Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Spicy Cocoa Stout

So sometimes I go visit my sister in Bloomington, IN. When I'm there, I always go to Sahara Mart which has all kinds of lovely delicacies, but my favorite part is their two very large aisles of beer. The first aisle has local selections, and US beer. The second aisle is international. I could spend a long time (and much money) in that place. And usually do (with some restraint).
I picked up a modest 4 bottles during my last visit. The Foret from Brasserie Dupont (Belgium) I had before, and picked up in hopes of getting my sister excited about Belgian beers. No such luck (more for me). The rest came home with me to Michigan.
Off the Cuff is a Spicy Cocoa Stout from Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville, Illinois. It's a good beer, so it seems like preparation went into it. So it may be off the cuff, but it is also definitely off the chain. Or something. Super attractive with its thick dark brown body, and solid sudsy light brown head. The smell was subtle but definitely picked up both cocoa and spice notes. Because of the subtle smell, the very strong flavors took me by surprise. I tasted coffee then spice then chocolate. This actually made me exclaim, "Ooooooh!" out loud.
The spice was not very spicy as in heat, just peppery. Likewise, the chocolate was not overt or sweet. The flavors were strong but went really well together. The mouthfeel was medium-bodied, creamy, and substantial carbonation. Drinkability? Extremely good. The 7.2% alcohol is nice but not over the top. I am a fan of this beer.

A


Sunday, July 7, 2013

3 Big Atwater Beers

I want to like Atwater, because its from The D and all. I picked up a few bottles of their big beers to try over the July 4th holiday. 
First I tried their Black Imperial Stout. The label informed me that Atwater has been brewing since 1917 and this stout contained 11% alcohol.
It sure looks stout-y with 1 finger solid brown head that sat through the entirety if consumption. The smell was mild but toasty, coffee. And the flavor, also coffee primarily with just barely noticeable hops and alcohol, and an unfortunate metallic aftertaste. The body was very smooth and creamy. Overall this was a very drinkable stout, especially at 11%, but the metallic taste was distracting. B
The Voodoo Vator was a Doppelbock with 9% alcohol, bottled January 2013. It was a pretty dark brown with ruby highlights and a big sudsy 2 fingers of head which left rings of lace. The strong nose was of malts and grass. The taste was very well-balanced. Grains, malts, and subtle grass. Nothing overpowering or dominating. Dark, bitter chocolate and dark fruit but really the individual flavors all seem mild and blend well. The mouthfeel was surprisingly thin and watery. Overall this was fine but a little meh. B
Apparently I tried these in order of cool labels with this sexy devil lady being the winner. The label gave no hint as to what style this beer was. Just the name Teufel bottled March 2013 and 11% alcohol.this beer was cloudy, hazy, brownish-amber with a thin quickly dissipating head. The smell was malty, fruity, with raisins, wood, and floral notes. As the smell suggested, the flavor was quite malty, heavy on caramel and grains. Alcohol just barely noticeable but the sweetness dominated. Body on thick side. Upon research, I find this is a Weizenbock, and to be fair, that's not a style I'm super familiar with. I have to go with another B. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Northern hawk amber ale on Fathers' Day

So I wanted a beer and it's Fathers Day. We've had a nice weekend. At the store I decided to get an amber ale since that's my dad's favorite style and he's learned to feel trepidation at some beers I enjoy. This is Northern Hawk Owl amber ale from Traverse City, MI. 
 I poured us each a little glass. Medium-brown amber, fluffy tan head that sank into a ring. Very light smell, a little like sweet bread dough.  And the taste - first sip was caramel. And stayed consistently caramel throughout. I asked my dad what he thought. 
"Fruity and like Pepsi-cola". Dad too picked up on the sweetness and caramel notes. He noticed it wasn't as bitter as many beers I subject him too. The fruit notes were light - apple and pear. It's sweeter than other amber ales I've had but not too much. 
Pretty nice on a June evening. Cheers, dad. 
B+

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Taps 25 and leinenkugel's Big Eddy series

I didn't know leinenkugel's had a "big eddy" series. I mostly think of leiny's as my Wisconsin college days brewery of choice. They offered us beer pansies Berry Weiss and Honey Weiss, not selections I'm prone to make these days. 
So when I saw that a local craft beer bar was having a night promoting the Big Eddy series (to include free snifters) I was intrigued. Mostly excited about free glassware. Their imperial IPA was good. Pretty amber and clear; the smells of pine, citrus, and malts was pleasant and somewhat muted. A little sweeter than expected; apricot, pine, caramel. Enjoyable but I love big IPAs that are really bitter. This one was fine and certainly more enjoyable than Berry Weiss. B
...and the imperial stout. Black as night with beautiful brown fluffy head. Whilst ordering this the overly friendly leiny's rep talked it up. He was very nice and accepted my critique of the IPA. His favorite leiny's beer is the "dark and creamy" and he seemed genuinely excited about the Big Eddy series.
Anyways, this imperial stout is great. Heavy on the coffee, vanilla, bit of bitter hops. I'm feeling the alcohol but not tasting it; very drinkable. Way smooth and creamy.  I'd get this one again. A

...and free snifters?  A+ all the way. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oh Yeah, Blogs. Dragon Milk Stout.

My poor, sad, neglected blog. Grin and Beer It? More like Frown and Blear it. Anyways, never fret, I've had some beer. Hmm, some recent ones were:

(Apprently Lagunita's are troublemakers)

Reem brought me some lovely WI beer including:
Like today:

Once upon a time I had Dragon's Milk Stout from New Holland (Holland, MI) on tap somewhere and I couldn't stand it and never tried it again. Until recently when I bought a bottle of it, deciding to give it another shot. UM, DELICIOUS. What happened the first time? I'm glad I tried it again.

