Monday, October 25, 2010

421. Stone Vertical Epic 10/10/10

The latest monster in the longest running show on Broadway, Vertical Epic 10/10/10 is described on the label as an ale “brewed with Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes and chamomile.” It would appear that wine is the new beer. Or that beer is the new wine. Something like that. Either way, in regards to the old beer, or, my normative mainstay, we’ve already tried several beers from Stone, including Stone 14 Emperial IPA, Saison du Buff “collabo” with Dogfish Head and Victory, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Pale Ale, Vertical Epic 09.09.09, the Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter collabo” with Maui Brewing and Ken Schmidt, and the IRS ’05-’09 vertical tasting.

Pouring a dull but clear golden straw, 10/10/10 has a white fluffy head that maintains some life before the inevitable reduction to a ring around the edge of the glass. The nose is actually a bit bland; I get the Muscat mixed with layers of sweet candy malt, and a bit of young white wine grape mustiness (which, I will note, is vastly different than the grape aroma in a couple of the Bell’s beers—like 25th Anniversary Ale and Christmas Ale—that is more “grape-y,” while this an actual white wine grape-iness), but not much else in the way of distinct malt, grape, or spice aromatics. There is a touch of creaminess to the nose, but also none of the slightly metallic notes that indicate a golden triple. As it warms, some alcohol comes out in the nose, but again, not much else. Flavors start sweet with clear white wine notes—more Gewurztraminer than anything else. The middle dries out, even as there is a backdrop of sweetness across the back of the mouth. There is a bit of sharp brightness in the finish—possibly some tannic bite or possibly some young alcohol flavor, but nothing overly done or out of character. Some alcohol warmth emerges as the beer warms, mostly in the rear of the roof of the mouth and the back of the throat. The mouthfeel is clean, bright, and even. The white wine/golden triple mixture leaves this beer lacking some of the distinctive characteristics of both; while interesting, there is not a lot of complexity at this point. But then again, I’m supposed to be sitting on this for a couple of years before I drink it, right?

I think this is some sort of Hammer reference...

From the bottle: “This ninth edition of our Stone Vertical Ale series takes two interesting left turns. A Belgian-style golden triple is the starting point for this beer, but the first left turn is nearly immediate with the addition of dried chamomile flowers, triticale, and Belgian amber candi sugar. The second and rather unusual left turn takes us half an hour up the road from Stone to Temecula courtesy of the addition of just-pressed Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes from our friends at South Coast Winery. As the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series has moved through the calendar, we found that the brewing schedule for a 10.10.10 release coincided nicely with the grape harvest, neatly providing an interesting twist in this epic tale.”

ABV: 9.5%
Yeast: Belgian Ardennes
Hops: German Perle


Sunday, October 17, 2010

420. Brooklyn Detonation Double IPA

I scored this at the Party Source in Newport, KY; we swung by there after Oktoberbest yesterday and I couldn’t say no—Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Series on tap? Hello, that’s why growlers were invented! Previously, we’ve tried Brooklyn Katz, Summer Ale, Sorachi Ace, Black Ops 2010, East India Pale Ale and Pennant Ale ’55. That makes Detonation lucky number 7. True that.

Pouring a hazy rich and bright copper, Detonation has a thin ivory head that hangs around—it rings the glass, but still has a light cover even half way through the glass. The nose is spicy and piney with some citrus underneath; there is a fair amount of sweet maltiness to balance the hop presence, and a gentle soft creamy aroma that rounds things out. Once it is in the mouth, soft biscuit sweetness covers the tongue followed quickly by an evergreen and citrus hop tang that envelopes the mouth. As the hop flavors recede, a pleasant bitterness emerges, balancing well with the creamy biscuit malt flavors and the mineral tang that rises with the carbonation bite as the beer turns to the finish. Resin, pine, and spicy hop flavor makes up the finish, although there is a touch of citrus—lemon, orange, and grapefruit—adding their zing to the beer. There is a long, lingering bitterness as the flavors recede, and just a touch of alcohol warmth. With a medium to heavy body and a medium carbonation, Detonation has chewy mouthfeel made lighter by both the hop bitterness and carbonation. There is a bit of hop grassiness and sharpness that develops in the beer as it warms; while there are some of the hallmarks of a bigger beer—heavier mouthfeel, large hop presence, and the alcohol warmth at the end—Detonation goes down smooth and easy. If I was out and found this on tap, I could easily see me getting myself in trouble. But my behavior (or lack thereof) is not the point here—it is, rather, the beer. And Detonation is just about perfect for that lazy Sunday afternoon, out on the back porch enjoying one of the last waning days of summer, the bite of fall already creeping into the early evening. Detonation takes the chill off, or, to put it into a metaphoric construction more in keeping with the name, Detonation is droppin’ bombs on your moms.

