Friday, June 26, 2009

Thirsty Thursday: A Big Ol' DIPA

What a day yesterday. Farrah Fawcett and, more importantly, Michael Jackson. Having mixed feelings about the latter (and no feelings about the former), I still feel sad. I don't know if he hurt children. But I do know that he was hurt as a child, that he wrote some amazing songs, did some amazing things, and challenged people's notions of race and gender, as he got a lot of crap for not fitting into an easily understood box.

So, I'd like to rewind the time. Yesterday's brew was in honor of MJ. So listen to the embedded video. Go on now!

Alrighty then. After work, hitting up a local brew spot, I tried an Avery's Maharaja. (stock photos used - I was nerdy enough to take notes at the bar, but not to take pictures). The Maharaja is an Imperial India Pale Ale (IIPA) also called a Double India Pale Ale (DIPA), meaning extra hoppy and extra alcohol. I have a nephew named Avery, so I like saying "Avery's DIPA" because it sounds like "Avery's Diaper." This is only my 2nd brew from Avery, the first being THE BEAST, a massive 16%ABV strong Belgian dark. Likewise, Majaraha was also an intense brew with 10.2% ABV. That's like...Over 2 Miller Lite's worth of booze. It contains 102 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). IPAs tend to start at 40+ IBUs, and some people say that 100 IBUs is the limit that people can detect. Therefore, the Maharaja is taking it to the limits, bitterness-wise. It's also a limited-edition summer brew. Phew, that was educational.
A) 10 ounces was served in a tulip glass. It was pretty. It looked like ruby-red grapefruit juice with a hefty 1.5 inches of fluffy white head. The foam took a while to dissipate and left a white ring for the duration of the beverage. Thick rings of lacing coated the glass.
S) Hops in your face. Hops, grapefruit, pines, possibly a little something sweeter in the smell like caramel or apple. Mostly hops though.
T) Like it smells. Ended on a definite bitter note, and my mouth still tasted like hops an hour after I finished it, probably coated in hop oil.
MF)well carbonated.
D) Good. This is no "session beer" nor one you're gonna down a 6-pack of. 10 ounces was plenty and it took me a good 30-45 minutes to savor.

I REALLY liked his. I like a good IPA and hops, but even for me it was a little too bitter at the end. Although the final sip filled me with euphoria that I could chalk up to the hop-cannibis relationship. Or simply the delight at getting to try another one of Avery's impressive beers.


Rest in Peace, Michael!

Monday, June 22, 2009

"That Yeti is my Papa and He's Going to Protect Me!": 2 from Great Divide

For some reason, Jack Black's character in the best movie ever is really into Yeti. Play while reading:

Good beer is also really into Yeti types of legends, including Bigfoot. And this weekend I got to try 2 Yetis from Great Divide in CO.

1) Yeti Imperial Stout, described as "untamed" and "imposing," much like Yeti himself.

A) Pours pitch black with a small brown fluffy head (perhaps like the Yeti's head).
S) Nuts, roasted malts, mild grape, mild hops
T) Good! 75 IBUs means its bitter and balances out the sweeter tastes of coffee and caramel nicely.
MF) Thick and chewy, but not super slick
D) Very good. I split a bomber of this which was a good idea at 9.5% ABV, but if I wanted to, I could have enjoyed the entire bomber by myself.

2) The Yeti I was especially excited to try was the newer (and pricier) Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, which I eagerly cracked open the following day.
A) Pitch black, mounds of dark brown foam that lasted for several minutes. Beautiful lacing coated the glass.

S) The smell was surprisingly mild. Dark bitter chocolate was the only smell I could recognize at first. As it warmed up I could smell a bit of oak and vanilla, along with mild malts and hops.
T) At first it was nutty, and heavier on the oak taste. Then some cocoa and vanilla tones came through, but not overly sweet at all. Mild roasted malts, and a bitter hoppy note ended the taste. And then! The "splash of cayenne" comes through. Just a bit of spicy tingle, starting in my stomach and then becoming more noticeable with the taste.
MF) Thick, soft, and chewy
D) Very good. I admit, I had this bomber by myself. Another 9.5% ABV. Probably good to share, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Overall, both of these Yetis were awesome. They also make an Oak Aged Yeti, and an Espresso Oak Aged Yet, both I'd like to try.

