Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bourbon Barrel Series - Rochester Mills


My wife picked up this 4 pack of a limited-release bourbon barrel aged versions of some of the standard beers from Rochester Mills in Auburn Hills, MI. She said she had been eyeing it and thought I would like it because she is the best. Only 5,000 of these 4 packs were made (with one of each variety of beer per pack). I dug in. 

Euphorious Brown Ale brewed with Michigan Maple Aged in Bourbon Barrels
I was the most excited about this one but it was probably my least favorite of the pack. 
It has a 7.7% ABV content made with magnum and mt rainier hops from Michigan. 

Appearance: murky amber-brown with thin head
Smell: very strongly of bourbon but some malt sweetness
Taste: too heavy on the bourbon, maple barely noticeable
Mouthfeel: medium, low carbonation
Drinkability: only had 1/2 of the 16 oz can. I enjoyed it - I like the taste of bourbon. But wanted more balance. 

I was also very excited about this one.
Magnificent Imperial Milk Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels. 
9% ABV, magnum and Michigan Mt. Rainier hops and a 7 malt blend including pilsner, chocolate, and biscuit.

Appearance: like a milk stout! Pitch black with a very pretty brown head.
Smell: chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, bread.
Taste: very good! bitterness, chocolate, bourbon, vanilla.
Mouthfeel: creamy.
Drinkability: Very good. Alcohol and sweetness not overpowering, neither was the bourbon flavor. Strong flavors, the sweetness and chocolate-roasty flavors stood out more.


Spendiferous - Imperial Amber Ale
9% ABV. Used 100% Michigan Chinook Hops and Belgian candi sugar. 

I just planted a chinook hops rhyzome (which is just starting to grow!) in my yard so was definitely interested in trying this one.

Appearance: Hazy amber with a bit of head - very pretty.
Smell: mild - just a bit of hops, bourbon, and sugar sweetness
Taste: Flavorful but more balanced than the brown ale. Plenty of sweet fruit flavors, malt flavors, tasted like an amber ale but with the presence of bourbon.
Mouthfeel: medium, well-carbonated.
Drinkability: very good! Only planned on drinking half the can on this particular evening (watching my carbs) but oops, then had the whole 16 oz can. A little sweeter than I would like but definitely enjoyable.


Righteous Irish Red Ale
6.8% ABV, brewed with Magnum and MI Mt. Rainier hops

Appearance: Very pretty amber with a thin head
Smell: malty, apple cider, tartness
Taste: least bourbon-y of the 4-pack. More malty - caramel, bread, apple, and just a touch of bourbon. 
Mouthfeel - medium
Drinkability - Very good! This was a tasty, well-balanced beer. Nothing remarkable or outstanding, just solid. 


It's always fun to try a variety pack, and a limited-release one at that. My favorites were definitely the Magnificent Imperial Milk Stout and Splendiferous Imperial Amber Ale. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Delicious Belgian Beer

Trappistes Rochefort 8 - Belgian Ale
9.2% ABV
11.2 oz bottle

The Rochefort Trappist 8 is featured in a series of beers that includes the 6, 8, and 10. I should have guessed this was bottle-conditioned, as foamy head filled half my glass even with a gentle pour. Murky brown with amber tones.

The smell was delicious and not overbearing. Mildly alcohol, pear, figs.


The taste and mouthfeel was deceptively smooth and creamy, making it extremely drinkable at such a high alcohol content. Usually this style is more of a sipper for me, but the well-balanced flavor is great. Yes there is bread, malts, molasses, dark fruits, and a hint of citrus.  Flavorful, smooth, and delicious.



Overall, a fantastic beer. Not surprised that it gets the score of 100 from beeradvocate.com reviews. Next to try, the 6 and 10!





Monday, January 18, 2016

Beer Grotto Samples + Backwoods Bastard

The Beer Grotto is one of several craft beer joints near the baseball stadium in Lansing. It has a decent selection and offers 3 oz pours, which I especially like. On a recent visit I stopped by and had 3 of the 3 oz pours, all beers I had never tried before. 

From left to right:
  • Epic's Hopulent IPA (nitro)
  • Grotto's Raisin the Freakflag Porter (made for the Beer Grotto by Short's)
  • Founder's Backwoods Bastard
The Hopulent IPA poured a hazy pale amber with very foamy head due to the nitro and a soft body. It smelled piney and citrusy with a touch of sop. Not an overly hoppy IPA. Notes of pine and lemon stood out but there was balance. Drinkable at 8.4% ABC.

Raisin the Freakflag was very pretty! Dark brown with noticeable red hues and a sudsy light brown head. It smelled of dark fruits and alcohol. It definitely tasted like raisins - sweet and malty. I looked it up and the style is described as a "Rum Raisin Cake Porter."
A nice, unique beer and I would expect no less from Short's. However, 3 oz was plenty as this was a very sweet beverage. 8% ABV.

Backwoods Bastard is a scotch ale or "wee heavy." I enjoyed it so much that I came back the very next day for a full pour.
 
