Sunday, December 30, 2012

Soups and Beer from Stone

Last evening, we hosted another beer dinner and featured soup and beers from Stone Brewing Co.  Gayle and Dennis bought over chips, guacamole, sausage & cheese appetizer, chips and Stone Pale Ale.  Nicole and Tibor brought over fruit desert pizza and Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard.  Lori and I had prepared 3 soups, Ham & Beans, Chili, and Chicken & Noodles.  I also  whipped up corn bread muffins.  Everything tasted great and my recipe for the chili is below.  It is always great to get together with friends and we had a fantastic evening.

The beers we sampled -
Stone - Pale Ale (5.4% ABV and 41 IBU)
Stone - Vertical Epic 10-10-10 (9.5% ABV)
Stone - Vertical Epic 11-11-11 (9.4% ABV)
Stone - Vertical Epic 12-12-12 (9% ABV)
Stone - Arrogant Bastard (7.2% ABV and CLASSIFIED IBU)
Stone - Double Bastard (11.2% ABV and CLASSIFIED IBU)
Stone - Oaked Arrogant Bastard (7.2% ABV and CLASSIFIED IBU)
Stone - Lukcy Basartd (9.2% ABV and CLASSIFIED IBU)

We started with Pale Ale and the Vertical Epics were poured as a flight and the Arrogant Bastards were poured as a flight.  The Stone Vertical Epic 10-10-10 was the favorite of the Vertical Epics and it had been cellared for over 2 years.  For the Bastards, Lukcy and Double were the preferred Bastards.  These are big beers and they were really tasty.  I also really enjoyed the Pale Ale.  I think the Vertical Epic 10-10-10 was the best beer of the evening and it has really improved / evolved with age.  

Chili recipe 
8 Ancho dried chilies
2 Roasted Anaheim Chilies (these were purchased and frozen in the fall)
4 C. Water
3 T. Vegetable Oil
2 - 3 # of Pork Shoulder
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Coriander
1 1/2 tsp. Oregano
1 Yellow Onion
4 tsp. Garlic
2 Cans of diced tomatoes

Heat 4 C. of water to boil and remove from the burner, roast the Anchos over med. - med. high heat and remove the seeds and stems and place in the water.  Soak for ~30 minutes and place something on top of the Anchos to keep them submerged.  

While the Anchos are soaking, cut the pork shoulder into small cubes.  Heat a large skillet and the 3 T. of vegetable oil and brown the pork.  You will need to cook in a few batches and drain the port on paper towels.

Coarsely chop the onion and add the Anchos, water, Cumin, Coriander, Oregano, Garlic and Tomato in a blender or food process and puree.  

Place the pork and the puree into a pot or a crock pot and simmer for a few hours and stir occasionally.  You can vary the thickness of the chili by decreasing the amount of water.  Serve with corn tortillas, cheese, sour cream, and avocado.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holiday Beers – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


There are a number of very tasty holiday / seasonal beers available to the craft beer drinker and from my perspective it is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.  Some of the selections are quite hoppy, taking advantage of the recent fall hop harvest; some are quite malty focusing more on the sweet side, and some use holiday spices to make things interesting.  I usually pick up a number of these to enjoy over the holidays and are part of an annual purchase and some of these are new.  There are some very tasty winter / holiday / seasonal beers and go out and pick up something new.  Below are some that I have recently sampled.

Sierra Nevada – Celebration 2012 (6.8% ABV and 65 IBU), is an American IPA and fresh hops are used in the brewing process.  I am currently reading Mitch Steele’s IPA book and he describes Celebration as one of the first IPAs that was brewed by craft brewers.  It is a fantastic beer and one that is on my “buy list” each year.  This is one for the hopheads. 


Left Hand – Fade to Black Vol. 4 (6.5% ABV and 64 IBU), is a Black IPA or a Rocky Mountain Black Ale as described on the label.  Each year, Left Hand releases a different volume of Fade to Black and this year’s version if for the hop lover.  This one was not too hoppy and I really enjoyed it and yes this is on my “buy list”.  

Magic Hat – Heart of Darkness (5.7% ABV and 30 IBU), is a Stout and is a very tasty one.  Heart of Darkness is malt forward with notes of chocolate / cocoa, and it is very easy to drink.  This was the first beer I tried from Magic Hat and it made the “buy list”.  I will look for additional offerings from Magic Hat in 2013. 

