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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great Divide Hercules Double IPA

Now this is my beer style!

Call me crazy, but I like a good IPA. I like it when it's so hoppy it burns bitterness into your palate and ruins any other taste for the rest of the day. I like it so hoppy that nobody else likes it except me!

Great Divide Brewing Company, out of Denver, Colorado, has hit the hoppy nail on the head with Hercules Double IPA - a beer "not for the faint of heart. It is, however, fit for the gods."

This 85 IBU ale pours a slightly hazy amber color with a sticky whitish head. I was trying to figure out what the haze was when I noticed in the light I could see a bunch of little floaties in my glass. I tried to get a picture of these whatevers but couldn't. It wasn't a big deal but I have no explanation for what they were.

The aroma was a nice hoppy blast with a slight malty musk. Definitely dominated by hops. The mouthfeel was pretty thick with a good amount of carbonation, not one to chug in other words. The taste meets my flavor for this style of beer - so hoppy that it's sweet. They, of course, boost up the malt backbone (in this case, a candy-like toffee flavor) to balance with the hop forward bitterness. The bitterness was pretty intense and sticky, coating your mouth with a dry resiny feeling. My favorite feeling!

One other note, at 10% ABV this beer is pretty intense. I had a bottle labeled "bottled 1-14-10" so it was over 7 months old. This contributed to the candy-like taste I experienced and not terribly cloying. I would also suggest sharing with a friend, I got through this 22 oz. bottle alone. If you don't have a friend, show someone that you have this bottle of beer and you want to share. You'll make friends quick!

The Bottom Line: If you enjoy huge IPAs like I do, try GD Hercules Double IPA. I enjoyed every sip, and this is a sipping beer for sure! Share with a friend if you can!

ABV 10%
IBU 85

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Real Ale Devil's Backbone

Today's update gives some love to South Texas with the Real Ale Brewing Company's Devil's Backbone Belgian-style Tripel. I drank this abbey ale recently at home after sitting on it since June of this year. I traveled to Blanco, Texas to join Real Ale in their 14th Anniversary celebration. My profile picture on Blogspot is a picture of me enjoying their 14th Anniversary Ale, very good stuff if you can get it. They only offered it on draft (don't even know if there is any left).

My dad bought a six-pack of this Belgian-style ale and I've had a couple in my fridge since then, waiting for the day when I'd crack one open to enjoy. I did just that this week.

First, a little history of Real Ale: They started their brewery in Blanco, Texas in 1996 in the basement of an antiques shop. They offered three original recipes which are still available today (Brewhouse Brown Ale, Full Moon Pale Rye Ale, and Rio Blanco Pale Ale). After changing owners in 1998, RABC continued to increase production until moving to it's current location (built from the ground up on empty land) in 2006. They are available all over the Lone Star State and all their brews are worth a try (even though I have yet to try Lost Gold IPA or Empire which are available only on draft).

Devil's Backbone pours golden and clear with a moderate bubbly head which dissapated fairly quickly. The aroma is spicy and slightly hoppy and reminded me of any number of Belgian ales I've tried, good stuff! The taste was dry with more spice (coriander?), spicy hops, and some slight citrus undertones. For those of you who haven't tried Belgian-style ales, I would compare it to drinking a dry white wine. It's a fairly high ABV, but still drinkable. I only had one, and I wouldn't drink too much of this stuff without a designated driver!

Real Ale's Beer Styles page for descriptions of Devil's Backbone and other offerings. Buy more Real Ale!

The Bottom Line: What can I say? Support Texas breweries and buy Real Ale! Devil's Backbone is their spring seasonal but it still available in San Antonio. 2010 was the first year they offered this in bottles and I will certainly continue to drink it in limited quantities while I can. I would pair it with other strong flavors, maybe fish or aromatic cheese.

ABV 8.1%
IBU 36
OG 18 Plato

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dogfish Head Festina Pêche

Number two of the seasonal offerings that I tried this week was Dogfish Head Festina Pêche, a tart peach beer released as a summer seasonal by the brewery in Milton, Delaware.

I read about this beer after I drank it and the idea and history of the style is very interesting. Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, posts a Quick Sip Clip on the website for Festina Pêche and describes the taste.

