Friday, April 30, 2010

304. Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire IO Saison

This marks our fourth beer from Jolly Pumpkin—we’ve previously enjoyed Bière de Mars, E.S.Bam, and La Roja. Thank you, Ron Jeffries, for your awesome work. You make every day a little brighter.

Described on the label as an ale brewed with rose hips, rose petals, and hibiscus, Baudelaire IO pours a hazy pinkish copper with a thick mousse-y head. The nose is floral, perfumy, spicy, and even a bit sweet. Let’s just say there’s a lot going on. Starting soft, Baudelaire IO begins with dry candy sweetness before moving into a clean floral middle with light fruit undertones. The finish is dry with a pleasant citric tartness and more of the floral characteristic of the middle. With a medium body and a soft, refreshing mouthfeel, Baudelaire IO is clean easy drinking. The carbonation starts very soft in the front, but becomes bright and effervescent in the final third of the beer, brightening and lightening the whole. Tart, lively, and very very drinkable, Baudelaire is both well-crafted and delicious. Here’s hoping we can find some more of this, although I’m not gonna hold my breath.

My version of ol’ crazy octopus head...

From the bottle: “Let’s face it, Beer is an art form that excites our senses ad stirs our imagination. This truth gave Jolly Pumpkin an idea. We’d create a limited series of beers by throwing caution to the wind and following our creative muse no matter where it leads. This is how we discovered Baudelaire Beer. A romantic world, dimly lit by distant memory, yet alive and inspiring us to pursue beauty at any cost. In the world of Baudelaire, label and beer come together in character and taste, influencing the drinker to take upon the spirit of creativity and thin the veil between life and art. Let the muse guide you.”

I hope that this doesn’t mean that the giant fly on the woman’s head on the label has something to do with this beer. That would be creepy.

ABV: 6.8%
Batch 389


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hefeweizen Brewday

The final installment of the summer Hefeweizen trilogy. While it did take too long to get this from the secondary to the bottle (hence the re-infusion of blood orange tea), it was just about the right time to help refill my rapidly dwindling supply in the refrigerator. So I guess we’ll call it a wash. And this beer could almost make it into the Yard Beer series—I found the tea down at the 2nd St. Market a couple of Saturdays ago (I was initially using it to make sun tea).

70. Blood Orange Tea Hefeweizen
Added to brew pot, brought to boil (75 minutes):
4 lbs. Alexander’s Wheat Liquid Malt Extract
1 lb. Breiss Bavarian Wheat DME
8 oz. Turbinado cane sugar
1 oz. German Hallertauer leaf 4.1% AA

w/ 5 minutes to go:
1.35 oz. Blood Orange Fruit Tea

Cooled wort and pitched on Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen pancake (3rd batch)

Brewed: 4/29/2010
Secondary: 5/8/2010; @ 1.008
Bottled: 7/24/2010 with 5 oz. white sugar; also made a small tea infused with Blood Orange tea to bulk up flavor—chilled and added at bottling (so it took me too long to bottle this—like you’ve never done the same thing)

OG: 1.037
FG: 1.008

Tasting Notes: Pours the color of bread crusts and is cloudy with a minimal but lasting white head. Nose is mostly banana, although lighter than many hefeweizens, with some slight citrus aromas in the back along with light graininess and malt sweetness. Not much in the way of clove phenols. Flavors start with a bready maltiness, moving into light banana fruitiness and citrus before closing with light sweetness and a slight touch of chalky mineral flavor across the back of the throat. No hop flavor discernable. The beer has a soft, creamy, and slightly chewy mouthfeel; the body is medium to light and has a medium carbonation that has a bit of a bite in the final third, helping to dry out the palate and cleanse the mouth. This results in a spritzy finish as the beer concludes. Interesting and enjoyable, although without the blood orange tea components I was hoping for in the body—the main result from the tea seems to be the light mineral flavor in the finish and possibly some of the drying components in the finish (although I am less certain about this). The breadiness mixed with wheat flavor is the strength of the beer; a better balance between banana and clove might help, but the slight banana esters mixed with the malt breadiness does give the beer an impression of banana bread (which is quite enjoyable), especially with the slight chewiness in the mouthfeel. Coupled with the light ABV, the beer is very drinkable—I am already looking forward to planning my next round of hefeweizens for the coming summer.

303. New Holland El Mole Ocho

This marks our third or fourth beer from New Holland, depending on how you want to count ’em; we’ve previously had Dragon’s Milk and Golden Cap Saison, and I also had Envious as a bonus beer (which is kinda like a bonus beat, except that it is drinkable rather than toe tappin’). El Mole Ocho is another beer from New Holland’s High Gravity Series.

