Archive for the ‘Lounge’ Category

a tale of three beers

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Hey all. Had three fantastic beers recently (and a lot of good or average ones as well). Two of them were East Coast newbies for me and the third was the return of a Midwest beer, under a new name, and also one of my top five favorite beers.

  1. I got three different beers from Trillium from a new trading partner out of Connecticut. Haven’t drank the FREE RISE saison yet, and SCALED didn’t do much for me, but VICINITY was freaking insane. Cloudiest IPA I have ever had. It had very healthy foam and lacing, but it was so cloudy I couldn’t tell if there was any carbonation. Of course, I didn’t give a rat’s hindquarters, because I so rarely get to try beers like this. It presents with a big bitter hop nose which follows through on the taste. There was a slight citrus flavor and malt notes underneath everything, but the overall feel was light for a DIPA. The alcohol was very well disguised, and that helps make it feel very well balanced. Midwest beer folks, I have to tell you you should find a friend out East who could help you this one.
  2. But if you can get your butt to BJ’s in Oswego, keep an eye out for the next time Maine Beer Company LUNCH comes back around and you won’t have to pay for postage. Had a two week old bottle of it about two hours after picking it up on Monday. I couldn’t wait, as I’ve been wanting to try this one for almost as long as I’ve been into craft beer. I like the idea of an East Coast brewery doing a West Coast style. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and at first taste, I thought “Is THAT all there is?” But once I started getting used to it and met it on its own terms, it really impressed me. It was a very good looking beer, golden orange with healthy foam/lacing and an amazing amount or particulates for an IPA (at least in my limited experience). It had a strong and well balanced hop and malt smell with a mild funk behind it. The malt was more forward on the taste than the hops, which presented as a bitter background. It was very refreshing and tasty, and if I can get more of it, I will. I am dying to try DINNER even more now, if it’s anywhere near as good as this.
  3. We’re now at the returning local favorite: EMERALD GROUPER, aka SQUARE GROUPER renamed. I’ve had this on the previous two releases. The second time, it seemed to disappoint me. The first time, I gave it a five star review. This time was more like the first. It was the cloudiest Midwestern DIPA I’ve ever had, almost like an East Coast style. There wasn’t strong foam to it, and like the VICINITY, I couldn’t tell if there was carbonation due to the cloudiness, but the lacing was pretty healthy. The nose is super strongly bitter-it’s one of those beers that I don’t have to ask my wife to drink to know she wouldn’t like-she smelled it, made a completely disgusted face, and handed the glass back to me. When that happens, I figure there’s a 75 percent chance or more that I’m going to love the beer. The bitter hop scent is accompanied by sweetness from the honey, and both the hops and sweetness present themselves strongly on the taste, backed up by slight bitterness. Absolutely one of the best tasting beers I’ve ever had. For a DIPA with honey, I’d say it’s as good as HOPSLAM.

Anyways, just some thoughts that I wanted to share. Thanks all. Going to get back to my FOUNDERS DEVIL DANCER before turning in.


Friday beers, Wednesday edition

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Sorry, sometimes will take me a bit to write what I intend to if things are busy, but I wanted to say something about my beer experience last Friday.

It started with me trying to prove my pet hypothesis, which is this: if you go on the What Beer Are You Drinking Now thread early enough (in my case, opened the thread) and post a picture of Founders Breakfast Stout and a good heavy metal tune (in my case, Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills), then you will “win” the most likes for the day, which I did, and by a pretty good margin. I find it interesting how that’s probably the most popular beer on that thread.

Later that afternoon, I was able to grab the last six pack of Three Floyd’s ZombieDust at my favorite beer store. Because I hadn’t had it in a long time, and I seem to forget how balanced and juicy it is in between times having it, it became the only beer I drank the rest of that day. It really is truly a great beer, despite how I sometimes bitch about the brewery being overrated.

