Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not really a beer: Strongbow English Cider



I was in the Detroit airport yesterday for 3 hours during a layover. I kind of enjoy layovers. I usually read a whole bunch, eat some overpriced fast food, people-watch. Not bad.

This time I sat in an "Irish Pub" and ordered a Strongbow English Cider on draft. Normally I would not go for a hard cider but there were advertisements for it ALL OVER the bar and I got excited to try THE BEST CIDER! I've never been too into cider, I know I had some Woodchuck back in college but this was better.

It was good. It looked just like apple juice with no visible carbonation to speak of. It smelled slightly sweet and mostly like apples. It tasted nice and crisp, not too sweet, with some tart aftertaste. It's very drinkable, I could have had a couple of these except it was in an airport and therefore expensive! I did enjoy drinking this while reading my crappy vampire fiction novel and observing the crowd. Specifically a super butch older lesbian who smiled at me, a very loud family who was disgruntled at having to choose coke products over pepsi products, and a couple of older gentlemen who worked in higher education and loudly debated on whether some colleague's beliefs helped or hindered students. I did not enjoy the fact that the glass was filled up to the brim and when I picked it up, some dribbled onto my pants. But, I figured it was good to smell slightly of cider rather than slightly of beer.

A-

Monday, December 22, 2008

The 12 Beers of Xmas: #9-12 AND WINNERS!




Next - a couple of local brews!

#9: Newport Storm Winter Ale
This is the darkest of the winter brews I've had so far. It's brown with a reddish hint throughout. No foam to speak of. It smells malty and nutty. It's toasty, a little coffee flavor, bitter, plumby. I learn it's a "porter". The light carbonation feels flat. It's enjoyable enough and definitely feels like a cold night beer. But I won't go out of my way to try this again.

B

#10: Wachusett's Nut Brown Ale
I wish I lived in Wachusett so I could say I'm from "Wachusett, Massachusetts." Hilarious! I'm sure there's a tongue twister in there somewhere. So, a nut brown ale is not technically a winter or Christmas ale. But, nuts = nutcracker = Christmas! So whatever, you're fine. I'm fine. Let's drink. After all, there's a cute squirrel on the bottle.
This is a nice copper color - more orange/red than I would have expected from something called "nut brown". Small amount of foam with decent retention. I like it! Its crisp, there's some citrus, and a "bite." Not as "nutty" as I expected at first, but then notice some nuts in the after-taste. Go nuts!

B+

Then - traveling further from home...

#11: Woodstock Inn Brewer's Wassail

Did you know that wassail is defined as:
NOUN:
1. A salutation or toast given in drinking someone's health or as an expression of good will at a festivity.
2. The drink used in such toasting, commonly ale or wine spiced with roasted apples and sugar.
2. A festivity characterized by much drinking.

So "Here We Come A-Wassailing" is about roaming around drinking with merriment? Nice.
This beer is amber, with no head to speak of and low carbonation. Smells a little malty, hoppy, plumy, and after a while sweet and caramel. However the taste is more bitter than sweet. The bottle says nothing about ABV but online I see that it's at 8% which I feel pretty quickly. My cheeks flush and I suppose this is the "warm" in warmer.

B+

#12: Kerstmutske Christmas Nightcap
The label is so cute! A moon with a night-cap! This is from Belgium! Most drinks take me a while to pick up on the scent, but upon opening the bottle cap the smell of raisins pours out along with the smell of cherry juice. It looks like raisins too - dark brown with red highlights. It's crisp, lovely foam and lacing, and a strong taste of plums. It's more bitter/spicy than sweet or fruity. I'm enjoying this more than some of the other plumy winter ales I've had (Rejewvinator, Newport Winter Ale, Woodstock Wassail).

A-

AND THE GRAND PRIZES GO TO (enjoy the photo with the lovely Norman Rockwell background and fancy ribbons)

1st place = Sam Adam's Old Fezziwig's Ale

2nd place = Abita's Christmas Ale

3rd place = Kerstmutske Christmas Nightcap

With runners up :

Harpoon's Winter Warmer and Sam Adams Winter Lager

Friday, December 19, 2008

The 12 Beers of Xmas: #5-8


I mean, what else is one to do while snowed in?

