Friday, May 31, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 127, Troegs Hopback Amber Ale

Hey everyone!

Amidst Philly Beer Week, here I am at home reviewing local beers!  It's cool.  I've decided to limit myself to a few events and volunteer where I can.  I don't like crowds really, but it is good to get out and mingle.  I would like to extend an invite out to anyone who is looking to dodge the crowds to come hang out at my shop.  This Saturday would be good, but next Saturday people may need a change from the crowds the most, so I'm doing that!

Tonight is the next installment to Troegs Week with Hopback Amber Ale which is considered an American Ale.  These ales for the most part can have any range of ingredients like toasted malts and hops in varying colours of amber and some are even oktoberfest-like but in ale form.
I poured this beer cold and the glass instantly collected condensation from the humidity in my highrise cabin.  It poured a crystal clear amber colour with a full one finger head that fell to a thick ring and full cap on top of the beer and leaves what looks like the view of all the heads and shoulders of a very crowded room of people.  Weird!

Aromas of caramel malt and piney/citrusy hops are most noticeable at first and then as it warms some bread and tropical fruits pop up.

Balance is the name of the game with this beer!  All through the sip the caramel malt character is present and so are the piney/citrusy hops which start off solid, fade a bit and then finish solid.  A smooth breadiness as well as fruit like mango appear towards the middle of the sip and finally a mild bitter from the same hops finish the beer off with a hint of spice.

It's a pretty refreshing and smooth mouthfeel both mildly sweet and slightly hoppy dry and a thin to medium body.  The finish is pretty neat and dry.  A slight slick feeling on the tongue, but only very slight.  Hop resins?  I've read that the body on this beer is fuller on draught and would love to try it from the tap!

Overall I find this beer exceptional!  I would recommend it as a crossover into hoppy beers as it is delightfully easy to drink and whets the hop appetite as well.  A solid 4.25 is due for this beer!

I'm so glad that I try different beer as often as I can as I am really starting to enjoy all the different variations and complexities from the different brewers and am finding that local breweries here in Philadelphia really can compete with the rest of the world!  You should try some too!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 126, Troegs Pale Ale

Good evening!

I hope you are enjoying the Philly local temperatures!  It's hot, but it's not humid so it's completely bearable.

Tonight seems like a good night for an American Pale Ale which is a pale ale of recent invention and can be of local ingredients to the brewer, if desired, and is stepped up a bit in ingredients from a pale ale.  The category seems like it's pretty broad to me with no real specifics to look for.  The one I chose for tonight is from Troegs in Hershey, PA and it seemed a good idea as I have recently had a few other local APA's and can compare notes.  Let's have a look!
I poured this beer fairly cold from the bottle into a tulip glass and it poured a gold to amber color clear and crisp with a two finger head that settles to a nice full ring and Friar Tuck center cap with lacing that looks like Charlie Brown Halloween ghost costumes on the glass.  GHOUL!  Er, cool!

The aroma is of sweet pale malt, lemon peel and floral aromatic hops and some grapefruit-like yeast esters.

The sip starts off mellow and mildly sweet with pale malt and caramel with a bit of floral hops for good measure and as the the beer passes across your tongue and palate some of that sweetness fades and grapefruit mixed with the malt sweetness is balanced with the now more apparent floral and citrus hops and finally the beer finishes with hop bitterness overriding a bit of malt sweetness.

The moutfeel is light and smooth, slightly dry and leaves a slick feeling on the tongue.  Carbonation is moderate and playful.

Overall, I find this beer incredibly drinkable!  The body is light enough as to where you can drink a few on a hot day but not session them.  Preferably they would imbibed indoors in the AC.  At first this beer is not at all that bitter but by the end of the glass there is an aftertaste for sure making this a tough beer to recommend as a transition beer from pee-water but making it an excellent example of an APA!  This one is tough to score.  I don't like the slimy feeling on my tongue and will have to take points for that but all in all, EXCELLENT!  4 out of 5!!

Don't like hoppy beer?  Give it time.  Once you get your lazy arse off that couch and out to the pub to try something different in your life, you will gain an appreciation of the positive attributes of hops!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 125, Troegs Java Head

Hi beer lovers!

Tonight is the start of Troegs Week right on the heels of Philly Beer Week so hopefully I will be attending some events around this great city or even volunteering!

Tonight I am drinking a stout that is in the category of oatmeal stouts so along with a fairly full body, roasted malts tasting of dark chocolate or coffee also expect a surprisingly smooth mouthfeel and a bit of sweetness added by the oats!  This beer is also brewed with coffee beans so that may throw some extra roastiness into the mix but I am betting that it lends a bit of balance to the beer.  Let's give it a try!
I poured this beer into a tulip glass at a fairly cool temperature so I let it cool down a bit.  The beer poured jet black and clear with a full three finger head that receded to a full ring and thin cap which leaves and interesting "hands across America" lacing pattern that falls to polka dots.  WE-EARED!

The aroma is pretty typical of a sweet stout.  Roasted malts take the forefront being sweet and leading to cocoa, vanilla and oat biscuity notes.

The flavour is dominated by roasted malts starting off sweet and then instantly moving towards a coffee bitterness topped with hints of vanilla cream.  The sweetness fades really fast after the vanilla smoothness and the beer finishes amazingly dry.  It's an obvious transition.  If this were a musical piece it would be quite a work of art.  If I get any hops they are more towards the end after the roasted bitterness and a bit earthy.  It also ends slightly peppery.  The high alcohol content is hidden well.

