Archive for the ‘365 Days of American Craft Beer’ Category

365 American Craft Beer Review

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

It’s over, it’s all over. I can’t believe that this time last year I would be drinking American craft beer number three, instead I am writing about the year long endeavor. I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past few weeks of what I would say on this day and I think I finished the rough draft last night over an Alpha King by Three Floyds Brewing Company, my first beer that I could legally double up on in a year. Darn tasty.

I am going to go over the experience, my thoughts on what is next, and a challenge to what I would like to see some others try.

I didn’t take any stats and I am too lazy to go back over the beers to figure out the styles, cost, etc. I was just happy to make it. The toughest part of this entire process was having a different beer (not too bad) but then having to formulate your thoughts and write them down. To a degree it takes thee fun out of having a beer, because that is what it is all about for me. I enjoy beer: the taste, the aroma, and the friends that usually are there to partake along the way. This was a lot of solo drinking, everyday after work, and sometimes, after a long day, I wasn’t in the mood. The worst was when I had a cold sometime in February or March, I still had to trudge through and document while barely holding down medicine let alone an American craft beer.

Along the way I gained a good 10 pounds but I actually believe that came from stress at my job. When I am stressed I turn to food and I was stressed. I started a job just before I started this process so there is no real way for me to so how much of the 10 came from either. I have been working out recently and would like to lose much more than 10 as I have made every excuse over the past couple of years to go from being in great shape to that of a sea cow. I also have sleep apnea and have a breathing machine I picked up in April. This has helped my breathing and sleeping at night immensely. I know can sleep and feel rested in the morning. Hopefully it will also help me live longer. I believe the air that is forced in me at night has helped to keep me cold free.

The beers were fantastic. There were many that had been sitting in the basement and this process helped me whittle the cellar down some. This also helped keep the money out of pocket to a minimum. I didn’t have to run to the beer store all that often. I think I have only been inside of one about ten times in the past year. Not too many people can say that and have 365+ beers, lol. It also shows the sickness of my cellar. The reason I didn’t go to the beer stores is because I didn’t want to buy six packs, what is the purpose when you can only have one. There were a few bad beers, a few that should have never been cellared, and even a few more that got infected. It definitely has helped me understand what should go down there and I will never place another “out lying” beer in the cellar again.

I want to thank Rich, Steve, and Chuck for dragging their asses over to my house, keeping me going, and acting interested the entire time with this process. My wife also was a huge help as she would remind me on nights that I had no interest in pushing forward. King Bob was there from afar as he was doing this at the same time as me, I couldn’t let him finish and not myself. Anyone who has read the blog, made comments, and shared a beer with me in the past has also helped, because, as I mentioned before, it is much easier to go through this with friends.

Know to the challenge. I am big American craft beer enthusiast so I had nothing but American craft beer and home brew, no foreigners need apply. At times 365 beers seems like a huge, almost insurmountable challenge, but it is easy today to get a hold of craft beer with the number of local places popping up. California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, and Wisconsin all have over 100 breweries listed on the other beer mega sites. I challenge anyone living in one of those states or otherwise to do 365 American craft beers in 365 days from only one state. California is easiest as it has over 300 breweries listed. I know that some breweries are small, don’t bottle, and/or are hard to get to but how many breweries brew up less than 8 beers in the course of a year. My thoughts are this would be crazy but it is doable to the dedicated person. If anyone tries it, please blog and let me know as I will jump on board.

Next? I am going to be concentrating on brewing. I really love the process and, most of all, talking about the beers I make. I have been brewing for over two years and don’t know if I have hit a home run with one of my recipes yet. I think Dirty Balls is there while others are on the fence. I will continue to tinker, brew, and try new things. My goal is 18 brew days in 2012 and, if time permits, more. I am brewing my first sour beer tomorrow, an Oud Bruin, which will take a good year to be ready. I will be sprinkling more in as a I go too. I will be blogging about those experiences much more.

