Saturday, July 31, 2010

396. de Glazen Toren Saison d’Erpe-Mere and 12: Huckleberry Wheat

And the decadence continues. The Brooklyn Flea is right around the corner from Adam and Jenn’s place. After perusing the spoils of basements from all over the greater NYC area, we dined on lobster rolls, wood-fired pizzas, and buffalo jerky. Jenn also went with the grilled cheese. Oh, and I can’t forget the porchetta sandwich. Must remember that.

After our self-inflicted food comas, we retired a while to recuperate. And since I had brought along several deuce-deuces of my fine homebrew products to sample (after all, who doesn’t travel with beer?), we decided to pull out the Huckleberry Honey Wheat beer I brewed a little over 2 ½ years ago. Ah, aged beer. It’s been over a year since I sampled any of this batch, and that year has been very very good to this beer. Let’s just say that I’m sad this beer is on the verge of extinction. Crisp, tart, dry, and the oxidation that has developed works well with the huckleberry flavors. I need to remember to score myself some more of that huckleberry honey next time I am out west. Scoring pounds of fresh huckleberries is gonna a tad more difficult...

12: Huckleberry Honey Wheat
8 oz. Rahr 2-row Pale
4 oz. Durst wheat
8 oz. Dingeman’s Biscuit
8 oz. Weyerman Pale
8 oz. Maris Otter

Mashed @ 150° F for 45 minutes
Sparged with 1 gallon of 170° F water

Added fluid to brew kettle, brought to a boil (60 minute) and added:
4 lbs. Alexander Wheat Malt
2 ¼ lbs. Huckleberry Honey
8 oz. Belgian candy
1 oz. German Hallertau pellet

w/10 min. to go:
1 oz. German Hallertau pellet
1 tsp. Irish Moss

Cooled wort, racked to bucket, and pitched Wyeast 3942 Belgian Wheat

Brewed: 9/28/2007
Secondary w/fruit: 10/6/2007; added 3 lbs. frozen and crushed huckleberries
Secondary: 10/26/07; @ 1.009
Bottled: 11/04/2007

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.008

Saison d’Erpe-Mere...

So if all of this wasn’t enough, we headed off to Prime Meats in Brooklyn for dinner. Nothing like a dozen oysters, steak tartare, and a wild mushroom risotto. Plus, they had de Glazen Toren Saison d’Erpe-Mere on tap. That’ll round out dinner just about perfect. Dee-licious. Oh, and Brouwerij de Glazen Toren is in Erpe-Mere, Belgium. Belgium is to saison like beer is to tasty. Saison d’Erpe-Mere has a spicy bubble-gum ester nose. While it was delicious across the board, I recall the nose. That, and I’m still not taking notes. Suck it up and deal.

From the Brouwerij de Glazen Toren website: “Bitter in the nose like citrus, dry and sweet bitter in the mouth, long gradually spreading bitter aftertaste.”

ABV: 6.9%

The wild kingdom took a hit today, what with all the various creatures we ate. Alas, my hedonistic run is about to be closed.

And where o’ where is the fish-ball man? My visit to Clinton Hill is not complete without your delicious repast, oh fish-ball man...


Friday, July 30, 2010

395. Ommegang Zuur and Brooklyn Kats

Today’s wandering tour of New York with Adam included a stop at the New Museum to see the Brion Gysin: Dream Machine exhibition (which was phenomenal), lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen, a quick matinee of Exit Through the Gift Shop, meeting up with Jenn, Stephen, and Stacy at d.b.a. for some beer sampling, and finally dinner at a restaurant whose name currently escapes me. So much culture, so little time...

We had our first beer of the day at Katz’s Delicatessen; listed as Katz’s Ale, it is made by Brooklyn Brewing. So pretty much a good call right of the bat. While the server didn’t know exactly what kind of beer it was, the easy money bet would be an American Brown. Whatever it was, it went perfect with the hot pastrami sandwich.

Adam in the background...

After a brief respite to take in Exit Through the Gift Shop—which, might I add, is a fantastic film—we wandered over to d.b.a. to meet up with Jenn as well as Stephen and Stacy, some more graduate school friends who have ended up in the greater NYC area. While I sampled the Pretty Things Baby Tree, and it was delicious, a quad on a warm afternoon doesn’t sit so well. Plus, the Ommegang Zuur was hard to resist—I mean, come on. Ommegang AND sour? Hot-diggety dog. I also got to try the Blaugies Saison D’Epeautre again, this time on tap, but I didn’t want to rub it in.

Ah, the big board.

I couldn’t find any descriptions of Brooklyn Katz’s Ale on the website, although I did find these pearls of wisdom from a drunk and surly Adam Goldfarb.

From Stan Hieronymus’s Brew Like a Monk website: “The Brewery Ommegang sour beer mentioned in the previous post now has a name: Ommegang Zuur. Larry Bennett, the minister of propaganda, provides some details about the beer brewed in collaboration with Liefmans in Belgium: ‘It’s a blended Flemish Sour brown. It’s a blend of two Liefmans beers: Oud Bruin, which is open fermented and then aged 6-8 months, and Liefmans Cuvee Brut, a new, fairly dry, kriek-style beer coming from Liefmans. The Cuvee Brut begins with Oud Bruin, then sits on cherries and is aged for a year. It’s then blended with more Oud Bruin and Goudenband.’”

Go Banksy!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

394. Sixpoint Righteous Rye and Sweet Action

A nice mellow vacation would fit the bill
So I’ll just be chillin’ in good ol’ Clinton Hill...

