Sunday, January 30, 2011

Trappistes Rochefort

While I cooked dinner last night I opened a bottle of Asahi – Super Dry – a Japanese Rice Lager with an ABV of 5%.  I was a little skeptical as the reviews were not great with this beer.  They were correct, this is not a great beer and it is a mass-produced Japanese beer.  It does not taste horrible, but it has little character and is definitely not a craft beer.  I used some of it in the sauté of onion, jalapeno pepper, green beans and carrots.  The other items I cooked were rice and a bacon-cheddar stuffed chicken breast.

With dinner, I opened Rochefort 6, a Belgian Strong Ale, with an ABV of 7.5%.  This is a wonderful beer from a Trappist brewery and you can taste sweetness and dark fruit (plum / prune / raisin).  This went excellent with dinner and was one I had to slow down to enjoy as it is very drinkable. 

I next tasted Rochefort 8, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, with an ABV of 9.2%.  This pours a dark muddy color with a head that quickly recedes.  While not a bad beer at all, I enjoyed 6 much better.  8 has a nice aroma and is sweet, but it is not as drinkable as 6.

Rochefort 10, a Quadrupel Ale, with an ABV of 11.3%, was the final beer of the evening.  This is a fantastic beer and I thought close to 6 in the flavor profile, but with more alcohol.  It does not have a taste of alcohol, which is well hidden by the complex taste of malt sweetness, dark fruit (plum/prune/raisin) and molasses.  This is a very rich tasting beer and it is one to be slowly consumed and enjoyed.  These were great Christmas presents from my wife and I enjoyed them.

Denver - Winter BrewFest

Tibor and I attended the Winter BrewFest at the Mile High Station on Friday night and it was very good event that allowed us to sample a number of beers and chat with some of the representatives from the various brewers.  I had an opportunity to speak with a number of the representatives and talk to them about their respective beers, the brewery, and thank them for working the event and for the wonderful beer they make.  It was great talking with Dustin from Avery, Andy from Ska, Marty from Stone and the representatives from Alaskan, Breckenridge, Oskar Blues, Upslope, Mountain Sun, Rogue, and Sierra Nevada.

I tried many different styles from various breweries and my favorite of the evening was Modus Hoperandi from Ska - I had not has this one before and had a couple of samples of this one.  I also tried the Black Barley wine from Sierra Nevada that has garnered many accolades this year and won a metal at GABF.  I did tell the guys from Alaskan that I liked the 2008 Alaskan Barley Wine better.  I liked the Chocolate / Mocha offerings from Rouge and Great Divide.  The IPAs from Avery, Oskar Blues, Alaskan, Stone and Flying Dog were all very tasty.  If you get a chance to attend a beer festival - I encourage it.  The attendees were well-mannered, the brewers are friendly and you get an opportunity to try many beers.  You have to be selective, because there is no way to taste them all.   

1554 – Enlightened Black Ale – New Belgium Brewing

I have had this beer a few times and it is one of my favorites from New Belgium, who is best known for the ubiquitous Fat Tire and 2010’s Ranger.  While 1554 may not receive the accolades or the limelight that Fat Tire or Ranger do, this is a very drinkable ale that is available at many carryouts.  1554 is a dark Belgian Ale that uses a “lager yeast uses a lager yeast strain and dark chocolaty malts to redefine what dark beer can be” with an ABV of 5.6% and an IBU of 21. 

Additional notes from the website that I thought was interesting – “In 1997, a Fort Collins flood destroyed the original recipe our researcher, Phil Benstein, found in the library. So Phil and brewmaster, Peter Bouckaert, traveled to Belgium to retrieve this unique style lost to the ages. Their first challenge was deciphering antiquated script and outdated units of measurement, but trial and error (and many months of in-house sampling) culminated in 1554, a highly quaffable dark beer with a moderate body and mouthfeel  I like 1554 and I appreciate that New Belgium experiments with other styles and take chances.  They have a “cash cow” with Fat Tire and this allows them to try new things.  1554 has been in the stable for a while and it is one that many people will enjoy..

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January Beer Tasting

Tibor, Chris and Dennis came over last night from food, drink and camaraderie and we had quite the line-up of craft and imported beer.  We started the evening with Avery – The Reverend – Belgian Quadrupel Ale, with an ABV of 10% and an IBU of 10.  I have had this beer before and it is very good – nice malt sweetness, hints of cherries, prune, and molasses.  This was a great way to start the evening.  I had Lori taste the Reverend and she liked it too.

