Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dry Dock – Hefeweizen

Dry Dock is a brewery in Aurora, Colorado and they did very well at the 2010 GABF.  I purchased the Hefeweizen (4.3% ABV and 12 IBU) in a 22 oz. bomber and poured it into a large glass.  The beer is cloudy as is typical with the style and had a large head that quickly receded.  Dry Dock won a Silver medal at the 2010 GABF in the South German-Style Hefeweizen with this beer and it is very good.  Dry Dock describes their Hefeweizen as “a traditional cloudy German wheat ale with a HUGE banana nose and hints of bubblegum and vanilla.”  I like the taste of this one and it reminded me of a Belgian beer.  I paired it with a mixed salad, Cajun shrimp and French bread.  The beer went well with the salad and the bread, but it was a bit overpowered by the blue cheese in the salad and spicy shrimp – this was expected as the Hefeweizen is a lighter style.  Dry Dock did a great job with this beer and I would like to try more from them.

Odell – IPA

Odell Brewing in Ft. Collins IPA (7.0% ABV and 60 IBU) had an incredible citrus aroma when poured.  I am not sure if it was just me, the conditions or what, but I had not experienced the pronounced aroma like I did with this IPA.  Reading the description, I am thinking Odell focused on aromatic hops.  Odell’s IPA pours straw colored with a nice head.  The website describes the IPA as “we took the traditional IPA, originally shipped from England to India in the 1700’s, and make it bolder and more flavorful – American Style.  We’ve added new varieties of highly aromatic American hops to create a distinctive bitterness profile and incredible hop character.”  I paired Odell’s IPA with red curry shrimp and it was a nice pairing.  The red curry shrimp was made with coconut milk, red curry paste, and mixed vegetables poured over white rice.  I did notice a different (odd) finish with this IPA and I will have to sample another in the future.  I may try it without food to see if the meal altered the finish as it could have been changed due to the spiciness of the meal.

Stone – Old Guardian – 2010, 2011 & Belgo

Stone Brewery’s Old Guardian is an annual Barley wine (11.3% ABV and 95 IBU) release.  Stone is known for use of hops and I like big beers.  I went to Roger’s last week and we started out with 2010 and later poured 2011.  I thought that the 2010 would be my favorite over the 2011 as I thought the flavors would have blended over the past year.  However, I preferred the 2011 over the 2010.  I thought 2011 was more balanced over the 2010.  Both years are malty and hoppy and they are good.  Later in the week, I poured the Belgo and I liked it the best.  Stone has an “Odd Beers for Odd Years” and this year, they “spike a few barrels of the Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine with our Belgian yeast strain”.  Belgo retains the characteristics of OG and blends well with the Belgian yeast strain.  Belgo is a great blend and it is a great take on the Barley wine style.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bristol - Laughing Lab

Bristol is a small brewing in Colorado Springs and they took home two medals from the 2010 GABF.  No. 23 Barley wine won silver in the Barley wine-style ale and Laughing Lab - Scottish Ale ( 5% ABV and 19 IBU) was awarded a bronze in the Scottish-Style Ale category.  I had tried No.23 previously and I wanted to try Laughing Lab.  Being a Scottish-Style Ale, I knew Laughing Lab would be focused on malt sweetness with little to no bitterness from hops.  This is also (per the website) the most awarded beer at GABF with 9 medals - "Nine scottish ale medals since 1994 make Laughing Lab the most decorated Colorado beer at the Great American Beer Festival.® A careful blend of specialty malts gives Lab a nutty, roasted flavor that’s mildly sweet, but not too rich. Smooth and luscious!"   Laughing Lab pours an amber / tan / deep red and has a small head that quickly recedes.  It has a good malt aroma and is very drinakable.  This is a very good beer and I understand why it has won so many medals.  So far, I have enjoyed all that I have tried from Bristol.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Full Sail – Session Premium and Black Lager

The other day, I went to Roger’s house to consume a few beers while the wives were away.  Roger had a beer he wanted me to try from Full Sail called Session Premium Lager (5.1% ABV and 18 IBU).  While I prefer ales, I really liked this beer and I appreciate the lower ABV and drinkability of this beer.  Roger said these are available in 12 packs and they are $12 / 12 pack.  This is a great price for a good craft beer and Session Premium Lager has won a number of awards including Gold medals at GABF and the World Beer Championships.