Tonight’s escapades include something of a mini Sixpoint marathon. Adam took me down to the Brooklyn Public House for dinner, and lo and behold: lots ’o Sixpoint on tap. Color me served. With beer. Both were delicious. But I’m still not taking notes. You’ll have to beg better than that, my pretties. I did find all y’all some nice descriptions from the internet, however.

From an interview with Shane Welch: “Righteous Ale – a unique style all its own. This beer is made with a significant proportion or rye malt, which lends a distinct sharpness. I ferment it with a blend of yeast – the Belgian Dubbel yeast and our IPA yeast – which adds an extra dimension of complexity. A small contribution of chocolate rye lends a distinct nuttiness. The second beer by Sixpoint to receive a cult following. 8.4% ABV, 64 IBU.”

From the same interview: “Sweet Action – a hard one to describe, simply because it doesn’t fit into any particular style. It’s made with Pilsner and Pale Malts, but is hopped with only noble hops. It’s fermented with a Belgian yeast that provides a dry spiciness. Look for a unique orange taste underneath it all. 6.9% ABV, 33 IBU.”

The ABV listings are all over the map for these two beers, so I’ll leave it at that. Plus, Sixpoint is soon to be launching a Mad Scientists Series. Word!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

393. St. Feuillien/Green Flash Bière de L’Amitié

Ah, the collabo. Seems like everyone is doing it nowadays. Which is a good thing—spread that beer knowledge and share that beer experience. And with Green Flash willing to head east and cross the pond to Belgium to visit St. Feuillien, the world just got a whole lot more interesting. Because while the domestic collabo is good, the international collabo is all things to all people. And yes, you can quote me on that. We’ve previously tried beer from both breweries: from St. Feuillien we’ve tried the Saison and the Belgian Abbey Ale, while with Green Flash we’ve had Hop Head Red Ale.

Bière de L’Amitié pours a lightly hazy bright gold—we can see through it, but there is some slight cloudiness. The head is white and mousse-y, and laces the glass rather well. The nose has bubblegum (Bazooka Joe, to be specific) and creaminess, along with spicy phenols that are lightly clove-like and spicy. Which is just a fancy way of saying that it smells very Belgian. Bière de L’Amitié starts slightly sweet in a candy-like way with some juicy flavor coupled with fruity esters and spicy phenol flavors across the back of the tongue. The middle dries out on the palate, and has a fair amount of bitterness, especially in relation to the drop in sweetness. There is a slight touch of alcohol warmth in the turn to the finish that sits on the tongue, further drying out the beer on the palate, although the beer does finish a slight creaminess in both the flavor and mouthfeel. As well, there is a bit of lingering dryness and bitterness on the tongue after the creamy finish passes, leaving a pleasant and lightly fruity taste. The carbonation is bright and effervescent, helping to dry out the beer, while the body is pretty light—while there is some alcohol warmth, the body is far lighter than your normal 9.5% ABV beer. In fact, while the label refers to this as a “blond Belgian collaboration ale,” it does have some saison characteristics to it, specifically with the dry body and mouthfeel coupled with some of the aromatics. The complexity and nuance of this beer made for a great drinking experience—Bière de L’Amitié is a study in subtlety and enjoyment. I wish we could find some more of this so that we could both enjoy more of it in the short run, and throw a couple of bottles in the basement to see how it ages. It should go without saying (although I’m still gonna say it) that this beer is a Top 10 best contender for the year. So delicious.

From the bottle: “St. Feuillien’s centuries old brewing traditions combine with Green Flash Brewing Company’s cutting edge brewing techniques to form our first collaboration brew: Bière de L’Amitié (Friendship Brew). A blond Belgian collaboration ale, brewed with St. Feuillien’s traditional yeast and spices. For a modern twist, we add rye malt, wheat malt, and American Amarillo hops. At the crossroads of collaboration, we dry-hopped the brew for more zest. It’s old-world Belgian Abbey-style meets new-world American craft brewing—and a friendship is formed.”

From the Green Flash website: “During a recent twelve day Great Belgium Beer Tour, brewer’s from Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego County, California and Brasserie St. Feuillien of Le Roeulx, Belgium teamed up to produce the first-ever collaboration ale between American and Belgian family-owned breweries. The beer will be called Bière De L’Amitié, or Friendship Brew, and will be released in the United States in June 2010.”

ABV: 9.5%
Brew Date: March 9, 2010


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

392. Sixpoint Signal

Since I like to pretend I’m a jet-setting trendsetter, this Tuesday found me flying to Brooklyn (well La Guardia, actually) to harass my friends Adam and Jenn. While Brooklyn means many things to many people, to me it spells good food and good drink. And not necessarily in that order. Adam and my initial wanderings post-airport pickup led us to some afternoon barhopping, including a stop at the Pacific Standard, a delightful bar with a stellar line-up of options (see also here). My choice was Sixpoint Signal from Sixpoint Craft Ales, which is located in Brooklyn, NY (don’t worry, there’ll be more from them soon). As for my notes on the beer, I didn’t take any. Let’s just say the beer was good. I did steal one of the bar menus, so I’ve included their description of the beer below. Sorry, but it’s called a vacation for a reason.

From the Pacific Standard bar menu: “Signal, a very-limited edition beer that was brewed in honor of New York City’s official Good Beer Month, and debuted at the Meatopia BBQ, is a light, fruity beer that’s good summer drinking, with just a faint note of smoke that helps it to go with barbecued meats. Get it while you can, because it won’t be around much longer. ABV unknown, probably low.”

I found this variously listed as an APA and an American IPA. Anyone want to help out here?


