Archive for January, 2011

COAST Brewing HopArt IPA (365 Day 52)

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011


HopArt IPA by COAST Brewing Company was American craft beer number 52. This was part of a few reviews Rich and I did on Friday in lieu of the typical Thursday night get together as we were both preoccupied by family. Rich has been a huge IPA kick: the bolder the better, so the last few get togethers have involved a large amount of hops.

Friday was not different and we ended the evening with the best beer of the night: HopArt IPA. Not intentionally as my wife was making pasta sauce and the garlic aromas were burning our noses like some type of strong acid. Try your hand at picking up beer scents when your nose feels like it stuck in the Stinking Rose in San Francisco, California.

HopArt is big on citrus hops, they almost seem to fall out of your glass. There is plenty of malts to balance in both the aroma and taste, balancing nicely and making the big beer quite drinkable. Almost dangerously so as the 7.7% ABV will light you up. The bottle I had was about a month old and definitely was in its prime; the only way to drink IPAs. If you have the occasion, don’t pass it up. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10, Taste: 9, Look: 9, Drinkability: 8, Overall: 8.9

Useless Fact: Your fingernail has the same ingredients as fly poop.

Short’s Brewing Autumn Ale (365 Day 51)

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Short's Autumn Ale

Beer number 51 comes from Short’s Brewing Company. Autumn Ale is an ESB that is released each fall. It was about an average beer with its most redeeming quality being the taste: the hops, floral mainly, come through quite nicely but don’t overwhelm or add much bitterness, just a nice shot of balance. I would have it again but would look for something else first.

Just a thought or two on Short’s: I have now had some 18 different flavors of their beer with my opinion, mostly, always the same: average and usually interesting, but not outstanding. Novelty is the best way I can describe Short’s. Yes, they have Bellaire Brown, a year round beer that is quite outstanding, but most of their beers are one offs, that have some very unique spin on a style or, more likely, don’t adhere to any style but try to create something completely anomalous.

I am not knocking them for their inventiveness, I applaud it, but those strange flavors, mouth feels, and aromas don’t always work for me. I still try them, I still seek them out, because I want to be part of each interesting permutation. After all, American craft beer is all about the artistic and stimulating creativity that a brewer can impart in his craft. Enjoy!

Aroma: 7, Taste: 8, Look: 8, Drinkability: 7, Overall: 7.4

Useless Fact: Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards.

Stoudts Brewing Scarlet Lady Ale (365 Day 50)

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Stoudts Scarlet Lady Ale

It is hard to believe that I am already on day 50 of drinking a different American craft beer every day for a year. Until I had the beer in hand and was reviewing the beer did I realize that it was 50: I wanted it to be something special. Oh well, I guess I will have to wait for 75 or 100. I do have to admit, at least to this point, the first 50 have flown by.

Scarlet Lady Ale by Stoudts Brewing Company is an ESB that had been in the cellar for a short time. I actually thought I had the beer before and wanted to sample other offerings first. Little to my surprise this is a new beer to me.

The beer is malt forward with caramel, toffee, and nut flavors and aromas. The nut comes through, becoming a great compliment to the beer, adding to its level of hardiness. I found this part of the beer to be my favorite. The hops come across as earthly with pine and floral notes. Quite a good and complex ESB. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8, Taste: 9, Look: 9, Drinkability: 8, Overall: 8.4

Useless Fact: There are only four words in the English language that end in “-dous”: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

Inlet Brewing Monk in the Trunk (365 Day 49)

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Inlet Brewing Monk in the Trunk

Uninspired. That’s how I would sum up my latest American craft beer endeavor. I know that may sound harsh, especially knowing the amount of time and work that goes into making a beer, but this beer’s lackluster ability to invoke anything above average in Monk in the Trunk, is disappointing at best.

Why the strident position? I have to admit I never heard of Inlet Brewing Company or Monk in the Trunk. I received this as part of a transaction during 2010. The beer sat in the cellar for a while as I believed, based on the name and wrongly so, that this was a Belgian. Cellaring shouldn’t hurt it and I would wait for the perfect time to have it.

