Tuesday, August 31, 2010

406. Jeffrey McElfresh Smokey Brown

Here comes day 2 of my new most favorite week of the year: Jeffrey McElfresh Homebrew Drinking Week. Tonight’s delicious victim is Jeffrey’s Smokey Brown, which, not surprisingly, pours a clear toffee brown color with some slight red highlights. The head is tan and persistent, but not abundant, and the nose has a touch of malt sweetness, although the smoky wood aroma almost completely covers it over. There is also just a touch of that alluring bacon-like wood smoke aroma you find in classic Rauchbiers. Smokey Brown opens with a mix of dark malt sweetness and smokiness—there’s some chocolate and biscuit flavors mixed with the smoke that create a toasty richness, all in pleasant harmony. There is a slight rise in sweetness in the middle, with molasses and brown sugars hints that emerge in conjunction with some of the smoked wood flavor, leading into the dry finish that contains small amounts of bitterness and lingering rich smoke flavors at the back of the throat. As the flavors disperse, there is a nutty flavor that crosses the back of the tongue. The beer has a medium body with a creamy, almost chewy carbonation—it is low to medium and soft; mixed with the smoke flavors, it has a slickness and substance that sits pleasantly on the mouth. Smokey Brown does have some smokiness and tackiness that also contributes to the mouthfeel. This beer is a study in balance between the smoked malt and beer characteristics. The overall experience and sensation of drinking this beer is wonderful—this beer is heavenly. Of all of Jeffrey’s beers that I have tried, this is hands down my favorite. Damn, that’s some tasty beer.

Guess who’s bringing sexy back like Timbaland and Timberlake?

P.S. I’ll bet you didn’t know that Smoky Brown is the name of a type of cockroach. Further, it’s also the name of outsider artist Smoky Brown. That’s what Google is for, isn’t it?


Monday, August 30, 2010

405. Jeffrey McElfresh Hefeweizen

I am officially declaring this Jeffrey McElfresh Homebrew Drinking Week. You couldn’t stop me if you tried. Although I don’t think anyone is really trying to stop me. Which is tragic, as it makes my ranting seem only that much more desperate. Anyway, you all remember Jeffrey from our session of playing Brewmaster, right? Well, Jeffrey is also a damn fine brewer in his own right, board game brewing master or not. And since he recently dropped me off a package ’o brews, I’m throwing him into the mix and under the bus in one quick fell swoop.

Jeffrey’s Hefeweizen pours a soft cloudy straw with a fluffy white head—it even looks soft and pillow-y in the glass, which is saying something. The nose is zesty and estery—there is breadiness from the malt, banana, and just a touch of clove in the background. The banana and malt aromas combine to create a banana bread smell that is dee-licious, fresh, and clean smelling. Flavors start lightly sweet and fruity—mostly banana, but also some fleshy fruit hints—in the front, combining to offer the banana bread flavors promised by the nose in the middle of the beer. There is a touch of graininess to the middle, and clove traces start in the middle as well, rising in the final third, along with a slight pepperiness that I thought added nicely to the beer. There is also a return of some of the sweetness of the front in the final third. The clove flavor lingers lightly in the back of the mouth, as does a slight mineral flavor and feel, finishing with just a touch of banana to close things out. Starting with a soft, gentle mouthfeel, the beer gets brighter as it sits on the palate; there is a nice bite from the carbonation as the beer heads into the final third, ending with a light clove tang on the sides and front of the tongue. A light and refreshing beer—I could drink a whole lotta this stuff. Nice job on this one, Jeffrey.

P.S. I think we should make Jeffrey McElfresh Homebrew Drinking Week an official national holiday. Who is with me?


Sunday, August 29, 2010

404. Bell’s Oarsman

And in a not so surprising turn, we’re doubling up on the Bell’s. It’s nice to see Oarsman in the bottle, since if it has been in the bottle in the past, we don’t recall seeing it. This beer gets added on to the long list of delightful and delicious Bell’s products we’ve sampled in the past: Bourbon Barrel Hell Hath No Fury Ale, Batch 9000, Hopslam, Cherry Stout, Sparkling Ale, Winter White, Christmas Ale, Third Coast, Oberon, Octoberfest, and Two Hearted. We’re officially one short of a Baker’s dozen...not that it will take us long to sort that one out...