Others on the “buy list” – these are just a few and all have been previously reviewed.

Avery – Old Jubilation (8.3% ABV and 45 IBU), is an English Old Ale that is malty and warming – a very tasty beer that is to be savored. 

Deschutes – Jubelale (6.7% ABV and 60 IBU), is a Strong Ale that is a mix of malty and hoppy.  One first gets malty sweetness and then the hop bitterness kicks in.  URL - http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brew/jubelale

Firestone Walker – Velvet Merlin (5.5% ABV and 27 IBU), is a wonderful Oatmeal Stout with a creamy mouth feel and focuses on malts with hints of coffee and chocolate.  URL - http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/velvet-merlin-fall-and-winter


Did not make the list

Goose Island – Christmas Ale (7.3% ABV and ?? IBU), is a Brown Ale that I did not like at all, it is better than macro-beer.  I was really expecting a tasty beer from the Goose as I enjoy some of their other offerings and this beer did not meet expectations.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beer Camp #78 – Baltic Joy and Devotion


On Friday, I took the family for some pizza at Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar and for a tapping of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp #78 Baltic Joy (7.4% ABV and 35 IBU).  Baltic Joy is a Baltic Porter and was brewed with almonds and coconuts and I am thinking a good bit of chocolate malt to get a taste reminiscent of the Almond Joy candy bar.  I was amazed at the head retention on this beer and it seemed to never truly go away.  Baltic Joy was very tasty and I could detect chocolate, coffee, and hits of nuts and coconut.  The beer reminded me of Maui Brewing’s Coconut Porter.  This beer is very limited and it was not even listed on the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp site.

I also had a glass of Lost Abbey’s Devotion (6.25% ABV).  Devotion is a Belgian Pale Ale and the Lost Abbey is a noted brewer of Belgian-style beer.  Devotion was a great beer to enjoy with pizza and I liked the tastes of Belgian yeast, bread, sweetness and a touch of citrus bitterness. 

Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar - http://www.parryspizza.com/parrysbar/

St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition

While vacationing and visiting with the family in Arizona over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to slip out and drink a couple of pints at the Handlebar Pub and Grill in Apache Junction. I had stopped by the Handlebar on my last trip to AZ and I thought they had a very good tap list for a smaller place and I noticed that they had added a few extra taps featuring beers from Belgium. There were some from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck (Castle Brewery) and I selected St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition (5% ABV). A Gueuze is a blended sour beer using Lambics of different ages.

Gueuzehttp://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/14 - BeerAdvocate 


Photo from the Barley Blog

Appearance – It took awhile for the bartender to serve it as I am sure he needed to allow the head to reside to provide me with a proper pour. The gueuze was a golden straw color with nice carbonation.
Aroma – I picked up a musty, earthy, grassy aroma with hints of tart citrus and a touch of vinegar.
Taste – I could definitely taste the yeast and a nice bread taste that was quickly followed by tart, sour notes. The sourness was not overwhelming and was more like eating tart fruit and just a touch of wine vinegar.
OverallB – I enjoyed this Gueuze and it was easy to drink. I enjoy sour beers and I would have this one again.

Website description - Golden-blond, unfiltered, unsweetened. An extremely pure beer with a long history. A humble nose with a lot of fruit, dominated by young sour apples. An extremely dry aftertaste, which immediately demands another sip. A delicious thirst-quencher that reminds you of its history with every sip.

St. Louis Fond Tradition Gueuzehttp://www.vanhonsebrouck.be/en/sintlouis-gueuze-fond.html

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lagunitas – Brown Shugga

I had listened to a few podcasts and read a few reviews that had highly recommended Lagunitas – Brown Shugga' (9.9% ABV and 52 IBU) and I had this one on my list to obtain the next time is was available.  Brown Shugga' is a strong ale that is brewed with brown sugar and is released in October of each year.  From reading the website, Brown Shugga' was a “failed” attempt to brew a batch of Olde Gnarlywine and the brewing team added a bunch of brown sugar in an attempt to rescue the batch.  While the rescue failed, the birth of a new beer was realized and it has become a favorite that Lagunitas fans look forward to each year.

