Archive for January, 2011

Surly Cynic Ale (365 Day 43)

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Surly Brewing CynicAle

Surly was a brewery that I was fortunate to go visit twice this past year: Surly Darkness and a family trip. Surly makes some really great American craft beers, getting a chance to have them fresh and on tap was something I didn’t think would happen but my wife, being the good trooper, agreed to a trip to Minnesota and my taste buds were happy.

I have to admit the first time I had CynicAle I was a little of, well, a bit of cynic. Even though I have savored quite a few American craft beer Belgians, I just always expect the worst. In Surly’s case I think I was over the top as I know they are known for other more “American” styled beers. Could they really be that good that they could pull off a solid Belgian to go with their quality line up of beers?

Obviously this isn’t my first CynicAle, which should very quickly lead you to the answer I surmised from my question above. There is a nice layer for light fruits to this beer that really make it juicy and refreshing. The one slight problem I had with this beer was that it seemed a bit on the light side. That aside, I could drink several of these as the typical Belgian spices are spiked, because, at times, the pepper can be difficult to take in anymore than small doses. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: The thyroid cartilage is more commonly known as the adams apple.

Lost Coast Downtown Brown (365 Day 42)

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Lost Coast Downtown Brown

Much to my surprise my Mom gave me some American craft beer for Christmas. Well, actually, I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise as she did it last year too. This year she stepped it up a notch: one six pack, six different beers. That’s how I prefer my to get beer as it saves you from having to drink a lot of potentially bad beers but does force you to have to seek out the good beers. Which is much better than the former.

Downtown Brown by Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe was the featured beer of the evening. I ended up washing it down with Jai Alai IPA – White Oak just because I was worried the IPA might be starting to get towards the end of its fresh life. In other words: I did the IPA a favor by consuming it. And, by no means did wash down Downtown Brown because I didn’t fancy it, quite the contrary.

Downtown Brown turned out to be a easy drinking beer with enough roasted and dark flavors/aromas to give it a touch of size. I would even say that you could have this beer in the summertime as a change up and be pleasantly refreshed. For some it might be too light and not appreciated, but I feel that’s where the artistry of the brewer comes, by twisting the fates of a style creating sub-styles that don’t always appeal to everyone but have to judged on their own merit. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: In 1933, Mickey Mouse, an animated cartoon character, received 800,000 fan letters.

RJ Rockers Bell Ringer (365 Day 41)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

RJ Rockers Bell Ringer

Bell Ringer by RJ Rockers was an easy choice for me today. I had Bald Eagle Brown Ale yesterday as my introduction to RJ Rockers, it was decent, so why not go for second and final RJ Rockers brew?

A strong ale, Bell Ringer is an American craft beer right up my alley: big, bold, and perfect for Chicagoland’s crappy winters.

I eagerly open the bottle, poured, and watched the glass fill with burn orange liquid goodness with a nice cap of tan foam (nice head helps to make a beer – I will let you take that one where you want 🙂 ). So far, so good. The aroma is a bit of the let down only because it is light, there just isn’t enough for this big beer. Light aroma also turns me off because I know the taste is partly do to the aromas the nose picks up as your gulp in your beverage.

The taste was pretty solid but a bit on the sweet side. I would guess this could use a bit of collaring as the 8.5% ABV did come across as boozy at times. There is enough hop and hop resin to add enough bitterness for balance. An average offering, but that will definitely warm the innards. Enjoy!

Aroma: 7, Taste: 8, Look: 9, Drinkability: 6, Overall: 7.2

Useless Fact: Wayne’s World was filmed in two weeks.

RJ Rockers Bald Eagle Brown Ale (365 Day 40)

Monday, January 10th, 2011

RJ Rockers Bald Eagle Brown Ale

After living it up a little with Pliny the Elder the other day, I had to have another: the box and bottle both say to drink it fresh. 😉 After a fresh PtE yesterday, I needed to decide quickly on another beverage for my American craft beer of the day.

Bald Eagle Brown Ale from RJ Rockers received the calling or did it call me? This is a beer I received in a recent dealing as an extra. I haven’t had anything from RJ Rockers so I was raring to go with this beer or the other flavor (I believe it was Bell Ringer Ale) I received in the same transaction.

