Friday, December 31, 2010

Beer and Curds at the Olde Fashioned

So I'm visiting my BFF in Madison, WI to ring in the new year. Last night we went on a bro-mantic date to the Old Fashioned, which I will now refer to as the "Olde Fashioned." It's a nice bar and restaurant celebrating Wisconsin food and drink.My first beverage was an American Pale Ale called Hopalicious from Madison's own Ale Asylum. It was fantastic. Very pretty - a clear pale amber with a sudsy thin head that left lots of lacing...See? Purty. The first smell I noticed was pineapple. The nose was a nice citrus and hoppy bouquet.

It was very tasty. Sweet citrus turned into bitter hops. The flavors were strong but not overwhelming, making this a very drinkable beer. It had a medium and smooth body, and was well-carbonated. I found myself drinking this very quickly. It was tasty, refreshing, smooth, and hoppy. In fact, hoppy and delicious...Hence the appropriate name - Hoppalicious! Perfecto.
Next was the Whole Hog Barleywine from Point Brewing in Stevens Point, WI. I had remembered having this on my last visit to Madison and enjoying it. Plus, geez, $3 for a 10 oz. snifter ofdelicious and boozey drink is a bargain. It was a very dark brown with reddish highlights and a thin white fizzy head. It smelled sweet, malty, and a touch alcoholic. It had nice strong flavors of dark fruit, malts, with substantial alcohol warmth. This was a lovely "after-dinner drink" and was a very pleasant sipper.

Speaking of dinner, we had delicious fried cheese curds that I've craved since having them at the Olde Fashioned the last time I was in town. Of course they come with a ranch dipping sauce. Of course. We also had a fresh salad of beets, gorgonzola cheese, and walnuts.
A's all around...Here's to bro-mance and good grub. Cheers and happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

UBER GOOBER: A blessed treat in a crappy year.

2010, you sucked. I can't wait for you to be over. You sucked for a million reasons. You hear me, 2010? YOU SUCK. The positive part of 2010 was that through all the bullshit, there were some really nice people holding me up. You hear me, nice people? YOU DON'T SUCK.

Anyways, that being done with, we was sittin' shiva, and a good friend of mine who also happens to be a beer geek and who also happens to be named Sarah brought me some damn beer treats. It was perfect. Thank you!!!

She brought me a couple of He'Brews, Kid Rock's beer (as a joke! Blog to come), and some selections from Michigan's own Short's.

From Short's there were 2 different selections - PB and J, and Uber Goober. Both beer treats I had heard of but never had. So I was excited! I shared the PB and J with a bunch of people, and did not care too much for it. The "J" part was kinda funky and not in a good way. But the Uber Goober...Oh man. It was so good that I had to go buy a 6 pack.

Uber Goober is an imperial oatmeal stout brewed with real peanuts. It poured black with a thin fizzy cola-esque brown head that dissipated quickly. The smell was kind of mild, but pleasant. Malty, nutty, definitely had a peanuty presence. As far as the taste goes, this is a nice solid oatmeal stout. Coffee, nutty, vaguely sweet malts, with a prominant peanut after-taste. After drinking it I felt like I had eaten a peanut butter sandwich. And while it is not overly sweet at all, it was reminiscent of a peanut butter milkshake.

The Uber Goober was smooth, full-bodied, creamy, and silky with little carbonation. 6.5% alcohol is a reasonable amount of booze compared to some super boozey imperial stouts. Tasty but filling, 2 were plenty to have in one evening. Peanut butter rules. Stouts rule. And friends rule.

Thanks for helping me get through this ridiculous year. xoxoxo

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin For Once

Wow, what the hell have I been doing with my life lately? Clearly not drinking enough beer...Or at least not blogging about it. Since getting into this beer thing, I've certainly gotten excited about pumpkin ales. The last 2 Octobers proved that. This year I have failed to drink pumpkin ale so far, except I got to try Sam Adam's pumpkin ale when I was in Wisconsin (and I was a fan). When was that, September? That's it! So this past weekend I decided to make up for lost time.

Where have all the pumpkins gone? Yippee yi, yippee yay.

On Sunday I indulged in a pint of Michigan Brewing Company's Screamin' Pumpkin. This was at Leo's Lodge, which by the way, is delicious. I'm gonna skip the beer for a sec and just focus on the cheese bread. Yeah, check out that grease.