Couple notes on the coffee beer post the other day:

-the Fouders Sumatra Mountain opens up nicely when you pour it into a coffee cup. Going to have to try it in a snifter at some point.

-Peace by Mikkeller was pretty good. It was a Belgian abbey ale with coffee and aged in Bourbon Barrels. Not big on the coffee flavor, but a very mellow and tasty beer. I usually find myself disappointed in their beers, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Well, off to do yard work and figuring out what to drink after the work is done.

Have a good one….

Beer blog? Eh, why not?

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Hi all. My name is Matt. I’m a friend of Scot, known him about three or so months, started hanging out because of something near and dear to all our hearts – beer. We encountered each other through the Beer Advocate website because of my predilection to post in the Latest Haul forum, and since I often described my trips to the store in Scot’s neighborhood, he contacted me to talk beer and invite me over for the weekly beer shares. I’ve learned a bit more about beer, I’ve hung out with some good people, and I’ve tried some damn good beers I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to if not for him.

Anyways, enough apple polishing. Why I am writing here? Well, my wife is a school teacher and her aide has made two suggestions to me about what I should do with my life to make extra money since I lost my job a few years ago. One was this week, when she said I could be her “EBay representative” (whatever the hell that entails). The other was probably sometime last year, when she said I should blog about beer. And then Scot comes along and offers me a chance to blog. Well, he don’t need to pay me to write about beer, and screw EBay, I always say.

So I decided to write down something about the more interesting beers I drink and share it here. I probably won’t mention everything in detail – I’ve been enjoying my two favorite SixPoint hop bombs this week: Resin and Hi-Res, and I picked up a four pack of Vallejo today because it’s a personal favorite. And at some point, I may discuss my feelings on Founders Breakfast Stout, but if I told you every time I opened one, you’d get tired of it pretty damn quick. But I probably will bore the shit out of you with my Ninja Vs Unicorn love. After all, my nickname for that beer is Mother’s Milk.

Anyways, I’ll keep this post about one type of beer I had this week, because I had some interesting ones, and that is coffee beers.

I started the week with Prairie Artisan’s Bomb! (for those of you unfamiliar with it, that’s the name, it’s not that I liked it so much I have to use exclamation points). I’ve had this on three or four occasions, the last before this week was on tap at the Open Bottle in Tinley Park before catching the shuttle bus to Dark Lord Day. I think I may have enjoyed it more that time. It seemed like this time from the bottle the coffee flavors were stronger.  I’m thinking the difference was obviously draft (freshly tapped that morning) vs bottle (and I’m not sure if Prairie dates their bottles). Either that, or I have to stop drinking my coffee beers in my Intech coffee mug. But Bomb! is an outstanding beer that I highly recommend you try at least once (the price point is a turn off, I get it). It’s extremely well balanced, it’s got lots of flavor, and the best way to describe it is it’s got a boozy spice that flows over the mild sweet roast like some sort of salsa soul mix.

That leads me to a second love that I may write about here from time to time – music. I won’t say a lot, just thoughts about stuff I like or hate and want to share. I downloaded the new Underworld album Monday. Quite good. First one from them in six years. There’s some stuff on there that’s very Radiohead Kid A sounding, there’s a good slice of 80’s synth pop, there’s some evil plodding drum and bass stuff, and there’s some classic techno music that’s totally what I expect from them. The best two tracks are the first ones, I Exhale and If Rah. They sound like LCD Soundsystem meets The Streets. (and if you don’t like electronic dance music or British rap, don’t bother looking any of these acts up)

Anywho, back to coffee beers. The second I tried was Founders Sumatra Mountain. I actually drank this from the bottle, so I didn’t get a great look at it. Maybe the next couple four packs. This was a good beer, but the coffee is almost TOO much. I heard one person describe it as almost a coffee flavored stout instead of a coffee flavored brown ale. I concur. It’s roasty and tasty, but it’s almost like drinking coffee instead of beer, because I didn’t get much in the way of ale on it. Not to say I’m not going to enjoy drinking the rest of them and seeing if I can actually find some ale-like qualities with it.

