Archive for January, 2011

Cigar City José Martí (365 Day 61)

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Cigar City José Martí

Cigar City Brewing. Ever since the brewery has opened up, people have raved about their beers and, especially, their artisan ability to create nuisance within their main beers. Just like everyone else, I wanted some of their beer. I was patient, made a few arrangements, and tried some of their flavors.

I was disappointed. Outside of Jai Alai I wondered if people were drinking the same beers I happened to be. Then, this past year, I decided to do a BIF and the person who had me was from Florida. I didn’t know this up front but once the beers arrived and seven of the fourteen beers were from Cigar City. I was appreciative but my heart sank. I just didn’t think quality American craft beer was to be found, from my taste bud standpoint, in a Cigar City bottle.

José Martí is the fourth beer I have to this point from group, with this one being the king of the group. Only one of those four I would rate average, while the rest are really solid. I guess I didn’t give them enough of a try the first time around.

José Martí is a porter whose bold aroma of flavor filled of chocolate, coffee, and dark malt seem better placed in a stout. No matter, this beer is very drinkable but has that huge, pleasant stout-like backbone that is very pleasing. I know want more of this beer. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 9, Look: 10, Drinkability: 9, Overall: 9.2

Useless Fact: The fastest Pony Express ride was 7 days, 17 hours and was carrying Lincoln’s inaugural address.

AleSmith Speedway Stout (365 Day 60)

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

AleSmith Speedway Stout

An American craft beer sitting in the cellar is always on the back of your mind as a beer geek. You wonder if the fluctuations in temperature are causing harm. You wonder how long to leave the beer in the cellar before drinking it. You wonder if the cap is on tight, especially if there is no wax, in case old man oxidation comes for a visit. You wonder, when you decide to drink, if the beer will live up to expectations. You wonder if the occasion that you decide to drink the cellared beer is worthy enough of said beer.

The list could go on, but you get the picture. Speedway Stout by AleSmith Brewing Company was one of the first good beers I ever placed in my cellar. Who knows, if when I first started collecting beers, if I was cellaring them correctly. I wondered if this might not be that good.

Once I opened the bottle and poured the liquid into my pint glass with its nice brown head, I knew this was going to be something good. The aroma and taste are very similar and outstanding. Chocolate, roasted malt, and coffee are all blended seamlessly into a very drinkable large stout. I would say the body is a bit thin, but that is based on expecting a huge, thick beast. Sometimes the viscous nature of big stouts can be too much, this was pleasant. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 10, Look: 10, Drinkability: 8, Overall: 9.1

Useless Fact: The bagpipe was originally made from the liver of a dead sheep.

Short’s Plum Rye Bock (365 Day 59)

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Short's Plum Rye Bock

Short’s Brewing Company has become a bit of an American craft beer novelty for me. I haven’t really been on board for all of their innovations but some really intrigue me as the combinations are quite off the beaten path. Key Lime Pie happens to be one of the strangest combinations I have tasted but, contrary to what I expected, it was pretty solid.

Plum Rye Bock is another unique combination of choices in which to make a beer: lager, out of the orgdinary fruit in plum, and rye. Not your everyday, run of the mill beer.

Of course I was curious as to how this could be brought together and if it could be pulled off well. Plums, straight plums, is one of my least favorite fruits and I like fruit. The aroma and flavor is more full of tart cherries than plums along with some light spice. I did leave the beer for a while after consuming about half. It probably warmed up into the mid 60s, the cherries did turn to plums, and I could no longer stomach the beer. So make sure to consume this one at the advertised price unless you like plums. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8, Taste: 8, Look: 7, Drinkability: 7, Overall 7.5

Useless Fact: The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days when engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

Half Acre Thunder and Son (365 Day 58)

Friday, January 28th, 2011
half acre brewing company thunder and son

Half Acre Thunder and Son

Thursday night: another night to converse about the Two Beer Dudes website over a few beer reviews. What, no Rich? No problem. Chuck, a home brewing buddy, filled in and instead of conversation about TBD, it lead to the expected place: home brewing. It is getting close to that time for purchasing hop rhizomes and, in spite of Chuck having 18 or so plants in his yard, I was wondering if was going to get more. I only have one plant and the wife gave the go ahead for at least one more this year. My dilemma: I would prefer Citra or Amarillo hops. Both are not publicly grown hops, therefore their rhizomes are not available either. Now I am hoping Chuck has to cut back a few rhizomes and that might be the way I go. More to come on that topic as we move towards spring in frigid Chicagoland.