Monday, July 26, 2010

391. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ IPA

Ah, the dog days of summer. And nothing cures the woes of summer heat like a scrumptious IPA—a Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ IPA. We found this on tap at South Park Tavern. Will miracles ever end? Not as long as South Park is serving beer, I tell you. Previously on what we’re drinking, we’ve sampled Wilco Tango Foxtrot, New Dogtown, Little Sumpin’ Extra Ale, IPA, as well as the awesomeness that is (or was) El Chupalupalo from Lagunitas. That makes six. Don’t let it go to your head.

Little Sumpin’ IPA came served in a blank pint glass, the kind no one covets. It was a clear gold with a white thin head. The nose was a mix of caramel malt sweetness and resin, pine, and citrus hop aromas. Or, in more basic terms, it smelled yummy. The front started with sweet caramel flavor, moving quickly into both hoppiness, with resin, pine and citrus dominating (Simcoe?), and hop bitterness as well. After the hop flavor assault, the finish was mainly made up of lingering bitterness, specifically of the kind left by a bad break up—there was no brief taste of sweetness to offer a mild palliative, just straight rancorous bitterness. Little Sumpin’ IPA had a medium body and a creamy sweet mouthfeel (well, until the finish). The caramel-y and hoppy flavors make this beer a classic example of an American IPA and a delicious beer in general. I want my summer back, dammit!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

390. Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #32 Pott’s Landbier

More Harpoon and more 100 Barrel Series. We’re chalking up Harpoon beers like we were writing up one of those big boards that hang in restaurants—you know, the ones where everything is written in chalk? Anyway, this is beer number nine from Harpoon, the most recent in a long line of beers including including 100 Barrel Series #31 Single Hop ESB, 100 Barrel Series #30 Island Creek Oyster Stout, 100 Barrel Series #28 Glacier ’09 Wet Hop, 100 Barrel Series #27 Helles Blond Bock, Octoberfest, Leviathan Saison Royale, 100 Barrel Series #24 Glacier ’08 Wet Hop and their IPA.

Pott’s Landbier (as opposed to the reciprocal Pott’s Fieldbier) pours a clear amber with light tiny bubbles in the glass and a creamy ivory head. The nose is grainy and fruity with possibly some melanoidin—it is very reminiscent of an Oktoberfest beer, which it may be, although it doesn’t say anything about that in the bottle (well, unless “amber-hued lager” equals Oktoberfest—either that, or a bock). Flavors start lightly sweet and grainy, with caramel and biscuit malt flavors dancing lightly in the background. The middle has less sweetness and more biscuit than the front with some fruitiness and bitterness that runs on into the finish, which is characterized by a light graininess and bitterness, couple with a touch of creaminess and some classic German-esque lager flavor (we’d call it patented German lager flavor, but the patent rights have expired). The body is medium with a grainy and dry mouthfeel—it is slightly tacky on the palate, although there is a fair amount of a residual malt component to it. Carbonation is light, but brighter on the palate in the final third, creating a crispness in the finish. Pott’s Landbier is marked by the malt characteristics; while the label notes the “spicy hop character,” this strikes us as much more malty that hoppy—there is a bit of bitterness, but no real spiciness, at least nothing more than a regular German-style lager would have. Which is, by proxy, pretty minimal. Nonetheless, Pott’s Landbier is a smooth, easy drinking beer.

From the bottle: “A collaboration with our friends at Pott’s Braueri in Oelde, Germany, this amber-hued lager has a smooth body and spicy hop character.”

From the Harpoon website: “This beer, the 32nd in the series, has was inspired by our friend Joerg Pott of Pott’s Brauerei in Oelde, Germany. Pott’s master brewer, Peter Wienstroer, collaborated with Harpoon’s Todd Charboneau to brew this beer. The origins of this beer go back to 2003 when a group of German brewers, including Rainer and Joerg Pott of Pott’s Brauerei, took a tour of American breweries that included Harpoon. A few years later in 2007 Joerg joined the Harpoon staff for the summer months to learn more about American craft beer. During Joerg’s 3-month tenure at Harpoon, the idea of brewing a beer together was mentioned often, but the timing never quite seemed to work out–until now. Pott’s Landbier, or ‘country beer,’ is a traditional session lager with a decidedly malty backbone made up of a blend of German and North American malts. The smooth malt character is tempered by the German bittering hop Magnum, which lends a clean, crisp balance. This beer is finished with more German hops for a spicy herbal palate and aroma. Fermented with Pott’s proprietary lager yeast–and imbued with over 240 years of German brewing tradition–this is just the beer to quench your summer thirst.”

ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 30
OG: 12° P
Brewed: 5/18/10
Bottled: 6/14/10


Saturday, July 24, 2010

IPA Brewday

Today’s beer is an attempt to re-create the magic and excitement that was beer 64, which I consider the best beer I’ve made in a long time (with the exception of 54—a Dandelion Ale—we’d have to go back to the mid-30s or late-20s to find something I liked more). So the stakes are high here today on the brewing fields of Dayton...

