Archive for April, 2011

Dark Lord Day 2011 Recap

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Dark Lord Day 2011 Scratch Off Ticket

Because it happens only once a year and it is one of the biggest get together for beer geeks in the Midwest; on why Dark Lord Day is such a big deal. This year everything changed. I would say for the better.

When days like this start to get out of hand, as they did last year, more rules are good. The rules really helped to keep the day running smoothly, get rid of some of the over crowded goofyness, stop a lot of line jumping, and just make the day easier and more enjoyable for people like myself just picking up beer and leaving.

Yes, I had to leave early as there was a family communion. Stinks but family is important. My wife already informed me that my middle child will be having communion next year and could quite possibly land on Dark Lord Day 2012, not allowing me to even attend. YUCK!

It took us a mere two hours to go through the entire line and get our beer. Chuck and I met two Illinois locals: Tim and Brendan, that were kind enough to share a few beers with us while we were in line. After numerous people in line helped solve today’s cross word puzzle, the four four of us talked home brewing, Dark Lord Days past, American craft beer, trying to open a brew pub, and various other tidbits. The addition of their conversation was appreciated.

After getting our beers we huddled up around my car for a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (2010), Founders Nemesis (2010), Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and a Three Floyds Dark Lord (2009). A quality selection of beers.

In all the day was great. We had an hour of sun light to warm the air, people were courteous, and the process of getting a beer was fairly quick. My only gripes are the fact I couldn’t make a day of it and that Rich had a different time, not allowing me to have a few brews with a good friend. Enjoy!

Videos of how big the crowd was:

Useless Fact: In medieval China and parts of Africa one method of enforcing chastity was to sew up a girl’s vaginal labia as soon as she reach puberty. The stitches were not cut until the marriage; the husband then had the option of sewing them up again if he was called to war or on a long journey.

Drake’s Brewing Company Hopocalypse (365 Day 150)

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Drake's Hopocalypse

I don’t know if you guys are getting tired of reading about my California beers, I know I am not getting tired of tasting and reviewing them. This has really helped to keep me on a string of really good beers in which I only have one dilemma: how to get these beers again.

Hopocalypse by Drake’s Brewing Company is the latest beer from California with this one quite easily being the best of the bunch to this point.

Hopocalypse is an American Imperial IPA that is, of course, hop forward with huge helpings of pine and citrus hops on the nose. The malt backbone only ekes out a small territory on the nose and mouth. Citrus hops, most notably grapefruit, come in the finish of the taste and linger around for a bit. Pine and orange start in the middle and transition into the aforementioned bitter, grapefruit finish.

The aroma and taste are about as perfect as you can get, especially if you like big, slobbery West Coast IPAs. This one delivers perfectly with the grapefruit bitters, which lingers, holding it back from being over the top drinkable. The high alcohol can sneak up on you as it did me because it is so well hidden. Outstanding.

Next up: a recap of Dark Lord Day. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10, Taste: 10, Look: 9, Drinkability: 9, Overall: 9.5

Useless Fact: Before King George IV of England ordered a set of boots made to fit each of his feet, shoes were designed to be worn on either foot.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Velvet Merlin (365 Day 149)

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin

I have relished my run I have had on American craft beers from California. I have a few more choice beverages in the cellar to review over the next week but I know the fun will be coming to an end. The good news is that I believe I might have a consistent transaction partner so that I may have a consistent supply.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company was once again the spotlight for the evening. This time it was their oatmeal stout Velvet Merlin. This is the last of the four bottles of Firestone Walker beers that I have, so I reviewed Velvet Merlin with a slight bit of remorse.

As soon as I poured the beer, aromas of roasted malt and chocolate hit my hairy nostrils from more than two feet away. Quite impressive. The scents that precipitated from my pint glass were those that are well suited for a quality stout. The aroma made the beer big. The taste came next, once again, big roast and chocolate with an injection of coffee, with dark chocolate bitterness in the finish. Perfect. All this aroma, all this flavor was wrapped in a stout that was only 5.5% ABV and light in the mouth.

