Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Taking a Little Break

I'm going to be a taking a bit of a break from the blog. D and I have a LOT of new changes in our lives, all of them for the good. If everything works out the way we hope I will be back with a whole new perspective and a lot more to write about. So goodbye for a while but I'll be back!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale

I like reds. I don't love them though. There always seems to be something missing to make them that perfect pour. Too much hop? Should have been an IPA or a Pale Ale. Too much malt? Should have been a Brown. Looking at the BJCP style guidelines and my personal preference a red should have that balance between the two. I've found some good examples: Nectar Ales' Red Nectar, Lagunitas' The Kronik. Yet they all fail in some way to me. I always wish they weren't quite so thin.

That's why I am always excited to try an imperial, or semantically a double red.

Ninkasi is in Eugene, Or and I've had and loved their Tricerahops, an Imperial IPA. Aside from San Diego the Northwest is where it's at for me. Innovation, quality, they've got it in spades. Unfortunately though this one fell down a bit for me.

Maybe it was a case of high expectations. Check out that head, mousse right? I'm thinking this one is going to be silky with some chew to it. There was not much on the nose. I was expecting some caramel, maybe a little toast, and a light hop in the background. There was some citrusy hops but not much else. Tasting drew little more than a sigh of, "it's good."

It's a red. It's done well. It was tasty and I enjoyed it but it was thin. Light toast, not really much caramel, light citrusy hop, low bubbles. It's not what I was hoping for from an imperial. I've yet to find one that blew me away so if anyone has any suggestions?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ballast Point Abandon Ship Smoked Lager Rauchbier

No picture here as I had only a taster, a very small taster at The Haven the other night. I've had other Rauchbier's before. Most notably the quintessential Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock. I'm always blown away by just how deep the smoky, meaty, barbecue taste is in these brews.

Ballast Point's version definitely hits the style nail on the head but doesn't bash you with the hammer. It's a toned down version of the original. It's meaty yes, smoky yes, but without becoming cloying. Part of it has to do with the fact that the body is not as thick. I don't think I would want a full pint but it was good.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

IPA Battle at Bruery Provisions

The wife is gone and I'm feeling a little lonely. I decided to perk myself up with a trip to the Bruery. This is most definitely my new favorite hangout. They have 30 beers on tap to taste and they are always rotating and bringing in new interesting stuff. I'll be doing a full review in the near future as this place deserves MANY accolades.

After perusing the menu I decided on an IPA battle Royale. It was going to be west coast Vs Midwest. Pacific Ocean Vs. Rocky Mountains. Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA Vs. Avery's DuganA.

First off I'm not exactly sure how to pronounce DuganA. is it Duggen..Ay,  DuggenAy or is it, as the server prounced it, DooGahnAh? I think I prefer Duggen..Ay especially since the semi snooty server guy tried to correct me. So, Duggen..Ay it is, and it doesn't really matter HOW you pronounce it because you could call it dirt and it would still taste really really good.

Big Eye IPA on the Left DuganA on the right
DuganA poured a copper orange with loose lacing and not much of a head.

On the nose there was a LOT of barnyard, feet, armpit, Brett smelling. There was more barnyard in this one than other IPA's I've had, like Wild  Devil, that were purposefully inoculated with Brettanomyces. It gave it a depth that I really liked. Musky with some pine of course.

Taste was more barnyard, followed by barnyard dirt, musky, pine. I really enjoyed this beer as there were many layers to peel back. My only complaint was there was a little too much carbonation

The Big Eye also poured a bit darker of a copper color though the lacing was much tighter.

Light and sweet on the nose with some lemon and obligatory pine.

Taste was lemony pine which followed the nose to the T. Not much bubble. All in all a solid IPA.

The win definitely goes to Avery though.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lost Coast 20th Anniversary Imperial Red

Date Night! Danielle and I went to use one of the restaurant.com gift certificates I got her for Christmas. Yes, it's now November and we haven't gotten through them yet.