Oarsman pours a lightly hazy straw with a clean white and persistent head. The nose is slightly sour—more lactic than acetic (as it should be)—with some mustiness mixed with the low levels of dry malt biscuit or bread aromas. Flavors start with a mix of sour and grainy malt—it is tart and dry on the palate. The middle sweetens slightly, and coupled with some of the bright carbonation, is lightly spritzy on the tongue. There’s a slight creamy tang in the turn towards the finish, which is marked by more of the lactic acid (albeit lightly) coupled with a cleaner finish than I expected. Some of the graininess also returns in the end, but here it has more of a lager-like mouthfeel and taste to it, although Oarsman does end without the of the hop bite you’d find in a lager. Instead, there is light sour tang that leaves the mouth fresh and clean feeling. The light body and bubbly carbonation help round the beer, making it very clean, bright, and enjoyable. Oarsman is a refreshing beer for some late summer drinking—on those hot muggy afternoons, it will leave your mouth feeling crisp and invigorated, although the rest of your body will have to suck it up and take the heat. Either that, or head inside for AC, you big pansy. Oh, and we’re making Oarsman the first Top 10 Best Label contender for the year.

From the bottle: “Buoyant, tart and refreshing from using traditional sour mash methods. Great for you and your crew.”

From the Bell’s website: “Designed as a flavorful session beer, Oarsman Ale uses a classic German brewing technique to impart a light, refreshing tartness. Oarsman Ale grew out of a desire to explore the tradition of session beers, trading intensity for finesse while still creating a worthwhile experience for the taster. The grain bill includes a healthy portion of wheat, while light hopping lend citrus & herbal notes to the aroma. Fermented with Bell's house ale yeast, Oarsman comes in at 4.0% alcohol by volume. Rather than being the dominant flavor note, the tartness in Oarsman takes on more of a palate-cleansing role, making it perfect with meals or purely on its own.”

ABV: 4.0%
OG: 1.040
Batch Number: 9861


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saison Brewday

This is a second attempt at a Dandelion Saison; this one is intended to be a bit darker, and have a more complex spice profile. Keep those fingers crossed.

75: Dandelion Saison II
1 lb. Belgian Pale Ale malt
1 lb. Thomas Fawcett Crystal Rye
1 lb. Dingeman’s Pale Malt
8 oz. Dingeman’s Biscuit Malt

Mashed w/2 gallons water @ 125° F for 30 minutes;
135° F for 30 minutes; 149° F for 30 minutes; raised to 170° F
Batch sparged with 1 gallon of 170° F water

Added to brew kettle, brought to a boil (60 minute) and added:
6 lbs. Breiss Pilsen Light DME
8 oz. Turbinado Sugar
1.1 oz. Willamette 4.8% AA
.4 oz. dried dandelion leaves
1 g. dried chicory leaf stems
6 oz. frozen dandelion flowers

w/10 minutes to go:
1 tsp. Irish Moss

@ removal from heat
8 g. dried dandelion petals
12 dried costmary leaves

Cooled wort, racked onto Wyeast 3711 French Saison cake

Brewed: 8/28/2010
Secondary: 9/24/2010 @ 1.004
Bottled: 10/14/2010 with 4.5 oz. table suger (2.75 volumes CO2)

OG: 1.064
FG: 1.003

Tasting Notes: 5/9/2011: While I like the idea behind this beer, there is one too many experiments going on at the same time: I should have stuck with either the Thomas Fawcett Crystal Rye or the dandelions, chicory, and costmary. Using both gives me a beer that is all over the map: spicy and caramel from the rye as well as floral, bitter, and herbal components from the flowers and herbs. Throw in the biscuit malt and the 3711 yeast characteristics and busy is an understatement. The initial flavors were very uneven, but they’ve finally started to blend together. Consider this a lesson I’ll probably have to learn at least two of three more times before it really sinks in.

