November 8, 2011

What was I drinking?

I haven't been as active with the blog or even with Twitter since my camera died. I never realized how much photography was the reason I blog, apart from just wanting to talk and spread the word about craft beer. I didn't get the camera repaired because I want to put the money towards a new camera instead, and I haven't bought a new one because I'm going a little more high end and need the cash first. Maybe I'll get a Christmas bonus this year. Anyway, the first 5 photos below are the last few I hadn't posted before the camera took a crap. Everything else is from my iPhone. Cheers!

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum
Big beers deserve big glasses. I've only seen one bottle of Hoptimum ever, and it's the one I bought, photographed, and then consumed. Beautiful color. Delicious beer.
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum

Lagunitas Censored
Easy drinking, but tasty. Great for summer cookouts.
Lagunitas Censored

New Belgium Lips of Faith La Folie 2010
AWESOME sour brown ale.
New Belgium La Folie 2010

Founders Centennial IPA
Founders... nuff said.
Founders Centennial IPA

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous
A Black IPA from before the term "Black IPA" was created. Or maybe Stone just didn't want to call it that. Whatever. It's one of the best one's out there.
Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout
Not bad, not amazing. Nothing compared to their Expedition Stout.

Cape Ann Brewing Fisherman's Imperial Pumpkin Stout
Just okay. Expected more flavor as it warmed, but that never really happened.

Lagunitas Our Own Bavarian-Styled Doppel Weizen
Holy hell, where did this come from?! Super duper tasty!

Left Hand Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout
Light bodied but not light on flavor or alcohol. Coffee, chocolate, licorice and raisin. Great flavors. Little bit of an alcohol burn as it warms up.

Sixpoint Autumnation
From a can, just so-so. Tallboy cans, so it's good for a party, cookout, or tailgate. I had this on draft at Punk's and it was delicious. I know they say cans don't affect the flavor of beer, but I find that there is a bigger deviation in flavor when comparing canned to draft than there is with bottle to draft. The inside of the can may be lined, but the outside of the can where your lips and mouth can touch aren't, so how can they truly say cans don't affect flavor? Sorry, not a bash on Sixpoint, I still love their beers, just making a side note about canned craft beer.

Birra del Borgo My Antonia
Refreshing, but lighter in body than the Dogfish version and not a well rounded or bold in flavor. Plus, the bottle is only a 12 oz where Dogfish comes in 750 mL's.

Nøgne Ø Red Horizon
Amber colored ale fermented with sake yeast. Sweet flavor, lots of fruit... fig, raisin, cherry, plum maybe. Interesting...

Lost Abbey Judgment Day Ale
Bottle given to me by Tatiana from A Strong Fuggly Brew. Very nice quad.

Upright Brewing Four
Extremely refreshing and lightly sour saison. Picked this up while in Portland for the 2012 Beer Blogger's Conference. One of the beers I was the most excited about to try, and it didn't disappoint. I have a bottle of Five waiting in the fridge...

Peak Organic Hop Noir
Pretty good Black IPA. Not the hoppiest or boldest I've had, but well balanced and easy to drink. I wish it came in 12 oz bottles and not just bombers.

Hitachino Nest White Ale
I'm picky when it comes to wit-style or wheat beers. I usually only drink Allagash White when I'm in that mood. But Hitachino Nest's White Ale is every bit as good as Allagash. It's a little smoother on the tongue, less prickly in carbonation, and with a touch more fruit and sweetness. Only problem is, I can't get 4-packs of it like I can with Allagash, I have to buy individual bottles.

October 17, 2011

Bell's Java Stout

I don't feel like writing today. This beer tastes good. Go try it.

Bell's Java Stout

October 14, 2011

Bell's Expedition Stout

Black with a creamy brown head. Coffee and chocolate aroma with an alcohol bite. Flavor is dark chocolate, espresso, roasted nuts, and brown sugar. There is a light smokiness as well. Insanely delicious, thick and creamy. Was I really tasting a bit of chili pepper or was it just the alcohol? I really wish I could have known how good this was going to be, because I would have bought more than just one bottle.