72: IPA
1 lb. Maris Otter
1 lb. Breiss Caramel 60L
1 lb. Dingeman’s Belgian Aromatic
8 oz. Dingeman’s Belgian Biscuit
8 oz. Cara 8 Belgian

Mashed @ 150° F for 60 minutes; raised to 170° F
Sparged with 1 gallon of 170° F water

Added to brew kettle, brought to a boil (70 minute) with:
6 lbs. Breiss Pilsen Light DME
12 oz. Turbinado Sugar
1 oz. Yakima Magnum pellet 14.4% AA
½ teaspoon gypsum

w/10 minutes to go:
1 tsp. Irish Moss
1 oz. Centennial leaf 11.5% AA

w/5 minutes to go:
1 oz. Simcoe pellet 12.2% AA
¼ oz. Cascade pellet 7.5% AA
½ oz. Mt. Hood pellet 5.2% AA

@ removal from heat:
½ oz. Centennial leaf 11.5% AA
½ oz. Simcoe pellet 12.2% AA
½ oz. Vanguard pellet 4.8% AA

Cooled, racked to bucket, pitched Wyeast 1332 Northwest Ale

Brewed: 7/24/2010
Secondary: 8/6/2010 @ 1.014 (dry hopped with ½ oz. Simcoe pellet 12.2% AA, ½ oz. Centennial leaf 11.5% AA, and ½ oz. Vanguard pellet 4.8% AA)
Kegged: 8/16/2010 3 ½ gallons force carbonated for Beer & Sweat
Bottled: 8/16/2010 2 gallons with 1.5 oz. white sugar (72° F)

OG: 1.064
FG: 1.012

Tasting Notes 9/17/2010: I’m taking the notes from one of the few bottles I have; there is still beer in the keg, but it is currently elsewhere. And as you can see from the picture, the beer in the bottle is a wee bit over-carbonated. And by wee I mean a lot. Even through all the foam, however, there is a rich spicy, pine, and citrus hop nose with a smaller amount of malt sweetness behind it. The color is a deep copper, possibly verging on amber, and, as previously mentioned, there is an abundant ivory head that lasts and lasts and lasts. Malt flavor is pretty minimal in the front; there is a touch of caramel and some drier malt flavor, but it is hard to discern it from the hop flavor that quickly asserts itself—mostly spicy and evergreen, but some citrus comes out in conjunction with the other two. There is a fair amount of bitterness in the middle, but it is nicely subdued, merging well with the flavors to roll into the finish. The end has a quick rise of creamy sweetness and biscuit that also as quickly retreat, allowing the bitterness to reassert itself and lingering pleasantly on the palate. The clean, rounded mouthfeel matches the lighter body; this could be enhanced a bit by the overcarbonation, which does contribute to the lighter feel on the palate, but this was also partially intentional via using the Pilsen Light DME. There is a light warming sensation after the flavors leave the palate—next time I run this through, I’m going to drop the fermentation temperature to see if that will lessen the effect. Overall, I am quite pleased with this beer; as a remake of 64, it went rather well. In the next version, I might try to also build a bit thicker of a body, as this is a bit thin. Not much—just a bit. While it is currently balanced more towards the hops (as an American IPA should be), it doesn’t have that chewy body some American IPAs have—I think a bit more substance in the body would help the mouthfeel, although I most certainly don’t want to make this a caramel bomb. I do like the lighter body it has, particularly for its quaffability—it is complex, but lacking a bit in substance. It is akin to many of the Bell’s products that taste far lighter than their ABV. I’m also glad to see that some of the initial grassy harshness from the hops has settled out—my guess is that the difference between the two scores is a product of the hop flavor and bitterness getting the couple of extra weeks it needed to marry with the rest of the beer, because it is tasting better. And I will say that I do look forward to further experimenting with this recipe—I already wish I had more around to drink.

Beer & Sweat (8/21/2010): 32.5
Dayton Beerfest (9/11/2010): 38.5; IPA winner and Best of Dayton

389. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

More exciting can action from Oskar Blues. Can do! As it says on the can, “Cross-eyed. Cyclopean. Cancupiscent.” The can also tell us that Ten Fidy is “Half-Baked. Fully Roasted Ale,” as well as “This dog’ll hunt.” For cans? Quite a bit of information for your normal can, especially if you want to throw in the “Pack it in, pack it out” recycling message on the back. Add some label art and the requisite government warning, and you’ve got a busy-ass can. Ten Fidy marks our third beer from Oskar blues, including Mama’s Little Yella Pils and Dale’s Pale Ale, and also our third beer from them in a can. Can you say I do?

Ten Fidy pours a rich, dark chocolate brown with a burnt tan head that lingers briefly and then quickly reduces to a ring around the edge of the glass. While there appears to be some light orange and red highlights, Ten Fidy is dark and thick enough that not much light is getting through. Aromas in the nose include creamy malt sweetness and chocolate mixed with subtler amounts of roasted and burnt notes. The body is thick and chewy with a touch of creaminess—it has good substance on the palate and a viscous, slick mouthfeel that balances well with the chewiness, but is also very smooth. The carbonation is medium with a bit of a bite heading into the final third; combined with the bitterness, there is a bit of a drying effect on the palate at the finish. The lingering bitterness also merges with the light alcohol warmth as the close of the beer; combined with the rich chocolate and roastiness of the final third, the beer ends surprisingly clean on the palate in relation to the size of the beer. Ten Fidy is dominated by chocolate and sweet maltiness with an underlying caramel in the front; as the beer shifts to the middle, bitterness comes to the forefront, along with coffee and roasted flavors—it dries out a bit on the palate before the chocolate returns for the finish, combining with the existing bitterness and the emerging roasted darker malt flavors. There is a slight alkaline chalkiness at the back of the throat as the flavors recede, although the bitterness masks it slightly. Ten Fidy is an excellent slow-sippin’ beer. All in all, can-tastic.

From the Oskar Blues website: “This titanic, immensely viscous stout is loaded with inimitable flavors of chocolate-covered caramel and coffee and hide a hefty 98 IBUs underneath the smooth blanket of malt. Ten FIDY (10.5% ABV) is made with enormous amounts of two-row malt, chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats and hops. Ten FIDY is the ultimate celebration of dark malts and boundary-stretching beer.”