Rye/Dandelion Saison pours a deep caramel copper with an off-white head that has solid retention bolstered by the bright carbonation. The nose is mostly floral yeast esters, but there is a fair amount of spicy herbal character that comes through, as well. Spicy floral caramel in the front gives way to herbal and biscuit flavors in the middle—more herbal than biscuit—while the finish features a return of spiciness and a continuation of the herbal components. The costmary flavor really comes out in the finish, along with a mineral dryness; the rye spiciness and the herbal character lingers, along with some alcohol warmth—the beer is well attenuated, so there isn’t much body to help balance the final spicy warmth of the mouthfeel. It is also something of a difference compared to the initial softer, creamier and floral mouthfeel found in the front of the beer. I do like the spicy and herbal components of the beer, but next time I’ll try them separately. Actually, the Thomas Fawcett Crystal Rye might go well with the Cherry Wood Smoked Malt in the Smoked Saison. Maybe I’ll give that a run.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

403. Bell’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Hell Hath No Fury Ale

We’ve been waiting for this beer ever since Jason at the Trolley Stop told us he was getting a keg of it in. After all, Hell Hath No Fury is yummy by itself, so dumping a batch in bourbon barrel should only lead to better things, right? This beer (and all of the other Bell’s beers on tap tonight at the Trolley) was part of the Dayton Beer Week festivities leading up to AleFest on Saturday. The highlight for the week thus far, however, still has to be Aaron setting the Trolley Stop’s pink elephant on fire. I mean, let’s be honest—that’s gonna be a hard one to top. Burn, baby, burn. Sorry, Fletcher.

Our previous encounter with Bell’s includes Batch 9000, Hopslam, Cherry Stout, Sparkling Ale, Winter White, Christmas Ale, Third Coast, Oberon, Octoberfest, and Two Hearted.

BB Hell Hath No Fury pours a dark rich chocolate brown that is extremely clear; the head is tan and begins by covering the beer, but quickly reduces to a ring. The nose has a nice mix of dark malt sweetness, vanilla, dark fruit, and oak—there’s hints of molasses, plum, and fig as well as dark candy and bit of bourbon. To be honest, there is much less bourbon aroma than I expected, which is nice—it is subtle, rather than overpowering. Flavors follow much of the nose; vanilla flavors are present across the profile, but in subtle and balanced ways. BB Hell Hath No Fury opens with molasses, brown sugar, and Belgian candy mixed with vanilla; the middle shifts into dark fruits, primarily plum, fig, raisin, and a general stone fruit flavor—something like black cherry. The shift into the finish has an oak tannic bite that allows the bourbon flavors to emerge out of the dark fruits. The closing flavors are a mix of bourbon, vanilla, and brown sugar mixed with oakiness that lingers on the top of mouth and the back of the throat. There is some warmth in the mouthfeel; the body is medium to heavy, but not cloying or sticky. Instead, it is clean, vinous, and slightly drying on the palate, specifically as the tannic oak flavors emerge in the final third. An alcohol bite comes out as the beer warms, as does an increased oak tannic bite. The carbonation is medium-low, which does allow the complex array of flavors to sit on the tongue for longer periods of time. I did like the oakiness coupled with a lighter beer style (well, lighter compared to most oak-aged beers, which are stouts), as it makes for easier drinking—the kind of drinking that tends to get me in trouble. BB Hell Hath No Fury is an excellent beer—I’m glad we got a chance to sample it. I only wish we could get our hands on this on something of a more regular basis. Nonetheless, thank you Larry Bell for another delicious, delicious beer. Oh, and this one is hands down a Top 10 Best Label contender. It still makes me giggle...
Photo from here.

From the (new) Bell’s website: “Originally conceived along the lines of a Belgian Dubbel, Hell Hath No Fury Ale morphed during development into something entirely different. Blending a pair of Belgian abbey-style yeasts into a recipe more akin to a roasty stout, Hell Hath No Fury Ale offers up warm, roasted notes of coffee & dark chocolate together with the fruity & clove-like aromas.”

I think there should also be a special entry from my dream journal here, but that might get a bit too creepy. My bad.