I decided to check out the specials at Davidson’s liquors and Session was on sale for $9.99 a 12er.  I called Roger to inform him of the sale and Roger picked up a few 12ers.  I went over later and picked up a 12er of Session Black Lager (5.4% ABV and 18 IBU) and this one has won Gold medals at GABF, the World Beer Championships, and the World Beer Cup.  This one pours the color of coca-cola and has a quickly receding head with good carbonation.  Session Black is very drinkable with good malty sweetness and hints of chocolate / roast malt.  Full Sail describes Session Black Lager as “Short, Dark and Drinkable”.  Both styles come in 12 packs of 11 oz. stubby bottles.  These are both very good beers at a very good price.  Nicely done Full Sail.

Sierra Nevada – Torpedo

I have had a number of the offerings from Sierra Nevada and I have been very satisfied by the beers from this brewery.  I tried Sierra Nevada’s IPA named Torpedo (7.2% ABV and 65 IBU) again this week as was again very satisfied.  Sierra Nevada calls Torpedo an “Extra IPA”, probably because of the extra hopping completed during the brewing of this beer; it is called Torpedo because of the shape of the device used during dry-hopping.  This one pours gold and just slightly amber with a nice head.  Very nice citrus aroma and tastes very good with an emphasis on the citrus / pine hop bitterness. Sierra Nevada describes Torpedo as “a big American IPA; bold, assertive, and full of flavor highlighting the complex citrus, pine, and herbal character of whole-cone American hops.  Around here, we take hops pretty seriously, which is why we weren’t satisfied with the standard method of dry hopping for our first year-round IPA. We spent years tinkering, tasting, and tweaking ways to get the biggest and best hop flavors and aromas into our beer.  Our persistence has paid off. Our obsession with harnessing huge hop flavor led to the development of what we call the hop torpedo, a revolutionary method of dry-hopping designed, built, and debuted here at the brewery. Our torpedo is a sleek, stainless-steel piece of hardware that delivers more pure hop aroma than any method of dry-hopping we’ve ever seen. Like all our beers, Torpedo Extra IPA uses only the best whole-cone hops possible making this delicious ale worth the wait.”  This is a very good description of Torpedo and I like the extra information about the time, effort and brewing process.  Torpedo is another very good beer from Sierra Nevada.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sierra Nevada - 30th Anniversary - Jack and Ken's Ale

I was really looking forward to Jack and Ken's Black Barleywine since I had a taste at Denver Brewfest.  Jack and Ken's Ale is another addition to the 30th Anniversary sieres from Sierra Nevada.  Ken Grossman is the founder of Sierra Nevada and Jack McAuliffe started New Albion Brewery.  These two American Craft Beer pioneers created a real gem with this black barleywine and it took gold at the 2010 GABF for the "Other Strong Beer" category.  As the name implies, this pours black and has a nice head that takes some time to recede.  The beer has a great malt aroma with tastes of toffee, stone fruit, good bitterness and hidden alcohol (10.2% ABV).  This is a dangerous ale because it is very drinkable.  If you get the opportunity to sample this one, take your time, let the beer warm up a bit, sip and take in the flavors.  This is a beer that is meant to be experienced and it is a very enjoyable experience.  Thanks again to Scott for this bottle - I do appreciate it - it was very good.  I am very glad this took a gold at GABF - Jack and Ken deserve accolades for this ale and their work for craft beer.  Jack and Ken's ale is one of the great ones and one of the best I have had to opportunity to sample.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Great Divide – Claymore

