Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I TOTALLY SCORED!


...Something way cooler than power converters from the finest of Tashi stations. More like, something to imbibe whilst avoiding doom in Mos Eisley Cantina.

Last year I saw "Imperial Stout Trooper" listed on a fancy beer bar's menu. It was $15. I thought "Cool name. But for $15? No way." For some reason this beer stuck with me. I love Star Wars. And I have started to love stouts and imperial stouts, at that. On BeerAdvocate.com I started to read inquiries about this beer a couple of months ago. I found out it was being released on December 21 from New England Brewing in Connecticut.
So on December 21st, I started to make phone calls. To the finest of liquor stores from Boston down to Cape Cod. Nothing. One place said they'd see if they could order it for me. This filled me with hope. A New Hope, if you will. It took them 4 days to call me back to inform me that, no, they would not be able to order any. Another place said "They might have some the next day" when the order came in. I stopped by. Nothing. I read online that this was made in a very limited quantity, hardly any came to MA, and that it was "selling like hotcakes."
I gave up. I will never be one with Imperial Stout Trooper. And then...I read online today. Again, BeerAdvocate.com. Someone mentioned that on Christmas Eve, Village Vineyards in Plymouth (5 minutes from my home!) got a case in. What?! I had called them previously, and they said they were not carrying it. But as soon as I read this news, I called. The guy said, sure, they have 12 bottles sitting right at the store's entrance.SCORE!!! I flew over to that store faster than a rebel in hyperspace. I wished I had more money. But 2 750 ml bottles at $16.50 each is already steep. But oh, how exciting.

One will be for my birthday. One...For a trade? To sell? To gift to someone extremely deserving with whom the force is strong? Who knows. This is the most time and energy I've spend on finding a beer. Totally gratifying.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I *Heart* A Good Mix-A-Six

When I first decided to learn about beer, I found a few places in my area that sold mix-a-six packs. They had a selection of individual bottles sold at individual prices, but mix a six of them, and save 10%! This is a fantastic concept for people trying to learn about the different varieties of beer. Having moved, I have not seen any places around my current place of residence that does this, however, I recently stumbled upon a place with a small but interesting mix-a-six area. Instead of having the bottles marked individually, the 6-pack was sold at a flat $10 rate.

I got 2 from the East. Sam Adams (Boston) and Heavy Seas (Maryland).

2 from the West. Avery (Colorado) and Sierra Nevada (California).



And 2 from outside the US. Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale (England) and Xingu (Brazil).



And apparently I had a holy theme going on here.

2 were oldies but goodies, one's I have had an enjoyed before - Sierra Nevada's Torpedo and Sam Adam's Holiday Porter. The others are all new to me. Whence beer shopping, I enjoy browsing. I could browse for a while. Reading labels. Pondering decisions. I usually do not have a ton of money to spend, so I make my selections thoughtfully. Therefore when the trying-to-be-helpful sales guy comes over and watches me selecting bottles with little comments about every one I look at or touch, it's annoying. I like talking beer and feel more comfortable doing so now. But dude, let me take my time and stop acting like a know-it-all. He also kept talking about how if you make smart decisions, you can actually save money on the flat rate. Yes, that is important to me, but not as important to me as getting an ineresting variety. Plus, there was some major crap - old summer ales and old bottles covered in dust. The one item I let his opinion influence me on was Avery's Stout. The only Avery products I've had were the deliciously intense Maharaja, and the scarily intense BEAST.

Reviews to come!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Beer from India: Maharaja


Not gonna lie - the cool label, the $1.79 (or something) price-tag, and the fact that it's from India is what made me instantly throw it into my shopping basket. I do not believe I have had an Indian beer, so I was excited to try the Maharaja Premium Indian Pilsner.

Now the "pilsner," if you will, is a German-style of beverage. Light in color and with some spice, hops, and possibly even some "zest."This looked like ginger ale. Light, straw-colored, and fizzy. No foam at all. It tasted and smelled like watery corn and apple. But honestly, it was kind of good. Kind of bland, kind of sweet, nothing too complex. I'd take it over a Bud any day.
C

Southern Tier's Backburner


Mmm...Another imperial treat from Southern Tier brewing. This one is a winter seasonal "barleywine" - a typically darker and high alcohol brew often fruity, sweet, and in the USA - hopped. According to the Southern Tier website, the British used to make barleywines with "the first runnings of the mash." I don't know what that means, but it is the inspiration for this beverage and it celebrates the new year and new beginnings. The label proclaimed it to be "the first brew of 2008" so it's getting close to a year old.It poured a dark amber with red highlights. The head was tight small bubbles that left tons of lace.It smelled and tasted fruity and sweet. Cherries and plums, also sweet malts, caramel and vanilla. The hops were present but not super noticeable. The 10% alcohol was felt but not tasted. This was soft and chewey, and complex. I sipped it over a long time, but it was enjoyable. I'd have another.
A-

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dear Santa, I've Been Alright:

'Tis the season bitches! (as they say). I <3 Xmas. And this blog is in no way a passive agressive hint to my true love of what to get me on the 12 days of Xmas. Not at all. No turtle doves, please. But...I do have some special wishes that may reflect what other beer lovers could enjoy.

