Archive for December, 2009

Half Acre Visit Tomorrow?

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

half acre beer company big hugs imperial stout

Based on Rich’s twit from yesterday I wouldn’t mind getting a taste of ’09 Baume at the brewery. Also, according to their blog, they should have released Big Hugs, their American imperial stout. It is the perfect time of the year to go have my first at the Half Acre Beer Company while picking up a bomber and possibly a growler of Daisy Cutter.

Everyone have a happy and safe New Years Eve. Enjoy!

Vertical Of Six Short’s Brewing Beers

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
The six Shorts Brewing Company beers that we reviewed.

The six Shorts Brewing Company beers that we reviewed.

Shorts Brewing Company is a favorite of mine and Rich and everywhere you turn we hear good things about their beer. On my recent trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan I scored six different flavors of their, tripling the amount that we had had to this point. With great pride I invited Rich over last night to taste and review.

Here is the lineup, in the order reviewed, and a few thoughts:

  • Good Humans – an American Brown Ale that was nicely dry hopped adding a pleasant layer of hop aroma. Very drinkable. 8/10
  • The Soft Parade – Fruit Beer that is full of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries is light, seemingly more suitable for the summer months. 7/10
  • Pandemonium Pale Ale – an American Pale Ale that is just a little bit better than average. Nothing really stands out which made me wonder if I might have had an old bottle. 6/10
  • The Liberator – an American Imperial IPA that is very drinkable. There is some hop bitterness to the finish but it isn’t over the top while the alcohol level (which I can only guess at) is well disguised. 8/10
  • Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout – an Irish Dry Stout is a spot on definition of the style. Although not my favorite style very easy drinking and light. 8/10
  • Mystery Stout – an American Imperial Stout that had to be contaminated in some way. Rich and I were looking up in books what the problem was. We enjoy Short’s beers so much, that we had a hard time believing what we were drinking. 2/10

The one gripe I have is the lack of information on Short’s website is void of any information about their beers outside of a little marketing blurb. At least three of the beers that we reviewed I couldn’t even find listed on their site. air jordan spizike I guess I would have to say all American micro-breweries that practice this lack of information bug me. Isn’t that part of the experience?

In Short’s defense, I did email them last night to let them know about my experience with their beers. They replied very quickly, apologizing, and trying to help with the diagnosis of why the beer might have been bad. That is some damn good customer service and why I can’t get enough of American craft beer. Enjoy!

Grand Rapids, Michigan Travels Continued

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

I almost forgot to write about the rest of the brewery hop tale from Grand Rapids, Michigan. My wife was rushing me to go spend the day doing family stuff, so I was on a time constraint. No good writer can weave his words together intricately on a tight time budget, so how the hell can a hack like me be expected to turn out something halfway legible in the same fashion?

olde peninsula brewpub and restaurant

Sunday the plan was to head home via Kalamazoo so that we could stop at Olde Peninsula Brewpub & Restaurant and Bell’s Brewery, Inc. (the brewpub that you can actually visit). I had been to Bell’s in the past and thought it would be nice to visit Olde Peninsula for lunch before making a quick, short visit at Bell’s before heading home.

The setting for Olde Peninsula is English like from the outside in to be more of an English pub. There weren’t many people there at 12pm on a Sunday but there were more than I expected. adidas neo The food was good, fairly priced, and we had enough in portion size that I actually didn’t finish it all (a first). I also ordered and partially split a taster of four beers: Sunset Red (6/10), Rockin’ Razberry Wheat (6.5/10), Vanilla Porter a seasonal (8/10), and OP IPA (8/10). The IPA was really a nice beer as was the Vanilla Porter. The porter had more vanilla before it warmed but nevertheless was a quality beer. The service was good as was the atmosphere. A definite place to stop if you are in the area.

bells brewery, inc. general store kalamazoo, michigan

Next I set the GPS for Bell’s Brewpub and General Store. If I would have known and if the weather would have been nice, it is only a quick five minute walk (estimating) from Olde Peninsula. They had moved the general store from the back to the front (that’s where it was two years ago). The family waited in the car. I picked up an Oberon glass (for the wife since it is her favorite beer), a couple of single beers, and a pack of 144 bottle caps for brewing. They were only $2 and much cheaper than I can get by me. They have a nice home brew shop intermingled with their marketing merchandise.