The mouthfeel is on the thin side of medium to full bitter and dry with a quick interlude of sweet somewhere in the beginning of the sip.  There is also a bit of a film on my tongue, but not overly so.  The carbonation is playfully moderate starting off playful then mellowing.  It's a pretty cool transition just as is the sweet to dry thang that it has going on.

Overall I find this beer really super interesting in the transitions that it goes through!  I did find it a little on the roasted bitter side and not as balanced as I had thought.  I also thought it was just a little thinner in body.  These things don't really detract from the beer, but may not fit the style 100%.  But you know, craft beer is all about creativity and this is a VERY creative beer!  There are no off flavours, etc... It's getting a solid 4 or better from me!  I bet this beer is incredible on tap and would get higher scores!

If you love your beer, leave it.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Get out there and play the field!  It's a mighty big field and "free love" is what craft beer is all about!


Monday, May 27, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 124, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Happy Memorial Day!

Thanks Vets, past and present for you service and sacrafices!

I saved my beverage consumption for the evening as it seems like there are many a drinkers out on the roads and I didn't want to be one of them.  Instead I went shopping, did laundry, went for a hike with dad, cleaned up the shops brewery area, and cooked buffalo burgers for mom and dad!  It was a pretty relaxing day actually!

So for tonight I saved a can of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to do another can test and see if it tastes metallic.  Plus, I like this beer!  It's an American Pale Ale which is popular around the world now and sort of an alternative to IPA's.  It's basically a "pale ale" made with ingredients mostly local the the brewery and, of course, American versions are crisp and hoppy compared to the british versions which are a bit buttery.  

The can is tastefully decorated unlike some that look like bad tattoos.  Well Done!

The beer pours clear golden colour with a slight haze and a full two finger head that fades to a full ring and center cap and has nice light lacing.

The aroma is of sweet pale malt,  mild biscuity yeast, citrus and some piney hops.

The taste is fairly malty then citrusy mid way through, a little honey mixed in then a mild pine hop presence finishes the beer off ending mildly dry and slightly peppery.  Balanced well!

Mouthfeel is light to medium body and smoothly sweet with medium carbonation.

Overall this beer is balanced, smooth and exceptional!  I would recommend this as a crossover beer for someone addicted to crappy macro beer!

Get out there and try this!  You will love it!


Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 123, Oskar Blues G'Knight Imperial Red IPA

Hi Everyone!

Tonight I am drinking a beer from a can!  I will probably at some point devote much of the summer posts to canned beer to see if I really can tell the difference as compared with bottled beer.  Many say that they taste like metal, but in reality they should not.  So tonight I have a beer from one of the first to can their beer Oskar Blues and this installation is classified as an Imperial IPA or Double IPA which if you have been reading any of my posts is brewed with double the amount of barley making it sweeter and allowing the brewer to up the amount of hops yet keeping the beer balanced.  Let's see what we think of this one!
I poured this beer from the tall boy can at about 55 degrees F and its color is definitely clear and coppery with a full 3 finger head that settles to a full cap of fine bubbles and leaves a nice archway looking lacing patter on the glass.

The aroma is very malty sweetly smelling of caramel, honey and bread with hints of citrus fruits (tangerine?) and hops.  Now when I first opened the cans I was hit with a rush of floral hops, but as it settles and warms in the glass they smell a little more piney but only way in the background.

The taste is sensationally caramel hop sweet and bready with a mix of dark fruit and grapefruit with only a mild hop finish that is faintly dry.  Some alcohol is apparent mid sip, but only faintly so but she is warming on an empty stomach!  This is a very well balanced beer leaning a little to the sweet side.

The mouthfeel is sweet, smooth and full with mild carbonation and a mild dry finish with a hint of black pepper numbness.

Overall I am going to give this beer props!  Number one, this review was from a can and I have no hints of metal in my beer at all.  If I was drinking from the can, then yes, I probably would.  You know what, a metal flavor to beer is not all that detracting.  What is detracting from beer is cheap adjuncts.  This beer is a solid 4 out of 5 or better and it ranks up there with many of the Imperial IPA's that I have had and can surely hold it's own.  You gotta try it!

I was never an IPA fan, but then I got off my ass and tried them.  I invested some time to them and found that I love the double/imperials the best.  You really should give something different a try.  I can never get tired of helping someone move from swill to godly nectar!


Friday, May 24, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol 122, Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA

Hi everyone,

I have to apologize for missing last night.  Something told me that I just needed to hit the hay early last night so basically after a walk with my dad I watched TV and went to bed and it was well worth it!  I needed that!

Tonight I am drinking another beer from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon.  I tell you, this brewery was a favorite of mine if you dial back the way back clock.  Since I had moved to Philly I had none of their beer but now distribution has opened up for them and here we have another exceptional beer from them!  It is soon becoming my favorite brewery!  I mean it!  This beer is incredible!

This beer is considered a Belgian IPA and is somewhat considered a new style.  It's a cross between a belgian tripel maybe? and an IPA.  Basically it is finished off with a belgian yeast making it a bit dry as well as lending some fruitiness to the aroma.  It's light in color but malty as all get out.  The head is supposed to be full and lacing light.  American hops are employed giving it citrusy and floral notes.  I am in love with this style!  ABV (alcohol by volume) is usually 6 to 12 percent.

I poured this beer at 45 degrees into a tulip glass from the bottle.  

It pours a full straw color, hazy with a white one finger head that fades to a ring with a little center cap and has light lacing.

