December 3, 2012


I saw the word LAVA and in the milliseconds that passed before I read the second line, my mind said, "Wouldn't it be cool if this beer were brewed in Iceland? I've never seen a beer from there." I smiled to myself when I read the second line, Product of Iceland. Then I got even more excited when I saw the style - smoked imperial stout.

Located in the fertile lands of south west Iceland, Ölvisholt Brugghús was founded in 2007 by two neighboring farmers with a passion for craft beer. LAVA is an immensely enjoyable beer. Surprisingly, the initial aroma isn't what the style would indicate, but instead is more dark fruit and a hint of red wine. It sort of reminded me of a dark Belgian quad. The flavor delivers the things you would normally expect; bitter dark chocolate, black coffee, roasted nuts and dark malt. The smoke is not overbearing, really more a part of the aftertaste. And thankfully it's not that meaty sort of smokiness that ruins many brewers' attempts at smoked beers. LAVA comes full circle, as that little bit of smoke gives way to rich, sweet, pipe tobacco. The beer is also incredibly smooth and hides its 9.4% ABV very well.

The beer's name is inspired by the active volcano Hekla, from which occasional eruptions can be seen from the brewhouse door on Ölvisholt farm.

Ölvisholt Brugghús LAVA

September 21, 2012


When the weather starts to cool down, I start to crave doppelbock. For years I've relied on Ayinger Celebrator, but this year I decided to try something new - Great Divide's Wolfgang, their newest seasonal offering.

It pours deep brown with clear, ruby red edges. Thick head with big bubbles that don't die off too quickly. Big malty sweetness on the nose and a good bit of toasted billion-grain bread and mixed nuts as well. Taste is also sweet, with lots of caramel and baked brown sugar plus flavors of cherry and plum. Body is velvety smooth, thick and sticky enough to keep your tongue coated from the moment you finish a sip to the moment you take the next one. Finish is kind of earthy and sweet, a marriage of light tobacco and toffee. It's a little sweeter than Celebrator, and also lighter, with less of that "liquid bread" feel, but it's still damn good. Try it!

Great Divide Wolfgang

September 18, 2012

32/50 Kölsch

Do you know what Kölsch is? For starters, it's deceivingly light in color and body but packs way more flavor than you might expect. It's also a bit of a hybrid, made using top fermenting yeast at warmer temperatures like an ale, but still undergoing cold conditioning, or lagering, like a pilsner. Kölsch originates from Köln (Cologne to us gringos) in the Rhineland region of Germany. Foremost in my own mind, it is an under appreciated style, but it's one of the tastiest, most refreshing beers out there. COAST 32/50 Kölsch is a perfect specimen, and in my opinion one-ups traditional ones like Gaffel and Reissdorf in both aromatics and flavor.

Pours deep, pale yellow. Floral hops on the nose along with some hay and grass, bread and a touch of sweetness from the malt. Light bodied with lively but somewhat soft carbonation, almost creamy, so it's very smooth and easy to drink. Taste follows the aroma, with more wheat and dense white bread notes, a bit of lemon, and some honey and white wine towards the end. Just the right amount of hop bitterness balances out the citrus and sweetness.

My favorite part about 32/50 Kölsch is that it's only 4.8% ABV. It makes an excellent session beer and is available year round. Oh, and in case the map on the bottle isn't a dead giveaway, 32/50 refers to the latitudes of Charleston, SC and Köln, Germany. Cheers!

COAST 32-50 Kolsch

August 28, 2012

American Blonde

As I frequently do when picking out new beers, I chose The Perfect Crime AMERICAN BLONDE based on looks. I liked the simplicity of the typewriter font and the tiny female silhouettes scattered across the wallpaper-like background. The side of the bottle read, "Imported by Twelve Percent", which is always a good sign, and the cryptic description included the word collaboration. Other than that, I didn't have any clue about its origins.

Upon returning home, consuming this beer outweighed the need for further research, and so I grabbed a glass, a bottle opener and my camera and got to work. Golden orange in color. The aroma is of fresh white bread and a bit of banana. Flavor starts with light toast and goes right into white grapes and some peach. It has a rich, herbal bitterness and bit of spice. Soft on the palate, not sharp but still very effervescent. Thick, lacy head with great retention.

