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.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Goose Island Matilda

Belgian-style. When I hear that I think fruit, I think sweeter. It's the yeast, and it seems to be Europe in general. Quick, name an American beer that's on the sweeter side of an accepted style. I can' think of one. Almost all pale ales from the US lean towards the bitter end. Kona's Fire Rock Pale has got a little citrus in it but nowhere near the sweetness of Goose Island's Matilda.

Sweetness isn't a bad thing, I love Belgian and Belgian-style beer. It adds an extra nuance to the taste. Another layer of flavor is a good thing in my mind. As in wine, a complex beer is a good one. I don't want one note wonders, I want something to think about. What's that flavor in there? What's that one? I also want it to last. Matilda has both of those in spades. Not to mention it's pretty to look at. I want one of those glasses. I wish I could have taken my own picture, this one is from their site, but D and I were with some friends and I felt a tad self-conscious whipping out the camera.

Hazy burnt orange, the aroma was near non-existent. There was a bit of spice, maybe some vanilla. Regardless this was not a nose torcher. This is a Belgian Strong Pale so at 8%ABV I was thinking I might catch some alcohol but it was well masked both on the nose and on my tongue.

Great bubbles, not too much, and with a light medium to medium body. There was a bit of sourness, similar to a saison (Dupont or Du BUFF). Lots of sweet tropical fruit and honey with just a touch of bitterness on the back end. I enjoyed this one and with that 8% it warmed me up a bit. Good beer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Big Sky IPA

Sorry about the cruddy picture. I have had this beer several times and I can't seem to do two things. One, take a picture of me actually drinking it, and two, actually drink it from a glass.

I am a little self conscious when it comes to my beer snobbery. When everyone is drinking out of the bottle I feel a little pretentious if I ask for a glass, let alone, bring my own! Anyone else? I mean, my first wine tasting at a friend's house I brought my own glass, was castigated for it, and ever since I'm a little gun shy.

The most recent Big Sky I pulled out was at a birthday party for Rog. He's turning 30, what an old man. I know from experience that this beer pours a slightly coppery hazy color. Pretty typical for an IPA. Not too orangey, not too pale. The bubbles are perfect. Since this is only a single IPA they can tend to be a little too carbonated for me but this is not the case with Big Sky.

If you have read this blog before I do have a little nostalgia with Big Sky Brewery going back to a trip to Yellowstone in the winter. It involved snowmobiling and -39 degree weather(windchill). The first brew I had after coming back was actually Big Sky's Moose Drool, (reviewed here) a brown ale. The love affair begins.

This one has a little pine on the nose but mostly it smells a little sweet. This carries over to the taste as it has some bitterness but ends on a sugary, citrusy note. Very good refreshing IPA. Leaves you wanting another one. One of the reasons I bought a case.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Solid, Solid, Solid. True to style. This is a Deschutes Brewing staple that you can never go wrong bringing to the party(provided you don't mind everyone drinking YOUR beer). Not too bitter, not too crisp. This is what a pale ale should be. A little sweet citrus in the background that keeps things lively and tones down the mild bitterness. Cascade hops are Oregon's finest and they shine here. I've got a case chilling right now.