about 4 years ago, which is either good or bad. I'm not sure. I drank it down and headed over to Toronado to have a Velvet Merkin and sausaaaaage.

Saturday morning started off with a year old Belgian Strong Pale Ale / Tripel hybrid I brewed with the Baltimore Beer Guy aka @MdBeerSpotter. It's good.

Gratuitous Duet shot. What a great beer. It's so amazingly citrusy.

This is the new Alpine Token Imperial Porter. This was a really great beer. So easy to drink. A bit of coffee in the flavor but as a good Imperial Porter will do, not enough to take it into the stout category. Lots of chocolate. Really good.

This little bastard ripped my Hamilton's sweatshirt. Oh well, I needed a new one anyway.

Lucky B's for Manchester United, Arsenal (wankers) and Beer

A couple weeks ago the Upland crew (Kevin, Pat, Spencer, and myself) got up real early in the morning to hit Lucky B's, our neighborhood pub (well, only 25 min away) for some bangers, eggs, Manchester United, and beer. It was a great morning, with Manchester United grabbing a huge victory and us grabbing some great beer. Lucky Baldwin's usually doesn't have Pliny the Elder on tap (except for their IPA and Strong Ale fests) but they had it that morning. It was a sign from the Gods.

One thing I've always been impressed with is the lacing beers leave on the glasses at Lucky B's. Not sure exactly what they clean theirs with but I've never been able to duplicate it.

The beer I moved onto (while the rest drained the Pliny) was a Stone Smoked Porter which is always on tap here, and usually always a delicious choice. Still better with a vanilla bean in it though.

Studies have shown the effects of 6 Pliny's over a span over 2 hours can make you a much more interesting person to be around.

It was back to Spencer's house afterward for Green Flash Nut Brown we picked up the week before. 24 bottles for $20. A solid brown ale. Light chocolate, caramel, and no metallic twang. A steal at that price.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Black Butte XX - Over A Year Later...

... And it has lost a LOT of its coffee character. BUT, on the other hand the bourbon and dark chocolate malts shine through so nicely. I actually prefer it like this, so similar to Black OPS, one of my favorite bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts.
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Russian River night at O'Brien's + Garage Session 1/30/10

After getting off work at a convenient 3pm in Pacific Beach I tweeted my thoughts about stopping at O'Brien's before meeting the SD Booze Crew (otherwise known loosely as the J's) for a garage session later that night. JTH was able to meet up and we got to O'Brien's to find part of the Russian River beers on tap. This was a hush-hush event. Posted in the bathroom was a plead to not tweet or tell anyone that the beers would be going on Friday instead of the promised Saturday that was mentioned in the newsletter. This is awesome because it means no Pliny-the-Younger-2009 type crowd. The first beer I had was Dead Leaf Green, which I never got around to trying in my two trips to Santa Rosa. It was an excellent English Pale Ale, a style which I doesn't excite me and I don't find myself drinking much. JTH enjoyed the Aud Blonde. The next beer I had was Benediction. This is a dubbel, 6.7% ABV. It was very good, not the best I've had (that would probably have to go to Brewer's Art Resurrection) but nothing I would ever complain about either. After these couple rounds we moved on.

Next stop was Hoffer's Cigar Bar in La Mesa. Very good taplist which you can't see because of the glare. I gave the Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout a second chance (it's first chance was a few years ago when I found it remarkably thin and bland). It was solid yet still not my favorite oatmeal stout (Velvet Merkin anyone??). I loved the vibe of Hoffer's. A real cozy place with a classy put together bar. Also has a cool patio with lights and jazz bands- looking forward to going back when they have one playing.

Back to JRhode's pad for the garage session, which would not be possible without the pink britta filter.

JTH pouring the first beer, Temptation batch 003. As seen in the 2nd pic, you can have this beer one of two ways. Filtered and unfiltered. While I like my Double Barrel Ale unfiltered, I like my Temptation filtered. This beer was MUCH less sour than I remember it. Not that it's ever quench-gum-mouth-puckering, but it seemed much less tart than usual. Not a whole lot of funk here either. Lots of chardonnay character of course, but much more wine-like this time without the tartness (although I think I was the only one who thought it was less tart than normal). Personally I like Temptation FRESH.

Next beer, The Bruery's Oude Tart, a Flanders style red. Without tasting notes, all I can say is it was GOOD, and I wonder if they use cherries in it like Tomme does with Red Poppy? Compared to Red Poppy I believe there were a little bit less tannins in Oude Tart, but then again this is off foggy memory, I haven't had Red Poppy in a while.

Next up- Captain Lawrence Smoke From the Oak aged in apple brandy barrels. Sounds pretty cool right? Well, yeah, if it weren't infected. I still want to try the regular Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter despite this horrible joke.

This is the Brewer's Art Coup De Boule Belgian strong pale ale. Spiced with Saffron and some other stuff. It was pretty good. The smell was pungently spiced, taste was similar. We all enjoyed this. I don't think Brewer's Art makes a bad beer.

This is one of Alpine's newest releases, GREAT, a barrel-aged barleywine. It's a sweet beer, literally. In some ways it tasted like Black Tuesday to me. At least with the huge caramelized sugar part of it. Like a sweet roasted marshmallow. It was very smooth for being such a big beer (14%) and aged in Jack Daniel's barrels (a whiskey I'm not too fond of).

This certainly contributed to the stout-mouth I had the next morning. '04 I believe? Very smooth, but a little bit past it's peak probably.