#5: Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale

I enjoyed this ale with its lovely detailed bottle.
It is honey-colored with a nice fluffy head and good retention.
There's mild carbonation, and a little citrus-y on the nose and in taste.
It's smooth, good, and slightly bitter. I like it, but nothing super memorable about it. I do learn that British Winter ales such as this tend to lack the spice that many U.S. winter ales have, and I think I miss the spice. Still good though.

B

#6: Rogue Santa's Ale

Rogue certainly has a great reputation but I don't think I've ever tried any of their brews before. Another kitsch-y looking bottle as seems to be popular this season. It's beautiful looking - red, mountains of foam. Citrus-y, bitter, and hoppy. It's another good beer but lacking in the holiday spice that I am craving.

B+

#7: Sam Adam's Winter Lager

Sam Adam also has a great reputation for winter beers, most notably this one and Fezziwig (soon to come!) so I was excited to try both of these.

A lovely amber colored with a huge fluffy head. There is definitely some noticeable cinnamon spice but it's more subtle than the pie flavor of the Harpoon Winter Warmer. I like the spice, I like the flavor. It's smooth and tasty. The bottle recommends having it with apple pie or a gingerbread cookie, which sadly, I do not have.

A-

#8: Sam Adam's Old Fezziwig Ale

Oh boy. Immediately there is a smell of cocoa powder upon pouring it. Also some cinnamon and citrus. It's a nice dark brownish-amber, and a nice light brown fluffy head. It's toasty, pleasant, nice, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. I feel like it's a little thick or slick, leaving a malty coating in my mouth (which is not a bad thing). It's complex and delicious. It's all about the hint of cocoa for me. Perfect for winter, but too heavy for more than 1.

A-

Intermission

If any of you get to see Beer: How Stuff Works on the Discovery channel, I highly recommend it.

I learned a lot and took a bunch of notes.

Most notable facts:
There are 2 schools in the US that currently offer Master's Degrees in Brewing.

Bud light is the #1 sold beer in the world.

Hops are related to cannibis (I recently learned this but it was reiterated during the show).

When yeast is added, fermentation happens which is a natural process. Most places use encased steel containers, others use open air containers, and fancy places use old school oak barrels to ferment. Also the fermentation process looks disgusting.

A lot of focus was on Dogfish Head brewing. They recently made an ale based on scrapings from pottery from 1200 BC by the Aztecs! The oldest beer discovered. It was released this past September and won't be released again until next July. I totally want to try it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The 12 Beers of Xmas: #1-4



I have a project called the 12 Beers of Xmas. So far I've done 4, as depicted along with my Special Bottle Opener. It's taken about 10 minutes of hard work but it's paid off nicely thus far. Naw, just kidding, several days have been utilized, slaving over the process of drinking cold ones, in hopes of finding the ultimate Winter/Xmas brew.

#1: He'Brew Rejewvinator
On the first day of Xmas my true love gave to me...Uh...Well a week before Xmas I went to the booze store and bought myself...

He'Brew Rejewvinator
from the Schmaltz Brewing company. Because I'm inclusive like that. And have to get back to my Jew roots.

22 oz. bottle with some biblical quotes and other facts about figs, like how the fig leaf covers David's private parts.

It proclaims it is Year of the Fig. And it's "Harvest to Harvest Ale". I can't figure out if that is winter or summer. I'm going to guess winter because that goes with the theme of this current blog, plus figs = figgy pudding = winter, right? right.

It pours a deep purple/brown. Little head and no lacing.
It smells fruity, figgy, malty.
It's thick and plumby at first. Then starts feeling heavy and boozey at 7.8%ABV. It reminds me of too much fruit cake or rum balls. I regret it as it does NOT go well with my cheap-ass sushi dinner and was a little more pricey than I'd usually pay.

"The Chosen Beer?" Not so much, unfortunately.
C+

Beer #2: Atwater's Winter Bock
On the 2nd day of Xmas beer tasting, it was snowing! Only the 2nd time it's snowed out here in New England all winter (so far). A perfect mood for a winter ale.

Upon picking up this bottle of Atwater's Winter Bock I like it.
a) it's from Michigan, like me
b) the picture on the label looks like a hand turkey, but with snow on the finger tips

It also describes it well...As a "malty, sweet dark-amber colored German style bock beer...Makes it the perfect companion on a cold night." Brrr...I'm in!
It looks luscious. A very dark amber, with a thick light brown head that recedes quickly with nice lacing.
Smells not strong...A little malty. After a while it reminds me of peanut butter.
Tastes clean, mild, but not super sweet or flavorful. It's a smooth and easy drink but the aftertaste is watery and it feels thin.