Pouring a crystal clear burnt sienna, El Mole Ocho has luscious ruby red highlights that shine through the glass onto the table. The nose is chocolate and dark fruit—most distinctly cherry—and some Bazooka Joe bubblegum aromas that bring up the rear. El Mole Ocho opens with sweet maltiness followed by chocolate; the middle has dark fruit flavor—again, mostly cherry, like with the nose, as well as a bit of chili bite. The finish is chalky with cocoa and a decent lingering burn, specifically in the back of the throat. There is none of the coffee flavor described on the label that we can discern. El Mole Ocho has a medium to heavy body with a good amount of warmth, mostly from the dried chilies, and there is a bit of chewy stickiness to the mouthfeel. The warmth starts mostly in the middle, and runs through into the end, lingering in the back of the throat. This beer is good, but not so much what we expected—we were hoping for more rich chocolate, coffee, and chile spiciness, and we didn’t anticipate the large amount of dark fruit flavors. Probably the best description of this beer is that it is good, and we would happily drink it again, but not if we wanted a dark chocolate and chile beer.

From the bottle: “Our exploration into the flavors of mole, the legendary sauce of central Mexico. Malty aroma and rich, cocoa-laden laced with an invigorating tinge of dried chilies and coffee. Pairings of poultry, red meat, dark chocolate.”

The New Holland website says pretty much the exact same thing...

ABV: 8.0%
OG: 22° P


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

302. Eisenbahn South American Pale Ale

This is our first beer from Eisenbahn/Cervejaria Sudbrack in Blumenau, Brazil. It is also our first beer from both Brazil and South America. Sort of a trifecta of firsts, eh?

South American Pale Ale pours a crystal clear dull gold—you know, the color of all those gold doubloons you used to dig up on the beach during summer vacation in Florida? Oh wait, that was a Hardy Boys book I read once. The head is a pretty minimal thin white that quickly disappears, and the nose has some butter and toffee with no discernable hop aroma. S.A.P.A. starts bright and sweet; there is a bit of diacetyl that gives this beer a British character before moving into the bitterness of the middle. The finish is light and bitter with a bit of sweet butteriness, and also pretty clean. S.A.P.A. has a light body and a low level of carbonation. Elli compares this beer favorably with Old Speckled Hen, and we might actually have our first beer of the year that Elli likes more than I do—while I think it is good, the body is a bit watery, and it has something of that distinctly “foreign beer” taste that strikes me as not to fresh. Nonetheless, a solid and easy-drinkin’ beer.

From the Eisenbahn website: “Eisenbahn’s South American Pale Ale is well-balanced, with sweet wholesome malt, and earthy complexity, and a uniquely spicy aroma that results from a special, and secret, blend of Old and New World hops.”

ABV: 5.1%


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

301. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2009

Our third beer from Goose Island, although this one rates far far better than Summertime, which was featured as a part of our Summer Beer Leftover Trifecta. Well, at least according to me it does. The other Goose Island beer was the Honker’s Ale.

Bourbon County Stout pours an inky black that is thick and dark with a minimal light brown head. Add any other appropriate descriptors that you feel you need to convey the darkness of the beer—Greg Hall, Goose Island Brewmaster, chooses “black hole,” which is good. And since we can’t top that, we’ll stick with thick and dark. The nose is full of creamy oak and bourbon, with vanilla and caramel sweetness jockeying for position behind the first two. Bourbon County Stout starts thick and sweet; the dark caramel and roastiness build a solid front before giving way to vanilla and oaky bourbon flavors in the middle, and finishing with burnt sugar and charred wood flavors plus a decent amount of alcohol warmth that lingers on the mouth, throat, and chest. Bourbon County Stout has a thick, rich, and creamy mouthfeel. It’s also hella chewy. Elli says it is too sticky and cloying; I agree it is a bit much currently, but I like this beer a lot more than she does. There is also a good amount of alcohol heat and burn—the alcohol does taste a bit young, so we’re guessing that a bit more aging (“up to 5 years in the bottle” as indicated on the label) would certainly help lessen the young alcohol flavor. We’re also guessing that further aging might smooth out the body, both in terms of thickness and marrying of flavors. Nonetheless, a delicious and excellent beer. Elli is less forgiving, but I do like me some Bourbon County Stout. I do wish we could find it in bottles smaller than a 22 oz. size, as powering through that much 13% beer does take some doing. And as you can guess, Elli is not so interested in helping me out with this beer in the future.

From the bottle: “A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip more flavor than your average case of beer. Cheers!” Greg Hall, Brewmaster

From the Goose Island website: “Brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer. A great cigar beer.”