Great Divide’s Claymore is a Wee Heavy Scotch Ale (7.7% ABV) and has a malt focus as Scotch Ales do.  From a historical perspective, the Scotts only wanted to pay the Brits the minimum required for whatever they were purchasing from the Brits.  In the case of beer, the Scotts purchased hops from the Brits and they only used what was needed to preserve the beer and provide slight aroma and bittering.  The two word descriptors on the label of Claymore are “Hardy” and “Noble” and these words describe Claymore very well.  This pours dark reddish brown, almost – not quite, black and has a great aroma from the malt.  Good mouth feel and has an emphasis on sweet malitness aligned with the style.  Great Divide describes Claymore as “Named for a medieval Scottish sword, Claymore Scotch Ale is our tribute to the legendary “Wee Heavy” beers of Scotland. This malty, deep-ruby beauty features lots of caramel sweetness, a reserved hop profile, and a subtle warming character. Unlike its namesake, this beer only requires one hand, but it’ll still make you feel like nobility.”  Suggested food pairings are “Pot roast with roasted vegetables, seared lamb shank with white beans, bread pudding.”  Another nice one from Great Divide and I am looking forward to the Great Divide Triple Release Party on April 8th.

Sierra Nevada - 30th Anniversary Imperial Helles Bock

Sierra Nevada is one the oldest craft brewers in the US and in 2010 they celebrated their 30th anniversary.  Ken Grossman, the founder of Sierra Nevada, pulled in some of the pioneers of American craft beer to brew four special collaboration beers to celebrate the 30th anniversary. Ken teamed with Charlie Papazian (founder American Homebrewers Association) and Fred Eckhardt  (beer advocate, writer) to create Charlie, Fred & Ken’s Bock.  This lager and is classified as an Imperial Helles Bock (8.3% ABV) and pours golden amber with a large head.  Just pour it, let the head recede and the beer warm.  I paired this beer with roasted pork tenderloin and sautéed mushrooms.  The beer and the mushrooms danced together and the pairing was incredible.  The malt sweetness shined with the earthy mushrooms – it was one of those pairings that just sang.  I had tried this beer once before and noticed it went well with mushrooms on pizza.  I was really happy to sample Charlie, Fred & Ken’s Bock again.  Thank you Scott for the bottle – I do appreciate it. 

Deschutes – Inversion IPA

Deschutes is an Oregon brewer based in Bend, OR.  They are know for their Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Ale, and I have had both and they are very good.  I went to Lukas on Friday and Deschutes was having a tasting and I tried Obsidian Stout and Inversion IPA.  I purchased a six of Inversion IPA and the rep gave me a bottle of Obsidian.  Inversion IPA (6.8% ABV & 80 IBU) pours golden amber with a nice frothy head.  It has a nice aroma and is well-balanced – I was expecting more hops considering the 80 IBU and was pleasantly surprised.  The hops are there and are well-balanced with the malt sweetness.  Deschutes describes Inversion IPA as “No mere hop sledgehammer, Inversion is a careful fusion. Crystal and Carastan malts woven throughout provide for a surprisingly soft, caramel complexity for an 80-IBU IPA.”  I have a bottle of Obsidian Stout and a bottle of Red Chair NWPA to try.  I have been very satisfied with Deschutes and I will try more from them.  Also - check out my new glass from my bike shop - Salvagetti - these will sell out fast.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Avery - Maharaja

Avery had a release party for Maharaja last week at the taproom and I was able to obtain a fresh bottle at Lukas yesterday.  I tried Maharaja, an Imperial IPA, a few months ago and I was impressed.  Batch number 13, dated March 2011, measures a hefty 10.54% ABV with 102 IBU.  Maharaja is probably best termed a Triple IPA and I think the Brewers Association needs to add this category to the beer styles.  This pours a nice golden amber color with a large head – let it settle down and let the beer warm up a bit.  The aroma and flavors come out as this beer warms up.  This is just a wonderful beer and I have a number of people try it and really like it.  I heard Stephen Johnson (New Brew Thursday and Expert Drinking) mention that tasting fresh Maharaja “will change your life”.  It is a great beer and one of my favorites.  When I first tried Maharaja, the aroma took me back in time to my Granny Gwen's herb garden in Virginia.  I emailed Avery and Adam Avery actually replied back.  Avery is my favorite brewer and Maharaja is one of Avery's best.