Slater's 50/50 is in Anaheim Hills and it's a build-your-own-burger joint. It's claim to fame is the 50/50 burger which is 50% ground chuck and 50% ground bacon. I declined that one. My lovely wife is modeling her pure beef with brie, pesto, roasted onions and peppers, on a wheat bun. Mine, ordered rare as they would make it(served medium which was sad) is lost in the lettuce. We definitely were underwhelmed. The Counter and 25 Degrees are far superior in burger making but they don't compare to the tap selection that Slater's has.

 I ordered the Imperial Red from Lost Coast. I'm still not sure if they brought the right beer out because it was really dark and murky. Not that clear bright red that you normally get. Take a look. Small but thick head, little to no aroma which is odd for something that's Imperial. Light hop and really not much malty sweetness to speak of. It was an unremarkable beer. It was a little boring. I'd take the Ninkasi Double Red over this one.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Bruery Provisions - So Many Beers So Little Time

The Bruery recently opened up a tasting room in The Circle in Orange, which, coupled with The Haven, is very dangerous. Case in point, tonight. 7 different beers. Good thing they only serve them in 2 ounce portions.

The great thing about The Bruery Provisions is that not only do they serve their own beer but they bring in friends'(competitors) and they also stock bottles. Lots of bottles. From places and breweries I have only heard about.

The lineup from left to right minus the Ballast Point

1. The Bruery Seven Grain Saison
2. The Bruery Humulus Session
3. The Bruery Loakal Red
4. The Bruery Autumn Maple
5. The Bruery Three French Hens
6. Ballast Point 3 Sheets Barley Wine
7. Ballast Point Dorado DIPA

I started things off with the Saison which poured a very hazy light yellow. It looked thin but that didn't prove out in the taste.
Sniffing brought forth locker room, feet, armpit, pretty much dank, earthy stink.
On the palate was definite grain. I don't know if there was seven different kinds but it had a grittiness too it that wasn't very pleasant. I know and love most locker room type beers but for some reason I felt like I was drinking a sweaty gym sock. D loves her some Saison Dupont and I have been pushing her to branch out. Bad idea with this one, she was not a fan.

Next up was the Humulus Session which was a low alcohol beer designed for the after work man. This was a bit clearer and a bit darker in color than the saison and brought with it a completely different smell profile. Grapefruit through and through with a definite mixed citrus backing. Humulus was hoppy without being overly bitter. I enjoyed it until the back-end took over. There was a highly tannic, drying, grapefruit rind/pith taste that ruined the earlier part of the beer. What was refreshing became off-putting. I couldn't make this a session like its designed.

Stepping out of the lighter colored beers into the newly brewed Loakal Red I was excited because I was hoping to unseat my favorite red Lagunitas' The Kronik. It poured a nice deep red color and smelled of ripe red fruit, apples, and strawberries. There wasn't much bubble in this slightly hopped(for a red) brew. I was a bit disappointed after the nose belied a sweetness that didn't show up on my tongue. I thought it was a beautiful run of the mill red.

Ahhh, Autumn Maple. Now we're talking big aroma, big flavors, pure enjoyment. Wafting up from the taster was maple syrup, orange zest, clove, and spices to be named later. The glass was highly carbed and all of those wonderful aromas expressed themselves on the tongue. This was by far D's favorite as she ordered another one and wouldn't let me touch it.

Three French Hens, aged in French oak and a nice dark mahogany color. Very complex on the nose, dark red roasted fruit, cherries, fig, raisin. Not much of a head on it and first taste was woah bourbon. I'm not sure why because as far as I know it wasn't bourbon barrel aged. This is definitely a sipper at 10%. I liked it quite a bit as it was thick, caramely, figgy. This screamed Christmas beer to me. It was not Oktoberfest like most beers of the "fest" genre but rather stayed true to its name. This one went down slow but I enjoyed it a lot.

The Bruery beers definitely went Autumn Maple, Three French Hens 1,2 for me. The others save for Loakal Red were disappointing.

The Ballast beers were both heavy duty in their own way.

