Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Pilsner and three Stouts

I picked up a few different beers in a couple of mixed 6-packs and I sampled the following one eveneing: 1) Breckenridge Regal Imperial Pilsner (7.7% ABV and 45 IBU), 2) Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout (5.7% ABV and 23 IBU), 3) Green Flash Double Stout (8.8% ABV and 45 IBU), and 4) Bison Brewing Chocolate Stout (5% ABV).  My favorite stout was the Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout - it was excellent and was just an easy drinking flavorful stout.  The Green Flash was a bit hoppier and it was easy to detect the increased bitterness after the Barney Flats.  The Chocolate Stout tasted "weaker" after the Green Flash and while I think it is a good stout, it lacked the flavor profile after the Barney Flats and Green Flash.  The Regal Pilsner was a very good pilsner and had a minty finish that I think is from the hops.  It is part of the small-batch series.  I highly recommend Regal Double Pilsner and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout.

Website description - Regal Double Pilsner - "A double Pilsner with distinct hoppy attributes and a pronounced malty backbone. It is strong in character and steadfast in its resolve to provide maximum drinking pleasure. All hail our Brewmaster and the fruits of his labor, Regal Pilsner!"

Website description - Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout - "Barney Flats is the Boontling name for Hendy Woods State Park, a deep redwood forrest with a tree canopy so thick it can seem like nighttime at high noon.  It is no wonder that Anderson Valley Brewing Company named its deep, rich, dark oatmeal stout after Barney Flats. Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout is full-bodied with a decadent mocha character and smooth mouthfeel balanced by a subtle hop bite. Near and dear to our hearts, Barney Flats was our first gold medal winner in 1990, but recently took bronze at the 2010 World Beer Cup.  Great on its own or as the perfect desert beer. Pair with chocolate and you’ll never have anything else.  As with all of our products, Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout is never sterile filtered nor heat pasteurized."

Website description - Green Flash Double Stout - "Golden naked oats mashed with dark crystal and robust roasted malts create a luscious black brew with satin smooth finish. An old-world style, done the Green Flash way. Big, bold, flavorful and complex."

Website description - Bison Brewing Chocolate Stout - "Bison’s Chocolate Stout is a medium-bodied ale characterized by rich cocoa and roasted malt aromas, charismatic flavors of dark chocolate and espresso, a creamy mouthfeel and smooth, dry finish."

Three from Ballast Point

On a recent trip to Florida, I tried Victory at Sea by Ballast Point Brewery that is based in San Diego.  I have heard good things about the brewery and wanted to try a few more of their offerings.  I picked up a couple of mix 6-packs to try a few different beers and three that I picked up from Ballast Point were: 1) Pale Ale (4.6% ABV and 23 IBU), 2) Calico Amber Ale (5.5% ABV and 45 IBU), 3) Sculpin IPA (7% ABV and 70 IU).  All of these beers were very good and I really liked the Calico Amber Ale the best - it had a great malt background and just the right level of hop bitterness.  I can recommend all of these beers, and for me, the Calico Amber Ale was the best.

Website description - Pale Ale - "There’s no wonder why our Pale Ale is so popular—it is skillfully crafted in the style of the Kolsch beers of Cologne, Germany. We’ve chosen German hops for aroma, and rounded out the recipe with a blend of American and German malts.  While it is very much like a Pilsner, our Pale Ale is fermented at ale temperatures, giving it a subdued fruitiness—a perfect compliment to the crispness of the wheat and maltiness of the Munich malt. If you like a lighter brew but also like the complexity of craft beers, then our Pale Ale is for you."