Santa Fe Chicken Killer and Ska Natural Blonde Ale

Santa Fe Brewing offers a number of different styles and I wanted to try their Chicken Killer Barleywine (10% ABV).  It pours cloudy amber with little head, has a nice aroma, and tastes good.  It is not as hoppy as some of the barleywines I have had and there is an emphasis on malt sweetness.  The website describes Chicken Killer as “The flavors of the beer are at first as overwhelming as the intense Santa Fe sun. But in the same way our sun gives us the unrivaled brilliant colors of Santa Fe, the potency of Chicken Killer gives us the remarkable spectrum of flavors that can be found in no other beer, in no other city.”  Santa Fe is a great city to visit.  The next time we go to AZ I plan to stop in Santa Fe to eat some wonderful food at Maria’s and I’ll have to stop by the Santa Fe Brewery. 

Ska is a brewer based in Durango, Co and is known for craft beer in cans.  I really liked Modus Hoperandi at the Winter Brew Fest and I would like to try more offerings from Ska.  Natural Blonde Ale pours a clear straw yellow and has a large head – be careful pouring.  This is an American Blonde Ale (5.3% ABV) and has a slight citrus / lemon aroma and taste.  It is not a bad beer, but I will probably choose other offerings from Ska to try in the future.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Grand Cru and Old No. 23

I had two great beers last and these were fantastic.  Great Divide – Grand Cru is a Belgian-style Dark ale with an 11% ABV.  Great Divide has the words “Elegant” and “Exquisite” on the label and these two descriptors are spot on.  Great Divide describes Grand Cru as “our very special Belgian-style dark ale. Imported malts give it a round malty richness, and the fruity complexity and slightly spicy character come from brewing with a proprietary Belgian yeast strain. Don’t let the name fool you; while it may be a special occasion beer, this medium-bodied, elegant incarnation is anything but snobbish.”  This beer is a seasonal release (Jan. – March) that is released in 22 oz. bombers and this is a sipping beer that you just need to sit back, relax, and relish in the deliciousness. 

Old No. 23 Barleywine won a silver medal for American Barley Wine-style Ale (ABV – 9.14% & IBU – 34) at the 2010 GABF.  Bristol Brewing is based in Colorado Springs and is a brewery I want to visit this year.  No. 23 is a limited release and is available in a 4 pack of 12 oz bottles throughout Colorado.  Bristol describes No. 23 as “an annual Bristol tradition, Old No. 23 revives an English farmhouse brewery practice of making a complex ale to set aside for special occasions. Our version, while painstaking and time-consuming to brew, rewards the connoisseur with an ale that has the depth and complexity of a good brandy or single malt scotch. Massive quantities of malt and hops, a long aging time and limited availability make this a special ale worthy of its reputation.  This pours a tan / orange and with a nice head and it is just a pleasure to partake.  This is another beer to just sit back, relax, and slowly enjoy this beauty.  I will be buying more if it is still available.

