Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Birthday Barleywine

So I turned 33. It was a pretty stressful month, and thinking about my birthday was not a priority. However, I had a wonderful birthday. Primarily due to a very lovely person in my life giving me thoughtful gifts, time and attention, and many delicious things. One delicious thing was Funfetti cupcakes with homemade lemon frosting. Seriously. Another delicious thing was Short's: The Wizard, an American Barleywine. Barleywines are strong, fruity, intense beers; the American Barleywine tends to be much hoppier than the British style. That being said, I don't think I've had a British Barleywine. (I'd like to change this status. Feel free to recommend some.) The aforementioned lovely person drove me to a beer store and told me to pick out beer for her to buy me. (So yes, she is amazing and you are jealous).
The Wizard has kind of this old school-looking packaging. A kinda...Campy looking Wizard with a magic ball and a black cat. Not much information on the label except, "Barleywine aged on raisins. Brewed on Devil's Night for 6 hours and 66 minutes." This is a Winter seasonal that comes out in December, has over 100 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and 11% alcohol. That's pretty bitter and pretty boozy.
The Wizard poured a murkey dark brown with reddish highlights. As it warmed up (I let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. Not by choice! I don't have that kind of willpower), it almost looked more red. And a later pour produced a much larger sudsy head.
The smell? Upon opening the bottle I got a whiff of alcohol. Then it mellowed into a milder fruit scent, mostly raisins. And the taste: Primarily sweet dark fruits, definitely raisins, but also cherries. Sweet malts, but a little bit of bitter hops and just a little noticeable alcohol. A substantial body, soft-feel, and just a little alcohol warmth.
The flavor is strong, and the alcohol is noticeable, but this is a very drinkable Barleywine. I put a couple of bottles away for aging. I will have to use will-power for that.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Captain Lawrence - Captain's Reserve IIPA

Who doesn't appreciate a nice beer offering? My rockstar uncle is visiting from New York, and brought with him a local treat. Captain Lawrence hails from Pleasantville, NY (pleasant!) - its website offers lots of information about the brewery and owner. He's adorable. He started brewing at age 17, studied brewing in college (at age 18, before he could even legally drink his product). In 2006 he opened Captain Lawrence - largely run by his family. Cute.

Captain Lawrence's Captain's Reserve was poured fresh into a growler and carefully transported from New York to Michigan (through treacherous snow storms, no less!). This Imperial India Pale Ale is a big beer. A big, delicious beer. It poured a clear, pretty, light honey-like amber with a thin white head. A later (warmer) pour brought forth a larger, fluffier head and lots of sticky lace. Everything about this beer screams "fresh." The smell is very piney. And the taste--pineapple-grapefruit-pine hops. 80 IBUs (International Bittering Units -- nerds), 9% ABV (Alcohol By Volume), and 20 OGs. This is a new acronym for me. Can someone explain Original Gravity units in layman's terms please? Or maybe Captain Lawrence has 20 original gangsters. Whatever it is, it's working.
As per the brewery's website -- This beer is a salute to the ingenuity and creativity of the American craft brewers. A uniquely American style of beer, the Double or Imperial IPA, has become the calling card of many craft brewers who aren't afraid to push the limits of what hops can add to a beer. This beer is big and hoppy - not for the faint of heart! Be prepared to experience sensory overload as you savor this Imperial IPA.

Indeed. This beer is big and hoppy. And did I mention that this beer was super tasty? While the flavors are strong, it is still very drinkable. It's not an overly bitter beer to slowly sip; there is balance. A great Imperial IPA. Beeradvocate.com rates it a 91% (exceptional) and Ratebeer.com rates it a 99%.

I'll give it an A for sure. Cheers!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Alpha King Pale Ale

Where'd you spend your New Years? I spent mine in Madison with the BFF. Among other things, I ate at Red Lobster for the first time (it was delicious), and saw the Muppet Movie for the third time. If you haven't seen it yet, please go see it. My uncle is the puppeteer of the new muppet Walter. I'm proud. Also while there, I shopped at Woodman's. On New Year's Eve. Who buys booze on New Year's Eve? Everyone. It was crazy busy. But I got some fun beers, including a 6-er of Indiana's Three Floyd's Alpha King Pale Ale, which I have not seen carried in Michigan. Very modest imagery--NOT! I like the art. The description on the bottle reads "...an American Pale Ale with a bold citrus hop character." Indeed!
It poured a clear reddish amber with a thin white head. I love a pretty hoppy ale! I have a slight cold and am stuffy, yet the nose isn't joking around. A refreshing blast of citrus and pine in my face. This beer is tasty. Orange, pineapple...Strong bitter pine and citrus hops. Also sweet malts, making it balanced and not crazy bitter, even though it was crazy. And bitter. Very crisp, strong flavors, super tasty. I had a second one, which had sat for longer at room temperature. The warmer beer had a huge fluffy white head; the mouthfeel softer and more mellow. A fantastic Pale Ale.

And a cool bottle cap.

The nicer-looking 2nd beer.

Thanks Three Floyds for the delicious Pale Ale! And a happy New Year! A