The aroma will tantalize your love of citrus.  Most notable is the Belgian yeast when it's cold and then notes of lemon, sweet pale malts, floral notes from the hops and some breadiness come out as it warms.

This being called an IPA may mislead you.  If you are after over the top hop then this is not it.  Just a warning.  It is, however, very Belgian witbier-like with Pacific Northwest hops for mild bittering and aroma.  I get honey from the pale malts and a big lemon taste out of it the most.  Hints of spice from coriander are mild and the wheat provides a really creamy feel to it.  There is only mild hop bitterness  along the ride and not any more overpowering at the end than the beginning but they are floral.  The finish is interesting and dry.  Well Done!

The mouthfeel is definitely creamy and mildly sweet and fuller than you would think for a beer this pale!  Carbonation is lively and lends to the peppery dry finish well.

Overall I think this beer is incredible!  It may be lacking on the IPA front a bit and calling it an IPA may lose it some points in judging, but seeing that this is a fairly new style I think you have to be a little open minded in judging it.  It gets a solid 4 out of 5 from me!  So it's lacking a little in the hop department, and lacking a little head as well as the high alcohol content coming in just below 6.  Those are the only bad points, if you can call them that.

You won't know about this beer unless you really get out there and make an effort to try something new and I hope you do because beer is no longer bitter and nasty.  It offers more complexity and infinite styles and tastes as well as pairs surprisingly well with ALL foods and ALL desserts!  Try a beer and food pairing.  You won't go back!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 121, Deschutes Inversion IPA

Hello beer enthusiast,

Welcome to my blog about beer in which I talk about a different craft beer each time, hopefully.  I can be redundant my co-workers tell me.  I do get excited!  If you are tuning in for the first time I would like to express my thanks and tell you what I am doing.  In an effort to learn more about craft beer in general, I have been drinking a different beer everynight almost since Jan 1, 2013.  I have tried probably a dozen styles or more which are a drop in the bucket, but I am limited in my resources.  Luckily there are 2300 or so craft breweries!  In my education of myself, it is also my goal to help others whether beginner or old hand at craft beer decide what they may like to try next and to also get those stuck on the big boy beers like badweezer and kriller to try something new!

Tonight I am drinking an IPA (India Pale Ale) from a favourite brewery of mine in Oregon.  I haven't had this beer yet as it is new since I have moved back to PHiladelphia and am stoked to give it a whirl.  IPA's were a British invention to preserve their ales by using extra hops to make the long trip from home via wooden sailing ships to the Indian Colonies.  In recent years Americans have revived this beer in their own fashion buy mostly using more local ingredients like west coast USA hops as well as making them a higher gravity than the current British IPAs of past decades.  Early on the British versions were stronger, but due to alcohol taxes the percentage in the beers had dropped to avoid high costs to the brewers and patrons.  High taxes?  British?  Naaaaah!

Here is a pic of the beer that I am about to enjoy greatly!

I poured this beer pretty cool at around 45 degrees F which is a little cold for beer.  50 or 55 is even better for most craft beers, but this has warmed relatively quick due to my apt. being about 85 degrees F.

The beer pours a beautifully clear amber coppery colour with a full 3 finger khaki head that remains as a full ring around the glass and covers the beer.  The lacing pattern left on the glass is sticky and looks like polka dots.

The aroma is not as hoppy as you would think that a beer with 80 IBUs (International Bittering Units, 80 is pretty high) would have.  It's definitely floral smelling from the hops, but I am taken aback by the upfront caramel malt sweetness that I smell along with honey and citrus fruits!  The honey aroma is AWESOME!

The way that this tastes is more akin to a double IPA I would think because there is a really full amount of caramel malt to balance the floral hops.  It's really balanced well!  The caramel malts are pretty much up front and as the beer moves towards the middle of the tongue honey does come out all the while some floral hop notes are in on this ride.  When the trip finishes, hop bitterness appears and the beer ends dry and in need of tipping into your mouth once again.

The mouthfeel of the beer is smooth, sweet, moderately full (as compared to something watery like Boar's Lite) with medium carbonation.

Overall I find this beer exceedingly attractive and would recommend it to anyone who likes hops.  I personally have not liked hops in my craft beer adventure until this past 6 months or so.  I am not a hop head and do not like extreme beers that are over the top hoppy.  In saying that, I think if you only mildly like hops you may even like this beer!  I am going to give this a solid 4 or better out of 5!



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 120, Deschutes Obsidian Stout

Hello interwebs peoples!

Tonight I am currently enjoying, as part of Deschutes Week, a very fine example of an American Stout, which like American Porters are an example of we Yanks tweeking an English or Irish stout origin often adding coffee or chocolate and having a great balancing act with the hops.  This beer is very much like last nights porter from Deschutes, but roastier and hoppier!  Oh yes!

I poured this beer from the bottle at about 60 degrees F and it is clear and black just like obsidian but with some brown showing through and the head is a full finger thick and creamy brown and leaves another cool outline of a mountain peak on my glass as lacing!  I totally should take a picture of that, but I am too lazy.

The aroma is definitely of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, some yeast and very little earthy hops.  Both sweet and bitter.  A nice combo.

It tastes even better than it smells with sweet roasted malt taking the lead then the creamy chocolate malts come into play with some hints of vanilla cream and then followed by the bitterness of the roasted malts and the earthy hops.  Finally it finishes dry with hint of black pepper and mild alcohol.  This beer is so well balanced and the dry finish lures you to the next sip!

