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!