Bald Eagle pours well enough: the foam is good and, for me, that is one of the focal points for me on a pour. The aroma is well balanced with a bit of roasted malt coming through to add a touch of complexity. The same roasted malt comes through a lot stronger on the taste; becoming a focal point of the brew. There are a enough other flavors for balance. A touch creamy in the mouth creating a nice drinkable beer that had a touch of a strange after taste for me. An “average” beer that is easy drinking. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8, Taste: 7, Look: 9, Drinkability: 7, Overall: 7.6

Useless Fact: In 1984, a Canadian farmer began renting advertising space on his cows.

Russian River Pliny the Elder (365 Day 39)

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Russian River Pliny the Elder

American craft beer at its’ finest: Pliny the Elder (PtE) by Russian River Brewing Company. Before my first PtE, I had heard great things about, especially how wonderful this beer was wile it could quite possibly be the best DIPA in the United States.

Once you start getting into American craft beers, these type accusations peak your interest. I was fortunate to land this beer handful of times in 2010, never securing more than two at a time. Once obtaining, tasting, and reviewing, I quickly became a believer that PtE is, if it isn’t the best, in the team photo for best DIPA.

Occasionally I have received some PtE from my cousin whom lives in southern California but it was sporadic at best. A week ago he informs me that he has a basketball tournament in Norther California and wants to stop at that brewery I am always telling him about. Yeah, must be the life.

The next thing I know I am getting a phone call stating that he has secured an entire case of PtE!!! Holy crap Batman. One of his fellow coaches wanted six of the eighteen beers, which was fine with me. I had 18 PtE en route. Yum!

If you have the capacity to get this beer, do yourself a favor and obtain it. You may not agree that it is the best DIPA in the land, but there is no denying that it is in the top five and, for a DIPA, is one damn easy drinking IPA. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10, Taste: 9, Look: 9, Drinkability: 10, Overall: 9.6

Useless Fact: Reindeer milk has more fat than cow milk.

A couple of pictures of the complete Pliny the Elder haul:

Grand Teton Trout Hop Black IPA (365 Day 38)

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Grand Teton Trout Hop Black IPA

Yesterday marked a work held happy hour at Jak’s tap near our office. I have been there several times (I have to write them up on the site) and they have a nice American craft beer tap list as well as some Belgians. A nice surprise that includes some quality food including fish tacos that are outstanding. So when it was announced that our happy hour (actually two) was to be held here, I knew I was going to have at least one quality American craft beer.

Trout Hop Black IPA by Grand Teton Brewing Company was the main event for the evening. As I perused the beer menu, I noticed the black ipa and, knowing I haven’t had many, but have been fond of them, I decided that was my target. Also, in my deciding factor was that I have had some Grand Teton beers that have been half way decent in the past.

The beer pour was nice: a tulip glass with a nice creamy, thick, tan foam that would coat the glass the entire drink. Aroma and taste were similar with a touch of sweet but balanced by both roasted malt and citrus orange hops. The body was creamy with mild carbonation. I had a different beer after this (Stillwater Stateside Saison) but in hind site should have had another Black IPA as I took fancy to it more. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: Duddley DoRight’s Horses name was “Horse.”

Goose Island Honkers Ale (365 Day 37)

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Goose Island Honkers Ale

Nothing soothes the soul better than a good old American craft beer. Yesterday was a commute home from work right out of hell. I caught a train home that I usually take and sat on it for an hour without moving. The conductor came over the intercom three times about the reason for the delay; each time the reason was different than the previous. Really a trustworthy and reliable source.

After an hour of being held prisoner, we were told we could get off the train. By this time, because of the trouble, another three trains worth of people had piled up to go the same route home. Soon they announced that a “special” train was going to our stops and the chaos ensued. Rather than trying to fight my way for a chance to even get standing room on the train (a single train is usually packed and close to standing room without having to worry about another three train loads), I decided to call the wife and see if she would mind packing up the kids and coming to pick me up.

Based on the time of the train I would be able to catch and the fact that it wouldn’t be an express, her coming to get me, going to pick up my car, and driving home would be faster. She agreed. I didn’t make it home until 9:00pm or so and had to cancel Thursday night site discussion with Rich (read Thursday night beer night). Probably the day each week I look forward to was ruined by a shitty ass switching problem on the BNSF! Fuck!