The mouthfeel is creamy full and dry with light to moderate carbonation to play on your tongue.  The finish is dry and bitter but pleasingly so.

Overall, this has to be one of the best stouts EVER!  It's definitely NOT a crossover beer and if you don't like dry and bitter beers you may not like this one, but keep in mind that this is an excellent beer all around and you might be missing out if you think that it may be too bitter for you.  You may actually like it!  I love it!  5 out of 5!

Like I said, try it, you might like it.  You may have not liked this style 5 years ago and have been tuning them out (Mike G.) but this one is the best or one of the best in it's class!  Worth a half pint trial.


Monday, May 20, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 119, Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Hi everyone!

Tonight I was at the Craft Beer Store and found me some of my favorite beer from whence I liveth on the west coast!  I have many a fond memory of drinking this beer in abundance, uhhh, I mean that because I was in Oregon that the supply of this beer was abundant!  Let's not confuse that with me imbibing in overabundance.  That almost NEVER happened!  Well, I'm 90% positive that it almost never happened.

Anyhoo, this baby is an American Porter which is a reincarnation of the English Style porters but like all things American, go "murrica", it has been improved on!  Well, in this case she has been!
Ah, east meets west.  PBC and Deschutes.  I could see a collaboration there!

I poured this black beaut-y at about 55 degrees F into a standard pint and she poured such a lovely dark brown to black with a full one finger creamy khaki head that lasts as a thick ring and thin cap and leaves leopard skin lacing on the glass.  SEXY!

I'm not even going to read what those folks on BA are saying.  The first guy on there mentions strong citrus.  LOL

Sorry, I don't smell any citrus but what I do smell is roasted and chocolate malts with hints of vanilla, a bready yeast and some hop acidity.  It's freaking brilliant!  As a matter of fact, I take that back, after sounding like an ass in lambasting the citrus comment, one could make out that hop acidity as that!  I'm a turd.

I taste heaven in a glass.  Toasted chocolate malts and vanilla dance with a very mild wood smoke flavor and bready yeastness and finish finally with a mild and earthy dry hop taste that begs your elbow to again bend and bring that glass to your lips, your tongue and drink in this black beauty.

Now let me talk about how sweet her body is!  She is a medium to full bodied beer thinner than some but with creamy sweet hips making her much easier to drink than some that would kill you with candy and she has kept a bit of the dry sense of English humor as an homage.  I'm in love.  Playful yet not bubbly, what else could you want in a dark lady like her?

I had to excuse myself for a minute there and have a cigarette.  Overall, I would recommend her to everyone,  but would be totally jealous and want to keep her for my own as she is a world class beauty!  Solid and dependable.  I have missed my Black Butte-y!

I hope this makes you guys and girls want to get out there and try a new beer because it can be so enlightening!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 118, Evil Genius Evil Eye PA

Hey Everyone!

Today was a total success for the May Fair in Mayfair and for Lucky 13 Homebrew club as we signed up ten potential new members and brewed an Innocuous Pale Ale as well!  We had a great time and made lots of new friends!

Tonight's addition to the Evil Genius Week is an Eye PA!  It's an American IPA which is a spinoff of the classic English IPA (India Pale Ale) which back in the day was heavily hopped to keep the beer from spoiling on the long voyage by sailing vessel to the Indian colonies where the hierarchy of the English Army would enjoy a stronger more delicious version of the beer and the army grunts would get a watered down version.  American versions of the IPA are more liberal with the hops (citrus tasting varieties are popular) and or maltiness with perhaps fuller bodies.

On first glance you can see how carbonated this beer was.  It, like last night's fare, was explosive out to the bottle.

I poured this beer at about 60 degrees and it was and exceptionally beautiful and clear amber colour with well over 3 fingers of head which settles to a full finger for the entire drink and leaves a nice sticky lacing on the glass.

The aroma is very hop forward floral and citrusy with a strong mix of pale malt sweetness and honey.  This has to be one of the best smelling beers that I have ever had!

The taste is really mellow and sweet to begin with and handsomely the bittering hops take the lead by time the sip is finished.  It's very well balanced with some notes of citrus and pepper.

The mouthfeel is a bit hot from carbonation which is noticeable on the tip of the tongue immediately but then it smooths out but leaves you hanging a little as it is a bit thin.  The finish is fairly dry but not overly so.

This beer has some excellent points and some that seem like they need work.  The aroma is just off the wall gorgeous, the flavour a bit average and the body too thin and carbonated.  It is exceedingly sessionable though and truthfully, I would seek this out again, especially on tap as the carbonation might be different.  This is a good beer!

If I could make all the beer drinking world love craft beer, then my job here is done.


Friday, May 17, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 117, Evil Genius Pure Evil Chocolate Stout

Hey everyone, welcome to craft beer!  I hope that you stay a while!

Tonight's choice is considered an oatmeal stout by Beer Advocate and called a chocolate stout by Evil Genius.  Oatmeal stouts are considered to be exceptionally smooth from the oats and perhaps a bit sweeter with various degrees of bitter and roasted notes.

This is going to be good!
"I'm just a WARM beer drinker!" -some adulterated country song

I poured this beer at a warm room temperature as I got sidetracked and forgot to place it in the fridge, but I am happy that I did as WOW it is giving off some fine aromas!  It poured thick and black with a huge frothy brown head (from the warm temperature) that settled to a one finger cap of creamy goodness and a sticky wall of lacing on the pint glass.