ABV: 13%
IBU: 60
Malts: 2-Row, Munich, Chocolate, Caramel, Roast Barley, Debittered Black
Hops: Willamette
Bottled on 10/09/09


Monday, April 26, 2010

300. Smuttynose Baltic Porter

We’ve hit the big 300 with another from Smuttynose’s Big Beer Series, making this our fif Smuttynose. We’ve run through Imperial Stout, Shoals Pale Ale, Finestkind IPA and Farmhouse Ale. I can only choose one...

guess who’s back...

Smuttynose Baltic Porter pours an inky thick chocolate brown with a light brown head. The nose is redolent of dark fruits, chocolate, and rich malt sweetness; it does get sweeter smelling as the beer warms. The flavors begin with a big rich sweetness mixed with chocolate in the front; the middle adds coffee and dark fruit to the mix, with raisin and currant the most obvious fruit flavors, and possibly a bit of cherry in the background. Baltic Porter then moves into roastiness and more coffee in the finish, ending rather clean. While there is a bit of lingering roastiness, the finish does exhibit the lager qualities of the Baltic Porter style. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy and the body is medium to heavy. Baltic Porter has medium carbonation that helps lighten the rich body on the palate, and also contributes to the clean finish. More chocolate richness does emerge as the beer warms, although for some reason this seems to lighten the body slightly. Overall, a smooth, drinkable, and delicious beer. We’ll be scoring a couple of extra bottles of this to throw in the basement—we’re guessing that much like the Alaskan Baltic Porter, this one will get much better with a little bit of age on it.

From the bottle: “The Smuttynose Big Beer Series: big beers in big bottles, released seasonally in very limited quantities. Share one with your comrades!”

Oh, the flavor.

From the Smuttynose website: “Indigenous to northern Europe, Baltic Porters historically stem from the shipping of British porters to the Russian hinterland. Unlike their British cousins, Baltic Porters are often brewed with lager yeast, which is the tradition we follow. Big & bold, with flavors of coffee, dark fruit & raisins, this black beer is smooth as a chocolate swirl.”

ABV: 8.7%


Sunday, April 25, 2010

299. Boulder Mojo IPA

Mo·Jo (mō’jō’) n. 1: a magic spell or charm; magical power 2: herbaceous ale that summons hop attacks.

More beer from Boulder Beer Company. Which is a good thing. Our sixth beer from Boulder: we’ve previously had a drink-off between Singletrack Copper Ale and Pass Time Pale Ale, and tried Hazed & Infused, Obovoid and Flashback.

MoJo pours a hazy golden copper with a thin but creamy white head and a nose that is equal parts biscuity, bready, caramelly, and hoppy. Opening with biscuity and bready malt flavors, MoJo transitions into a hoppy and bitter middle, with floral and citrus hop flavors interspersed with the hop bitterness and a touch of malt sweetness. The finish has a return of crisp biscuit flavor along with a good dose of lingering spicy bitterness. MoJo’s mouthfeel is dry and chewy, and the carbonation is medium, helping to create the dry crispness of the finish. There is an excellent balance between the malt and hops, creating a very drinkable and enjoyable beer that smoothly balances both the American and English IPA traditions. Kudos to Boulder.

From the bottle: “Our journey through the Looking Glass takes a sharp turn beyond the traditional IPA. Introducing MoJo India Pale Ale, brewed in the style of the English who first shipped their ales to India...big, bold and fearless. Light in color with intense hop aroma, MoJo’s ‘mojo’ lies in the power of Amarillo hops. Fresh and crisp with a slight citrus finish, this brew has become a staff favorite.”

From the Boulder website: “Pale in color, but packed with flavor, MoJo reflects the perfect balance of hop bitterness and malt character. The unique Amarillo hop creates a big citrus flavor with an ultra-crisp dry finish.”

ABV: 7.2%
Malt: Pale, Wheat, and Caramel 20L
Hops: Amarillo & Centennial


Saturday, April 24, 2010

298. BBC Heine Brothers Coffee Stout

Another big bottle from Bluegrass Brewing Company; we’ve previously sampled Rye IPA 75, Brandy Barrel Aged Queen’s Knickers and American Pale Ale.

Heine Brothers Coffee Stout pours a dark chocolate brown with a thick tan head that slowly winds its way down to minimal coverage. The nose has that coffee extract aroma—slightly synthetic—and a bit of roastiness. Starting with soft roasty sweetness, Heine Stout moves into clean coffee flavors in the middle, and finishes with some more of that coffee, a bit of sweetness, and a touch of lingering roastiness. The beer is medium bodied with medium to low carbonation that does rise a bit towards the end. The mouthfeel is smooth and clean and possibly a bit too even across the larger profile. Heine Stout could use a bit more roastiness through the middle to back up the coffee flavors, and some of the silkiness that you get with a thicker oatmeal stout. No real downsides to this beer, but not terribly exciting either.

