Friday, March 4, 2011

Old Fizziwig Ale - Samuel Adams

Ok, now that the flu has left the building, we can get back to our weekly beer drinking, um I mean reviewing. This week is a beer I have seen before but never really thought to try. Well, the cold has returned for a few days and the label on this beer really looks like it is a winter ale, perfect match right? Let’s see?

Old Fezziwig Ale – Samuel Adams

It pours darker than I thought it would, darker than a good brown ale but not quite as dark as a porter or stout, a very dark ruby brown. Has a nice head, sticks around nicely once it settles to a thin cap. It definitely gives you a winter ale smell, lots of spices, hints of cinnamon and nutmeg with an alcohol backbone. Oh, but this isn’t your ordinary winter ale, that gives you a burn in the belly from the alcohol. No, this goes down very smooth, no sign of alcohol at all, nice hints of the cinnamon that you got from the scent finishing with a small dose of bitterness from the hops, nicely balanced and laid out. Now that I have tasted the beer I can look at the bottle, I mistake the ginger scent for nutmeg, so it is really ginger not nutmeg that you get in the scent. And it is actually a Christmas beer, and I must say, this really would be good with some pumpkin pie ala mode.

So be sure to keep some of those winter ales, stouts and porters on hand till spring really has fully arrived cause ole mother nature likes to play tricks on us in March and April. Cheers beer friend.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Best Worst of 2010

Ok, since the flu has had me dragging ass this week and instead of drinking some really good craft beer I find myself pouring Gatorade down my throat, besides, I really don’t feel like I could give a good review anyway, this I figured would be the perfect time for the best/worst list from my little venture. Like I said before I don’t want to simply do a top 5 bottom 5 list but also do more of a most interesting, least interesting. So I will probably do the top 3 in taste, top 3 in complexity, bottom 3 in taste and bottom 3 in interest.

So my top 3 in pure taste would be, in no certain order

1. Java Stout – Bell’s Brewery – This was my first coffee stout and the beer that really opened my mind to enjoying stouts.

2. Sch’Wheat – SweetWater Brewery – This beer could just as easily been in the most surprising. I normally don’t like any of the SweetWater beers but this one is just a really good summer beer.

3. Double Chocolate Stout – Young’s – After my initial dislike of stouts was broken I began to really look for anything and everything stout, and so it didn’t hurt this beer that I also love chocolate.

So now the bottom 3 in taste, again in no real order

1. McSorley’s Black Irish Lager – I really wanted to do St. Patty’s day justice and find something other than Guinness. I guess there is a reason Guinness is the best Irish offering.

2. Wild Blue Lager – Blue Dawg (aka. A-B) – Leave it to Anhesuer-Busch to make a bad craft beer.

3. Ed Hardy Premium – Tecate Brewery – Just like St. Patty’s day, I wanted something special, out of the ordinary for Cinco de Mayo. Well, the normal Tecate is ok but this was just plain bad.

Ok, now that the standard best/worst is out of the way, let’s make room for some other more exciting lists.

Most Surprising

1. Drifter – Widmer Bros. – I have had their normal wheat beer and it is good but I really didn’t expect anything mind blowing from this beer but was treated to a nice surprise in this really good summer/spring brew.

2. Frambozen – New Belgium - Now it really shouldn’t surprise me that New Belgium had a good beer but I really didn’t think a raspberry beer would be to my liking, it was tart without being sour and was pretty easy to drink.

3. Coffee Oatmeal Stout – Terrapin – I probably didn’t know what to expect from this but found a really smooth coffee beer combination that works almost better than Java Stout by Bell’s. I might have put this one in the best 3 had Java not come first and really changed my thinking of stouts.

Most disappointing

1. Celebrator Doppelbock – Ayinger – This is supposed to be one of the really great beers but I found it way to overwhelmed by alcohol. I felt I was drinking a straight up whiskey/bourbon/scotch drink, not something I want from my beers.

2. Vanilla Java Porter – Atwater Brewery – I was really looking forward to this beer, it was the first Java beer I found after Bell’s Java Stout and I thought, wow, vanilla java might actually be even better. So, to be fair, maybe it is a good beer but I had it built up too high in my head.

3. PALM – Belgium’s Amber Beer – I mean really, if you advertise as Belgium’s Amber Beer you better blow my mind. This is Belgium we are talking about, which may possibly be the beer capitol of the world, so it is their fault I had high expectations for this beer that just fell flat.