Meandering through the tangled talk of home brewing was the banter about the American craft beers we were appreciating and reviewing. We only got through two beers last night, both above average, with beer number 58 shining brightest.

Thunder and Son by Half Acre Brewing Company is listed as a brown ale on the bottle but really falls into the American strong ale category. Fruits abound from this beer, both in the aroma and the taste. Not just dark fruits, but some lighter fruits, middle of the spectrum and definitely not tropical. They add this nice balance to the beer that hides the high alcohol well in the taste but it blurts out in the aroma. A little age on this beer, it could be wonderful. As it is now, it is a solid offering. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 9, Look: 8, Drinkability: 8, Overall: 8.5

Useless Fact: A squirrel cannot contract or carry the rabies virus.

Steinhaus Brewing Mission St. Pale Ale (365 Day 57)

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
steinhaus brewing company mission st. pale ale

Mission St. Pale Ale

Mission St. Pale Ale is brewed by Steinhaus Brewing Company which seems to be almost impossible to find on the net. That is information about the brewery. It seems like this beer is released by Trader Joe’s. (?) I received as a Christmas gift from my dear old Mom along with a bottle of Rare Bourbon County Stout. The best “beer” present I have ever received, especially from a woman who knows nothing about the American craft beer scene.

I was a little skeptical about Mission St. Pale Ale since I really couldn’t find it anywhere and then that it was brewed by a third party brewer. No offense to those type of setups, but usually their beer isn’t the greatest. The brewery gets paid for the usage of their facilities and usually doesn’t have much say or other leverage in the beer, so they just make and life goes on. I want a beer to be a labor of love.

To my surprise, Mission St. Pale Ale, was quite the beer. Pours with a nice head into a pint glass, leaving behind some sticky webbing. The aroma is floral and citrus hops on top of a bed of light, but sweet malt. Light in the mouth, with similar carbonation, this is a easy, refreshing drinker clocking in at 4.6%. I think this beer would be great in the summer time but it is still fun now. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 7, Look: 9, Drinkability: 9, Overall: 8.5

Useless Fact: Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the first three Star Wars movies, was a hospital porter in London before starring as the Wookie.

New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole (365 Day 56)

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
new holland brewing company pilgrim's dole

New Holland Pilgrim's Dole

New Holland Brewing Company isn’t too terribly far away over in south-western Michigan. I tried to tour the brewery a little over a year ago but wasn’t successful, so we ended up at the New Holland restaurant instead. Darn tasty.

In spite of the close proximity to me, I seem to overlook the American craft beer goodness that is New Holland. I have rated five of their flavors and would have to say that outside of Dragon’s Milk, I have found their beers to be very average at best. When there is so much American craft beer to conquer, why settle?

Last night was TNBC with one of the beers on hand being Pilgrim’s Dole. It was the second beer of the evening and I wanted to make sure that my official beer of the evening was something that I had early, took some notes, and wouldn’t get mixed up with the rest of the beers.

Pilgrim’s Dole is made with about 50% wheat and the bottle calls it a wheatwine over a barleywine. It pours a copper hue with little, white foam and a spotty lacing. The nose and taste are very similar: caramel, sweet, and wheat. The beer is thick with little to no carbonation. A nice beer that I would have again and wished I had more than my sampling amount on the evening. Enjoy!

Useless Facts: Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to be televised, in ceremonies opening the New York World’s Fair in April 1939.

TNBC Highlighted by Quality Barleywines!

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
pelican pub and brewery perfect storm

Pelican Perfect Storm

Tuesday Night Beer Club (TNBC) was held at Mark’s house this month. Since the climate in Chicagoland this time of year isn’t too inviting for evenings on the patio, we were stuck inside with a theme of Barleywine and Old Ale. Dinner, per the “club” rules, was provided by Mark; actually his wife. Some quality baked pasta and a salad. Good grub to start off the evening.

Typically we try and start the evening around 7pm or so but there is always that one person that seems to show up late and push back the night’s festivities. Yeah, it was Ed again 😉 Where’s my LOGO???? He was there by 740, we headed towards the basement, with Mark choosing the first beer.