American Strong Alehttp://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/78 -BeerAdvocate


Appearance – Deep amber red with very nice carbonation.  There was a two to three finger head that did not recede quickly.  This beer is perfectly clear too.  There are some alcohol legs on the sides of the glass too.
Aroma – Carmel sweetness was the first thing I noticed.  Then I detected citrus fruit – think of zesting a lemon and an orange.  The citrus was not overpowering and very complimentary.
Taste – Unlike anything I have every had and it is excellent.  It tastes just like it smells with a combination of caramel, citrus, a little resin, and some biscuit with a nice dry finish.  A very tasty beer.
Overall – A  Brown Shugga' is a very good beer and is just plan tasty.  Be careful as this one is high in ABV and the alcohol is well-hidden.  A couple of these will do.  This is one to add to your list as it is a unique beer and it is very good.

Website description – "How Come you Taste So Good?? Boatloads of Pure Brown Sugar in Each Batch, That’s How! The Rich, Roasty and Mysteriously Drinkable Ale might best be described as... Irresponsible. It Leaves a Lot of Stories in it’s Wake."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Left Hand - Warrior


Left Hand Brewing Co. is based in Longmont, CO and I visited the tasting room in August.  Warrior (7.6% ABV and 69 IBU) a fresh-hopped IPA was not on the menu yet and this is a seasonal release, just after the hop harvest.  Fresh-hop beers use unprocessed or fresh hops in the brewing process and these are only available in the fall.  Warrior also features locally grown Cascade and Warrior hops and I really enjoy something made with fresh local ingredients.

American IPA http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/418/9182 - BeerAdvocate


Appearance – Perfectly clear and pale gold with a one-finger frothy head.
Aroma –  Caramel and grain from the malts and grass, fruit and citrus from the hops.  Very subtle and nuanced aromas.  I could tell this would not be a “throat-ripper” IPA and would focus more on balance.
Taste – Tastes very similar to smell with good caramel / grain and then fruit, citrus and a touch of grass / herb.  This is an easy drinker and very balanced.
OverallB+  Warrior is a tasty IPA and I really like the use of local ingredients.  Left Hand focuses on taste and balanced beers and Warrior is a very good example of how Left Hand brews beer.  Very approachable, well-balanced, and easy to drink.

Website description – “FULL OF FRESH HOP FLAVORS, this fresh-hopped IPA has become an annual cult classic. Brewed only once a year using fresh whole flower Colorado grown hops flown in from Rising Sun Farms in Paonia by Schwall and Spears Hop Freight Service. A strong malt foundation complements the bright floral hoppiness, allowing for a well-balanced, drinkable IPA.


Ska – Autumnal Mole Stout


Ska is based in Durango, CO and these guys started brewing home brew in high school.  The ended up going into the brewing business and they make some very tasty beers.  When I saw Autumnal Mole Stout (5.5% ABV) and was release at the Autumnal Equinox.  Mole Stout is brewed with peppers, cocoa and spices.

Chili Beerhttp://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/163 - BeerAdvocate


Appearance – Dark with a one-finger dark tan foamy head that receded quickly.  No light would get through this beer.
Aroma – There is a lot going here on the aroma side – peppers / chilies, chocolate, coffee / espresso, and subtle spices (cinnamon / nutmeg).
Taste – Very much like it smells and while there is some hesitation on my part for fear of a high Scoville rating, Mole Stout focuses on pepper / chili flavor and not heat – yes.  Chocolate, coffee, and spice are present too and make for a well-rounded beer.  Stout provides a perfect base for what Ska is doing.
OverallA-  This is one of the best Chili Beers I have had.  It would be excellent to use in cooking and I think it would be a very good combination with Southwest cuisine. 

Commercial description – "The Autumnal Mole Stout is an ale brewed with cocoa nibs, spices and three varieties of chile peppers: Mulato, Ancho and Hatch green chiles, (also known as Anaheim Peppers.)"   Note – There was no description found on the website.


URL – http://www.skabrewing.com/

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Deschutes – Chashin’ Freshies – Fresh Hop IPA


Deschutes is based in Bend, OR and they are one of my favorite brewers.  They brew a number of seasonal brews and a new one this year is Chasin’ Freshies (7.4% ABV and 60 IBU) is a fresh hop IPA.  Fresh or Wet Hop beer is made at hop harvest time and the hops are as fresh as possible when used in the brewing of fresh hop beers.  The term wet hopped is also used because the hops are not dried, and again, are fresh.  The vast majority of hops are dried and palletized for easy storage, shipping and use by the brewer.  Chasin Freshies is brewed with Pilsner malt, flaked oats, Bravo hops and “Fresh Heirloom Cascade Hops”.  This beer is available October to December in most states west of the Mississippi River – I picked up a 22 oz. bomber for $5.99.  Deschutes is slowly expanding east with much anticipation from Deschutes fans.