I recently read a review of Samuel Smith's - Yorkshire Stingo - an English Old Ale in Draft with a rating of 100 and on the magazine's list of top 25 beers for 2010.  This beer has an ABV of 9% and an IBU of 30 –35.  You could taste the oak from the barrel aging and there was a slight sourness to the beer.  I picked up toffee, plum/prune, and raisin.

I served some chips and salsa and we also had other snacks including some Habanero Almonds.  Since we were eating some food with spice, I thought it was time to pull out a beer with some hops and Stone’s Arrogant Bastard seem to be a great match.  Stone makes great products and Arrogant Bastard is an American Strong Ale with an ABV of 7.2% and an IIBU of Classified.  Arrogant Bastard went great with the spicy foods and this is a good beer. 

Time to head back to Belgium for Westmalle’s Tripel with an ABV of 9.5%.  This is a wonderful beer that pours with a nice lacy head.  Great fruit taste and just a great beer and one understand the 100 rating by Draft and the renown this beer has.  You cannot go wrong with a Trappist beer and Westmalle is a great representative of these Belgian beers.

Back to Boston for Sam Adam’s New Work Tripel with an ABV of 10%.  This beer poured with no head at all, which was strange from my perspective.  Nice aroma and I could detect the oak from the barrel aging and the fruity sweetness from the malt and use of Belgian candi sugar (I presume).  Not a bad beer and I appreciate that Boston Beer Company continues to try new things.  This is one of my favorites from Boston. 

IPA Flight Time – I poured four different IPA’s for comparison – all were good. 
    - Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA with an ABV of 6% and an IBU of 60.
    - Bear Republic’s Racer 5 with an ABV of 7% and an IBU of +75.
    - Uintah Brewing’s Detour with an ABV of 9.5% and an IBU of 75 – a Double IPA.
    - Stone’s Ruination IPA with an ABV of 7.7 and +100 IBU.
It was interesting to try these 4 in flight and to sample the different aromas.  I detected the most grapefruit from Ruination and a grassy aroma from Racer 5.  Detour reminded me of a Barley Wine ale and I now want to try Cock-Eyed Cooper.  Chris is not an IPA fan and he liked Detour the best.  I thought the IBUs were a lot lower and I think the higher alcohol and the malt sweetness hide the IBUs.  Detour also had the best head and left the Belgian lace on the sides of the glass.  These are all good IPAs and it was interesting to try them in a flight.  

Now, we jaunt to Canada for Unibroue’s -La Fin De Monde (The end of the World) that is a Belgian-style Tripel with an ABV of 9%.  While this is not a Trappist or Belgian ale, it is a very good, complex beer with nice mild orchard fruit sweetness and very drinkable.  The alcohol is well hidden and this is a great beer from Canada. 

We ended the evening with Left Hand’s Fade to Black Series 2 – a Smoked Baltic Porter with an ABV of % and an IBU of.  This is one of my favorites this winter and I have enjoyed a few of these.  I covered Fade to Black in an earlier blog post. 

It was a nice evening with some incredible beers.  None were bad and we were all impressed by the quality and fine taste that was represented in these beers.  Tibor is hosting the March tasting and we plan to focus on the beers of Germany and will probably have a Guinness in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  Since Tibor grew up in Germany, we will rely on his expertise with the German beers to sample.  I’ll have to make some German food to take.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An evening of Belgian Beers

I started Monday evening with a Chimay Red with dinner.  Chimay is one of the Belgian Trappist Brewers and offers three varieties in the U.S., appropriately, Red, White and Blue.  Red has an ABV of 7% and pours a nice amber color with a nice head that takes time to recede.  I enjoyed this one with a dinner of Southwest chicken breast, rice, and mixed sauteed vegetables.  The sweetness came out with the carrots and the beer tasted best with the chicken breast.  This was a nice pairing and Chimay Red is a smooth beer that I found I had to slow down and enjoy. 