I don’t know if I will ever do the year long challenge again. If I do, it will be via the aforementioned all from one state style but I don’t live in any of those states. I don’t think the wife will move for me to challenge my American craft beer appreciation. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The lantern fish has a glowing spot on the front of its head that acts like a miner’s lamp when the fish is swimming in dark waters. This “lamp” is so powerful that it can shed light for a distance as great as 2 feet. Experiments have shown that when confined to an aquarium, the lantern fish can project enough light to allow a person to read a book in an otherwise totally darkened room.

Allagash Brewing Company Victor Francenstein (365 Day 365)

Friday, December 2nd, 2011
allagash brewing company victor francenstein

Allagash Victor Francenstein

The entire crew (Rich, Chuck, and Steve) was over to help celebrate American craft beer number 365. Three beers were served up and in the following order:

Each of these beers was solid in their own way but only one could reach the lofty status of beer number 365. Obviously you can read and noticed in the title that Victor Fancenstein was the perfect beer for the evening. The drinkability of Victor set it apart from other two beers, although I must mention that the 2+ year old bottle of Ivan was damn smooth drinking. Black Tuesday was too hot. I suspected it would be but I had never had it fresh. I wanted something to gauge it buy. It will be a fantastic beer some day.

Victor Fancenstein is a complex beer that is perfect right now. The tart, grapes, oak, and various other attributes make a subtlety complex beer that goes down easy and begs the senses back for more.

I will sum up the experience with my next entry as this is a celebration of beer 365, not the year long experience. My thoughts and wrap up next. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10 (25%), Taste: 10 (25%), Look: 8 (15%), Drinkability: 9 (35%), Overall: 9.4

Useless Fact: Until the 1950’s, Tibetans disposed of their dead by taking the body up to a hill, hacking it into little pieces, and feeding the remains to the birds.

The Lost Abbey Sinners Blend 2009 (365 Day 364)

Thursday, December 1st, 2011
the lost abbey sinners blend 2009

Lost Abbey Sinners Blend 2009

The eve of my last American craft beer on the journey to 365 was Sinners Blend 2009 by The Lost Abbey. I received the beer as an extra in a transaction approximately a year ago. As an extra! I have really gotten into sours over the past couple of years, thinking of brewery one up, and when I received this beer I was very excited as I know it has met with fairly high reviews. Also, I haven’t met to many beers from Lost Abbey that I haven’t liked.

I eagerly opened the 375ml bottle. The first aromas brought on tart, old, worn out Belgian candy sugar, and vinegar. Oxidation, wood (not really definable), sour cherries, pepper spice filled out the sensation. The oxidation and vinegar, which both showed in the mouth, took away from the overall experience for me. It was a bit over the top. The mouth brought on more of the same as the aroma, delicately creating a complex beer that was a very good offering.

I have a feeling that more vinegar will seep into this beer as time goes on. I recommend drinking it now before it goes to much further. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8 (25%), Taste: 8 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 8 (35%), Overall: 8.2

Useless Fact: The Discus Thrower by Myron, one of the most famous of all Greek statues, is not Greek at all. The statue as we know it today is a restoration assembled in the nineteenth century from pieces of a Roman copy of the Greek original.

Surly Brewing Company Darkness (365 Day 363)

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
surly brewing company darkness

Surly Darkness

Tuesday Night Beer Club (TNBC) was held this month at Rich’s house with a theme of dark beers. The night started off slowly with a couple of American craft beers that were fizzles. As the evening went on the beers started to improve with most of the offers turned into some sort of Imperial Stout. Or course each stout seemed to be bigger than the last until you get to the point that a big stout doesn’t even feel big.

Time for the big guns. Rich rushed in with a bottle of 2010 Darkness by Surly Brewing Company and, before that was gone, broke open a bottle of 2010 Dark Lord by Three Floyds Brewing Company so that we do a taste comparison. Both damn tasty beers but American craft beer 363 is focused on Darkness.

2010 Darkness, in most of our opinions, is currently at its peak. It seems to be a smooth drinker with a nice balance between a sweet and dry finish, neither of which your mouth succumbs. I think you could maybe go another year at most on the 2010 batch before it would be past its prime.