The Three Sheets Barley was deep, dark, and viscous. This was not a balanced hoppy, malty barley. This was a roasted coffee, dark chocolate, raisiny, pruney, soy sauce bomb of flavor. Dark and murky the only down side was it had a slight cocoa powdery taste to it. It wasn't as smooth as dark chocolate which took points off in my mind.

The Double IPA was a sleeper. Not much aroma but was it ever bitter. More grapefruit than pine but definitely a bitter nuclear waste site on my tongue. I'm glad I left this one for last because I don't think there was anything left to taste with after this one went down. This was a one and done.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Port Brewing Wing Wednesday

I never seem to get into any of the shots of our friends because I'm the tourist of the group but here's us minus me at Port Brewing's Pizza Port in San Clemente for their Wing(and cheese stick)Wednesday. 35 cent wings! You can't beat that, and with friends, good beer, and cute babies. It was a great night.

I had Russian River's Blind Pig which, I know this is blasphemy, I liked better than their Pliny the Elder. It had a LOT of pine on it, with a little citrus zest mixed in, but the body was solid and the bubbles were low. It must have been good because I finished it before anyone else had and that's not normal for me. Oh, and I put the picture of the cute baby in because now you HAVE to like this post. I promise, the beer was mine and she had her own bottle....... of milk that is.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Black Velvet

I don't like Guinness. There, I said it. I'm not a fan. There are so many more stouts that I would rather drink. North Coast Old Rasputin, Deschutes Obsidian, Avery Out of Bounds, Deschutes The Abyss, the list goes on and on.

This is the reason that that monstrous looking layered drink was ordered. No, not by me. That puny looking port glass next to it is mine. No, this was ordered by a girl. Yes, I was teased mercilessly for my choice of drink. Yes, it was one of the worst ports I have ever had, but that is beside the point. That aberration of champagne and Guinness is the best thing that has happened to Guinness since the pub was invented. I hope I don't have an angry mob of Irishmen and leprechauns knocking at my door but it's too late now. It's on the internet so it must be true.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Belgium Hoptober

I'm getting tired of New Belgium. Aside from 1554 which, unless they change it like they did with Fat Tire, I will always love, there is just nothing coming out that excites me. I thought, hmm, Oktoberfest? Maybe they'll throw some spice in there. At least the typical fest style. Nope, I was wrong, boring. Clean, done well, but boring. I could knock these back like silver bullets but I'm not in college anymore. I haven't yet tried any of their Lips of Faith series beers and supposedly they are amazing but nothing they've done of late has wowed me. I'm not giving up though. I promise, that my next purchase will be a Lips of Faith Series beer. Please New Belgium, I love your bikecentric attitude but you are losing me with your blah beers. Renew my faith!

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Boo"ery Night at Bootlegger's

Beer and Halloween at Bootlegger's in Fullerton brought out all kinds. No I did not dress up but my lovely wife did. I'm just really really glad she eschews the whole, Halloween is a night for girls to display their whorish side. Here she is without her witch's hat and the Barnes' over her shoulder. We haven't been to Bootlegger's since they left for Germany so it was nice to be back. Justin is high school friends with the owner and head brewer Aaron.

Bootlegger's makes a LOT of different styles of beer and all of them are high quality. The thing I like the most about them is that they are not only true to style but their descriptions are spot on for flavors. If they say that there is chipotle and coffee in their Black Phoenix Stout then you are for sure going to taste it. The only exception I've found so far after tasting ALL of the beers that they have on regular offer and MOST of the beers that they have ever brewed to my knowledge is their current pumpkin ale. I got a little bit of the nutmeg, cinnamon, and normal pie spices in there but there was not much pumpkin to be had. It was still good to be sure but not a hit you over the head pumpkin ale. Here it is to the right in their half pint mason jars. Bootlegger's serves pints, half pints, growlers, and even kegs. They don't skimp on the pours either as you can see. Over the course of the night as we ate our Greek food from the food truck outside, tasted all of the beers on offer, including "the hopinator" which is their Palomino Pale that has been run through a hop back of an undisclosed variety. Citrusy to be sure. The night was great with great friends drinking great beer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

