Archive for November, 2011

Long Trail Brewing Company Coffee Stout – Brewmaster Series (365 Day 354)

Monday, November 21st, 2011
long trail brewing company coffee stout - brewmaster series

Long Trail Coffee Stout

The number of morons on the internet that try to send crap through to my simple blog is mind numbing. As the popularity of the blog (yeah, almost no one reads it) has grown, the number of attempts to put shit onto the end of each blog has risen. I barely, if every, have good comments and I am to the point now where it would probably just get trashed. The bad ones are numerous and I don’t even care to check to see if good are mixed with the bad. Maybe why I don’t get many good. Needless to say it has soured me a bit and I am almost to the point where I want to take that ability off of the entries going forward. I guess it depends on my mood.

On to something that matter: American craft beer number 354.

Coffee Stout – Brewmaster Series by Long Trail Brewing Company is an American Imperial Stout infused with coffee. This is a two year old bottle so a lot of the coffee has seen better days, instead the base stout comes through. Roasted and sweet chocolate make up this stout in the nose and mouth, combining for a pleasant experience even for a beer missing a bit of one component.

Since Coffee Stout is a seasonal, I could really go for a fresh bottle this year to see how that coffee is balanced and the stout holds up. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8 (25%), Taste: 7 (25%), Look: 10 (15%), Drinkability: 9 (35%), Overall: 8.4

Useless Fact: Type O is the most common blood type in the world. Type AB is the rarest. There is also a subype called A-H, but to date only three people in the world are known to have it.

Highland Brewing Company Auld Asheville Vintage Ale (365 Day 353)

Sunday, November 20th, 2011
highland brewing company auld asheville vintage ale

Highland Auld Asheville Vintage Ale

Ever had an American craft beer anniversary beer? Come on, show your hands. Now, think of what percentage of those beers that you actually thought delivered on the price point (since most cost more). Probably not as a sure thing as you would think picking up some special anniversary beer. You want to believe they are special and thus good. Not always the case. Are they worth the money? Are they worth the hassle? I have come to the premise that anniversary beers are more special with a day surrounding them as the day itself is much times better than the beer. To each their own to decide.

The fifteenth anniversary beer from Highland Brewing Company was Auld Asheville Vintage Ale. Doing a bit of research this Old Ale seems to have been released in late 2009 to commemorate the occasion. I don’t know how many bottles were released but I feel fortunate to have had one.

Being an English style, this is a malt forward beer that is manifested with caramel, toffee, and dark fruits with a touch of alcohol. Easy to drink in spite of the high ABV, Auld gives me hope that some American craft breweries strive to make the anniversary beer the center of the celebration. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9 (25%), Taste: 9 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 8 (35%), Overall: 8.7

Useless Fact: The strongest bone in the body, the thigh bone, is the hollow. Ounce for ounce it has a greater pressure tolerance and bearing strength than a rod of equivalent size cast in solid steel.

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Jack D’Or (365 Day 352)

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

pretty things beer and ale project

Another week has come to an end, seemingly quicker each time, so it is time to celebrate with an American craft beer.

I had heard good things about Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project back a couple of years ago. Of course, back then when I was chasing everything, I had to bite and find a few bottles. American craft beer number 352 is Jack D’Or by the aforementioned Pretty Things.

Jack is a Saison which just so happens to be one of my favorite styles of beer. Of course I hold beers of this style to a bit of a higher measurement that the rest and Jack disappoint, coming out better than the average beer. I would call it a clean Saison in that there wasn’t any sour or tart notes to go along with the sweet caramel and phenolic Belgian yeast. A good dose of carbonation, as expected, mixes with the light body to make for a refreshing mix. Enjoy!

Aroma: 6 (25%), Taste: 6 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 9 (35%), Overall: 7.5

Useless Fact: Drinking lowers rather than raises the body temperature. There is an illusion of heat because alcohol causes the capillaries to dilate and fill with blood. In very cold weather drinking alcoholic beverages can lead to frostbite.

The Bruery Provision Series – Tart of Darkness (365 Day 351)

Friday, November 18th, 2011
the bruery provisions series - tart of darkness

Bruery Tart of Darkness

Yesterday was basketball while today brings on the eve of the end of the week while getting together with the Thursday night American craft beer group. Steve made his first appearance in several months. I let him know that the 1st of December will be my last beer in this year long adventure and that I would make it worth his time to show up for the celebration. This isn’t a detailed preview of what we will have on that evening but what American craft beer found it’s way into my belly for number 351.

Provisions Series – Tart of Darkness by The Bruery came by way of a transaction a month or so ago. An American Wild Ale, Tart of Darkness name does not mislead. A mellow stout makes up the backbone while a sour cherry assaults boldly.

The low ABV, 5%, makes this a very easy drinker while the balance of tart and underlying stout make for a wonderful bouquet and all around beer. Nicely done. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10 (25%), Taste: 9 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 10 (35%), Overall: 9.6

Useless Fact: One-fourth of the 206 bones in the human body are located in the feet.