C+

Well, shucks, so far this is not going well, until...

#3: Abita's Christmas Ale
Oooooh I like this. Pours brown but has some red, reminds me of dark strawberry jam. Very crisp and mild. Smells of berries, nuts, malt. The bottle is a short-and-wide which is fun and cute to hold. A little sweet, a little bitter to equal a balanced YUM. I learn this is lighter than their usual Christmas Ale, and I'm liking it.

A

Which leads us to tonight's:

#4: Harpoon Winter Warmer

This was recommended to me by some friends who know their beer. And oh boy, I am not disappointed. Immediately upon opening this Winter Warmer I'm hit by smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice. And those are the strong flavors of the beer. It actually does remind me of a pumpkin ale. It's a little spicy, sweet, crisp. I am enjoying it!

A-

This is just getting better and better! To BE(er) continued...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beer A-Peel: Charles Wells Banana Bread Beer




I totally scored, after my last failed attempt. There's this sweet deal at a couple of great liquor stores around here that carry single bottles of "craft beers" - you mix and match a 6 pack and get 10% off! So I'm mixing and matching and lo and behold - I spot a Wells Banana Bread beer on the bottom shelf. Whoot!

I was eager to try this, although a little wary after my last banana-y beer that was a little disappointing.

It is an interesting drink! The bottle is interesting. It's pint sized, and I enjoy the picture of the banana peel around a glass of beer. The bottle is also very informative, as it explains that beer was historically called "liquid bread," so you add bananas and BOOM!= liquid banana bread. I also learn that this is a product of England, with fine malts, and fair trade bananas.

Appearance: Lovely amber, heavy on the reddish. A large thick off-white head that already looks like banana bread to me. The head dissipates quickly, with little lacing.

Smell: Bananas, not as overpowering as I thought it would be. A little nutty and malty.

Taste: Bananas! Also some hops. The aftertaste is bitter but burps (SORRY! TMI!) are WAY banana-y.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, light, light carbonation

Drinkability: It's definitely a novelty. But I'm glad I got to try it! If you're oddly craving beer and bananas at the same time, I would recommend this!

B+

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Nerds of Beer: Middle Ages ImPaled Ale and Beast Bitter






I went to a Renaissance Faire last year. It was my first and only one. And yes, it made me want to drink. Parts of it were fun, parts of it were offensive, parts of it were a bit titillating. But I did not really associate beer with it. I believe I had a glass of overpriced "honey mead" which was nothing to blog about.

But, when I saw these beverages from the Middle Ages Brewing Company in NY, I got excited. And not just because of the erotic label on the Wailing Wench (which was a little too pricey for me). Humorous labels, nerdyness; all good things here.

The Beast Bitter was great. I thought it would be super bitter. As far as I know, I have not had any bitter beers before, and "best (beast) bitters" refer to an especially strong ale, very hoppy. The head was huge, fluffy, and thick with lots of lacing left on the glass. This was true of the Im-Paled Ale as well. Thinking about nerds and head, I can't help but be reminded of the classic Simpsons quote from Comic Book Guy while eating Peeps, "If only the real chicks went down this easily." But I digress. Back to the Beast Bitter: 'twas golden and smelled slightly fruity or floral. While it was bitter, it was not nearly as bitter as I thought it would be. As you may have picked up on, I tend to be more drawn to sweetness but I really enjoyed this.

The Im-Paled Ale was also enjoyable. Somewhat citrus-y and floral in smell and taste. A little grapefruity and bitter. Pretty crisp. Possibly more bitter in aftertaste than the Bitter itself. A's all around on this fair evening.

All in all, tis a most fanciful thing to enjoy an ale or two.