1) Mr. Brew Home-Brewing Kit. I saw this on sale at Target. I thought it was $25, but maybe it was $50. Anyways, this is a deal. I don't know anything about homebrewing (yet!) but can only imagine it is messy and smelly and takes up a lot of space if you only live in a 1-bedroom apartment. But still.

2)Cool beer-related shirts*.("Life is too short to drink shitty beer" - in German for subtlety).Puns are always a plus.
*Note: I am trying to become a beer expert. Not a fashion expert. Don't hate.

Not to be confused with uncool beer-related shirts*.
Nope.
I am no fashion expert, but I do not believe vomit has ever been cool.No. Please, no.

3) Sam Adams' Color Spectrum/To-Do List
I've seen this on billboards, and I really like it. It's eye-catching and shows the vast array of brew colors. You can buy it as a magnet, but I'd prefer a ginormous poster of it. I don't think that exists, however.


4) Actual beer. Especially Star Wars themed. Imperial Stout Trooper comes from New England Brewing in CT and is released on Dec. 21st. Yes, I mostly want it for the bottle. But it's supposed to be a good beer too.

5) Another new brew, that does not come out until January. Flying Dog's 20th Anniversary Brew: Hey, my birthday is in January! Hmmm...So anyways, this is TMI, but a certain friend and I used to call that certain time of the month a "raging bitch." There was more to it, I'm sure, and it was more hilarious than it sounds. Duh. So when I read about a beer by that name (and it's an IPA, heck yeah!) you know I'm all over that.

6) A million Sierra Nevada Celebration Ales. Seriously, one of the best winter brews ever. It's just a kick-ass IPA. Delicious, pretty, sticky, and refreshing.
Geez, how high maintenance and greedy am I? Not very, I swear. But, these are some hott items that deserve a place on any beer drinker's wishlist.

I love the holidays. Raise your glass, feel the love, and cheers!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Warming Up with Sam Adams Cream Stout

It's already December! Yet...Not a flake of snow to be seen, and 2 days ago it was 70 degrees. What the hey! X-Mas is in 19 days! Hard to believe. However, whence shopping for brewskis it is clear the winter season is upon us. Holiday ales and winter brews abound. Something about cooler weather (at least theoretically cooler weather) lends itself to craving darker beers.

I picked up a 6-pack of Sam Adam's Cream Stout, an award-winning brew from the Sam Adam's Brewmaster Collection.
This is a lovely ale. It pours an extremely dark brown-to black, with mounds of fluffy tan head with decent retention and plenty of lace. Oooh la la! It smells like coffee with vanilla cream and dark bitter cocoa.The strongest taste is coffee, along with cream and sugar, roasted malts, and some vanilla and caramel. This is a rich beer with strong flavor, but it is not overly sweet at all like some other milk stouts.

This is a creamy, rich drink. Very good and easy to drink. It only has 4.8% alcohol which is on the low side and helps it to be a relatively sessionable stout. You could have it for dessert! Or with a fancy dessert!

A-

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Cooking" with Beer: Apple Pie Ale

Wow. Okay last year around this time I commenced a little project called "The 12 Beers of Xmas" in which I compared 12 winter/holiday ales to find the winners. It was fun. And hard, delicious work. I recall trying a Harpoon's Winter Warmer at that time and enjoying it. Hadn't thought about it since until recently when I read on a well-known beer-related site that if you mix it with cider it tastes like apple pie.
For a little seasonal fun, I decided to try this, but first trying the beverages in their solitary states.
Harpoon's Winter Warmer (From Boston): A pretty dark clear amber, tiny fizzy head. It smelled strongly of cinnamon and nutmeg, along with some malts and mild...banana? It tastes sweet, like pumpkin pie. Noticeable malts. Despite the strong flavors, it still comes across as thin. Perhaps...Like watered-down banana bread, if that were possible. But overall, pleasant, if not awesome. B
Next I give the cider a go. I picked up a nice 22 oz. of JK Scrumpy's Organic Cider, simply because it was the only cider I saw. I didn't realize until right now that it's from MI. WHOOT! It poured paler than I thought it would be - looked like cloudy apple juice with almost a pink undertone. No visible carbonation or head. The smell? Like apple orchard and beer. The taste? Wow! Super crisp, sweet yet tart, and, ya know, tastes like cider. Alcohol not as present in the taste as the smell. This was WAY good.
A
Now for the cooking...
I poured about 50% each. It came out darker, sudsier, and with sediment that I had not noticed before but decided they were tiny pieces of apple. Sweet and tart, caramel, spices...Yep! Tastes like pie! I decided to be decadent and have some with real apple pie. Delightful. Also, didn't you think the motto for Sara Lee was "nobody does it like Sara Lee?" Well, according to the box it's "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee." I don't like that double negative. I do, however, like apple pie.
A