ABV: 9.5% (listed as 9.5% on the can, not the 10.5% on the website—don’t ask)
Canned on: 9/25/2009

Oh, and just so you know, cancupiscent is a play on concupisent, which means lustful, sensual, or eagerly desirous. It is from the Latin concupiscere, which is to covet ardently or to concieve ardent desire for. Covet, hmmm? Isn’t that one of those seven deadly sins? I guess they want you to want their beer, especially if it is in the can.


Friday, July 23, 2010

388. Heinzelmännchen IGA

We were passing through Sylva, NC, so we swung by the Heinzelmännchen Brewery to check out the scene and to see if Dieter had anything new, which he did. After our sampling, we grabbed a growler to go and hit the road. We’ve previously tried Heinzelmännchen’s Hoppy Gnome. Oh, and Dieter mentioned that the grain from this beer was grown near his hometown in Germany, which I thought was a nice touch.

IGA (Imperial Gnome Ale) pours a ruddy and slightly hazy amber with a minimal white head (well, it is in a growler, and we grabbed it a couple of days ago). The nose is dry and biscuit with small amounts of fruit esters. Flavors start with biscuit and caramel and a touch of toffee; the middle has low levels of bitterness; the finish is rather clean, with a bit more of the biscuit that returns for the finish. Soft mouthfeel, with a bit of chewiness, and the carbonation is light and pretty minimal in the overall presence on the palate. Good, but not as IPA-y as we expected—it tasted more Belgian-like overall with fruit esters and some malt complexity—it was lacking a bit on the hoppiness across the profile. Still, an enjoyable beer, and it is always nice to see how Dieter is playing with the German brewing paradigms.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

387. The Duck Rabbit Duck-Rabbator Dopplebock

The Duck-Rabbit
is back in the house.
If you drink enough, you’ll get soused
by that 8.5% ABV—look, you’ll see.
It’s made in the state of North Caroline-e.
We’ve tried Wee Heavy, Brown Ale, and Milk Stout:
drinking Duck-Rabbit is what it’s all about.
The nose is malty, fruity, toasty and rich.
Pouring an orange-ish brown, it’s clear which
direction this review is headed:
it is to my rhymes I am indebted.
The front is malty sweet with melanoidin.
The middle is chewy like an oatmeal raisin
cookie, along with some of that fruit.
My rhymes are weak, my observations cute.
The end is smooth with a dry clean finish,
we’ve got good attenuation that can’t diminish
the slight alcohol warming on the throat.
This Duck-Rabbit label has the horns of a goat.
This beer is good, and should get better;
the last two bottles I’m saving for winter.
So keep Duck-Rabbator Dopplebock in stock;
to my experience this one you’ll chalk.
Drinking it down you’ll be the toast of the town—
ignore my words and you’ll be seen as a clown.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

386. Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza

More of the deliciousness that is Jolly Pumpkin. Jolly Pumpkin is the George Clinton of the brewing world. You heard me. We want the funk. Gotta have that funk. And if you’re still confused, you should consider taking some remedial classes with Dr. Funkenstein. Previously, we’ve experienced Baudelaire IO Saison, Bière de Mars, E.S.Bam, and La Roja. That makes 5, but more importantly, Jolly Pumpkin puts a glide in our stride and a dip in our hip. And we’re heading on up to the Mothership....

Oro de Calabaza pours a clear golden straw with a mousse-y persistent head—it is here to stay, let me tell you. The nose is candy sweetness mixed with banana plus a bit of oaky tannin thrown in for good measure—which as we all know is pretty much par for the course for Jolly Pumpkin. Opening with tart, spritzy candy flavors that move into light earthy barnyard flavors and oakiness mixed with fruit yeast esters in the middle, Oro de Calabaza finishes light and dry but also creamy and slightly bitter—there is a dry tart tang on the tongue that is a mix of hops and brett funk, and/or some other wild yeast yumminess. The golden ale components are there, but they are mixed with wild yeast components. Thus, the candy sweet front is in place, but it is dried out across the body, and replaced with earthiness and oakiness, even though there is still a decent dose of yeast fruitiness. The dry tang and hops at the end fill in and round out the drier body created by the higher attenuating dry yeast. The mouthfeel is thus dry and sweet with a bit of creaminess, even though the body is closer to a medium-light for a golden ale, while the carbonation is light but bright, giving lightly spritzy effects on the palate—it rounds the beer nicely without ever striking a sharp note. There is a bit of alcohol warmth at the end, but it is quite subtle, and masked well by both oak and wild yeast earthiness tang. A delicious beer, although we do like some of the tarter and funkier beers that Jolly Pumpkin produces. Nonetheless, and interesting and original take on the golden ale, one that I do like a bit better than the traditional version of the style. Light-year groovin’, Ron Jeffries—you are the mo-diggety.

Photo stolen from

From the bottle: “Aged in large oak casks and refermented in the bottle, Oro de Calabaza is brewed in the Franco-Belgian tradition of special golden ales. Spicy and peppery with a gentle hop bouquet and the beguiling influence of wild yeast.”

From the Jolly Pumpkin website: “Brewed in the Franco-Belgian tradition of strong golden ales. Spicy and peppery with a gentle hop bouquet and the beguiling influence of wild yeast.”

ABV: 8.0%


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

385. Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #31 Single Hop ESB

It’s been a while since we hit up Harpoon—which means it could be about time to revive the over-used references to Elli’s love of all things whaling and maritime/nautically-related. Because nothing says love like salt water, blubber, and Moby Dick. Ahem. This is beer features the latest addition to Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series. It also marks our eighth beer from Harpoon, including 100 Barrel Series #30 Island Creek Oyster Stout, 100 Barrel Series #28 Glacier ’09 Wet Hop, 100 Barrel Series #27 Helles Blond Bock, Octoberfest, Leviathan Saison Royale, 100 Barrel Series #24 Glacier ’08 Wet Hop and their IPA. So pass the bottle and twist the cap...

