Archive for October, 2010

Russian River Halloween

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Russian River is easily one of my favorite breweries: from their outstanding IPAs to their American Wild Ales, they seem to hit a home run with each beer. Living in Illinois it isn’t always simple to obtain some of the liquid goodness from Northern California.

The only saving grace I have is my cousin Russ who lives in Southern California and his willingness to help me at every turn when it comes to getting Russian River American craft beers. Recently I received quite the haul from him: Pliny the Elder (4), Blind Pig, and Supplication.

The Pliny was bottled on September 23rd and the Blind Pig on September 07th; both have to be enjoyed rather quickly as the freshness will drop out of the hops soon. No better day than today, Halloween, to partake in a few of the stellar beers afforded the American craft industry by Russian River.

Yep, I am one of the Dad’s that loves taking the kids out for Trick-or-Treating as long as the wagon will continue to produce the treats of great American craft beer. This year the wagon will runnith over with Russian River, which I am already coating the stomach with. All Hallows Eve is looking really tasty this year. Enjoy!

Four American Craft Beer Reviews

Friday, October 29th, 2010

American craft beer and Thursday nights go really well together for Rich and I. We work on the site, review a few beers, and are usually genuinely happy with a constructive evening.

Lately the number of beers has dipped but I don’t think that is a bad thing. We have become to enjoy them more by discussing what we think of each one. Our ratings, per beer, has also become more in sync with us barely ever being off about .3 – .4. In the scheme of things, that is close.

This week we tried a group of beers I brought back with from my Darkness trip that I had made with Mark this past week. The theme, outside of the last beer was wet hopped beers. Each beer was good in its own right but Wet took the show. How can a wet hopped Furious be bad?

The Thursday night lineup for October 28th, 2010 in the order reviewed:

Not a bad night to get primed for the weekend. Now I just have to figure out if a Darkness is the right beer for Halloween on Sunday. Enjoy!

2010 Surly Darkness Experience

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

It has been over a year since my original intentions had been to go to Darkness Day at Surly Brewing Company. I has anticipated going with Mark and his brother, Matt, for the ’09 release but it wasn’t in the cards and I put my wife on full notice that I wouldn’t miss the chance come 2010. All year I reminded the wife of the October date with a trip for a day of beerfull bliss in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

The weeks went by and as the time approached, everyone but mark and I could make the trek. We were off early on Friday with a stop planned in Madison, WI. Star Liquor and State Street Brats for lunch. My visits to Star Liquors are always fun and full of good beer; this visit didn’t go my way. Mark and I both left empty handed. State Street Brats hits on the other hand was well worth the visit: the food is outstanding and no matter which way you turn your head you can see a monitor.

Back on the road with the next stop being our hotel.

Heritage Liquors was quickly plugged into the gps as we wanted to get our hands on other Surly beers. We were in luck as wet was in season. A hundred dollars lighter And we were headed for some of the outstanding beer bars in St. Paul. Unfortunately everything was over crowded and we couldn’t find a parking spot.

Back to the hotel for pizza, baseball playoffs, and some Surly Wet. The alarm was set for 5:30am but neither Mark or I slept too well: we both snore a lot!

Darkness day officially started for us at 6:45am; the time we got our spot in line and the wait for the noon release began. 250th in line was our place. Some 100 or more spaces further than mark was the year before but arriving at the same time.

While in line we got to conversing with our neighbors: three recent college grads. I was more than happy to share the beers in the cooler: Founders KBS (5 bottles), a bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout, Flosmoor 2010 Collaborative Evil, and a bottle of 2010 Port Older Viscosity. All good beers and ice breakers.

The 5+ hour wait went by quickly and we soon had our bracelets. 50 minutes or so later we were out the door with our 6 bottles of Darkness and huge smiles on our faces.

With most of bottles shared with friends and the crazy thought that we drove back on Saturday afternoon, amped up for next year already. 5:00am is the goal for the line next year.

One last thought: I was fortunate enough to go to Dark Lord this year too but in terms of organization, civility of the people, etc Surly has it hands down over Three Floyds. Enjoy!

Reviewed Surly Bitter Brewer

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Saturday was a wonderful time at Surly Darkness Day. Mark and I had the chance to taste Moe’s Bender and meet a few interesting American craft beer nuts while waiting in line. My write up on Darkness is coming tomorrow, hopefully.

Because I am big on Surly beer right now (what a lame statement, I am always big on their beer), I decided to review one of their seasonal releases in Bitter Brewer yesterday. I did a short review of this beer as I was pressed for time. The one thing I would say is that the beer has a nice dry hop that plays a wonderful tune for your nose. The beer is actually released in the Spring and the hop profile was still quite good. I couldn’t imagine how good it would have been five months ago. Enjoy! Aroma: 9, Taste: 8, Look: 9, Drinkability: 8, Overall: 8.4

Surly Darkness Road Trip

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Heading out early today with a buddy Mark to partake and get some Surly Darkness. We plan on being in line at 6:00am tomorrow morning. More to come. Enjoy!

