Archive | October, 2012

The Great Pumpkin (from Rogue), Reader’s Choice #2c

31 Oct

Happy Halloween all you beer goblins!

‘Tis the holiday that we wait for the Great Pumpkin. What better than to drink a pumpkin ale as the moon rises and the hours pass by? Nothing. And that beer should be Rogue’s Pumpkin Patch Ale. As you know, I’ve been quite disappointed in the pumpkin beers to date: too spicy, too boozy and too thin. Frankly, unbalanced. My hope was to find a pumpkin ale worthy of recommendation. That I did with my final Reader’s Choice pumpkin ale. Continue reading


The Flavors of GABF: Day 1

29 Oct

Well, once again I have shown I type slower than a turtle in the arctic, so I am breaking the list of the beers down by day. Day one is about as complete a list of tasting notes as can be when faced with over 2200 beers in a room with 20,000 people. My notes are short and to the point but I took them seriously. I definitely plan to use this list on my next trip to Belmont Station or Bridgetown Beerhouse, and I hope it is useful to you as well. I know taste is very subjective and this represents my opinion only, so if you have tried one of the beers in the past, or take my advice and disagree with me, tell me. Let me know which beer and why in the comments.

Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn NY
Sorachi Ace
Light Belgian saison made with the Japanese hop Sorachi Ace. Complex, medium body beer with the mustiness of a saison. The beer had a very nice flavor but did lack a bit of the nice lemoniness the sorachi ace provides, which I was hoping for. Side note, Brian and I made a similar beer this year and while I can’t say it is better, we definitely stood our ground with a professional brewer.

Monocacy Brewing Company, Frederick MD
Riot Rye Pale
All citrus hop nose that carries through in flavor and finishing rye and dry. I like this beer very much. Note: Miranda tried this beer (and she offered it to me) toward the end of the GABF and it was not nearly as good with a strong diacetyl (buttery) flavor.

Sean Kelso spending a little bit of time at his old booth

Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Baker City OR
A CDA or black IPA – whatever you want to call it – this is one fucking good beer!! Seek out this beer and drink 2 or 3 pints.
Another damn good beer, hell just go to Barley Brown’s and taste all their beers.

Bend Brewing Co. Bend, OR
One Loudah
A slightly sweet nose but all hop flavor. This is not to say this beer was not balanced. Nice dry finish. Another good beer from Bend.

Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago IL
Sweet and spicy, cloves, cinnamon?, but that all there is, generally a one dimensional beer. Generally unimpressive. I guess I expected more as I have had some good beer from Goose Island in the past, stouts especially, and this one does not stand up.

Christmas ale
Spicy, slightly sweet, and big bodied beer. Definitely a winter beer. I liked it but understand this beer will be too sweet for some.  So I didn’t write down the brewery, which I understand makes it impossible to find again, but give me a break, it is hard to hold a glass, write, and have 20 knuckleheads bump into you all at the same time.

Flat 12 Bierworks, Indianapolis, IN
Half cycle IPA
Light, crisp, hoppy and balanced.  Awesome beer.

Nola Brewing Company, New Orleans, LA
This imperial IPA had a real nice and strong hop nose. This beer is notably dry for a double IPA. The beer is balanced and showed off a very good use of hops. With family in the south it is always good to find a good beer from this area of the country.  Now do they distribute to Arkansas?

Left Coast Brewery Co., San Clemente CA
Left Coast Rye IPA
Rye is very prominent in this beer, something I like. Nice hop bitter and finish, wrapped up in a large bodied beer. A very good rye.

Ska Brewing, Durango CO
Steel toe Stout
Strong tobacco nose, interesting. Rich, medium dry stout, a good beer.

I told you it was crowded

Strange Brewing Company, Denver CO
Farmhouse ale
I know this style of beer can be musty, but the nose on this beer was awful, like piss.  Was it poured into a dirty pitcher before it went into my glass?  The flavor was better, hoppier than most farmhouse, making a bit different. A good start, but then finished yeasty. I would not have two tastes.

Uncommon Brewers, Santa Cruz CA
Bacon Brown Ale
An unimpressive brown, I have no more to say.

Mad Fox Brewing Company, Falls Church VA
Pale Ale
Nice bright floral hop, a very drinkable pale ale.

Weyerbacher Brewing Company, Easton PA
Black Sour
Holy shit this is a very good sour beer. Sour but very drinkable, rich for a sour. I could have multiple pints.
Double Simcoe
I smell pickles. Is this a funny smelling beer or did I not rinse well enough? This is clearly bittered with simcoe but I expect a 1000x more when someone is using the awesome, simcoe hop. This beer was thin and unimpressive.

Santa Fe brewing Co., Santa Fe NM
Happy Camper IPA
An all malt nose, I couldn’t detected any hop. The flavor is better, the hop is clearly there and good. A decent IPA.

Big Choice Brewing, Broomfield CO
Huge body, sweet with some hop but just not balanced. Not my pint of beer.

Asher Brewing Company, Boulder CO
Funbarrel Monstah
Big 11% beer with aromas derived from the barrel, vanilla and fruit. The nose carried through to the flavor with the addition of bourbon to finish it out. A good barrel aged beer but I have high standards for this kind of beer, and it is not up with the best.