The short brewery hop weekend was now winding down and the boring drive across Michigan and Indiana lay ahead. I picked up a magazine that has maps of the Midwest states and I am already busy planning our next family weekend. Enjoy!

Grand Rapids, Michigan Travels

Monday, December 28th, 2009

grand rapids, michigan

Hard to believe it has been nearly a week since I have found time to write something here. Hopefully the next few days will be a flurry of posts with the highlight a vertical of Short’s Brewing Company beers.

The trip erupted from a brain storming that my wife and I had Christmas evening. Yes, the kids had all their toys and were happy, but getting out of the house for a day (at least what I was thinking) would be fun, especially since it centered around beer. She one upped me and said that we should spend the night in or near Grand Rapids, Michigan since there was several places in and around there that I had mentioned I wanted to visit. nike cortez femmes Reservations were quickly made for a hotel (under $65 total, damn thrifty wife) and breweries, brew pubs, and beer stores quickly scouted for address information.

new holland brewery brew pub and eatery

Early Friday we were off with our first destination set in the GPS to New Holland Brewing Company. I was looking forward to doing a brewery hop while attending the 2:30pm (local time) brewery tour. Of course things are never as they seem. As we meandered through an industrial park we found a sheet metal sided building with no name on it being pointed at by the GPS. Luckily the basketball hoop had a New Holland sticker on it or I would have no idea where I was at. The next thing we noticed: no cars. Yes, it had been snowing but not enough to keep everyone away!?! The “truck” entrance on the side of the building was open and a single man walked. He said that everyone decided to take off for the holidays. That is great but how about publishing it on your website and/or on your phone recording. Honestly, that pissed me off.

We then set the GPS for New Holland Restaurant which was only a few minutes away and located in downtown New Holland. This place is well worth the visit. The food, the service, and, of course, the beer are all top notch. The prices are better than you would expect. I even got a free Dragon’s Milk on tap as the bartender somehow screwed up and poured an extra. Oh darn.

founders brewing company

Next destination: Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids. I really enjoy their beers and this was probably the place that I was most excited about visiting. Unfortunately, everyone, outside of my wife, fell asleep on the ride over. 🙁 Oh well, I took an outside picture, went inside, checked out the bar (the place is really a bar as ordering of food after 3pm seems to only take place through a little hole in the wall into the kitchen), and looked in awe at their brewing equipment. You could only see the equipment through windows, as they don’t give tours, nike kobe 9 but they have a huge facility/capacity based on what I could see. The place was jumping midday Saturday, so I couldn’t chew the fat with anyone.

The short visit was over. I didn’t have a beer as I didn’t want to keep my wife sitting in the car doing nothing while I enjoyed one of my vices. Off to Hop Cat which was less than a mile away.

hop cat brewpub

Hop Cat is a cozy street corner bar and brew pub. It was sort of dark and my oldest and myself just walked in to check it out. It seemed like all eyes were on us when we walked in. No matter. The patronage seemed a little more upscale but that was based on a quick scan of the bar. We walked to the back of the beer pub to look at their brewery. Small. About the size a master bedroom. Once again, because of the amount of places I wanted to see, nothing more than the walk through.

scilianos beer store

Siciliano’s beer store was our next destination a beer store that I have read good things about. I was a little apprehensive as other stores that had come highly recommended have come up short, way short, in the past.

Holy Cow! This place was awesome. Not big but a great use of space. Very friendly and helpful staff walked me around and helped me pick out beers not distributed to Chicagoland. Each beer on the shelves and in the coolers are all individually labeled for sale. Yes, you do not have to buy a six pack of anything. Just pick the beers, pick up an empty sixer cardboard case, and start filling it up. What a great idea and well welcomed idea. I ended up getting some 20 different beers, as I picked up a couple of doubles for Rich.

We stopped at the Hideout Brewing Company but they were closed. No indication that they would be closed.

grand rapids brewingc ompany

Off to Grand Rapids Brewing Company for a pint and dinner. The nostalgia that they had all around the restaurant was pretty cool; dating back to the early 1900s. nike kobe 9 elite gs Unfortunately that’s where they goodness sort of ran out. My wife and I had a pint of their beer that was average at best. The food was the same. Nothing special, nothing horrible, it just didn’t make us say wow like New Holland’s food did. The prices were average all the way around but based on the quality, I guess you could say overpriced. Our waitress was nothing fantastic as she made the job seem more like a chore. I would stop again to give them another chance.

