Archive for April, 2010

Oak Aged Yeti Lead Three Reviews

Friday, April 30th, 2010

An evening of web site discussion goes so much better when it is accompanied by some good American craft beer. Last night, Rich and I had the honor of having three really good beers; not all the same style, but equally all good in their own right.

The last beer, Oak Aged Yeti by Great Divide Brewing Company, was my favorite by the slimmest of margins over Night Stalker by Goose Island Beer Co. and Racer 5 IPA by Bear Republic Brewing Co.. The Yeti was from ’08, obviously having a chance to age, while the Night Stalker is only a couple of months, at most, old, leaving it with a bit of alcohol on the taste. I am sure with some aging it will be an outstanding beer as it isn’t that far off today.

Oak Aged Yeti is a complex brew that has everything you want in a big stout and then throws in nice subtlety of vanilla, from the oak, to send the senses into a frenzy of happiness. I have a bottle of Espresso Yeti and Chocolate Yeti in the cellar, I am now looking forward to both of those more than I was before. Now the question is how long they will last.

On a completely separate note: I am one review on the site away from 400. You see how hard Rich and I work at these Thursday night web site meetings. Truth in the numbers. Enjoy!

Craft Beer Destined for Big Crash?

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

I used to be an avid collector of baseball cards up until the beginning of this century. The last ten years of my collecting I still purchased the new, shiny cards but I was really an avid collector of vintage cards pre-1970. Starting in the ’80s new manufacturers of cards entered the hobby and in the ’90s it exploded.

In the late ’80s, due to great sales, the manufacturers produced a huge amount of cards that are still considered junk over 20 years later. Well the industry changed, got smarter, and started to take into account what the “public” wanted: they made cards more and more rare. Inserts became the norm and 1-of-1 cards are now expected. The price of the product has sky rocketed, “hobbyists” no longer collect sets, but bust packs to try and get those ridiculously difficult inserts and rare releases.

Is he heading to next years release of PLY at Russian River?

Now it is time for me to make a beer reference and make the connection…

It seems that every brewery now makes at least one big beer that is a single release or a small batch each year. People flock to the releases, get upset over not getting “their” beer, and run to the front of the line. They are seeking the rare beers. Beers like Dark Lord are bought for $15 and sold on ebay for $50 or more days after they have been released. PLY selling out in five hours, pissing off the people whom made the pilgrimage to the brewery to not get any. Beer like Kate the Great are 900 bottle release. Local breweries, to me, like Flossmoor release Hi-Fi Rye to the tune of 288 bottles, and the list can go on.

What is next? Sealed six packs that might contain a beer that is 1 of 10 made; creating a frenzy to purchase six packs for the sake of the golden goose possibly sealed inside. A lottery that costs $20 per person with 1,000 tickets and 5 winners being drawn at random to receive a super rare beer. 1 of 1 beers that one person drawn out of hat has the chance to obtain if they can live on an island for a week without help.

Oh, it can and I believe it will get ugly. The industry will have to continue to draw new people and keep the “old” guys in, which can cause some uncanny thoughts and actions.

None of us can deny that this is where the industry is headed. Are we really fans of craft beer or the idea of scarcity? If my past hobby gives any indication, scarcity will win out and the true fans of craft beer will be lost in the shuffle. Enjoy!

Reviewed: Portsmouth Oatmeal Stout

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

We all seem to have a brewery that seems to hold this niche place in our minds that is almost like a crush from our younger days: perfect, flawless, and for some reason, seemingly unattainable. Ever since I noticed a bottle of Kate the Great at Mark’s house, I have had an affinity for Portsmouth Brewery. No, it isn’t the fact that it was a bottle of Kate the Great, but how simply they made their labels, how you could tell they were small, how you could see the dent in the crown from where it was manually sealed. Sort of an ode to the small brewery.

Since that night at Mark’s, he has shared his ’09 Kate the Great and I have had their Bottle Rocket IPA. I also had a bottle of Oatmeal Stout that had been sitting in the cellar for a couple of months.

It has been hard to not open it and I really wanted to share it, but along came last night. I have been working long, crazy hours for work into the wee hours of the morning and I am finally recovering my normal head. I thought to myself: what better way to celebrate than with something special. Portsmouth Oatmeal Stout!

This is a rich, robust scented beer with roasted notes being the strongest. There is a definite chocolate and oat aroma about the beer. Hints of brown sugar and lactose are very subtle. The taste is similar while the chocolate leaves a bit of bitterness in the finish. Surprisingly, based on the aroma, the beer is very drinkable and has a great presence for drinking several as it doesn’t wear on the palate. Another great beer that is worth seeking out.

Of course after another great beer the crush for Portsmouth is still there. I have a trading buddy that goes by there once a month and checks for new bottlings. I look forward to each and everyone of their beers. Enjoy!

Dark Lord Day 2010

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Two Beer Dudes had a successful Dark Lord Day. Enough said.

Dark Lord Day Eve

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Yes this is going to be one of the countless blogs that will be written over the next few days about Dark Lord Days. How is mine any different, how does mine shed any new light on the day, why do you want to read it? Nothing different, no new light, and there is no compelling reason to read it.

Rich and I are planning on taking plenty of pictures and, barring the expected rain, some video to share on the site with those who couldn’t make the event. We are going to try and get a little bit on every facet of the day.

There is a new post on the Dark Lord Day blog mentioning where people can and cannot park at the event. Hopefully that will make finding a safe spot easier but our 8:30am expected time of arrival will be good enough. Enjoy!