So, Leo's serves their beer in super chilled glasses. Like, frostified to the max. When I first started to learn about beer, I read that chilling glasses is frowned upon because it can dilute the flavor, plus most beer is better closer to room temperature. I scoffed at this pickiness...But yeah. The overly chilled glass totally bothered me. I mean, there were actual ice chunks of beer floaties! It's a good thing that cheese bread was so delicious, Leo's! Geez.
Frozen beer chunks---------->
Anyways, MBC's Screamin' Pumpkin was a clear orange beer with a small light brown head that dissipated quickly. When the barkeep put down the glass in front of me, the smell of pumpkin immediately hit me, along with some mild notes of spice (nutmeg). This was a nice tasting ale! The flavor of pumpkin was not too sweet, and there was a little bit of bitter hops flavor for balance. The spice was present but not overwhelming. It was...Pumpkin-y! I actually would have liked a little more sweetness, cuz I have a sweet tooth like that. It was an easy-drinking and pleasant beer. I'd like to try it again at a better temperature. God, what a Snobby Mcsnobster.

Anyways, that evening I decided I needed another pumpkin ale in my day, so I busted open this Buffalo Bill's, a brewery I have not tried previously. It as billed as "America's Original Pumpkin Ale" that is brewed with real baked pumpkin and spices. It poured a light hazy orange with a fizzy off-white head. It smelled like pumpkin and mild spices. The taste was surprisingly tart! Again, pumpkin is dominating along with some spice presence. I found it to be tasty and well-balanced. A little different than other pumpkin ales. It was on the thin side with plenty of carbonation. I had it with another seasonal treat, pumpkin brownies. Homemade. Obviously I'm gearing up for hibernation.
Overall, I enjoyed both of these pumpkin ales. However, Southern Tier's Pumking remains as my absolute favorite. I'm gonna give them both a B+.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wisconsin Beer Love

Madison, Wisconsin is my happy place. I lived there for a glorious 1.5 years in my early 20s and may live there again one day. There are some people I kinda like there. You know, who aren't total suckos. I got to visit recently and managed to find some time for some beer education. Or as I like to call it, beerucation.
This blurry pic is a delicious Hemp Porter from the delicious Old Fashioned. Not pictured is the fried cheese curds that accompanied it that I now crave frequently.

I brought home 2 local beer souvenirs, or as I like to call them, beervenirs. Is that gonna get annoying?

1)Furthermore's Fatty BoomBalatty. I met these dudes once a few years back at a tasting, and they were really nice! Reem reminded me that they have a beer that tastes like bacon; this is not it. This is billed as a "dangerously drinkable Belgian." I have to agree.

Its a cloudy orange-amber with lots of visible retention, a nice foamy white head that has crazy retention and left lots of lace. It smelled great, just a little wheat, some banana, and definite Belgian yeast.

The taste was spot on to its description too. Not super wheaty and with some hoppy bitterness. The yeast flavor is strong, the hop bite is nice, and the hints of citrus and banana are good too. All strong flavors, all really tasty. It works. This is crazy good and very drinkable. Solid A.
2. Lake Louie Brewing's Kiss the Lips IPA. I admit, the price and name/label were my deciding factors with this purchase. There was almost no information on the bottle except for the slogan "This is livin.'" Yeah!!

This IPA poured a cloudy orange-amber with a fluffy white head.

It does not have a strong nose at all. Mostly kind of a sweet citrus smell, like pineapple.

Likewise, the taste is a little weak for me. Citrusy hops and pineapple dominate, with a little bit of bitterness. It felt a little thin and watery. I like my IPAs to be a punch in the mouth of hop bitterness, and this is definitely not like that. Pleasant enough though not my favorite IPA. B-
Extra points for the label. KISS THE LIPS!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

All The Leaves are Brown and the Brown Ale is Hazelnut

It's back to school time! Tighten up your bookstraps, button your cardigans, and fill your inkwells kiddoes! For the vast majority of my life I've been in school or worked for a school. So this time of year is full of distinct feelings related to "back to school." Slight butterflies, giddiness, anxiety about the future, a strong instinct to purchase pencil boxes. The weather brings it on, and right now its 70s, grey skies, foggy mornings. Okay, not brown leaves yet, but soon, soon.

