Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hello from Denver

I have not been blogging much lately but do feel the need to capture my "exBEERiences" (sorry) while travelling in Denver, CO. I'm here for a conference but have pockets of free time to do a bit of exploring.

First stop: Great Divide. This was a delightful little brewery. Small tap room with 2 rooms, mostly standing-room and busy on a Sunday afternoon. Generous samples were $1 each. I tried: Collette, a Belgian-style saison, Hibernation ale, and the oak-aged Yeti - an imperial stout. All were tasty but the Yeti was most impressive. I wanted more of that. The tour was short, as it is not a large brewery, but it sounds like they are expanding. Everyone was very friendly there, and I got free stickers. Bonus!

Second stop: After a quick dinner I stopped at Rock Bottom brewery. Apparently this is a chain. They did not have a huge selection but I elected to try a Hop Bomb at the bar. I usually like strong hoppy beers but this one did not do it for me. It tasted slightly metallic, and the alcohol flavor was pretty noticeable even at 7% which is not that high. The server was very friendly though. People in Denver seem happy!

Overall I had a nice visit and appreciated that almost every place to eat downtown had a nice beer selection with lots of local offerings. Next time I hope to visit the World of Beer.

3 from Asheville, NC

My sister's BF is from Asheville, NC. I've never been there, but I do know it is considered a great beer city, even winning the "Beer City USA" award several years in a row. So when they went there on a recent trip, I hinted that some beer would sure be nice. Lo and behold my sister came through with 3 bottles for Christmakkah. 2 were from Highland Brewery and 1 was from Green Man Brewing. I started with the Green Man
It poured a hazy medium amber with a small white head. The smell was mildly citrus. The flavor had grassy and citrus hops but also some malt presence. This was a hoppy yet balanced IPA. Very drinkable and enjoyable with a medium body and 6.2% ABV. 
The Kashmir English Style IPA poured a light and clear amber; the sudsy white head dissipated and left lacing around the glass. It smelled like orange and tangerines; also some grass and bread. This was a less intense IPA than the Green Man but still 6% alcohol. A light body, it ends on a slightly floral note. I enjoyed this. It was light and balanced enough to be a session beer but still was nicely hoppy. 
The Highland Oatmeal Porter was my favorite of the 3. While I have certainly had oatmeal stouts before, I don't know that I've had an oatmeal porter and it was great. It poured beautifully dark with a nice thick brown foamy head. It smelled nutty and roasty. It tasted of sweet malts, bitter coffee, and oatmeal with just a little bitterness. It was creamy, smooth, and rich but not a heavy flavor. Pleasant and drinkable at 5.8% alcohol. A solid oatmeal porter. 

Thanks sis!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Saga of Kentucky Breakfast Stout

I have never even seen this beer despite the fact that I'm from Michigan. I'm a fan of Founder's (Grand Rapids, MI). I've been aware of their limited release Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) but have never seen it, tasted it, or really tried to find it. BeerAdvocate rates it a 100/100 and #5 on their list of Top 250 beers. It is described as a "stout is brewed with a hint of coffee and vanilla then aged in oak bourbon barrels for over a year."

This year I noticed a local beer/wine shop posted on Facebook that they had some in stock. I naively thought, "Hmm, maybe I'll stop in after work." 2 hours later, they posted it was all gone. I decided to try and find some. I'd like to try it, and I'd also like to bring some to WI at the end of the month to share with some good beer-drinking friends.

How difficult could it be?
It turns out, quite difficult. I stopped by a grocery store with a good selection after work. When I inquired about it they laughed and said it was long gone, plus you had to be on a waitlist. I called around a little more. 2 places were getting their orders in the next day - one of them also had a waitlist. The other was first-come, first-serve with a 1 bottle/customer limit.
My girlfriend (who is obviously the best ever) also tried to call around when I told her I was in search of KBS. She has some connections and was able to claim a bottle. She sent me this photo. Score!
She tried to get to a couple of stores around the time of their shipments. No luck - cars were literally following the delivery truck. One store sold out of 8 cases in under an hour even with a 1 bottle/customer limit. Due to her diligence and hard work, I managed to get on a waitlist for a second small shipment at a different grocery store. When I spoke with the manager there, he was very kind but sounded pessimistic about my being able to acquire one.

Then I got an excellent email from him saying he was holding an entire 4-pack for me. About 5 days later I got to pick it up. Dave from Meijer = the best.
So. After approximately 14 phone calls, 6 stops in at various stores, and an email, I found myself sitting on top of 5 bottles of KBS. Hard work pays off, kids!

I'm saving a few to bring to Wisconsin but of course had to try it. My dad and girlfriend shared. It poured pitch black with an edge of brown lace. The smell leaped out of the bottle but then settled back. It was primarily of chocolate, but also with bourbon and a little coffee. My gf described it perfectly, "Smooth and creamy with a strong, smoky bourbon flavor and soft chocolate hints." As it warmed, some chocolate and vanilla notes stood out. The flavor was strong and consistent.