Fare thee well good wenches and, uh, dudes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Comparative Study #3: Mango vs. Strawberry



So, a while back I saw banana bread beer at a liquor store in Plymouth. I've never seen it anywhere else, and, curiosity may get the better of me but hey, beer = good, banana bread = good, so what's the problem? I went there in hopes of getting a bottle last weekend but the shelf was empty. There is a chubby, nerdy guy who works there who is very smiley and nice...I feel like we could bond in our chubby-nerdy-beer-love, but unfortunately I need to prepare if I'm going to get over my anxiety enough to talk to an actual stranger. Instead I grabbed this Fruli Strawberry as the bottle is little (8.4 oz.) and cute and it was cheap. It's from a Belgium brewery and is supposed to be 70% white beer (witbeer) and 30% fruit juice. The aforementioned store clerk assured me it was delicious while I blushed and fished for cash. Dammit. Next time I'll ask about the banana bread beer. Anyways, the Fruli looks like a murky grapefruit juice with very thin head and tiny little bits...I can only assume are pieces of strawberry pulp. It smells and tastes of strawberry jam. It's light and fizzy and easy to drink down. It's refreshing; I could see drinking this in the summer. Possibly out of the bottle with a straw because it feels like sodapop. Super sweet. Almost too sweet but I've got a heck of a sweet tooth.

In the past when I've seen fruit beers (mainly blueberry or cherry) I have always gotten excited and then have been disappointed. They are usually somewhat grody, kind of like when people mix chocolate and fruit. It's a good theory, but some things are better left separate.

Thus leads me to the mango. When I saw this Tropical Mango Ale I was very excited. I've never seen a mango beer (even though I'm learning that there are many) and I love mango. It is out of the Virgin Islands, brewed and bottled by Shipyard in Maine. Upon pouring it I was very excited at first. It smelled strongly of mango, was a pretty amber color, with a nice head and lacing (does this ever not get funny?). The first few sips were nice. The mango was not overwhelming but it was the dominant taste. But it started to get old fast. It started to taste watered-down and too bitter for the mango. It's strange, at first it seemed like this luscious tropical paradise type of drink...But I guess after a few sips the novelty wore off, like a ratty old bikini disintegrating after one too many wears.

Fruli Strawberry: B
Tropical Mango pale ale: C

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Duvel Love



Well, anyone can tell you my twin Rebecca is a sophisticated lady. She has spent lots of time in Europe, speaks fluent french, and is almost a PhD. She is also the best twin sister anyone could have.

So when she says she loves Duvel, a luscious Belgian ale, I believe her. And I love it too. I wish I had a flute glass to bring out its finer qualities but a wine glass will do. It took 3 pours, each with head rising scarily over the edge of the glass but then settling down.

Mountains of head like whipped cream; and a balance of bitterness and fruit. A Homer Simpson-esque drool here. aaaaaggggggghhhhh...It especially went well with my Pringles. Yeah, sophistication.

I'm gonna start grading my beers like my peer beer snobs/geeks do. A!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Comparitive Study #2: Brooklyn Ale vs. Brooklyn Lager





"Hello, Brooklyn!" (Beastie Boys, and probably others)

A very simple comparative study. 2 regular old beers, from the same brewery which is given high marks and high regards according to my research.

The Brooklyn Penant Ale '55 is named in honor of the Dodgers' glory in 1955. I do not know crap about baseball but the bottle caught my eye and thought it might impress my lady who does enjoy baseball.

I poured both of these in identical glasses at the same time. Both looked exactly the same. The color of dark honey. 3 fingers of foam. Not much to the smell at first but I've learned to give it a minute. The lager's head dissipated a little more quickly than the ale. It released a slightly citrusy smell compared to a more mild smell of the ale. But honestly? Could not tell much of a difference.

On to the tasting: Not much of a difference at first. I realized the lager was slightly more "crisp" which is a fancy word for carbonation or "fizz". And the ale was a little "creamier".

Lager vs. Ale seems like one of the most basic comparisons on the road to beer sophistication. I fret. The difference is the way the yeast is used in the fermentation process which is so boring to read about. It's like high school chemistry class. As much as it's painful, I know it's important. I try, I try. In short: ale = creates yeast by-products called esters which are fruity. Also the yeast in ale ferments at the top. Lager is more of a "bottom" (why is beer so full of sexual innuendos??) with fewer yeast by-products and more hops. God. I hope that's enough education for today.

The more I drink it, the more of a difference I can tell, even though they still look like twins. Both are fine, not stellar in my opinion, but I am enjoying the Brooklyn lager more. The ale is boring and not worth the bitter aftertaste. The lager's citrusy smell and taste is refreshing. LA LA LAGER it 'tis!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Cure For What Ails/Ales Ye: Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout




Hey gals,

You know the feeling. The moodiness. That once-a-month feeling. Sometimes more, sometimes less. TMI, I know! But hear me out.