Second up was Orval, another Belgian Trappist Brewer, with an ABV of 6.9% and pours a cloudy golden amber with an incredible billowy head.  I have never seen head retention like this and the lacing it leaves on the glass is a mark of a truly great beer.  It took some to pour this beer, which is good because it needed to warm up for the correct serving temperature.  The flavors are spicy and fruity with a dry finish and this is an amazing beer. 
Next was Westmalle, Dubbel with an ABV of 7% and another Belgian Tappist Brewer.  I have a bottle of Westmalle Tripel ready for a beer tasting I am hosting next Friday.  The Dubbel and the Tripel are the varieties available here in the U.S. and the Tripel is regarded as one of the best beers in the world with a 100 rating from Draft Magazine.  Dubel pours a deep amber with a fruity aroma.  I can taste the fruit with hints of raisin and plum/prune. 

St. Bernardus Abt 12 (not a Trappist Brewer, but Belgian) has an ABV of 10.5% and is classified as a Quadrupel Belgian Ale.  St. Bernardus offers seven different styles and Abt 12 is considered the brewery’s showpiece.  Abt 12 pours a nice deep brown / mahogany and has a good fruit aroma.  This one had a touch more bit due to the higher alcohol percentage.  Nice complexity in the taste with hints of raisin, plum, and malt sweetness.

The Belgian beers are a treat and I understand why they are held in high esteem.  If someone is pouring one of these, I will look forward to it.  On Friday, I have a large bottle of Abt 12 and a Westmalle Trippel to share with the guys.  Looks like we have a great line up.

Monday, January 17, 2011

5 Barrel Pale Ale - 90 Shilling - Brrr

Picked up a pizza for my son and I and enjoyed an Odell 5 Barrel Pale Ale with a meat pizza.  5 Barrel Pale Ale has an ABV of 5.2% and an IBU of 36.  This one pours a nice light golden brown with a nice head and good bubbles from the carbonation.  5 Barrel Ale is well balanced and went very well with the spicy pepperoni and sausage in the pizza. Odell describes 5 Barrel Pale Ale as “The distinctive hop character of our 5 Barrel Pale Ale is due to the extraction of essential oils from select hops. We treat 5 Barrel Pale Ale to an infusion of fresh whole hop flowers in the Hop Back and the Fermentor, as well as four hop additions during the kettle boil. We like how this gives the beer a fresh, lively flavor and aroma.”  This beer has won numerous awards over the years and it is a nice pale ale.

Odell’s 90 Shilling is described as Odell’s flagship ale and is a “lightened up” Scottish Ale with an ABV 0f 5.3% and an IBU of 27.  This one pours amber red with a nice head.  Odell describes 90 Shilling as “an irresistibly smooth and delicious medium-bodied amber ale. The name 90 Shilling comes from the Scottish method of taxing beer. Only the highest quality beers were taxed 90 Shillings. A shilling was a British coin used from 1549 to 1982. We think you’ll find this original ale brilliantly refreshing, and worth every shilling.”  I appreciate the historical homage in the name and this is another interesting beer from Odell.

Widmer’s Brrr is seasonal winter ale with an ABV of 7.5% and an IBU of 50 IBU.  This one pours amber red (a bit lighter than 90 Shilling) and I could taste the higher hop rate in this beer.  It is brewed with a mixture of 6 different malts (Pale, Carmel 10L & 80L, Munich 10 L, Cara Pils, Dark Chocolate), one aroma hop (Alchemy) and two bittering hops (Simcoe and Cascade).  This seasonal ale is very nice and I think it would go great with a traditional Holiday dinner of ham or turkey and all the fixings.  I will have to sample more from Widmer’s line-up.  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

IPAs – 60 Minute – Racer 5 and Hop Czar

I decided to try a few IPAs over the weekend and made a selection of Dogfish Head – 60 Minute IPA, Bear Republic – Racer 5 and Bridgeport – Hop Czar.  60 Minute is the 2nd beer I have tried from Dogfish Head and I will purchase more from this brewer.  This one of the best balanced IPAs I have tried.  60 Minute has an ABV of 6% and an IBU of 60.  The beer is named because there are 60 hop additions over the 60 minute boil.  Hops are added for bittering (to balance the sweetness of the malt), aroma, and for preservation qualities.  The Dogfish Head website describes 60 Minute as “session India Pale Ale brewed with a slew of great NorthWest hops. A powerful, but balanced East Coast I.P.A. with a lot of citrusy hop character. The session beer for hardcore beer enthusiasts!  This is a perfect description of Dogfish Head’s flagship beer – sessionable – balanced – and very good. 