Being a home brewer, I am impressed with the ability to get so much yet keep the beer light or lighter than you would expect from such a large beer in the categories. Although, this could make or break the beer for other people. Wonderfully done. Enjoy!

Aroma: 10, Taste: 10, Look: 9, Drinkability: 8, Overall: 9.2

Useless Fact:

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Boont Amber Ale (365 Day 148)

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale

My wife reminded me of bad news yesterday that will directly affect my American craft beer fun at this years Dark Lord Day. I have a first communion to go to for one of her nephews, starting at 2:00pm. The lucky thing: I have a ticket for the first round to start purchasing beers at 10:00am. Based on the distance this is away from my house, I will have to get my beer and pretty much jump ship afterwards.

Beer 148 is another California beer, an extra in a recent American craft beer transaction. Boont Amber Ale comes by way of Anderson Valley Brewing Company, which is actually distributed to Illinois. I know I shouldn’t look a gift-horse in the mouth, but I wasn’t overly thrilled about receiving this beer for two reasons: it is distributed here and Anderson Valley beer has never really striked me as something I really wanted.

Needless to say, Boont Amber Ale is a really nice amber ale, better than most of its brethren. Floral and herbal hops seems to be the balancing act for the sweet caramel malts. It is a bit different take on most of the amber ales I have had. The beer also made me happy to be drinking an amber ale, which doesn’t happen often. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8, Taste: 8, Look: 10, Drinkability: 9, Overall: 8.7

Useless Fact: The average hummingbird weights less than a penny. It has a body temperature of 111 degrees and beats its wings more than 75 times a second. Its newborn are the size of bumblebees and its nest is the size of a walnut. The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backward.

21st Amendment Brewery Monk’s Blood (365 Day 147)

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

21st Amendment Monk's Blood

Another day, another American craft beer from the West Coast. This time it was Monk’s Blood by 21st Amendment Brewery. Monk’s Blood is a Belgian Dark Strong Ale that seems to define it’s own style.

There are plenty of malts in Monk’s Blood. I believe their site had eight listed. Quite the assortment and somehow they pull them all together to make a blend that really doesn’t characterize one over the other but a synergy, almost creating a new profile.

I could definitely go for this again and would recommend it to be appreciated slowly. Now it is time to start thinking about beer number 148. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: There are 170,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 ways to play the ten opening moves in a game of chess.

Maui Brewing Co. CoCoNut Porter (365 Day 146)

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Maui CoCoNut Porter

One of my goals is to have an American craft beer from every state. When I cracked open a can of CoCoNut Porter by Maui Brewing Co. for review, I believed that I had knocked one of the list: Hawaii. I was wrong. I had a bottle of Pipeline Porter by Kona Brewing Company back in February as beer #74.

CoCoNut Porter has been on my American craft beer radar for a while as I have heard good things about it and the beer has won many awards. I found it to be above average, at best, but not the barn burner of an award winner that it is. There are a ton of other porters I would prefer over CoCoNut Porter. Enjoy!

The list of states I still need a quality beef from if anyone is interested in helping: 🙂

  • Alabama
  • Iowa
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

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

Useless Fact: John Harvard did not found Harvard University. Harvard, a Puritan minister, simply left his library of 400 books to the college when he died in 1638. The college itself has been founded two years earlier and was first known as Cambridge.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Double Barrel Ale (365 Day 145)

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale

The countdown is on and my excitement is quickly building as I know that Dark Lord day is this Saturday. Unfortunately, for the second straight year, I have family business and I will have to pretty go and leave, not able to take in any of the fun, good beers, and good people that will be there this year. I am curious to see how much better things will run this year with the changed format.

Double Barrel Ale by Firestone Walker Brewing Company marks the third of four different Firestone Walker beers I received in a recent transaction. Velvet Merlin is the fourth and final, probably finding it’s way into a review sometime this week.