The site states the style is neo-Berliner Weisse (Berliner Weiße) which is a sour, wheat, low ABV, regional beer from Northern Germany dating back to the 16th century. At one time there were over 700 breweries in Germany producing this style and it was the most popular alcoholic drink in Berlin. Now the style is almost extinct, only two breweries produce a single brand in Germany, but there are several Canadian and American breweries that produce the style and use the name.

Festina Pêche pours into the glass a cloudy straw-yellow color, not golden like most beers, which is the first oddity. It had almost no head from the pour and just a few tiny bubbles while drinking it. The aroma was mild peach and mild alcohol, even though this beer sits at only 4.5% ABV, and maybe a mild sourness. The flavor was tart though not overly so, mild sourness I would say. It had a mild peach flavor with no malt or hops that I could detect. The sourness reminded me of Granny Smith apples and the body was pretty light. It was cool and refreshing and like nothing I've had before.

Dogfish Head sells Festina Pêche during the summer months in 4 packs and on draft where you can find it. I didn't find this in South Texas, I actually bought it in Arizona and brought it home, but maybe next summer we can find some here!

The Bottom Line: The word I would use to describe this beer would be "mild" more than anything. Mild tartness, mild carbonation, mild aroma, mild peach flavor, mild body... all around a mild style! It makes me want to travel to Berlin and find a true Berliner Weisse that I could order flavored with himbeersirup or waldmeistersirup!

ABV 4.5%
Original Release 06/2007

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sierra Nevada Glissade

I tried a couple more seasonal offerings this week and wanted to share them with you guys. Sierra Nevada Glissade Golden Bock was the first one that I tried. It is a spring seasonal so it might be hard to find now, I happened to buy a single bottle of it awhile back with the intend of putting it on here.

The name Glissade comes from the act of voluntarily descending from a mountainside by sitting, crouching, or standing. I get the imagery, descending from winter's snowy peaks to a refreshing springtime. This refreshing springtime lager meets expectations in this manner.

Glissade pours very clear and golden with a slight white head. It smells of a traditional German lager, moderate hops with a slight "funk" that reminds me of Paulaner or Spaten lager. It's brewed in the Maibock/Helles style (BJCP description) which leaves a clear, crisp, and clean tasting brew. The flavor is slightly malty and slightly hoppy, a great balance. It's one to drink cold, as it gets warm more undesirable flavors may come to the surface and make it harder to swallow (literally).

Go check out Sierra Nevada's website for a quick summary of this beer.

The Bottom Line: Glissade wouldn't necessarily top my list as my favorite beer ever, but it is a good example of a maibock that's relatively easy to drink and refreshing. I would pick up a six-pack around the end of winter to help my "glissade" into spring!

ABV 6.4%
OG 15.5 Plato
FG 3.2 Plato
IBU 42
Malt Two-row Pale, Europils, Munich & Crystal
Bittering Hops German Magnum, German Perle
Finishing Hops German Spalter, Slovenian Aurora, Styrian

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Juniper Pale Ale and New World Porter

Yum yum, two delicious ales that I'll review for you guys today in a quick post. I tried these both last week after choosing them based on their unusual nature.

Juniper Pale Ale by Rogue Ales in Newport, OR was the first brew I tried. It's a pretty standard pale ale with the addition of an unusual ingredient, juniper berries. It pours golden-colored (their website states "saffron" in color) and has a fluffy white head. The nose was a pretty strong hoppy floral aroma, similar to many US pale ales that I have tried.

Flavor wise this also was a pretty standard pale ale. It was balanced toward the hop side with a little something... extra... If the bottle hadn't declared this extra character as juniper berries I wouldn't have been able to guess. It was a pleasant spice following each sip that I probably would have identified as a type of bittering hop if I hadn't known.

It was an enjoyable drink, probably not my favorite ever, but worth a try. Rogue recommends drinking this to accompany a turkey dinner or hot & spicy food. They dedicated this ale "to the turkey in each of us" and brewed it to commemorate the Thanksgiving bird.

Interesting fact: Did you know Benjamin Franklin wanted to name the turkey as the official bird of the new nation? The bald eagle was chosen instead!