ABV: 8.4%


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Saison Brewday

Last year, I made a Dandelion Ale that turned out delicious, and I thought that the bitterness and flavor from the dandelions would work well with the dry tartness of a saison. So here it is--my attempt to match two great tastes that (hopefully will) taste great together.

74: Dandelion Saison
2 lb. Acidulated Malt
1 lb. Dingeman’s Pale Malt
8 oz. Dingeman’s Cara 45 Belgian Malt

Mashed w/6 quarts water @ 120° F for 30 minutes;
150° F for 60 minutes; raised to 170°
Sparged with 1 gallon of 170° F water

Added to brew kettle, brought to a boil (60 minute) and added:
6 lbs. Breiss Pilsen Light DME
8 oz. Turbinado Sugar
1 oz. Hallertauer leaf 4.1% AA
2.1 oz. fresh dandelion root
1.4 oz. fresh dandelion leaves

w/30 minutes to go: .65 oz. fresh dandelion root
1.4 oz fresh dandelion leaves

w/10 minutes to go: .65 oz. fresh dandelion root
1.4 oz. fresh dandelion leaves
1 g. grain of paradise
4 g. coriander (fresh/homegrown)
½ oz. ginger

Cooled wort, racked to bucket, pitched Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Brewed: 8/19/2010
Secondary: 8/28/2010 @ 1.010; on 9/28/2010 added final third of bottle of Bruery Saison de Lente in last 4 gallons
Bottled: 1 gallon for Dayton Beerfest on 9/1/2010 with 1.1 oz. white sugar
Secondary: 9/28/2010; added final third of bottle of Bruery Saison de Lente in last 4 gallons of beer
Bottled: 4/7/2011 @ 62° F w/4.0 oz. of table sugar

OG: 1.060
FG: 1.000

Tasting Notes 9/10/2010: I bottled one gallon for Beerfest, hoping it would be something interesting, but the beer still at the 1.010 it was at when it was moved to the secondary. This made for a weirdly sweet saison—the yeast character was correct for 3711, but the FG was way higher than any of the other beers I’ve made with 3711. Since I wasn’t sure I wanted to bottle the other four gallons, I pitched in the final third of a bottle of Bruery Saison de Lente, which had developed some nice funky characteristics to it—here’s hoping the Brettanomyces in the Saison de Lente picks up this beer.

10/8/2010: I tried another bottle to see where it was at; still sweet with very little carbonation.

6/26/2011: I’ve purposefully waited on typing up notes on this beer as I wanted to give the brett character a chance to develop. At this point, the cherry pie flavors in the body would indicate that this is brettanomyces lambicus, although there could be multiple strains; however, this flavor is the one that is currently most apparent in the beer. The beer pours a crystal clear gold with a thin white head than keeps at least a ring and a skiff throughout the entire beer, while the nose is a delicate mix of sweet fruity and floral aromas with a slight adhesive or smoky character in the background—the fruitiness seems a combination of 3711 yeast character and slight hints of soft cherry. There is not much in the way of malt in the nose, just perfume-y floral and fruit notes. Flavors start soft and candy sweet; there is an ever so slight touch of caramel in the front before dropping into the cherry pie tang of the middle, which picks up strength and power into the finish and creates a slight curl in the back of the throat. There is also a slight warming solvent character that accompanies the rise in cherry fruit flavor, with a brief residual smokiness mixing with the curl in the back of the throat. There is also some spiciness in the final third, possibly from the dandelion root and leaves—the spiciness lingers, as does the light alcohol warmth. The body is bone dry; after the initial impression of sweetness, the body drops off, leaving the other palate sensations listed, but without the impression of substance in the body (after all, it did finish at 1.000)—hence the lingering spiciness and light alcohol flavor. The beer is interesting and enjoyable, but it could use more complexity and nuance; for that, I am looking forward to the beer I pitched onto this yeast cake, the American Hopped Belgian Pale Ale. Nonetheless, I’ll call this a good start for the first beer I tried with brettanomyces. Here’s to many, many more.