New England Brewing Company Wet Willy Scotch Ale (365 Day 350)

Thursday, November 17th, 2011
new england brewing company wet willy scotch ale

New England Wet Willy Scotch Ale

Wednesday night hoops brings the pivot point of the week and usually a recovery American craft beer. While icing my knees and ankles (old man-itis), I usually look for something light but will take any beer that I believe will help alleviate my sweat glands from their exhaustive work.

Wet Willy Scotch Ale by New England Brewing Company is nicely brewed Scottish Heavy Ale. This was a 2009 bottle with it aging gracefully. As expected the malts shine through with bread, toffee, and dark fruits.

In spite of being a big Scottish styled beer this really hit the spot on a post basketball cool down. Of course it strikes up thoughts of what this beer might taste like fresh as well as that a few more years of aging wouldn’t hurt this one. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9 (25%), Taste: 9 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 8 (35%), Overall: 8.7

Useless Fact: The pupil of the eye expands as much as 45 percent when a person looks at something pleasing.

Pelican Pub & Brewery Doryman’s Dark Ale (365 Day 350)

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
pelican pub & brewery doryman's dark ale

Pelican Doryman's Dark Ale

Why is it that many of the American craft beer web sites make it almost impossible to find information about their beers? On top of that, why do so many not keep that information up to date? Frustrating.

Beer number 350 is Doryman’s Dark Ale by Pelican Pub & Brewery is an American Brown Ale. This was from a version bottled in 2010 so there is a bit of age on the bottle.

Note: this is a lost post that I never pushed out and why I have two American craft beers numbered 350.

Aroma: 7 (25%), Taste: 9 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 9 (35%), Overall: 8.5

Useless Fact: Irénée du Pont, one time president of E. I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company, kept pet iguanas on his estate in Cuba. Mr. Du Pont spent many hours training these pets and succeeded in teaching them to stand at attention and to come when called.

White Birch Brewing Belgian Style Pale Ale (365 Day 349)

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
white birch brewing belgian style pale ale

White Birch Belgian Style Pale Ale

I never like to talk about an American craft beer in a negative sense. If you have followed my roller coaster ride of American craft beer over the past year I have always stated this fact as I know how much effort goes into brewing each and every beer. Along comes beer number 349 from White Birch Brewing.

Eighteen months or so ago, I was on a hunting down beers from White Birch. I had heard really good things about the brewery with each of their beers receiving high marks on the usual web beer grading sites.

Belgian Style Pale Ale was one of the bottles that I landed during those hunting days. To my dismay the aroma was average at best (thus the 6) while the pour was one of the lightest beers that I have ever poured (6 might have been gracious). The flavor began the disappointment. There wasn’t much there, what was there wasn’t balanced, and very difficult to even explain. Maybe this beer shouldn’t have been cellared as I noticed on one of those beer ratings sites that people that tried “old” bottles rated much worse than new.

I still have a few more bottles of White Birch in the basement that I will be trying over the next few months. I am hoping that they are similar to my experience with Tripel. Enjoy!

Aroma: 6 (25%), Taste: 2 (25%), Look: 6 (15%), Drinkability: 3 (35%), Overall: 4.0

Useless Fact: The Second Marquess of Ripon, a well-known British sportsman, killed a total of 556,000 game birds in his life. The Marquess dropped dead on a grouse hunt in 1923, after having bagged 52 birds that morning.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company Artic Rhino Coffee Porter (365 Day 348)

Monday, November 14th, 2011
midnight sun brewing company artic rhino coffee porter

Midnight Sun Artic Rhino Coffee Porter

During this year long trek of 365 American craft beers I have had beers from about a handful of states that I hadn’t before I started. With American craft beer number 348 I can no mark Alaska off my list. I believe I have had some beers from Alaska in the past but not one that I officially put up on the site and reviewed. I also believe that I have at least one other beer in the cellar that originates from Alaska so I can increase my review count for the state by 100%.

Artic Rhino Coffee Porter by Midnight Sun Brewing Company is an American Porter with, you guessed it, coffee. The coffee plays a fairly hefty roll in the profile of the beer which I think detracts from the subtleties of the underlying porter.

The beer was a bit above average and I believe I wouldn’t change my mind without the coffee. I am looking forward to trying the other beer(s) from Midnight Sun in the cellar. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8 (25%), Taste: 7 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 7 (35%), Overall: 7.6

Useless Fact: President James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other—simultaneously! Leonardo da Vinci could draw with one hand and write with the other, also simultaneously.

Thouhgts on FoBAB 2011

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

crowd at 2011 fobab

My second pilgrimage to the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer (FoBAB) has come and gone. I have some thoughts, comments, and a review of the American craft beers that I tasted, with one becoming beer #347 for my 365 American craft beers in 365 days (more to come on that).