From the Rate Beer website: “Bluegrass Brewing Company has brewed a winter warming coffee stout using a Heine Brothers organic, fair trade coffee grown in Chiapas, Mexico. It will be available for purchase at Bluegrass Brewing Company on Friday, February 9th while supplies last. ‘I just tasted the stout - it has a wonderful balance between coffee and stout flavors,’ said Bluegrass Brewing Company head brewer, Jerry Gnagy. Heine Brothers co-owner Mike Mays and head coffee roaster Todd Stanis collaborated with Gnagy to choose the Mexican coffee and give it a medium roast and a coarse grind to best bring out the flavor. ‘This Mexican coffee has a medium body and an almost chocolatey finish that will hold up well in such a hearty beer,’ said Stanis. ‘Should be a perfect match.’ This oatmeal stout is brewed with English roasted barley and caramunich malt which gives a roasty and slightly sweet malt flavor. The addition of flaked oats lends creaminess and body to this pitch black ale. The coffee will be added to the hot wort (unfermented beer) after boiling. This will extract good flavor without adding bitterness or burnt flavors. Freshly brewed coffee will also be added to the beer after fermentation is completed and the beer is ready to be served. This will give the freshest coffee flavor and aroma.”

ABV: 6.5%


Friday, April 23, 2010

297. Two Brothers Domaine DuPage

Our most recent sampling in a long line of delicious Two Brothers beers; we had this on tap at the Trolley Stop. Served to us in a pint glass, Domaine DuPage is a dark copper with a persistent but thin white head; the nose is a mixture of brown malt and caramel sweetness. Domaine DuPage starts sweet and bright on the palate; the carbonation foregrounds the sweetness of the front. The middle is dry & lightly sour but crisp, and it finishes a bit sticky on the palate, although still dry. Domaine DuPage has a medium to light body that carries a bit of creaminess, and the carbonation is sharp and bright—almost biting, in fact. French and Belgian characteristics are present in the beer—the drier and thinner body with slightly bigger carbonation. As Elli observes, it has something of that “juicy saison taste” that imparts a sweet and fruity element to a much drier beer. While we know Domaine DuPage is a good beer, this one, for whatever reasons, was not that stellar. So we’ll chalk this one up to experience and try it again later.

From the Two Brothers website: “Inspired by the Brothers time living in France, this food-friendly ale is deep amber in color, with a toasty and sweet caramel start. It finishes with just enough hops to clean off the palate. Bon appetit!”

ABV: 5.9%
IBU: 24

I also came across this story on “50 Beers to Try Before You Die.” I guess even CBS is ready to cash in on the craft beer industry, which pretty much makes it about as mainstream as you can get. The list is a bit tame, but then it is being aimed at the mass market, so you wouldn’t want to get too esoteric, especially if you are trying to expand the palate of middle America. So I’ll offer at least a small nod to CBS for making the gesture.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

296. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

The latest and most recent Bigfoot from Sierra Nevada (well, besides yesterday’s beer); we got a growler of this from the Party Source last week when I was passing through to get some new ink work done at Ink Well Tattoo in La Grange, KY. Including yesterday’s beer, our previous Sierra Nevada beers include 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken’s Ale, Kellerweis, Celebration, Torpedo Extra IPA, Anniversary Ale 2009 and Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2008. As well, I would like to point out that I am still not completely convinced of Sierra Nevada’s sincerity...

Bigfoot 2010 is a deep rich copper that pours with very little head; the nose is malty, with just a touch of hop bitterness, but nothing very distinct. The front is very malty—big and sweet and caramelly, and the middle is equally big with the bitterness, although not much in the way of distinct hop flavor. The end is a partial combination of both the front and the middle: the sweetness returns, and concludes with a good dose of lingering bitterness. You can almost taste the youngness of this beer—the big caramel and big bitterness do need some time to marry and mellow to make this beer more linear and drinkable, although the bright fresh flavors are very enjoyable. While the carbonation is a bit low (well, it was a growler), some more age is gonna be the key to bringing this beer together. Nonetheless, a delightful beer as it currently stands

From the Sierra Nevada website: “This year marks the 25th release of Bigfoot. Our award-winning barleywine boasts a dense, fruity bouquet, an intense flavor palate and a deep reddish-brown color. Its big maltiness is superbly balanced by a wonderfully bittersweet hoppiness.”