Monday, August 9, 2010

402. Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic Ale

It’s more of that pesky Rogue—they keep coming back around, and coming back around. And it is soooooo hard to say no. SO hard. After all, who doesn’t have a little rogue in them? (Rim shot, please!) This also marks our like gazillionth Rogue beer: our Rogue’s list includes John John Juniper, First Growth Single Malt Ale, Dead Guy, Shark Tooth Ale, John John Dead Guy, Mogul Madness, Dirtoir Black Lager, Yellow Snow IPA, Chipotle Ale, First Growth Wet Hop Ale, Juniper Pale Ale, Maierfest and Capt’n Sig’s Northwestern Ale. OREgasmic Ale makes 14, including four from the Chatoe Rogue series.

Pouring a hazy orange copper, OREgasmic Ale has a thin eggshell head and a hoppy and biscuity nose—the hoppiness in the nose is a rather generic hop smell, but it is distinct in its hoppiness. Flavors begin with bready and warm bread crust maltiness coupled with dry biscuit; the middle has a good bitterness mixed with hop spiciness and resin flavors, and the finish has a slight return of sweetness—more caramel here than bready—and lingering bitterness. With a medium body and carbonation, and a bright, fresh mouthfeel along with some drying characteristics from the hoppiness, OREgasmic Ale is interesting but also has something of a homebrew feel to it—flavors are good although a bit muddled, and while enjoyable it could use a bit more balance. OREgasmic Ale is also bottle-conditioned, which, unless I’m mistaken, is something new from Rogue. While the flavors are muddled, the beer does finish clean—we said it has a homebrew quality to it, but it is still Rogue, and Rogue ain’t half-steppin’.

From the bottle: “Orange-amber in color, malty aroma, spicy fruity hop flavor with solid malt background and lingering finish. Brewed using 100% OREGON Ingredients. Micro Barley Farm first growth Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Rogue Micro Hopyard Willamette & first growth Independent Hops, Pacman Yeast and Free Range Coastal Water.”

From the Rogue website: “OREgasmic Ale is brewed with all First Growth Oregon hops and malt grown on Rogue’s own micro hopyard and barley farm. OREgasmic Ale is the third Chatoe Rogue release, following Dirtoir Black Lager and Single Malt Ale. Available July 1st.”

ABV: 6.0%
OG: 15° P
IBU: 40


Friday, August 6, 2010

APA Brewday

This beer had two goals: to see what a beer hopped all with Willamette tasted like, and to see what an APA made with a lower AA level hop would do—could you get enough hop flavor, aroma, and bitterness while still keeping an overall balance? In part, the goal was a subtle, subdued APA, not the APA that is really more an IPA. So we’ll see...

73: Single Hop American Pale Ale: Willamette
1.75 oz. Maris Otter
9.4 oz. Breiss 2-row
8 oz. Belgian Pale Malt
1 lb. Dingeman’s Pale Malt
8 oz. Breiss Caramel 20 L
8 oz. Dingeman’s Biscuit

Mashed @ 150° F for 60 min. w/ 7 quarts of water; raised to 170° F
Sparged with 1 gallon of 170° F water

Added to brew kettle, brought to a boil (60 minute) and added:
5 lbs. Breiss Pilsen Light DME
8 oz. Turbinado Sugar
½ teaspoon gypsum
1 ¼ oz. Willamette leaf 4.8% AA

w/10 minutes to go:
1 tsp. Irish Moss
1 oz. Willamette leaf 4.8% AA

w/5 minutes to go:
1 oz. Willamette leaf 4.8% AA

@ removal from heat:
1 oz. Willamette leaf 4.8% AA

Cooled wort, racked to bucket, and pitched on Wyeast 1332 Northwest Ale cake

Brewed: 8/6/2010 @ 72° F
Secondary: 8/16/2010 @ 1.014 (dry hopped with ¾ oz. Willamette leaf 4.8% AA)
Bottled: 8/28/2010 with 3.5 oz. white sugar (70° F)