No pic of this one because I was in a VERY crowded bar called The Waterfront in San Diego. It was so crowded it conjured up old college days when the loud music, crushing crowds, and swill beer was a prelude to a good night. Now, I just want to run away. It was even so bad that I committed a cardinal sin. I left half of a good beer still in the glass. I know, I know! I just couldn't take it. D and the Hale's were of the same mind and we ended up going back to the British pub in Little Italy we had frequented earlier.

Sculpin is a cult favorite down in SoCal. It's not brewed all the time and it gets some fanfare when it does. I was excited to see that I would get to try it and I sucked up the noise, jostling, and body odor for a few minutes and sips.

The verdict? Ehh. It was good for sure, but typical IPA fare. It had a decent body for a non DIPA but there was nothing really interesting about it. Pine, some floral aromas. Higher on the IBU's than a typical IPA but nothing groundbreaking. All in all a solid beer but not one I would go back to.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Old Thumper ESB

Good, very good. This is one of those beers that you smell and you can pick out all of the aromas. Bread, malty, yeasty, bread. SO much so that I had D smell it because it was so strong and so different. I've smelled bread before obviously but not like this.

The body on this was thick, low carbonation, and chock full of flavor. ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter and it strikes a perfect balance between sweet and pucker. There was definitely some grain lurking in their but it wasn't grainy, which to me is unrefined. Check out the lacing on that glass.

Sorry about the picture it was dark, we were in San Diego, staying at a Spanish named hotel, in Little Italy, at a British pub, some of us were drinking Irish beer(Guinness), and we were listening to the Beatles(British) sung by Americans(Glee Cast).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

San Diego Mini Vacation

D and I have been looking forward to getting out of town for a LOONG time. It's so nice to get away from the day to day routine and even though it was only a little over an hour away in San Diego it was really nice.

We were invited by our friends the Hale's. They are newly weds like us and share the same wedding date just a month later so this weekend was our 3 month anniversary (1/4 of a year! woohoo!) and their 2 month.

We stayed in a nice hotel called La Pensione in Little Italy. The rooms were small but very clean and everything was literally right outside our door. Like this street market on Sunday. There also was a really cute dog that was in the lobby that somehow I didn't get a picture of. We could have attached a broom handle to his collar and used him as a mop. Our first meeting with "Rosie" involved her pilfering food from the refrigerator.

Dinner was Italian of course. There were several beers that preceded, and followed after the meal. Including Old Thumper ESB and Ballast Point's cult hit Sculpin IPA. I was shown up by a girl too. No, the weirdly layered concoction of Guinness and champagne is not mine. The itty bitty little port is mine. The big one? It's called a Black Velvet and it definitely made the Guinness better. I'm not a fan of Guinness, I know, blasphemy.

We ended the weekend at Hash House A Go-Go. This place is INsane. We all took turns walking around the room looking at everyone's food. Did you see the steak? I think they threw the whole cow on the grill! How is the table holding up the bathtub filled with salad? People, they put an entire branch of rosemary in the dish. Steakhouses use knives to hold their burgers together sometimes, this place used rosemary. We just wish that the taste was as big as the novelty. The food was so-so. Underseasoned, very underseasoned. Nevertheless it was a great two days and it left us with Sunday to relax and veg

Friday, November 5, 2010

Drake's Denogginizer Imperial IPA

This beer was a big surprise. Not for how good it was(coming from Drake's I expect nothing less) but for where it came from.

My brother, he of the fruit beer picked this one out and it was really, and I mean, really good. I thanked T for bringing it by sending him home with some Arrogant Bastard and a home brew stout.

The first thing I noticed about the pour was that it was much darker than most IPA's. Aside from a Cascadian Black this might be the darkest in color IPA I've had. Drake's said they added crystal malt to it so maybe they added a darker malt.