Reviewed: Bell’s Sparkling Ale

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

It is beginning to seem that my M.O. is to not be able to have some American craft beer on a regular basis. I have been finding the time, just not drinking anything new as I like to have the appropriate atmosphere for reviewing. So the actual craft beer levels are maintained, just not the new craft beer levels. 🙂

I bought Sparkling Ale, by Bell’s, was purchased about four months ago while visiting family in Michigan. I actually hadn’t heard much about this offering from Bell’s, so I was a little hesitant to purchase. One bottle it was.

How bad was my lack of knowledge? I didn’t even know it was a Tripel until I inspected the bottle and research the beer on Bell’s’ site.

A vigorous pour brought upon a clean, golden liquid that had a half glass hat of pure white foam. Retention was about average with some minimal lacing throughout. Not a bad looker. The aroma and taste are quite closely connected. Fruits, both light and dark, with banana being the strongest, came through with some spice: clove and pepper. The alcohol, although high, wasn’t in the picture, making this big beer tastier and easier to drink than expected.

Now I am kicking my lack of knowledge in the ass as I definitely could imbibe in a few more of these delicious brews. Enjoy!

Time For Some Beer Porn

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Yeah, it has wine, but that is a cellar, not a basement!

I have the hypothetical beer cellar in my basement, like many American craft beer fans throughout the United States. Why hypothetical? Well, it really isn’t a cellar since my basement temperature isn’t always the same, the humidity changes, and cellars are supposed to be old, dusty, and fill of bugs and mice. Most people’s basements are finished with a bit of storage off to the one side or another. That’s where they make their “cellar.” Not in the dank confines of some old bricked sub-basement that hasn’t felt sunlight since the day it was enclosed.

Now onto the contents of my cellar. Of course my beer collection isn’t the only inhabitants of the basement: my kids love to beat on the basement, my wife stores all her decorations, and the occasional frog enjoys hopping down into the window wells. My cellar, which is really only the area around my storage shelves for my American craft beer, duels as the fermentation area for my home brew.

Of course when I purchased my shelving unit, I didn’t have the for site to move stuff around before building the shelves and placing beer on there. Instead, I built it in front of the Easter shelves, which burried one the Christmas shelves. After repeated requests, I finally decided to take all the beer off and play musical shelving units.

Below are beers from the bottom three shelves. Enjoy!

New Glarus Two Women Lager Reviewed

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I am always on the lookout for another good beer from New Glarus Brewing Company as they are one of my favorite American craft beer breweries. On a recent visit to the brewery and Wisconsin, I picked up a bottle of Two Women Lager with some apprehension, as I am more of an ale guy.

The review of Two Women (that sounds a little strange) marked the 30th different beer I have had from New Glarus, quite an accomplishment since I have only been keeping records for the past 14 months.

The beer poured straw in color and crystal clear. Topped with frothy, white foam that had good retention, while the lacing was thick, sheeting, and all over. Aroma had lager yeast, lemon, herbal, and a touch of grain. The taste was similar: lager yeast, grain, and lemon where the main attractions. The body was light with enough carbonation to give a crisp and refreshing finish.

Why o’ why do I everh have any apprehensions when it comes to beer from New Glarus? I just need to taste, savor, and shutup. Enjoy!

Brau Brother Ring Neck Braun Ale Reviewed

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Thursday evening is usually the time each week that the Two Beer Dudes sit down for a few American craft beer reviews and discuss the website, beer news, and any other happenings within the American craft beer segment. Rich found his way to Detroit on business, so I was flying solo.

So I decided on Ring Neck Braun Ale, by Brau Brother Brewing Company out of Lucan Minnesota. The beer poured a solid three inches of tan foam, that had good retention leaving no lacing behind. The taste and aroma followed each other closely: malt/grain that produced a big nuttiness to the beer. Quite interesting. A bit of chocolate did come through in the taste to separate it from the nose. The body and drinkability were both good too.

All-in-all, for my first Brau Brother beer, I would have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and looking forward to the other three or four flavors I have in the beer cellar. I will be heading to Minnesota for Darkness Days and will have some Brau Brothers on the radar. Enjoy!

Bell’s 25th Anniversary Reviewed

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

I have had Bell’s 25th Anniversary when Rich and I were at the Bell’s 25th Anniversary celebration and we stopped at the brewpub in Kalamazoo, MI. The beer on tap was quite delicious. While on the self-guided tour of the brewery that day, we talked to one of the staff members who called 25th Anniversary “an amber with some extra.” It is definitely that.

The beer pours clear and amber in color with a nice helping of tan, frothy foam on top. Retention is about average with minimal lacing. The aroma and taste are built on a mound of malt: caramel and toffee specifically. There is also a bountiful hop additions: tropical fruit with touches of pine and citrus. Vanilla, dark fruits, hop resin, and alcohol can all be found in this amazingly complex beer. A slightly viscous, big bodies beer has a zesty carbonation that just adds to the appreciation of this beer.

More than I expected each and every time I have this beer and I am glad I have had it on more than one occasion to get everything I could out. Also, the beer is well put together, so why not have more than one. Enjoy!