American IPA - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/116 – BeerAdvocate


Appearance – Perfectly clear and a bright pale yellow with about a two-inch head.  The beer is nicely carbonated producing a steady stream of small bubbles in the glass. 
Aroma – Very subdued malt profile and the emphasis is on the hops.  I noticed citrus, herbal/mint, hint of grass, and a hint of tobacco (? – something else that I could not quite identify – not unpleasant at all – I just could not describe it).  
Taste – Many beers with a hop focus are hammers and slam you with bitterness – this is not bad, when you want one like that.  Chasin’ Freshies is more subtle and delicate.  The malt base provides a great canvas to use the Bravo and Heirloom Cascade hops to show their colors.  There is a nice sweetness and a touch of honey from the malts and citrus (lemon and orange/tangerine/grapefruit) with a touch of grass and herb.
OverallA – The bottle cap states “Bravely Done” and this is a very good fresh hop beer.  I am glad this is not a palate wrecker and showcased a more restrained version of the hops.  This is a great beer to fine and savor.  It will be another add to the “pick up when it is brewed” list of seasonal beers.

Website description – “Like fresh powder, it’s a seize-the-moment thing. At harvest, we rush Goschie Farms' Cascade hops fresh from vine to kettle. Not any Cascades, mind you, but an heirloom strain, from a single field, restored from the original rhizome. Hope you’re as hopped up as we are.“


Monday, October 15, 2012

Sierra Nevada – Beer Camp 2012


Sierra Nevada hosts a Beer Camp each year and the lucky participants work with the brewer to try some recipes and create something new for Sierra Nevada.  Sierra Nevada releases a Best of Beer Camp 12 pack that contains 3 bottles of four different selections.  When I see this offered up each year, I just pick up a twelve pack as the selections are always tasty and there is a good mix of different styles.  This year’s selection included a Pilsner, an Imperial Red Ale, an IPA, and an Oatmeal Stout.  I had tasted Red-Oric, the Imperial Red, at Parry’s earlier this year and I thought it was very good.  The Oatmeal Stout was excellent and my favorite of the selections, followed closely by Red-Oric, the Floral IPA, and finally the Pilsner.  All of these selections are very good and these are only in stores for a limited time – get them while they are still available.

Beer Camp #43 – Imperial Pilsner or Sticke Pilsner (5.7 ABV and 35 IBU)

Beer Camp #45 – Oatmeal Stout or Snowed in Stout (9.4 ABV and 51 IBU)

Beer Camp #53 – Floral IPA or Long-stem IPA (5.6 ABV and 54 IBU)

Beer Camp #65 – Imperial Red Ale or Red-Oric (8.5 ABV and 65 IBU)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saison du BUFF - A Great Collaboration

Take three great brewers - Stone, Dogfish Head and Victory, combine their creative thoughts and come up with a collaboration beer that each brewery brews and you have Saison du BUFF.  Each brewer brews the recipe and I had the opportunity to obtain a bottle from each brewer to try.  Saison is the French word for season and Saisons are also called farmhouse ales and were traditionally brewed for the farm workers.  I very much enjoy a good Saison and they pair well with a wide range of diverse foods.  The other interesting thing about Saison du BUFF is that they are brewed with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.


Saison / Farmhouse Ale - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/129- BeerAdvocate

Victory is based in Downingtown, PA and the Victory Saison du BUFF comes in at 6.8% ABV.  



Dogfish Head is based in Milton, DE and the Dogfish Head Saison du BUFF is also 6.8% ABV.  


Stone is based in San Diego, CA and the Stone Saison du BUFF comes in at 7.7% ABV.  


All of these were very good and were really tasty and it was easy to taste the herbs used in the brewing process.  I would highly recommend that a taster pick up three bottles, one from each brewer, to sample and enjoy.  This was a very good collaboration beer and the brewers came up with a great example of a special beer that is unique and is very good.