OG: 1.054
FG: 1.008

Tasting Notes 9/30/2010: Pours a hazy golden copper—I’d say it pours almost the color of bread crust—with a very abundant off-white head. Ah, over-carbonation, the bane of my brewing. The nose is subtle spiciness and citrus, along with a light fruitiness and toasty malt and possibly a slight touch of grassiness. The hop wheel in Jamil’s Brewing Classic Styles locates Willamette as having low levels of spicy and floral hop aromas; I get the spicy, but not the floral. There is a citrus component, also—I’m guessing the slight fruitiness is from the yeast—which could possibly be the floral mixing with other components of the beer—who knows? Flavors start spicy with an initial biscuit malt character that becomes slightly bready in the middle. The bitterness in the middle is subdued but present, with citrus and pine flavors that linger into the finish. There is more of the biscuit malt flavor in the finish as well, albeit just briefly, and the spicy bitterness tingles nicely on the back of the tongue. The body is medium with bright, effervescent carbonation, although the mouthfeel is lightly creamy and a bit soft on the palate. I do like the balance in this beer between the malt and the hops, and the heavy use of a lighter AA hop resulted in the gentler hop complexity that I hoped for—there is nuance, but the overall beer is lighter and very drinkable without the overpowering bitterness that has started to push many APAs into the realm of IPAs. While the next version of this might not be a single hop, it will be back again soon.

Dayton Beerfest (9/11/2010): 41; won APA and Best of DRAFT

401. Pretty Things Jack D’Or Saison Americain

Here’s another special treat I brought back from Brooklyn. We invited Jeff over to try this, because, well, that’s what we do. This is our first beer from Pretty Things, which is described on the label as “Good Time Artisanal Beers brewed in Massachusetts.” They’re based in Cambridge, but describe themselves as a “gypsy brewery.” Harump. I’d being having good times too if I got to travel around and brew at other people’s facilities. And just in case all of you out there were wondering, we’re also available for any such brewing chicanery you should need. All you need to do is ask...

Jack D’Or pours a lightly hazy gold with a thin white head; the nose is lightly acidic and slightly candy malt sweet. Flavors start with faint hints of malt sweetness and graininess that quickly fade into the dry and lightly bitter middle. The finish is minerally and even chalky with a touch of lingering bitterness, but other than that rather clean. Jack D’Or has a dry and minerally mouthfeel; the bright carbonation further dries out the beer on the palate, leaving not much besides the initial touch of sweetness, some bitterness, and the chalky/mineral components. The nose is sweeter than the body; with the addition of the yeast from the bottle, there is a bit of softness and breadiness that is added to the flavor profile and mouthfeel. As well, as the carbonation mellows, a small amount of chewiness emerges, although there is still quite a bit of the chalky and minerally components to close out the beer. A good saison, especially as an American version, although it is not one of the very best. Still, Jack D’Or is drinkable and certainly enjoyable.
Contemplating beer.

From the label: “Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is a husband & wife venture based in Cambridge, MA. We brew our own beers in other people’s breweries. Our beers are inspired by fun times and happy days. Here’s to that! Cheers from Dann & Martha.”

Bored with beer.

From the Pretty Things website: “‘Jack D’Or’ is a simple table beer, or ‘Saison Americain’ as we’re referring to it. We are not trying to coin a beer style–we’re just having fun. At PRETTY THINGS we don’t brew styles per se. Instead, we re-imagine everything and leave the style numbers in books on the shelves where they belong. What that means is that while other people might be able to put our beers into a category, we have a hard time with it! Our beers are first and foremost creative beasts, not ‘types’ of beer. Jack D’Or is the kind of beer Martha and I like to drink before, after and during a great meal. Heck, we’ll drink this sort of beer any time. On our honeymoon in France and Belgium we stashed quite a few cases of Wallonian beer into our trunk. Every night after setting up our tent we’d cook lardons and lentils on our camp stove and enjoy fresh ‘saison’ under the stars. Inspired by some of our favorites saisons like Saison DuPont, but also DeRanke’s XX Bitter, De Dolle’s Arabier, and local table IPAs like Smuttynose, our Jack D’Or starts off with North American Pils, Vienna, Wheat and Malted Oats (among others) and is hopped with a combination of four hops, finishing with Palisade and Nugget. Fermentation-wise we use a blend of three yeast strains to give Jack D’Or its refreshingly dry character. Finally, despite all of the spicy flavours in this beer it contains no actual spices–only malt, oats, sugar, hops and yeast. One more time: there are no spices whatsoever in Jack D’Or! We reserve the right to make this beer better on a batch-to-batch basis, but we promise to keep you up to date with any changes that we make. That said, revealing too much of what we’re doing takes away some of the fun, so we’re not going turn this beer into a set of numbers and raw materials on here either.”