I do have to say that I preferred the Dark Lord over Darkness but by the slimmest of margins. They are both solid beers. I will continue to find my way to the release parties each year. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10 (25%), Taste: 10 (25%), Look: 10 (15%), Drinkability: 9 (35%), Overall: 9.7

Useless Fact: The Venetian painter Tintoretto (1518-1594) once painted a picture of Paradise that was 72 feet long. It was made for the Doge’s palace in Venice.

Hill Farmstead Brewery Jim (365 Day 362)

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
hill farmstead brewery jim

Hill Farmstead Jim

I talked to my seven year old last night to make sure I knew how to count. According to her I should be good to go to finish off the last three days without any mishaps. I am glad that I received a clean bill of counting from her. Still can’t believe I forgot to post that one entry, screwing up the past 11 days of American craft beer counting. Enough of this as I have apologized enough.

Jim is my first beer from Hill Farmstead Brewery. This is one of those breweries I have read about recently and wanted to get a few American craft beer from. Fortunately I found a trading partner as Hill Farmstead beers are very low release in bottles.

Jim is a Cascadian Dark Ale which is an American IPA that has had some sort of dark malt added for aroma and flavor. Some of the dark malts used in this style are roasted barley, carafa, and even chocolate. Jim has one of the largest and thickest foam heads I have seen in an American craft beer. It makes the beer very pleasing to the eye.

A really well done interpretation of the style, Jim deserves your attention if you are fortunate to lay your hands on a bottle. Enjoy1

Aroma: 9 (25%), Taste: 8 (25%), Look: 10 (15%), Drinkability: 8 (35%), Overall: 8.6

Useless Fact: Ancient Chinese artists freely painted scenes of nakedness and coition. Never, absolutely never, would they depict a simple bare female foot.

365 American Craft Beer Goof, Oops!

Monday, November 28th, 2011

We all make mistakes. You better believe it that I make my fair share and then some. I was just doing the math in my head, in terms of my last day of 365 American craft beers in 365 days, and noticed that my original counts were off. Numbers have always come easy for me: I was an accounting major, taught high school math, and do logical thinking on a daily basis for a living. So how could the number get weird the last 10 days or so?

The entire time that I have been doing, I have been following King Bob as he has been doing the same. He has always been two days ahead of me. He always blogs on the day he drinks the beer, I always blog on the day after I drink the beer but in terms of days, when he is on beer 100, I am on beer 98, on the same day. I was reading his entry from yesterday and noticed that today is his last day and, I thought, that Wednesday was my last with Thursday being the one extra beer I promised for accidentally having a duplicate.

So how the hell did I get three days behind (based on current numbers)?

Great question and one I had to solve. I knew that I had to double number a blog or something similar. This is exactly what it turned out to be but one step further: I didn’t actually post the first 350.

So what does it mean? The last American craft beer I officially have will be on Thursday and numbered 365, as it should be. Simple. Clean. Done. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Currier and Ives published more than 7,000 prints. They ran a large factory with hundreds of employees, including many full-staff artists. Through their prints are rare and expensive today, they originally sold for 10 cents apiece.

Crow Peak Brewing Company Pile O’ Dirt Porter (365 Day 361)

Monday, November 28th, 2011
crow peak brewing company pile o' dirt porter

Crow Peak Pile O' Dirt Porter

The last day of the long Thanksgiving weekend. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend: seeing family and friends, while spending quality time with the wife and kids, and giving me a good chance to recharge my batteries for work. Of course along the way I had some quality American craft beer.

American craft beer number 361 is Pile O’ Dirt Porter by Crow Peak Brewing Company. Not a name that really draws you in making you want to drink but, once you get past the name, this American Porter, is a nice offering. The porter is solidly built with only a few blemishes. Definitely one to have again.

Pile represents my first American craft beer from the state of South Dakota. I also noticed that the brewery is right on the cusp of the bad lands; a potential destination for the summer vacation, giving me a watering hole to quench my thirst. Enjoy!