Truth be told, it was not PMS for me this weekend. But it was crabbiness and moodiness, in part due to the darkness and rain and being stuck inside and having a sore back. But there was light at the end of the tunnel.

First, my librarian gf clued me into Beer Book and I was amazed when I went to the library and a pristine copy was actually in the new nonfiction area. I snagged it so fast, amazed at my luck. This is like porn for beer lovers; it's a review 800 breweries around the world and looks at some of their sample beers. It's a fun book with tons of colorful photos and a bottle to represent each brewery.

Then I went for the Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout along with some delicious dark chocolate. You can see the picture, with the price tag tackily left on. When I had all this on the table I thought it would make a great photo but the head went down a bit while I searched for the camera. But still dark and purty! It smelled of very bitter chocolate. It drank of the same. It went with the dark chocolate very well. The 10% ABV helped too, as I lay on the couch playing video games. This is a cure to remember.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Comparative Study #1: Newport Storm



I think I need to slow down a little. Back up. Take some distance. Do a little reflection. It's not you, beer, it's me. Let's get down to the basics. Before I'm able to venture out to Asian and English brews, let's start at home.

For me, that is currently Rhode Island. The popular local brewery is Newport Storm. I purchased 2 bottles from them: Rhode Island Blueberry and Dark Ale in the Cyclone Series.

I've poured the 2 beers and am referring to my new bible, "Beer for Dummies" to see what I should be looking, tasting, and smelling for.

The Blueberry: remember when I asked before if all fruit beer were lambics? Turns out, the answer is no! Ales and lagers can have fruit added to the brewing process (usually cherry, blueberry, or raspberry). Lambics are a Belgian fruited ale which many consider a separate category to learn about on another day. This one is an ale.

Appearance: golden and bubbly with 1.5 fingers of head that sticks around. Smells: very strongly of blueberries, but real blueberries. Nothing artificial here. Mouthfeel:It is crisp with carbonation and Tastes: mostly...Of blueberries! It's sweet, and slightly tart. Nothing I could drink a ton of, but it's tasty.

The Dark Ale: a liquor store clerk informed me that this is part of a Cyclone Series which comes out with limited quantities and have different varieties named after employees of the company, in this case Henry. I thought that was a nice thing for a business to do! It's also considered "extreme" perhaps due to the 7.6% alcohol. EXTREME!

Appearance: 3 fingers of head and very dark brown in color. Smells: I think a little coffee, a little fruity...And perhaps what I may be starting to identify as malt?! Mouthfeel: smooth and creamy. Tastes: um, malty(?) and a tiny bit fruity.

I've enjoyed tasting both of these. And am happy to get some "local flavor." But I'm not smitten. I would not go out of my way to try either one of these again. If I were to choose though, the winner would be...The Dark Ale! WHOOOOOOH!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kiuchi Hitachino Nest Commemorative Ale



Kiuchi's Hitachino Nest Commemorative Ale: Okay, it's a little short and stout bottle with an owl on it. That's the big obvious reason for trying this.

It also sounds delicious, "Festive ale brewed with vanilla beans and spices (coriander, orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon)."

The main challenge with this beverage was the head. I was going to use my shorter jar glass and poured a small amount in slowly, and the head shot up to nearly the top of the glass. And it took a while to dissipate. So I got my taller weizen glass and referred to my "Beer for Dummies" book to see if I should be pouring it differently. Yes I am reading "Beer for Dummies". I never wanted to read a "For Dummies" book as I find their titles inherently insulting. However, I'm actually finding this helpful and surprisingly self-esteem boosting. Lots of people can't tell the difference between lagers and ales! No worries! Let's learn together! Awesome.

Anyways, the book tells me most beers should be poured "aggressively" straight down the middle of the glass. No tilting unless its an American pale lager. No tilting for me!

The majority of it is still head no matter which way I pour. A quick search through Google informs me I'm not alone when it comes to this brew. Phew!

It smells pretty orangey, looks pretty orangey, and tastes pretty orangey. Kind of sweet, kind of spicey, but not really any particular flavor. Besides kinda orange. In other words, it's alright.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Punk-in love






Oh man, do I love pumpkin. But this past month or so, I've been a little obsessive about it. Like, I see pumpkin ANYTHING and I'm all over it. Muffins, lattes, ice cream...droooooool...And of course, that would lead us to tonight's beer session.