It looks like coca-cola but a little darker. Not much to smell at first, but as it warmed the bourbon, vanilla, and toasted notes came out. Very strong flavors. I gave my dad a taste, and he described it accurately by exclaiming, "WOAH!! Jesus." The bourbon and vanilla notes for sure stand out, along with dark fruits and boozy booze.

It's creamy and thick, and drinkable considering the 10% alcohol by volume and strong flavors. It's probably one to sip and to share.

Dragon's Milk Stout, I'm glad I didn't give up on you. A-

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Birthday to Us! Birthday lunch at Growlers.

 My twin sister and I, at Growlers. We are now 34. It seemed like Growlers was playing music just for our demographic. Weezer, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana...
My sister is awesome at planning activities for her out-of-town relatives. She got a groupon for Growlers; this is our first flight - 3 IPAs and 2 stouts. Anderson Valley Hop Ottin', Avery IPA, Flying Dog double IPA, Keegan Joe Mama's milk stout, Young's Double Chocolate stout. Some of our comments (I took notes): the Anderson Valley was all grapefruit, the Flying Dog douple IPA had noticeable alcohol warmth, Keegan Joe's Mama's milk stout smelled and tasted a lot like espresso, and Young's Double Chocolate stout was very smooth and much sweeter than the milk stout.
 Charming quote on the menu.
 Me in my happy place.
2nd flight - Kolsch lager, Bluepoint lager, Bronx black pale ale, Southern Tier's Eurotrash pils, Avery's White Rascal. Notes: The Kolsch was very light, and my sister enjoyed how well it went with her bacon-heavy brunch. The (Southern Tier) Eurotrash pils was light on the tongue, light in flavor, and refreshing.

 Oh, and food! French toast with potatoes and duck sausage.
 My BLT with a fried egg and cheese.
 
We got 2 glasses of our favorites. The Bronx Black Pale Ale, and Avery's White Rascal. My nephew is named Avery, so it was pointed out he is a rather White rascal. I enjoyed the Bronx Black Pale Ale enough to get a pint of it. I found it to be nutty, hoppy, chocolaty, and roasty with strong flavors.
Cheers, twin!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Innis & Gunn - a birthday treat.

I'm in NY! Visiting my twin sister and her beautiful family. My sister encouraged me to try some new beer! So we picked up a gift set of Innis & Gunn's Oak Aged beers. I don't believe I've ever had Innis & Gunn before - they have a neat story. A whisky producer wanted to make an aged whisky flavored with ale...Said ale was born, used to flavor the whisky, and sadly thrown away. Luckily someone tasted the ale after it was aged in the whisky barrels and noticed it was delicious! Yay - thanks for the delicious accident, fellas.
We got to taste the original, a rum cask aged ale, and a winter porter.
1) The original. 6.6% ABV (alcohol by volume) aged for 77 days. 
It poured a clear light orange-amber, with low carbonation.
Strong nose. Oak and vanilla. A little caramel and hops. Sweetish, pleasant. Easy-drinking. 
2) Rum-Cask aged. 
A wee heavy.This one poured a dark ruby red/brown with light brown head. Very pretty. A stronger nose and flavor than the original - rum and vanilla! Definitely more of a sipper than the original. 7.4% ABV; matured for 57 days. As it warmed, the vanilla stood out in both nose and flavor. Lovely.
3)  Winter beer.
A porter brewed with molasses. 7.4% ABV and matured for 39 days. Very dark brown with ruby highlights and a sudsy brown head. Flavor was heavy, and not like a typical porter. The molasses was definitely noticeable along with some dark fruit, vanilla, and oak.

Overall, all 3 were delicious and fun to taste with my family. My dad and I liked #2, the rum cask beer the best. My sister was partial to the original.

Glad I got to try these! Thanks twinny.

#1) The Original - A-
#2) Rum-cask aged -  A
#3) Winter beer - B+

Kombucha...Ginger...Beer

Well, it's a new year and that means resolutions. My dad and I are both trying to get in shape. He's riding his excercise bike, I'm taking walks, we are eating our veggies...And for the month of January we vowed to cut out both beer and ice cream. And, we've both cheated. But just a little!!
I did cheat with one beer that was hardly beer. It was kombucha. I've had kombucha a few times. I don't really get it, but I know it's super healthy and has weird floaty yeast/bacteria strands. This one was from Unity Vibration Living Kombucha Tea LLC in Ypsilanti, MI. The bottle informed me that it is oak barrel aged, open-air fermented, bottle conditioned, with fresh ginger and full leaf hops.
Appearance: did not really look like beer or kombucha. No floaties. Pale yellow. Little carbonation. Cloudy.
Smell: Fresh ginger! Lemon. More kombucha-smelling than beer-smelling.

Taste: Ginger up the wazoo! (I love ginger). And kombucha. And vinegar. And alcohol. So weird. The bottle says there is "crushed fruit" but not what kinds. I pick up lemon and maybe apple. The oak flavor is barely noticeable as are the hops. Ginger/Kombucha dominates.

Mouthfeel: Thin and crisp.

Drinkability: Surprisingly good. Drank this faster than I would a normal kombucha. Maybe I drank this faster even than a normal beer.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It is not like a typical beer. It was very refreshing and tasty. And perhaps had some health benefits. Perfect for semi-cheating on my new year's resolutions.
A