From the Brooklyn website: “For about eight years now, we’ve brewed a Brooklyn-style hop monster called BLAST! It’s a robust IPA using both British and Pacific Northwest hops. We haven’t had enough space to brew much of it, but we hear that people really enjoy BLAST! when it shows up. And it’s one of our favorite beers here at the brewery. Well, now we’d like more of you to see our hoppier side. Meet BLAST!’s big brother, Brooklyn Detonation Ale. It’s a copper-colored pale ale with British malt character, American hop ebullience, Brooklyn attitude and disturbing drinkability. British caramel malts lend richness and depth, while a blend of American hops give the beer a minerally backbone and explosive aromatics (with a special guest appearance by our pal East Kent Golding as ‘The English Aristocrat’). Brooklyn Detonation Ale is mighty tasty. It probably even gives you fresher breath and whiter teeth, but we can’t prove that part. Nor can we support the claim that it concentrates the mind on life’s better aspects. However, we can guarantee that it’s terrific with pork tacos, Thai food, Indian dishes, burgers, and sharp cheeses. So have yourself some Brooklyn Detonation Ale–after all, isn’t it about time you blew up?”

Malts: British floor malted Maris Otter, German pilsner malt, British crystal malt
Other sugars: First pressing Demerara sugar, Mauritius
Hops: Willamette, Amarillo, Palisade, Sorachi Ace, Simcoe, Cascade & East Kent Golding
O.G.: 21.5° P
ABV: 10.2%

You check out that crazy fool the English Aristocrat? Yo, that’s who’s dropping those bombs on your moms...


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oktoberbest Zinzinnati Beer Judging

Saturday morning found me trying to stay awake in the back of Dave Williamson’s car, headed down to the Northside neighborhood (Northside!) in Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Malt Infusers Oktoberbest Zinzinnati Homebrew Competition. For those of you already in the know, I participated in this event last year in conjunction with the BJCP class I was taking. Now I’m all grown up and judging on my own. Oh, and you can find the overall results of the competition here.

The morning flight was Light Lager (1B, 1D, and 1E) and Pilsner (2A and 2B), which is a pretty nice way to start out—getting hit with Strong Ale out of the gate would be a bit rough, with only donuts and a cup of coffee to tide me over. We had a solid round of eight beers—there was a little bit of everything, and all of it was good. Flight winners were:

Table 1: Catergories 1 and 2 (8 Entries)
1. Wayne Palumbo, Honey Lager, 1B Standard American
2. Scotty Elliot, Hell or Tower, 2A German Pilsner
3. Scotty Elliot, Der Dort Moon, 1E Dortmunder Export
HM. Frank Barickman, Conan in Helles, 1D.Munich Helles


After lunch, it was on to Belgian and French Ale (16A, 16B, 16C, 16D, and 16E) plus Sour Ale(which was only 17A and 17F I believe). Again, another very strong round of beers; there were three sets of judges, and between myself and the judge I was paired with, we had seven beers, including the eventual BOS winner, William Magnuszewski, Ellzebelle. I participated in the mini-BOS with the top six beers; flight winners were:

Table 13: Catergory 16 and 17 (20 Entries)
1. William Magnuszewski, Ellzebelle, 16E Belgian Specialty
2. Scott Lafollette, Belgian Wit, 16A Witbier
3. Andy Melchers, Royal Belgian Rye, 16E Belgian Specialty
HM. Chad Alstaetter, Witty High Saison, 16E Belgian Specialty

Free swag!

Judge gifts included a Cincy Beerfest Pint Glass and a $10 Gift Certificate to Northern Brewer. Seriously. Damn. Someone’s raising the stakes of the game. I’ve already managed to lose the Northern Brewer Gift Certificate, but the pint glass is getting put to use.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mild Paw Paw/Mild Coconut Brewday

This was another all-grain effort; the last beer was intended as the test run to plan for the splitting and fruiting that I wanted to attempt with this batch. Plus, I figured that a bit more overall yeast would help with the paw paws. And in case you don’t know what a paw paw is, check here. After all, it’s only the “largest edible fruit indigenous to the continent.” Aww, come on guys...Maybe you guys need a refresher course.

