Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nugget Nectar of the Gods

Be prepared to drool. I have found it. Quite possibly my favorite beer. Ever. In. Life. For the second time in my amatuerish beer-geeking life, I hunted. Luckily, this hunt was easy. I knew it had recently been shipped out from Troeg's, so I called one place. They said no. I stopped at a second place; when I inquired at the counter, the gentleman excitedly ran to the back to get me a bottle from the case. It had just come in and had not even been opened yet. Score!
Everything about this screams "DRINK ME NOW!" If I were Alice and this was in Wonderland, I'd be tiny. Or huge. Or drunk.

I mean, look at the label. A big fat green bud of a hop nugget (hmm...) being squeezed of it's juices and oils.

Then, I opened the bottle and it just got better. Beautiful clear amber liquid with a thick fluffy white head. It receded slowly, leaving massive lace and fluff sitting on top. And the delicious smell poured out of the bottle. Holy hops! Citrus, sweet florals, and fresh hops. Just smells fresh in general.
So this is an "amber ale" which is basically a reddish ale that tends to be fruity and malty. Indeed, despite the picture and smell, there are some definite malty notes present. There was lots of sweet notes with citrus, honey, florals, pineapple, and also some caramel malts. There was also a definite bitter side of hops. Some sips were a litle sweeter, some more bitter. It felt balanced. And did I mention delicious?
This was smooth, medium, refreshing, and delicious from start to finish. Powerful smell, powerful flavor, but never overpowering, if you will.
The embarassing part is...I enjoyed it so much that I actually felt sad when I was done with it. Like, "That's it? You're done? We're through?" I needed some closure.
So I got another bottle the following weekend. You know, just to make sure that it was as awesome as I thought it was.
And it was.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2 Turtle Doves: 2009 Seasonal

Well, well, well. Another beer review. This one is the first I've had from The Bruery, out of California. I'm done with the holidays! Yet this one seemed to call my name from the shelf. It was not until after I purchased it that I learned that the brewery is doing a seasonal winter brew every year. Winter 2008's was (duh) "Partridge in a Pear Tree." So obviously this one is "Two Turtle Doves."

This is a "Belgian Strong Dark Ale, " a style marked by darkness of color, maltiness, fruitiness, and complexity of flavor. I've had a few beers of this style, and frankly did not care much for them. It's the fruitiness that turns me off; the figgy/plumb/raisin-esque flavor. But for some reason this beer called to me. I mean, the description is great - it's based on the turtle candy with "cocoa nibs, toasted pecans, caramelized sugar and a lot of caramel malts." Nom.
Okay. It poured out thickly: dark brown with a nice tan head. The smell was great - definite nuttiness and cocoa presence.
I took a sip -- oh man. Not at all "figgy." Smooth, balanced, with sweet notes of chocolate and nuts. A bit of tartness, a bit of spice. Mild yeast. Mild bread. Creamy and delicious. Most definitely my favorite brew of this style thus far.

At times it was a bit harsh or "astringent", particularly at the end. But besides that it was a wonderfully delicious treat that was a pleasure to drink. The bottle informs that this brew can be aged for up to 10 years (when the final release of "12 Drummers Drumming" occurs). Will-power allowing, I will do my best to age my 2nd bottle of this and will be eager to see how it drinks then.

If your true love gives you this on the second day of any holiday, they're a keeper.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2 from Brazil: Palma Louca, Xingu

On a recent visit home (Michigan) I got to geek out a bit with my pops. He enjoys a brewski or 2, and had a variety as usual. 2 happened to be from Brazil, so we tried them both.

My dad even humored me and let me photograph him with our 2 samples.

On the left: Palma Louca, a yellow/ginger-ale-ish looking beverage with a tiny white fizz of a head.
On the right: Xingu, a pretty dark brown ale with reddish edges; almost a deep burgandy. No head, low carbonation.

Palma Louca: This unassuming mild-mannered liquid is...Well, just that. Virtually no smell. The taste is extremely mild. Extremely watery. Pops thought it was "almost cidery". Kinda pilsner-y. Kind of sweet. But mostly watery. Too bad.
Palma Louca: D

Xingu: Defiitely had a little more going on. The smell was vaguely sweet but also mild. The taste is surprising. Sweet. "Almost like a cola" said the pops. But light. This is a "black beer", (or Schwarzbier) and perhaps the first dark beer I've had that was not robust and flavorful like a stout or porter.
The website is interesting; this beer was actually founded in the 1980s through Amazon, Inc, a women-founded group destined to prevent the extinction of rare beers! This beer represents a style used by both the native Amazonians as well as the European settlers.

I'm not familiar with this style, but it was different. Besides the sweetness, and the vague maltiness or dark-fruitiness, I could not really identify anything else in the taste. No hops to be smelled or tasted. It was somewhat thin but coated the mouth nicely and felt refreshing. Under 5% alcohol also makes this a drinkable beer.

Xingu: B-

Cheers to sharing beer with my dad and trying new things!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Totally Malternative: SPARKS.

So, while I'm usually the epitome of sophistication (duh), sometimes I'm not. Sometimes I have a really bad day and am cranky. Then I stop at the corner store for a $1 scratch-off ticket and a bag of 99-cent generic potato chips. As well as this concoction: SPARKS. I never had seen such a thing, and curiosity got the better of me. For $1.49, a 16-oz. can of 8% alcoholic...Something. Really, the can gave no information about its contents except that there was a) alcohol, b) malt, and oddly c) artificial coloring.
It's pretty amusing. Premium Malt Beverage With Natural Flavors, Certified Colors, FD&C Yellow Number 6 & FD&C Red Number 40!!!!!!!

Now I don't know much about artificial colors, but it seems odd that practically the only information about the beverage inside was which red and yellow it uses.
However, when I opened the can, that's when I realized why the colors are in such bold print on the can. It's a warning. So you don't die of shock when you realize that THIS is going into your body.
YIKES! Artificial-florescent-candy-cartoon-pinkish-reddish liquid covered by huge cotton-candy-esque foam. This is clearly a beverage to drink straight from the can so you aren't distracted by the appearance.

It smelled like medicine, strawberry candy, plastic, flowers, sweet tarts.
It tasted like strawberry soda mixed with cough syrup, along with a barely noticeable malty-beer like flavor.
It felt slightly flat and sticky.
This is bad. Real bad.

Some internet research taught me that this is a Miller product, and an energy drink. I thought it probably was, but really there was nothing clear from the label that it contains huge amounts of caffiene or ginseng or whatever. The website is definitely geared towards teens or maybe twenty-somethings. Not sophisticated ladies of 30. You can design your own "axe" that plays a metal riff and upload it to your facebook account! Dudes!!! (disclaimer: this was actually fun).

Anyways, my curiosity has been satisfied. If you like energy drinks and getting buzzed on a very low budget, this is for you. I definitely got a buzz and got the energy needed to have a wild night of catching up on Intervention and Hoarders. I also drew a picture of my girlfriend and our cat with crayons. WHOOO! Party-time with SPARKS.