Bell's Expedition Stout

October 1, 2011

Bell's Pale Ale

My paying job kept me busy the past two days, but here's day 4 of Bell's Week, featuring their Pale Ale. Not super hoppy. Carbonation bites just a tiny bit but it's actually pretty smooth going down. Pale malts... almost more like a kolsch than a pale ale, only with a touch of earthy bitterness and wildflowers on the nose. Dry finish, and refreshing, this would make a good summer beer for those of you that don't prefer a ton of hops.

Bell's Pale Ale

September 28, 2011

Bell's Winter White Ale

Bell's Week, Day 3... Winter White Ale. This beer has a beautiful golden orange color. Aroma is like a Belgian golden ale, bread, yeast. Flavors are a combination lighter fruits like pear, plus some orange peel and citrus. It's sort of a muddled mix of golden ale, hefeweizen, and wheat beer. Smooth drinking, finishes slightly bitter. Expected a drier, more crisp finish. I'm not sure that this needs to be winter beer, it could fit any season really. Overall, not amazing, but definitely above average.

Bell's Winter White Ale

September 27, 2011

Bell's Oarsman Ale

Next up on my unofficial Bell's Week is Oarsman Ale. It's a 4% ABV session beer. Barely any head when poured. Aroma of wheat and lemon. Taste is lightly tart and sour, with lemon, white wine, and orange, and faint but prickly carbonation. It's a mimosa... but a beer at the same time! No aftertaste. This one certainly isn't amazing, but it's refreshing enough and low enough in alcohol to be good during the summer. I'm still sort of wondering if I got a bad bottle. I was expecting more considering it comes from Bell's, but then again, no one can do everything perfectly.

Bell's Oarsman Ale

September 26, 2011

Bell's Amber Ale

Based on my experience, many amber ales tend to be rather tasteless. Most craft brewed amber ales aren't bad per se, but they're rarely exciting. Bell's Amber is a welcome exception. This beer hits you with a sweet, malty, and just slightly hopped aroma. It has a rich copper color. The taste is a perfect balance of malt (pale, caramel... with flavors of bread and nuts) and hops (grassy, bitter, very light pine). It starts off a little sweet and finishes just slightly bitter. Creamy body, soft carbonation, easy to drink, and thirst quenching. I haven't had a Bell's Amber since last summer, and I'd almost forgotten how much I like it.

Bell's Amber

September 8, 2011

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

Some of you may already know the dirty details about this, but for those of you that don't, here's the deal. Beer Geek Brunch gets its WEASEL twist because it is brewed with Civet coffee. The civet is a small mammal native to Southeast Asia that includes coffee berries as part of its diet. You can probably guess where this is going now. In the stomach, enzymes seep into the beans making shorter peptides and freeing up more amino acids. Then they pass through the intestines and are... released. The beans are gathered, washed, sun dried, lightly roasted, and used to brew a very aromatic coffee with much less bitterness than regular coffee. Kopi luwak (the Malaysian name for civet coffee) is one of the most expensive in the world. Mikkeller has sourced theirs from Vietnam, where is it known as caphe cut chon, or fox-dung coffee.

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel smells like coffee, but it's sweeter, nuttier, creamier, and not as dry or bitter as regular coffee. I got a whiff of maple syrup as well. There's a lot going on flavor wise: multiple types of chocolate, caramel, coffee, espresso, a little vanilla. Very slight alcohol burn on the tongue but not in the aroma. It's thick but smooth and rather easy to drink. Not sure if I'd drink a whole one by myself though. I shared this with Robin from Good for the Palate, for breakfast of course. Very delicious beer. We enjoyed it a lot.