The Perfect Crime American Blonde

And now for the backstory. Almost a year ago, Brian Strumke of Stillwater posted an update on Facebook simply saying, "the Perfect Crime." Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Evil Twin Brewing and Brian Ewing of Twelve Percent Imports both "liked" the update. AMERICAN BLONDE, along with EUROPEAN BLONDE, are the two beers that have resulted from their collaborative efforts. Perhaps there will be more...?

August 21, 2012

Upright Brewing Five

I've been trying to write this post for an hour. The words just aren't flowing. So forget it, this will just be another one of those quick and easy posts.

Upright Brewing. Five. Beautiful, simple artwork. It's a clear, rich, orange color. Tastes kind of like a saison had a baby with a crisp, bright pale ale. A bit of honey and some green grapes. Bitter, dry, grassy hop flavors. Slightly tart, good carbonation and dry finish. Plus, it's only 5.5% ABV so you can drink a whole 750ml bottle by yourself!

Upright Brewing Five (glass)

One of the many reasons that any craft beer lover should visit (or live in) Portland, Oregon.

Upright Brewing Five (bottle)

August 10, 2012

Hop In The Dark

You've all heard the term black IPA. It's pretty common these days. Just hearing the name, you pretty much know what to expect, and there are many great examples that live up to those expectations. But there is another style that is often confused with black IPA. It's not as well known, but it's the style from which black IPA originated. It tends to be a bit more balanced and complex and is viewed by many as being a superior brew. Even the name sounds more awesome - Cascadian Dark Ale.

Deschutes Brewery's Hop in the Dark is an excellent example of the CDA style. It's got a huge grain bill that includes pale, crystal, chocolate and black malt, as well as chocolate wheat and flaked and toasted oats which not only impart their toasty flavors but also help create a smooth, creamy body and mouthfeel. The blend of six hops adds a nice burst of pine and citrus, and you get notes of chocolate and coffee towards the end. The body is surprisingly light, and it finishes semi-dry. It's a delicious beer, with all the flavors that a Cascadian Dark Ale should have. I picked this up at Saraveza Bottle Shop in Portland, OR. Deschutes doesn't distribute any farther East than Missouri right now, but if you want to try something similar check out Stone's Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, which you can find almost anywhere.

Deschutes Hop In The Dark

Black IPA vs. Cascadian Dark Ale

The idea of making darker versions of traditionally lighter-colored styles isn't new, but when it comes to Cascadian Dark Ale, there's no doubt that West Coast brewers embraced the idea and pioneered something unique despite its ties to other styles. The term black IPA gets used pretty often, but the name is not interchangeable with CDA. In many cases, black IPA is as simple as what the name implies; an IPA that's black in color. The right amount of black or chocolate malt can darken any beer without drastically changing the flavor. And so it is that some, but not all black IPA's miss out on the deeper flavors of CDA.

Cascadian Dark Ale should be characterized by medium to strong dark roasted malt flavors including caramel, chocolate and coffee, balanced by a prominent Northwest hop presence in aroma, flavor and bitterness. That's really the key; the hops. You'll see lots of Cascade, Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, Nugget and Simcoe used, and possibly several others. Black IPA does not require the same malt flavors or hops to be used, and that's where the two styles become distinct. Both Cascadian Dark Ale and black IPA were recognized as part of a new category, American-style India Black Ale at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival. The name is a little ambiguous, but they needed something that would include both styles but not pinpoint one in particular. There's still a bit of gray area, but once you try a few of each kind you'll start to notice the differences.

And while we're on the subject of things that aren't normally black, you can also check out the Heavy Seas/Devil's Backbone Land Ho! collaboration, or BrewDog/Cambridge/Stone Juxtaposition, which are both referred to as "black pilsners", otherwise known as Schwarzbier in traditional terminology. Ah, semantics...

July 2, 2012

Summertime Brews

I could never do my typical "fancy" photos and longer reviews for every beer I drink. It'd be a full time job; one that I (unfortunately) would not get paid for. Sometimes I just don't feel like thinking or writing too much about a beer and other times I just don't have my camera with me. So that's why every now and then I pick a handful of photos from my iPhone and post them with some brief thoughts. I picked these because I found them to be good for warm weather; all of them refreshing, none of them over-the-top hoppy, and even the stout is light bodied and crisp. Cheers!