Victory - http://victorybeer.com/beers/
Dogfish Head - http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/collaborations/Saison-du-BUFF.htm
Stone - http://www.stonebrew.com/collab/saisondubuff/

Firestone Walker - Parabola

I received an email earlier this week that there would be a special tapping of Firestone Walker Parabola (13% ABV and 60 IBU) at Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar on Sat. and I hopped on the bike for a nice ride to Parry’s, a glass of Parabola and then a nice ride back.  The route to Parry’s is primarily uphill and is just under 7 miles from my route.  I have been looking forward to trying Parabola for some time and it is not an easy beer to find.  If you see it in a store or at a bar, buy it.  Firestone Walker is one of the best brewers in the U.S. and this is one of the highest rated beers in the U.S.

Russian Imperial Stout - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/84 - BeerAdvocate



Picture from Firestone Walker website

Appearance - Black as night - there is no light coming through this beer, there is very little (no) head and there are alcohol legs on the glass.
Aroma - Chocolate, coffee, a bit of oak and malt sweetness.
Taste - First, let this warm up a bit if it is served cold, cup the glass with your hands to warm it up if needed.  This is a sweeter version of a Russian Imperial Stout, but it is not too sweet.  One tastes coffee, chocolate, and hints of oak and vanilla.
Overall - A+ - Wow, Parabola is very good and I enjoyed every sip.  I can understand why this beer is highly regarded.  If you see it in a store or offered on tap, buy it.  Another great beer from Firestone Walker.

Website description - “Parabola has been a major component of past anniversary blends and is one of our most aggressive offerings. This beer features bold bourbon and tobacco aromas and a rich dark chocolate, charred oak flavor. Parabola is best enjoyed in moderation and is a perfect beer to pair with those chocolate dessert favs.

Firestone Walker - http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/parabola

Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar - http://www.parryspizza.com/parrysbar/

Lagunitas - Little Sumpin’ Wild

Lagunitas is based in Temecula, CA and is opening another brewery in the Chicago area.  Lagunitas brews a number of beers and has a robust seasonal schedule, featuring 8 seasonal beers.  I recently obtained a bottle of Little Sumpin’ Wild (8.8% ABV and 72.5 IBU) that is available in July.  A wild yeast in used in the fermentation of Little Sumpin’ Wild that should provide some interesting taste.

Belgian IPA - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/174- BeerAdvocate



Appearance - Orange / Yellow - bordering on a light copper color.  Very good carbonation and a creamy head.
Aroma - Little Sumpin’ Wild is a very aromatic beer and you detect banana and bubble gum from the Belgian yeast and citrus from the hops.
Taste - One first hits the sweetness, then banana and bubble gum, then a finish of citrus bitterness that lingers for some time.
Overall - B+ - A very tasty Belgian IPA and it is another fine example of a very good beer from Lagunitas.  If you like IPAs and Belgian IPAs, this would be one to add to your list to try.  

Website description - “Another Big Sister of the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale.... Lots of Malted Wheat for a Curious Malt Complexity & and Fermented with Our Belgian Yeast strain leaving it Huge in Flavor and Satisfaction.

Lagunitas Beer List - http://www.lagunitas.com/beers/index.html

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Belgium - Red Hoptober

Whenever I see something new from New Belgium I want to try it.  New Belgium brews very good beers and they do not disappoint.  Last year, I picked up and enjoyed Hoptober that is a fall seasonal offering from New Belgium.  This year, the fall seasonal offering is Red Hoptober (6.0% ABV and 60 IBU).  

American Amber / Red Ale - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/128 - BeerAdvocate



Appearance - Dark amber with a khaki two-finger head.
Aroma -Herbal, pine, and citrus (grapefruit / lemon) from the hops and caramel, biscuit, and maybe a touch of chocolate from the hops.
Taste - I was afraid this might be a little sweet, and it is very well balanced.  I picked up caramel and biscuit and then bitterness that is a combination of pine / resin and citrus.  
Overall - B+ - Red Hoptober is a very drinkable and I enjoy this seasonal that is different than many of the seasonal that focus on pumpkins and spices.  I will have this again.

Website description - “Fall is here and with it our seasonal ale, Red Hoptober. Shining like autumn leaves in a globe glass this beer pours a dark and lovely garnet as it builds a bright, inviting head. The Eldorado hops are bold and present with a distinct, piney flavor while the caramel malt and roasted barley provide a backbone to stand Red Hoptober upright. Centennial and Cascade hops offer hints of citrus, tickling the nose, while the tongue carries a subtle, roasty tone that pairs pleasantly with the warming bite of bitter. Red Hoptober is perfect for shortening days and campfire nights.