Grand Rapids and area has a great wealth of breweries, brew pubs, beer stores, and beer bars all seemingly worth the visit. All the places I visited, especially Founders, I would like to go back on an adult tour so that I could have a pint or three at each of the places. Enjoy!

Boston Tea Party of Sam Adams

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

boston beer company samuel adams old fezziwig ale

Last night Rich and I tried out the Sam Adams winter variety pack. A cheap way to try five different winter offerings from Mr. Koch.

I have to admit that once the clock hit 8:00pm and no Rich, nike lebron 11 I thought I was flying solo. Off to the beer cellar for a few beers to review on my own: Black Scotch Ale by O’so Brewing Company and Louie’s Reserve Scotch Ale by Lake Louie Brewing. By the time the beer warmed and I was half way through Black Scotch Ale, Rich showed up. We shared the Louie’s Reserve and then started on with the Sam Adams: I had to work the next day.

Time is short today so I will list the beers, scores, and then give some quick overall thoughts.

Winter Lager, Old Fezziwig, and Holiday Porter all had very similar characteristics, just some minor subtletees that made them different. All three were good to varying degrees and I wouldn’t mind having them again. Coastal Wheat is way to light and did nothing for me and had no business being in a holiday pack. Cranberry Lambic – yuck!

All in all, seven beer reviews in an evening is a bit much as the taste buds begin to go and I don’t like throwing anything out. Hey, I paid hard earned money and I will drink it all. Enjoy!

Three Beer Reviews With Cranbic Leading The Way

Monday, December 21st, 2009

new glarus brewing company unplugged cranbic ale

Yesterday was bottling day and nothing brings on a thirst more than handling beer. nike zoom hyperrev What better way to quench that thirst by picking up some American craft beer and reviewing. Three participants joined the thirst quenching party: Unplugged Cranbic Ale by New Glarus Brewing Company, Blue Paddle by New Belgium Brewing Company, and Olde Number 22 by Arbor Brewing Company.

Unplugged Cranbic marks the 20th beer I have tasted of New Glarus since I have been loggin reviews on the site. The beer has a slightly pink hue to an otherwise amber colored beer. Tart, cranberry and sweet are balanced on the nose with a mild spice and acidicy. Taste starts sweet and grows with a culmination towards the end with the tart – seemingly trying to balance but doesn’t quite get there. This little glitch keeps it from going to the next level but it is another really good beer from New Glarus. 8/10

Blue Paddle is a German Pilsner that is better than average and you should give it a try. I am not saying it will knock your socks off but it is crisp, clean, refershing, and easy drinking. I just thought the senses that it brought out were just a little bit on the light side. I would really like this beer in the summer time as a post lawn mowing thirst quencher. 7/10

The last beer, which I really wanted to be good since we drive by it on the way to my wife’s sisters house, was Olde Number 22. Olde Number 22 is an Altbier that was a little light on both taste and aroma. I realize that the styles call for a delicate balance, so I figured that the beer was to style. I did get a metalic taste in the after taste that killed the beer pretty much for me. It did seem to go away after a while (did I get used to it?) and I was wondering if it was something from the dishwasher in my glass, but this was the third beer in the glass. I would like to give this one another try. 6/10

I drank the beers in the order in which I also liked them: Unplugged Cranbic Ale, Blue Paddle, and Olde Number 22. Tonight is a five beer taster of Sam Adams beers with Rich. Enjoy!

Pot Licker Chocolate Stout Bottled

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

My second batch of beer, Pot Licker Chocolate Stout, was bottled today. After three weeks of fermenting (one in primary and then two in secondary/bright tank) I decided it was time to get it ready to drink in a few weeks. From start time to end time it took my almost four hours. Getting the dishwasher full of bottles, getting the priming agent ready, sanitizing all items, etc.

Final gravity of powerlins ii 1.018 and the taste/flavor was big on roasted and coffee like, not really what I was expecting as this is supposed to be a chocolate milk stout. I used Hershey’s powder cocoa, eight ounces, and it seemed to completely drop out of the beer in the two different carboys. Obviously being my second beer I have never worked with chocolate and I would believe this isn’t normal. But why did it all drop out? Would it be the same if I used bakers chocolate that comes in a bar instead of a powder which, in my mind, should allow it to more easily be absorbed into the wort!?!?