Allagash Fluxus: A very, very delicious Bière de Garde; highly recommended.

Fort Collins Double Chocolate Stout: Well balanced with subtle coffee and sweet chocolate; a good one to try if you're not usually into the chocolate stout thing.

Saint Somewhere Pays du Soleil: Refreshing, citrusy, funky, slightly tart saison; high ABV (8%) for the style.

Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen: Great example of the style. Not sure if it's available in the states, but if you see it, try it.

Stillwater Premium: I like many of Strumke's beers, but this one baffles me. "Post Prohibition style ale" brewed with pilsner malt, corn and rice; heavily hopped and fermented with Brettanomyces. In so many words, it's really fancy malt liquor. But that didn't stop it from being tasty!

Heavy Seas Davy Jones Lager: Aaaaaaarrrrr! Buy this beer!

Avery Eighteen: I got this because I saw "dry-hopped" and "rye". Interesting combination of flavors, very earthy and dry.

New Holland Rye Hatter: A good amount of rye but not quite enough hops to balance it out. Not bad, just not amazing. Also, I love the artwork in the "Hatter" series.

Flying Dog Underdog: The name refers to the low 4.7% ABV contained within. I'm happy to see more breweries adding "session" beers to their portfolios. Underdog is a lager on steroids; rye malt adds a little bite (can you tell I'm a rye fan yet?), a little wheat smoothes it out, and a hefty serving of hops helps it stand out in the lager crowd. I really enjoy this beer, and I'm glad I can enjoy at least a few in one sitting. The cans make them portable and easy to clean up, but if you can, pour into a glass (always better that way).
No comments:

June 26, 2012

Black Cauldron

What is it that makes an imperial stout an imperial stout? Is it just the alcohol content? Is it a good dose of earthy hops and dark roasted malt or hints of smoke? Is it the flavors of coffee, espresso, dark chocolate, or dried fruit? Is it barrel aging with notes of vanilla, bourbon, whiskey or rum?

The answer is simply, yes. It is any or all of these things, and Grand Teton's Black Cauldron combines them all. You get a quick little alcohol burn up front, bourbon with some vanilla, but it's quickly pushed aside to make room for semi sweet dark chocolate, a bit of coffee and a touch of smoke. The beer is slightly slippery and viscous in the mouth, but finishes dry. Aftertaste is very pleasant, with more chocolaty sweetness and baked fruit like cherries or figs. Light, prickly carbonation and relatively low ABV (7.5%) make it surprisingly easy to drink even in warmer weather. Great beer to serve as a "liquid dessert" and definitely a nice one for winter time.

I really dig the artwork on the bottle as well. The beer is named for Yellowstone's Black Dragon Cauldron, where hot water geysers blast up through black mud. Purchased as a 4-pack from Charleston Beer Exchange in South Carolina.

Black Cauldron

June 13, 2012

Pacific Jade

Pacific Jade is a relatively new hop variety developed and released by the New Zealand Hop Research Program in 2004. It is currently featured in Westbrook's Single Hop rye pale ale series. Color-wise, this beer is on the lighter side for a pale ale. The aroma is very sweet and floral. Due to the hop's soft bitterness, the beer finishes at just 35 IBU. There's no detectable pine, but instead lies heavily on the citrus side, with a lot of orange, clementine and a bit of lemon in the flavor. The added rye malt gives the beer a spicy, peppery character that rounds things out a bit more. In a small way, it sort of reminds me of a saison but without the funk. Even though it's a bit on the sweet side, it's very refreshing. It paired very nicely with some homemade sushi, balancing well with shrimp tempura inside and the nori (dried seaweed) outside.

Pacific Jade

Westbrook Brewing Company of Mount Pleasant, SC makes some really delicious beers, including their year-round IPA and White Thai (Belgian style wit), Covert Hops (black IPA), and the insanely awesome Mexican Cake, brewed with cocoa nibs, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, and habanero peppers. Be sure to stop by their tasting room if your travels bring you to the Charleston/Mt. Pleasant area!

June 4, 2012

A few good porters

Sometimes it's best not to over think things. Case in point, these two porters: People's Porter from Foothills and Avery's New World Porter. Don't think, just buy them if you see them.

Foothills People's Porter Avery New World Porter

May 22, 2012

Faster, Bigger, Better, Bolder

Awesomely delicious for a spiced, adjunct beer. Faster Bigger Better Bolder is a collaboration between The Bruery and Dogfish Head. It's basically a blonde ale brewed with two kinds of rice and fermented with sake yeast, but it gets its unique flavor from a Japanese spice mix called schichimi togarashi. The mix typically consists of cayenne, ginger, black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, nori and orange peel, but the orange peel was replaced by whole kumquats that were pulverized and added to the boil. This is a very refreshing beer, with plenty of carbonation and weighing in at a surprising 8.25% ABV (though you wouldn't know if it didn't say on the bottle). You get the light body from the rice, citrus from the kumquats, some spice from the ginger and pepper, and a dry, bittersweet finish from the sake yeast. Looking at all the ingredients, it would be easy to see how easily the beer could become terribly unbalanced, but none of of the flavors are too strong and none too weak. The beer paired very nicely with the katsudon I had with it, and I imagine it's a great partner for any mild, "meat & rice" sort of dish.

Faster, Bigger, Better, Bolder One dollar from every bottle sold was donated to help rebuild Japanese breweries and homes affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

April 14, 2012

Ten Fidy

Not going explain this one. I probably wouldn't need to anyway. You just have to go out and try it. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy is an imperial stout that gets a 100 on RateBeer. It's canned and it's awesome. Go get you some.

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

March 14, 2012


I know it's not the season for pumpkin beers, but I've had a bottle of Southern Tier Pumking sitting in my fridge behind a wall of other beers for the past few months and I finally got around to cracking it open. Think of this as an advisory post, an advance notice for the beer you must try next fall (and each one subsequent) if you haven't tried it already. Over the years I've tried a handful of pumpkin beers including Dogfish Head's Punkin, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, Harpoon UFO Pumpkin, Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin, Heavy Seas Great Pumpkin, and a few others I can't recall... but in the end Pumking is, well, the king!

Pumking is what you would get if you took the freshest pumpkin and made it into a pie with a homemade graham cracker crust, sprinkled some crushed pecans on top, covered it with fresh whipped cream, grated a little cinnamon or nutmeg on it... then made it into a liquid... with alcohol in it. Yeah - it's that good.

Southern Tier Pumking

The only other pumpkin beer that equals Pumking is The Great'er Pumpkin from Heavy Seas. It's oak-aged, and I had it on cask once, right along side Pumking, and I couldn't decide which I liked better. An oak-aged version of Pumking was released in December 2011 in very small quantities, draft only, and hopefully it will be available in bottles later this year.

March 9, 2012


A lot of breweries are staying local these days, turning to farmers and artisans for grains, hops, coffee, honey, chocolate, or whatever. Hopivore from New Holland features Cascade and Brewer's Gold hops sourced through the Michigan Hop Alliance. I bought a bottle because I like the name, the artwork and the fact that local ingredients are being used.

Keeping in mind that this is a "harvest" ale and not a pale ale or IPA, I was still disappointed by this beer. Pouring it didn't give off any citrus, pine, or floral notes, which I expected at least a little bit of considering the fresh hops used. Instead it smelled of dried grass and muted herbs and grain. Flavor was a combination of toffee and nuts and dried grass again. Mouthfeel and finish were also pretty dry. This beer just didn't have much going on.

I'm not a brewer, but I'm guessing that the hops being used wet and so soon after harvest is part of the reason why the typical hop flavors aren't present. I love dry-hopped beers, but in most of those cases I think brewers start with a base beer that can stand on its own without being dry-hopped. I think Hopivore could benefit from an improved recipe that is more flavorful by itself before wet hops are added.


March 6, 2012

All Day IPA

Founders Brewing Company says this is the beer I've been waiting for. They say it will keep my taste satisfied but my senses sharp. And they also say it's the perfect reward for an honest day's work. Well, they're right.

All Day IPA serves up a nice range of flavors, with orange up front and grapefruit towards the end, with a bit of lemon and pine mixed in. It's very refreshing, with a light but crisp carbonation and a clean finish. That's all balanced out with a biscuity, toasty malt backbone. The best part is (and I think this is the part we've really been waiting for), it's only 4.7% ABV. Now you see inspiration behind the name.