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stressed Out = Thailand's Chang

Okay, I was REALLY STRESSED the other day. Cuz of boring job stuff. Anyways, it was stressful all day and then I really wanted a beer. But not a delicious beer to savor and appreciate. I wanted a shitty cheap beer in order to feel somewhat more relaxed. I went to the haven of Luke's Discount Liquor. This place was pretty fantastic. A huge aisle was dedicated to nothing but imported beers and besides the usual sizable Belgian/English/German beers they also had a large Asian section. Besides that, plenty of US Micros. But I was not there for any of that. I was there for the crap. So I followed the Budweiser signs back to the cooler. Hmmm...I planned to get a nice 22 oz. of Bud Light or Miller Light or something. Maybe even a 40! But when I got back there, I really couldn't justify spending even $1.50 on something gross. Then I saw the $2.99 22 oz. bottles of Chang. I figured, for basically the same price, let's try something new.

Upon my arrival home, I poured it into a pint glass. It was crystal clear, and dark yellow-ish orange with a tiny white fizzy head that instantly disappeared. No lacing or anything. The smell was strong and poured out of the bottle. It smelled like apples and corn. A lot like Bud or Miller. Also, frankly, kind of like urine.

While it tasted mostly like the watery/corn-y US Macros, it was a little bit sweeter - almost (midly) like apple cider. This had high drinkability, because the flavor was not strong but it was kind of bland, sweet, watery, and not terribly interesting or delicious. Overall gross, but hey, it was a decent distraction to end a less than decent day.


D+

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Midas Touch

The story goes that everything King Midas touched turned into gold. The Midas Touch by Dogfish Head Brewing, is based on an ancient beverage found in the Midas Tomb from 2700 years ago. This is really cool. Unfortunately, the beer was kinda gross. The bottle I had was from December 2008, almost a year ago. Almost as impressive as the scrapings of an ancient bottle, no?
Appearance: a cloudy orange, small off-white head, not much visible carbonation.
Smell: Sweet. Honey, a little bit of spice, and at times, a whiff of bakery.Taste: Woah. 1 sip had a bunch of different flavors. The first taste went from sweet to spicey to bitter to fruity to alcohol. Later I refined this to be: Malts->honey->grains and spice->alcohol and dark fruits, grapes. The alcohol was definitely present in the taste. Mouthfeel: Medium to thin and on the flat side
Drinkability: Not very good for me. In theory this is a really cool beverage. And I'm glad they had booze back in the days of yore. But this was a little too complex for my taste buds. Which, by the by, did not turn into gold upon tasting.
C

Monday, November 9, 2009

Everybody Must Get Stone: Ken Schmidt and Oak Aged Arrogant

Man, oh Womyn. It's been like 6 weeks since I've blogged. Never fret, dear reader(s?) - I have enjoyed some delicious beer during that time. Some Dogfish Head Punkin Ale at a bar in Philly as well as at Halloween. A lovely Belgian Delerium Tremens while out on the town with a visiting friend.

And over the weekend, 2 different beers from the Stone Brewery out in CA.

I've tried a couple from Stone, in particular the delicious Arrogant Bastard. The first I tried was randomly picked up. There was a whole bunch of them in single bottles. Upon inspection I realized it was a Stone product, later learning it was a collaboration between Stone, a Hawiian brewery, and a lucky home-brewer named Ken. The result? a Kona Coffee Macadamia Nut Coconut Porter. Sounds delicious and intense right? Right.
Fun fact: "porters" became a popular style in 18th century England among transportation workers. Hence, the name. American style porters take some initiatives with this style, adding coffee, chocolate, hop bitterness, or in this case, a multitude of nuts and coffee.

Appearance: This poured a very dark cola-esque brown. The thin dark brown head was fizzy and disappeared almost instantly. The liquid was viscious against the glass but left no lacing.
Smell: Coffee instantly stood out. Dark, roasty with a very mild sweet coconut smell coming through.
Taste: Wow - very flavorful! "Smokey," "nutty," and "roasty" all came to mind. Strong, big flavors of coffee and bitter chocolate. I found it to be balanced with a wee aftertaste of coconut.
Mouthfeel: Somewhat soft and chewey, plenty of carbonation, and "coating of the tongue," if you will.
Drinkability: Good. Fairly high in alcohol at 8.5%, but I couldn't taste it. It's a big and intense flavor, so one was plenty. But definitely enjoyable. Recommended with a SKOR BAR.
B+

Next was an Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard, one that I've been keeping for a special occassion. In this case, there was no real occassion except a day off work. I love the regular Arrogant Bastard, so was eager to try this. I don't really get what oak aging does, except add a little flavor and "mellow it out," man. Or something.