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

August 20, 2011

Beer Bloggers Conference, day 2

Things kicked off on Saturday morning with a panel featuring 'industry' bloggers Michael Busman of New Belgium, Matt Van Wyk of Oakshire Brewing (Portland), and Ryan Ross of Karl Strauss. The three guys explained how their blogs came to be and how they utilize them now. New Belgium uses their blog not just as a sound-off for news, but to talk about events and company culture. Oakshire uses WordPress to host their blog, which also serves as their website. This is a great solution for smaller breweries who maybe don't have the budget for a webmaster position or to hire an outside company. This also makes it easy for multiple employees to log in and post, providing a more intimate view of the company. Ryan took things further and talked not just about blogging, but other ways social media can benefit a brewery, how they can work with local bloggers, and even delved into what they can and can't do from a legal standpoint when it comes to what they post.

Some of the points from the first session played very well into the second, Working with your Local Brewery. This session featured Bill Manley, Communications Director at Sierra NevadaM, Ashley Routson aka The Beer Wench, Ben Edmunds of Breadkside Brewery, and Ben Love of Hopworks Urban Brewery (and also President of the Oregon Brewer's Guild). I took away the most from The Wench, as she explained how her hobby as a blogger led to a paying job in the industry doing social media for Bison Brewing. Even putting aside the desire to work in the industry, you can really help promote your local craft beer community by getting involved; get a part time job serving or bartending at a local beer bar, volunteer to pour at beer festivals, volunteer your time to help with any events your local breweries might be having. Simply put, the more you get involved, the more you get back. And, in most cases, the people you work with will notice the skills you have and it could very well turn into a job opportunity. Don't forget, your time at the very least will usually get you some free beer!

We were on our own for lunch from 11:30-1:30. I'd had breakfast and wasn't all that hungry yet, so I worked on my post on BBC11 Day 1 for about an hour before walking a few blocks over to Spirit of 77 for a PDX Beer Week brunch.

Spirit of 77 beer brunch menu featuring Double Mountain Brewery and Hopworks Urban Brewery, presented by PDX Beer Week:

I started with the Batch 1000 and the Red Rye. The cured salmon was delicious, and the malt and dryness of the Batch 1000 complimented it extremely well. The chicken wings arrived as soon as I finished the salmon. Let me just say, I wish all wings were like this. The sauce was not heavy; it was as it said, glazed, rather than slathered. I really liked the Red Rye, and although it was great for washing down the last bites of meat, I didn't think it actually added anything as a pairing.

I sat licking my fingers for a minute or two after I finished the wings, and when the lovely bartendress came over and asked if I wanted something else, I had to go for the Survival Stout with braised bacon. Best decision I ever made. The bacon wasn't just bacon. It was slab a few inches square, and at least an inch and a half thick. The egg was perfectly cooked and had been trimmed into a nice little circle and placed on top of the bacon. When I cut through the fat layer of the bacon, the rest began to fall apart. I took a bite. Wow! I can't describe how delicious it was. The apple cider and maple syrup added a nice sweetness to everything, including the egg, without being too over the top. I got 2/3 of the way through before I realized I had a beer to go with it.

I took a sip of the Survival Stout and realized at this point that I was having the best breakfast ever. This '7-grain' stout is brewed with Portland's Stumptown Coffee. It does not have the vanilla or espresso flavors nor the creaminess of many other "breakfast" style stouts. Instead, Survival Stout is crisp and dry, with just the right amount of bitterness. You could say it's more of a black coffee drinker's breakfast beer, something to pep you up rather than weigh you down. There is nothing better than bacon, eggs, and coffee in the morning, especially when your coffee comes as part of a beer.

I didn't finish lunch until right around the time the 1:30 panel, Lessons from Portland as a Beer (and Beer Blogging) City was starting, so I took my time walking back to the hotel. Unfortunately, my afternoon came to a halt as I started having blurred, tunnel vision, which signals a migraine. [I get a few migraines a year and it tends to be before, during or after large or frequent pressure changes, like the ones that lead up to a huge thunderstorm or that you might experience while flying or visiting an unfamiliar climate.] When I got back to my room I took my medicine (thankfully I had it with me) and passed out. I slept right through the next two panels, Blogging About (and Changing) Beer Laws and The Beer Steward program from the Master Brewers Association of the Americas. I woke up in time for Live Beer Blogging but was so out of it I could hardly function, and had to skip it as well. I didn't mind missing the other panels too much, but missing the Live Beer Blogging was a huge bummer. Just to explain, the Live Beer Blogging session is where everyone tastes 8 beers from 8 breweries in a round-robin, speed-dating format, and tweets or immediately posts their thoughts to their blog.