In no way have the folks at Founders sacrificed anything in creating this lower alcohol IPA. This is a welcome change to a style that can typically be well over 6% ABV. Not to mention, with just 42 IBU's, it won't pummel your palate. I was really excited that I was able to get a six pack of this while in Asheville, NC a couple weeks ago (thanks Bruisin' Ales). When Founders comes to Maryland*, All Day IPA is going to be a regular in my refrigerator.

Founders All Day IPA

Trivia: Founders won a silver medal in the session beer category at GABF 2010 for the All Day IPA recipe, but at the time it was called Endurance IPA Jr.

*Founders plans to begin distributing in Maryland sometime in 2012. A little more info here.

March 4, 2012

Bitch Creek

Grand Teton is one of those breweries that, for me, just seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Makes sense though. Except for Massachusetts and South Carolina, they don't distribute any farther east than Illinois. But as you know, I'm in South Carolina quite a bit. So, on my most recent trip I picked up a six pack of Bitch Creek ESB. Grand Teton is another brewery that's put a spin on ESB. In this case it's an Extra Special Brown, sort of a beefed up 'double ESB', same idea as a double IPA I suppose. Anyway, forget the analysis of the name - this is a tasty beer. Bitch Creek is bottle conditioned and 6% ABV. It's earthy, malty, nutty, toasty, everything a good brown ale should be. There's a touch of coffee and a little caramel sweetness to balance things out.

Grand Teton Bitch Creek

If you happen by any place pouring or selling anything from Grand Teton, I highly recommend giving them a try. A couple of my other favorites are Persephone and Wake Up Call. Cheers!

February 28, 2012

Brewvival 2012

I'm in danger of sounding like a broken record, but I'll say it again anyway... Brewvival is the beer festival to go to. First of all, it takes place in one of the coolest places in the country - Charleston, SC. Plus, all the beer is purchased by the Charleston Beer Exchange, so the breweries are more invested in the event and brew or age batches of stuff you can't often get anywhere else, if at all. I will say, it was more crowded this year. A whole lot more people were in line before the gates opened at noon and once the festival started the number of attendees didn't seem to dwindle. Folks definitely used the entire 6 hours to enjoy themselves. From what I've heard somewhere between 2,000 and 2,200 tickets were sold. But none of that kept me, Robin or our friends from having a good time. Brewvival is all about good beer, good food, and good people, and it delivers all of that consistently. I'm just hoping this is the biggest the festival gets, because the venue (the field next to Coast Brewing) is probably at the maximum crowd it can handle while maintaining a manageable experience.

So here are my favorites this year:

Brooklyn Brewery brought along Local 1, Sorachi Ace and Brewmaster's Reserve "Mary's Maple Porter". Local 1 and Sorachi Ace are top notch (Local 1 was one of my favorite beers of 2011) but the maple porter didn't do it for me.

Evil Twin's Cherry Pop, an imperial stout aged in rum casks with cherries:

Sexual Chocolate from Foothills is a must have. They brought a 2010 and a 2012 batch, and I had the 2010.

Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam was manning a very steampunk looking tap device. The Fullsteam lager is good, but Summer Basil was the highlight here.

Great Divide brought along kegs of Old Ruffian and Petty Theft. Old Ruffian is officially my new favorite barleywine. It isn't overly sweet or as alcohol-forward as many barleywines, but instead has a nice hoppy punch up front. Petty Theft is an interesting sour/wild ale; sweet but with an almost vinegar like kick to it. I didn't like it much on it's own but it'd be great with french fries (beer-centric restaurant and bar owners take note!).

Great Divide also brought along their entire Yeti line to pour from bottles. The Espresso Oak-Aged is my favorite.

When I tried Pays du Soleil and Saison Athene on their own, I wasn't totally convinced, but then I tried the cask of Saint Somewhere's Fierte du Sud and I was very pleased.

If you haven't tried Southern Tier's Pumpking, you're missing out. For Brewvival, they rolled out an oak-aged version that takes the original over the top.

Terrapin aged their tasty Monk's Revenge Belgian-style IPA on cabernet barrels.

Unfortunately there were no banana split stout floats from Thomas Creek this year, but they did randallize Up The Creek Extreme IPA through Sorachi Ace hops!

A cask of Victory Headwaters Pale Ale tries to stay cool.