Avery Brewing Company's New World Porter is a seasonal offering from Boulder, CO. They offer it January through April in 12 oz. 6 packs. Even though it was August I was still able to easily find this ale and buy a single bottle to try.

It pours like any standard porter, black and thick with a light tan head. The reason this porter is a bit unusual strikes you right as you pour. They dry-hopped this ale to give it a nice big hop aroma and flavor. It immediately hits you as the liquid hits the glass, liquid pine trees with a slight background of maltiness.

The flavor reminds me of an robust IPA with a thick-body. It's similar to a new style known as Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) or Black IPA that it starting to become popular in craft brewing. The hop-forward flavor is accompanied by traditional porter flavors, chocolate, caramel, and other dark malts. It is a good combination of styles and certainly worth drinking. I enjoy the combination of flavors and aromas that are a little non-traditional. As long as you enjoy it, who cares about BJCP, right?

The Bottom Line: Both ales I tried are something a little out of the ordinary and both are created outside their styles. I like to pick up bottles that are unique. A lot of breweries are breaking outside the normal bounds of style and creating enjoyable beverages like these two. This is the new American craft brew movement, inventing new styles and techniques. It's up to us to continue to encourage these breweries to continue! If you get a chance, buy some of these brews!

Juniper Pale Ale:
Malts: Northwest Harrington, Crystal, Triumph, Maier Munich & C-15
Hops: Styrian Golding & Amarillo.
Specialty: Juniper berries.
Yeast & Water: Rogue's Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.
34 IBU
77 AA
3º Lovibond

New World Porter:
Hop Variety: Columbus, Fuggles
Malt Variety: Two-row Barley, Munich 10L, Chocolate, Black, Caramel 120L
OG: 1.065  
ABV: 6.7%  
IBUs: 45

Friday, August 20, 2010

One Beer

Tiny Toons was a cartoon aired from 1990-1992 with specials in '94 and '95. It was a Loony Toons spinoff with new young characters representative of the original Loony Toons creations. Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck, Hampton J. Pig, and Montana Max kept me entertained when I was 9-10 years old as they probably did for many of you.

This is the third segment of the third episode of the second season aired Sept. 18, 1991. It's called "One Beer" and shows what happens when Buster, Plucky, and Ham decide to split one brew. It was later banned because it shows "drug-related" content. It's hilarious!

My favorite parts:

Buster (about to take his first drink of beer): Ahhhh, Nectar of the hops!

Babs (after smelling Ham's breath): Barf-a-rama! They've been drinking!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Overdue Reviews!

I'm going to use this update to catch up on some past tastings that I haven't had a chance to write about. Some of these I tasted over a month ago so my impressions aren't as fresh. But at least you have cool beer pictures to look at!

The picture above is a homebrew that my friends Nick, Ramsey, and I brewed. It was an all-grain IPA and it met my expectations perfectly. Nick named it "Copper-Top IPA" since all three of us are redheads. This matches perfectly with my "Redhead Wit" that the three of us also brewed months earlier. As a matter of fact, Nick, when we open a brewery we can keep all the beer names redhead themed!

For those of you who don't homebrew, it is a great hobby for anybody who enjoys beer or the process of making beer. It's a fun excuse to get together with friends, drink beer, talk beer, smell beer, eat great food, be a scientist, a chef, and a historian all in one day. While brewing this beer we had the recipe, Nick's recipe, and Nick asked us if we wanted to add anything. He happened to have some hops in his fridge so we decided on a whim to throw in an extra ounce of bittering hops. That's homebrewing!

Nick also used 5 ounces of Cascade hops to dry hop and the great aroma compliments the intense bitterness of this brew. However, this did cause quite a bit of cloudiness in the finished product. Nick filled these bottles with a BeerGun counter-pressure bottle filler. This device allows you to fill bottles from an already carbonated keg. I rocked the bottles back and forth a couple times and they poured fine, carbonation level was good with a white, sticky, hoppy head.

The taste was, like I said above, perfectly matched to my expectations. It had a great citrusy hop aroma and a blasting hop bitterness. Mouthfeel was perfect as well, I already mentioned carbonation and the body was just thick enough to make this beer significant. I will post the recipe at the very bottom of this page. If anyone has questions about this beer or homebrewing in general feel free to contact me via email or in these or Facebook's comments.