As the Great Divide company says on their bottle caps: Great Minds Drink Alike.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Rainy Days and Thursdays: Samuel Smith Oatmeal and Magic Hat #9

After work. Dreary, dark, rainy day. BLEH.

Went to neighborhood tavern. Only been there once before. They brag about "99 bottles of beer on the wall" and several taps. Really, it's nothing too impressive. Kinda dark and cruddy. But, whatever. Stopped by after work, and no one else was in there.

I had read about Burton Baton earlier and had something delicious with hops and vanilla on my mind.

However when I came to the tavern I was not too wowed with their selection. Then I was indecisive. The kindly barkeep gave me a sample of their newest micro:
Sample (hefty) of Wolaver's Pat Leary Organic All American Ale.
It was golden brown. Smooth, well-balanced. Smelled a little hoppy.
But nothing that WOWED me. I wanted to be wowed. Is that too much to ask for?

So I got a Samual Smith Oatmeal Stout. Hearing amazing things about it. I've had a couple of Samual Smiths before, but not the famous Oatmeal stout.
It poured a dark black with a bit of light brown foam that disappeared into a ring.
it smelled delicious - light cocoa, roasted malts (but not overly roasted, like meaty-beers), and coffee without being overwhelming.
It was thick and chewey with some viscocity going on up in here.
The taste was sweet-to bitter-to sweet, ends on a light/sweet coffee-cocoa note. There's something bready going on, I suppose the oatmeal. It feels like a meal. I actually tried to look up calorie info, interested to see how it compares to other stouts.
*There is a misconception that darker beers are "heavier" and more fattening than light-colored beers. This is totally untrue. Some light-colored beers are heavier in alcohol and have more calories. Guiness is actually on the low side of calories, but people always say it's "like a meal." Personally, (one might say "IMHO") compared to the Samuel Smith, Guiness is like drinking water.


Later at home i had a Magic Hat 9 from VT. It was labeled on the bottle as "not quite a pale ale."
A) True to its name it was a shade darker than a typical pale ale. Light amber, fluffy white head with sticky lacing.
S) Good - sweet, honey, citrus, mild hops.
T) This was a couple of hours after the SS Stout. The first couple of sips, therefore, tasted like water. But then I got used to it, and found it refreshing. Light lemon. Grass. A pineapple/honey taste? that I could not define. **
M) Crisp, light
D) Good. Only 4.8%ABV. Refreshing, could see it being pleaseant on a hot day. UNTIL...I was about 2/3 of the way done. I was trying to figure out what the sweet//fruit smell and taste was.
**I looked online, and it turns out this is brewed with apricots! I've had a couple of bad experiences with peach/apricot beers. So I don't know if it was mental or what, but all of a sudden this artificial peach smell jumped out at me, and the spricot was too much.


Outro): "Hanging around! Nothing to do but frown! Rainy days and Mondays always get me down..."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two-Fer-Tuesday: Main Course & Dessert

APPETIZER: Oh boy. Today I was exhausted from a weekend of partying with little kids and not sleeping enough and it's that time of the month which means I'm out of it and tired and a little moody. I also had no food at home, which meant grocery shopping. No big deal except the power went out and the registers went down while I was in the middle of checking out, so it took longer than usual. Ready for a beer? I was.