I had passed on it many times but for some reason, last night the thoughts of having a Belgian appeased me. Thus Monk in the Trunk. The beer wasn’t as horrible as I am making it out and I hate bashing a beer, but I feel like I had a magician use slight of hand to change the beer inside from a Belgian to an amber ale. Damn name and picture on the bottle are so misleading. I would have the beer again with reserve. Enjoy!

Aroma: 6, Taste: 6, Look: 9, Drinkability: 7, Overall: 6.8

Useless Fact: According to the Guiness Book, the fastest restaurant in the world serves the client’s food within 13 seconds after the order is made. The name of the restaurant is Karne Garibaldi and is located in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Arcadia’s Big Dick’s Olde Ale (365 Day 48)

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Arcadia Big Dick's Olde Ale

When I tell people that I am doing 365 different American craft beers in 365 days, they give me this look of oddity. I haven’t decided if those looks are those of skepticism or drunkard. I guess the average person believes that having a beer a day isn’t normal. Obviously those people don’t hang out with anyone I know, where a single beer per day is on the light side. As for the skeptics: I don’t think they know more than about 10 different macro beers exist, so where would I find all those beers? Germany?

Beer number 48 come from Arcadia Brewing Company in Michigan: Big Dick’s Old Ale. I had a 2009 bottle with hopes that this would be a really solid beer; I needed something to sooth my 13 hour work day.

I won’t say that Big Dick’s Olde Ale was what I was looking for, but it was a solid offering. Not that I really care, but the name sort of bothers me, so I guess I do care. Maybe if their beer was as big as their dick’s, then I wouldn’t have been disappointed. Oh, man, that sounds awfully weird.

Sweet dominates the beer with it coming in caramel and toffee waves of malt. Hop aroma, if any ever, has gone south after two years in the bottle, just leaving behind some bitterness for balance. Dark fruits are pleasant. Probably a bit light in the mouth for the style but still a sipper. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 8, Look: 9, Drinkability: 7, Overall: 8.1

Useless Fact: Mosquito repellents don’t repel. They hide you. The spray blocks the mosquito’s sensors so they don’t know you’re there.

Homebrew Grass Cutter (365 Day 47)

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Does it get anymore American craft beer than having a home brew? I believe this is the fifth batch of this particular beer I have brewed (maybe fourth). With the last three batches I have tried goofing around with the recipe a bit: tinkering, muddling, and dabbling with some spices and fruits.

Originally it was just a straight wheat ale. My wife and neighbors like it but I though it was okay. The beer needed more fruitiness, especially orange, as this was the desire of the beer. Eventually I started brewing it with coriander and orange zest in the last five minutes of the boil. The aroma during fermentation was outstanding: orange and more orange. But, alas, everything that comes out in the fermentor, is gone for good from the beer when it comes to aroma. These batches had a touch more orange juiciness but I still was curious.

This last batch of Grass Cutter Wheat Ale had an addition of orange zest in secondary (actually in primary after fermentation was done). The result is just about dead on of what I wanted to create over a year ago. I am very satisfied with this beer as it sits now. I am still in the process of conversion to all-grain (waiting for the weather to warm up), so this was still made with dried malt extract. I am looking forward to the next two beers that are fermenting right now. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: A male gypsy moth can smell a female gypsy moth in heat up to a mile and a half away.

Surly Bender (365 Day 46)

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Surly Bender

It was a sad day as the consumption of Bender by Surly Brewing Company marks the last one of their fine American craft beers that I had in the cellar. Oh, I have some of their bigger, cellaring beers, but no Bender, Furious, Coffee Bender, etc.

Probably out of the lot listed, I would have to say that Bender is my least frequent flier but it is still rated as an 8.0; showing you what I think of the others.