Lagunitas - IPA and Gnarly Wine

Lagunitas is a brewer from Petaluma CA and Gnarly Wine is their 10.12% ABV Barleywine.  This is an annual release in January and is sold in 22 oz. bombers.  This one pours a nice amber with nice one finger head.  It has a sweet malty aroma and the taste is more malt focused – like a Scottish Ale – than hop / bitterness focused.  This is well-balanced and goes down easy.  Barleywine is one of my favorite beer styles and this is another good.  The American Craft Brewers are doing a great job with this style and I have been impressed with the complexity and overall taste of these Barleywines. 
Lagunitas IPA (ABV – 6.6% and IBU – 45) pours a orange / amber color with a large head – be careful pouring.  I paired this with a grilled pork chop and rice with a chili verde sauce, and sautéed mixed vegetables (onion, carrot, jalapeno pepper, and asparagus).  This beer paired well with dinner and I like the classic West Coast IPA style with this meal.  I would like to try some other offerings from Lagunitas – these two are good.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chocolate Ale, Old Chub & Fire Rock Pale Ale

On Tuesday evening, Lori wanted to try Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale (ABV – 9.1% and IBU – 24) that is a seasonal specialty beer that is available in a 750ml bottle.  Chocolate Ale pours a yellow / orange / amber with a nice head and it has a nice aroma that hinted of chocolate.  This is a special occasion ale and with the low bitterness, many non-beer drinkers on new to craft beer drinkers should like with the sweetness and chocolate flavors.  I like hints of chocolate, not over-powering chocolate and I think Boulevard has done a nice collaboration with chocolatier Christopher Elbow.  A special chocolate from the Dominican Republic was used in the brewing process.  I have had a couple of different offerings from Boulevard and I have liked the ones that I have tried from this Kansas City brewer.  This is an interesting ale and I appreciate brewers who try new things and push the boundaries.

On Thursday, we went to NoNo’s café and I had a Dixie Lager (ABV – 4.6% and IBU - ??) with a catfish po-boy.  This beer is better than the macros, but if you are selecting beers from Louisiana I suggest to stay with Abita Brewing, I will.  On the return home, I opened a Kona Brewing Fire Rock Pale (ABV – 5.9% and IBU – 35) that pours a nice golden color and it a pleasure to drink.  This has won a number of awards and Kona took a gold at GABF with the Longboard Lager.  I am not a big lager fan as I prefer ales, but I would try it.  I opened an Old Chubb from Oskar Blues (ABV – 8%) that is Scottish strong ale and this is a nice one.  It poured with almost no head and was the color of cola.  It has a nice malty aroma and a sweet malty taste with little bitterness.  This appears true to the style (with an Oskar Blues spin) as historically the Scotts used little hops in their beer because they did not want to pay the Brits for any more than they needed for preservative qualities.  This is a drinkable beer that I would think is a good beer for a newbie to craft brewing.   

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maui - Coconut Porter

I had seen a podcast (New Brew Thursday) and read a mini-review in Beer magazine about Maui Coconut Porter with an ABV of 6.0% and an IBU of 30. I wanted to try this beer and originally it was not available in Colorado. However, on a recent trip, I spied it and acquired this dark porter. Maui Coconut Porter pours a dark black with a nice frothy head. There is a nice sweet aroma with chocolate, coffee, and coconut overtones. This beer tastes like the aroma and has a nice coconut flavor that I liken more to coconut milk than to roasted coconut. It went excellent with chocolate pie and the combination highlighted the coconut flavor. Maui’s website describes Coconut Porter as “a fresh handcrafted robust porter with six varieties of malted barley, hops and hand-roasted coconut. It begins with a malty-toasted coconut aroma followed by a rich, silky feel with tastes of dark malt, chocolate and hints of coffee. It then finishes with flavors of toasted coconut and hoppy spice to balance the finish.” This description describes Coconut perfectly. This is a great new take on the porter style and I liked it - great innovation and great job on this one. Coconut Porter has won many awards and I look forward to trying the three other offerings from Maui Brewing Co.; Bikini Blonde, Big Swell IPA, and Mana Wheat. It has been awhile since I have been to Hawaii and I have another brewery to visit on my next trip to Maui.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Great Divide - Oak-aged Yeti and Avery - Ellie's Brown Ale