New Belgium - http://www.newbelgium.com/beer/detail.aspx?id=b061cbb7-2d6d-4489-a655-8cfa40171596

Left Hand Oktoberfest

Left Hand is based in Longmont, CO and I try to sample new beers from them as they are a very good brewer.  Now is the time of year that the weather starts to change and I get in the mood for a nice Oktoberfest-inspired beer.  Oktoberfest (6.6 ABV and 24 IBU) is a marzen style beer that is a tribute to Oktoberfest.  This beer is available for a limited time and you’ll need to obtain some soon as it will be gone from the shelves all too quickly.

Marzen / Oktoberfest - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/29 - BeerAdvocate




Appearance - Copper / Amber (think of a shiny new penny)  that is perfectly clear with a small head.

Aroma -Bread and caramel with a little hint of earthy notes and spice.
Taste - Ahh, this is a nice seasonal beer that should be consumed this time of year.  The focus is on the malt and the focus is on bread and caramel and think of this going with the food of Oktoberfest - roasted pork and oxen, sausage and other goodies from the Fatherland.
Overall - B+ - This is a very tasty American version of the Marzen and I really enjoy it.  I say pick up a 6-pack while it is available.  Very easy to drink and it will go great with Oktoberfest fare.

Website description -
This is no festivus for the restuvus - on the contrary - we start brewing in the Spring and it takes a full two months to reach lagered perfection.Biscuity, malty goodness dominates upfront while the noble pedigree hops lend a properly spicy, dry finish. Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi. Time to roast your chicken and upend your stein before the air gets crisp, the leaves flame and fall and the skies fade to black. Auf geht's!

Left Hand Oktoberfest - http://www.lefthandbrewing.com/beers/oktoberfest

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Two Anniversary IPAs

I had a couple of anniversary IPAs in my fridge and IPAs are best consumed fresh.  I had a Great Divide 18th Anniversary Wood Aged Double India Pale Ale (10% ABV) in the fridge for some time now and it had a bottle on date of March 20.  The Stone 16th Anniversary IPA (10% ABV and 85 IBU) had an August 2012 date and I knew this one was very fresh.  The difference besides age was the wood aged via the use of oak chips and an IPA brewed with lemon verbena and lemon oil.  I did not try these side-by-side as one of these is enough for anyone at 10% ABV, and I wanted to get in a mountain bike ride the next morning.  I enjoyed both of these beers and they are fantastic.  


I had a very fresh version of Great Divide 17th Anniversary last year and the beer was almost too “oaky” for my liking.  With a little age on the 18th Anniversary, I found that the oak had calmed down a bit and from my perspective, this beer tastes better with a little age.  I understand that the hop bitterness and aroma with fall out and the beer will be closer to a barley wine - I am fine with this for 18th and I very much enjoyed it.  



The Stone 16th Anniversary IPA is unique and I have never had anything like it before.  Stone uses Amarillo and Calypso hops with the addition of lemon verbena and lemon oil and you can tasted the ctirusy, lemony focus of this beer.  It is very good and Stone has been producing some very good double / imperial IPAs.  The Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA was fantastic and one of the best of the year.  

Both of these beers were very good and I would drink them again.  I think the a brewery’s anniversary ale should be something special and Stone and Great Divide provide excellent examples of some special with these beers.

Double / Imperial IPA - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/140 - BeerAdvocate
Great Divide - http://greatdivide.com/beer/seasonal/18th-anniversary-wood-aged-double-ipa/
Stone - http://www.stonebrew.com/anniv/ale/

Oskar Blues and Left Hand

A couple of weekend back, Tibor, Dennis, Chris and I journeyed north to Longmont to have lunch at Liquids & Solids and make stops at the Oskar Blues and Left Hand breweries.  Liquids & Solids is the restaurant owned by Oskar Blues and they have a very nice menu of both beer and food.  Oskar Blues also owns a farm and the spent grains from the brewery are feed to animals on the farm, and the animals are processed for meat that is used by the restaurant.  I ordered the Black and Blue Burger with sweet potato fries.  I also enjoyed a couple of Oskar Blues beers that I had not tried before - Velvet Elvis (6.1% ABV), a stout, and Home Skillet (5.6% ABV), a black IPA.  Both of these were very tasty and Chris also had me taste the One Nut Brown and Dennis had a wheat beer.  The food and the beers were very good and I will go back to Liquids & Solids.