Single Hop ESB pours a deep burnished copper with a thin ivory head that hangs around like that little brother who would never leave you the fuck alone. The nose is a mix of biscuit and grainy malt aromas with a touch of fruitiness to accompany the malt. There is also something of a molasses and/or treacle and/or dark caramel toffee creaminess that lurks underneath all of this, but is hard to specifically isolate—hence the equivocation. Flavors start with a dry grainy biscuit flavor; the middle has low levels of earthiness coupled with more of the graininess and some mild cola flavor (the same as you’d find in a mild brown) followed by some light spiciness. The finish is lightly bitter—just a touch—with some light fruitiness and creaminess, closing out with some graininess reminiscent of rye beers, but without the rye flavor. I’d call the final touch just a bit of dirt, but that seems not to capture what we see as something positive in the finish. Single Hop ESB has a medium body with a flat, clean, British mouthfeel that still carries a bit of creaminess. The carbonation is low to medium, and plays more of a rounding role on the palate than anything else. The lingering grainy browness does help push this into the realm of British beers, even though the label informs us that the beer uses Delta, a new American hop (well, and the ESB style is decidedly British). Good, drinkable, and certainly quaffable; Elli said she’d wouldn’t necessarily chose this beer, but then again, she wouldn’t complain if this was what she got served. I’ll give it about the same—it is good across the board, but it does need a little something more to push it into the exciting category.

From the bottle: “Hopped entirely with Delta—a new American hop varietal—this Extra Special Bitter has a unique earthy/fruity hop taste and a rich malt body.”

From the Harpoon website: “The 31st offering from the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series is the Single Hop ESB, brewed by Harpoon brewer Charlie Cummings. Already excited about crafting an Extra Special Bitter, Charlie jumped at the rare opportunity to brew this beer using one hop varietal, Delta, exclusively throughout the process. The Delta hop is a brand new American-grown hop developed by Hopsteiner. In fact, the Harpoon Single Hop ESB is the first beer in the world to be commercially brewed using the Delta hop. A cross between Fuggle and Cascade hops, Delta hops yield an unrestrained earthy/floral aroma and taste that compliment the rich flavors of traditional British malts and yeast. The recipe for this beer is a nod to the beloved Harpoon ESB, which was last brewed in 2002. However this version uses imported ingredients, except for the domestically grown Delta hops. Only a portion of the batch was filtered, leaving the full spectrum of flavor and aroma of this special new hop to enjoy.”

ABV: 5.8%
IBU: 38
OG: 14.8 °P
Brewed: 3/26/10
Bottled: 4/9/10


Monday, July 19, 2010

384. Nantahala Pale Ale

Nantahala Brewing Company is located in Bryson City, NC. They only started selling beer on May 24, 2010, although they attempted to get going a bit sooner—their site runs through all their fun hijinx getting labels approved and accepted by all the appropriate local, state, and federal agencies. Good times! We found this on tap at Nick & Nate’s in Sylva, NC. So close to Asheville, and yet so far...

I know this is from the IPA, but I couldn’t find anything else to steal...

Nantahala Pale Ale was served in a pint glass; it is a lightly hazy deep copper brown with a persistent, creamy eggshell head that laces the glass well. Flavors start sweet with caramel and biscuit malt in the front before moving into a large amount of bitterness and dryness in the middle—we’re guessing the dryness is a result of the bigger hop presence—with hop pine and resin flavors (Simcoe?). The finish continues dry with more hop flavor—citrus and possibly smaller amounts of grapefruit—as well as a fair amount of lingering bitterness. Nantahala Pale Ale has a medium body and carbonation with a slightly chewy mouthfeel. The carbonation has a bit of a bite in the turn to the final third, creating a lightly bright feel on the palate. As well, there is some dryness in the mouth via the bitterness, along with a slightly tacky sensation. We picked up on a couple of lighter sensations in the beer: there is something of a light brown malt taste and a slight rye graininess in the body, but it was hard to specifically place or quantify either—both were more of a presence invoked in the drinking. Overall, Nantahala Pale Ale is a very nice beer. While it is a bit dark for a pale ale, there is a good balance between malt and hops and a nice complexity in the body. Well done.

From the Nantahala website: “An American Pale Ale made with a variety of malts and hops to create a well-balanced, reddish colored ale that is citrusy and sweet.”

Couldn’t find anything on the ABV or other pertinent brewing details...


Sunday, July 18, 2010

383. Boulder Kinda Blue

Another big bottle from Boulder Brewing, this one coming in the form of their newest summer beer. Wonder Twin powers, activate! Then again, if I turned myself into a giant glass of beer, could I actually drink myself? That sounds like it has all the makings of some multi-dimensional universe destroying paradox, along the lines of traveling back in time to meet yourself. People would be all like “My God! He’ll destroy the very fabric of the solar system!” And I’d be all like “Nah, I’ll just be chillin’.” But I digress. This makes lucky number 7 from Boulder: we’ve previously had a drink-off between Singletrack Copper Ale and Pass Time Pale Ale, and also tried Mojo IPA, Hazed & Infused, Obovoid and Flashback. Solid.

