Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wet Hopping, eh? Sierra Nevada's 12th Release Harvest - Wet Hops Ale

So most beers use hops that have been dried. But some get a little fancy and add wet hops - freshly picked hops! Since the flavor gets more dense when hops dry (like herbs, I reckon), you have to add 6 times more wet hops to get the same amount of flavor.

So I picked up a bottle of his Sierra Nevada 12th Release Harvest Wet Hops Ale, curious to see if I could tell a difference.

Oh man. Appearance = gorgeous reddish honey with a thick, mountainous head (despite an intentionally gentle pour) that lasted forever with beautiful lacing.

Smell = mostly citrus, pleasant

Tastes = delicious! slight citrus, pines, plant-like but in a good way. Nice bitterness.

Mouthfeel = crisp and light

Drinkability = excellent. I felt like I could drink a couple of these 24 oz. bad boys (but only had one which was probably a good thing).


Sunday, February 22, 2009

A History Lesson with Old Rasputin's Russian Imperial Stout

Someone online recently made a joke about delicious beers being named after ugly dudes. Well, Rasputin does not seem to be much of a looker, but who was he, anyways? He was known as the "Mad Monk" and earned a reputation as a holy healer. He worked with the Czar Nicholas 2 and advised him to pull the Russian troops out of WWI. He also was an advocate of mass orgies and flagellation. The religious and political elite were pissed at his power and influence so they killed him in 1916.

Then this CA Brewery, North Coast Brewing Company, made a stout named after him. Russian Imperial Stouts were developed in the 1800s, made to win over the Czar's affection. Lots of malts and alcohol. This particular stout is pitch black with a tan head that disappears quickly. It smells of nuts and grapes, but tastes strongly of coffee and a little bit of bittersweet chocolate. I make the mistake of drinking my brews too cold sometimes. Imperial Stouts should be served at 50-55 degrees so I let it warm up for a while longer. This is supposed to be a REALLY excellent beer, but I cannot really enjoy it. It's the "roasted malts" thing again - to me it tastes like meat. And it's a little too bitter for my taste.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kid Rock Beer

A MI brewing company is releasing a Kid Rock Beer.

*SIGH*. So many good musicians from MI. Madonna. Iggy Pop/Stooges. Um, that whole Mo-Town thing!

Why Kid Rock, why? As an (ex)Michigander, I must hang my head in shame.

The thing is, it is a $7 million dollar project, which will add lots of badly-needed jobs.

It's such a gimmick. His music is bad, I can only assume his beer will be bad too.

Then again, you know if I see this in the store I will have to try it.

Curses! They know what they're doing.

More Stout! This time Cappuccino Stout!

I was a little wary of this stout. I gave it the ol' hairy eyeball which is a phrase I never understood. However, I googled "hairy eyeball" and came up with this geeky link. Oh MAN! The internet is so funny. Let's just say I "looked at the bottle with mistrust and speculation."

After all, why "cappuccino?" Why not regular old fashioned red-blooded American "coffee stout?" Seems a bit pretentious to me. After all, cappuccinos are 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk, and 1/3 foam. So I expected this beer to be a little more special than a regular old coffee stout, but was afraid the I'd be disappointed.


It was delicious. This 8.29% bomber kicked my butt with its deliciousness.

It poured black with slightly brown edges. It's tan head was not overly impressive but left a nice head. The smell was surprisingly not strong. A little sweet (malts), some coffee, but nothing very distinctive. So I was surprised for the very strong and pleasant taste. It packs a wallop! It tastes like a strong cold cup of coffee, with some milk and sugar, and perhaps some bittersweet dark chocolate. I think if someone were to smell my breath (which I will not subject them to) they'd think I was drinking coffee rather than a nice stout.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Here is my handle, Here is my STOUT: Milk and Chocolate

Last time I ventured into the land of Porters...Now I'm giving Stouts a shot.

A little internet research tells me that there is little distinction between Porters and Stouts. Porters are a little more old-school, and Stouts basically incorporate roasted malts.
First is a "Milk Stout" from the Left Hand Brewery. It's pretty drool-a-riffic. I'll put it out there right now: I like beer. I like chocolate. I like coffee. This is the "coffee with cream and sugar" of beers. It pours a dark brown with red highlights. The brief half-finger head dissipates in a few seconds, but there is a surprising amount of carbonation. It smells and tastes of dark fruits, malts, coffee, nuts. It feels a little thin, very smooth and pleasant.

I read that it has won 2 gold medals in the World Beer Cup for the sweet stout competition. Yep, there are Beer-lympics! So, apparently this is a stout in which "milk sugar" is added, making it a "sweet stout" which apparently is its own genre. Its the first I've had of this type, but so far, so great.