Website description - Calico Amber Ale - "Inspired by traditional English ESBs, our Calico Amber Ale is as American as it could be. A rich complexity comes from four types of malt—but it’s those distinct American hops that offer a crisp bitterness and unique floral aroma.  To round out our traditional-English-yet-very-American Amber Ale, we use a proprietary yeast to develop a fruity, Madeira-like richness. Try one today, and find out what a gold medal beer tastes like!"
Website description - Sculpin IPA - "The Sculpin is a testament to our humble beginnings as Home Brew Mart. It showcases bright flavors and aromas of apricot, peach, mango & lemon. The lighter body also brings out the crispness of the hops.  This delicious Ballast Point Ale won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup 2010 in the International Pale Ale category. The Sculpin fish has poisonous spikes on it’s fins that can give a strong sting.  Ironically, the meat from a Sculpin is considered some of the tastiest. Something that has a sting but tastes great, sounds like a Ballast Point India Pale Ale."


Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Personally, I do not think there are many better events that one can experience than when sharing time with people you care about.  During my youth, I always enjoyed the family holiday celebrations, dinners and BBQs with friends and family, those after church pitch-in dinners, and times when people got together just to hang out and spend time with each other.  St. Patrick’s Day is a time when we try to do something every year.  This year, Tibor and Nicole had Lori and me, and Dennis over for a traditional Irish dinner.  The menu was an appetizer of oysters on the half shell; the main course was corned beef with steamed baby red potatoes, carrots, and cabbage and deserts were Bailey’s cream pie and Irish whiskey coffee cake.  Pair this dinner with some Irish Stouts and you are in seventh heaven.  

The great thing about Irish Stouts is they are typically lower in alcohol because these are meant to be consumed through an evening or afternoon at the pub and the drinker is not inebriated. Stouts are not “heavy” as I hear people describe them, and in fact, they are typically lower in alcohol.  The primary difference between a stout and light beers is the use of dark malts (and not a large percentage of dark malt) to provide color and the roasty stout flavor. 

Guinness Extra Stout (5% ABV) was first on the list and how could it not?  Guinness is known for it’s Irish Dry Stout and it is very good.

Next up, with the Hama Hama Oysters (from Tony’s Meats) was O’Hara’s Irish Stout (4.3% ABV).  Oysters and stouts are a perfect pairing and I want to provide a shout-out to “Dr. Bill” Sysak for suggesting this pairing on the latest pod cast from New Brew Thursday. 

Nicole made some of the best corned beef I have tasted and see made steamed carrots, baby red potatoes and cabbage to accompany the beef.  Tibor had made fresh mustard that was a perfect match for the corned beef.  We also had Murphy’s Irish Stout (4% ABV), another fine Irish Dry Stout and a favorite of Nicole’s. Tibor also made some black and tans with a base of Harp (5% ABV) a pale lager and Guinness Draught (4% ABV).  I also brought over a couple of cans of Upslope’s Foreign Style Stout (6.9% ABV and 64 IBU).  The desserts were Bailey’s cream pie and Irish whiskey coffee cake.  It was the first time that I had made either of these deserts and they came out great.  Follow the directions and obtain good ingredients and it is hard to go wrong.

It was a fun evening and if you do not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I suggest you make a plan to invite some friends and / or family over next year and celebrate the day.  By the way, don’t wait until next year, there are plenty of opportunities to get with friends and family pick something or make something up and just do it.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Port Brewing – Anniversary Ale

I went to lunch with my friend and martial arts training buddy Roger yesterday at Parry’s Pizzeria & Bar, which is becoming a regular spot for me.  We had a great meat pizza and I ordered the Port Brewing Anniversary Ale (10% ABV and ? IBU).  Port Brewing is based in Carlsbad, CA and they have won numerous awards over the years for their beers.  Scott, the local Sierra Nevada rep was there and I got a chance to talk to him and provide some accolades for Ruthless Rye, Hoptimum and Raiders of the Lost Hops.  I had met Scott at Denver Winter Beer Fest and spoke to him again at Lukas Liquors.  It was good to get a chance to speak with Scott and provide some feedback on the Sierra Nevada beers.

