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 - 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 -
Dogfish Head -
Stone -

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 - - 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 -

Parry’s Pizzeria and Bar -

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 - 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 -

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 - - 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 -

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 - - 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 -

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 - - BeerAdvocate
Great Divide -
Stone -

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.