MAIN COURSE: I went home to eat dinner and relax. I made homemade chili dogs (meaning a can of Hormel veggie chilli on top of veggie hot dogs) = yum. With my main course I had a La Binchoise Artisinal Amber Ale Reserve Speciale, a product from Belgium. Normally it seems to be called "Speciale Noel" so I guess it's a Christmas beer. But this one was not labeled as such. Perhaps I should have guessed from the label with angels and $2.99 clearance price.
Anyhow, I have kind of put off trying this one...Again maybe because of the angels and clearance price. However, I opened it tonight and am glad I did.
A) Appearance was lovely. Very thick with sediment, a deep amber color, off-white head that briefly stuck around leaving thick lacing.
S) Mild smell, cherry/raisins/crackers.
T) Taste was not overwhelming, which to me was a good thing for this style. It was tasty: dark fruits, cherries, bread, a bit of spice at the end. The spicy tang is what stood out to me.
MF) Medium to chewey, well-carbonated.
D) Very good! Sometimes these styles can be too intense for me, especially the dark fruit tastes and high alcohol levels. But with 9% ABV, this was well-balanced, pleasant, and lovely to drink.

DESSERT: I had an Atwater's Vanilla Java Porter, something I have also held off on trying. The only other Atwater's I've had is a Winter Bock, which I was not too wowed with. I really want to like Atwater's, especially because they are from MI like me!Come on, Hand State, let's get it together.
A) Extremely dark brown, powerful finger of light brown fluffly foam with many dents and mounds. LOVELY.
S) Subtle vanilla, followed by hints of cocoa and coffee, malts. GOOD SO FAR.
T) Starts more bitter with a bit of hops, a light coffee note, and ending on a mild vanilla taste (which is good). Kind of watery in flavor, definitely not "robust" as the label claims. GETTING DISAPPOINTING.
MF) Again, feels kind of watery and thin.
D) Okay - easy to drink but not that fun to. While it's more complex than some straight up chocolate stouts, it's still lacking in flavor and feels weak. However, I paired this with a super flavorful dessert, and it accompanied this okay.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rogue's Dead Guy Ale

So, I'm in NY hanging out with an awesome toddler, my awesome sister, and her awesome partner. For dinner we got some awesome Turkish take-out. Note the falafel sandwich and orange tabouli pictured!

So I needed an awesome beer. I've held onto this Dead Guy Ale for a long time. Which is funny because I have a memory of seeing it years ago, before I knew anything about craft beer, and just thought the name and packaging was funny. I recalled my Oregonian sister telling me it was big out there. But I haven't tried anything by Rogue yet besides an Xmas ale.

It poured an orange-ish light brown. It smelled mild - a bit of spice (cinnamon?), sweet malt. Taste was fairly mild too, mostly malts, a little sweet fruit/caramel. Mouthfeel was medium but maybe a little low on the carbonation. The drinkability was pretty high.

Overall? Bored. This is only my 2nd Maibock. With a name like Rogue's Dead Guy Ale, I was kind of hoping it would knock me on my ass (in a good way). It was good, but nothing super memorable. The previous Maibock I had (Einbecker) was delicious.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Comparative Study #5: 2 Hefeweizens Face Off

It's been a while since I did one of these! Today I'm writing about 2 Hefeweizens that faced off.
What is a "hefeweizen" you ask? WELL, it is a German Wheat beer with a ton of wheat, yeast known to produce banana and clove scents, not much bitterness, and it's unfiltered. I tried a German Paulaner Hefeweizen, and a Longtrail Hefeweizen from the good ol' US of A, specifically Vermont.

Appearance:Now, looking at these 2, I would not see much difference. The Paulaner was definitely a shade darker than the Longtrail. They both were cloudy, straw-colored, off-white head that left a ring around the glass.
Smell: Instantly the Longtrail gave off a strong banana scent, even as I was pouring it. Even after I added a lemon slice, the banana still came through. The Paulaner was much more subtle, some wheaty, beery smell. Once I added a lemon, it was all lemon.
Taste: The Paulaner had a strong wheat taste with a definite banana-like undertone. The Longtrail had a milder taste; the wheat was more mild and the banana was surprisingly subtle despite the smell.
Mouthfeel: Both were mild in carbonation, and smooth, but the Paulaner had more of a mouthfeel than the Longtrail. The Longtrail was more watery. Hee hee. "Mouthfeel."
Drinkability: Both excellent, light, refreshing, easy to drink.

Might I note how much I rocked this? I used the right kind of glasses, AND even had a lemon on hand (of course having a sliced lemon in the Hefeweizen is controversial, just like everything else in Beerworld).