62 breweries put their wares up for everyone to taste. 172 beers represented those breweries with many breweries bringing out the heavy hitters. I met an assistant brewer from Firestone Walker Brewing Company that was finishing up taking classes at Siebel institute. He mentioned that most of the beers from Firestone were very limited release that few people would have the chance to appreciate. Those 62 breweries were located in 22 of the states.

After going around I felt that maybe half of the beers there were represented by a handful of breweries. My perception was the beers were much more Midwest centric with some of the breweries from previous years there but not bringing as much swag. That concerns me for what will happen going forward.

The ninth annual FoBAB cost $40 for 16 tickets. This is an increase of $5 in ticket price for one more ticket over the previous year. The event sold out quickly so I would imagine the price will go up again next year non-proportional manner. Once again the amount of people allowed into the fest seemed to be perfect. There was room to move and the goers always seem to get their beers and move away from the pourers, making the experience pleasant.

ninth annual festival of wood and barrel aged beer

I once again attended the event with my wife and we met up with Ed and Shawn from the Tuesday Night Beer Club. The wife, being the socialite she is, found people’s ears to chew, allowing us to meet a couple of huge American craft beer fans we never knew before. The beers were fantastic, as they always are, with only one disappointing.

The beers that I tried with notes taken from the FoBAB pamphlet handed to all festival participants (in the order tasted):

  • Half Acre Beer Company Wake of the Flood (~6.0) – An autumnal rye with apple and Lactobacillus. Aged 11 months in a French oak Pinot Noir barrel.
  • Nebraska Brewing Company Black Betty (~7.5) – American Imperial Stout aged in Colorado craft whiskey barrels.
  • Goose Island Manhattan Barrel Aged Bourbon County Stout (~8.8) – Imperial Stout aged in a 2nd use Heaven Hill bourbon barrel (10-16 years) that was previously used to age barrel-aged Manhattans.
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Sticky Monkey (~7.5) – English-style Barleywine aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.
  • Flossmoor Station Pullman Brown Reserve (~9.2) – Brown Porter with molasses aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels for 9 months.
  • Sun King Brewing Company Pappy Van Muckle (~8.7) – Strong Scotch Ale aged in a Pappy Van Winkle barrel.
  • Haymarket Pub and Brewery Claire’s Thirsty Ale (~8.8) – Imperial Stout aged on raspberries in bourbon barrels.
  • Bear Republic Brewing Company Tartare (~4.2) – Berliner Weisse aged for 18 months in a neutral French oak wine vat. Brightly acidic with a distinct wheat character.
  • Surly Brewing Company Five (~8.4) – 100% Brettanomysces fermented dark beer aged in red wine barrels.
  • Goose Island Heartwood Symposium (~8.3)
  • Bell’s Brewery Black Note (~7.6) – Imperial Stout aged in first-fill bourbon barrels.
  • Lost Abbey 2010 Deliverance (~8.9) – Imperial Porter aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.
  • Piece Brewery Mooseknuckle (~9.1) – American Barleywine aged in a Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel.
  • Goose Island Broadshoulders Barleywine (9.4) – favorite beer of the evening – English style Barleywine aged in an 18 year old Elijah Craig bourbon barrel.
  • Fifty Fifty Brewing Company Old Conundrum (~8.7) – Barleywine aged in a combination of brandy and rye barrels for 225 days.
  • Schlafy Beer Barleywine (~7.7) – Barleywine aged on oak.
  • New Belgium Brewing Company (~8.1) – Sour brown ale.

I will be back for the 10 year FoBAB next year but I might be in for it solo as the wife isn’t sure she wants to go again. We use this day to celebrate our anniversary so I am hoping I can coax her into rescinding her early decision. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the man who designed the Eiffel Tower, also designed the inner structure of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Goose Island Beer Company Broadshoulders Barleywine (365 Day 347)

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

goose island brewing company

I knew that I was going to have some fantastic American craft beer while attending the ninth annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer. It was a matter of limiting the list of candidates down to one beer that I could actually call beer number 347. No easy task.

Goose Island Beer Company is in the hometown of the festival, Chicago, so there was no way they were going to be misrepresented. I knew there would be some studly Bourbon County Brand Stout flavors and that was my target. I wasn’t disappointed by those flavors but they had some of the longest lines at the festival, attaining those beers was hard but not difficult.

Then the thought dawned on me: American barleywine. I am brewing a barleywine and have been drinking them all week to prepare for brew day, so why not try a shitload of barrel aged perfections. I did and this is where I found Broadshoulders Barleywine. Unfortunately it was an English barleywine, but it was the best in show for me.

After my taste of this beer I am going to call and ask if this is on tap at one of the Goose Island locations. It is a special beer. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The Graham cracker was named after Sylvester Graham (1794-1851). A New England minister, Graham not only invented the cracker but also published a journal in Boston that took a rabid stand against tea, coffee, feather beds, and women’s corsets.

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