American Double / Imperial IPA - description – -BeerAdvocate

Appearance – Straw / orange with a nice white head – poured in a New Belgium globe glass.
Aroma – Hops and more hops, this is a West Coast IPA and focuses on the contributions from hops – citrus and pine with a touch of lemon and just a hint of caramel malt sweetness.
Taste – Excellent – this is a fantastic Imperial IPA and I am really glad I tried it.  It is a West Coast Hop blaster and you get the citrus, grapefruit, lemon with a tough of sweetness that quickly is overtaken be the bitter finish.  I can taste why Port Brewing has taken home awards over the years.
OverallA – This is excellent and I look forward to trying other offerings from Port Brewing.

Website description –  “A massively hopped strong pale ale brewed to celebrate our anniversary each year. Anniversary Ale is light gold to pale orange in color and offers a potent aroma of fresh pine and citrus with some warming alcohols present.  The taste is a thick, chewy hop presence only barely contained by balancing malts. The finish is pure hop expression with a moderate warming alcohol sensation.”

Upslope – Foreign Style Stout

Upslope is a relatively new brewer based in Boulder and I have sampled a few of their beers.  They only have a few available in cans and offer more selections at the brewery.  Foreign Style Stout (6.9% ABV and 64 IBU) is an export stout and it is available in limited release. 

Foreign / Export Stout – description - – BeerAdvocate

Appearance – This one pours black and no light penetrates through when held up to a light, with a small head that quickly receded.
Aroma – Very nice smell of roast malt and chocolate and I could detect no contribution from hops.
Taste – Very nicely balanced stout and one detects the chocolate through the roast malts.  Very smooth and just a hint of bitterness on the end which is somewhat surprising to me at 64 IBUs. 
Overall – B+ - A very nice stout and my favorite from Upslope to date. 

Website description – “We’ve always wanted to can one of the specialty beers that we brew as a limited release, and finally have built the capacity to do so. Our Foreign Style Stout has been a tap room favorite since it was originally brewed as our first anniversary beer two years ago. With only 200 barrels of this beer being brewed in January and February, it truly deserves its ‘limited release’ status”.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Oskar Blues – Deviant Dale’s

Oskar Blues is based in Lyons, CO and they are one of my favorite brewers.  They were the first craft brewer in Colorado to use cans.  Deviant Dale’s (8% ABV and 85 IBU) is a new IPA offering in 16 oz. cans that just started to be distributed.  Deviant Dale’s took home the Silver medal at the 2011 GABF in the IPA category, which is the largest category at the GABF.  I was very much looking forward to sampling Deviant Dale’s and it was on tap at Parry’s Pizzeria and Pub when the family dined there last weekend.

American Double / Imperial IPA – description –  Beeradvocate

Appearance – A golden, amber / copper color with a nice creamy head
Aroma – It is all about the hops – citrus / grapefruit and dank, pine.  If you have been to a rock concert, then you know what ganja smells like and this beer has this aroma.
Taste – Excellent – there is some caramel sweetness that is quickly surpassed by the hops and the dank pine / citrus / grapefruit / weed take over and stay awhile.
OverallB+ – an excellent hoppy double IPA.  This one has massive hops and it is for the IPA lover.  If you do not like hops / bitter beers, you will probably not like this one.  Conversely, if you are a hop-head, you will like.  I had two of these and with a tap list of 50 beers, it would have been easy to make a different 2nd selection.

Description – “Deviant Dale’s IPA (8% ABV, 85 IBUs) was born at the crossroads, in a juke joint, as if Dale’s Pale Ale sold its soul to balance Deviant’s foreboding aromas of citrus, grapefruit and piney resins with a copper ball-of-fire color and inscrutable finish.  The 2011 GABF Silver Medal Winner (American IPA Category) is the Devil incarnate with untold amounts of hops and hedonistic Columbus dry-hopping.  Oskar Blues’ southern spirit caught a northbound bus to ColoRADo to the delver the boundary bustin’ brewery’s first 16 oz. tallboy can.