ABV: 9.6%
OG: 23° P
FG: 6° P
IBU: 90
Malts: 2-row Pale and English Caramel
Bittering Hops: Chinook
Finishing Hops: Cascade & Centennial
Dry Hops: Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook

Our friend Jeffery also brought over a bottle of Nøgne Ø #100 to drink along with the Bigfoot. #100 has a fruity raisin nose, and a good share of fruit in the body; the front is fruity, while the middle has chocolate and brown malt flavors along with some bitterness. The carbonation was rather low, and there was some slight warmth from the alcohol, although it was very well-balanced for a 10% ABV beer.

From the Nøgne Ø website: “Our 100th batch, brewed for the enjoyment of the brewers, but popular demand forced us to release it commercially. This malty, yet light bodied ale has a massive hop bitterness. Most enjoyable in a comfortable chair in front of a roaring fire.”

ABV: 10.0%
OG: 23.5° P
IBU: 80
Malt: Maris Otter, Wheat, & Chocolate
Hops: Columbus, Chinook, & Centennial hops


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

295. Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz & Ken’s Ale

This marks our sixth beer from Sierra Nevada. We’ve run through Kellerweis, Celebration, Torpedo Extra IPA, Anniversary Ale 2009 and Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2008.

30th Anniversary pours an opaque black—there are few red highlights in the corners of the glass, but not much light is making it through this one. The head is a thick tan, and the nose is a roasty rich malt with chocolate. The beer begins with a rich chocolate and light coffee flavor, moving into dry and roasty malt flavors in the middle, and finishing with light alkaline chalkiness accompanied by a bit of lingering alcohol and warmth at the end. Creamy, soft, and chewy on the mouth; the carbonation is medium, and helps build the soft and chewy mouthfeel. The beer does taste a bit young, which is not too surprising; the alcohol warmth and flavor at the end would most certainly be smoothed out after a year or two, and the chocolate in the front would probably also dry out a bit. Nonetheless, an interesting and delicious beer—it’s too bad we only could get our hands on one bottle of this, as we’d love to see how it tastes in about another year. [Note: second bottle scored and stored. Check back with us later.]

From the Sierra Nevada website: “Fritz Maytag. Owner of San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company, is regarded as the founding father of the craft brewing movement. Fritz agreed to guest brew this very special ale in honor of our 30th anniversary. As a nod to the dark ales and stouts that seduced both Fritz and Ken in the early years, we bring you this pioneering stout, a rich roasted ale, perfect for aging, and worthy of your finest snifter. Enjoy!”

ABV: 9.2%


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

294. Heavy Seas Loose Cannon 420 Cask

This is our first beer from Heavy Seas, which is brewed by Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, MD. Loose Cannon 420 Cask is a special cask with four five gram bags of fresh hops in the cask. Oh yes. We had this out of a growler that we brought home from the Trolley Stop; while I did have a pint or two before I got this home, who’s counting?

Hello beautiful...

Loose Cannon 420 Cask pours a hazy copper with a minimal (very minimal) white head; the nose is a spicy bright floral hoppiness—the cask hops give this beer a lovely aroma. Flavor starts with a soft caramel sweetness followed quickly by hop flavor that continues through the middle and into the end. Hop flavors include spicy, floral, and citrus; the bitterness starts in the middle and runs through the end as well, and lingers past the finish. The hop flavor is fresh tasting and both slightly sharp and young. The end features a return of the sweetness from the front, but mostly the hoppiness and bitterness dominate the conclusion, along with a bit of spicy earthiness that draws out past the finish. The mouthfeel and carbonation are soft, and the body is medium; the low carbonation gives the beer a smooth, even drinking feel on the palate, and allows the hop flavors to shine through. This is an excellent beer on cask; the dry hop additions in the cask shine in connection with the soft carbonation. We’d like to see more cask and firkin beer in general, and more casks of Heavy Seas beers in specific.

From the Heavy Seas website (although this is just for the regular Loose Cannon; couldn't find much on the Loose Cannon cask besides this): “Burnished gold with a rich citrus hop aroma, it is wonderfully drinkable with a big hop flavor. We’ve knicknamed it Hop3 (hop cubed) ale to reflect the enormous amount of hops in this beer: over 3 pounds per barrel! It is hopped 3 ways: in the kettle, in the hop back, and dry hopped.”

Does this make the Loose Cannon cask Hop4? I mean, the cask-hopping has to come into play somewhere, doesn’t it?

ABV: 7.25%


Monday, April 19, 2010

293. Fantôme Black Ghost

“That weird taste is getting stronger...”