The beer and ratings:

Note: a ranking of one is the best, so the higher the number the lower in the pecking order the beer was. Also, this is a number that compares them to the others that were tasted that evening and in no way is indicative of how the beer would actually be reviewed solo.
  Ed Mike Shawn Rich Mark Scot Average
Kuhnhenn Barley Wine 2010 4 5 4 4 3 4 4.0
New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole 3 2 3 3 4 3 3.0
Bell’s Batch 10000 7 7 7 7 7 7 7.0
Sierra Nevada Jack and Ken’s Barleywine 6 6 5 5 6 6 5.7
Real Ale Sisyphus 2009 5 4 6 6 5 5 5.2
Midnight Sun Arctic Devil Barleywine 1 3 1 2 2 2 1.8
Pelican Pub and Brewery Perfect Storm 2 1 2 1 1 1 1.3

I will have to say that I was very impressed with the selection of beers, it gave me a new opinion and outlook on barleywines. They will no longer be the outcast of my cellar. Just remember that when having a beer with Ruby Wang, “All bad beers suck.” Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Your stomach needs to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or it would digest itself.

Founders Brewing Double Trouble (365 Day 55)

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Founders Double Trouble

I had Double Trouble by Founders Brewing Company last year for the first time and was not enamored. So little so, that I didn’t even pursue the beer this year.

So how does the beer come in as American craft beer number 55? Rich owed me some cash for picking him up some Kuhnhenn’s beer during their winter solstice release party. Since he took a while to pay, he decided to bring over a four pack of brews with payment. In there was one bottle of Double Trouble.

I know the beer has been out several weeks at least, wanting to give it a fair shake, I decided to drink it as fresh as possible as Rich only brought it over on Sunday. Quick turnaround 😉

I have heard people ask the question about a comparison to Hopslam. There is no comparison! Hopslam is an elite beer while Double Trouble, with its pleasant pine, citrus, and floral hop profile, is above average. It just doesn’t seem to come together as well and leaves the hop bitterness a little bit out there. Fix the lingering hop profile and it will approach the former category. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 8, Look: 8, Drinkability: 7, Overall: 7.9

Useless Fact: There are more donut shops in Canada per capita than any other country.

Port Brewing Older Viscosity (365 Day 54)

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Port Older Viscosity

It is hard for me to believe that I have had Older Viscosity by Port Brewing Company twice now, out of my own cellar, and I have neglected to rate. Yesterday, Rich was over watching me brew and the Bears unfortunate loss to the Packers, and I thought nothing like the present to bring out a fine American craft beer. I had had Older Viscosity before, knew it was good, so I thought this was the perfect moment to share a bottle.

With brewing beer and watching the game myself, I really didn’t have the facilities to rate this beer. In the back of my head I thought I rated it the first time I had it but much to my dismay, I was wrong.

The only thing holding me back from really being pissed at this time is the fact that I have more left in the cellar. That doesn’t help me in terms of today’s write up nor the fact that I really wanted to let that one sit a while. Although, based on yesterdays tasting, the beer is drinking mighty fine right now.

Bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, molasses, dank earth, etc are all in the taste and nose. The dark fruit are prominent, adding quite a nice layer to the beer. Those were just some quick mental notes. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The world’s shortest river is the “D” river in Oregon. It’s only 120 feet (37 m). It connects Devil’s lake to the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Tyranena Brewing Doubly Down ‘N Even Dirtier (365 Day 53)

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Tyranena Doubly Down 'N Even Dirtier

Yesterday was a family day celebrating the Father-in-laws birthday. I have converted a few of the brother-in-laws to my home brew and, at least one, to American craft beer. Therefore, I am always expected to bring at least some home brew to these get togethers.

No problem.

Grass Cutter finished bottle conditioning and received my seal of approval a week or so ago. I knew that three bombers would be enough. I was wrong: my wife and one brother-in-law, Justin, pounded those in a matter of about 90 minutes, lol. Too bad I didn’t have more to have some fun at their expenses.

Now, how does this matter to American craft beer number 53? I was in the garage, placing the beers there so they would chill up quickly (it was about 10 degrees) and I noticed some other beer on my father-in-laws work bench that I must of brought over in the past. A bottle of Doubly Down ‘N Even Dirtier by Tyranena Brewing Company.

Now, why does that make me so happy? That is one fantastic beer and I thought I was out. It is part of Tryanena’s Brewers Gone Wild! series of beers that are all one offs. I have found them to be wonderful, trying to get my hands on each and every release. I only have one regret: that I don’t live closer to the brewery to get some brewery on-tap only releases. You can read the review from the link above, but a description isn’t fair to this beer. Maybe you can dig one up too to experience for yourself. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 9, Look: 10, Drinkability: 8, Overall: 8.8

Useless Fact: What is an activity performed by 40% of all people at a party? A. Snoop in your medicine cabinet.