The head was huge and really sticky. It looked like mousse floating on top. The aroma was not overly aggressive but it was definitely heavy on the pine. I also got a whiff of some caramel and sugar so I knew the hops had some serious malt backing.

The first taste left me wanting a larger one and for the bottle to never empty. Aside from Deschutes Hop Henge this vaulted straight to the top of my all time IPA's. The body was thick and creamy with just enough bubble to keep it refreshing and the line between too bitter and too sweet was drawn perfectly down the middle.

This won a silver medal at GABF 2009 but it should have won gold in my eyes. Damn you Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, OR. See you soon though.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Victory Wild Devil RE-Review

I've gotten back into Belgians of late after a detour to the land of IPA's. Yes, I know this is an IPA, but it's very different from your classic IPA. I've reviewed it before here, but this one has been cellaring for 6 months or so and I figured that the time might have mellowed some of the bitterness and brought out some of that sour fruit, funkiness of "Brett."

Yes and yes. Time had definitely brought out the funk. I like this beer a lot more now. Similar to a Belgian IPA which is a little sweeter Wild Devil brings a tinge of sweetness on the backend that makes this one enjoyable.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ommegang Three Philosophers Quad

Fate has decided to keep me on my Belgian kick of late. My brother, who I've been missing brought over this one along with another fabulous beer the other night.

It was a great night too. We ended up at The Haven in the Orange Circle where again, I had some MORE great beers. It also was momentous for the four guys there because it was the first time we had all gone out and all been married. I had to smile at that, it made me happy. My brother, the youngest at the table by years, is also the longest married.

I've thought about buying this in the store about a thousand times and I also serve it at the wine bar I work at but I've never really had the impetus to pick it up.

This was the first beer from Ommegang I've had and I have to say that I was underwhelmed. It was good, nuanced, the kriek(2% cherry ale) came through as did the darker ale but what I really didn't like was that getting down to the last few sips, where the beer shoudl evolve, but in a good way, all I got was alchol. I know this is a quad and is heavy but good beers shouldn't have that burn in my opinion. I expect the burn from my whiskey but not from my beer. Even some beers that I've had at nearly twice the alchol masked the presence well.

I did however enjoy it until the last 3 or four sips.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Avery The Kaiser One Year Later

This is one of my ALL-TIME favorites. The first time I had this it was part of a flight at The Twisted Vine in Fullerton, Ca. It blew me away. This is a lager? I've never had a lager with SO much character. Maybe I haven't had the opportunity but I still see lagers as relatively bland compared to ales.

As soon as I had this though I knew I needed to pick up some bottles. I got three 22's. I drank one that night, one about a week later, and this one, well, I'm not sure how I held onto it for a year but I did.

It was worth the wait. This beer actually turned into a celebration beer as I cracked it and shared it with my friend, his wife, and their new less than a year old addition who had just come back from 18 months in Germany.

This is Oktoberfest as it should be. Malty, bready, sweetness to the extreme. Caramel just oozes from the top and the body is so viscous it just seems to coat your tongue and glass in the best way possible. Lower carbonation just makes it all the more luxurious. This isn't a beer that you could drink a ton of because I think it might get cloying but I definitely did not want my glass to be empty.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Green Flash Le Freak Belgian IPA

D and I met our friends at The Haven the other night. We seem to spend a lot of time there. Maybe because the beer is so good? They took away our chicken wings so it can't be because of the wings. D had her usual Saison Dupont, although I did get her to try a different Saison called Solstice although the brewer's name escapes me right now. I however got to have a beer on tap that I've been looking forward to trying for a long time
Green Flash is a brewer out of San Diego that at first I didn't like. Their West Coast IPA just annihilated my taste buds. SOO bitter. Now though, I've either acclimated to IBU's, they've toned it down, or I had some monstrous mistake of a beer the first time because West Coast is one of my more favorite IPA's when I'm looking for a nuclear hop warhead. Their Imperial IPA is amazingly balanced and don't get me started on their red which is one of my favorites.