More Fantôme means more good drinking for us. This is our fourth beer from Dany Prignon; we’ve already tried Brise-BonBons!, Saison D’Erezée Printemps, and Biére de Saison Pissenlit. Here’s to the Fantôme!

Black Ghost pours a murky caramel brown with an ivory head; the nose is herbal with hints of chocolate and cocoa and light sweetness running around the edges. Opening with bright herbal flavors accompanied by chocolate and some bright yeast esters and spiciness, Black Ghost turns to candy sweetness in the middle along with a continuation of the herbal and spicy flavors. It ends with herbal bitterness and cocoa dry chocolate and/or alkaline flavors, leaving something of a bright uptick in the mouth. Black Ghost has a medium body and medium carbonation, although it is a bit spritzy in the middle to final third. There is a good amount of dryness and an alkaline quality on the palate. While Black Ghost is interesting and good, it is not as good as the other Fantôme beers that we’ve had. The herbal characteristics do tend to dominate, especially as the beer warms.

From the Shelton Brothers website: “Once described as a Belgian Irish-style stout, Black Ghost has undergone lots of changes over the years. It now bears no resemblance whatsoever to a stout, and brewer Dany Prignon has begun adding spices to the beer. What they are is anybody’s guess . . . . the Fantôme confounds once again.”

ABV: 8.0%


Sunday, April 18, 2010

AHA NHC East Region Beer Judging

This weekend was the American Homebrewers Association National Homebrewing Competition East Region, which was held at Weasel Boy Brewing Company in Zanesville, OH. I was down there judging and stewarding, and generally making myself obnoxious. Would you really expect anything less from me?

Hard at work

I drove down Saturday morning with Dave Williamson—we left, as Dave worded it, at “0’ dark thirty.” In other words, much much earlier than I normally see the light (or dark) of day. Well, unless I’ve stayed up from the night before, but that’s a whole another issue. During the morning session, I stewarded for Category 22, which is Smoke-Flavored and Wood-Aged Beer, and during the afternoon session I was part of the large contingent judging Category 18, Belgian Strong Ale.

Category 22 consists of three sub-categories:
22A. Classic Rauchbier
22B. Other Smoked Beer
22C. Wood-Aged Beer

The possibilities are endless in this category—anything goes as long as it has either smoked malt or wood-aged characteristics to it.

Category 18 is a bit more traditional:
18A. Belgian Blond Ale
18B. Belgian Dubbel
18C. Belgian Tripel
18D. Belgian Golden Strong Ale
18E. Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Of the nine beers in the flight I judged (there were 40+ beers overall between 5 groups of judges), we got at least one of each.

Afterwards, Dave and I took a (much needed) nap in the hotel before the final banquet, which was also held at Weasel Boy. After the dinner and the award announcements, everyone either took off or settled down for a night of drinking and tall-tale telling of the kind that might be indicated by the picture to my right. Anyone want to take a stab at what is going on in this photo? Bonus points awarded for the best answer, although said points will not count towards the Ninkasi Award...

292. Barley’s Blurry Bike IPA

This marks our second beer from Barley’s in Columbus, OH. I picked a growler of this up on the way back from Zanesville. Our last beef from Barley’s was their Rye IPA. Yummy.

Blurry Bike IPA pours a hazy bright copper with a funky white head—Elli was slightly disconcerted by the head of the beer. The nose is a combination of earthy, floral, herbal, and grassy hop aromas and crystal malt sweetness. Starting with a dry malty base, Blurry Bike has just the right touch of sweetness in the front to compliment and lead into the hop flavors and bitterness in the beer’s middle. The middle has a good dose of drying bitterness and grassy and herbal hop flavors with a light touch of citrus—the bitterness is both fresh and slightly raw on the palate, providing a crisp, clean bite. Blurry Bike has a medium body and carbonation bite, although it is a bit soft on the mouth. There is a decent amount of puckering and tongue curling from the hops. Good and fresh tasting across the board—a very delicious and enjoyable beer, one that you could happily drink all night long. This would be an awesome beer on cask (which I am sure that Barley’s has done)—the soft mouthfeel would work nicely with the sweet sweet cask action.

From the Barley’s website: “This is the second in our ‘Bike Series.’ Blurry Bike IPA may be the most refreshing IPA we’ve brewed. This IPA is brewed exclusively with Columbus hops for a citrus note that resonates clean and crisp. Go for a ride!”

ABV: 5.8%
OG: 1.058
IBU: 79.66
Malt: British Pale and American Crystal 20
Hops: American Columbus


Saturday, April 17, 2010

291b. Weasel Boy River Mink Mild Brown

Weasel Boy Brewing is located in Zanesville, OH; I had this on tap after my day of judging beer (see here) for the AHA NHC East Region. The brewery has some pretty cool space for hanging out and event activities, which was probably why they chose to hold events here.