Bender is a malty beer that has enough complexity and hops to make it easy drinking and way above average. Chocolate, coffee, and dark fruits (minor) all come out either in the nose, mouth, or both. There is a sweetness that abounds but is tapered back by deeper, roasted aromas and flavors. Quite a solid brown. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8, Taste: 8, Look: 8, Drinkability: 8, Overall: 8.0

Useless Fact: Because radio waves travel at 186,000 miles (299,274 km) per second and sound waves saunter at 700 miles (1,126 km) per hour, a broadcast voice can be heard sooner 13,000 miles (20,917 km) away than it can be heard at the back of the room in which it originated.

Bell’s Hopslam (365 Day 45)

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Bell's Hopslam Ale

Hops are in the air in the midwest: Hopslam by Bell’s is released every year in January. Not only is it American craft beer goodness, it is hop goodness to the nth level.

For anyone that has been a beer geek for any amount of time, they have heard of Hopslam. It is one of those beers that everyone talks about, that everyone tries to get, even if they have had it before, is only around for a short period of time, and, most importantly, being a DIPA, it cannot be cellared: drink it now or give it to someone who will.

Hopslam is brewed with honey, that makes the beer finish a bit dry. The hop aroma is huge, pleasant, and full of pine and citrus. The sweetness to the taste mixed with the honey and hops is a does of pure beer nirvana.

Yes, I went and did it: I rated a beer a ten. I did have a chance the other evening to have this along side Pliny and most of us picked the Hopslam over the Pliny. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10, Taste: 10, Look: 10, Drinkability: 10, Overall: 10.0

Useless Fact: Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

Hop Fun on Thursday Night

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Have you ever noticed on some evenings of tasting, sharing, and reviewing American craft beer can be better than others? I don’t really mean from the stand point of the beers being better, but just from the point of anticipation, the people you share it with, and the mood you just happen to be in. Last night seemed to be that perfect storm: everything was right, I could have been entertained by American craft beer all night. That said, my usual cut off time for Thursday nights is around 9:30pm as I have to get by 5:00am for work the next day. Yes, I am a Sally, but I like my sleep. Last night went until about 11:00pm with Chuck, Rich, and myself sharing seven mighty brews.

The theme for the evening was IPA, as I had several sitting in the cellar that I wanted to have fresh. Since they were all bombers, when better to have them then when surrounded by friends. Rich brought over a fresh bottle of Bell’s Hopslam to throw into the fray.

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.
  Chuck Rich Scot Average
Sweetwater Brewing Dank Tank Border Hopper 6 3 3 4.0
Cigar City Jai Ali IPA – Humidor Series 5 6 7 6.0
RJ Rockers Black Perle 3 5 5 4.3
DuClaw Brewing Serum 7 7 6 6.7
Cigar City Guava Grove 4 3 4 3.7
Bell’s Hopslam Ale 2 1 1 1.3
Russian River Pliny the Elder 1 2 2 1.7

As I said, quite the lineup. Highlight of the evening, there were two: first, Guava Grove was pleasantly surprising as I have come to not care much for Cigar City offerings, and having a fresh Hopslam back-to-back with a fresh Pliny the Elder. Hopslam won out. Enjoy!

Cigar City Guava Grove (365 Day 44)

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Cigar City Guava Grove

I guess you could start calling Thursday American craft beer night for Rich and myself. We try to get together each week to discuss the site, which was viable when the site first started about 20 months ago, but now the site is what it is and it is just a “legal” excuse to the wives to have a few, quality American craft beers. Last night was the night of the hop as I had several fresh hoppy beers that I wanted to get out of the cellar before they were past their prime. Rich is a huge hop head and a brewing buddy of mine, Chuck, joined us.

My toughest part of the evening was deciding which beer was officially going to be number 44. Originally it was going to be the first beer of the evening but, after a few minutes of thought, it quickly came to me that Guave Grove by Cigar City, albeit not an IPA, was the right beer to write up.

Being a Saison it is easy to wonder how it made it into the group of beers last night. Fair thought. I thought with the name of Guava Grove, it had to be an IPA. Nonetheless the beer had a nice funky side to it that really made the beer. Fruitiness and a touch of sweet made this beer refreshingly fun. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: The actor who played Wedge in the original Star Wars trilogy has a famous nephew: actor Ewan McGregor, who plays the young Obi-Wan in the new Star Wars film.