Le Freak is a Belgian IPA so I knew i was in for a little bit of a sweeter iteration of the style. The candi sugar they are known for lends to this taste and it is one that I actually enjoy with the bitterness. It tends to tone it down, add a level of complexity, and complements it quite well.

This one didn't let me down, light to medium body, floral, orange, and citrus on the nose. Maybe a little pine for good measure.

This one was definitely not overly bitter and had that sweetness on the backend. Slightly biscuity like a good French champagne as well. I picked up some floral notes as well.

Very enjoyable.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Full Sail Session

This is exactly what the name implies, a beer you can drink a lot of and still remember your name. It's a lager but that doesn't mean it can't have character. I've had a couple lagers that were out of this world(The Kaiser).

This beer is easy going down, slightly sweet finish, good carbonation, and the bottle is just awesome. I feel like I'm holding a beer grenade. Plus, you can play paper, rock, scissors, because they print one of the three under the cap!

Pick up a 6, or two, crack one open with a friend, hopefully you win the game, but if not you still have a great beer.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Avery Salvation Strong Pale Ale

I have never not liked a beer from Avery and the streak continues with Salvation.

This strong pale was noticeably lighter in color than most other pales I've had but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of this beer.

Sweet on the nose with Belgian candi sugar, grapefruit, lemon and some spice, this American version definitely does its Belgian Brethren justice. Even at 9% ABV I couldn't get very much alcohol on first whiff.

Salvation has a decent amount of body and it only get chewier as it warms. It's light on the bubbles but it's just the right amount to not be drowned out in sweetness.

The alcohol also helps to overcome what could have been too sweet but instead is a perfect accompaniment to the slight hops bitterness. Overall a great beer that I think just tops Goose Island's Matilda, definitely outranks Russian River's Damnation, and slaughters North Coast's Pranqster(Golden Ale).  

I will never pass up the chance to drink Avery. I'm REALLY looking forward to opening up a Kaiser that I have been cellaring since last year. It's fall and that means new bottlings!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Abita Turbo Dog

This is the first brew I've had from Abita and I enjoyed it.
This is an English brown ale. 5.6% ABV. It poured really dark for a brown ale but thank goodness there wasn't any toast with that darkness. This is all sweet bready, malty, caramely goodness. Definitely a malt bomb with a teeny hop bitter backend. VERY nice. I'll get some more for sure

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

San Diego Session IPA

San Diego Session IPA. This beer is something I have been looking for. A low alcohol HIGH taste IPA. These two do not go hand in hand, or at least, I have yet to find one that is decent.

I think this is left over from a recent beer fest in San Diego. I had it on tap at The Haven in Orange. I'll be reviewing the place soon so look for that. Anyway, back to the beer.
4.2% alcohol and ALL the taste of a high class IPA. This isn't a pale ale in IPA clothing either. Pine, citrus, and a good bitter back bite. This isn't a knock you off your rocker IPA. It is what it purports to be. SESSIONABLE. Meaning, I can drink more than a few and be pleasantly warm. Not blitzed.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Avery Maharaja Guest Review from Cheegan!

Well I finally succeeded in haranguing the Cheegan, our mostly weekly dinner and a beer partner into writing for me. Hope you enjoy. 

 Hi Brew or Fermented readers! Cheegan here! Long time reader, first time guest writer, and lover of all things fermented.

I’ve been called many names: the Jew, the Vegan, Tofu, and perhaps even more nomenclatures D and T my married friends have chosen not to put on their respective blogs, Cake&Co and BreworFerment. Though, in my most recent press, I believe I’m now and forever affectionately known as “Cheegan.”

Driving along, heading to the house of BreworFerment, electric with the anticipation of doing one of the things I look most forward to during the week.  My foot on the throttle, perhaps a bit heavier than necessary, but hell, I just can’t help myself, what waits at my destination is worth it. But, in accordance with my reputation, I am, and most usually am, running late. A protracted glance at the clock makes my mouth salivate. The Avery Maharaja DIPA lies cold and chilled, patiently pending its fate.  It is dinner and beer tasting night and this IPA is on the chopping block.