River Mink Mild Brown pours a light brown—it looks somewhat like weak light coffee with a slight haze to it. The carbonation was light and pretty minimal; by the time I returned to my seat, it was down to just the ring. The nose had a light cola and brown malt nuttiness to it, and the opening flavors corresponded; there was some brown malt flavors to start with a light flat cola flavor and a delicate but interesting malt sweetness in the middle accompanied by low levels of nuttiness. River Mink Mild Brown has a clean finish with a lingering residual sweetness; the carbonation is medium to light, creating a soft mouthfeel with some creaminess to it. It is a bit brighter on the palate at the finish—there is a slight rise through the course of the beer. An excellent and drinkable beer, and a very good session beer for the evening—light, but also sufficiently complex and enjoyable.

From the Weasel Boy website: “This medium bodied brown beer features a smooth malt flavor with hints of chocolate and roast and just enough hops for balance. A popular style in English pubs, this is an easy drinking beer with a full flavor and a lower alcohol content.”

ABV: 3.8%


291a. Julius Echter Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel

Since I was in Zanesville plying my beer judging craft, Elli was forced to go it alone this evening. Her choice was Julius Echter Hefe-Weisbbier Dunkel from Würzburger Hofbräu in Würzburg, Germany.

Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel pours a hazy murky brown with gold highlights; it has an expanding pillow-y off-white head and the classic banana-clove nose shared by most German wheat beers. The mouthfeel is slick and creamy with a soft luxurious texture. Starting with a sweet fruity front with apple accompanying the banana clove flavors, Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel moves into a rich and nutty malt flavor in the middle before finishing slightly bitter and spicy. An interesting beer, but not super exciting across the board. As with most things German, skilled craftmanship can only get you so far.

The Würzburger Hofbräu website has information on their regular wheat beer, but nothing on the dunkelweizen. Sorry, Charlie!

ABV: 4.9%


Friday, April 16, 2010

290. Three Floyds Brian Boru Old Irish Red Ale

Since we’re drinking Three Floyds again, I do feel compelled to note that I got my Golden Ticket in the mail recently for Dark Lord Day. Delightful. And sorry to rub it in. This is our sixth beer from Three Floyds; previous victims include Gumballhead, Robert the Bruce, Dreadnaught, Black Sun Stout and Blackheart IPA. I do also need to note that the figure on the label is about a half step off of being one of the Elysian muscle-bound roid rage dudes (better detail).

Brian Boru pours an Irish Setter red with a thin ivory head and a flat caramel biscuit nose. The flavors begin with the corresponding counterpart to the nose; there is a dry caramel with biscuit and an almost cracker-like flavor that encompasses the front of the beer; the middle is marked by a drop in sweetness and some light roasted flavors followed by a dry ending that has a touch of bitterness. There is a bit of lingering flavor—either hop bitterness or a light roastiness—we’re not completely sure which it is. Brian Boru has a smooth, dry mouthfeel with a bit of creaminess; the carbonation is medium to low, which helps accentuate the dryness of the beer on the palate by not overshadowing or canceling out the malt flavors. Good but not terribly exciting—this is certainly one of the more normal offerings from “It’s Not Normal” Three Floyds.

From the Three Floyds website: “Ireland’s first and last Ard Ri (high king) of the whole Gaelic race, Brian Boru was born in Munster, Ireland around 940. Brian Boru’s mother was killed by Vikings when he was a child. He spent his life uniting the Irish tribes to become the first king of Ireland only to be killed at Clontarf on Good Friday 1014 putting down a rebellion by the king of the province of Leinster. Brian Boru Irish Brand Red Ale is a very rich ale with toffee, caramel, citrus and pineapple notes. Brian Boru is brewed with several malts and Amarillo hops. February release.”

ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 40


Thursday, April 15, 2010

289. Rivertown Dunkel

Our second beer from Rivertown Brewing Company, the newest brewery in Cincinnati, OH; we got a growler of this from the Party Source across the river in Newport, KY (I guess technically it is in Bellevue, KY, but whatever). Our last beer from RBC was Hop Bomber Pale Ale.

Dunkel has a rich malty sweet nose; it pours a cola/iced tea color with a minimal white head. The flavor starts with rich malty sweetness, and moves into an earthy breadiness; there are toffee and melanoidin flavors in the middle, and the finish is clean and lager-like with a hint of bitterness and bit of residual malt sweetness that lingers. Dunkel has a soft chewy mouthfeel; the carbonation is very minimal, but it works well with the beer. Clean and light bodied, with an enjoyable and complex malt profile—this beer does all the right things in the right places, accentuating both the lager and dunkel characteristics of the beer seamlessly. Nice job, Rivertown.

