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.