ABV 6.8%
OG 1.062
FG 1.010
IBU ???

Shiner Oktoberfest is a new seasonal offering from Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. Starting in 2005, Shiner Brewery started releasing yearly offerings to commemorate their 100th anniversary. 2005, and Shiner Oktoberfest's original incarnation, was Shiner 96. This is the second re-release of one of their anniversary beers, the first being Shiner 97 re-released as Shiner Bohemian Black Lager. Shiner Oktoberfest is a seasonal offering, so buy it now while you can!

This brew is a very drinkable example of the Oktoberfest style. It pours that great amber color with a lingering light-colored head. The aroma smelled like a malty German brew, in my opinion, and is also indicative of the style. The flavor was smooth and malty with a little bit of a dry finish with very low bitterness. This brew is very easy to get through (or get through a six-pack if you fancy) and it certainly refreshing after a long day.

ABV 5.7 %
OG 13° Plato
IBU 18
Color 12 SRM
Brewed with Munich and caramel malts, German-grown Tradition Hallertau and Hersbrucker hops.

North Coast Old Stock Ale (2010 vintage) was my wife's choice to try that night. I cooked huge steaks for the two of us, poured myself an Old Stock, poured my wife a glass of red wine, and relaxed.

The website for this beer declares that "like a fine port, Old Stock Ale is intended to be laid down. With an original gravity of over 1.100 and a generous hopping rate, Old Stock Ale is well-designed to round-out and mellow with age." I would agree, but don't let this hold you back from trying this excellent beer. Luckily, I bought another at the same time so it is now cellaring until next year (or maybe later) and I'll review it again.

It pours thick and mahogany with little to no head. It was in my taster glass and I could immediately catch the aroma of alcohol, one disadvantage of drinking a strong beer while young, and malty sweetness. The flavor was that of alcohol (again) and dark fruits like dark figs or prunes. Old Stock has very rich flavors so don't expect to drink it quickly. It has 11.7% ABV and a thick chewy body. It's harsh, but if you let it warm you can enjoy all the complexity of this brew. Drink slowly or better yet stick this beer in a cellar and forget about it!

ABV 11.7% (2010)
Style Old Ale
IBU 36

Unfortunately, these last two brews are the ones I tasted the longest time ago. I can't remember too many specifics about my experience but I did jot down a couple of notes at the time on a post-it note. These are my scribbled notes, verbatim:

Broken Halo:
citrusy aroma
grapefruit flavor

grassy aroma
spicy bitterness
harsher taste

I do remember that I enjoyed both beers. Widmer Brothers brew Broken Halo IPA and Lagunitas brews their flagship IPA. Widmer recommends drinking Broken Halo with spicy hot foods like mexican or asian dishes or hot wings. Lagunitas (Say "LAH-GOO-KNEE-TUSS") has a short video on the website with a quick note on aroma and flavor of their IPA. I do remember the Broken Halo being more crisp and citrusy and the Lagunitas being a little more earthy and harsh.

Lagunitas IPA:
ABV 5.7%
Brewed with (according to their website, don't blame me for this stat) 43 different types of hops and 65 types of malt

Broken Halo IPA:
ABV 6.0%
IBU 45
OG 14.25° PLATO
Malts Pale, Caramel 10L & 20L, Carapils
Hops Alchemy, Cascade, Zeus

Thanks for reading!

All-Grain recipe for Copper-Top IPA:

American 2-row 12.0 lbs
Crystal 40L 1.0 lb
Vienna 0.5 lb

Pacific Jade 1 oz 60 min
Centennial 1 oz 45 min
Chinook 1 oz 30 min
Cascade 0.5 oz 20 min
Cascade 0.5 oz 10 min
Cascade 0.5 oz 3 min

White Labs WLP060 American Ale

Dry Hopped with 5 oz Cascade

OG 1.062
FG 1.010

5.5 gallon post-boil volume

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Arizona Tasting - Sonoran Cordillera Blanca

This week I've been working in and around Phoenix, AZ. The heat is brutal! In South Texas the humidity is what kills you, like living in a sauna. In Phoenix, it's like living in an oven (and I think my rental car technically qualifies as an oven at this point). Whoever says "it's a dry heat" is insane, it's still pretty bad! The temperature in my car was 129 degrees today when it was only 111 outside.