At 6:30 we headed to the west side of the river, the central downtown area of Portland for dinner and tours at BridgePort Brewing Company. We were provided a private room, open bar, and a surprisingly delicious buffet of food. Brew Master Jeff Edgerton stopped in to talk about the brewery and thank us all for being such a strong force in the craft beer community. During dinner I had the Hop Czar, which is an Imperial IPA based on BridgePort's original IPA recipe. For dessert there was a delicious raspberry purée and apple crisp with fresh made whipped cream. A tour was just about to start when I finished dessert, so I ran to the bar, grabbed a Cafe Negro coffee porter from the nitro tap and joined up with the group.

I certainly appreciate the opportunity to tour a brewery any chance I get, but I tend not to pay attention on quick tours like the one we had, because I hear a lot of stuff I already know about the actual brewing process. I think everyone was pretty much in the same boat. We were really given a guided "viewing" of the brewery. Just a couple little tidbits I did take away... BridgePort does over 100,000 barrels a year; they have a dedicated lab for testing yeast and shelf life; they have an average of 1000 people go through the brewpub in a single day and can kill over 40 kegs in a week; they have one small dumpster for trash that only gets emptied twice a week, everything else get's recycled including the water and grains. Pretty cool.

After leaving BridgePort, we took buses to McMenamins Bagdad Theater for the premier of The Love of Beer, a documentary about women in the beer industry by Alison Grayson, starring Bend Brewing's Tonya Cornett and Sarah Pederson of Saraveza and featuring Teri Fahrendorf of Great Western Malting, Lisa Morrison of Beer Goddess, Gayle Goschie of Goschie Farms, and Amy Welch of Lucky Labrador. The movie not only offered a look into their roles in the Oregon craft beer community but also their personal lives and background. I thought it was very well done and would love to see it screened elsewhere or see sequels based on other beer communities. After the movie, Rogue sponsored buses to take us back to the hotel, and we each got a grab bag with stickers, literature, a Rogue yo-yo, a bottle opener, and a bottle of Chatoe Rogue Single Malt.

Still have to write-up day 3...

August 19, 2011

Beer Bloggers Conference, day 1

Before the first panel was an introduction by Julia Hertz of the Brewer's Association. She spoke about the current state of the craft beer industry, offering up a ton of facts and statistics (almost too much to absorb within her given time slot). One statistic that I found interesting is that beer sales generate just about as much money (about $101 billion) as wine ($40 billion) and spirits ($65 billion) combined. I was not all that surprised to learn that 70% of craft beer drinkers are 25-44 years old. After commenting on how beer bloggers are influencing the industry, she asked the audience what else we would like to see as craft beer continues to move forward. Answers ranged from more educated retailers, better beer on airlines and at sporting events, better beer servers, correct glassware at bars and events, more small pours or 1/2 pints.

Mid-morning snack: Sierra Nevada Ovila Saison and a pretzel necklace

Next, John Foyston of The Beer Here, an Oregon beer news website, led an open conversation with Fred Eckhardt. Fred is 82 years old and wrote his first book on brewing in 1969, before homebrewing was even re-legalized. He is the author of The Essentials of Beer Style (1989). The conversation basically consisted of Fred telling various stories from throughout his beer drinking and brewing experiences. Fred is a soft-spoken and obviously incredibly warm hearted fellow. He immediately became everyone's hero. At one point, having realized he had finished his beer, he stopped in the middle of a story and said, as if thinking out loud, "Empty glass... I have an empty glass." Towards the end of the session he said, "My favorite beer is the one in my hand. My next favorite beer is the one that's free."