78a. Mild Paw Paw/ 78b. Mild Coconut
3 lbs. Muntons Mild
1 lb. Breiss 2-row Pale
3 lbs. Dingeman’s Pale
8 oz. Muntons Crystal 60 L
4 oz. Weyerman’s CaraWheat
4 oz. Dingeman’s Cara 45 Belgian 48 L
6 oz. Muntons Dark Crystal 135-165 L
5 oz. Crisp Pale Chocolate

Mashed w/2 ½ gallons water @ 153° F for 60 min.; raised to 170° F
Batch sparged with 1 gallon of 170° F water for 10 minutes

Added to brew kettle, brought to a boil (60 minute) and added:
.85 oz. Willamette leaf 4.8% AA

Split batch:
2/3 batch dumped on 2 lbs. 10 oz. peeled frozen Paw Paws (seeds included); let sit for 45 minutes to pasteurize fruit; cooled, and pitched mason jar of WLP 002 from 76. Mild

Brewed: 10/14/2010
Secondary: 11/20/2010 @ 1.005
Bottled: 1/15/2011 w/ 2 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.030
FG: 1.004

Tasting Notes: I can’t believe I haven’t these notes yet, although it’s not like mother-fuckers are knocking down my door for the low-down on the Paw Paw Mild. I’m pretty sure my only readers—Jeffrey and the Googlebot bots that haunt my site—both lost interest in this recipe light-years ago. Let’s be honest: if it wasn’t for Jeffrey, the Googlebot bots would be my only internet friends. And as buried as these observations are, I’m sure my ennui will never be noted, let alone observed. So I’ll put that in my pipe and smoke it. Blogging is the new anonymity. Pithy, huh? But let’s not forget about the beer. Paw Paw Mild pours a crystal clear amber; there are some orange and ruby highlights, but the beer is pretty light and clear—I purposefully left out the couple of ounces of Black Patent malt because I didn’t wanted the delicate aromas and flavors of the Paw Paw to be lost. The thin tan head has difficulty hanging around, but rouses rather easily, and is helped by the profuse visible streaming bubbles in the beer. Yes, it is safe to say this is a bit overcarbonated for an English beer. Mea culpa. The nose is an interesting combination of malt and fruit—there are nutty and grainy malts aromas, with the grainy bordering on husky, and faint hints of chocolate, all of which is balanced by the distinct smell of Paw Paws, which I can best describe as a combination of banana, pineapple, mango, papaya, and that slightly gamier tropical fruit smell that borders on rotting but that you keep compulsively smelling anyway. You know the one I mean. Flavors mirror the nose—the beer opens with grainy and husky chocolate malt, followed immediately by the fruit medley mentioned above. Fruit flavors are brighter on the tongue than the aroma in the nose—the gamey aspects of the nose are transformed into passion fruit flavors that marry well with the other fruits. There’s also something reminiscent of the tangy flavor of slightly overripe peaches flesh. The slight carbonic bite from the carbonation might explain the subtle differences between nose and tongue; otherwise, it brightens the beer on the palate—while it is probably a bit much for a mild, the overall effect is pleasant, and the subtlety and complexity of flavor is very enjoyable. The slight alkaloid flavor of the Paw Paw balances well with the chocolate malt flavors of a Mild—this is one of the reasons Elli and I decided to pair the two together, rather than the most obvious and by proxy less interesting choice (which would be the American Wheat, not that I’m dissing). I think this combination works, but it is not quite the perfect match, or at least not in this version. I’ll undoubtedly try it again when I get my hands on some more Paw Paws; the other thing I intend to try is a Paw Paw Mead, which I think might work slightly better. Don’t worry—you’ll be the first to know, my lovely Googlebot friends.