Aromas- Chocolate malt, roasted coffee, vanilla, and maybe what can be described as oatmeal (I dunno, it really does smell like it) and not much in the way of hops.

Tastes like chocoalte malts, roasted malts both sweet and slightly bitter intermingle with a mild sourness, light milky vanilla and very mild piney hops which finish her off.

The body is a little lighter than I would have thought but still fairly full and smooth with an even mix of sweet and sour.  Definitely different than I am used to!  Intriguing and excellent!  There is also a tad bit more carbonation that I would have figured but it works well with the mild sour.  There is a little of a slippery feeling on my tongue and a peppery finish.  Alcohol is a little apparent and it is slightly dry between sips.

Overall I really like this beer!  It's not like any that I have had before and may not be exactly an oatmeal stout in the way that it's pretty hot with carbonation, thinner than most and slightly sour.  Personally I give it a solid 4.25 out of 5.  I'm not sure that it reflects the style totally for the above reasons but it's damn good!  Style wise, 4.0 out of 5.  I would recommend this for sure. It's not a crossover beer from the big boy lagers, but excellent!

You have to try this beer!  For if you want to try something new like your partner says, try this one!  It's new!  ha ha ha!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 116, Evil Genius Doomsday

Hi everyone!

This is probably going to be my shortest review ever.  Lots to do in preparation of a Fair that the homebrew club is doing a homebrew exhibit for.

Ok this is a dunkelweizen and it's pretty much a dark version of a hefeweizen with some fruit characters to it and a little bit more in the way of malt.  Sounds delicious, eh?
I poured it too cold, in a hurry.  It is a dark mahagony and hazy with very little in the way of a head or lacing.

Aromas are of dark malts, caramel, clove and dark fruit.  Very little hops if any.

The flavour is pretty much the same.  Some mild hops finish it off but it's mostly a sweet beer.  Not exceedingly balanced.

Mouthfeel is sweet and full with very low carbonation.

Overall, I would call this beer good!  I would recommend it to try.  I would like to see what it's like on draught and warmer but it's a little flat.  I give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Do it!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 115, Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale

Hello everyone!

Sorry for missing last night but I was attending the semi-finals of the Philly Beer Geek competition as part of Philly Beer Week at the Manyunk brewery where I enjoyed 3 fine beers.  Question, what is the difference according to ancient usages of beer and ale.  A free t-shirt to the first to answer without using google.

At Manyunk Brewery I enjoyed their double IPA (a bit hoppier than the ones I really enjoy), a Polish Wheat beer brewed by Steve Mashington and the head brewer of Manyunk especially for the Beer Geek compo (pretty dang smokey, but not over the top and really enjoyable) and a low ABV scotch ale from Manyunk which was delicious and roasty!  Six participants out of the 19 move on to the final round to be held June 6.  There were trivia rounds, short answer rounds, replace beer words for movie quote rounds and flamboyancy displays.  It was pretty cool and inventive to say the least.  

Tonight for a belated Mother's Day, Keith and I took my Mom out to Pizzeria Uno's where I over ate on pizza, of course, and had a very large glass of a Wee Heavy called Dirty Bastard from Founders Brewery.

It poured a really dark but clear mahogany with a great lasting head and nice lacing.

The aromas were hard to make out as it was served waaay too cold probably at below 40 degrees F but I could make out some caramel malt sweetness, little hops and a wee bit o'bread.

Truthfully, the flavours were straightforward as well.  Malts.  Lots of malt sweetness, dark fruits, bread and finally mild bittering hops to finish it off.  Alcohol was faintly apparent and there was a bit of buttery to it as well.

The mouthfeel was fairly full in body and the sweetness was a little too much for me.  It wasn't as balanced as I would like, but I am not an expert on Scotch Ale.  They are supposed to be high in dextrins so that would account for the sweet.

Overall, it was most likely very befitting of the style I will have to score it pretty high because of so.  Personally, I thought it was too sweet.  But this isn't personal, it's BEER!  Solid 4 out of 5!

Get out there and try it.  Or try something else.  Just try!  Try again!


Monday, May 13, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 114, Forsaken, Evil Genius Brewing Company

Hi Everyone!

I have a mini week of a local PA brewery called Evil Genius and tonight's fare is an American Amber Ale which is pretty much a generic description of any ale that is less than a dark.  Amber in color and malty but balanced with a variety of hops and some fruit flavours brewers can pretty much do what they want to this beer.  Let's have a look see...
I poured this beer from a bottle at about 50 degrees F and it poured a hazy amber color with a khaki one finger head that fades to a solid ring and thin cap with a fairly sticky checkerboard lacing pattern.

The aroma is pretty malt forward some toasted mostly caramel with definite hints of fruits including apple and some mild floral hops.  There is perhaps a small amount of diacetyl mixed with wine or something a bit odd, but not unpleasant, I just can't put my finger on it and it gets more pronounced with temperature.  Buttery for sure.

You know, my aroma description pretty much describes the taste.  Those flavours all mix pretty evenly and then fade at the end to a bit of dry hops and I will admit, the transition is pretty cool!  It ends lightly peppery and dry and really makes me want another sip (if it weren't for the diacetyl).

It has a good medium body and a smooth mouthfeel slightly hot from carbonation and a dry finish.  Fairly well done.  Enjoyable and easy to drink.