Autumn is full of fun beer what with Octoberfests and pumpkin ales and all. But what better compliment to back-to-school-jitters than this nice looking brown ale from our Rogue friends? The Hazelnut Brown Nectar is, oh, a brown ale brewed with hazelnut. Brown ales tend to be malty, nutty, and on the sweet side. Speaking of sweet, I shared a bomber of this with my dad. Aww.
It poured a murkey brown with amber highlights. Lots of visible carbonation and a small light brown head with good retention that left some lacing in the glass. The smell was mild; I picked up more spice and hops than malts. But as it warmed the hazelnut aroma came out strong. It smelled like hazelnut syrup they put in coffee. Which in my humble opinion is an awesome smell.
This was a tasty brown ale that definitely was on the sweeter side of things. Nutty, mildly fruity, malty, and with a strong hazelnut flavor. Dad thought it tasted a little like Dr. Pepper. Nice. I bet it would be a tasty accompaniment to some dessert. Chocolate-chip cookies perhaps. Hmm...One glass was enough; its a little sweet but I think this is one of the tastier brown ales I've had. And I've been for a walk on a winter's day.
B+

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ooooooh...Pink!: Short's Soft Parade


Short's is local to me, and I haven't had much from this esteemed Michigan brewery, namely their delicious Huma-Lupa-Licious. So I went to the store to check out their other selections.
I walked in, gazing upon the shelves.
And then...A very beautiful woman stared at me. Her long hair rested upon her back as she sat, relaxing in her recliner, sexy long legs gently resting on the ground. Do I want her? Do I want to be her? I don't know but add in a pink background and the marketing department clearly knows what it's doing! I took her home.

I poured some into 2 wine glasses. Big for me, small for dad. It poured a hazy red/peach color with a small bubbly white head. When swirled, a viscious residue was left on the glass sides.
When discussing odors I am tempted to talk about "the nose" but fear it may be pretentious. Ah, well. "The nose" was strong. Strawberries, sweet candy, peach, a touch of alcohol. I asked my dad what he thought of "the nose." He said, "Its fruity as all get-out!" And there you have it.

The bottle claims to have an ale brewed with strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry. I can taste the first three, but not so much of the latter. At first a plastic-like artificial taste hit me, which is often the case with fruit beers. However, it decreased quickly, and as the beer warmed up, I warmed up to it. It has a yeast flavor similar to some Belgian ales. Sweet malts, tartness, and noticeable alcohol add to the very fruity flavor. Apparently this is a rye ale as well, but I could not detect any rye.



Overall, this is not a style I typically care for. But this was one of the better fruit beers I've ever had. Plus it was fairly boozey at I believe 9% ABV, but it was subtle in the taste. Good enough to have a 2nd, not good enough to seek out again. I'll see what else Short's has to offer.

B-

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back on the Blogging Wagon: Molson Canadian

It's been a while, eh? Or maybe I should say, "It's been a while, AY?" Because today I'm talking Canadian. Sadly, I'm on a tight beer budget these days. Luckily I am living with my dad who is an enthusiastic beer drinker. Enthusiastic, but fiscally responsible. He tends towards Killian's Irish Red as well as Canadian lagers, such as today's selection, Molson's Canadian Lager.

I've been so out-of-touch with my "beer roots" as of late, I did not realize that Molson = Coors. They are one and the same, but Molson is the Canadian version. But I try to be open-minded, as I drink from the palm of The Man.

I crack open a bottle of this and pour into a giant tumbler of a glass that a cute girl left in my car. Is the glass 2/3 full or 1/3 empty? While you philosophize, I'll fill my glass up with a can of the same stuff. Yep, we had both cans and bottles of this at home. I'm guessing there was a sale.
So I filled my glass mightily. Ahh, that's more like it.
Appearance: The color of pale apple juice with a big sudsy white head with decent retention. It left small spots of lacing in the glass.
Smell: Extremely mild. A tiny bit of sweet green apple and corn.
Taste: Again, very mild but well-balanced and mostly inoffensive. The bit of white grape malts turned into a slightly bitter hops flavor. Maybe a little hay or grass. And a tiny big of metallic aftertaste.
I made some din-din. This beverage is crisp, light, and mild enough to go with probably anything. Ya know, its okay for the style.

The bottle and can claim that its "The Best Canadian Has to Offer." Somehow I doubt that. Immediately I think of Unibroue in Quebec...And then...Um, other Canadian beers? Awww, sorry neighbors to the north. I have neglected ye. Yet another topic to research and become learned upon.