Next up was Racer 5 from Bear Republic at an ABV of 7% and an IBU of 75+.  You can discern the hop emphasis on Racer 5 over the balance in 60 Minute.  This is a nice one and you can taste the difference between and East Coast vs. West Coast beer of the same style.  The website describes Race 5 as “This hoppy American IPA is a full bodied beer brewed American pale and crystal malts, and heavily hopped with Chinook, Cascade, Columbus and Centennial.  This is a nice beer with emphasis on the bitter side. 
Third for the evening was Bridgeport’s Hop Czar with and ABV of 7.5% and an IBU of 85.  While the bitterness units on Hop Czar were higher than Racer 5, Hop Czar did not taste as bitter to me as Racer 5.  This one poured a little cloudy and was not clear like the previous two because it is bottle conditioned.  Hop Czar is describes as “an Imperial IPA brewed from our award winning IPA recipe, first introduced to rave reviews in 2008.  It is a triple-hopped bottle-conditioned, Imperial-style IPA that carries a deep malt background with enthusiastic citrus and floral notes paired with high hop bitterness.  The newest in our permanent 6-pack line, the Hop Czar recipe blends copious amounts of Nugget, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops.”  Hop Czar leans on the bitterness emphasis, but not as heavily as Racer 5.  This Imperial IPA with a nice bitter finish. 
It was interesting to try the different varieties of the IPAs from the different areas.  All used NW Hops and 60 Minute had the best balance, Racer 5 the hop emphasis, and Bridgeport had malt sweetness with a bitter finish.   These can take up space in my refrigerator any day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Belgium - Ranger and Bridgeport - Ebenezer Ale

My wife and I went out last night to The Outback and they had Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter on tab.  I have had this one before and it was good to have it again.  It was a little sweet and would probably go better with desert than steak.  It was not bad with the steak, but I think Odell's Cutthroat Porter or another standard porter would go better with steak. 

I had had purchased a mix 6 pack earlier in the day and one that I had was Ranger by New Belgium Brewing.  I have had Ranger a few times and I like this IPA.  It is readily available and is one of the big beer stories for 2010 because this was the first mass-produced IPA by New Belgium and it is a great addition to the line-up.  I think Ranger will not become as ubiquitous as Fat Tire, but it will have a large following.  Ranger has an ABV of 6.5% and an IBU of 70.  Ranger pours a nice golden color with a large head - be careful pouring - and it has a nice citrus, fruity aroma and taste from the use of NW hops. I like this beer and New Belgium has done a great job with Ranger.

Next up was Ebenezer Ale by Bridgeport while watching a Dr. Who Christmas Special.  Ebenezer is a very good winter ale and enjoyed it - my only disappointment was that I did not purchase more.  Ebenezer pours a nice dark red / mahogany and has a great aroma.  I really like this beer and the malt has a nice caramel taste with great balance.  This is an easy drinking beer and with an ABV of 6.4% it is not too heavy.  The IBUs are not high on this one to emphasize the malts and the balance on Ebenezer is very good.  Bridgeport describes Ebenezer as “Our special Holiday brew, Ebenezer Ale is a smooth ale with a complex palate derived from four different roasted malts and a blend of local and imported hops. Deep mahogany in color, its malty first taste and full body is balanced with a light hop aroma, leading to a caramel finish. It’s a festive elixir that can transform the mood of any scrooge! So forget the egg-nog and have a pint of Ebenezer.”  I also picked up Hop Czar by Bridgeport and I look forward to trying it and other offering from Bridgeport.

Red IPA, Total Disorder Porter and Hibernation Ale

I went to a going away gathering for one of my co-workers last night at C.B & Potts and I enjoyed a Bid Red IPA.  Big Red is red / amber in color and has an ABV of 6%.  This has the bitterness of an IPA and it is not bad, and I would call it an average IPA – nothing extraordinary.  The C.B. & Potts website describes Big Red as “An American style IPA, our Big Red combines the distinctive and assertive citrus flavor and aroma of Amarillo hops with a crisp, pleasantly bitter finish.” I had the GABF 2010 Gold winner with Total Disorder Porter next and I liked it much better.  This is a good beer with nice malt use and tastes of chocolate, caramel, and toffee.  Total Disorder Porter is describes as “satisfies with chocolate, coffee and caramel flavors plus a smooth, rich finish. Best of all, this Gold Medal winner is in our everyday lineup and is available anytime!  I would order Total Disorder Porter again the next I go to C.B. & Potts.