Last night Lori prepared a dinner of BBQ Ribs and fried potatoes.  Preceding dinner was an appetizer of Texas Torte – a spicy cheese treat.  Following dinner was Chocolate pie – which is unbelievable.  Randy and Chris brought over salad with all the fixings and a raspberry-based terrine.  I had two beers selected for dinner and desert and these were Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale and Great Divide’s Espresso Oak-aged Yeti.  I have had Ellie’s a few times and it a very nice brown ale with an ABV of 5.5% and an IBU of 17.  Ellie’s pours a dark reddish-brown with a nice head and this was literally a perfect pairing with BBQ ribs.  Avery’s website suggests pairing Elile’s with roasted meats with spicy and / or smoky preparations and Ellie’s with BBQ worked very well. 

I knew I would need a different beer with the rich chocolate desert and Imperial Stout is a perfect pairing with chocolate deserts. I am a big fan of Great Divide’s Yeti and there are a few varieties – Yeti, Oak-aged Yeti and Espresso Oak-aged Yeti.  I decided to try the Espresso Oak-aged Yeti (ABV of 9.5%) and this went very well with the rich Chocolate pie.  One can pick up the flavors of coffee, espresso, and chocolate from Yeti that cut through the fat in the pie and balanced the sweetness of the chocolate pie.  I need to send a thank you to Garret Oliver – brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery for providing excellent data on beer and food pairings in his book – The Brewmaster’s Table.  It is my reference for pairings and he is spot on.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

German food and German beer

The beer tasting group met last night for good drink, good food, and great conversation at Tibor’s home last night.  At our last tasting, we agreed to taste German beers and Chris, Dennis and I each brought two different types of German beer.  I grabbed some fresh Bratwurst at Tony’s Meats in Littleton along with some sauerkraut.  I had purchased Ayinger’s Celebrator and Aecht Schlenkerla’s Weizen Rauchbier for the evening.  Nicole, Tibor’s wife, also cooked spaetzle with bacon and cheese, prepared a wonderful salad, cooked large warm pretzels, and served some nice Troberlone chocolate with sprinkles of cayenne and cinnamon to taste with the chocolate.
I grilled the Brats and then placed them on top of the sauerkraut in a crock pot with some Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen.  Tibor had really decked out the table with classic German steins, glassware, and other items he had collected in Germany during his youth and his trips back over the years to visit his father and family.  Tibor and Nicole have both attended Oktoberfest and have a great knowledge of Germany and German culture.  Tibor started with two Oktoberfest – Marzens of Spaten (5.9% ABV) and Paulaner (5.8%).  These went excellent with Brats & Kraut, mustard, spaetzle, and salad.  I preferred the Paulaner over the Spaten and the pairing was very good. 

Next up was Erdinger Dark Hefeweizen (5.6% ABV) and Aecht Schlenkerla Weizen Rauchbier (4.7% ABV).  The Erdinger Dark Hefeweizen is  classed as a dunkelweizen and was the best beer of the evening.  A Rauchbier is a smoked beer and the Aecht Schlenkerla had a deep smoky aroma and taste and we thought it would have paired excellent with smoked salmon.

Spaten Optimator (7.6% ABV) and Ayinger Celebrator (6.7% ABV) are doppelbocks and these were very nice.  I think Nicole served the pretzels at this time and these were very tasty with the pretzels.

We ended the evening with Warsteiner Dunkel (4.9% ABV) and Kostritzer Schwarzbier (4.8% ABV) and these were another great pairing with the Trobolone chocolate with cayenne and cinnamon.  It was great do a little trip to Germany with excellent food and drink and it was a great evening.  I really appreciate Tibor and Nicole hosting and the food Nicole made was excellent – I loved the spaetzle.  One thing I picked up from podcasts from Dr. Bill is that if you pair beer with the regional cuisine you usually will not go wrong as the regional beer and food historically go together.  This is excellent advice as the beer and food of Germany paired excellent with each other.  Next time, we will be meeting in May and we are considering focusing on Hefeweizens and Witbiers. 