Okay, last one was one I had today that I had heard about years ago when I started getting into craft beer, but the idea of a Double IPA with coffee just disgusted me back then. But since I’m getting into the coffee beers and it just came out for the first time that I can remember in a while, I picked up a bottle of Pipeworks/18th Street’s collaboration Attack of the Devil’s Lettuce, and I’m damn glad I did. I’m a huge Pipeworks fanboy, but I have to say they very rarely disappoint me, and this one was great. It’s extremely well balanced. They use Sorachi hops, and from my experience, that’s a lighter hop – it doesn’t produce big citrusy notes or bitterness and it’s very accessible. That’s why I’m thinking it works – the Double IPA profile isn’t big and it mixes well with the coffee, which isn’t too overpowering. If it had a coffee presence as strong as Sumatra Mountain, this beer very well could have sucked. But it didn’t, and for that, I was quite glad. I’ll buy this one again when I see it. Plus it was a damn good beer to have on hand when there was stressful shit going on with a home improvement project over here.

So, that’s my thoughts about a couple coffee beers. I’m going to get back to the new Radiohead album and the year old Avery Samael I’ve been drinking for almost two hours. Nothing like a 15 percent ABV to start the evening.

Cheers. Hopefully Scot won’t revoke my posting privileges now.


Family Trip to Iowa, South Dakota and Colorado Yields American Craft Beer Score!

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

2015 trip for American craft beer booty

The family trip took out west, at least of where we live. Our main stopping points were South Dakota and Colorado with stops in Iowa, Minnesota and Wyoming. Per usual the wife was kind enough to allow me to stop at breweries, beer stores and brewpubs along the way.

The first stop was in northeast Iowa at Toppling Goliath Brewing Company in Decorah. I had a few beers on tap, excellent. The family was restless, time to move on. I picked up a few beers, highlighted in the beer haul section.

More to come…

Beer Haul

4 packs
  • Surly Furious (2)
  • Surly Doomtree
  • Surly Blakkr
  • Goose Island BCBS
  • Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue (2)
  • Avery Liliko’i Kepolo (2)
  • Telluride Fishwater IIPA
6 pack
  • Squatters Off Duty IPA
  • Indeed Let it Ride IPA
  • Telluride Bridal Veil
  • Toppling Goliath Dorothy’s New World Lager
  • Bull & Rush 4.0 GPA
  • Bull & Rush Man Beer
  • Avery Tectum et Elix (2)
  • Avery Insuln mulfos Callibus
  • Toppling Goliat Zeelander (2)
  • Avery Raspberry Sour
  • Sulry 2015 Pentagram (2)
  • Victory Sour Monkey
  • Topppling Goliath 1492 IPA (2)
  • Humbolt Black Xantus
  • Squatters Outer Darkness
  • Alaskan IIPA brewed with Rye
  • Dschutes 2015 Jubel (2)
  • Alaskan Double Black IPA
  • Humbolt 500 BC
Crooked Stave
  • St. Bretta (late spring)
  • Hop Savant – Citra (2)
  • Hop Savant – Amarillo (2)
  • Petite Sour – Tart Cherry
  • Colorado Wild Sage
  • Vieille
  • Surette
  • Origins (3)
  • Nightmare on Brett (4)

Craft Beer Pricing By Beer Store?

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

American craft beer prices

American craft beer prices is the one constant that Rich and I discuss when getting together. I have also brought up American craft beer prices on the blog before (hard to believe it has been that long).

For some five years or more it seems to me that the local beer store chain charges more for all their beers than any of the other stores. I am not talking a quarter or fifty cents more, but typically couple of bucks more on bombers over $10 and the same for six packs. Their prices are more on par (and sometimes still higher) with the Mom-and-Pop one-off beer stores.