So needless to say, I needed a cold beer with a greasy pub dinner. I found a place in Tempe called Boulders on Broadway (530 W Broadway Road, Tempe, AZ 85282). As soon as I walked in the place I knew UrbanSpoon steered me right, they have something like 25 beers on tap including DogFish Head, Sierra Nevada, Rock Art, Sam Adams, Pyramid, Rogue, and many more! The only hard part was choosing which one I wanted.

So I decided on Rock Art Brewery's IPA. As you may recall, I drank and reviewed Rock Art's Vermontster a couple weeks ago. At that time Renee Nadeau, co-founder of the brewery, informed me that Rock Art brews were also distributed in Arizona. I saw a Kokopelli on the highway in Phoenix the other day so I figured it was appropriate.

Paul the bartender (hey, that's my name!) gave me a bottle of vinegar with my fish & chips and we had a nice conversation with a couple sitting at the bar. When I ordered the IPA he said "so you like good beers, huh?" I gave Paul the bartender the URL to this blog after talking about mead for awhile, so maybe I'll have another visitor reading this. Thanks for the beer Paul! Go visit this link for my previous post on Joe's Ancient Orange Mead.

Rock Art IPA was excellent! I love hoppy beers to the point that I've almost ruined my bitter palate. I am always chasing the next super hoppy example. This beer was a great balance between bitterness and flavor. It was a perfect compliment to my pub food, and it wasn't too bitter to be enjoyable. It's not a chugging beer, but it's also not too hard to get to the bottom of the glass. Recommended for sure!

The other beer I got to try tonight was an Arizona brew. I saw it in the store and picked it up on a whim without knowing anything about it except the name and that it's brewed in Scottsdale.

Sonora Brewing Company makes Cordillera Blanca White Chocolate Ale. I know, I know, I already reviewed a pale-colored chocolate ale. But, just like Theobroma, I expected this to be a brown or black color upon pouring. As you can see from the picture above, this beer pours a hazy pale yellow with a slight white head. At first glance you might mistake it for any light American lager style beer.

So the first thing I did, like I do with every brew, is take a big whiff to capture the initial aroma. Wow! I couldn't believe how similar to white chocolate this thing smelled! There is also a bit of a beery aroma as a side note.

By the way, as I am writing this a commercial for "triple-hop brewed" Miller Lite came on the TV. Seriously, how does their light beer being "triple hopped" make it taste better than the next yellow fizzy? Drink a Sam Adams Boston Lager or a Shiner Bock!

So, back to Cordillera Blanca. It's named after the Cordillera Blanca mountain range in Peru. The picture at the top of the page is what I'm dreaming about at night. 110+ degree weather will make you dream of snow. The name means "White Mountains" in Spanish and includes 33 major peaks, including the tallest peak in Peru.

This beer's flavor matches the aroma, distinctly white chocolate that lingers on the tongue. It is very light bodied and supposedly only has 4.7% ABV (this is according to the BeerAdvocate entry since the website for Sonoran Brewery is non-existent). It is extremely drinkable even with the strong flavor. I was able to easily get through the 22 oz. bottle. I'm pretty curious how they flavored it, I would almost guess that it's some sort of flavored extract since it's so strong. But, you know, it was a good beer so I can't complain!

Whew, this was a long one! Thanks for sticking with me, have a beer on me!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Poll

Hello everyone, I have the results from STBB's last poll available. The question was "What is your favorite style of beer" and the list was far from inclusive. Here are the results from most votes to least votes:

Stout 7 votes (63%)
IPA (UK or USA) 6 votes (54%)
Wheat/Wit 4 votes (36%)
Pale Ale (UK or USA) 3 votes (27%)
Porter 3 votes (27%)
Belgian (all styles) 3 votes (27%)
Bock 2 votes (18%)
Pilsner 2 votes (18%)
Barleywine 2 votes (18%)
Lambic 1 votes (9%)
Scotch Ale 0 votes (0%) - my mother-in-law obviously didn't vote
American Light Lager 0 votes (0%) - surprise?