URL – Parry’s Pizzeria & Pub -

Full Sail – Imperial Porter

Full Sail is based in Hood River, OR with a second location in Portland, OR.  They make several different styles and have won a number of awards over the years for their various beers.  Imperial Porter (7.5% ABV and 60 IBU) is now retired and a new version that is aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels is the replacement and is part of the 2012 Brewmaster Reserve Line-up.

American Porter – description - - Beeradvocate

Appearance – this one pours very dark brown / black and you cannot see through the glass.  There is a brown two-finger head.
Aroma – One can detect coffee / espresso, chocolate and roasted malt.  I detected little aroma from hops. 
Taste – Essentially, like it smells with chocolate and a light coffee note to the roasted malt with a slight bitterness on the finish that is also dry.
OverallB –  Imperial Porter is not bad, but it is nothing special.  The newer version has a higher ABV and I bet it improves with the barrel aging. 

Description – N/A – this beer is now retired

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Belgium - Dig

New Belgium is a local brewer in Ft. Collins and they make a number of great beers.  They are best known for Fat Tire and when I saw Dig, their new spring offering, I wanted to try it.  Dig (5.6% ABV and 36 IBU) is a Pale Ale.

American Pale Ale (APA) – description - - Beeradvocate

Appearance – Pours gold with a two-finger white head.
Aroma – Lemon, citrus, and tropical fruit, with a hint of evergreen / pine needle and malt sweetness.
Taste – The focus is on the hops and the use of Sorachi Ace and Nelson Sauvin.  One tastes lemon and tropical fruit and then a finish of grassy / spicy / weed notes.  Interesting tasting beer.
Overall – B – At first I was not sure of this beer and the more I tried it, the more I liked it. 

Description – “Unearth your bottle-opener because this Pale Ale is something you can Dig.  Sorachi Ace provides a fresh Spring zing with incredible lemon aroma.  Nelson Sauvin is next in line with bursts of passion fruit, mango and peach.  American favorites, Cascade and Centennial round out this crisp, clean Pale Ale.  Dig in!”

Sierra Nevada – Raiders of the Lost Hops

First, good luck finding this one as it is “keg-only” and not widely distributed – I read on one blog that only 12 places in the US received this beer.  I have a shout-out and thank Roger Schardijn who told me about the new pizza place in Highlands Ranch with 50 beers on tap named Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar (  I saw Sierra Nevada’s Raiders of the Lost Hops (7.6% ABV) and I had to try it.  I have never seen it anywhere and knew this would be one of those times that you either tried it now or missed it.

American Amber / Red Ale – description - - Beer advocate

Appearance – Pours amber / gold with a nice head.
Aroma – Lemon and nice citrus hop aroma. 
Taste – Excellent – Raiders is a hop-forward beer and it is excellent.  The hops are not over top and just paired beautifully with pizza.  This is a really good beer.
Overall – A+ - I really liked this beer and ordered a second one to enjoy with pizza.  It was excellent and I would really like to see this one as one of the regular offerings from Sierra Nevada.

Description – Not Available – the only description I have seen is lemon wood chips were added to the beer and it is part of beer camp and is number 58.

Note – you will not find Raiders of the Lost Hops on the website.

Flying Dog – Road Dog Porter

Flying Dog is based out of Frederick, MD and is probably best known for it’s IPA – Raging Bitch; as well as, their labels that are “Gonzo-style” in tribute to Hunter S. Thompson.  The brewery was originally founded in Aspen, CO and Hunter S. Thompson lived in nearby Woody Creek.  Road Dog (6% ABV) is an American Porter.

American Porter – description - - Beeradvocate

Appearance – Pours brown with red highlights and a two-finger head.
Aroma – Roast / toast from the malts with a very light hop profile.
Taste – Road Dog is porter and it not bad, but nothing stands out about it.  It is not bad, but it is not not great.
Overall – B- / C+ - I would rate this as average – it is not bad, it is not great.