Stillwater's "Holland Oats", brewed with toasted oats and appelstroop (apple syrup) in collaboration with Emelisse, could have been just a gimmicky name, but it wasn't - the taste is as awesome as the name, if not better!

Tied with the Oak-Aged Pumpking, Old Ruffian and Cherry Pop was Black Note from Bell's, which was a blend of their Double Cream and Expedition stouts aged in bourbon barrels.

See you there next year!

February 24, 2012

The Road to Brewvival

It's become tradition... every year before Brewvival, Robin and I take a week to hit our favorite spots south of Maryland.

We take I-81 South through Virginia and stop off at Due South BBQ in Christiansburg. It's our favorite BBQ place. Get the pulled pork or brisket with sweet brown sauce and a side of fried green tomatoes. They also have the most delicious hushpuppies ever.

For the first day or two we stay in Asheville, NC at Sweet Peas Hostel. We always buy beer from Bruisin' Ales to take home. There are a ton of places to eat, but if you're there for only one night, make sure to go to Cúrate and stop at Thirsty Monk afterwards for some tasty Belgian beer.

This year we added Greenville to our trip so we could visit our friends Daniel of It's A Fucking Beer and Rhett Smith. Dan works at The Community Tap, so we stopped in to see him after having a delicious breakfast at The Bohemian. We left with a growler of Grand Teton Wake Up Call.

That afternoon we headed a little ways out to Pendleton to hang with Rhett, but headed back downtown to meet Dan at Trappe Door for dinner. After that we all went upstairs to Barley's (same owners as Trappe Door) for "dessert", a.k.a. Westbrook Mexican Cake.

On Monday morning Robin and I headed down to Charleston. We relaxed at the beach house for a while before heading to Cypress for an early dinner.

Tuesday was our "big night out". We treated ourselves to delicious food and drinks at Husk Bar and the Husk restaurant right next door. They are separate buildings on the same property. Make sure you have reservations, but arrive early to get drinks at the bar. The bartender will check you in and you can take your drinks with you when your table is ready. Drink-wise, I highly recommend a Fire In The Orchard. As for dinner, the crispy chicken skins are a must, as is the chess pie for dessert. You really can't go wrong with any of it though.

Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island is a must for either lunch or dinner.

Our friends Nikki and Justin arrived on Wednesday and the four of us went to Two Boroughs Larder for dinner. I had the Bowl-O-Noodle... no explanation necessary...

After that we headed to Burns Alley for a round and then over to the pre-Prohibition inspired Gin Joint where I had a Gin Gin Mule (Beefeater and ginger beer) and then... a Pappy Van Winkle 20 year. Let me tell you, this is the bourbon to have. I have tried lots of bourbon and it will be hard to have any other kind after having Pappy's.

** If you want to try Pappy's, or if you've already had it and love it and want to have it again, make sure you go to The Gin Joint and not Husk Bar. It's $65 at Husk but only $35 at The Gin Joint for the 20-year. Even $35 may seem like a lot for one small glass of bourbon, but if you're willing to pay the price for this rare spirit you might as well find the best price possible.

Oh yeah, you'll find this on the back of the door of the unisex bathroom at The Gin Joint:

"Drunk Octopus wants to Fight You"

Two more friends, Jeff and Trevor arrived late Wednesday night. On Thursday morning while everyone was still sleeping, Robin and I drove downtown to Glazed doughnut shop and got an assortment for everyone for breakfast. Everything is delicious, but you shouldn't miss this one:

The "Maple Bacon"

So, without going into shit-ton more detail, here are a few more places to visit while in Charleston.

Butcher & Bee - Delicious sandwiches as well as this delightful non-alcoholic beverage...

The Griffon - Our favorite dive in downtown Chucktown

Terrapin Hopsecutioner (courtesy of The Griffon)

Blind Tiger - Another dive, great for lounging outside, but just hope you get good service as it can be shoddy sometimes (we seem to get lucky on weekdays when it's not too crowded)

Goat Sheep Cow - If you like cheese and meat, go here, enough said.
Charleston Beer Exchange - If you like beer, this is the place to go. They're also the co-host of Brewvival, which is the whole reason we come to Charleston every February.

Closed For Business - One of the newest craft beer bars in the area, very cool vibe and decor, great service, great food, and 45 drafts.