Later that evening, I poured a Great Divide Hibernation Ale that is an English-Style Ale with an ABV of 8.7%.  This one pours with a nice head that quickly recedes.  I was impressed by the malty sweetness and an almost “hot chocolate” aftertaste.   The website describes Hibernation Ales - “…has been our celebrated winter tradition since 1995. This robust, dry-hopped ale has a malty richness balanced with a complex hop profile and hearty, warming character.”  This is a nice beer and I look forward to having a few more of these over the winter.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Beers Before the Blog

2010 – Beers before the blog – Before I started this blog I had tried a number of other beers and they are listed below.  I thought I would do this to keep everything recorded and current.  The list below is listed in alphabetical order by Brewer.

Alaskan Brewing Company is a great regional craft brewer that I very much enjoy as I toured the brewery during a vacation in Juneau.  They are known for the Smoke Porter and the Amber and these are very good.  I recently tried the Barley Wine and it may now be my favorite from Alaskan.
-       Amber is an Alt-Style Ale with an ABV of 5.3% and an IBU of 18
-       White is a Wheat Ale with an ABV of 5.3% and an IBU of 15
-       Summer is Kolsch-Style Ale with an ABV of 5.3% and an IBU of 18

Avery is my favorite craft brewer and is based in Boulder, Co.  I have sampled the lineup that is available and I have enjoyed all of them.  I plan to visit the brewery / tap room early this year.  Ellie’s Brown Ale, the Maharaja, 17, White Rascal, Salvation and the Reverend are my favorites.  Avery is known for higher ABVs and the use of hops.
-       Hog Heaven is a Barley Wine with an ABV of 9.2% and an IBU of 104
-       The Reverend is a Belgian Quadrupel Ale with an ABV of 10% and an IBU of 10
-       Salvation is a Belgian-Style Golden Ale with an ABV of 9% and an IBU of 25
-       The Maharaja is an Imperial IPA with an ABV of 10.24% and an IBU of 102
-       The Kaiser is an Imperial Oktoberfest Lager with an ABV of 9.3% and an IBU of 24
-       Collaboration, not Litigation Ale with an ABV of 8.91%

Blue Moon is owned by Coors and I really like their Pumpkin Ale.
-       Harvest Moon is a Pumpkin Ale with an ABV of 5.7%

Boston Beer Company is a huge craft brewer famous for Sam Adams and has been instrumental in carrying the craft brew flag.
-       Honey Porter with and ABV of 5.5%

Breckenridge Brewery is a local craft brewery in Breckenridge Colorado and makes a number of styles and the 471 series is a small batch series with some interesting beers.  I purchased a 12 pack with 4 different styles and my favorite was Vanilla Porter.
-       Vanilla Porter with an ABV of 4.7% and an IBU of 16
-       Avalanche Ale is an American Amber Ale with an ABV of 5.3% and an IBU of 19
-       Summer Bright is an American Wheat Ale with Fruit with an ABV of 4.5% and an IBU of 15
-       Lucky U IPA with an ABV of 6.2% and an IBU of 68

Ft. Collins Brewery is a local craft brewer and I wanted to try the Chocolate Stout that took gold at this year’s GABF.
-       Chocolate Stout with an ABV of 4.8% and an IBU of 33

Grand Lake is a local craft brewery in Grand Lake Colorado and I purchased a six-pack with six different styles.  My favorite was Plaid Bastard.
-       Hoppy’s One Ton Pale Ale with an ABV of 5%
-       Wooley Booger Nut Brown Ale with an ABV of 5%
-       Plaid Bastard is a Strong Scotch Ale with an ABV of 8%
-       Stump Jumper IPA with an ABV of 5%
-       Rocky Mt. Red is an Amber Ale with an ABV of 5%
-       Shadow Mt. Stout with an ABV of 5%

Great Divide is a large craft brewer based in downtown Denver.  I have only tried a few beers from Great Divide and my plan is to sample their line through 2011.  
-       Titan is an IPA with an ABV of 7.1% and an IBU of 65.