I had some swill of Chinese food from the train station for dinner that was upsetting my stomach, so I decide to have a beer at the bar in the train station. My choices: Miller Lite, Budweiser, and Goose Island Honkers Ale.

Of course I had to choose the only micro brew out of the group. Served way to cold and quite possibly in what I thought was dirty lines, I still took pleasure in the liquid goodness of an American craft beer. I really didn’t take notes as the beer just didn’t seem right; maybe it was me, since I was pissed about the train. Needless to say, what an adventure. I can’t wait for a PLE tonight. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: California has issued 6 drivers licenses to people named “Jesus Christ.”

Tröegs DreamWeaver Wheat Ale (365 Day 36)

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Tröegs Brewing Company DreamWeaver Wheat Ale

You ever have that sneak suspicion that an American craft beer you have in the cellar isn’t going to really please you? Maybe it is a beer you received in a trade. Maybe it was a beer you picked up as a single, so you thought: what the hell. Maybe someone brought it over when you hosted a party. Etc. No matter, we all have those beers, the nemesis of our beer collections and hobbies. What to do, what to do?

DreamWeaver Wheat Ale by Tröegs Brewing Company is exactly that beer for me. It has been in the fridge for quite some time, each time looking me in the eye and begging to be next for a review. Each time I passed.

What made me take it out last night? I came home late from playing hoops, wanted something light, and, possibly, something that I might drain pour. Yeah, sick.

Pleasantly surprised by the pour, aroma, and taste, I easily finished the entire beer, giving a solid review. More body than most wheat beers with notes of wheat, sweet, fruits, and spice hops all contributing to a crisp and refreshing drink. I say this with this beer have sitting in the cellar for some six months or more. How good might it be fresh? Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 8, Look: 8, Drinkability: 9, Overall: 8.6

Useless Fact: Multiply 37,037 by any single number (1-9), then multiply that number by 3. Every digit in the answer will be the same as that first single number.

Surly Furious (365 Day 35)

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Surly Brewing Company Furious

I was first introduce to Furious by Surly in 2009 by my friend Ed. He mentioned that a friend of his from Minnesota had brought back this great American IPA. I was skeptical because the only thing I thought MN was good for was fishing. But Ed never led me wrong before.

I definitely learned quickly not to doubt Ed again. Furious is now one of my favorite IPAs next to Pliny the Elder (which I have 18 on the way to the house) and Hopslam. If you ask me which of these fine beers is my favorite: I would have to say the one that is in my hand 🙂

Last night I partook my last Furious. It was still left over from Darkness which meant it is getting a little on the old side as I only like my IPAs young and fresh. Still, the piney hops were abundant with just a touch of resins starting to show through. I had the beer in my possession for over 2 months and it was still very drinkable, not bad and something to remember for the future. But, if I have my choice, it will still be for a fresh can. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10, Taste: 10, Look: 10, Drinkability: 9, Overall: 9.7

Useless Fact: One million Americans, about 3,000 each day, take up smoking each year. Most of them are children.

Two Brothers Domaine DuPage French Style Country Ale (365 Day 34)

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Two Brothers Domain DuPage

A revisit to an old friend: Domain DuPage French Style Country Ale. Two Brothers is probably the closest brewery to my house and puts out some decent American craft beer. 2010 saw them step it up a notch, producing some new beers making me want to pick them up from time to time.

Early 2010 also was a time that I went back through their beers trying them again for the first time. I had had them but felt I was too opinionated and wanted to give them a second chance, especially since they are in my own back yard. After the second go around last year, I decided that Domain DuPage is a nice beer that I need to appreciate more often.

Amber in color, the pour produces a clear liquid with about an inch of frothy, white foam. A refreshing beer just about any time but much more so in the summer time. Aroma and flavor have sweet malts, apple, and hops. Nice blend. Now let’s have another. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact:The deepest point in the deepest ocean is the Marianas Trench in the Pacific with a depth of 35,837 feet (10,923 m) according to a recent hydrographic survey. This is close to 7 miles (11 km) down, 29 times the height of the Empire State Building.