Described on the bottle as a “blueberry wheat beer,” Kinda Blue pours, well, kinda blue. Actually it is more a lightly clear purple and/or reddish color—kinda the color of a darker ice tea. The head is thin and white and the nose is lightly fruity and lightly musty—almost a bit jammy. There is also some wheat graininess buried underneath the fruit aromas. Flavors start with a light touch of blueberry sweetness in the front before moving into a more general fruit flavor in the middle coupled with some of the classic American wheat sourness and graininess. The finish is mostly clean but it has a bit of lingering fruit sweetness that continues on and is slightly cloying, disrupting the overall effect. The body is medium with a lightly creamy and sticky mouthfeel; the carbonation is medium to low and carries some of the slightly sour tang that is perceived as part of the flavor. The initial touch of blueberry flavor in the front and barely into the middle is nice, but when it turns to a more generic “fruit” flavor, the beer drops off. As well, the American wheat yeast characteristics dampen the overall effect—the slight sourness and graininess makes the body feel heavier than it should without any reciprocal lightening on the palate, ending with a rather dull and listless sensation. We think this would be a much better beer with either a Belgian or German wheat yeast strain—you’d get the nice fruit flavor accompanied by a brighter and more effervescent carbonation and mouthfeel that would make the beer both refreshing and thirst quenching. We love Boulder beer, but this one is kinda weak.

Four finger ring! Pow to M.C. Split-nose!

From the bottle: “So what did the brewers at Boulder Beer Company compose for the 10th release in our Looking Glass series? An American wheat, placed in perfect measure with muted tones of blueberry. Kinda Blue—a tasty and tasteful summer brew that you can’t turn your back on. It’s as cool as the day is long. In every great collection there are standards. Make this one of yours.”

ABV: 5.5%

Maybe I just wouldn’t turn myself into this beer...


Saturday, July 17, 2010

382. 34: Saison

So I threatened that we might actually start drinking and commenting on homebrews this year, and I’m here to make good on that threat. This beer is part of my “epic” run of nine saisons brewed between Fall 2008 and Winter 2009. Mostly, I was just experimenting with different ingredients, and since saisons are described as something of a catch-all for randomness in Phil Markowski’s Farmhouse Ales, I figured I’d go to town. I saved a couple bottles of each saison to try as they aged, and pretty much across the board, they’ve only gotten better. I’ll be starting a new run of saisons shortly, but for now, let’s enjoy the fruits of posterity.

Pouring a mostly clear dirty gold with a creamy white head that leaves a fair amount of lacing, 34 has a fruity nose made up of pears, apples, and a light lemon citrus accompanied by small amounts of candy sweetness. There are no discernable spicy or hop aromas. Fruity sweetness opens the front of the beer, along with some bright, candy-like sweetness—pear and apple mixed with Belgian candy sugar; the middle quickly dries out, leaving some light phenolic spiciness on the back of the tongue. A slight amount of sweetness returns for the finish, lingering briefly and competing against the highly attenuated dryness of the beer; as with the front, the sweetness is a mix of faint fruit and candy. The carbonation is bright and tart on the palate, accentuating the dryness of the medium to light body and leaving a light mineral and/or sharp acidic feel on the palate. While the carbonation is lively, the mouthfeel of the beer itself is dry and soft. There is less spiciness than I expected in this beer, although the fruit flavors mix well with the soft candy sweetness in the body, and the light creaminess I hoped the flaked oats would impart has still not materialized. Oh well. The dryness is almost crackly on the palate, which also goes well with the fruitiness. I am pleased that this beer has smoothed and married across the profile with age—while very dry, it is still bright, refreshing, and effervescent, even after 20 months in the bottle.

34: Saison
1 lb. Rahr 2-row
8 oz. Fawcett Oat Malt
4 oz. Weyerman Carahell
4 oz. Flaked Oats

Mashed @ 130° F for 30 minutes, raised to 150° F for 45 minutes; batch sparged with 1 gallon of 165° F water for 10 minutes

Added fluid to brew kettle along with (70 minute boil):
4 lbs. Alexander Pale Malt
1 lb. Sparkling Amber DME
1 oz. Fuggle leaf 4.6% AA
½ oz. Glacier pellet 6.0% AA

w/15 minutes to go: ½ oz. Fuggle leaf 4.6% AA and 1 tsp. Irish moss
w/3 minutes to go: ½ oz. Glacier pellet 6.0% AA

Cooled wort, and pitched on pancake of Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Brewed: 12/17/2008 @ 64°
Secondary: 12/31/2008 @ 1.004
Bottled: 1/25/2009 with 1 ¼ cup Pilsen Light DME

OG: 1.038
FG: 1.002


Friday, July 16, 2010

381. Great Divide 16th Anniversary Wood Aged DIPA

And just like that, we’re rolling through the latest versions of anniversary beers we drank last year. Thank you, time, for continuing to march on and make me feel old. Having made a rather solid run at Great Divide last year (we ran through ten different beers last year, including Hercules DIPA, Wild Raspberry Ale, Hibernation, Samurai Rice, Hoss, Oak Aged Yeti, Fresh Hop, Double Wit, 15th Anniversary DIPA, and Denver Pale Ale, making this beer number eleven), we’re been reduced to the likes of anniversary beers. I guess we could plumb the depths of all of the various Yetis, but we haven’t been quite reduced to that yet. Big yet.

16th Anniversary DIPA is a soft, orange caramel that is clear but lightly hazy; the nose is caramel, toffee, & butter—this has all of the opening hallmarks of a British-style beer. Flavors pick up where the nose left off—the front is caramel and toffee sweetness coupled with dry biscuit malt and a healthy helping of buttery-ness. The middle is creamy with a slight bitterness—and I do mean super slight—that does increase with warmth, but is still very mild on the palate, and there are no readily discernable hop flavors to be found. The finish is rather dry, which is helped out by the oak and acorn flavors that emerge to close out the beer. 16th Anniversary DIPA has a soft, chewy, creamy, buttery mouthfeel, although there is some dryness via the oak—cut the doughy-ness out of a mouthful of bread dough made with acorns, and there you go—with a medium to heavy body. There is no boozy or alcohol flavors, but it could use more hop flavor and bitterness to better fit the IPA part of the DIPA. While this beer is very English, the lack of a hop presence leaves this beer bordering on being an English barley wine. The big toffee and creamy butter across the profile is a bit off-putting; it is good, but not stellar. And it certainly ain’t no 15th Anniversary Wood Aged DIPA. Maybe it will get better with age, but as it currently stands, color me disappointed.