Overall, I would say that I like this beer and would recommend it, but the buttery bits put me off.  I may have gotten a skunked bottle as it is really cloudy and does not clear up with temperature rise.  I haven't read any diacetyl comments in anyone elses reviews.  Like I said, it does not make this beer bad and I still like it, but I would like to try it again just to see.  No date on the bottle to make any assumptions.  Overall, with the buttery, I'm going to give it a solid 3.5 anyway.  I like it.

Hey, you never know what other beer tastes like unless you put down that remote, get out of your lunge chair and head on over to that "yuppy store with all the expensive beers" and try a real beer.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Year Of Craft Beer, Vol. 113, Stoudts Pils

Hello everyone!

On this fine Mother's Day which was started in Philadelphia by Anna Jarvis and first observed in 1908 and supported by John Wanamaker which sort of makes sense as he wanted to sell something.  LOL

Anyway, tonight is my last night of Stouts week and I am ending it with a really nice pilsner.  The German style pilsner was first brewed in Bohemia and this lager is fairly hoppy for a lager with a rich head and good lacing.

I am very glad that I opened this beer tonight as I was about to skip the blog as I'm pretty tired.  OMG this is a good pilsner!

It poured from the bottle a clear golden straw color with a nice white one finger head consisting of tiny bubbles and leaves a bunch of ancient African art stick figures on the side of the glass for lacing!  COOOOL!

I was hit with an aroma of both sweet pale malt, earthy hops and white bread!  YUM!

The flavour is pretty much the same way.  It starts of pale malty sweet and releases some mild fruity notes as it moves across your tongue mixing with some bread then finally letting loose some really mild earthy and piney hops ending only mildly dry and peppery.  WOW!

The mouthfeel is light creamy sweet moderate body and a bit of carbonation at first.

Overall I am going to say that this is my new favorite pilsner.  It's really good and I highly recommend it to anyone!  5 out of 5!  World Class!

You gotta try this beer.  Put it on your bucket list!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 112, Stoudts Scarlet Lady ESB

Happy Saturday Folks!  Happy Mother's Day all you Mums out there!  I'm taking me Mum out to dinner as she is trying the gluten free diet so we will go to Pizza Uno's for their menu and they are also very supportive of the craft beer industry so it is a Win Win for my Mum and I.

Tonight's addition to Stoudts Week is their Scarlet Lady which happens to be an ESB (Extra Special Bitter) which normally is, in fact, not bitter, but balanced.  But ultimately, I think that is the goal of most beers except for you extreme lovers.  Blahhh!  Anyway, this style is a bit more higher in ABV and a bit more hop forward than that of a normal ale or bitter and it is always a pleasure to try a new beer in this style as it is one of me favorites!
This beer poured from a 50 degree F bottle into a standard pint glass produced a clear amber/ copper beer with a nice bone white one finger head that stays as a nice frothy cap the entire drink and leaves a shark tooth lacing pattern on the glass that falls back down to the head.  Pretty cool!

Initially I smelled mostly caramel malts with a little breadiness to it, but as it got warmer some earthy notes as well as dark fruit notes came out.

As I get further into the beer flavours of sour apple, bread, caramel malts are pretty evenly distributed followed by some earthy hops and a bit of tannins and mild black pepper.

The mouthfeel is mildly sweet, moderately light, and has a dry finish.  A bit of a slippery feel is left on the tongue and the carbonation is about medium and maybe just a tad, just a tad, bit lively.  I like it a lot and think that I can drink the heck out of this beer!

Overall, I like this beer a lot.  I think it fits into the style very well and would recommend trying it to anyone who likes English beers.  The only thing that detracts from this beer for me is the tannin taste and it's not over the top at all so I am going to give this beer a solid 4 out of 5!

Go try it!  If you don't, you are missing out!


Friday, May 10, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 111, Stoudts Karnival Kolsch

Hey everyone!  Happy weekend to you all and happy birthday to the one that I wrote the letter to the other day if you remember from my blog 2 days ago about signs.  The signs were right!  

So tonight's addition to Stoudts Week I am reviewing their Karnival Kolsch and first let me say that I am happy that there are no clowns on the label!  The only clown that I ever liked was Emmet Kelly.  Maybe this will ring a bell:
I have only had a few Kolsch's in my time.  Mostly all at Brauhaus Schmitz in Philly.  It's a pale straw colored beer of German origin which can have mild to "assertive" hop character and can be "grape-y" from the malts and be generally dry.  Paraphrasing Beer Advocate there.  This beer is just that.  Light bodied as well.

This one is fairly east to review which allows me more time to get to drinking!

It poured a clear and pale straw colour with a nice two finger head which dissipated fairly quick to a ring around the glass that leaves a cool "puffy graffiti art" sort of lacing on the glass before settling back to the ring.

The aroma is of pale sweet malts and faint apple.

The taste is a little more complex.  It starts off sweet, but it's never really sweet because of the thin nature of the body.  As you sip, your nose picks up honey in the aroma and as the beer moves across your tongue the earthy hops tantalize the sides and back of your tongue.  Some VERY faint white grape or apple may be present and then the beer finishes dry and mild hoppy with some peppery lingering.  NICE!

The mouthfeel is thin and mildly dry with some playful carbonation.  

Overall I would say that this is an excellent representation of the style AND an exceedingly good choice of a beer for the warmer weather.  This would also be a great crossover beer for someone who needs be weaned off of that total crap called lager from those big breweries!  4 out of 5!

So do it!  But that person that you know all-too-well who denies liking craft beer a sixer of this.  Tell them that they are going to die not knowing what beer really is!