We left Liquids & Solids and Tibor (designated driver) drove us to the Oskar Blues tap room called The Tasty Weasel.  We took a brewery tour and there were a few busy people brewing this year’s version of Ten Fidy.  We saw a lot of stainless, grain bags, the hop room, the canning line and a new can 19.2 oz.  The person providing the tour “hinted” that the new can would be coming out in the near future and would probably have Dale’s Pale Ale in it first.  I am thinking they will debut it during GABF - time will tell.  The tour was great and we met some nice people on the tour and in the Tasting Room.


The next stop was the Left Hand Brewing tasting room and we arrived too late for a brewery tour.  I enjoyed a Bard’s Ale (2.5% ABV) and English Mild ESB, and a Chainsaw (9% ABV and 72 IBU) an American Strong Ale.  We also had to have some Nitro Milk Stout (6% ABV and 25 IBU), a Milk / Sweet stout as the brewery was running a special with a complimentary pint glass.



We then made the journey back home and it was an enjoyable day with the guys.  Special thanks to Tibor for being the designated driver and taking the group to Longmont.  If you have the opportunity to tour a small craft brewer I highly recommend it - the people are nice and the beer is tasty.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Belgium - Shift

When New Belgium releases a new product, I add it to my mental list to pick up when I see, and that is just what I did on my last trip to the store.  Shift is available in 4 packs of 16 oz. cans.  New Belgium does not distribute nationwide yet, but they are adding a new brewery in Asheville, NC that I think will be used to further expand their distribution.  

American Pale Lager - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/155 - BeerAdvocate



Appearance - Copper / yellow with a nice white head.
Aroma - Bread, honey, citrus and herbs / floral.  I detect a bit of grass too.  
Taste - A nice blend of honey biscuit and citrus - orange / lemon and just a hint of grass / pine.  The hops are present at a light level and there is a nice balance and clean mouthfeel.
Overall - B+ - Very easy to drink and very refreshing.  This is a beer I would give to the Miller, Bud, Coors drinker to try.  It has really good flavor and would not be too much of stretch for the macro-drinkers.  I really enjoy the bready and honey notes from the malt and the light bitterness from the hops.

Shift description - “New Belgium employee-owners work in shifts to brew to life world-class beers. Those efforts are rewarded daily with a shared end-of-shift beer. We’re passing that welcomed occasion onto consumers in this lightly-hopped Shift Pale Lager. From work to play, from bottle to can, from bold and heavy to refreshing and sessionable; Shift salutes the shift in occasion, package and beer. So, go ahead and get your Shift beer, you’ve earned it!”  http://www.newbelgium.com/beer/detail.aspx?id=fc35795d-8d9d-4f04-9e35-c1c55c2a0018

Deschutes - Chainbreaker

Deschutes is based in Bend, Oregon and is one of my favorite brewers.  If you open my beer fridge, you can bet on finding choices from select brewers and Deschutes is one of them.  I had seen and read advertisement on a new offering from Deschutes called Chainbreaker (5.6 ABV and 55 IBU), a white IPA, in the spring and added it to my mental list of beers to pick up when it made it to Colorado.  I spoke with the local Deschutes representative a couple of months ago and she said that Chainbreaker should be in Colorado in August and I picked some up on my last visit to my local craft beer supplier.  I also appreciate the mountain bike references with the name and label.  Mountain biking is very big in Bend and the name also pays tribute to the Cascade Chainbreaker Mountain Bike Race.  Mountain biking and beer are a perfect combination and a nice Chainbreaker after a mountain bike ride would be very tasty.

Belgian IPA - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/174 - BeerAdvocate



Appearance - Cloudy yellow with a fluffy white head.
Aroma -Belgian yeast - banana / bubblegum, and citrus - orange / tangerine / lemon and perhaps a bit of pine / resin.
Taste - The taste is very good and I would describe Chainbreaker as a more hoppy (bitter) wit beer.  The citrus hops are a very good and complimentary addition that enhance the sweet orange ingredient.   
Overall - B+ - Chainbreaker is an easy to drink beer and I think it is a great beer for the summer.  I think Deschutes does a very good job of adding hops with strong citrus characteristics (Bravo, Citra, Centennial, and Cascade) to Chainbreaker.  I have used all but Bravo in various homebrews and these are excellent hop selections (IMHO).