It also boasts no preservatives. Is this unusual? Hops and alcohol act as a preservative in beer. Both of those components are pretty darn important. So this tasting venture leaves me with 2 questions for you, dear reader(s):
1) Best Canadian beer?
2) Do most beers have preservatives, other than alcohol and hops?

C+

Thursday, June 10, 2010

MIDWEST!!! Wisconsin: New Glaurus Spotted Cow

I feel a lot of state pride today. I was reared in Michigan from age 1-18. Then my studies and journies took me to Wisconsin, Philly, Chicago, back to Wisconsin, back to Michigan, and out to New England.

Now I'm back in the saddle. In the saddle of Michigan, that is. You know what? People are nice here. People are looking out for me, trying to help me find a job. People are looking out for my folks, who have some health issues. There are some great places and people here, if you know where to find them.

The Midwest also has some mighty fine beers. I got a visit from BFF Reem who brought with her genuine Wisconsin beer from the New Glaurus Brewery. Reem and I were busy as always, eating delicious food, spending time with the family, and watching the cats be funny. But we did manage to find some time to drink Spotted Cow while "sunning" outside. Having gone to college in Wisconsin, this was a popular beer amongst students. But I don't really recall having it much or having much opinion about it. Of course, that was before my "sophisticated brew" days, when good beer = cheap/free. Spotted Cow is a "cream ale," according to Beeradvocate.com, which means it is a light lager style of beer brewed like it is an ale. They tend to be low on hops, light, and mild. The New Glarus website defines the style as a "Naturally Cloudy Farmhouse Ale." The yeast stays in the bottle, and there are Wisconsin malts and corn. Let's check it out!(My parents are in the middle of re-doing their kitchen which is why the wall behind the beer looks a bit tattered).

It poured a pale orange, hazy, thin fizzy white head, with a multitude of bubbles quickly streaming up to the top. For a minute I got lost in the beauty of this perpetual motion and felt like I was staring at a lava lamp.

The scent is mild, kind of wheat-y, and fruity. Definitely no strong hop scent standing out.

Likewise, the taste is also mild. There is a bit of sweet apple, corn, and malts. Just a tiny bit of hops to balance it out.

Spotted Cow is fairly crisp, soft, and smooth. This is a good summer beer, easy to drink and enjoy. Nothing extreme or over the top about it. Just a nice easy-drinking ale. At just 5% alcohol, go ahead and have 2. Like me.


B+

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Going Alt with Haverill's Gestalt Altbier

I still have LOTS to learn in the areas of German style ales and lagers. There are many. So to start, I picked up an altbier made all the way from...Haverhill, MA, very close to home.

The label is informational (which I love!) - they use German yeast, malts, and hops and brew in the altbier ("old beer") tradition. It ages for 2 months, and has the crispness of a lager, hoppiness of a pale ale, and maltiness of a brown ale. This is pretty right on! The appearance is my least favorite part of this beverage. Its murky in a way thats a bit unappealing to me. It is brown but with some hints of amber. There was a tiny white head that immediately fizzled out. The smell, however, instantly stood out. Apples, grapes, clean grassy hops, sweet malts. I like! The taste is very balanced. Sweet malts, fruit (apples, grapes), nuts, some bitter hops. It's a pleasant taste that is very drinkable. Overall, this is a nice, refreshing, easy-going, balanced beverage. I don't know much about Altbiers, except its an old style of beer from the Dusseldorf region. But I'm happy to get to try this, and open to try more Alts!
B+

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Those Neglected Brits: Fuller's ESB

I want to learn more about European beverage styles! I've had a few German styles and Belgian styles but there are so many different ones! Bocks, Bitters, Biers, Weizens, Dunkels, Heavys, Guezes. Lots to learn! And to drink, sheesh! I feel like I've neglected the Brits, and I'd like to change that.
Fuller's is cool for a couple of reasons, besides their beer. They are old school, brewing since 1845 in "traditional family style." They also brew at the "Griffin brewery," meaning there is a sweet griffin on their labels. I've tried their London Porter before and enjoyed it. So I picked up this Fuller's ESB, which stands for Extra Special Bitter.
It is my understanding, more or less, that Bitter Ales are similar to Pale Ales. They tend to be low in alcohol and high in hops. Extra Special Bitters are higher in alcohol and more balanced. Fuller's ESB is 5.9% alcohol in the bottle.This pint sized bottle poured a very lovely clear reddish-brown/amber with a small but solid white head. The head receded slowly and left thick rings of lace. The smell was mild but dominated by sweet malts. I took a drink...And several more. Wow! Strong sweet caramel malts along with a bitter layer of hops and a touch of spice. Sweetness dominated at first but it ended bitter, making this a nicely balanced ale. It was smooth, light, refreshing, and tasty. I had to keep myself from chugging this. Delicious! If I get the chance to try a pint of this at a British pub I will do so with gusto. A-