The next one I try is from the Fort Collins Brewery and is a simply labeled "Chocolate Stout." I have to say, compared to my last Chocolate Stout its pretty disappointing. It pours a black with dark brown around the top when the light comes through. It's half-finger of foam disappears instantly. The smell...Is funky. I don't know what it smells like, but it's bad. I smell a little bit of hops, maybe an extremely subtle chocolate...And funk. The first taste reminds me of meat! Its smokey. Perhaps this is the "roasted malts?" I do taste some coffee and maybe an extremely subtle chocolate taste. Some hops. Its okay, nothing I'd go back for.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Beerfest and Offshore Amber Ale

I don't know...It's Sunday night and I have a really ridiculous week ahead of me. Choices abound. Do I get some work done ahead of time? Clean the apartment? Watch the movie that's due at the library in 2 days? Watch Sunday night animation? Sure, there are probably other options but really that's all I have to decide. Then I see "Beerfest" is playing on Comedy Central.

I feel like I should watch it for education's sake. You know, learning about beer culture and all that. A sociological study. I'm still semi-watching it, to be honest. Even being distracted and playing around on the internet at the same time, I manage to keep on top of the plot, which is as weak as a luke-warm cup of Bud light. (Zing!) It's clearly the opposite of "beer sophistication" that this blog semi-strives for. It's a complicated competition basically betwixt some Americans and Germans in which they have to drink beer. Tons and tons of beer. For honor and manliness. I'm trying hard not to think about to too much but come on; why do large women ALWAYS have to be portrayed as sexually aggressive (and therefore, terrifying?) Although the rest of the women have no personalities and only giggle and admire the beer-swilling masculinity of the dudes. And also why are women portrayed as never wearing bras to beer festivals and always having their tops fall off? Since this is the tv version, both the curse words and the boobs are covered up. Still managing to follow the plot though! Impressive, no? I have to say, if you are looking for a buddy movie that revolves around substance abuse, Harold and Kumar takes the cake ANY day.

Anyways, I did have a beer to go along with "Beerfest". OffShore Amber Ale was on sale for $3.99 for a 6-pack. Exactly what this economy is calling for. I thought the price might mean it is grody, but NO! It's quite good. It's very pretty with its bright amber color, and nice thick, fluffy off-white head. It smells and tastes sweet, with citrus, caramel, and some bitterness. When it warms, pears and honey comes through in the taste. It's light, refreshing, and easy to drink. If I drank a few pitchers of this while losing my top, the "Beerfest" boys would surely be proud.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Comparitive Study #4: Getting Portly with Porters

So what the heck's a porter? Darned if I know. Yeah, that's right. Darned!

English porters traditionally were a mix of 3 varieties: old skool bitter/sour ales, new ale (brown or pale), and a wiener ale (weak/mild ale). They are dark brown or black. This mixing of styles was quite revolutionary back in the day. That's about it for education right now. When roasted malts are added, it becomes a stronger stout style. I think.

The only other noteworthy thing to say about porters is that they were also known as Entire Butts. For real! Hence humorous beer names. This is sassy 18th century England we're talking about. Thanks for the education!

I picked up this Coal Porter (Cole Porter?) from the Atlantic Brewing Company in Maine, as well as this Sam Adam's Holiday Porter left over from all that Holiday Tasting.

I poured both in order to "compare and contrast."
Appearance: Sam Adam's Holiday Porter was a dark brown with amber highlights, off white head, 1/2 finger thick, quick dissipation. Atlantic Brewing Company's Coal Porter was dark brown, a little darker than the Sam Adams'. It had a tan head, 1 finger thick, good lasting power, and nice lacing.

Smell: Coal Porter had a fruit, grapey, "fermented" smell, overall mild.
Holiday Porter smelled sweet, bananas, ginger/nutmeg, cocoa.

Tastes: Coal Porter first tasted sour, but then got some coffee flavor. It was smooth with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
The Holiday Porter was much sweeter than the Coal Porter. It definitely made me think of bananas and chocolate, but not overly sweet and ending on a bitter taste.

Overall - both were enjoyable and easy to drink. The Coal Porter was the savory entree, while the Holiday Porter was the delectable dessert.

Coal Porter B+
Holiday Porter A-

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dubbel Trouble: ?The Riddler?

Some people are into "cellaring" their beers. While most beers keep well on the shelf from 3-6 months, others can age well like a fine wine for a year or two. When storing beer, there is controversy - should beer be laid down, or stored standing up? If they are laying down that can cause damage to the corks (if the beer has a cork) plus it can cause an unsightly "yeast ring." I don't really know what that means, but BLEH.

I randomly picked up a "bomber" (22 oz bottle) of ?The Riddler? from Rock Art Brewery in Vermont. These beers are "inspired by the spirit of Kokopelli." AKA nerds! Which is fine.

According to Rock Art, this is a good one to cellar. Most of my beers sit in a closet for a week or 2 tops...Although this one kept for maybe a month. I have to say, it was delightful!

The appearance was lovely. It was a dark brown but appeared to be lighter towards the bottom. 1 finger of fluffy foam with excellent lasting power led to excellent lacing. It smelled strongly of raisins, cocoa, and cinnamon. It tasted sweet, nuts and raisins, malty, and warm. It ended on a surprising bitter, hoppy note. It felt creamy and was well carbonated. It had excellent drinkability, especially for an 8% abv bomber which I definitely felt towards the end.

I'm not sure why it's called ?The Riddler? - reading others' reviews, it seems it is a not true Belgian Dubbel, as it claims to be. I could not say. But I sure liked it.