Also, the beer is supposed to be a milk stout. I added a half pound of lactose to the wort at the beginning of the boil and believed that this should give off the milky stout taste.

We shall see what the final beer tastes like in two to three weeks. Maybe more of the flavors I am expecting will come through. I know based on the taste today, if it doesn’t change, I will tinker with the recipe some for the next time I brew it. Enjoy!

Founders Imperial Stout Reviewed

Friday, December 18th, 2009

founders brewing company founders imperial stout

It seems like during the week that two is my limit on the number of reviews I will do in an evening. Of course there are those special occasions that will lead me to partake in a few more, but I find it hard to review more than two beers while doing so alone. powerlins ii femmes The chit chat about the beers helps to bring out other possibilities and make the entire experience more fun. Hurray for TNBC next Tuesday 🙂

I had two stouts last night, one of the Russian imperial variety and the other an American imperial.

Founders Imperial Stout by Founders Brewing Company was the Russian imperial stout and the first beer of the evening. I have had it sitting in the cellar for only a month but it kept wooing me. I gave in to temptation. Poured black and thick with a couple of fingers of brown, sticky, frothy foam with some of the best retention I have seen in a beer. As expected the beer was complex with coffee, chocolate, citrus hops, roasted, and bitterness on the nose and in the mouth. The high alcohol really wasn’t detectable. Some creaminess added to the depth of this beer. Founders just producing the hits. 9/10

Satin Soltice Imperial Stout by Central Waters Brewing Company was the American imperial stout. A clear pour with a big, tan, sticky foam led to some good retention and lacing without even taking a sip. roshe run The aroma was good, just a little light and contained lactose, chocolate, coffee, and some dark fruits. The taste is similar but has a bit of a bitter aftertaste that I didn’t care for. It was too much. One small fault in an otherwise really good stout. 8/10

It was a good night for stouts and I really enjoyed reveiwing both. Now to start thinking of lineup for this evening. Enjoy!

Almost Uneventful Beer Store Wednesday

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Another Wednesday has come and gone and so has another visit to the beer store. Based on what I was told last week this beer store visit should mostly be uneventful as they were just retreading the shelves for the holidays. I drove over there next expecting much but my usual banter about beer with Matt, the stores beer buyer. roshe run femmes Unfortunately and not Matt’s fault, I didn’t get much else this time around.

Two new beers were on the shelf:

I wouldn’t mind either one of these beers but my wife is still on the low fly zone when it comes to dumping money into my beer reviewing habit and I did spend a few bucks this weekend while up in Wisconsin. Matt once again reminded me that EisPhyre by Capital Brewery was well worth the investment. In spite of the shakes, I controlled myself and walked queitly away. Enjoy!

Beer Reviews: Tripel Nova and Mercy by Ale Asylum

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

ale asylum mercy

Up until these two beer reviews I have had only two Ale Asylum beers but liked both and have looked forward to the chance at having more. roshe run flywire A recent trip to southern Wisconsin with Rich gave me a chance to pick up a few more of their beers. Tripel Nova and Mercy where the lucky ones selected.

I had Tripel Nova is a Belgian Tripel and the first as it was the lighter of the two beers. The glass pour was typical with a minimal amount of foam over a partially cloudy beer. Fruit, spice, alcohol, yeast, and wheat were all part of the aroma to varying degrees. The fruit seemed to stand out most. The taste had a similar fruitiness and mixture of flavors with the alcohol making its presence known in the finish. A complex beer that seemed to have a bit more fruit and sweetness than my tastes would have cared for. 7/10

Mercy, a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, was my second and final beer for the evening. Heck both of these beer clocked in at over 9.0%, so that was plenty. The clear pour had a thin layer of white foam that didn’t last more than a few seconds but somehow found its way to create some blotchy lacing throughout. roshe run flywire femmes The aroma and taste both have sweet, toffe, and caramel malts blended with dark fruit (plum and raisin) with a spicy finsh on top of slight alcohol. A very pleasant beer that could easily be served at cellar temperatures. 8/10

After enjoying these two latest beers, I can’t wait to find my way back up to Ale Asylum for more. Enjoy!