Bull Street Gourmet Market - Half gourmet grocery store and half deli, stop in here for tasty stuff for cooking at home or a quick sandwich to go. They've also got a nice selection of craft beer and wine if you're in a "one stop" sort of mood.


February 22, 2012

Ruthless Rye

I love rye beers, and as delicious as they all are, there are some (for whatever reason) I just can't drink loads of in one sitting. Sierra's Ruthless Rye is not like that. This is one of those beers a person could keep stock of at all times. The flavor profile is undoubtedly Sierra. Ruthless Rye is like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale with slightly less hops and rye malt added in place of some of the barley. What you get is very tasty, copperish-red colored beer that is refreshing and easy-drinking. Founders Red's Rye P.A. has long been my favorite rye beer (and one of my all time favorites, period) and Ruthless very could could give Red's a run for its money.

Ruthless Rye is one of Sierra's newest beers, and I don't know if it's limited/seasonal or not, so grab some when you see it. You won't be disappointed.

Ruthless Rye

Flying Dog Wildeman Farmhouse IPA

Not too long ago, Flying Dog made a special 25th Anniversary beer for Bierproeflokaal In De Wildeman in Belgium. It was an IPA with Citra hops, fermented with saison yeast. It was very delicious. Flying Dog's new Wildeman Farmhouse IPA uses a slightly different recipe. It's their first new addition to the year-round lineup since Raging Bitch. It is a decidedly different recipe, because I am not as much of a fan of this as I was of the original, which I was fortunate enough to have at a special Flying Dog event at Frisco Tap House in Columbia, MD. The new Wildeman is good, more saison-like than the original, sweeter, and more unbalanced. I characterize the original In De Wildeman ale as being a "bright" IPA, while Wildeman is more saison with extra hops. It's not bad, just too different from the original to impress me.

Wildeman Farmhouse IPA

February 8, 2012

Don't worry, I'm alive.

It's been exactly 3 months since I posted anything. I've been waiting for my camera to be repaired (it's on its way back now) and honestly, I just haven't been drinking nearly as much beer this winter as I normally do. Maybe that's a good thing, or maybe it's not. Whatever the case, once my camera gets here I plan on getting back into the swing of things. In the meantime, here are some of the beers I've been drinking since last we met...

Great Divide Hibernation Ale: My go-to fridge beer (meaning I always have some in stock) for the past few winters. It's very well balanced and has a good amount of alcohol to keep you warm. Figs and raisins, a little nutty, earthy hops, and a touch of spice. Damn tasty.

Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale: Lagunitas messed up their batch of their regular holiday beer, Brown Shugga, and so this was the solution. What they came up with is the best IPA I've ever had. First of all, the aroma is incredible. Sticking my nose in the glass was like sticking my nose into a handful of fresh hops. It's super smooth, probably from the oats used, and has a nice spice and breadiness to it, probably from the rye. The combination of the malts also helps adds some complexity that nearly perfectly balances out the citrus and pine from the hops. Like I said, best IPA I've ever had.

Thornbridge Bracia: 'Bracia' is the Celtic name for a drink once brewed in Iron Age Europe using cereal grains and honey. Thornbridge uses dark Chestnut Honey along with a diverse group of malts and hops to produce a delicious beer with flavors of chocolate, light coffee, espresso, and spicy black licorice. This was a bottle of Robin's (Good For The Palate) but I wish now that she had bought two, because this would be a good one to age.

Sixpoint Diesel: Not sure if this is a stout or a black IPA, but I'd say a little bit of both. Less hoppy than most black IPA's and definitely more malty, but thicker, richer, and creamier like a stout. Either way, it's good stuff.

Nøgne Ø Imperial Brown Ale: Chocolate, dark roasted malt, nutty, with a bit of coffee and caramel.

Great Divide Belgian Yeti: Pretty good. Noticeably different from the other Yeti varieties, obviously from the Belgian yeast used, but just didn't quite hit the mark for me when compared to the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti (my favorite of the Yeti series).

Ass Kisser Porter Pounder: Delicious smoked porter. Not over the top with the smoke.

Elysian Bifrost Winter Ale: Not bad. Reminded me a bit of Bell's Winter Ale but with slightly less sweetness and hops.