Reviewed: Tyranena Dirty Old Man

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The Brewers Gone Wild series of beers by Tyranena Brewing has been pretty good for me. I have had only four different flavors with a fifth (Chipolte) in the cellar. I am looking forward to that one even more as I believe the base beer for Dirty Old Man is the one for Chipolte.

Dirty Old Man, a beer that the labels states is an “imperial rye porter aged in rye whiskey barrels,” is a complete home run in my book. The complexities abound creating a titillating experience for the senses.

The malts are nicely balanced to give the chocolate, coffee, and roasted experience you expect in a good porter, while the whiskey adds some alcohol, with the rye throwing in a bit of spiciness, and, on top of all that, there is a layer of dark fruit that seems to keep the beer wet even though it wants to dry.

I don’t know how easy this one is to still pick up off the store shelves but if you have a local place you can pick even one up, don’t hesitate. Keep your eyes out for their next installment as their sites mentions it will be some type of Wisconsin/Belgian IPA. Whatever they want to call it, I am sure it will be liquid goodness in a bottle. Enjoy!

Grass Cutter Home Brew Smells Wonderful

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I opened the closet this evening to take a look at Grass Cutter and how well it was fermenting. To my surprise my nose was greeted with a closet full of soft orange. Nothing over powering, almost serene in nature at how perfect the aroma seemed to be. No, I am not beating my chest about my beer but the aroma is candy for the nose.

This is my second brewing of Grass Cutter. This time around I added some orange zest and crushed coriander.

Now, I know from hops, that the aroma can be great in fermentation but all the aroma is blowing off through the blow off tube, never to be seen of again. So my thoughts turn to the idea that all this beautiful orange on the nose my shine brightest before it ever sniffs the bottle.

I will keep to my guns and not add anymore to the brite tank or after primary is finished, I want the true notes of the coriander and orange at the last five minutes of boil to come out.

Obviously time will tell and I hoping that some of this aroma finds it way into the bottle. Enjoy!

Grass Cutter Home Brew Batch #2

Monday, April 19th, 2010

A recent gathering of neighbors and friends depleted my cellar of Grass Cutter a wheat ale that was made for my wife and is supposed to be similar to Oberon. Of course my wife said that I would need to brew more, requesting that this new batch have more citrus than the original. I quickly replied that I understood now why some people do 10 gallon or larger batches of beer. The gods were on my side as she agreed and said that I should brew two batches. Talk about leading a horse to water 😉

Now the request to brew more wasn’t a problem, neither was the request to add some citrus. I figured I would just do some reading of the online forums, searchin for orange additions to a beer and her orange citrus fetish would be addressed. After a lot of reading I decided that zesting an orange late in the boil would be the best way to inject this into the beer. I also had a brew club meeting on Friday, so I inquired on this topic once more. They mentioned using coriander also. About a half ounce of coriander, crushed and added at the same time as the orange zest (about 2 ounces which can be obtained from two large oranges): the last five minutes of the boil.

I am not going to add either of these after primary fermentation is done as I want to find out what characteristics have been added to the beer without imparting additional aromas or flavors. If I don’t think it is enough I can either add more or add in the brite tank the next time I brew the beer.

The beer was already fermenting away this morning but, as I always do, I will leave the beer for four weeks before bottling. I will be brewing another batch of this beer again this coming Sunday. No orange or coriander as there were plenty that liked this beer just the way it was (including myself).

I also dry hopped Ladies Day IPA

Golden Tickets

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

If you have any pulse of the American craft beer industry, you will know that Dark Lord Days (DLD) is coming up Saturday, April 24th, 2010 at Three Floyds Brewing. Tickets went on sale about a month ago raising the ire of a many of beer geek as the ordering system couldn’t handle the load/demand in the 50+ minutes it took for tickets to sell out.

I was fortunate enough to get tickets and will spending the day in the parking lot with friends and all the beer geeks there to partake.

There is one group of people I don’t look forward to seeing out there: the ones who buy with intent on making money. In case that wasn’t clear, I am talking about the people you see on ebay selling these bottles of beer for at least three times what they paid. There are many people that would like to have those tickets just so they can have a chance to try the beer behind the tickets.

DLD is one of the American craft beer industries biggest events each year in the midwest and to be “cheated” out of a chance to have one bottle of this beer because someone wants to take advantage of the system sucks.

I have already promised half of my bottles to trading friends. Not for a big loot of my friends, but $4$. Why? They are my friends and they will scratch my back when they get a limited release.

That’s what it means to be a beer geek: share and pure enjoyment without the thoughts of raking others over the hot fire. Enjoy!

Tuesday Night Beer Club

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
three floyds dark lord 2009

Mark's bottle of '09 FFF Dark Lord he brought to share.

The tenth monthly meeting of Tuesday Night Beer Club (TNBC) met last night. Mace was the host and invoked a summer beer theme for the evening. This meant we all had to try and bring beers that would help break us out of our cold Chicago state of mind. The pizza was good, quickly coating our stomachs getting us ready for our tastings.

Mark has been bringing some nice beers from his cellar each month. This month he brought a 2009 Three Floyds Dark Lord. Since almost all of us will be attending Dark Lord Days, he thought it would be appropriate to bust out a bottle for all to share. It was my first chance to taste. I found it to be very good, but I liked the ’08 Surly Darkness Mark shared with us over the summer better. Don’t let that think that it isn’t good, it is outstanding.

The official beer list, which was drank in the order listed, has my ranking at the end:

Ed and I both brought our most recent home brew; it was Ed’s first and I think it was better than mine. The June TNBC will be held at my house and will be the official first year anniversary get together. Enjoy!