John Foyston (left) & Fred Eckhardt

During the next session, Stephen Valand & Erica Shea of Brooklyn Brew Shop talked about brewing 1 gallon batches of beer. To me, this is a great idea, and one that I have already been gearing up for thanks to another couple, William Bostwick & Jessi Rymill, authors of Beer Craft, a homebrewing book based around the 1 gallon batch.

After the last panel of the day, everyone loaded on to two buses and headed into the countryside to visit Goschie Farms and tour their hop processing facility. During the trip, we sampled an altbier from Widmer, Full Sail's Session Black, IPA, and LTD 03, Chatoe Rogue Single Malt Ale, and everything from Ninkasi's new bomber 4-pack, Radiant Ale, Maiden The Shade, Nuptiale, and Total Domination IPA.

Pete from Beervana Buzz

fresh hops

a mountain of Tettnanger hops

100 lb bales of compressed hops

Following the tour, we were provided a delicious farm to table dinner consisting of fresh yellow corn, red skin potato salad, bratwurst and sauerkraut on rye bread, and a blueberry, peach and pineapple fruit salad. Beer was also provided, of course!

Standing Stone Noble Stout and Double Mountain Vaporizer


For dessert, there were hop brownies topped with icing and sprinkled with hop flakes. It was without a doubt the best brownie I've ever had.

We returned to the hotel late in the evening for the Night of Many Bottles. This is a special tasting event where conference participants provide all the beer, picking their favorites and letting the other attendees try them. There were easily over 100 different beers, of which I tried about 12 before deciding I needed to catch up on sleep.

New Belgium La Folie 2011

North Coast Le Merle Saison & Brother Thelonious

Beer Bloggers Conference

Hi everybody, and greetings from Portland, Oregon! I'm currently relaxing in my hotel room, getting ready to kick off the 2011 Beer Bloggers Conference. There are a bunch of things happening today, including a joint keynote speech by Fred Eckhardt and John Foyston of The Beer Here, a panel on stovetop brewing, and then a tour of local hop fields and dinner courtesy of the Oregon Brewers Guild. After dinner we return to the hotel for the Night of Many Bottles, where participants bring a 6 pack of their favorite beer to share with fellow beer bloggers.

Last night there was a pub crawl and 'gentelman's club' crawl, but unfortunately I didn't make it to either one because my flights were delayed and I didn't arrive in Portland until after the bars were closed. But I kicked things off this morning with Jeff from Huck Fin's Beer Buz with breakfast at The Original.

I had a cup of Stumptown Coffee (black) to wake me up, then started the day right with a glass of Upright Brewing 'Six', a tasty rye beer...

August 9, 2011

Mikkeller Warrior Single Hop

Even though Mikkel Borg Bjergsø wasn't the first person to brew an IPA with only one style of hops, he is possibly the one most responsible for, or at least famous for (among his many other beers) the "single hop" IPA. Warrior is one of ten varieties in his first Single Hop series that also included Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, East Kent Golding, Nelson Sauvin, Nugget, Simcoe, and Tomahawk. The series also included, or was followed by, Mikkeller 10, which was brewed with all 10 hops from the series.

The Warrior Single Hop starts with a thick, fluffy head with aromas of yeast, citrus, raisin bread, cinnamon, and a little earth. Flavors of sweet caramel, grapefruit and muscat are complimented nicely by earth and grass notes as well as a slight tartness. It's incredibly smooth and the carbonation is lively but not biting. Pretty bitter finish.

Mikkeller Warrior Single Hop

I've had the Nelson Sauvin Single Hop a few times before as well and what I like is that each of the beers are different, and that's exactly the point! Besides just being tasty, the Single Hop series is a great way to get familiar with the aromas and tastes associated with specific types of hops. Look for 5 more Single Hop IPA's from Mikkeller soon; Citra, Sorachi Ace, Summit, Apollo, and Bravo.