Appearance: Gorgeous. Deep amber. Looked brown but bright ruby RED when held to the light. The sticky 1 finger brown head lasted for a long time and left a frothy ring around the glass and tons of lacing.
Smell: Strong vanilla stood out, then dark fruits, malts, and spice, along with a noticeable smell of alcohol. I asked my non-beer-drinking gf what she thought it smelled like and she said, "alcohol and Christmas" which was a better description than I could come up with.
Taste: Nice. Similar to the regular Arrogant Bastard but more malty and rich. The alcohol was also more noticeable in the taste, although the amount is stil 7.2%, same as the original.
Mouthfeel: Soft and chewey
Drinkability: Good, but would have been better for me if the alcohol was less noticeable in the taste and smell. This is a rich, flavorful beverage; something to savor. Unfortunately, after I drank half the bottle I spilled the rest on the carpet. I promise, I was not drunk, only clumsy. And now our carpet smells like old Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard. Which is not so great. B+

Thursday, September 24, 2009

YOW! Getting Spicy with Rogue's Chipotle Ale

I haven't tried many from Rogue brewery, in OR, although I often admire their lovely bottles and interesting sounding varieties. So imagine my delighted surprise when my gf came home with a bottle of Rogue's Chipotle Ale "just because." And she does not even drink beer. Swoon! I was not sure if I'd like it, but when we decided it was taco night, I decided I needed to try it.The bottle was decorated with a rendition of author Juan de la Cueva who wrote of a recipe using beer and chipotle seeds. Hence, chipotle ale!
The appearance was lovely. Amber with large sudsy off-white foam creating a large head that dissipated into a foamy ring around the top and lots o' lace.

The smell was mild. Sweet malts and just a bit of spice. Not as powerful and spicy as I thought it would be.
The taste: At first a nice sweet malty amber ale. And then - just the delightful flavor of chipotle (ripe and smoked jalepano peppers). There definitely was spice, but not in a super hot way. More like the flavor of the peppers. I could feel some heat though, and wondered if it was the spice, or the alcohol. Looking up the ABV - only 5.5% So the warmth was definitely spice-related.

If you like spice and chipotle flavor, you should definitely try this brew. Especially at taco night.

A-

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More on Oktoberfest: Flying Dog's Dogtoberfest

Good people drink good beer - Hunter S. Thompson (used as Flying Dog's logo)
Oktoberfest has been celebrated in Munich since 1810, when a prince organized a horse race in honor of his upcoming marriage. It was celebrated with the race, and lots of beer. It's still a big party, albeit with a lack of horses. Current celebrations have over 6.5 million people and serve over 6.5 million liters (or something) of beer. WHOOOOOH! Par-tay. I prefer my quiet living room with the company of my gf and cat, thankyouverymuch.


I really have not tried Oktoberfest styles of beer, or Marzens, besides a couple of small samples last weekend. I randomly picked up this 6-pack of Flying Dog's Dogtoberfest. I never tried Flying Dog either - it's an interesting brewery. It started in CO and now distributes out of Maryland, as well. The packaging is known for having unique cartoon designs, created by a friend of Hunter S. Thompson (who is friends with the brewery's owner).

This Dogtoberfest looked like liquid caramel as it poured from the bottle into a pint glass. The thin brown head quickly fizzled away and left small spots of lace. It smelled mostly of sweet caramel malts, along with apples.

The taste: sour caramel apples, sweet malts, wheat or rye bread, and bitter hops towards the end. I tend to like hoppier beverages, but I liked this the more I drank this. It felt smooth and was not overly carbonated. It "sat on my tongue for a spell", coating my mouth with deliciousness.

Later I enjoyed the beverage alongside a feast. I made it myself. Chicken (fake for me, real for the gf), falaffel, hummus wraps, brown rice with tabouli and feta, yogurt-cucumber sauce, roasted garlic and stuffed olives. Impressed, no? NOM NOM.

Overall, this was a fairly sweet but balanced brew. On the Flying Dog website, I learned that they import all German products (hops, malt, yeast) for an authentic Oktoberfest beer. It was a pleasant drink and with 5.3%ABV it's easy to have several, particularly alongside some oom-pah music. I'm not sure I love the style of the Marzen, but I definitely enjoy this brew enough.

B+