I went to high school and college. I had to take the introductory level macro- and micro-economics classes. I thought I understood the basics of supply, demand, buying power, etc.

Logic suggests that the large chain should buy cheaper, passing along those savings as lower prices to consumers. Why should my bottle/can of beer cost 20, 30% or more at the chain than other stores? Greed and lack of respect for the consumer (and, from talking to employees, lack of respect for them as well).

Recently my wife stopped at a beer store in southern Indiana. She purchased a couple of beers that I could get locally. The bomber was $8.48 for FFF. I pay $10 or $11 at the chain (I don’t anymore as it is too expensive). The other thing: if you buy six or more bombers, you get a 10% discount on purchases. Go figure: buy in bulk, save money.

Unfortunately, said chain is the only decent American craft beer store within 60 minutes. I home brew more than I buy and, when I buy, I buy reluctantly, choosing do it yourself six packs for $10 (still over priced). Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 51% of people think stormy weather affects cloud computing.

Purchased: American Sour Beers

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

I have been asking Michael Tonsmeire (The Mad Fermentationist) questions for at least three or four years: probably six months before I brewed my first foray into sour/wild home brewing. I wanted to know how I could work with Brett and how this magical yeast would be different from Sacch. Keeping it from contaminating my other beers and gear was a huge concern. I also learned that Brett does truly sour the way that the bacteria lacto does.

Since those early days my home brewery has lived harmoniously in the sour and normal beer realm. I feel like I have graduated to middle school. I have a miniscule amount of knowledge compared to Mike on the topic. Mike has had articles in BYO magazine for years but the first time I can remember him bringing up the idea of a book was via a poll on his blog.

I know that books aren’t easy to write so I had no idea if he would ever pull together his thoughts in one place. I was hopeful. Fortunately for the home brewing community Mike has a much more positive outlook on things than I do. 🙂

The book has been out a couple of months. Brando, the owner of the local home brewing store, Chicago Brew Werks, asked if I had read the book yet. He raved about the book. I had been intending to purchase but that was the last straw. I had to show my appreciation for all the hard work that Mike has put into helping funky home brewers and the book.

I am looking forward to the read. I am sure I won’t be able to put it down once I start. Friday night into the weekend will find me with book in one hand and a sour saison (review forthcoming) in the other. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital suspended workers for betting on when patients would die.

Das Boot

Friday, January 31st, 2014


Not the boot from Beer Fest but the one I received from my doctor a couple of weeks back, has placed a huge damper on my home brewing.

I hurt my foot while playing basketball. I didn’t roll but had some bad pain in both of my calf muscles. I woke up the next morning with a sore (a bit worse than that but painful seems too harsh) right foot. The arch, ball, ankle, just about the whole thing hurt. I limped to work and home. The following morning I woke up and had pain. Enough pain that I couldn’t walk on the foot. To the doctor.

I am entering my third week with the boot. The foot has slightly recovered. When I walk around without the boot, which is very limited, I can’t go fast, far or for long without good old pain creeping in to remind me that I am old and too fat to play basketball anymore.

Yeah, don’t cry for me. I will live but my home brewing has gone south. I can’t stand long enough to brew a batch. I am hoping to be back up and around in a few weeks. I have yeast wasting away that wants to have a smile put on its’ face while sinking into some sugary wort. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Approximately half the money paid out by fire-insurance companies in the United States is paid for fire loss due to arson.

Freezer for Temperature Control Part II

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

running electric for feezer

Back in August I picked up a used freezer that I had plans on using for temperature controlled fermentation. The problem that I was facing: it sits at the opposite end of an unfinished basement from the electric panel. No current for juice.

Running conduit and wire has been something I had done in the past. That didn’t worry me. I had two empty 20 amp circuit breakers in the panel (remnants of a salt water tank), half the conduit already hung (once again from the salt water tank) and I had two spools of 12 gauge wire. I even had all the necessary connectors, plates, etc.

What was the issue? I didn’t have a pipe bender.