From the Rivertown website: “Our Dunkle Beer is a Munich style dark lager beer. It has a surprisingly light body with mild roasted flavor and caramel undertones. We use the freshest imported and Domestic barley, Noble hops, and natural water. Best served at 42ºF in a tall beer mug or stein.”

ABV: 5.0%


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hefeweizen Brewday

Part II of the Hefeweizen trilogy. This version was inspired by the plethora of blooming dandelions in my yard and around the neighborhood—which I ruthlessly plundered to make this beer—hence it is also the newest member of the Yard Beer series as well. For those of you unfamiliar with the Yard Beer series, it features items I can procure from in or around my neighborhood. It was inspired in part by reading Stephen Buhner’s Sacred and Healing Herbal Beers. Past Yard Beers have included a Blackberry Wheat, a Mulberry Wheat, a Mulberry Cider, a Wild Wet Hop Ale (well, those we actually found on one of the local bike paths, but you get the idea), and a Dandelion Ale.

69. Dandelion Hefeweizen
Added to brew pot, brought to boil (65 minutes):
4 lbs. Breiss Bavarian Wheat DME
1 oz. German Hallertauer leaf 4.1% AA
2.5 oz. fresh dandelion flowers

w/ 5 minutes to go:
4 oz. fresh dandelion flowers
5 grams coriander
1 gram grain of paradise

Cooled wort and pitched on Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen pancake (2nd batch)

Brewed: 4/14/2010 @ 68° F
Secondary: no secondary—straight to bottling
Bottled: 4/29/2010 with 7.0 oz. Bavarian Wheat DME (62-3° F)

OG: 1.030
FG: 1.007

Tasting Notes 7/17/2010: The goal was this beer was to see what a whole bunch of dandelions flowers would do when added into the brew; while the yeast choice might have impeded some of the more subtle aromatics and flavors, the beer does contain elements that I would attribute to the dandelion flowers. But let’s not get too far ahead of things. The beer pours the color of fresh baked bread, is hazy in appearance, and the nose is predominantly a slight sweetness that smells more barley than wheat (no real grainy or wheat characteristics) with lower levels of what I would describe as a dry bitterness or biscuit-like component with a touch of creamy and chalky vegetal aroma that has subtle banana hiding in the background. While I’ll admit that sounds nasty, the nose is actually quite nice—although not very hefeweizen-esque—I just lack the sensory descriptors to make my description sound more positive. Flavors open slight sweet with a touch of graininess that quickly moves into a chalky, almost mineral-ly bitterness, which I am guessing is from the dandelion flowers (I used the whole flower, including the green parts surrounding the petals—I wasn’t plucking all those flowers). The finish has a touch of sweet breadiness in both the flavor and mouthfeel before ending with a light lingering chalky bitterness that has slight fruit and banana flavors dancing lightly across the back of the tongue. The body is medium and the carbonation is as well—it is bright and spritzy on the palate, but also gentle. All in all I’d call this beer a success, even lacking as it does many of the more distinctive characteristics of a regular hefeweizen—traditional banana and clove flavors are more subdued, but the floral bitterness from the flowers and the light mineral components offer interesting elements of their own. The beer is light and easy drinking, and goes down well. I’ll be interested to see how it stacks up against the Blood Orange Tea Hefeweizen.

288. Silly Pink Killer

From Brasserie de Silly in Silly, Belgium. Pink Killer has a zesty, citrus nose; the yeast esters work well with the grapefruit to give the beer a tart and spritzy aroma. The beer pours a pinkish yellow (hence the name) with a light white head. Starting dry with candy and citrus, Pink Killer moves into a sweet middle with light grapefruit flavors before ending dry and tart (almost a bitter, drying tartness) with more of the grapefruit as a lingering aftertaste. Light bodied with lively, effervescent carbonation; there is also a good amount of pucker via the grapefruit and citrus flavors. For Elli, the sugary sweetness is the dominant flavor, while I get more of a balance between the sweet and tartness. Pink Killer is very soda-like; it could easily pass for a Jarritos flavor via the sweetness and bright carbonation. Nonetheless, Pink Killer is an interesting take on the Belgian Wit, one that is perfect for hot afternoons on the porch.

From the Silly website: “Fruity and thirst-quenching, sweet yet not sickly, Pink Killer is a beer based on malt, wheat and pink grapefruit, which explains its very unique colour and the hint of bitterness typical of this fruit, in turn quenching the biggest of thirsts with a flavoursome taste.”

ABV: 5.0%