Aroma: 7 (25%), Taste: 8 (25%), Look: 9 (15%), Drinkability: 8 (35%), Overall: 7.9

Useless Fact: The Spanish painter Velázquez was official court painter to King Philip IV when he was twenty-six.

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery HUSH! (365 Day 360)

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

rock bottom restaurant and brewery

It isn’t a full blown Thanksgiving weekend with some type of shopping mixed in. How does the wife get me out of the house? Tell me that the Lego store has a sale and she has a coupon on top of it. Damn skippy. We were off for the mall and my wife had a few stops in store for me that I wasn’t even contemplating. The old bait and switch. Why am I so simple?

Now the good part: the wife knows that I am like a little kid in the sense that if she wants me to go shopping to places I would rather never be seen, she needs to reward me for being good. 😉 A simple sentence like, “I have a coupon for Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery“, puts me on my best behavior.

Rock Bottom isn’t the best place but they brew their own beer and, on some occasions, they will have a bourbon aged beer on tap. I prefer their one off American craft beers as they let the ability of the brewer shine. I had a glass of HUSH! with lunch. An American Imperial Stout, HUSH! delivered heaping helpings of roasted malt. More carbonation than I like in an imperial there was plenty of mouth feel to go around. I would say the beer was average overall. I would have it again. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The horns protruding from the head of the famous statue of Moses by Michelangelo were a mistake! It is true that the Bible describes Moses as having hrons coming from his head. This however, was an error on the part of the translators. In Hebrew the words for “Horn” and “Ray of light” are spelled identically. The translators misinterpreted “Ray” for “Horn” and thus Moses is often portrayed in western art as looking like a devil.

Upright Brewing Company Six (365 Day 359)

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

upright brewing company

The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas season. At least it does in our house. Growing up we had small “traditions” that never seemed to last. As a father I wanted to have traditions in my family as I remember those times fondly. The one that we stick to is the Friday after Thanksgiving being the day we go out and cut down our tree, decorate the tree, and then watch “Christmas Vacation”. It might not seem like much but we all look forward to this day.

Thoughts begin on wondering where the year has gone and how quickly the holidays have found their way back to our door steps. How fortunate we are to have young men and women give their lives daily to protect our freedoms. Which brings up a very somber point this year: Our good friends have a son that was deployed to Afghanistan two months ago. He stepped on a land mine earlier in the week, losing both of his legs and tips of two fingers. My heart and prayers are with them.

No American craft beer, no matter how outstanding, can compete with that bit of news. I tried to cope with the news with Six by Upright Brewing Company. I will stop there as this beer didn’t compete, not because it wasn’t worthy, because my mind was elsewhere. I had Seven a while back it was quite tasty, so I am sure that Upright will impress me again. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: It is believed that 30 to 50 percent more male fetuses than female fetuses are conceived, yet only 5 to 6 percent more males are born. Prenatal (as well as infant) deaths are much higher among males than females.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company 13 Anniversary Ale (365 Day 358)

Friday, November 25th, 2011
firestone walker brewing company 13 anniversary ale

Firestone Walker 13

Happy Thanksgiving! The one holiday that allows me to spend a ridiculous amount of time with family and friends. It cannot be beat for that aspect. Turkey, green bean casserole, sour cream cucumbers, double backed yam, and my Mom’s ludicrously delicious and home made stuffing. All piping hot, all fresh, and all making my mouth water again. Dessert is home made pumpkin pie with real whip cream; is there any other way?

The night cap on the evening was a stop off at Rich’s. I brought over a couple of American craft beers to help celebrate Rich’s birthday a day late. An American Strong Ale, the highlight of the evening was 13 Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker Brewing Company. Firestone’s anniversary beers are always a blend of bourbon barrel aged beers. Each year it is different and, I believe, a group of wine people from the local area come in to taste and determine the blend. Cool idea, great beer. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9 (25%), Taste: 10 (25%), Look: 8 (15%), Drinkability: 10 (35%), Overall: 9.5

Useless Fact: It is possible for a fetus in the womb to get hiccups.

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