The only pumpkin beer I've had previous to this October is Shipyard's Pumpkinhead Ale. The name, label, and taste all = awesome. It's liquid pumpkin pie, pure and simple. Reading others' beer reviews, I see that this is not considered a sophisticated pumpkin beer. So I move on.

Tonight I first engage in the imbibement of a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. It's at 7% alcohol and only comes in 4-packs so you know it's a little fancier. Alright, truth be told, I did have one on Halloween. But I had to drink it in my SKULL MUG (see picture) and did not really focus on its finer qualities. I drank it while eating candy and watching "Monsters, Inc" and "The Craft." Both good movies, and both appropriate for Halloween. (Sidenote: why did I ever think there were hot people in The Craft? Totally wrong.)

Anyways, tonight I focus with the Punkin. I drink from a chilled mug. A jar mug, not the dollar store glass, because I'm saving that one. Not much head, but some "lacing." Check out this amusing segment from Carlton Draught - ,"Think of beer and you tend to think of bars, blokes and barbeques, right? You certainly don’t think of lace. But, surprising, lace does hold a place in the world of beer." Just a reminder that this is male-dominated territory, little lady.

But back to the beer...The 7% is hitting me after half the beer. I guess because this time I don't have approximately 40 mini candy bars inside my gut. I don't smell a lot from Punkin. The taste is more subtle than Shipyard. It's slightly sweet, and there is some spice, but it doesn't taste like liquid pie. I do enjoy this but in a different way than the Shipyard. It is a pretty orange color and is very easy to drink quickly.

Reading up on beer and food pairings...Sweet actually goes with sweet! What a relief...Therefore I cleanse my pumpkiny palate with a piece of pumpkin pie between going on to the next beer tasting. MMMMMM...

Okay, next is Southampton Pumpkin Ale. This was a fancy pint bottle purchased at a fancy wine/micro-brew shop that had a tasting this weekend. It was full of fancy people getting tipsy off samples who liked to dominate the sample tables and workers and asking way too many questions about which wine they should serve with their fancy upcoming holiday meals. BUT I did get a couple of wine samples on my way to the beer section. Lo and behold, I saw this big bottle. It was almost $6 but hey, I'm dedicated to the cause.

So far, so good. Again, a rather thin head, but a gorgeous orange/amber color. The fanciness definitely deserved my chilled dollar store Weizen glass. It actually smells more pumpkiny than it tastes. The bottle boasts that it is brewed with real pumpkin and spices. It's definitely more "spicey" than the Dogfish Head. It's tastey, but again more beer-ish than pie-ish. I took my time with this one and enjoyed it.

Conclusion? With pumpkin, you cannot go wrong. But, in the future, I might go back to my old stand-by Shipyard. Or maybe just throw some pie in a blender and call it a day.

PS) Any ideas for election day themed beer? hopefully something celebratory...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Time to Get Serious with Hobgoblin




Okay, it's time to get serious. No more joking around with half-assed beer tasting. I'm doing some research, and learning some lingo, and here it goes.

A seasonally appropriate Wychwood's Hobgoblin, a dark English ale. I'm not messing around anymore. I even purchased a glass from the dollar store just for the purpose of this blog. I believe it is a Weizen glass (see helpful photo). Unfortunately, according to BeerAdvocate.com, Weizen glasses are for several types of brews, Dark English ales not being one of them. I should be drinking Hobgoblin in a pint glass. Perhaps another trip to the dollar store is in order. Now, American Dark Wheat Ales are acceptable in a Weizen, so this will have to do for tonight.

I chilled the glass. This has some controversy. The naysayers think possible odors from the fridge or freezer being left on the glass and tainting the delicious drink. Also the condensation could spoil the balance of the beer. But most people say it's a good idea and drinks should be cold! So I took a risk, and stuck the Weizen glass in the cheese drawer for half an hour or so. As far as I can tell, there was no cheese smell OR condensation on the glass. SUCCESS.

I try to pour the beer correctly with the tilted glass and swirling of foam. Most guides say there should be a "finger of foam" at the top of the glass. Um, what does this mean? I think I got about a knuckle's worth.

Then you must enjoy the beer with all your senses. I admit, this one is pretty! And not just the bottle this time. It's a nice amber color, I suppose from the amber waves of grain, but the British version. There is supposedly a chocolate and toffee malt flavor. One challenge for me so far is understanding what this "malt" is and how to recognize it. I mean, to me it just smells like beer but good beer. Maybe the fact that I read the bottle influenced me but I can almost smell the chocolate...