Chainbreaker description - “Deschutes is taking you into the next beer frontier. Brewed with wheat and pilsner malt; this IPA displays beautiful citrus aromas from Cascade and Citra hops that meld with the esters of Belgian yeast. Think thirst quenching hopped-up wit beer with enough IBUs to warrant the IPA name.”  http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brew/chainbreaker-white-ipa

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Le Merle, Matilda and Pizza

We met up with friends at Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar last Sunday for a couple of pints and some pizza.  I was in the mood for some farmhouse ales and I ordered a couple of Belgian inspired ales.  First up, was North Coast Le Merle (7.9% ABV and 26 IBU) a Saison.  Saison is the French word for “season” and these beers were traditionally brewed in the winter to be consumed in the summer.  

Next up was Goose Island’s Matilda (7% ABV and 32 IBU) a Belgian Strong Pale Ale.  Both of these beers are very good and I would highly recommend either of them.  We had The Five Burroughs Pizza - pepperoni, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, green peppers, black olives, red onions - that paired very well with both beers.  We also had some stuffed mushrooms and fried mozzarella for appetizers.  The food was very good and we had the opportunity to celebrate our friend’s anniversary with some good friends - a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Saison -  BeerAdvocate - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/129
Belgian Strong Pale Ale - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/55 - Beer Advocate

North Coast Brewing Co. - http://www.northcoastbrewing.com
Goose Island - http://www.gooseisland.com

Rockyard Brewery in Castle Rock

Last Saturday, we took Jonathan to the Douglas County Fairgrounds to present his Shooting Sports project to the 4-H judges.  It was lunchtime and I took the family to Rockyard Brewery for lunch.  The menu is excellent and has numerous choice that I would think anyone could find something they liked.  Lori and Jonathan split an order of ribs and Jonathan had a side of Teriyaki wings.  I ordered a Forest Burger with mushrooms, onions and Swiss cheese.  I also ordered the sampler that included the following:

1) Lynx Light Lager (4.1% ABV), a light lager,
2) Double Eagle Ale (5% ABV), an American pale wheat ale,
3) Redhawk Ale (5% ABV), an American amber ale,
4) Lightning Strike Stout (6% ABV) an American stout,
5) Hopyard IPA (6.2% ABV), an IPA,
and two other varieties - one was a saison and I do not remember the other one.



These beers were very tasty and I really enjoyed the saison, the stout, and the IPA.  The food is very good and the beers are tasty.  Lori and Jonathan really like Rockyard Brewery and this is a place that we will visit again.

Rockyard Brewery - http://www.rockyard.com

Double DBA is Awesome

Back at Parry’s for another couple of pints with friends and some great food.  Tibor and I split calzones – he ordered a Buffalo Chicken Calzone and I ordered a Meat Calzone.  I was surprised with the Buffalo Chicken Calzone as I was not sure what to expect; it was excellent.  For beers, Melanie informed me that they just tapped Double Double Barrel Ale from Firestone Walker and I promptly placed an order.  DBA is a very tasty beer on its own and Matt Brynildson, head brewer at Firestone Walker, is at the top of his game.  I think Firestone Walker is the best brewer in the U.S. at this time – period.  Double DBA (12% ABV) is classed as a Barley Wine and is essentially a double strength DBA.  DBA is the flagship beer at Firestone Walker.  Double DBA is excellent and easily one of the best beers I have had the opportunity to sample this year.  DBA has very nice caramel, toffee and oak tastes and is just perfectly balanced with the triad of alcohol, bitterness and sweetness.
Double DBA website description – “DDBA is our flagship beer brewed at double strength.  It is amazingly similar in many respects to our barrel fermented DBA and possesses everything we love about that beer times two.  English caramel malts lend rich toffee character that pairs well with assertive medium toast American oak barrels.”

Firestone Walker - http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/double-dba
Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar - http://www.parryspizza.com/parrysbar/

I also sampled a Sam Adams Old Kentucky-style Ale (7.5% ABV - ??) that is classed as an American Strong Ale.  It is not a bad beer, and is easy to drink.  However, I would suggest not trying it after Double DBA.   Double DBA is a much larger beer and easily overpowers Old Kentucky.  There is very little information that I could find on Old Kentucky Ale and I would like to try it again – first this time.