1/3 boiled for 5 minutes w/ 2 oz. toasted coconut; chilled, and racked onto WLP 002 cake from batch 76

Brewed: 10/14/2010
Secondary: 10/29/2010; 1.008
Bottled: 11/4/2010 with 1 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.032
FG: 1.008

Tasting Notes: Coconut Mild pours a clear caramel brown with brilliant red and orange highlights, while the head is a creamy and long-lasting tan color. The nose is mix of toasted coconut and chalky but creamy chocolate. Flavors follow the nose—opening with dry light chocolate and coffee before giving way to a creamy dryness coupled with a slight mineral component, Coconut Mild finishes with a toasted coconut and mild roasted flavor that also has nutty and dark fruit elements to it. The carbonation is lighter than the last version (76), but is still a bit high; flavor complexity increases as the beer loses some of its carbonation, although that slightly flat cola flavor still carries the day. The coconut mixed with the malt profile provides a subtlety that helps build the overall balance; there is better body and flavor than 76, although not all of this is from the inclusion of coconut—the variety in the malt profile seems to be providing more to the overall flavor. While I’m not a big fan of coconut, these two flavors go well together here. And no, I don’t have a picture. Not sure where it went.

419. Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela No. 1 Pumpkin Ale

Those of you who know me know that I’m not much of a fan of the pumpkin beer—something about an overabundance of spices and/or a mouth full of potpourri just doesn’t sit well with me. However, if someone is gonna pull it off right, it’s gonna be Ron Jeffries. So when I saw this beer sitting on the shelf, it was already in hand before that voice in the back of my head said “Wait, that’s a pumpkin beer.” But before I had a chance to say something, some other voice responded “Yeah, but it’s a Jolly Pumpkin pumpkin beer, fool. That’s money in the bank.” That’s right—bring on the funky pumpkin. This is our sixth Jolly Pumpkin beer; we’ve had Oro de Calabaza, Baudelaire IO Saison, Bière de Mars, E.S.Bam, and La Roja.

La Parcela pours a hazy toffee-colored tan with an abundant and mousse-y eggshell head. The nose has a hint of the spices referred to on the label—I get nutmeg, cinnamon, all-spice, and possibly cardamom—but there is also a light funky barnyard backdrop that, coupled with a touch of citric brightness, blends well with spice aromas. Flavors start sweet but dry, with a slight emphasis on the spice in the front before the funky flavors come to the forefront, mixing well with the low levels of citric tartness. The lively, bright, and effervescent carbonation helps blend spice and funk, leaving lingering nutmeg and barnyard flavors in the finish along with some citric tang and light mineral touches. La Parcela has a medium to light body, and, as noted, bright, popping carbonation, while the mouthfeel is spicy dry funkiness. This is easily the best pumpkin beer I’ve ever had; the combination of sour funkiness and light spicing works amazingly well, and the balance is phenomenal. I wonder if the funky characteristics would continue to develop over time—I may have to buy a second bottle to sit back and find out.

From the bottle: “OK, so the joke was Jolly Pumpkin doesn’t brew a pumpkin beer. Well, now we do. Just this one. Packed with real pumpkins, hints of spice, and a gentle kiss of cacao to liven the soul. An everyday easy way to fill your squashy quotient. Guess now folks will have to find something else to joke about...”

ABV: 5.9%
Batch 611
Bottled: 8-18-2010

Funk-y Pump-kin!
Clap! Clap! Clapclapclap!
Funk-y Pump-kin!
Clap! Clap! Clapclapclap!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Wild Wet Hop Brewday

The fruits of yesterday’s labor headed for their rendezvous with my brewpot. Nothing says delicious like a little over a pound of fresh hops laying around waiting to be used. My favorite secondary effect are the thousands of aphids that ended up on the kitchen counter, and/or in the brewpot. The AA of this beer stands for aphid apocalypse. Word.

77. Wild Wet Hop Beer
1 lb. Breiss 2-row
1 lb. Dingeman’s Pale malt
8 oz. Dingeman’s Biscuit malt
8 oz. Breiss Caramel 20 L

Mashed @ 150° F for 60 minutes (hit 158° F) with 6 quarts water; 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:
3 lbs. 6 oz. Pilsen Light DME
1 ½ lbs. Bavarian Wheat DME
8 oz. Turbinado Sugar
1 tsp. gypsum
7.6 oz. wild wet hops

w/10 min. to go: 3.3 oz. wild wet hops

w/5 min. to go: 4 oz. wild wet hops

@ removal from heat: 4 oz. wild wet hops

Chilled wort, racked to bucket, and pitched mason jar of Wyeast 1332 Northwest Ale saved from batch 72