Marble Brewery, Albuquerque, NM
Cuvee d’Apricot
Dried apricot nose hides the sour and let me tell you this is a sour beer. A delicious summer time sour.
From the Wood
Sour nose. Rich and complex in flavor, yet less so than the apricot. Assuming From the Wood is a barrel aging reference, I did not detect any obvious flavors from the wood. But again, it was another delicious beer from Marble.
Imperial Red (Silver medal winner)
Hop nose (heavily dry hopped I suspect) and strong hop flavor, yet very balanced. One top-notch beer, I could have five pints (except the beer is 9%).  Across the board an excellent brewery. I will be looking for their beer to show up one day at my local bottle shop.

There was more to check out than just beer!

Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que – Lake Travis, Austin, TX
Bitchin’ Camaro
Awesome name, shitty beer. Malty sweet, unbalanced. The first beer I poured out tonight.

Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que, Austin, TX
Bride of Zombie
Light in color and bodied, very citrusy, tasty IPA
Hop zombie
Nice standard IPA.  For you Oregon beer drinkers, it reminds me of Double Mountain’s Hop Lava with bright hops, light body, and a dry finish.  A nice standard IPA. I am starting to believe tasting multiple beers from each brewery is the way to go at GABF. If I had stopped at Bichin’ Camaro I would have said stay away from Uncle Billy but what can I say his Zombies are tasty.

Stewart’s Brewing Company, Bear DE
Oyster stout (Silver medal winner)
Roast malt nose with a hint of coffee. Good stout with a slight briny note, lighter body and dry finish, like an Irish Stout. I have had a few oyster stouts and generally like them, and this is a tasty representative of the style.

Beer Valley Brewing, Ontario OR
Fresh hop Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale
A very good IPA but frankly not as good as the standard Leafer which is excellent.

10 Barrel Brewing Co., Bend OR
Crosby Farm Fresh hop
Nice Pale Ale that showcases what fresh hop can bring to a beer. The flavors are hard to describe but if you have ever picked hops you know what I am talking about.

Boundary Bay Brewery, Bellingham, WA
Nice standard IPA, now can we get them to be more creative with the name?

The flavors of day one as I recorded them.  I didn’t really put a dent in the larger list of beers at GABF but there is always day two.

Still fresh

26 Oct

Worst. Name. Ever.

Even though we are at the tail end of the fresh hop extravaganza here in the Pacific NW, I thought I would give a quick take on a couple more fresh hop beers that are taking up space in the kitchen fridge (gotta get rid of them before the wife returns from D.C.).  I’ve gone on, at length, on my favorite fresh hop beers of the season…but here’s one that didn’t quite live up to its billing: Deschutes Chasin’ Freshies Fresh Hop IPA.  A couple of things:

1.  It looks, smells, and tastes like a Pilsner.  I’m just saying…this tastes nothing like an IPA to me.

2.  It doesn’t taste particularly “fresh”.  I realize that it’s hard to describe what that means, but it just tastes like a normal, albeit well-made beer.  Many other fresh hop beers I have had just have that certain something to them that screams fresh from the vine.  They are bright and snappy, with just a hint of a vegetal quality.

3.  The hops are not particularly noticeable, in the sense that there is nothing unique or interesting about the hop flavors here.  They used one variety of heirloom Cascades in the recipe, but it doesn’t taste particularly of fresh Cascades to me.

4.  I have read some other reviews that don’t understand what “Chasin’ Freshies” means.  I think it has something to do with finding good powder to ski/snowboard on (hence the label picture).  Whatever it means, the name makes me snicker and roll my eyes all at the same time.  Not the best way to convince me to drink a beer.

This is a well-balanced, well-made beer.  I have nothing bad to say about it in terms of its flavors and drinkability.  It was damn tasty.  In terms of fresh hop beers, though?  Nowhere close to its Mirror Pond brother/sister or other recent fresh hops I have had: Elysian/New Belgium Collaboration and Ninkasi Total Crystalization to name a few.  We are talking beers that just sat up and smacked you in the mouth with flavor and character.  And really, I’m not some style-Nazi with craft beer, but IPA doesn’t really describe this beer properly.  Beyond all that judgement though, is me telling you that this beer is well made and worth having a pint or two.  They gotta work on that name though…

Reader’s Choice #2b: Southern Tier’s Pumking

25 Oct

In my last Reader’s Choice post, I announced there was a three-way tie for the pumpkin ale y’all wanted me to review. So here I am, after a long day at work, drinking pumpkin beer, mentally preparing myself for one more work day. Tonight’s review is for the Pumking, an Imperial Pumpkin Ale, from Southern Tier. Continue reading

Reader’s Choice #2a: Elysian’s Night Owl

23 Oct

It’s been so long since my last Reader’s Choice post that everyone has probably long forgot about this series. The thing is, our readers were not in consensus on which pumpkin ale I should review. First there was a clear winner, but not that many votes; so I did another call for votes, and then there was a tie. A tie that as soon as it was broken would mend itself back into a tie again before I could make it to the bottle shop. As all this was happening, a close second came from behind to give me a three-way tie. A tie that I hoped would break while we were in Denver, but alas, all those readers that vote, have voted. So, apparently the consensus from the group is that you don’t quite see eye-to-eye in your choice of beers, and that as fall embraces us and Halloween fast approaches, you are interested in many of the pumpkin beer offerings from the craft beer industry. Fair enough. Continue reading

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