There were 11 votes and each person selected an average of 3 items on the list. Imagine if I had all 28 BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) Styles listed plus the subcategories! Maybe I'll do that next time!

So now there is a new poll up. Please vote on it, I'd like to mold this blog to the wants of my readers. I appreciate the feedback and you'll get to see more of what you want to see. If you have specific suggestions too detailed to leave to the poll please leave them in the comments below this post.

Thank you for reading. The Facebook page now has 33 fans and the Blogspot page has 8 followers. You guys motivate me to keep doing this. My sincere thanks!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Beer Weekend

This Friday I started my beer weekend with a trip to my Local Home Brew Store for our monthly Home Brew Dudes meeting. The store is located at Nacodoches and Judson Roads on the northeast side of San Antonio. They have all sorts of beer, wine, and cheese making equipment and knowledgeable staff that can help you with your home brewing needs. I've been going there for about a year and a half and I've been a Home Brew Dude for about a year.

The membership costs $20/year but it's worthwhile to anybody interested in craft and home brewing. Each month the club brews a beer and everybody brings food, craft beer, and home brew to share. It's not structured per style (except the monthly recipe which is chosen in advance) so everybody just brings and tastes what they have. We also taste home brewed wine, mead, and sake when someone makes it available (including an interesting broccoli wine that tastes like steamed broccoli). You can also volunteer to do the brewing for the month and Stu/Bret usually do an educational portion where they go over the monthly style, equipment, technique, and recipes.

Last night I tasted everything from Cherry/Blackberry Ale from Craig, a Shiner Bock clone from Jason (his first brew!), Chocolate Mole Stout from Nick, and I gave out samples of my Devon White Ales (sour!) and my Mint Chocolate Stout.

Visit their website and stop in the store! This is the best homebrew store in San Antonio and the guys and gals are always helpful. Or give them a call at 210-650-9070.

Saturday I caught wind of another beer group meeting up from my friend Nick. They are the San Antonio Cerveceros and they are committed to creating a craft beer community in San Antonio. "We are a welcoming, friendly and teaching club" says their mission statement. I met with them for the first time today at Freetail Brewing Company (pictured above) including a representative from Boston Beer Company (i.e. Samuel Adams) named Meagen. I told her and the founders of the Cerveceros about this blog so let's see if they find it and enjoy. Welcome!

Go to the link above for their Facebook page and click "Like" to follow their activity. They have meetings once a month, different locations each time, and they usually discuss craft brewing, home brewing, and how to build our craft beer community in San Antonio. Membership is $50/year and the next meeting is next Sunday, August 15 at 1PM. It will be held at Blue Star Brewery in downtown San Antonio. They welcome members and visitors alike.

I had a great brew weekend! Share your weekend beer stories in the comments!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Show Me State Brews

Tonight I will make a quick tasting post from St. Louis, Missouri. I was only supposed to be here for the day, well now I will be here at least tomorrow and maybe Friday. So I decided to see if I could find a MO brew to try. I went to the store and bought a bottle of Boulevard Double-Wide IPA, No. 2 in their Smokestack series, from Kansas City, MO. I planned on coming back to the room, drinking it, and retiring early. It didn't work out that way so tonight will be a short post.

Well, my uncle called me and said he wanted to take me to a St. Louis brewery for dinner. I couldn't say no, so I met him at Schlafly Bottleworks. It was awesome to see family that I haven't seen in years, and even more awesome that it was at a MO-brewery. I tried the Pale Ale, listed as their signature year-round beer. It was a British style pale ale with a subdued earthy hop aroma and flavor. It drank smoothly with a slight bitter aftertaste.

I will recommend a few links:

Schlafly Beer Style

Schlafly Facebook Fan Page

My photos of the Bottleworks

So once I got back to the hotel room I went ahead and prepared to open my Double-Wide IPA. However, I noticed that this hotel room only had plastic cups. I should have bought a souvenir glass as Schlafly!

Anyway, it poured very heady and angry, foaming up almost the entire glass. This was probably partially the type of glass (plastic) that I poured it in. But the aroma blasting me with American hops told the rest of the story. The head retention is aided by the hop content of a beer, this beer had a solid wall of hops to get through.