Brewed: 10/11/2010
Secondary: 10/29/2010 @ 1.012
Bottled: 11/4/2010

OG: 1.054 (or something like that; I forgot to write it down)
FG: 1.012

Tasting Notes: This marks the second year we’ve made this beer; the wild bike path hops don’t carry a lot of bitterness, but they create subtle and gentle fruit flavors. The goal this year was to construct a light, pale malt body that would showcase the strength of these hops while also constructing an approachable and drinkable beer. Pouring a light caramel copper that is slightly hazy, Wild Wet Hop has a mousse-y thick white head that laces the glass well. The nose is soft and perfume-y fruit: apple and pear with a fair amount of juiciness in the front followed by a slight spicy tartness. There is no malt in the nose, but that was part of the intention with a restrained malt bill—I wanted a chance to showcase the full range of the hops. The beer starts with light caramel and breadiness that quickly gives way to fruit and floral hop flavors; the middle dries out and features spicy hop flavors with a clean and clear pear flavor, and the finish is spicy and tart coupled with a gentle lingering bitterness. There is a touch of sharpness in the finish that is lightly grassy and vegetal, most likely from the 1 ½ lbs. of fresh hops. The carbonation is bright, lively, and creamy—it both lightens and brightens the beer, rounding it on the palate. As fresh hop beers go, this one is closer to a APA than an IPA; it is bright and very drinkable. Not everyone has enjoyed the apple and pear tartness; in last year’s beer I initially thought the flavor was from was acetaldehyde (green apple bite) until I realized the other tart and fruity components that were apparent in the beer. This year, I used both a different yeast and a much lighter malt profile, and the apple tartness is brighter and the pear flavors are more forward on the palate. For next year’s version, I’ll probably drop the malt level and push this towards a session-level fresh hop beer to further play with the delicate hop flavors. I’m also planning on scoring more of the wild wet hops—I love the light bright flavor of the hops, so I want enough to enjoy for more than a couple of weeks. Word.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

418. Sierra Nevada Homegrown Estate Ale

Say hello to wet hop season, which is pretty much our favorite seasonal time for beer—so many delicious and delightful beers. We spent the earlier part of the day picking hops on the local bike path—that’s right, there’s tons of hops growing along the bike path—to make our own fresh wild wet hop beer tomorrow. Dayton may not have a lot going for it, but it does have a fair share of randomly growing wild hops. Combine a hunter/gatherer significant other with someone who is dumb enough to brew beer with random wild hops from the side of a bike path, and you’ve got a recipe for beer chicanery. As for Sierra Nevada, this isn’t our first time encountering their brand of beer-induced nirvana—we’ve previously sampled Charlie, Fred, & Ken’s Imperial Helles Bock, Southern Hemisphere Harvest, Bigfoot, 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken’s Ale, Kellerweis, Celebration, Torpedo Extra IPA, Anniversary Ale 2009 and Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2008, making ten beers all told from the sundry estates in Chico.

Described on the front of the bottle as “handmade, homegrown, and completely natural,” and using “organic wet hops and barley,” Estate Ale pours a rich orange copper—it’s clear with a creamy eggshell head, and bright as a burnished penny. There is also a fair amount of lacing left on the glass. The nose has spicy and resin hop flavors with a faint malt caramel and creaminess. Flavors start sweet and dry; there is caramel and biscuit maltiness before the hop spiciness and bitterness enters the picture. The middle has earthy hop flavors mixed with citrus and spicy pine; there are also lower levels of caramel sweetness. The finish has a slight sweet tinge, produced in part by the carbonation bite that rolls over the tongue, bringing with it brightness and spicy resin bitterness that lingers pleasantly on the palate. Estate Ale has a sweet caramel and hoppy bitter mouthfeel, although the body is noticeably lighter than we would have anticipated. This may be in part via the carbonation, which is bright up front but restrained as a whole, which does lighten the beer. Hop flavor and aroma are well done; there might be a slight touch of grassiness in the finish (although there is far more spicy pine resin hop flavor), but bitterness is kept in the background, allowing the flavor and aroma to shine through. A delicious start to the best beer season of the year. We’d like to find a home in Sierra Nevada Estate Ale.

From the bottle: “Here in the sun-drenched fields of California’s North Valley, the black soil is rich with promise. In winter, rows of barley seed are laid in the freshly tilled dirt. In spring, trellises are set for hops. From our fields comes a remarkable homegrown ale, made with organic wet hops and barley grown at our brewery here in Chico and one of the few estate-made ales produced anywhere in the world! This Estate Ale is rich with flavors of the valley—featuring hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas and barley with mild sweetness and smooth toasted flavors. Together, these crops grow alongside the brewery to make a truly unique brew. Enjoy!”

