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 - - 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!”

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 - - 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.”

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 -
Belgian Strong Pale Ale - - Beer Advocate

North Coast Brewing Co. -
Goose Island -

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 -

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 -
Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar -

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.

Dogfish Head Tap Takeover at Parry’s

A few weeks ago, we met up with friends for a couple of pints at Parry’s during the Dogfish Head tap takeover.  Dogfish Head had 16 taps and it was a very good selection from the Delaware brewer with the slogan of “Off-centered beer for off-centered people”.  I sampled two IPAs that I had not tried before and bother were very good.  First up was Burton Baton (10% ABV and 70 IBU) an Imperial IPA that is a blend of English-style Old Ale and Imperial IPA and then aged in oak tanks for ~ one month.  This is a very tasty beer with oaky notes from the tanks and citrus notes from the hops.  Next up was 120 Minute IPA (18% ABV and 120 IBU) an Imperial IPA that has to be the highest ABV beers I have tried.  I have had 60 Minute and 90 Minute and it is a rare treat to have 120 Minute on tap.  120 minute lives up to the expectations and is one to be savored – it is for the hop lover and with the ABV one is all you need.  I really like Dogfish Head because they push the boundaries with their beers and are constantly trying new things and new ingredients.  They also have very high standards and will dump a batch if the quality is not at their expectations.  Try something for Dogfish Head if you are looking for something different – they make very good “off-centered” beer.
Burton Baton website description – “This oak-aged gentle giant has been gaining popularity over the past few years and is now available year-round.  For Burton Baton, we brew two "threads," or batches, of beer: an English-style old ale and an imperial IPA.  After fementating the beers separately in our stainless tanks, they're transferred and blended together in one of our large oak tanks. Burton Baton sits on the wood for about a month.  When enjoying the Burton Baton, you'll find an awesome blend of the citrus notes from Northwestern hops melding with woody, vanilla notes from the oak. The wood also tends to mellow the 10% ABV of Burton, so tread cautiously!

120 Minute website description – “Too extreme to be called beer? 120 Minute IPA is brewed to a colossal 45-degree plato, boiled for a full two hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month and aged for another month on whole-leaf hops!  Clocking in at 15-20% ABV and 120 IBUs, 120 Minute is by far the biggest IPA ever brewed! It's easy to see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads!  We brew 120 Minute IPA a few times a year, but it goes fast. If you find some grab a few bottles -- some to enjoy and some to age.”

Dogfish Head -
Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar -