Friday, July 30, 2010

Maui Brewing Company Visit

Well, I'm married, and I am so lucky. We've been together for over three years and it continues to get better every day. I mean, not everyone would support someone actively pursuing drinking for research. That sounds like a smokescreen for alcoholism. Yes honey, I'm opening this beer to see what it tastes like and then I'm going to write about it. She's actually the one that encouraged me to start writing. We've been to wine certification classes and hold WSET Certs after being taught by a master sommelier, tasting is a vacation for us, and we plan trips around food, wine, and beer. So, when I told her I was going to take my groomsmen and some family to the Maui Brewpub to drink on the day before our wedding she didn't bat an eye. She was going to the spa to relax with her girls I was going to the brewery to drink and see the machinations behind the beer. Totally normal.
I was excited to go because I had read all about how eco-friendly Maui BrewCo is. Everything is recycled, reclaimed, or reused, from the water, to the sun that powers it, the restaurant's spent vegetable oil is used for bio-diesel, even the spent grain is used to feed local livestock. I was really excited to see this place, my friends were excited to drink beer. These are the friends that managed to put away 5 cases of beer in 4 days. There were 3 of us. Is that a lot? Oh, and I didn't drink much beyond "research" because I had so much wedding stuff going on so call it 2.5 people Vs. 5 cases of beer.

Ok, so I dragged my friends on a 45 minute drive past Lahaina to get there. I was a little dissappointed because the brewery was closed for tours so we could only go to the restaurant. But the beer, oh the beer. Commercially I had only been able to get my hands on 3 different Maui styles. Their ,Coconut Porter(Reviewed), their Big Swell IPA, and their Bikini Blonde but they actually brew well over 11 different styles. I'll be reviewing several of them in the coming days mixed in with others I've been backburnering.

The restaurant was very spartan in decor and was essentially one large room, some TV's, a bar in the corner with the taps, and some fermenters. I wasn't impressed with the restaurant, especially when I've been other places(Deschutes, Rogue, Etc.) that had much more expansive and interesting dining. I could forgive the decor if the food was up to par (I already knew the beer would be) but unfortunately it wasn't either. I got a grilled mahi sandwich that was pitiful. The fish(more like a minnow) was about 1/3 of the size of the bun(and the bun was small) and I had to pay extra for a MEAGER salad. The only high point was the onion rings(The wings were NOT spicy) so aside from the beer Maui BrewCo. was a bit of a disappointment. Anyway here's some more pics from the restaurant. I only wish the actual brewery would have been open. I did pick up a shirt, a pint glass, and a growler of their AMAZING red. That was the highlight of the trip. Oh, and drinking the red that night at our condo with the guys and plowing through all the BBQ leftovers we had from the rehearsal picnic and the ribeyes we had charcoaled the night before

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Karlsberg Dunkel Weizen

This beer traveled a LOOOONG way. Yes I know it's from Germany and that is exactly where it started it's journey, a store, IN Germany. I didn't get it at Total Wine, or BevMo, or any other big box store. This beer was sent to me by our best friends in Germany. We are SO excited they are coming home and seeing their cute new addition who right now I am dubbing, The Drool Machine." Farting noises, sticky drool, and a whirlwind of flailing arms and legs she is the cutest thing.

Oh and a BIG thank you for the beer I was really excited when I saw what was inside the box. Not just one beer but three, two of them surprises that I will review later. They are a bit scary and the Germans laughed when they mentioned them and told me they hadn't tried them yet. Thanks! I think.

Well, sorry guys. This one was a dud. The flavors were muddy and muted. Can you see the huge fluffy head over there? Well I think it expended all of its bubbles right there. Carbonation was flat and there wasn't anything that was going to save this beer. There wasn't even an aroma to speak of. It was actually quite weird now that I'm trying to put words to it. I can't even describe any flavors per se because it all just kind of ran together. Watery comes to mind. Sorry Germans, I wanted to like it, and I loved it for the love that came with it, but Germany failed or the shipping failed on this one. I'll give the nod to shipping because it makes me feel better.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Redhook Long Hammer IPA

I don't have much to say about this one other than it was in the fridge at a 4th of July party where everything else came in a silver can and said "Light." It was ok. Better than the silver can but not great. Though I was a bit biased since I had been drinking a much better IPA earlier in New Belgium's Ranger. Oh well, my taste buds were saved from the silver can so, thank you Redhook!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Russian River Damnation

Damnation. Sounds ominous. Which is exactly what Russian River was going for here. 

With lots of citrus on the nose it was very clean smelling. Fresh, and bright which belies what I would taste later a bit.

Very, very crisp with a lemony twang, some earthiness, malty sweetness, and a little bit of cedar, this Belgian strong pale ale clocked in at 8% ABV and it definitely lives up to it's namesake. I've had brews that were much higher than 8% that hid the alcohol well. When I drink a beer I'm not drinking it for the alcohol taste. Unfortunately Damnation was not balanced well enough for me. There was definitely that warm alcohol burn throughout this beer and the aggressive carbonation only added to a beer that I thought was already a tad too acidic.

This is not one I would order again

Monday, July 26, 2010

US Vs Belgium...Battle Tripel

In this heavyweight matchup between the reigning world champ Belgium and the spunky underdog US it's BATTLE TRIPEL. 

The contestants?
Fighting with the Belgian flag on its shoulders it's Brouwerij Bosteels with their Tripel Karmeliet!
Fighting for the red, white, and blue it's Tradewinds Tripel from The Bruery!
The US is in the far left corner while the Belgians occupy the spot right next to them.

To be fair the US has a bit of a handicap with Bosteels being in existence for WELL over 200 years.
The Bruery clocks in at somewhere around well, a LOT less than that. 

The US is playing dirty and messing with tradition since their Tripel is not totally to style. They have replaced the candi sugar used by the Belgians with rice. They also have a healthy dose of Thai basil thrown in the mix.

Belgium uses the classic yeast as well as their proprietary mix of the 3 grains wheat, oats, and barley. Tripel having dual meanings in this case with 3 grains and an ABV of 8.4 which is near the classic Westmalle Tripel that started it all.

The US came out swinging with a sweet and a bit spicy aroma of Thai basil. First sip? CRISP. Lots of carbonation and a tad sweeter than any Belgian style beer I've ever had. I didn't really taste the basil much just a mild spiciness but ouch that alcohol kicks in. This was just an ok tripel. The body was thin for me and The Bruery actually writes on their site that they used the rice to lighten the body. Overall it was just ok.

Next up is Belgium. On the nose there is a distinct vanilla sweetness but not too overpowering. Very clean, very nice. First sip? This blows the US out of the water. Not as sweet, a nice thick body from the grains, a little citrus, and not too much carbonation. This is smooth. A classic it is. The US had no chance.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Belgium Ranger IPA

I kept getting told how great the Ranger was from New Belgium and I kept putting off until just recently 4th of July weekend. I haven't been impressed with a lot of New Belgium stuff since they started mass producing Fat Tire. The only slam dunk is their 1554 that I reviewed. Love it.

That being said this is a decent IPA. A very boilerplate IPA. A very serviceable IPA. Nothing over the top but definitely enjoyable.

This one isn't floral. Mostly pine with a decent bitterness. A little lemon citrus in the backend and it sticks with you. Good finish. Definitely worth a sixer since it is cheaper than most "craft" IPA's. Can't really call New Belgium craft anymore in my opinion except for their experimental stuff.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm Back and I'm Married!

I haven't been logging any new posts lately because I have been in Maui getting married! D's parents live there and we had our ceremony in the most beautiful place in upcountry. Haiku, Maui is the perfect blend of Maui. Coastal mist, ocean views, and a Northern California vibe it is definitely a hippy town and D and I feel really at home there. We are not beach people so being as far away from the water was ideal.

The wedding was beautiful as I new it would be since D worked so hard on every detail. I tried my best to help in any way I could. I don't think I could be called an absentee groom! The food was SOOOO good and of course the wine and beer were as well. True to form that was the most important thing to both of us. We planned our photos so they were done as soon as possible so we could have fun, talk story with our family, and of course, EAT AND DRINK!. Here's a few pics from the ceremony.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Flying Dog Double Dog Pale Ale

The labels for Flying Dog are always interesting, but this one as little bro put it was a little disturbing.

What looks to be a baby in a diaper with a rabid chihuahua head eating two beers graces the front of what I would call an imperial IPA rather than a double pale.

This is definitely one of those ones that could be very dangerous if you don't read the label.

This is an imperial because it's 11.5 ABV. Little bro had no idea beer could be that high. I told him about BrewDog. Crazy Scottish people. I love their IPA's Punk, Harcore, not so crazy about Bashah.

This poured a nice burnt orange certified IPA color.
Nuclear Pinecone aroma with a tinge of citrus, and some caramel surprisingly.

First sip, BITTER. The label says that balance was their goal since they threw a bunch of malt at this one. Hence, the 11.5 ABV but this was not balanced on first sip. It says it's only 85 IBU but woo boy bitter. Good, bitter.

After bitter? Alcohol, the 11.5 definitely says hello to your palate with that little tingle of heat.

Like any good imperial though there was big body and low bubbles and as it warmed up the balance came into play with the malt opening up and a sweetness on the back end of a LONG finish completing a satisfying beer.

Yeah, I know the price is 2.99$ Expensive because it came from a mom and pop shop literally a block from my house. I go there when I am too lazy to drive over to BevMo or Total Wine. This was one of those times.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oskar Blues Old Chub Scottish Ale

A semi recent phenomenon in the beer aisle has been showing up even in the big box chain stores. Even New Belgium(Fat Tire) is getting into the act. Cans. Yes, cans.

Why cans instead of bottles? Lots of reasons.
They don't break
No more light funkification
Quicker chill, aluminum is a better thermal conductor

I'm not a convert. It's weird. It feels weird opening a "good" beer out of a can. When I pour it I feel like I'm pouring a can of Coke. It doesn't pour smoothly like a bottle. Plus any of my friend who are either drunk, not paying attention, or both might actually grab my can of "good" beer thinking it was Miller Light. Bad. Very Bad.

This was my first experience with Oskar Blues and I had high expectations. I love Scottish Ale. Smoky, peaty, malty. Kinda like a good Scotch with bubbles without the alcohol burn and the 75$ price tag on a bottle.

First sip I was not impressed. It was really grainy, and I don't mean that it just tasted OF grain. It was not smooth, like there was actual grain still in it. What was weird is that it went away when it warmed up. Anybody got an explanation?

Thank goodness this got better. The aroma was not overpowering with malt, some raisins, grain, smoke, and what little bro described as musk

This became a slightly better than average Sottish Ale when it warmed. Very earthy, more raisiny sweet than some others I've had. The smoke and peat was there and I liked it but I wouldn't pay the over-the-top price for this one again.

I'll stick with my Sam Adams Scotch Ale.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Green Flash RE-Review West Coast IPA

No picture on this one but I wanted to reclassify this one. I tried this a LONG time ago at The Haven and I hated it. Total hop bomb, nuclear pinecone, tastebud destroyer. Well, either my tastebuds are still recovering, my palate has changed, or Green Flash changed their formula(doubtful) because this second try was really good.

Yes, it's STILL a nuclear pinecone but this one just seemed a bit more balanced then the last time. It's still one of the more beautiful pours I've had, hazy copper, nice head, second only to Hop Henge(I'm obsessed).

I'm glad I gave this one another shot. I am officially a Green Flash convert with their Hop Head Red, and Imperial IPA giving me enough pause to brave the flashburn my tongue received the first time. Next up, Green Flash Le Freak a Belgian IPA.