August 8, 2011

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout

I don't know why, but despite being a hot summer, I've still been craving darker, heavier beers, especially coffee and espresso porters and stouts. The Espresso Stout from Hitachino Nest is a great beer. It pours pitch black, but you can catch a hint of dark brown at the bottom of the glass. Head is pretty thick, and I even backed down on my pour when I realized how much there was going to be. Smells of coffee and chocolate, with a little herbal, grassy note to it. This could be due to the fact that the base recipe is for a Russian Imperial Stout, and they tend to be generously hopped. Tastes like you would expect, and that's not a bad thing. A combination of sweet and dark roasted malts, black coffee and espresso, milk chocolate, plus hints of vanilla and a little cream. Not incredibly heavy, soft carbonation, and a little oily. Finishes bitter and slightly sweet just like espresso, with the tiniest bit of tobacco in the aftertaste as well. It's not perfectly balanced, but I'd say pretty close. Overall, an incredibly enjoyable beer that I will definitely have again.

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout

July 28, 2011

De Dochter van de Korenaar

Back in 2009, I had a beer called Embrasse, a very complex, Belgian strong dark ale. I didn't come across anything more from the brewer, Antwerp-based De Dochter van de Korenaar, until I was reintroduced by Brian Ewing of 12 Percent Imports at Brewvival 2010. I tried the L'enfant Terrible, a delicious sour ale. I was not a huge fan of sours before then, so I credit that particular beer with opening me up to the style. I was unsuccessful finding more of their beers back home. I even asked one of the top craft beer stores in the area if they could order some, which they said they would, but never did (disappointing). During my stay in Asheville, NC this past February, I visited Bruisin' Ales and found what I had been looking for. I grabbed one bottle each of Noblesse, Courage, Bravoure, and L'enfant Terrible.

Five months have passed, and I've gone through a lot of beer (I brought back over $500 worth from my trip). This past week, I finally got to the ones from De Dochter van de Korenaar.

Noblesse is a low-alcohol (5.5% ABV) Belgian pale ale. It has a sweet aroma, with grassy hop notes and a little funk, and is very crisp and refreshing.

Courage claims to be a dark wheat ale, but I thought it was more of a slightly sour brown ale with a hint of cherry.

Bravoure is a tasty dark ale with a rich head. It's more malty than I expected, and carries tastes of raisin and fig, plus a little spice, and also very slight nutty and smoky notes.

Noblesse, Courage, and Bravoure were good, but not amazing. I enjoyed drinking them, but have had other beers I liked more for the same price.

The bottle of L'Enfant Terrible is still in my fridge (I always save the best for last).

July 7, 2011

International #IPADay

Attention all craft beer evangelists, brewers, bloggers, and suds-savvy citizens! On Thursday, August 4th 2011, you are cordially invited to participate in the largest international craft beer celebration and virtual conversation the world has ever seen.

International #IPADay is a grassroots movement to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide through social media. On Thursday August 4th, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice.

#IPADay is not the brainchild of a corporate marketing machine, nor is it meant to serve any particular beer brand. #IPADay is an opportunity for breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer. Getting involved is easy; the only requirements are an appreciation for great beer and the will to spread the word. Anyone can participate by enjoying an IPA with friends, making some noise online with the #IPADay hashtag, and showing the world that craft beer is more than a trend!

Tips on How to Take Part:
  1. Organize an #IPADay event at your brewery, brewpub, restaurant, bar, home, or office (Example: An IPA dinner/cheese pairing/comparative or educational tasting/cask night/tap takeover). Share your events on the official #IPADay forum at
  2. On August 4th, share your photos, videos, blog posts, tasting notes, recipes, and thoughts with the world. Be sure to include the #IPADay hashtag in your posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, RateBeer, Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, Untappd, or any other social media site.
  3. See what other people are saying by searching “#IPADay” on Google, Twitter, etc.
  4. Track down your favorite IPA’s, ones you’ve been meaning to try, and ones you’ve never heard of; share them with friends and share your thoughts with the world.
  5. Have a good time and know that by sharing your experiences online, you’re strengthening the craft beer community at large.
About International #IPADay

Founded in 2011 by beer evangelists and social media personalities Ashley V. Routson and Ryan A. Ross, International #IPADay is the largest grassroots social media-based celebration of craft beer. The goal of #IPADay is to use social media to strengthen the collective voice of craft beer through the simple celebration of beer itself. The success of #IPADay hinges on the passionate voices of beer enthusiasts worldwide and their willingness to share that passion across the social sphere.