Left Hand Brewing is a local craft brewer in Boulder, CO with a large number of styles.  I really like Milk Stout and the 2010 Fade to Black Series 2 Smoked Baltic Porter.
-       Polestar Pilsner with an ABV of 5.5% and an IBU of 33
-       Sawtooth is an American-Style ESB with an ABV of 5.3% and an IBU of 27

New Belgium Brewing Company is a very large craft brewer in Ft. Collins, Colorado that is best known for Fat Tire Amber Ale.  There are a number of offerings from New Belgium and their release of Ranger IPA was a big hit in 2010.  I really like Fat Tire (who doesn’t?), 1554, Abbey, and Ranger.  I recently tried Blue Paddle, Pilsener Lager, and it is another nice beer from New Belgium.
-       Fat Tire is an Amber Ale with an ABV of 5.2% and an IBU of 18.5
-       1554 is a Black Ale with an ABV of 5.6% and an IBU of 21
-       Abbey is a Belgian-Style Ale with an ABV of 7.0% and an IBU of 20
-       Ranger IPA with an ABV of 6.5% and an IBU of 70
-       Trippel is a Belgian-Style Ale of with an ABV of 7.8% and an IBU of 25

Red Hook is a regional craft brewer in Seattle best known for Red Hook ESB.  This was my go-to beer when I lived in Seattle and when I first moved to Denver, I kept asking for Red Hook and everyone always asked do you mean Fat Tire?  It will be interesting the next time I am in Seattle if I asked for a Fat Tire.
-       ESB is an Extra Special Bitter Ale with an ABV of 5.5% and an IBU of 13

Sierra Nevada is a large and excellent California craft brewer that makes a wide variety of styles.  They were one of the big stories in 2010 with the 30th Anniversary series.  Tumbler is a very good brown ale.
-       Tumbler  is a seasonal Autumn Brown Ale with an ABV of 5.5% and an IBU of 37
-       Porter with an ABV of 5.6% and an IBU of 32
-       Stout with an ABV of 5.8% and an IBU of 50

Ska is a Durango, Colorado based craft brewer. I have only tried a few different styles from Ska and I need to try more.  I really liked Buster Nut Brown Ale.
-       Buster Nut Brown Ale with an ABV of 5.15% and an IBU of 29

Stone is a very good brewer based in Escondido, CA that is known for the Arrogant Bastard line of ales and for the use of copious amounts of hops.  I have not tried a beer from Stone that I have not enjoyed.  Your palate is in for a kick and these are great beers.
-       Arrogant Bastard with an ABV of 7.2% and an IBU of ??
-       Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale with an ABV of 8.7% and an IBU of 90

Twisted Pine is a local craft brewer that took home a silver medal in this year’s GABF with Big Shot Espresso Stout. This was a nice beer and had good coffee overtones and I thought would be actually great with breakfast.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Belgium - Blue Paddle and Alaskan Barley WIne Ale

New Belgium is best known for Fat Tire, but they have a number of good beers.  I had the opportunity to purchase single bottles while I was in Phoenix at Total Wine and I purchased a wide variety.  One such purchase was Blue Paddle – Pilsener Lager with an ABV of 4.8% and an IBU of 33.  I poured this into a Pilsner glass and let the head come up that quickly receded.  Blue Paddle poured a nice gold with good carbonation as a Pilsner should.  New Belgium describes Blue Paddle as “Climb on in and grab a paddle. Our first foray into lagered beers, Blue Paddle Pilsener-Lager, is a Czech style pilsener with a refreshing crispness from noble hops and a rich, malty finish. ‘Blue Paddle’ refers to the implement our warehouse manager’s Grandma once used to lovingly paddle his a** when she caught him stealing sips of her beer. With more body than a traditional Belgian pils, Blue Paddle is reflective of Europe’s finest pilseners.”  I had this with dinner and it nicely paired with roast beef, loaded baked potato and a salad.  This is a nice one and another good beer from New Belgium.

Off to Alaska for Alaskan Brewing Company’s Barley Wine Ale with an ABV of 10.4% and an IBU of 60 that I picked up at Total Wine.  I love Alaskan Brewing Co. and I had the opportunity to tour the brewery when I went to Juneau.  This one pours a dark amber / mahogany with little head.  This is a complex beer and the malt has a great caramel / toffee sweetness and it is very smooth.  The website describes the flavor profile as “Alaskan Barley Wine is a full bodied ale, deep mahogany in color and brewed with an array of complementing malts to achieve its high original gravity. Multiple hop additions in the boil and dry hopping during fermentation provide contrast to the big malt character resulting in the smooth balance that distinguishes this specialty brew. Like many fine wines, Alaskan Barley Wine may be aged in the bottle and gains deeper malt complexity and smoothness over time.”  I have tried many beers from Alaskan Brewing Company and this may be my new favorite over Smoked Porter.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dogfish Head - Midas Touch and Great Divide - Old Ruffian