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cooking With Beer: Stout Brownies

So I've been reading and watching stuff about beer for a while now, and finding it increasingly interesting as I go. Right now cooking with beer and pairing craft beer with food in fine dining situations is "hot." I've seen a couple of "wine vs beer" debates (scroll down for one clip from the authors of "He Said Beer, She Said Wine."

In a local beer rag they always print a recipe using beer. I've read of recipes using things like rabbit, leeks, figs, pork belly, thyme, fennel, porcini...Basically things I'd probably never attempt. (But never say never!) Prior to this hard-core research of mine, I've only heard of Beer Butt Chicken. (That picture makes me wanna barf). But as I was getting ready to have a nice Russian Imperial Stout from Hoppin Frog in Ohio, I thought "brownies!" The only recipes I could find were to make brownies from scratch, which I was not up for. So I had to "fudge" the measurements, if you will.
1 box brownie mix
2 eggs
1 cup stout
Bake 'n Eat.
The result? Pretty yum! A little more "cake-like" than "fudge-like" but still nice and chewey. The stout flavor came through more than I expected, adding a nice edge of bitterness and richness to the brownies, so they weren't just straight-up chocolate. Next time I'd probably go nuts and make them from scratch - I'm sure its worth it. But this was cool...More "cooking" with beer (hey, maybe next time real cooking with no quotation marks) to come!

Another Saison: Victory's Helios

So I tried my first Saison not long ago and was interested in trying another! I found this 22 oz bottle of Helios from Victory Brewing in PA at the quite reasonable price of $2.99. The label was so friendly and welcoming - a smiling sun in a glass! Delightful! As I opened it there was a loud PFFFFFT and the lovely smell filled the room and carbonation filled the glass as I poured. The head was massive and fluffy. It lasted forever and left puffs of lace all over the glass. The liquid was cloudy yellow with small yeast sediments. And the smell! I don't think I have the strongest sense of smell. But oh man...There were some powerful esters going in this guy! Spicy pepper, Belgian yeast, grassy hops, mildly sweet malts, lemon...Delightful!And Helios was very tasty as well! Belgian yeast, some spice, lemon, a bit of grass. Kind of reminded me of a white wine at times. Dry -- leaves you wanting more! And more! As it warmed the spices and sour flavor stood out to me more. Even at 7.5% alcohol, I did not detect it in the taste.

Also as it warmed the carbonation stayed extremely huge. I even had a carbonation overflow during my second pour. Not sophisticatd!

The mouthfeel was very light on the tongue, and extremely crisp to the point of almost feeling sharp as I swallowed. I just typed that without laughing, by the way. Okay, maybe a little.

I REALLY liked this. Saisons are supposed to pair well with lots of food. I ate some "flavor x-treme" cheddar goldfish with this and thought it was excellent. Sour, crisp ale and salty, cheesey crackers? It's good for me!!

A

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away with Pollinator

Sigh...There has been some mad rain here. The weather is like 70 degrees and sunny one day, and 30 degrees and stormy the next. It messes with my Seasonal Affective Disorder, for sure. And screams for some Spring-like delights. Such as this Pollenator from Long Trail brewing in Vermont.
It sure looks Spring-y. Pollen is all about the birds and the bees and flowers. This is a limited release beer, in celebration of Long Trail's 20th anniversary. It comes in a 22 oz. bottle, and was inexpensive at $2.50. The color was lovely - a golden amber, slightly hazy, and with a small white head with some nice lacing. The smell surprised me; it was more malt-dominant than I expected for a pale ale. There was a bit of hoppiness as well, and some citrus. The taste was also malty, with sweet lemon and honey. There also was a bitter hop bite but that was a minor aspect of the flavor. I don't know what pollen tastes like, but I detected something that could be pollen. The Pollenator was light and crisp, refreshing, and tasty. A different kind of pale ale.
B