For more information on events or how you can support #IPADay, visit


I am really excited about this! I've been thinking about organizing a tasting and food pairing thing for my craft beer drinking friends for a little while now, and this is the perfect excuse to do it. The only drawback is that if I do that, I won't be able to attend of the undoubtedly awesome events that my favorite beer purveyors will probably be having. Perhaps I'll take the day off, visit my favorite beer spots in the afternoon, and do the tasting in the evening. The cogs are turning...

July 6, 2011

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

Sorachi Ace is a relatively new hop variety, originally developed and grown by Sapporo in 1988 for use in its beers. It is a cross between the British Brewer's Gold and Czech Saaz varieties and is distinguished by its strong, lemony smell. The hop gained popularity during the "hops crisis" of 2007-2008 when it was available in small quantities to homebrewers in need of high alpha hops. Today, it is a little more readily available, allowing several major craft brewers to begin using Sorachi Ace for special releases. It seems to be particularly popular in "single hop" settings.

Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace is a Belgian-style saison, although not entirely traditional... in a good way. It's definitely more hoppy, which is fine considering it is meant to show off a single type of hop. The lemon is prominent in the aroma, plus breadiness from the yeast and a very slight hint of alcohol, but there was also something more complex happening that I can't describe. Flavors are of fresh pear, orange, green grapes, spicy lemongrass, and lightly bitter hops. It has a thick head and lively carbonation that continues to the last sip. Finish is crisp and dry. Overall, a tasty and rather interesting take on a saison, and a good showcase of the Sorachi Ace hop.

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

June 27, 2011

Pere Jacques

When I heard that Goose Island had sold the majority stake of their own company to Anheuser-Busch, I immediately went out and bought a bottle or two of everything I could find from their 'Vintage' series (I didn't find Pepe Nero, but will grab one next time I see it). Back in May, I reviewed Sofie, a Belgian style golden ale with a touch of funk. Now I'm on to Pere Jacques, an Abbey ale that I've had before but never reviewed.

Pere Jacques

Pere Jacques pours a murky, reddish brown. The head is thin and dissipates quickly, although a ring of carbonation clings to the edge and leaves nice lacing all the way down. Aromas are of bread and yeast, caramel, cherry, plum and other dark fruits, as well as a hint of port. I even caught a small bit of Cola when I sniffed hard as the head was still kicking about. Flavors are very typical of the Abbey style; raisin bread, figs, rich malts, some spice, cinnamon, and then banana as it warms. It's only slightly boozy, the 8% ABV easily detectable but not overpowering, and you definitely get the port in there as well. Medium bodied and a bit syrupy. Finish is lightly bitter, but like the alcohol, not unpleasant. I had this along with a roasted chicken sandwich with chipotle aioli on multi-grain focaccia, and the Pere Jacques was a perfect compliment to the spice from the aioli... cut right through it. Yet another delicious beer from Goose Island that hopefully won't be ruined by A-B.

June 16, 2011

Flying Dog Tap Takeover

Yesterday, Robin and I hit Frisco Grill & Taphouse in Columbia, MD for a very exciting Flying Dog event featuring 22 of their beers on tap!

I started with the Coffee Stout, which is brewed with Black Dog Coffee. I reviewed it back in January and was very pleased to find it on the nitro tap at Frisco. The nitro gives it an even smoother, creamier mouth feel than it already has from a bottle. There was also more vanilla plus sweeter coffee and milk chocolate notes.

Robin began with a glass of the rare and elusive In de Wildeman Farmhouse IPA. This is an unfiltered American IPA with Citra hops and fermented with saison yeast. In de Wildeman is a tap room in Amsterdam that asked Flying Dog to brew an exclusive beer for their 25th anniversary. Its first appearance in the USA was on April 12 at Churchkey in DC. It is not being bottled for commercial sale in the U.S., although 15 bottles did exist at one point, in 750mL form. It lives up to its classification as a "farmhouse IPA". Aromas of lemon, honey, orange, apple, and pear, with flavors to match along with a light barnyard funk. Absolutely delicious beer!