Label description"Blessed by Hunter S. Thompson...Dog Porter was our first beer to be illustrated by Ralph Steadman. This is a dark, rich and malty beer, with hints of chocolate and licorice resulting from the use of four prized malts. We also defended Road Dog’s honor when the Colorado state liquor board tried to ban us from selling it because “Good Beer, No Shit” was on the label. It took 5 years, but we won.

Buffalo Bill’s – Alimony Ale

I have seen a number of advertisements for Buffalo Bill’s in a few beer magazines and I thought I would give it a try.  Buffalo Bill’s is located in Hayward, CA and is widely distributed.  I added Alimony Ale (6.8% ABV and 80 IBU) to a mixed six pack.

American IPA – “The American IPA is a different soul from the reincarnated IPA style.  More flavorful than the withering English IPA, color can range from very pale golden to reddish amber.  Hops are typically American with a big herbal and / or citric character, bitterness is high as well.  Moderate to medium bodied with a balancing malt backbone.”  -

Appearance – Gold with a little amber that poured a two-finger head.
Aroma – Citrus with hints of lemon from the hops and bready notes from the malt.
Taste – You can detect the hops, but they are not as “big” as I expected it to be at 80 IBU.  There is a citrus (lemon / grapefruit) at the end.  Not bad, but not great.
Overall – B- / C+ - I would rate this right on the edge and was not overly impressed with the beer.  It was not a bad beer, but there was nothing special about it.

Website description – Alimony Ale - It’s Irreconcilably Different – Buffalo Bill’s Alimony Ale was originally brewed in 1987 for a customer going through a divorce.  It has gained a reputation as one of the most eccentric brews, from reports in the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek.  No longer one of the bitterest beers in America, just one of the best.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Florida Mancation 2012 Beer List

First, a shout-out and thank you to Tom Reagin for picking up some Cigar City Madura Brown Ale (5.5% ABV and 25 IBU).  This was a really nice brown ale and a great selection to start the weekend festivities once we made it to Naples.  Madura is very easy to drink and would probably go well with a nice cigar like it is named after.  The next day, after a jet boat ride and lunch, we made our way to Total Wine and I picked up a nice selection of brew to sample over the weekend. 

Coronado – Islander IPA (7%ABV) – American IPA
Cigar City – Jai Alai – (7.5% ABV and 70 IBU)) – American IPA
Bell’s – Oberon Ale (5.8% ABV) – American Pale Wheat Ale
Smuttynose – (FinestKind) IPA (6.9% ABV) – American IPA
Ballast Point – Victory at Sea (10% ABV and IBU) – Imperial / Double Porter
Terrapin – Hopsecutioner (7.3% ABV and 78 IBU) – American IPA
Great Divide – Yeti – (9.5% ABV and 75 IBU) – Imperial Stout
Unibroue – La Fin Monde (9.5% ABV and 19 IBU) – Triple-style Golden Ale
Stone – Arrogant Bastard (7.2% ABV) and Classified IBU) – American Strong Ale

Also sampled at some of the restaurants we dined at are as follows:
Harpoon IPA – (5.9% ABV and 42 IBU) – American IPA
Dogfish Head – 90 Minute IPA (9% ABV and 90 IBU) – Imperial / Double IPA
Boston Beer – Sam Adams Alpine Spring (5.5% ABV and 19 IBU) – Kellerbier /Zwickelbier

The favorites of the weekend were the Ballast Point - Victory at Sea and everyone thought this was a really good beer and it is just a fantastic Imperial Porter.  Another favorite of mine was the Cigar City Jai Alai IPA and I would highly recommend trying more beers from Cigar City.  I would be nice if they distributed here in Colorado, maybe in the not-to-distant future, this will come to fruition.  Until that occurs, I will just purchase more from Cigar City when I travel to Florida.