Time for a phone call to my Dad, the man with all the tools (and basically the one that has given my tools for my birthday every year for the past 20, but no bender). I convinced that my birthday gift would be him coming over with the pipe bender to spend some quality time in the basement, wiring up my fermentation freezer.

After three hours of work my freezer was plugged in, cooling away. Next up: temperature control for the freezer. Cleaning the house one weekend will probably be the edge I need to convince the wife I “need” such a device. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 160 cars can drive side by side on the Monumental Axis in Brazil, the world’s widest road.

2013 American Craft Beer Resolutions

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013


Time seems to be at full warp speed anymore. Days, week, months seem to last no longer than a blink of an eye with my memory being about the same. Last year I made a few resolutions that I would like to revisit while making a few more predictions for the year ahead, 2013.

My focus for 2012 was to increase and improve my home brewing while trying to stick to an American craft beer budget. I also wanted to hit up five new breweries. For once I hit all of my goals:

  • I brewed 20 times. During the year I tried new tips and tricks to get better mash efficiency, get acquainted with Brett, better fermentation temperatures, etc. Myself and my friends get a win from better brewing.
  • Outside of some nuttiness late in 2012, I spent $30 or less in eight of the months on American craft beer. The cellar is still large but there was a small dent placed in its’ side.
  • Most of the breweries I visited in 2012 were on the Ohio trip. I got my five in, barely.

My 2013 resolutions aren’t going to be that much different but maybe a bit more precise.

  • 20 brews is a nice round number. I don’t have to hit that many or I could go over throughout the course of the year. That isn’t the goal. I want to finish getting the last few pieces to my home brewery that will allow me to be a better and more self reliant home brewer.
    • Grain mill
    • 15 gallon brewing pot
    • Freezer to control fermentation temperature and possibly my first lager
  • Keep American craft beer expenditures to near or lower than 2012 levels. Use the saved money to help achieve number one.
  • Visit five new breweries in my home state of Illinois. I have been to very few locally, time to expand the breadth of Illinois craft beer appreciation.

I hope everyone has a healthy 2013 aided along the path by a dose of American craft and/or home brew. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: In a very early draft of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones carried brass knuckles instead of a bullwhip.

2012 Great Taste of the Midwest

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

It has been two years since I had a chance to attend the Great Taste of the Midwest. This was a “date” for the wife and I. Perfect.

American craft beer festivals in Wisconsin are different in one major way than their Illinois equivalent: no drink tickets. Yep, the beer fests in Cheese head land have no drink limit (or at least the ones I have been to). By comparison, I have never had my fingers wrapped around more than 15 tickets at one time in Illinois.

Below is the list that I tried (some I had more than once) and in the order tasted:

  • Hopthesis IPA
  • Ommegang Hennepin
  • Bell’s Two Hearted
  • Tighthead Irie IPA
  • Vintage Hibiscus Saison
  • Big Bay Boatilla
  • O’so Hop Whoopin
  • Tallgrass Velvet Rooster
  • Stillwater Exsistant
  • Founders Breakfast Stout
  • Founders Curmudgeon
  • Alaskan Summer
  • Three Floyds Robert the Bruce

I would say the most surprising beer of the day was O’so Hop Whoopin. Nice resinous and tropical fruit hop mix that was easy to drink. I had three heaping helpings. A half glass pour of Breakfast Stout reassured me that it was my favorite beer of the day. Vintage Hibiscus Saison was probably Sue’s favorite, which means I might be trying to brew something similar.

Some breweries were already out of beer by 5:15PM, barely more than two hours after the fest began. This was a hang up for Sue. We were in line for Bourbon County Stout when the keg ran dry and the crowd dispersed. Overall I was happy with the beers I tried but don’t think we will be back for a while. The wife mentioned she prefers the American craft beer at FOWBAB much more: rare, short release, and big. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The Sun burns 600 million tons of Hydrogen every second.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...