I tried two new beers this evening and the first was Midas Touch from Dogfish Head with an ABV of 9% and IBU of 12.  I had heard / read about this one and what I recall was that Sam Calagione had heard of a fairly recent archaeological discovery of the tomb of King Midas and one thing discovered was a recipe for beer.  Sam is a creative and extreme brewer and he tried to replicate it.  This one poured a nice golden straw color with a smaller head and the carbonation was incredible.  This one is very smooth and I could detect the sweetness and the grapes used in brewing and it had a nice sweet / dry finish that reminded me of a Gewurztraminer.  The description from the website - “This recipe is the actual oldest-known fermented beverage in the world! It is an ancient Turkish recipe using the original ingredients from the 2700 year old drinking vessels discovered in the tomb of King Midas. Somewhere between wine & mead; this smooth, sweet, yet dry ale will please the Chardonnay of beer drinker alike.”  I would agree that this would please the wine drinker and I will purchase more as I think my wife will really like this one.

Great Divide’s Old Ruffian Barley Wine-Style Ale is a hop monster at an IBU of 90 with an ABV of 10.25%.  This one poured a nice amber / garnet color with a nice head that receded quickly.  The hops were very apparent in the aroma and this was a very fresh bottle with a bottling data of Nov. 2010, I could not make out the exact day on the stamp.  The aroma and the bitterness in the taste reminded me of an Imperial IPA that is then balanced by nice caramel malt sweetness.  Really interesting beer and I can taste why Old Ruffian has won awards over the years. The description on the bottle stats that Old Ruffian is “a hefty, hop-forward Barley Wine-Style Ale.  Seemingly mellow at the start with subtle fruit aromas and complex caramel sweetness.  It quickly becomes aggressive with its bold hop flavors and huge hop bitterness.  Ultimately, the big body, succulent sweetness and massive hop character come together to work wonders on your palate.”  Old Ruffian is another really great beer from Great Divide.  I have only had one other Barley Wine-Style Ale and it was Avery’s Hog Heaven.  This is a style that I like and I will have it again.  I am not a big fan of winter – too dark – do not like snow – however, I like the beers of winter.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Oskar Blues - Mama's Little Pils and Odell - Easy Street Wheat

Had the opportunity to sample two new Colorado beers yesterday and both have won awards in their respective styles. Oskar Blues – Mama’s Little Yella Pils is a Pilsner with an ABV of 5.3% and an IBU of 35.  This was consumed from the can and this is a nice, drinkable Pilsner.  I thought it had a good balance and would be a very good summertime beer.  Oskar Blues describes Mama’s Little Yella Pils as “…an uncompromising, small-batch version of the beer that made Pilsen, Czech Republic famous. Unlike mass market “pilsners” diluted with corn & rice, Mama’s is built with 100% pale malt, German specialty malts, and Bavarian hops. “  I have enjoyed each of Oskar Blues products that I have tried and Gubna is still the best from Oskar Blues in my opinion.
After Martial Arts practice, I poured an Easy Street Wheat Ale from Odell at an ABV of 4.6% with and IBU of 15.  This is a nice light beer that goes down very easy.  Winter is essentially the time for stronger and darker beers, but this was a great beer to have after a couple hours of exercise.  I like the wheat beer and I would like to do a comparison between Easy Street and White Rascal from Avery.  Odell describes Easy Street as, “Light and refreshing, Easy Street Wheat is an unfiltered American-style wheat beer. Leaving in the yeast gives the beer a nice, smooth finish and a slightly citrusy flavor. Easy Street Wheat gets its name by brewers “taking it easy” and not filtering the beer. However, for ultimate enjoyment, we encourage you to work just a little harder in pouring it: pour 2/3 of the beer into a glass, swirl what’s left to stir up the yeast, then pour the rest and enjoy.”  I appreciated the pouring suggestion on the bottle.  However, there was still some yeast in the bottom of the bottle after following the instructions and this may have had some impact on the taste.  My wife enjoyed this and Odell is another good Colorado brewer.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stone - Oaked Arrogant Bastard and Lukcy Basartd

Happy New Year – another year begins with some interesting beers to try and continue the beer tasting journey.  Stone is the first stop of the 2011 with Oaked Arrogant Bastard at an ABV of 7.2% and an IBU of ??.  Stone does not publish the IBU of any of the “Bastard” line of ales.  They all are significantly hopped with high IBUs.  I think Oaked Arrogant Bastard is my favorite of the line that I have sampled.  This pours an orangey brown with a lacy head and a nice citrus aroma.  This one is smoother and I appreciated the oak taste in this ale.  I like the quote on the bottle “Another reward for those seeking new sources of passion, and another point of dissension for those who are not.”  This is not a cheap beer and one taste explains it.