My first taste was what I expected for a Double IPA style, extremely hoppy (like I like it) with a nice balance of caramel malt sweetness and a nice citrusy bite. The Smokestack Series website lists their hop varieties as Zeus and Magnum for bittering and aroma, Ahtamun for aroma only, and dry hopped twice with Ahtamun, Centennial, and Chinook varieties.

My only warning would be that this beer is not for the faint of heart or tastebud. As the name "Double-Wide" would suggest, this is a F4 Hop Storm which shows no restraint (not my description, it's from their website). Don't buy the bottle expecting a light easy drinker.

The Bottom Line: If you can make it to the St. Louis area, visit Schlafly. They also run a taproom in the downtown area that is more like a pub versus the restaurant-like Bottleworks. It is a brewery rich with history for the city and state. I know I didn't get into it in this article, but their website is worth a read for sure.

As for Boulevard, I have tried No. 1 and now No. 2 in their Smokestack Series. I'll keep an eye out for the rest of the series in South Texas. I was not disappointed and since I enjoy extremely hoppy brews I extremely enjoyed imbibing this beverage. Try it if you have a strong tongue!

Edit: Try it with a friend, it was hard to get through the bottle by myself!

Schlafly Pale Ale:
ABV: 4.4%
OG: 11.5 Plato
IBU: 27
CAL (12 oz.): 155

Double-Wide IPA:
ABV: 8.5%
IBU: 55
OG: 19 Plato
FG: 4 Plato
First Release: 11/12/2007

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Something Old and Something Older...

How would you like to try a beer that is brewed by a brewery that has existed for over 1000 years? How about drinking a beer that was brewed somewhere around 3200 years ago? How about both?

Dogfish Head Theobroma was the first brew we tried. It is part of their Ancient Ale series along with Midas Touch and Chateau Jiahu. The recipe for Theobroma ("Food of the Gods") is extrapolated from chemical analysis from pottery fragments that held the beverage (or something like it) from before 1100 BC in Honduras. The discovery of this beverage gives us a chance to drink something that ancient South American civilizations drank over 3200 years ago. It also pushed back the earliest known use of cocoa for human consumption by approximately 500 years, which is pretty damn cool for a US microbrewery to learn in my opinion.

This chocolate drink was used to toast special occasions and was intended for the gods, kings, and the elite (as per the bottle). It pours bright gold with a wisp of carbonation that is quickly dissipated. I actually surprised Ramsey since he, and most people, would assume that a chocolate ale would be brown in color. The initial aroma from the bottle is that of chocolate milk, but that also quickly fades. The aroma in the glass is slight alcohol and even slighter honey. The taste doesn't overpower with any one flavor (besides the very apparent alcoholic burn). Neither of us could pick out chocolate per se, but it did have notes of cocoa, ancho chilies, and honey.

This ale reminded me of Midas Touch Golden Elixer, also brewed by Dogfish Head and also an Ancient Ale. The bottle was marked bottled in 2010A so it may be that over time with aging the alcohol burn would fade and some of the other flavors may become more apparent.

Go watch Dogfish Head's Quick Sip Clip on Theobroma's website for some information on the brewing process, the molecular anthropologist, and monkey parties.

Schloss Eggenberg Doppelbock Dunkel from Vorchdorf, Austria was beer #2 in our lineup tonight. Not only is the name a mouthful, but it's STBB's first import review (yay!) and expensive as hell. It was $14.49 for a 4-pack at a wine and liquor store in Florida.

So here is my theory on this beer, tell me what you think. On the bottle it's labeled as a "malt liquor" and is imported to Virginia. If you are a brewery in Austria and you are importing to the USA, you would want to save some money and print only one style of label. Certain states require beer above a certain ABV to be labeled as malt liquor instead of beer. Texas is not one of those states. So this beer is probably only available on east coast states that have the "malt liquor" label regulation. How's that theory?

Here's another interesting tidbit: Doppelbock and Dunkel are two different styles of beer. Both are malty, strong, dark lagers originated in Bavaria. It is interesting to me that this beer is listed as a "doppelbock dunkel" on the label.