Now, you all should know that I may be the luckiest beer loving vegetarian this side of the Mississippi. On one side of the kitchen I’ve got D’s cooking, which can tempt even the most devout vegetarian. I don’t know how she does it, but her food always tastes like home and far away places all at the same time. Don’t even get me started on her cupcakes! On the other side, I’ve got BreworFerment, an inspired and inspiring beer lover. And he is letting me do a guest review on his blog! I hit the friend jackpot.

I arrive at the house and we head to pick up dinner. Most weeks D and T cook, but this week we opt for Mexican take-out. Once we get back to the house, the beer comes out of the fridge and the tasting begins. This beer is part of Avery’s dictator series and boasts intense and mighty flavors, both things I like in an IPA. It is a dark amber beer with a nice creamy head that definitely doesn’t run away too quickly. It’s citrusy with some vanilla at the beginning and nice and bitter at the end.  There was a flavor I couldn’t quite name in between. The flavor was on the tip of my tongue but I couldn’t quite figure it out. It has kind of an alcohol burn. Is it Brandy? Scotch? These are not things I usually taste in an IPA, but then Tyler nailed it. Tannins. It had just a hint of wine right there in the middle. This was a very tasty beer. Not quite as bold a hop monster as it professes, but still a very nice sipping IPA.

I like most of the beers that I taste by Avery. I’m dying to try Avery’s duganA IPA. I hear it’s a hop BEAST. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Big Sky Slow Elk Oatmeal Stout

Sorry about the picture here, this is a seasonal that I have only had once. Big Sky isn't huge out on the West Coast yet so some of their seasonals are hard to find.

This one was real interesting, probably the lightest stout I've ever had. There's some roast on the nose and the color is more of a dark brown ale rather than a stout. The oatmeal lends to a creamy mouthfeel and with light carbonation it's smooth going down. There are some light bittering hops on the back end but the whole thing ends up being a non-event.

Not good, not bad. I usually expect a little something more out of a seasonal. Some kind of wow effect but I think for now I will stick with their IPA and my favorite brown ale ever, Moose Drool.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Lost Abbey Carnevale

Hi-Times Chili Fest. Lots of chili, some beer, and WAY too many people for the venue. It was still fun though. I tried two beers there and would have had more if I hadn't overdid a little too much at Roger Douglas 30th Bday Tamale Fest the day before.

So, the Carnevale. This is a Lost Abbey brew. Their bottles are works of art and always remind me of the wine bottles that our favorite Italian varietal winery Mosby puts out. Very impressive and classy.

Carbevale is a Saison and it is spicy. Most of the saison's you get are going to have some semblance of spice but this one almost had a lingering "hotness" to it. There was some Thanksgiving allspicey flavors in there as well. Really high carbonation too which I'm not really a fan of although in this style it works.

D tried it, she's kind of a saison connoisseur, and she thought it was just OK. Peppery I beleive her comment was. Of course, D's favorite ever is Saison Dupont. It would take a pretty amazing beer to deter her from that. I'd have to put Carnevale in third place all-time for saisons with Saison DuBUFF in second and Dupont carrying home the gold.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Brown Ale +Hi-Times Chili Fest

I like brown ales. I do. I like them when they are meaty and malty with a teensy bit of roast like Moose Drool from Big Sky Brewing. That's why I was looking forward to trying this Brown from Sierra on tap at the Hi-Times Chili Fest. It left me wanting.

It was a little bitter, not malty, and a little thin. It didn't really taste that much different than a darker Coors with a little more weight behind it. I had such high hopes. Too bad

D and I did have a good time, though short because it was hot and there were too many "bros" there. My favorite chili came from a custom butcher that was offering steak bites alongside their chili and D's had beer front and center in the taste profile. Go figure. They both were good though.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Moylander Double IPA

This was the second beer I got to enjoy on my birthday weekend. My wife, amazing as she is, never ceases to amaze me. My weekend started with lots of surprise hints, handmade cards, flowers, and a special birthday meal. Friday was followed by Saturday with more amazing cards, a great healthy birthday lunch, beer at The Twisted Vine in Fullerton, and then new shoes from the Nike outlet. What could be better? She is awesome.