Lukcy Basartd Ale has an ABV of 8.5% and an IBU of ??.  Lukcy Basartd is an anniversary blend of Arrogant Bastard celebrating the 13-year anniversary of Arrogant Bastard.  The blend consists of Arrogant Bastard Ale, Oaked Bastard Ale, and Double Bastard Ale.  This one pours a deep caramel color with a think beige head that has good retention.  This is a very nice blend and you detect sweet malt, oak hints, and a nice hop-induced bitter finish.  Stone is a very good brewer and they like using the hops.  I appreciate the brashness in the packaging and assertion that these are not beers for the average beer drinking.  This is a one-time release and I am sure it will be unavailable all too soon.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve - Avery's Demons of Ale

Last evening for New Year’s Eve, I acquired in Phoenix and Denver the Demons of Ale series from Avery. First on the list was Samael’s, an oak-aged ale flavored with oak chips at ABV of 14.9% with an IBU of 41, and bottled in April 2007 batch 3. Avery describes Samael’s Ale as “a super-caramelly, oak aged English-style strong ale. Perhaps the least hoppy (sacrilege here at Avery!!) beer we’ve brewed, to accentuate the malt. The oak is very apparent in this rich and high gravity ale, adding additional depth and complexity with a woody and cask-like nose and a pronounced vanilla flavor on the palate.” This one pours a nice copper color and you can taste the oak and is sweet on the first taste with a dry finish. This is a sippin’ beer and I enjoyed it.

Mephistopheles’ Stout with an ABV of 15.92% and an IBU of 107 and bottled November 2008 batch 4. I really enjoy the darker ales and I was looking forward to this one. It pours very dark with a small lacy head. Avery describes Mephistopheles as “the crafty shape shifter, the second fallen angel. Amazingly complex, coal black, velvety and liqueurish, this demon has a bouquet of vine-ripened grapes, anise and chocolate covered cherries with flavors of rum-soaked caramelized dark fruits and a double espresso finish. I could pick up the cherries and a slight coffee note on the finish. This is a nice one and it was a great for round 2.

The Beast Grand Cru with an ABV of 16.31% and an IBU of 68 and was bottled in 2008 batch 6. Avery describes the Beast as, “a seducer - accommodating, complicated, powerful, dark and created to last the ages. With a deep burgundy color and aromas of honey, nutmeg, mandarin orange and pineapple, this massive and challenging brew has flavors akin to a beautiful Caribbean rum. Dates, plums, raisins and molasses are dominant in a rich vinous texture. Cellarable for 10+ years”. This pours a reddish-brown and produced a small head. I could understand how this can be “cellared” for a long period of time. This is an interesting ale and there is a lot to be tasted as I picked up the fruits of dates and raisins with the sweetness of molasses.

The Demons of Ale from Avery are complex and there is much to be tasted with these ales. Avery has done a great job with these and I found a great brewer. I plan to visit Avery brewery this year and I will compliment them on their products. Avery was the first brewery I decided to sample and I have tried all of the offerings that are currently available in the line up. The next brewers of focus are Great Divide, Left Hand, and Odell.

Great Divide - Hoss

Great Divide’s Hoss is a Rye Lager with and ABV of 6.2% and IBU of ??.  Great Divide describes Hoss as “based on the Marzen lagers of Germany. Rich, layered malt notes, with hints of cherry and dark fruits, dominate, while the unique addition of rye imparts a slightly earthy, spicy character. Hoss finishes crisp and dry, and its brilliant red-orange color is a toast to the sunsets that make the perfect backdrop for this beer.”  This is a very accurate description of this beer and at first I was taken back by the flavor, but it grew on me as I sampled the beer.  I thought this would go great with a Rueben as I could pick up on the rye notes in the beer.  Hoss has won a number of awards for Great Divide and this is a unique beer with the addition of the rye.  I have not tasted anything like it.