Most interesting

1. Bitches Brew – Dogfish Head – Even after all the build up from the debut show on Discovery about this beer, and the fact that Macon, GA only got 19 bottles and I ended up with 3, it still ranks as the most interesting beer I tried all year, maybe even in my life. I would still buy more if I could find it and it could just as easily be the number one beer in taste for the last year.

2. Allagash White – Allagash Brewing – I had heard so much about this beer I was almost afraid to try it, I felt there was no way it could live up to my expectations, thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. What a beautiful Belgian white this is, there is simply no need for any orange slice as it gives you plenty of citrus.

3. Punkin Ale – Dogfish Head – Like a good Peach Wheat, I simply can’t pass up a pumpkin flavored beer, maybe it’s because it was one of the first beers I ever tried brewing myself and so I find I must try each one to see what I need to add to my own.

Least interesting or better yet, most like water.

1. La Cross Lager – I mainly tried this cause a buddy brought it back from his annual fishing trip on Lake Erie and it was one of those ‘old beers’ you always heard about. Lest just say, thank you once again to Jim Koch, Fritz Maytag and all the other craft brewers that knew there was more to beer than colored water.

2. Little Kings – Got this from the same friend from the same trip, he said one of the guys they go with used to drink this when he was in high school. Well, I started out on Natural Light and Busch beer so I can’t really fault him but this was just plain and dull. Probably a little like drinking the water after boiling your corn-on-the-cob.

3. Sawtooth Ale – LeftHand – I have heard good things about LeftHand but haven’t really experienced them yet. Not that this was a bad beer but more like a plain, average, ordinary beer, not really something a craft beer should taste like. It didn’t really have an identity or character.

So, there you have it, all kinds of list from my journey of 52 beers in 52 weeks. I think my next journey may be something along the lines of trying one beer from each of these breweries on this map, the only thing cooler than that would be to visit each state while doing it. Hey, who’s up for a road trip or two or three? Cheers!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Bell's Lager Beer - Lager of the Lakes

Good news and bad news, good news is I am NOT reviewing a stout of any kind tonight, bad news is I actually picked up a few more for future reviews. For tonight I thought I would pay homage to this awesome weather we are being treated to, low 70’s and clears skies, feels like baseball is just around the corner. Ok, on to the beer.

Bell’s Lager Beer, “Lager of the Lakes”

Wasn’t real sure if I should get this one or not but it is from Bell’s and it isn’t a stout so I grabbed it anyway. I got a good hoppy scent from the bottle before I poured it but now that it is in the glass I am almost getting the standard ‘American Lager’ smell, let’s hope it doesn’t taste like that. It is also very golden and crystal clear much like the American lager, one difference though is the head, this one is sticking around very nicely. Taste is very crisp and almost harsh and leaves a strong hop/bitterness in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is very thin but that is a plus if you are wanting a nice cold lager on a hot summer day. All in all, not so sure I would go out of my way for this one, definitely not one of their better beers. This beer comes across as an attempt to brew a beer for the masses, not a good thing if you are a craft brewery.

Oh well, weather is good, 3-day weekend, I guess you can’t have everything. It also looks like my home state Georgia will continue to prohibit alcohol sales on Sunday. Our state legislature squashed the latest bill that would at least let it become a local option, giving the people the power to decide. I found this quote in our local paper today, “Georgia is one of only three states that still forbids stores from selling alcohol on the Sabbath.” I really find it hard to believe in this day and age that some people here in the south still feel this way. Maybe they feel they have lost control of everything else and figure this is the one thing they can hold onto. And don’t give me the ‘we need at least one day a week to stay pure’, cause if that were the case, it wouldn’t be allowed in restaurants or bars on Sunday.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox. Cheers!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Hazelnut Brown Nectar - Rogue

Ok, even though it is still too dang cold to do anything useful outside I made sure I would review a non-stout beer this week. Now, it is a dark beer just not a stout or a porter, but a brown ale. The Hazelnut Brown Nectar from Rogue to be exact. This will only be my third Rogue beer, the first was Dead Guy Ale which I was none too impressed with and the other was their Chocolate Stout that I purchased at the same time as this brown ale. Don’t worry, it will not be in a future review although it was very, very good, so they are batting .500 with me.