ABV: 6.7%


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mild Brewday

While today’s title makes a nice homophonic pun, the focus is on the style, not the level of exertion, although with the lighter grain bill, one does kind of lead to the other, doesn’t it? But I digress. Today is also my first solo all-grain batch, which also accounts for the mild focus—smaller grain bill means (hopefully) less chances to drop the metaphoric brewing ball. After all, ain’t sports and beer what it’s all about?

76. Mild
7 lbs. Muntons Mild Ale malt
8 oz. Muntons Crystal 60 L
6 oz. Muntons Dark Crystal 135-165 L
4.5 oz. Breiss Organic Chocolate

Mashed w/3 gallons water @ 154° F for 60 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:
.85 oz. Willamette leaf 4.8% AA
Cooled wort, racked to bucket, and pitched White Labs WLP 002

Brewed: 10/9/2010 @ 73° F
Secondary: 10/14/2010 @68° F; 1.010
Bottled: 10/30/2010 @ 66° F with 2.75 oz. table sugar (2 volumes CO2)

OG: 1.038
FG: 1.010

Tasting Notes: Nice depth of color for such a light beer; 76 is a clear brown with rich red highlights that are barely discernable through the light. The head is creamy and light tan that has decent retention; the nose is a mix of nutty, grainy, and chocolate aromas coupled with flat creamy background, although all are very light and subdued. Flavors start dry and malty; coupled with carbonation and lighter body, the maltiness is a bit flat. There are chocolate, nutty, and toasty malt flavors in the front, while the middle is drier—there is a touch of bitterness and a creamy character that rounds the beer. The finish has a touch of roasted flavor with a slight molasses and coffee backdrop. While flavors are good (although not spectacular), the carbonation is too bright on the palate; the bite contrasts the light body, covering over lighter flavors. The elevated carbonation flattens the beer across the profile. A decent beer, but not as interesting as it needs to be; in the next version, I need to experiment with a more complex malt profile (a couple of ounces of roasted malt/black patent and something like Cara 45 or Special B) to expand the flavor range in the body, and lessen the carbonation to allow those flavors better expression in the beer. The initial tasting of 78a. points to the benefit of a more complex malt profile, although the Paw Paws helped meld and build the flavors across the beer.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

417. Bell’s 25th Anniversary Ale

Bell’s keeps bringing it. Just like the Wu Tang—again and again. We’ve had more Bell’s than you can shake a stick at—well, I guess we could still shake a stick at them, but it certainly wouldn’t intimidate them or scare them away. You can just add this to The Oracle, Oarsman, 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. Woot.

25th Anniversary pours a clear reddish orange burnished copper. There might be an almost purplish hue in the light coming through the glass, but that could be imaginary via the smells I am also picking up. The ivory head has a presence with some lacing, but does quickly become the scantest minimal layer across the top of the beer. My sniffer says that this beer has some of the same grape candy smell that was in the Christmas Ale, although more subdued; there is also some rich caramel malt sweetness and brown sugar, but grape is the dominant aroma. Flavors start fruity and malty, giving way to a drier biscuit malt and grape flavor in the middle, along with minimal amount of bitterness. The finish is sweet, and slightly sticky, with a touch of alcohol flavor that leaves a slight warming sensation on the palate. 25th Anniversary Ale has a chewy, bright but viscous mouthfeel until the finish, where it does become a slight bit sticky. The alcohol warmth is light but noticeable—I’m guessing that a bit of aging would lessen the brighter alcohol flavors and build the malt and fruit complexity, mellowing and marrying the elements across the profile. After all, it does taste a wee bit young. The carbonation is medium, bright enough to end the beer on a lighter note, but not enough to completely minimize the heavier malt feel on the palate at the end. Nonetheless, like all things Bell’s, a solid and enjoyable beer.

From the bottle: “We started in 1985 with a soup pot, a dream, and quite honestly a prayer. Thank God we made it! Please enjoy this special ale made with Michigan grown barley malt and celebrate with us.”

From the Bell’s website: “Celebrating 25 years of brewing, this strong amber ale carries on our tradition of flavorful, balanced beers. Brewed with 100% Michigan-grown barley, 25th Anniversary Ale starts with caramel & light toffee flavors. These are paired with generous kettle & dry-hop additions, yielding a crisp, assertive bitterness and hop flavors ranging from citrus, floral, and piney notes.”