Have a great weekend and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 110, Stoudts Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout

Hey do gooders,

Tonight's fare is part of Stoudts Week and is considered an American Double / Imperial Stout.  This style takes its origins after the Russian Imperial Stouts that the English tried to cajole the Russian Czars with on the way back clock.  This style can be higher ABV, roastier, sweeter, hoppier and use such adjuncts as coffee, chocolate, or in this case, oatmeal.  Like Texans, Americans in general like this beer big!  So what do you say that we give this Fat Dog a try?
This beer looks as good as it tastes and smells!  Black with a hint of brown showing through and poured vigorously from the bottle gave it a full three finger brown head that lasts as a full cap leaving nice sticky brontosaurus looking lacing on the glass.  Kewl!

The aroma is roasted and sweet with some dark prunes and bready notes.

The taste is phenomenal and complex.  It starts off caramel malty and sweet with hints of milk chocolate, vanilla and moves back towards slight breadiness (oats?) then some earthy hops and finishes with a licorice hint that numbs the tongue for a short period of time.  It's pretty balanced!

The mouthfeel is carbonation hot at the very beginning then becomes creamy smooth.  The body is moderate to full, just a tad on the thin side.  There is a mildly dry and numbing feeling and finally a slick coat on the tongue.

Overall I would have to agree with many judges of this beer who called it exceptional!  The alcohol is hidden well and really is only apparent to me with the tongue numbing and a slight warming.  The body is just a tad, I mean a tiny bit, light,  which is a blessing if you want to drink 2 or 3 of these puppies!  The flavours are interestingly complex and evolve as the beer warms.  A solid 4.25 or higher out of 5 for this doe-gee!

I hope you gleen some insight off of reading this article and it inspires you to get out there and stop swilling cheap beer!  Live a little!  Splurge!  Open your mind and senses!  Enjoy life!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 109, Stoudts Triple

Hey everybody, welcome back!

It seems that I am carrying on a Stoudts week here at A Year of Craft Beer.  What better way that to up the double of last night with a tripel.  A tripel in some ways is like the double IPA that I had last night in that much more of the grain is used and that it has to be balanced with the bitter of the hops to make it palatable and not syrupy.  But last night's IPA was VERY American in style and hop character.  Tonights beer is a MEGA-Belgian!  It should be light in color with a big head, high in alcohol which will be most likely noticeable, but a good one should not be.  There may be phenolic flavors that taste like clove and banana (and sometimes band-aids like a beer that I reviewed on Untappd not too long ago) and will also have some other ester flavors like apple.  These flavors are pretty complex and due to such variables as the type of yeast used and the amount of alcohol in the beer.  This beer seems to me to be one of the toughest to brew so I am keeping that in mind.

Let's take a look!

I poured this beer into a chalice at a cool 50 degrees F and it poured golden and slightly hazy, one step above a pilsner or lager with a nice one finger head that retains as a ring and Friar Tuck center cap just like the Monk on the bottle.  The lacing is fine and delicate.

I'm getting aromas of evenly mixed bananas, pears and honey with that familiar coppery metallic twinge that is common with Belgians.  At least I think so.  It may be a factor of all the aromas combined with a bit of alcohol.  All in all, this is VERY nice!  Some spice is definitely there as well.

The taste starts off sweet with an alcohol/carbonation bite there is a bit of the banana, and maybe some apple with a breadiness to the mix as you work your way through the sip some hop bitterness becomes apparent but it is very mild.  What takes you most is Nutmeg, nutmeg and more nutmeg mixed with alcohol and black pepper.  It's very good, but mostly sweet than balanced.  Warming alcohol.

The mouthfeel is moderate to full bodied, creamy and sweet but leaves a film across your tongue.  I found the carbonation in the bottle to be mid-range and playful.

Overall I would say that this is a good beer!  In fact, I would definitely recommend trying it.  If you could, put this up against a La Fin Du Monde and compare.  I would love to do that some time.  I would bet that there is a pretty big difference.  I am going to give this a 3.8 out of 5 overall.  I like it and want to drink it again, but I've recently had better and can recall the flavors.  This might be better if it was cellared a year!

Dump out that Budweazle!  Start drinking real beer and living!  Don't be a wastoid!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 108, Stoudts Double IPA

Well, this is coincidence rolled all into one big beer.  Not to sidetrack you guys, welcome by the way, but tonight I wrote to someone with whom I haven't connected with (so to speak) in a long time.  I did so because of an odd occurrence.  The bottle that this beer comes in has elephants on it's label.  Elephants are her favorite animal.  And above all else, this has to be the best double IPA that I have ever had and is now my favorite in a new style of beer that I used to, in all honesty, hate.  Perhaps she will write me back!

Time to move on to the task at hand.  Double IPA's are pretty much just that!  Double the ingredients.  Which means double (or more) the grain and to which you have to add double the hops to balance the sweet of the grain.  Generally.
Take a look at that pic!  The color is a bit more red than in real life.  It's more of an amber colored beer.

This beer pours an amber colour that is very clear.  It's bottle conditioned so be careful about pouring in the mud as that will cloud it but not hurt you as it is vitamin B laden and will help with that hangover if you decide to drink more than one of these beauties!  The head is a one finger head that remains through the drink as a thin but full cap and leaves a light "Roman Aquiduct" looking pattern on the glass.  

The mild aroma is of caramel malt sweetness, plums, faint apple and notes of sodabread.