Hazelnut Brown Nectar – Rogue 

It pours a little reddish brown, very similar to a glass of sweet tea sans the ice and with a nice white head. I pick up some nutty flavors but not really an overwhelming ‘hazelnut’ scent, more of just a general roasted nuts flavor, maybe I’m expecting too much. Very interesting first taste, I immediately get a sweet flavor that I assume is from the hazelnut that quickly turns bitter and then just as quickly turns to a smooth creamy finish. Not real sure if the bitterness is from the hops or the roasted malts, checking the IBU’s I would have to say it is from the malts. I really can’t say that I have had a beer that goes from sweet to bitter to smooth before, usually the bitterness will be the last thing you get. It has a very nice nutty flavor throughout though that really makes this an interesting beer. For such a smooth creamy taste it’s mouthfeel is a little thin, not that that is a bad thing just something else very interesting about this beer. So I guess now Rogue is a slick .665 with me, I will have to give some of their other beers a try now, I was really staying away from them based on the first experience.

So beer friend, make sure you pick up enough beer tomorrow for the SuperBowl, unless you live in one of the cool states that allow beer to be sold on Sunday, we here in GA aren’t so lucky. And is there anyway both teams could lose? Not really a fan of either team, maybe I should find a drinking game to play along with the game, at least that would keep my attention. Cheers!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Southern Tier Choklat

Chocolate stout has taken over my mind. It is all I think about when trying to find new beers. And as I mentioned last week it isn’t going to stop this week. Although I do admit, I really need to find a new style that I at least want to try. Ok, so moving on, I am a little late in bringing you this review because I got in a deep discussion with my brother-in-law about the difference in ‘draft’ beer and ‘draught’ beer. He didn’t like the answer I gave him, that they are one in the same, just American vs. UK basically. So 20 minutes later I get to try the Southern Tier Choklat that I have been dying to try.

Choklat – Southern Tier Brewing Co

It pours like you would expect, em, black. I was disappointed in the head or rather lack thereof and I always think to myself when a beer doesn’t pour with a good head, is it flat, is the glass not ‘beer’ clean, did I pour it wrong, who knows, I really try my best to do all of those things correctly. But I will admit that pouring a beer from a 64 oz. growler isn’t the easiest thing to do. It doesn’t taste flat so maybe it is the way I had to pour it. The smell is probably the chocolatiest beer I have ever smelled, and yes, this time I do mean chocolate as in a candy bar chocolate. The taste is really smooth at first but then you get just a hint of burnt bittersweet baker’s chocolate coming out. The alcohol flavor doesn’t really hit you in the taste but rather on your stomach, like you just took a small shoot of bourbon but not nearly that heavy. You know you’re not drinking the standard 5% abv but it isn’t like you can taste it like some of the other 10+% abv beers out there. So this beer poses a unique issue, it hides the alcohol so well and taste so good that you want to just really chug it down but after the second or third swallow you know you are dealing with a serious beer and you better be careful.

So, remember if anybody out there has some ideas for how I can get of this chocolate stout kick I’m on, well, I’m all ears. In the mean time, drink up cause there is plenty more where that came from. Cheers beer friend.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Moo-Hoo Chocolate Stout - Terrapin Beer

OK, another week…another stout, especially since my trick last week didn’t do anything to bring spring any closer. So as long as it is cold I will be drinking me some stouts. This week I found my new favorite beer store, too bad it is 3.5 hours away in downtown Greenville, SC. That’s right, it’s right there in the picture, The Greenville Beer Exchange, and yes, that is a 64 oz. jug of draft beer, what…yes you heard me. This beer store can sell you beer straight from the tap into a 64 oz. jug so you can come home and enjoy fresh draft beer at home. They had at least a dozen different beers on draft and hundreds more in the bottle.

So even though I don’t have a nice picture of the beer, trust me, it is Terrapin’s Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout.

My boys said they thought I was drinking a foamy coke, which is how dark it pours with a nice thick brown head. It gives you a really nice scent of malts, not burnt malts like a lot of other stouts but more of a chocolate malt from say DQ or something, or even some malted milk balls. I know I know, that is a different type of malt but it has a sweet earthy tone to it. The taste is really thick and creamy, smooth and bitter and the same time. You really can taste the sweetness from the lactose and the bitterness from the malts blending together as you finally decide to swallow. Wow, I just might have to drink the entire 64 oz’s tonight.