ABV: 8.5%
OG: 1.084
Batch Number: 9871

Party at Larry’s house?


Saturday, October 2, 2010

416. New Holland Beerhive Tripel

Another from New Holland’s High Gravity Series, this one with honey and ginger combined with the Belgian Tripel format. This puts our running New Holland total at five: we’ve weighed in on El Mole Ocho, Dragon’s Milk and Golden Cap Saison, plus the magical bonus beer, Envious. Don’t be envious of the bonus beer. We don’t want no hating here.

Beerhive pours a bright, clear, buttery burnished copper with red highlights. The nose is a combination of juiciness and creamy perfuminess with a touch of both honey and ginger in the background. Some light fruitiness emerges with warmth, along with smaller amounts of spiciness, while the head is a creamy tan color. While it reduces to a thin cover, it does lace the glass decently. Flavors start sweet, with candy and honey in the front before moving into slight spiciness in the middle. There is a nice ginger tang in the turn to the finish that merges well with the slight carbonation bite, and the ginger spiciness (as distinct from the spiciness in the middle) lingers lightly on the palate. Beerhive has a medium body with a bright, effervescent mouthfeel; there is a slight alcohol warming in the finish, although it is slightly masked by the ginger spiciness. An interesting beer, but not as nuanced as we would have liked; the nose was more impressive than the flavors in the body, which were a bit flat across the spectrum. The ginger is still the prevalent flavor at this point; while we enjoy ginger (and I especially do), a beer this big needs more complexity—a lot of the Belgian characteristics from the yeast seem to be absent in the body, although somewhat present in the nose. Maybe another year or two would help, but as is it is not super-exciting.

From the bottle: “Little John’s local bees create a wildflower-honey which lends a sweet, earthy complexity to this traditional style beer. A snap of ginger provides a refreshing finish.”

ABV: 8.47%
OG: 19° P


Friday, October 1, 2010

415. Leinenkugel’s Red Lager and Miller High Life

Today’s drinking was all about being seen at all of the proper events. We started out by attending GearFest, mostly because we were interested in checking out the beer garden. Bikes, beer, and outdoors-y stuff? Sounds good. We didn’t expect or anticipate the hoards of high school kids, though. Alas, alas. From that point we headed on over to “No You Shut Up” art show at the Cannery Corner Gallery. After all, the promise of a forty is a promise not to be taken lightly. Forty ounce dreams and watered-down wishes.

Our first beer of the evening was Leinenkugel’s Red Lager, which is also coincidentally our first beer from the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in Chippewa Falls, WI. Served in a plastic cup, it was better than I anticipated. By which I mean I actually enjoyed it. I did not, however, take notes. After all, my interest was in being seen out and about on the town—I was too busy hob-nobbing and being smooth. Which means I wasn’t really doing much of anything. Well, besides drinking this beer.

ABV: 4.9%
IBU: 20
Calories: 166
Malts: Three Pale, Carapils, Caramel
Hops: Cluster & Mt. Hood

Next up was the “No You Shut Up” show. Word on the street had it that 40s were to be the drink du jour this evening. Let’s just say that word was bond tonight. I got handed a smooth sweet sippin’ 40 of the High Life. You know, the champagne of beers? Elli wasn’t sure she wanted to take on a 40 all her own, so she opted for PBR in a can. Either way, solid selections. This is, not surprisingly, our first beer from Miller Brewing Company, located in Milwaukee, WI. We’re doubling down on Wisconsin tonight. Throw in the PBR, and it makes a trifecta from the land o’ cheese. And the High Life itself? You all already know how smooth that went down. Ah yeah. Three words. Champagne. Of. Beers.

From the Miller High Life website: “Combine a classic, award-winning American-style lager with a crisp, smooth flavor, then top it off with a price that won't leave a bad taste in your mouth, and it makes good sense why they call Miller High Life the Champagne of Beers. This is simply good beer at a fair price. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. And while folks could probably find a few other beers out there, they’re going to drain a lot of hard-earned jack from their bank accounts figuring out what you already know: it doesn’t cost a lot to live the High Life, it just takes some good old fashion common sense because the High Life’s always been a mighty fine life to live.”

ABV: 5.0%

I thought to add Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Lager Beer” to this post (after all, we are drinking lager beer in Dayton), but I didn’t think anyone would really appreciate it in the proper manner.