This is a limited release beer from Founder's in Grand Rapids, MI. The style is known for being sweeter due to a caramelized wort. It poured dark but with amber highlights and smelled of cherries and malt. It tasted like bourbon, caramel, oak, and fruit and definitely warmed my chilly belly on a cold January day. It is a sweet beer and has a high alcohol content at 11-13% ABV. 10 oz was plenty. It was one to savor and enjoy; I'm glad I went back for it.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Guiness Nitro IPA

What's up with Nitro beer? The nerds at craftbeer.com have a helpful explanation! During the carbonation process, nitro beers use 70% nitrogen along with 30% carbon dioxide. These beers have smaller bubbles, and are therefore smoother and creamier. Cans of Guiness Stout are known for having a plastic ball which helps the CO2 release, to create the head and body of a Stout enjoyed traditionally on tap. Recently, Guiness has released cans of Nitro IPA as well. I picked up a 6-pack out of curiosity.

The can says "infused with nitrogen for a smooth balanced finish." It also shares the varieties of hops used: admiral, celeia, topaz, challenger, and cascade. It has 44 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), and 5.8% alcohol. The cans are 11.2 oz which is standard for European beers but makes it look a bit small in a 16 oz pint glass.

As expected, it pours smooth and creamy with a foamy white head. It smells distinctly of citrus - oranges, lemons, and a bit of spice. It is definitely an attractive beer. It is nice to see the layers settle in the glass.


Beyond that, it is not one of my favorite IPAs. I love big, bold hop flavors. Guiness offers a muted, soft IPA. It is not bad; the hops are more floral than anything along with some citrus and spice. But the flavor is weak. 

At 5.8% alcohol this could be a session beer and that is probably how it is intended to be. I recently had a Victory Hop Devil on nitro and really enjoyed it. The smooth and creamy mouthfeel did not take away from the strong hoppy flavor. 

Overall, I will finish the 6 pack and am happy to have given it a try. But, it is not an IPA that I will purchase again. C+

Sunday, February 8, 2015

120 Minute IPA - 2011 and 2014

120 Minute IPA is an intense beer. From the Dogfish Head website: "Clocking in at 15-20% ABV and 120 IBUs, it's easy to see why we call this beer the HOLY GRAIL for Hopheads! 120 Minute IPA is boiled for a full 2 hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month and aged for another month on whole-leaf hops.

Um...That's a lot of hops. Crunchy's recently had several Dogfish Head beers on tap including 120 Minute IPA - both from 2014 and 2011. I had to stop by and check it out. I did have a bottle of 120 Minute once and apparently wrote a haiku about it in 2009. I was wondering if 6 years and more, well, experience drinking would change my opinion.

They were served in 4 ounce glasses for $4 which I thought was very good considering a 12 oz bottle tends to go for around $10. I started with the 2011 one since I was not sure if I would want both and opportunities to have one of these aged is rare! (Unless one has great self-discipline; I do not).

The 2011 poured a very pretty bright amber and was very low in carbonation. The hops were very present in smell and taste; the alcohol was quite noticeable in both as well. Very pleasant, tingly, and a light mouthfeel. It drinks more like a beer than straight liquor but feels like a hybrid of both. Others have described it as similar to a Barleywine which I think may be the most accurate comparison.
I enjoyed it but had to compare it to the 2014 pour. Still a beautiful orange-amber but with more carbonation and a handsome head. The citrus notes stood out more but also tasted more sweetness and dark fruit. It was drinkable enough but I felt like I had enough 120 Minute in my system after 2 ounces (6 ounces total).
 
This is probably the opposite of a session beer; its presence demands you pay attention to it. I'm glad I gave it another (2) tries. I'm a big fan of Dogfish Head and like to take advantage of opportunities like these. How can you not like them with videos like this?
Clocking in at 15-20% ABV and 120 IBUs, it's easy to see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads! 120 Minute IPA is boiled for a full two hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month and aged for another month on whole-leaf hops.
- See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occassional-rarities/120-minute-ipa.htm#sthash.SKq0tPSm.dpuf
Clocking in at 15-20% ABV and 120 IBUs, it's easy to see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads! 120 Minute IPA is boiled for a full two hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month and aged for another month on whole-leaf hops.
- See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occassional-rarities/120-minute-ipa.htm#sthash.SKq0tPSm.dpuf
Clocking in at 15-20% ABV and 120 IBUs, it's easy to see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads! 120 Minute IPA is boiled for a full two hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month and aged for another month on whole-leaf hops.
- See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occassional-rarities/120-minute-ipa.htm#sthash.SKq0tPSm.dpuf
Clocking in at 15-20% ABV and 120 IBUs, it's easy to see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads! 120 Minute IPA is boiled for a full two hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month and aged for another month on whole-leaf hops.
- See more at: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occassional-rarities/120-minute-ipa.htm#sthash.SKq0tPSm.dpuf

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!