ABV: 6.5%
Bottled: June 2010
Batch 16


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

400. Fort Collins Rocky Mountain IPA

A note up front: after 400 different beers in 400 days (actually, probably something more like 500 different beers in 400 days), we’re calling a moratorium on new beer. We’ll keep drinking, oh yes, but not at such a hectic pace of a new beer every god damn day. Remember, beer is not a competition. I know that many of you are thinking, “Hey, wait a minute...,” but I’m gonna have to stop you right there. Let me repeat: beer is not a competition. Sure, you can make it into one, but that doesn’t make it right. In fact, that would actually detract from beer. It is, in the words of my late, great mother, a re-spon-si-bil-lit-ty. I know that isn’t the correct syllabic breakdown, but that’s how my mother pronounced it when she was drilling the concept into my head as a child. Now, you can pretend that I’m somehow scarred by the experience and ignore my advice, or you can accept the fact that beer is not a competition. Be an adult, god-dammit.

And now on with the show.

Tonight’s libation procuration finds us at South Park Tavern for pizza and beer. Upsides include: lots of beer, pizza, and even some live music via the South Park Rock ’n’ Roll Playdate. Downsides include: that dude with the ukulele who really really really felt he was far more clever than he actually was, and belonged on some really really really bad children’s show. And I’m not talking Pee Wee’s Playhouse bad. I’m talking choosing-the-lobotomy-over-continuing-watching bad (um, that would be die, by the way). I want to piss on your grave, dude. Our choice for drowning the wailing lamentations of ukulele-boy was Fort Collins Rocky Mountain IPA, which did help. Not nearly enough, but it did help. We’ve also tried Kidd Black Lager from Fort Collins.

Rocky Mountain IPA pours a gentle copper with an eggshell/ivory head; the nose is biscuit and cracker with a grainy malty presence accompanied by herbal and grassy hop aromas. Flavors open with caramel malt and graininess, followed by a fruity bitterness in the middle that also carried an herbal hop tang and flavor. The finish left a lingering bitterness and also featured a return of the biscuit malt of the front. Rocky Mountain IPA has medium carbonation and a good amount of dryness on the palate to accompany the medium body—it feels like a combination of biscuit malt and hops, and is quite pleasant. Overall, if push came to shove, we’d call it more English that American, but then again, the trials and tribulations of a keg traveling to Dayton has to experience many hardships, I am certain. We did have several

From the Fort Collins website: “Balanced to Perfection: An IPA by definition is liberally hopped and higher in alcohol. We made Rocky Mountain IPA by dry hopping for an intense floral aroma and adding a generous helping of malt to create a backbone stable enough to support the characteristic bitterness of the beer.”

ABV: 6.4%
IBU: 80


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

399. Southern Tier IPA

It’s the return of the non-imperial. Another rare appearance of the small beer from Southern Tier here on what we’re drinking—I know, I know, will such shocks never end. Added to Pale Ale, Krampus, Old Man Winter, Crème Brûlée, Mokah, and Jah*va, this makes seven from Southern Tier. And that’s the money number...

Described on the website as “the iso-alpha acid experience,” STIPA pours a lightly hazy but mostly clear copper with an ivory head that also laces the glass quite nicely. The nose is an even mix or caramel and bread maltiness coupled with spicy, resiny, and piney hop aromas. In other words, the nose is tasty smelling—even Elli approves of this nose. The flavors start bright on the mouth, helped in part by the carbonation—the carbonation hits the front of the mouth early and then bites a bit more on the final third, giving STIPA a slightly spritzy start that works nicely. The bready caramel front also carries a touch of spicy resin hop flavor before giving way to the bitterness of the middle, which has some of the initial hoppiness along with some additional pine hop flavor and a bit of biscuit malt. The finish is pleasantly bitter mixed with more of the hop spiciness and some caramel flavors, the bitterness lingering lightly on the palate. STIPA has a medium body with a balanced mouthfeel—the hop profile is both complex and nuanced, but works in tandem with the hop profile. As noted above, the carbonation enhances and builds the flavor and mouthfeel; STIPA is smooth, and very, very quaffable. And, might I add, well done.