Sierra Nevada – Pale Ale & Glissade and Boulevard Nutcracker Ale

I consider Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale the standard bearer for the American Pale Ale style. Sierra Nevada is one of the oldest craft brewers in America and the Pale Ale should be tasted so one knows how the style should look, smell and taste. Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale has an ABV of 5.6% and an IBU of 37. I have had a number of these over the years and I had not had one in awhile and it was great to drink one again. Sierra Nevada describes Pale Ale as “Our most popular beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, is a delightful interpretation of a classic style. It has a deep amber color and an exceptionally full-bodied, complex character. Generous quantities of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor. “Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is a very good beer and it should be used to understand the style and as a comparison with other American Pale Ales.

Glissade is a Golden Bock with an ABV of 6.4% and an IBU of 42. This one pours a golden yellow with a nice head and has nice malt sweetness with a balanced bitterness on the finish. This is a drinkable beer and Sierra Nevada describes Glissade as “With restrained sweetness, we emphasize subtle malt flavor, balanced against delicate aromas of spicy and floral European hops. This complex balance helps Glissade slide across the palate—bracing us against the last cold nights of winter, while its bright golden color turns our thoughts toward spring.” Sierra Nevada is one of my favorite brewers. They brew consistently good beer and they continue to try new recipes and styles. They took a gold at GABF this year with the 30th Anniversary Black Barleywine and I look forward to sampling this in the near future.

I did not know much of Boulevard and I think I had not tried any of the beer from this Kansas City brewer. Nutcracker Ale is a winter seasonal with an ABV of 5.8% and an IBU of 38. This is a tasty seasonal ale that pours a reddish-brown with a nice head. This has sweet caramel tastes with balanced bitterness from spicy and floral hops. Boulevard describes Nutcracker Ale as “Boulevard’s holiday gift for real beer lovers. This hearty, warming brew is a classic winter ale, deep amber in color, with hints of molasses balanced by the “spiciness” of freshly harvested Chinook hops.” The brewer added brown sugar and dark sugar, but it is not too sweet. This would go great with deserts and strong meat dishes. I look forward to sampling more from Boulevard.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stone – 10.10.10 Vertical Epic

When I think of sampling a product from Stone, I think – get ready for the hops and big beers.  I really like the big hoppy beers that Stone makes and I literally like everything I have tasted from Stone.  The next time I am in SoCal, I will stop by the bistro and enjoy some of the excellent beer and excellent food.  Stone has produced 9 beers in the Vertical Epic series starting with 02.02.02 through the current version of 10.10.10.  The final two will be released on 11.11.11 and 12.12.12.  I have cellared a few bottles of 10.10.10 for a vertical tasting with the other years.  10.10.10 was not what I expected from Stone and the closest comparison I could come up with is Midas Touch from Dogfish Head.  Stone describes 10.10.10 as an “Ale brewed with Muscat, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon grapes and chamomile.”  The Vertical Epic series is “As with any good epic, herein lies the promise of larger-than-life experiences, heroics and twists & turns as the adventure unfolds. These bottle-conditioned ales are specifically designed to be aged until sometime after December 12th, 2012. Provided you can wait that long. At that time, enjoy them in a "vertical" tasting. Each one unique to it's year of release. Each with its own "twist & turn" in the plotline. Each one released one year, one month and one day from the previous year's edition.”  10.10.10 is a really nice beer and almost reminds me of Champaign based on the pour and initial aroma.  The taste is sweet and you can detect the use of grapes and it is an incredibly complex beer.  I plan to do future vertical tastings culminating in Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic.  I really appreciate the work that Stone has done and the Vertical Epic series is a great example of how great Craft Brewers continue to try new things and push the envelope.