Fantastic beer. Glad we made the effort.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Spicy Cocoa Stout

So sometimes I go visit my sister in Bloomington, IN. When I'm there, I always go to Sahara Mart which has all kinds of lovely delicacies, but my favorite part is their two very large aisles of beer. The first aisle has local selections, and US beer. The second aisle is international. I could spend a long time (and much money) in that place. And usually do (with some restraint).
I picked up a modest 4 bottles during my last visit. The Foret from Brasserie Dupont (Belgium) I had before, and picked up in hopes of getting my sister excited about Belgian beers. No such luck (more for me). The rest came home with me to Michigan.
Off the Cuff is a Spicy Cocoa Stout from Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, Illinois. It's a good beer, so it seems like preparation went into it. So it may be off the cuff, but it is also definitely off the chain. Or something. Super attractive with its thick dark brown body, and solid sudsy light brown head. The smell was subtle but definitely picked up both cocoa and spice notes. Because of the subtle smell, the very strong flavors took me by surprise. I tasted coffee then spice then chocolate. This actually made me exclaim, "Ooooooh!" out loud.
The spice was not very spicy as in heat, just peppery. Likewise, the chocolate was not overt or sweet. The flavors were strong but went really well together. The mouthfeel was medium-bodied, creamy, and substantial carbonation. Drinkability? Extremely good. The 7.2% alcohol is nice but not over the top. I am a fan of this beer.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

3 Big Atwater Beers

I want to like Atwater, because its from The D and all. I picked up a few bottles of their big beers to try over the July 4th holiday. 
First I tried their Black Imperial Stout. The label informed me that Atwater has been brewing since 1917 and this stout contained 11% alcohol.
It sure looks stout-y with 1 finger solid brown head that sat through the entirety if consumption. The smell was mild but toasty, coffee. And the flavor, also coffee primarily with just barely noticeable hops and alcohol, and an unfortunate metallic aftertaste. The body was very smooth and creamy. Overall this was a very drinkable stout, especially at 11%, but the metallic taste was distracting. B
The Voodoo Vator was a Doppelbock with 9% alcohol, bottled January 2013. It was a pretty dark brown with ruby highlights and a big sudsy 2 fingers of head which left rings of lace. The strong nose was of malts and grass. The taste was very well-balanced. Grains, malts, and subtle grass. Nothing overpowering or dominating. Dark, bitter chocolate and dark fruit but really the individual flavors all seem mild and blend well. The mouthfeel was surprisingly thin and watery. Overall this was fine but a little meh. B
Apparently I tried these in order of cool labels with this sexy devil lady being the winner. The label gave no hint as to what style this beer was. Just the name Teufel bottled March 2013 and 11% alcohol.this beer was cloudy, hazy, brownish-amber with a thin quickly dissipating head. The smell was malty, fruity, with raisins, wood, and floral notes. As the smell suggested, the flavor was quite malty, heavy on caramel and grains. Alcohol just barely noticeable but the sweetness dominated. Body on thick side. Upon research, I find this is a Weizenbock, and to be fair, that's not a style I'm super familiar with. I have to go with another B. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Northern hawk amber ale on Fathers' Day

So I wanted a beer and it's Fathers Day. We've had a nice weekend. At the store I decided to get an amber ale since that's my dad's favorite style and he's learned to feel trepidation at some beers I enjoy. This is Northern Hawk Owl amber ale from Traverse City, MI. 
 I poured us each a little glass. Medium-brown amber, fluffy tan head that sank into a ring. Very light smell, a little like sweet bread dough.  And the taste - first sip was caramel. And stayed consistently caramel throughout. I asked my dad what he thought. 
"Fruity and like Pepsi-cola". Dad too picked up on the sweetness and caramel notes. He noticed it wasn't as bitter as many beers I subject him too. The fruit notes were light - apple and pear. It's sweeter than other amber ales I've had but not too much. 
Pretty nice on a June evening. Cheers, dad. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Taps 25 and leinenkugel's Big Eddy series

I didn't know leinenkugel's had a "big eddy" series. I mostly think of leiny's as my Wisconsin college days brewery of choice. They offered us beer pansies Berry Weiss and Honey Weiss, not selections I'm prone to make these days. 
So when I saw that a local craft beer bar was having a night promoting the Big Eddy series (to include free snifters) I was intrigued. Mostly excited about free glassware. Their imperial IPA was good. Pretty amber and clear; the smells of pine, citrus, and malts was pleasant and somewhat muted. A little sweeter than expected; apricot, pine, caramel. Enjoyable but I love big IPAs that are really bitter. This one was fine and certainly more enjoyable than Berry Weiss. B
...and the imperial stout. Black as night with beautiful brown fluffy head. Whilst ordering this the overly friendly leiny's rep talked it up. He was very nice and accepted my critique of the IPA. His favorite leiny's beer is the "dark and creamy" and he seemed genuinely excited about the Big Eddy series.
Anyways, this imperial stout is great. Heavy on the coffee, vanilla, bit of bitter hops. I'm feeling the alcohol but not tasting it; very drinkable. Way smooth and creamy.  I'd get this one again. A

...and free snifters?  A+ all the way.