Anyway, this beer is pretty straightforward. Pours dark with a light-brown head that retains a little bit as you drink it down the glass. Aroma is malty and roasted with no fruit or spice notes. My taste buds picked up sweet malt with a hop balance on the back end. I also detect caramel and roasted coffee flavors with each sip, with the roasted and bitter flavors coming through as it warms. I almost want to say that I taste candy flavoring, like a burnt version of Werther's Original caramel.

Schloss Eggenberg, by the way, has been "mentioned" over 1000 years ago (in the year 971 to be exact). Their "liquid bread" was brewed for the inhabitants of that area at that time. The family Forstinger-Stöhr has possessed the brewery for over 200 years and has since been constantly developed and modernized by their ancestors.

The Bottom Line: Both beers tasted tonight are higher alcohol "ancient" ales with interesting style definitions. They both were interesting examples of how beer can change and evolve, yet really stay the same, over the centuries. If you can picture an ancient Aztec lord toasting to this golden chocolate ale or a Bavarian family traveling to the brewery for their weekly beer, you will appreciate both of these ales. The Theobroma was $13.99 for approximately 2 pints (1 pt. 9.6 fl. oz) and the Doppelbock Dunkel was $14.49 for a 4-pack, so be prepared to spend some money to live like the ancients. I would say that both are one to try once. Maybe sit outside and look at the stars while you slowly imbibe, maybe chew on a sugar cane, or maybe drink it in a hotel room while discussing computer programming information (like me). You, the craft drinker, will enjoy this beer anyway.

ABV: 9%
Special Ingredients: honey, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, ancho chilies & ground annatto (tree seeds)
Doppelbock Dunkel:
ABV: 8.5%

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dogfish Head Red & White

Saturday my wife and I were at the store trying to decide what to try that night. She couldn't find the bottle of wine that she wanted to try and I couldn't decide on what mega-super hoppy-imperial-double-triple ale I wanted to try. So I saw the very last lonely bottle of Dogfish Head Red & White on the shelf. I decided it was a good compromise and something she and I would both enjoy.

The label states that this is a typical Belgian Witbier, brewed with orange and coriander, mixed with Pinor Noir juice and aged on oak barrels. 11% in Pinot Noir barrels and 89% on oak staves. It also boasts a 10% ABV so I was expecting another big Dogfish brew.

So I poured two glasses, they poured a dark gold or light reddish color. My wife wanted me to point out that this was "beer red" not "wine red" like the pinot noir would suggest. The aroma wasn't overpowering, to me the first whiff was a winey nose with the suggestion of alcohol which faded along with the white head. When I smelled it again I couldn't get anything more out of it except a bit of that grapey nose.

The first taste was delicious! My wife and I both took a sip at the same time. You could definitely tell it was 10% ABV and we both got a blast of flavors and warmth at the back of our throats. I tried to pick out citrus, coriander, grapes, hops, malt, etc. but it all went too fast. I couldn't get the individual flavors because there were too many melded together. Our second and subsequent tastes didn't have the initial surprising blast of flavor that the first one did. We were both a little disappointed that we failed to pick and identify the witbier and wine parts.

I should mention another thing. I poured this at maybe 45 degrees or so straight from the fridge and, as I mentioned above, there was a warm alcohol flavor at the back of our throats. Well, as it warmed it did the opposite I expected. The beer got smoother as it got warmed, I expected the alcohol to shine through but it was much mellower than I expected at that point. The initial mouthfeel was like a typical wheat beer with a medium-high thickness. As it warmed I felt it also felt thinner as well as smoother. Very interesting beer!

The Bottom Line: While this beer is not my typical forte when I'm drinking on my own, I have to say I enjoyed it. I always enjoy Dogfish Head beers since "off centered ales, for off centered people" seems to describe me so well. I would recommend trying this one for anybody who is interested in experimental styles or trying something new. As a "limited rarity" you should pick up a bottle when you see one. For 2010, they released it in February so it will probably be a little hard to find starting soon. If you find one age it or drink it right away, and be sure to share with the wine drinker in your life!

Style: Belgian Witbier with Pinor Noir juice
ABV: 10%
IBU: 35
Original Release Date: 01/2007
Recommended glassware: snifter