I also picked up a 64 oz. jug of Southern Tier Choklat. I am just as excited to try that as I was this one. I really don’t think I can wait till next week either so we may be doing a mid-week review for that one, who knows. So kids if you ever find yourself in Greenville, SC, you must stop by The Greenville Beer Exchange and see what they have on draft. It is also just around the corner from Barley’s Tap Room and Pizzeria, yeah, they have a few hundred different beers to choose from also with about 30 or so on draft. Well Cheers beer friend!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Torpedo Extra IPA - Sierra Nevada

Who’s ready for spring? ME! There’s a reason I live in the south, I. Don’t. Like. Cold. Weather. So, now that the 2011 ice age has passed I thought if I reviewed a beer more suited for warm weather, well, I might at least feel warmer and who knows, maybe I’ll be like the ground hog and bring spring here sooner rather than later. And with spring time comes God’s sport, Baseball, well it’s America’s sport anyway which is good enough for me.

Torpedo Extra IPA – Sierra Nevada

Not sure what to expect with this beer, is it an extra IPA as in it has more hops than the normal IPA or is it extra as in a higher alcohol content than a normal IPA, a-la Dogfish Head’s 60-minute, 90-minute, 120-minute IPA’s? I do know that it is one of only a handful of beers I have consumed that I could smell as soon as I opened the beer. And for someone who doesn’t like IPA’s, I sure do love the way they smell though, and this one had such a lovely citrus tone to it. It also pours like a summer wheat beer, very orange and cloudy with a nice frothy head. Ok, after the first taste I think I know what they mean by extra, this is the hoppiest beer I think I have ever had. I was so blown away by the bitterness that I had to take several more taste to try and pick up the other flavors; sadly I’m not able to, other than a slight sweetness, but I really struggle to even find that. I guess this would be a hop-head’s dream beer, well, if it brings me spring time it will be well worth it. A quick look at the label tells me this is also a 7.2% abv beer so the extra could be for both, hops and a high ABV.

A few quick notes about the blog in the upcoming weeks, I really hope to have a list of beers, maybe not the standard top 5 and bottom 5 but more of most interesting to least interesting. I also hope to be able to continue doing at least one beer a week but not sure. I really wanted to see if I could do this thing for a full year, last week’s post made it a year with a few extra’s thrown in. So Cheers!


Friday, January 7, 2011

Honey Porter - Samuel Adams

Wow, week 52 is here, I didn’t even realize it till I was coping the photos to my laptop. I kept each week in a separate folder aptly named week XX, last week was week 51 so if my first grade math is correct, this one is week 52. Seems like I should have a special beer for this occasion, well, sorry to disappoint. Although I have had this beer in the past, it was way long ago before I developed a fondness of stouts and porters so when I show it I felt I should at least give it a second try now that I absolutely love stouts and porters now. Now the glassware has become my favorite beer glass, even if it isn’t the proper style for any of my beers that I like to consume. You see, it was a Christmas gift, not from someone special for who he is but rather what he represents, he himself is a Marine, and anybody who serves our country in any of the armed services is a unique individual, someone who we all should give countless thanks to every time we vote, speak in angst of our government, or simply do whatever we please to do as a FREE person in a this wonderful country. Ok, I’m off my soapbox now, on to the beer shall we.

Honey Porter – Samuel Adams (The Boston Beer Company)

It pours a deep dark ruby red, almost so dark it appears black and produces a nice thick tan head. It has an abundance of fermented fruit smell to it mixed with some roasted malts. The flavors don’t really hit you till the very end, very strange not to have something at the front end but it does provide some sweetness that I’m guessing is a mixture from the honey and the malts but then you get a small hint of hop bitterness at the very tail end. This may be the first porter or stout that I can actually recall tasting the hops in, I know normally they just help balance things out without stepping out on their own. This still isn’t one of my favorites but it is tons better than I remember and very worthy of drinking.

Cheers beer friend, feel free to do whatever you shall please!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bell's Double Cream Stout

Happy New Year peeps, sorry for the lay off last week, Christmas time is a little crazy when you have 3 boys 8 and under. This week may not be my first milk stout but it is the first time I actually knew I was drinking a milk stout. It is also from one of my favorite breweries, Bell’s.

Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout

It pours very thick but doesn’t create a large head, however it does at least stick around. The scent gives off a lot of chocolate, roasted malts. The taste is very smooth and creamy with just a bit of maltiness and a good bit of sweetness. Even though it is a heavy beer it still comes across as one that I could stand to drink 3 to 4 of in one night, it is just that easy to consume.

I am really starting to love stouts and find it easier and easier to drink them. I find myself going out of my way to search for them. Cheers my beer friend and I hope you favorite team plays their bowl game a lot better than mine did, maybe next year UGA.