From here on, Robin and I shared everything.

Imperial IPA Single Hop Centennial
I get excited when I hear the phrase "single hop". I know it's kind of trendy right now, but in my opinion that's not a bad thing. From drinking single hopped beers, I've learned how to better identify aromas and flavors and have an easier time picking the hop varieties present in beers using more than one. Centennial gives you floral aromas and a distinct, earthy bitterness. Flying Dog's Single Hop Centennial reminded me a lot of Founders' Centennial IPA.

Imperial IPA Single Hop Simcoe
I'm a big fan of Simcoe hops, so it's no surprise I liked this better than the Single Hop Centennial. The Simcoe is more sweet and grassy rather than earthy like the Centennial. Orange, some grapefruit, melon, lemon. A little more variety of flavors going on than other single hopped beers I've had. Hides the 10% ABV very well.

Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
Aromas of cocoa powder, mocha coffee, slight hazelnut, and oak. Flavors follow, along with bourbon, black licorice, and a little cinnamon. Definite alcohol bite, but with thick body that coats and warms the throat like really good hot chocolate. Funny... it's almost summer now and I'm still craving darker, often heavier beers.

Woody Creek White
Wit beers are definitely not one of my go-to styles, but I wanted something lighter to go with my 'pale ale corn dogs' and fries. This is a decent example of the style, with typical coriander, orange peel, lemon, etc. Nice, fluffy head that lasts. Dry finish. Refreshing.

Our final beer was Double Dog on nitro. The aromas seemed subtle for a pale ale (or Double Pale Ale as they say), but this was probably due to the thick nitro fueled head keeping things from leaping into the air around the glass. The flavors are definitely not subdued though. Strong malt backbone, rich caramel, molasses, honey, grapefruit, orange, and nutty. It made me crave pecan pie! I'm assuming the 'Double Pale Ale' title refers to the 11.5% alcohol content, the same way 'Imperial' does for stronger IPA's, porters, etc. I loved the variety of flavors and addition of nitrogen that resulted in one great tasting beer with aspects of a pale ale, brown ale, cream ale, stout, and IPA all in one!

In addition to the 7 we tried, there were 15 other Flying Dog beers available:
Backyard Ale
Centennial Single Hop, cask
Dog Schwarz
Doggie Style Pale Ale
Garde Dog
Gonzo, nitro
Horn Dog Barleywine
In-Heat Wheat
Lucky SOB Irish Red
Old Scratch Amber
Raging Bitch
Road Dog Porter
Snake Dog IPA
Tire Bite Golden Ale

On an additional note, Flying Dog recently announced plans to pull distribution from 13 states. This includes states like Alaska, which brings in a very low volume and shipping logistics are difficult, and Washington and Oregon, strong craft beer states that are already heavily saturated with and supportive of their own local, northwest breweries. CEO Jim Caruso stated, "..our primary focus would be [Maryland and] the contiguous states around it," and went on to say, "We can't afford to be short on beer in our own backyard." So expect to see a lot more events and promotions from Flying Dog, along with (hopefully) more rare and limited releases. Cheers!

June 9, 2011

Founders Breakfast Stout

I'm not making this complicated. Founders Breakfast Stout is insanely delicious. It is what it says on the bottle. Double. Chocolate. Coffee. Oatmeal. Stout. A couple more things that aren't on the bottle. Creamy. Luscious. The chocolate and coffee flavors are rich but not too much so. I should be allowed to drink one every morning before work. Actually, I could do that anyway and no one could stop me, the only problem is supply. Founders doesn't distribute in Maryland, but it's not a year round offering anyway. I have only one real complaint, and it's with myself, and it's for only buying one bottle. September can't come fast enough. And by the way, that is breakfast in the background - roast beef, fried egg, and cheese on an English muffin.

Breakfast Stout