From the Great Divide website: “This copper-hued treat is a celebration of everything Great Divide does best. Plenty of malty sweetness provides a backdrop for earthy, floral English and American hops, while French and American oak round off the edges and provide a touch of vanilla. Thanks to everyone who’s supported us for the last 16 years - here’s to 16 more!”

ABV: 10.0%


Thursday, July 15, 2010

380. Fuller’s London Porter

Our first beer from the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London. London Porter pours a clear tawny chocolate brown with orange hints and a tan head; the nose is creamy toffee and chocolate with a slight bit of buttery aroma in the back. There is a wide range of flavors across the body of the beer—it opens with dry chocolate sweetness, caramel, and brown malt breadiness before moving into coffee and light roasted flavor with a touch of nuttiness in the middle and finishing with a darker, richer chocolate and lingering roastiness that is just this side of burnt. There are no hop flavors evident. London Porter has a medium body with slight chewiness—sweet, but dry—and the carbonation is light. There is a bit of lingering chalkiness or a minerally character on the palate as well, mostly on the roof of the mouth. A good beer, and certainly an exemplar of the style, with excellent flavors for a lighter drinking beer, but it did leave me wanting just a little something more.

From the bottle: “Fuller’s London Porter is an award-winning example of this historic English style; smooth and creamy with delicious chocolate and coffee flavours derived from the roasted malts. The Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London, has been brewing fine ales since 1654. The Fuller, Smith & Turner partnership, dating back to 1845, brews an excellent range of award-winning ales, many of which are available in the USA, including London Pride pale ale and the world’s original ESB. I hope you will enjoy trying al our fine ales”

From the Fuller’s website: “The origins of Porter date back to London in the early nineteenth century, when it was popular to mix two or three beers, usually an old, well-vatted or ‘stale’ brown ale, with a new brown ale and a pale ale. It was time consuming for the publican to pull from three casks for one pint, and so brewers in London tested and produced a new beer, known as ‘entire,’ to match the tastes of such mixtures. Using high roasted malts, ‘entire’ was dark, cloudy and hoppy. It was also easily produced in bulk and ideally suited to the soft well-water of London. Very quickly, it became popular among the porters working in Billingsgate and Smithfield markets and gradually the beer took on the name ‘Porter,’ in recognition of its main consumers. Fuller’s London Porter, is widely regarded as the World’s Finest Porter: having won awards all over the world, London Porter is regularly voted the number one Porter on beer websites such as, a tremendous accolade to our brewing team. Fuller’s London Porter captures the flavours of those original brews perfectly, although you won’t find a cloudy pint these days! Rich, dark and complex, at 5.4% ABV the beer has an outstanding depth of flavour. It is brewed from a blend of Brown, Crystal and Chocolate malts for a creamy delivery balanced by traditional Fuggles hops. The range of flavours works well with a wide variety of foods, ranging from rich meat dishes, to oysters, and even chocolate puddings.”

ABV: 5.4%


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

379. Jackie O’s Bourbon Barrel Smoked & Portered

This beer marks the second growler from Jackie O’s that I brought back from my Athens Beer Week hijinx. Beer judging is all well and good, but everyone likes treats brought back from my travels abroad. And why else wander the world if not to sample and sup upon the fine wares of other regions? I certainly enjoy that component of my travels, I’ll tell you. As to the other beers we’ve had from Jackie O’s, here’s the list from an earlier post.

BB Smoked & Portered pours a deep chocolate brown with a light tan head; the nose is oaky, smoky, and creamy, with chocolate, coffee, and some dark fruit, including raisin, after the first rush of oak and smoke. Flavors start with chocolate and smoke with a bit of acorn; the middle is coffee and a bit more smoke, followed by light bourbon and oak flavors. The finish is creamy and rather clean with a return of the acorn and oak; there is a bit of lingering alcohol flavor on the palate, but nothing distracting. BB S & P has a medium to heavy body with a chewy and creamy mouthfeel; the carbonation is minimal but lightly present on the palate—combined oaky and tannic bite that dries out the palate, the beer finishes rather dry. In fact, it smells far sweeter than it tastes, but it has a very mellow and nuanced body. There are also some roasted flavors in the middle that work well in rounding and building the complexity of the flavor profile. Overall, this beer is a study in balance and complexity—it certainly doesn’t taste or drink like a 9.0% ABV beer, even though there is a bit of alcohol flavor. BB S & P is smooth, easy drinking, and delicious. We wish we could get a couple of bottles of this to sit back on and see how they aged. While the smoke would probably drop out, some of the other flavors might get richer with age. We’ve also been wondering what their regular porter tastes like—after all, if it is the base for this beer, then it’s got to be good. We’re already looking forward to our next trip to Athens, and another chance to visit Jackie O’s for some great beer.

From the Jackie O’s website on June 9, 2010: “The BB (Bourbon Barrel) aged Smoked and Portered was kegged last week after close to 5 months of aging. The barrel mellowed out nicely. The smoke is still the initial characteristic that jumps out. Underneath lies some great oak and subtle bourbon notes. The body is fairly light for a porter but still carries some weight.”