The taste is sweet caramel and hop bitterness from the start with a mild up front carbonation bite on the tip of the tongue.  As the beer flows back across your tongue dark fruit flavours intermingle with the caramel as along the sides of your tongue you can pick up a very mild granny smith apple.  Alcohol is mildly apparent along this trip and warms a bit at the end where the bittering hops engulf your tongue, leave you a little dry, and prepare you for that next delicious encounter between goddess nectar and your tongue.  Don't mind the mild black pepper that may linger in between sips, it's an aphrodesiac!

The mouthfeel is of a sweet, full beer that ultimately leaves you a little dry with a bit of a coat on your tongue.  It's rather nice.  The carbonation is lively for such a full bodied beer, but it works in conjunction with the flavours and really brings them out.  

Overall I am, even though I am relatively new to the IPA world, going to call this a world class beer and invite all to try it even if you don't like an IPA.  I feel it has qualities that can bring out the IPA lover in even the hop faint hearted.  Of course it's hoppy, but not extreme.  Not at all.  And besides, if you don't like it, you can always give the rest of it to me!

Stop drinking bad beer!  Life is too short!  Drink craft beer.  Drink wine.  Try a few mixed drinks.  Get out there and experiment goddammut!  Don't drink in excess, just try new things!


Monday, May 6, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 107, Yards India Pale Ale

India Pale Ales were an English invention.  It was discovered long ago that hops were a great way to preserve ales over a longer period of time.  Since England had once dominated the world with it's navies and established colonies at the farthest reaches of their sailing vessels, they needed to preserve their ales to reach such places as India.  It is rumored that the aristocracy and high officers drank a really nice and strong version of IPA and the rank of the military and various civilians drank a watered down version.  The Yards version at 7% ABV is most likely closer to that of what the officers drank!
It was only fitting that I pour this beer into a 12 oz. mug with a schooner inscribed on it as this may have been one of the smaller vessels that sailed to India.

The beer poured a clear and light amber colour with a nice full lasting and creamy yellow/ tan head that leaves a beautiful and sticky cracked desert pattern on the glass.  NOICE!

The aroma comes off to me as a mix of citrusy hops and sweet malts with a hint of white bread to it and a very faint floral note.

The tastes comes off from the beginning as well balanced between sweet pale malts and mild citrus/ earthy hops and as it moves towards the back of the tongue some more of the bittering hops come through in an earthy way and then leaving citrusy and floral once again.  The finish is only mildy dry and peppery.  This is an excellently balanced beer!

The mouthfeel is lightly sweet and mildly dry with a moderate body being exactly what I would look for in an IPA.  The carbonation is once again middle of the road and perfectly done.

I'm an IPA rookie having only tasted a total of 12 to 16 different varieties, but this has to be amoungst one of my favorites.  I don't know if I would call it world class as that may be reserved for an imperial IPA like Yards' Cape of Good Hope IPA, but this one is definitely refreshing and not overly hoppy at all.  I find it very drinkable and capable of satisfying a hop connoisseur (hop head) as well.  I'm giving this a strong 4.4 out of 5!  Cheers Yards!

You have to get out there and try good beers!  If you are drinking that swill by the big boys, you are going to eventually find that even you can like an IPA.  I, for the longest time, tried to steer away from IPA's but have been growing to like them more and more.  Even the double IPA's  Life is too short, drink good beer!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 106, Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale

Hi everyone!

Before I continue with Yards week I have to apologize for being away!  An unknown stomach illness, which I believe was a Celiacs flair up, but could also have been food poisoning has kept my intake of food and beer at a bare minimum.  Last Saturday I had a few beers, but at a bad consequence so I held off until last Wednesday when I had reviewed the Grey Lodge for my shared article with Donny Smith called Ale on the Town and then I only had samples.  I have posted stuff on Untappd under my name Sean Null, I don't know if a person can follow someone else on there, but I also share it on FaceCrook.  So I have had a few beers, but no real time to get to this blog and I feel sorry about that and I do feel a little out of practice!  So Eff it!  I'm diving back in tonite with Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale.  Thanks soooo much for your patience!

Beer Advocate considers this beer an American Pale Ale.  Yards calls it a Non-Traditional Ale.  Both pretty much have the same meaning.  American Pale Ales are a take on the English style but more experimental with the engredients such as using American hops. Yards takes it another step further by using pilsner malts.  

I poured this beer from bottle at around 55 degrees F into a 16oz pint glass and it poured a very clear gold with a white one finger head that lasts as a ring and center cap.  The lacing is lightly sticky with an unorganized pattern.  Nice.

Honey, malts and hops all approach my nose equally to form an overall sweet citrus aroma that is exquisite!   Let the beer warm a bit, you will see exactly what I mean.  There definitely a hint of the pilsner malt in there.  It's really a nice aroma.

The flavor is just as exquisite.  Semi-sweet pilsner malts entwine with honey, very mild grapefruit, and a mild piney hop that really comes out in the end rendering the experience as mildly sweet, then mildly dry and overall very well balanced.

The mouthfeel is mildly sweet and finishing dry almost like a champagne and light bodied.  The carbonation is moderate and if it were higher this beer would be champagne like in yet another way.  Mild pepper finish.

Overall, this beer was a pure pleasure to try!  I would totally recommend this beer to anyone really.  This would be a great sessionable summer beer and I think a good candidate for being canned as I would love to take this camping with me!

Life is too short for crappy beer.  Get out and try something different!  I stumbled upon a great summer beer tonight!