Overall, I am delighted with this beverage. It is a good treat after a hard day's work. And yes, I was attracted to it due to the label, but also did not realize until afterwards that it was seasonally appropriate...Speaking of which, pumpkin beer tasting is soon to come!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Melbourne Bros. Apricot


OMG, how cute is this bottle?! I saw it in a local liquor store with a wide variety of beers sold individually. When one is not too familiar with the beer lingo, one goes with things like packaging and price. In this case, the packaging sold me but I could not find a price. When I brought it up to the cash register, which had several people working behind it, they all inspected it with strange looks. Clearly none of them had seen this beverage before, and they certainly did not know how much it cost. The barcode did not work, so one ventured, "$4.99?" and the other replied, "How about $3.99." This did not instill confidence.
Back to the packaging - it's kind of old fashioned looking, with lots of pictures of apricots and interesting script. It tells me it is made in Great Britain. The bottle itself is also a unique shape, and heavier than normal...Sturdy, which gives the illusion of quality. I like old-fashioned, fruity stuff so I gave it a shot.
This beer sat in my fridge for a few days, casting a spell of cool mystique among its less-cool peers. The withered spinach, the leftover stuffing just shrugged back into their corners, knowing they could not compete with a bottle like this.
Okay, but onto the tasting. It's hump night, so why not?
I crack it open. This time I do have a clean glass so I pour it in and take a sip. My initial thought? Gross with an even grosser aftertaste of plastic. Bleh.
But I'm not one to give up. I go over to the sofa to sit with my girlfriend. When I bring the glass up to give it another sip, I believe her actual words were, "Oh my god that smells fucking disgusting get that away from me." Now, she is not a beer fan and does not enjoy the smell on my breath or otherwise. But this was a little extreme and did not win the beverage any extra points.
I continue to sip it over the course of a couple of hours. I actually like it more over time. It's extremely sweet and fruity. It basically tastes like fermented marmalade. I believe this is considered a "lambic" which means fruit, in this case apricot, is added towards the end of the brewing process. If beer has fruit in it, does it always have to be a lambic? I do not know.
Overall, I would not try this again, but I regret nothing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sapporo


I purchased a nice chilly 22 oz. can (if it's in a can rather than a bottle, does one still call it a "deuce?")of Sapporo, a Japanese brew that I've had once or twice but not in a while. I drank this while watching "The Office" and eating Chinese food. Unfortunately, I had no didn't have any clean glasses so I drank from the can. My first thought was that it was bitter, which cut the sweetness of the duck sauce nicely. It was also very cold, perhaps due to the bi-metal can, which the website explains is why you cannot squeeze it like you can a regular aluminum can. Let's face it, with Sapporo it's all about the package. There is something very appealing about the curvy shiny silver sexy can. I also learn that there is a small amount of rice in this beverage, which I would guess is not common in beers. I learn this is a "light-bodied lager."
My conclusion: Meh. It's fine. It tastes fine, I really like the can, but for 22 oz. I would expect to feel at least a little tipsy which I totally don't. But that could also be due to the large amount of vegetable mu shu that it mixed with in my soon-to-be beer gut.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Intro

I've always enjoyed a beverage or two. But beer is something I have never really understood. Oh, I have drunk it. And I have enjoyed it. But to understand it...that is something else all together. To the point where I've been out with an acquaintance and ordered something like a Blue Moon or Killian's...Something affordable, drinkable, and leading to a buzz. You know, a freaking beer. And then said acquaintance will comment or, worse, ask me a question about my preference of hops-to-barley ratio/Belgium vs. German style/short vs. stout/handle vs. spout... And I get overwhelmed and look around frantically for a television with a football game (which for me is truly an act of desperation) or something to change this disastrous route of small talk.

Looking back I realize that my choice of beer has always been influenced by outside sources. In college we drank Leinenkugel's honeyweiss. I'm not sure why, except maybe we thought it tasted like honey and was cheap yet showed more depth than PBR or Bud. At the lesbian bar it was Miller Lite. I recall being told that that was The Lesbian Beer. Who even knew?

But I find myself nearing my 30th birthday. I am a professional, educated woman. I think, perhaps, it's time to grow up. And figure out what beer I truly like.