From the Southern Tier website: “IPA stands for India Pale Ale and ours is an American version of the classic style. IPA’s namesake lies in its colonial roots. British soldiers on their way to India drank a lot of beer, but found it would go stale on the long voyages. Meanwhile, brewers knew that by adding more hops the beer would stay fresh. Voila! A new style was born and it is one we are proud to brew. Southern Tier IPA is triple hopped on its journey to your glass for a fully aromatic experience.”

ABV: 7.4%


Monday, August 2, 2010

398. Captain Lawrence Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA

Thank fucking goodness for home. After yesterday’s fiasco, I was verily ready for something distinctly better. Captain Lawrence Brewing Company is located in Pleasantville, NY; I scored this at Bierkraft while I was visiting Adam and Jenn. Isn’t that what Brooklyn is for?

Pouring a lightly hazy gold, Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA has a fine white head that laces the glass rather well. The nose is a lightly bready malt that also has a touch of caramel sweetness, and there is a generous amount of pine and resin hop aromas that accompany the malt. The beer drinks light for an imperial IPA; while there is the slightest warming touch in the back of the mouth at the end, it is otherwise smooth and easy drinking. Flavors open with a dry bready and bread crust malt flavor before moving into the bitterness of the middle. The middle also has good hop flavor—there is a lot of hop resin flavor that works well with the bitterness. The finish is dry and bitter, with the bitterness lingering, but only lightly. While neither the malt nor hop profile are very complex, both are well done and exceedingly well-balanced, giving this beer some sweet easy-drinkin’ action. The body is medium to heavy with a sweet and almost chewy mouthfeel, while the carbonation is medium to heavy—the brightness in the final third helps lighten the beer on the palate as well as cleaning and rounding the beer. Quite a nice beer overall—we could happily put down a couple of these, as it is very well-balanced for an imperial IPA, which is saying something. Nice job, Captain Lawrence—you can pilot my evening any time you like.

From the bottle: “Imperial India Pale Ale. Even the name sounds impressive. But what should really impress you is the hoppy nectar that is held within this bottle. A true testament to the ingenuity of the American craft brewers; this style of beer concentrates more hop character than any style before it. Created from a blend of different hop varieties, this beer is the ultimate hop lover’s dream come true. Cheers.”

From the Captain Lawrence website: “This beer is a salute to the ingenuity and creativity of the American craft brewers. A uniquely American style of beer, the Double or Imperial IPA, has become the calling card of many craft brewers who aren't afraid to push the limits of what hops can add to a beer. This beer is big and hoppy - not for the faint of heart! Be prepared to experience sensory overload as you savor this Imperial IPA. Hops, and lots of them. The aroma is bursting with the classic citrus and pine aroma of American-grown hops. The flavor is dominated by a hoppy bitterness, with just enough malt to make you want to take another sip.”

Hops: Columbus, Chinook, & Cascade
Malts: Domestic Pale, English Pale, & English Crystal
IBU: 80
OG: 20° P


Sunday, August 1, 2010

397. Blue Moon

So it finally happened: amongst the travails of travelling and the busy-ness and tight scheduling of life, I got screwed and had to drink a crappy beer. Thank you La Guardia. Sure, I coulda drank something early in the a.m. before the flight, or even after I finally got home well past midnight, but that would be lying. Straight up lying. So while I was stuck in the Delta terminal of La Guardia, I chose the best beer at my disposal: Blue Moon. A sad and tragic choice on many levels, yes. But at least I had Jeff Sparrow’s Wild Brews: Beer Beyond the Influence of Brewer’s Yeast to read. You know, to counter all the Coors-esque vibes. Although I think the encounter between my reading material and drinking material threatened to implode the very fabric of the space-time continuum.

And I would like all of you to note: I am drinking Blue Moon out of a Samuel Adams glass, even though they had no Samuel Adams available to drink. Go figure.