The first beer was the Ten Fidy Stout from Oskar Blues. Henceforth known as Carbonated Soy Sauce. The second beer was bought for me by another patron of the Twisted Vine. The bartender described this IPA as the most bitter beer he has ever had which intrigued both myself and the guy who bought it for us to split. Verdict? Not as bitter as Green Flash's West Coast IPA.

Though this came in a close second to West Coast it was only 90 IBU's. I really enjoyed it. The evolution of the beer as it warmed was interesting as it started our fairly well balanced, though hop forward and progressed to tongue numbing bitter pine.

The aroma was definitely nuclear pine cone. Citrus was nowhere to be found as this beer's mission was to strip taste buds and wreak havoc on any food someone might think about eating afterward. This is an extreme imperial and unlike the Imperials I've been enjoying of late that have been bitter but balanced. This still had the weighty body I like but malt was an afterthought in this one. Moylan's website says that it's there but I don't believe them.

If you want big, bold, and bitter this one is for you. Enjoyable.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout

The first of two beers I drank at lunch on my birthday weekend. My wife set up the best birthday ever with all kinds of surprises and this one was part of it. Lunch was followed by beer for me and sparkling from Alsace for her.

This might be one of the oddest tasting beers I have ever had. This beer is big on everything except for aroma. It's 9.5 ABV, pours ink black, thick and chewy and has flavors coming out of it's aluminum body that I'm not sure that I would ever have thought a beer could have. After drinking only half of a 12 oz I'm not sure I ever WOULD want those flavors in any beer.

This is not a roasty toasty stout with coffee, chocolate, and flint. This is a ripe raisin, jammy, porty, flavor bomb that has a secret ingredient. Soy sauce. No, I'm not kidding. D picked it out right away and after saying it that is ALL I could taste. Raisins soaked in soy sauce. I even joked that it's actually just carbonated soy sauce. I could have poured this on as a condiment.

The funny thing is that I actually kind of liked it. I could never drink more of this than the 6 oz that I did but D thinks it would make a mean beer for a beer batter, or to braise a steak in. I could use half for food and drink the other half but that's it. Chewy and meaty this is a major sipping beer.

More impressive than their Old Chub Scotch Ale this one had a depth of flavor unmatched by most.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Russian River Pliny the Elder

We had a really great time at a 30th Bday party tamale bash.  I have to thank our friends for picking this up for me. They also brought a couple other ones I'll review later. The Bruery Saison de Rue, North Coast Pranqster which I've reviewed before, and a cider that I didn't get to try but it looked good.

Ok so obviously BIG expectations going into this one right? It's ranked pretty high on a lot of lists in general but it's definitely way up there on IPA's to try. Aside from Pliny the Younger I can't think of too many IPA's that get this much hype.

Starting off, BIG fluffy head, very sticky, but I was surprised at the minimal aroma coming off my glass. There was pine of course but it wasn't the nuclear pinecone I was expecting. A little tropical fruit maybe, a little freshcut grass a possibility but the aroma was underwhelming. This was totally opposite from what others have said about PTE.

All in all the flavors were pretty typical of a DIPA. The last few DIPA's I've had have had muted bitterness(I'm starting to think I have developed a tolerance). I love DIPA's for being smooth and PTE was definitely that. Nice thick body, a little oily stickiness, the lacing hung around forever. I really enjoyed this beer I just think that the lead up to it was overblown. Beer Advocate seems to have acolytes devoted to it and don't get them started on Pliny the YOUNGER.

All in all I definitely would not pass up the chance to drink this if it was given to me but I'm not going to go out of my way to find it either. Fantastic beer but it didn't change my life or the way I view beer. The best thing about the entire day though was the company.