Overall - a good summer style. Yet again the Germans seem to know what they are doing.
Paulaner Hefeweizen: A-
Longtrail Hefeweizen: B-

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's been 8 months...A summary

Oh, I still have a long ways to go to truly become learned in the ways of fermentation. However, reviewing my bloggy blog, I have listed the brews I have enjoyed the most thus far:

Sierra Nevada: Torpedo IPA, Bigfoot Barleywine, Wet Hops Ale
Dogfish Head: 90 Minute Imperial IPA
Vicory Hop Devil IPA
Brooklyn Lager
Duvel Belgian Ale
Arrogant Bastard American Strong Ale

So, mostly IPAs along with a couple of other styles. On the sweeter side of Sears:

Young's Double Chocolate Stout
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Lagunita's Cappuccino Stout
Lefthand's Milk Stout

Just keeping track...Let's see if this changes in another 8 months!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Follies Leads to 3 types of Dogfish Head: 90 Minute, Palo Santo, Red and White

I saw some follies in my workplace today. Do you know what the word "follies" means?
1. A lack of good sense, understanding, or foresight.
a. An act or instance of foolishness: regretted the follies of his youth.
b. A costly undertaking having an absurd or ruinous outcome.
3. follies (used with a sing. or pl. verb) An elaborate theatrical revue consisting of music, dance, and skits

I don't mean to be a snot, but grown-ass men and women singing non-offensive "humorous" songs that we can all relate to in order to boost morale embarasses me. Especially when they turn actual songs into humorous songs. Such as "525,600 pot holes...How do you measure - measure a state?" a la Rent. Or "There's...A...Parking space for us" a la West Side Story. Are you blushing yet? Because I was. And partially because I have some musical background, I could not stop thinking...What if this was me? I mean these people had talent; they were really good singers. And I'd be happy to sing dorky songs to kids. Hell, I'd love to. But to professional men and women...I don't know. I could not really handle it. But I laughed and clapped along and tried to get into it. If only out of slight pity and major discomfort.
And then I ran. To a tavern I had never been to. Track 84 is an unassuming little dive-looking place on a dead-end road. It is great. Huge craft beer selection, reasonable prices, a barber chair to sit in, a couple of games to play, a juke box, and a huge barrel of peanuts to help oneself to. And they have a "no shots" policy. or at least a sign claiming as much, which I think is probably a good idea. When I entered every single seat was taken at the bar by middle aged men drinking bud light. I was anxious - sit near them awkwardly, or sit away from them awkwardly and risk looking like a snob? I sat near them and ordered a Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA on tap by the lovely barkeep who sported a skull tattoo on her wrist. I asked what other Dogfish Heads they had, and she gave me a free shot glass sample of Dogfish Head Palo Santo, a dark brown ale, super rich and sweet with 12% abv. So nice! I quickly made friends with a regular named Jim, who I hope to see again. He opened up to me quickly and we talked about beer, family, illness, and love.

DFH 90 Minute: an Imperial India Pale Ale (aka, an IPA that will kick other IPAs' butts)
A) Beautiful dark amber, 1-2 fingers off white head disappears quickly
S) Floral, hops, deliciousness
T) Hops, Pines, some fruits, caramel, do i detect a hint of banana?
M) Soft with a crisp bite
D) Very good

My buddies then came in. I finished my second 90 Minute IPA and bought a bomber of Dogfish Head Red and White and got 4 glasses to sample it from. Red and White is a witbier flavored with orange, coriandor, and Pinot Noir. It was unfiltered, orange, and I definitely tasted lots of orange and coriander, not sure about the Pinot Noir. It was definitely tasty, and a lovely ruby colored.

After that there were more shenanigans. We changed locations and I tried to convince my buddys to do karaoke, but no one would. And today that seems like probably a good idea; I'd hate to risk turning into a "folly" of my own.

90 Minute IPA: A A A!
Palo Santo: B+
Red and White: B+
Track 84: A
Follies: B for Blushing