I had Double Barrel a couple of years ago and sort of forgot what this beer was about, in spite of the review. I was wondering what that meant to the beer since I couldn’t remember it: good or bad.

I will have to say that it means nothing bad. Double Barrel is a solid English Bitter with a big, bread malt backbone that is balanced by some hops. Not my favorite style of beer, but Double Barrel is one of the better examples, for me. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: The first automobile race ever seen in the United States was held in Chicago in 1895. The track ran from Chicago to Evanston. The winner was J. Frank Duryea, whose average speed was 7 and a half miles per hour.

Centennial Hops Growing (Part 3)

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

2nd Year Centennial Hop on 2011-04-23

This past week in Chicagoland has not been nice, least of all to the hop plants. The centennial has grown slowly for about the past 10 days as the temperature hasn’t gone above 50 degrees and it has been cloudy, damp, and rainy. Just a wonderful Midwestern mix for the spring.

In spite of the slow down, the early warmth, has helped the longer bines to get to the two foot range already. I think I will be ready for some twine shortly to start training them up. As you can see in one of the smaller pictures below, I cut off enough bines to get me down to five: no need in letting energy being wasted by the plant in bines that I would cut off eventually anyway. I plan on allowing three bines to grow all season. Two more will have to go.

In the last picture below you can see the early beginnings of my new Mt. Hood plant. Maybe an inch of growth. I don’t expect this plant to grow more than 15 feet or so this year since it is a first year; spreading it’s roots and establishing itself will be top priority.

It seems like it should be a little warmer this week in Chicago, so I am hoping it will drop kick both plants into some more growth. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The words “naked” and “nude” are not the same. Naked implies unprotected. Nude means unclothed.

Centennial trimming of bines

Mt. Hood beginnings.

Goose Island Beer Company Sofie (365 Day 144)

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Goose Island Sofie

American craft beer on sale. It doesn’t happen that often for any of us but, when it does, it is something to behold. The amount of American craft beer that has flown off the shelves in the local liquor chain this past month has been something to behold. Supposedly they have sold so much Stone that they have dried up the supply at the distributor. Good or bad problem?

I of course, have taken my turn at the beer isles, contemplating what I should and shouldn’t buy. I sided on buying everything and anything I have really wanted lately but didn’t buy. I landed a few bottles that were $3.00 off on their own. Yes, it was basically purchases of pricier beers.

Not that Sofie by Goose Island Beer Company is expensive or hard to get, I haven’t had it in a while and for $6.99 for a bomber, how could I go wrong. Subtle scents and flavors of tart, sweet, spice, and juicy fruits, make Sofie quite the refreshing drinker. I might have to get a few more before the end of April. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: In one day a full-grown oak tree expels 7 tons of water through its leaves.

TNBC Highlighted by California and Oregon!

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Tuesday Night Beer Club (TNBC) was held at Rich’s house this past round. California and Oregon American craft beer was the theme. Rich served some steak tacos, salsa, and chips; the perfect lead into some big hoppy west coast beers.

The Bruery Two Turtle Doves was an unanimous best beer of the evening. It seems that the year of aging has suited the beer well. Will another 10?

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.
  Shawn Ed Mike Scot Rich Joe Average
The Bruery Two Turtle Doves 1 1 1 1 1 1 1.0
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye 7 6 3 5 8 7 6.0
Russian River Damnation (Batch #047) 3 2 2 2 2 3 2.7
Lagunitas Maximus IPA 5 5 5 4 7 2 4.7
Odonata Saison 4 4 4 3 4 5 4.0
Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout 8 7 7 6 9 6 7.2
Moylan’s Hopsickle Imperial Ale 6 9 6 5 4 6.0
Lost Abbey The Angel’s Share Grand Cru (2009) 2 3 3 2.7
Hair of the Dog Adam 9 8 6 7.7

Another solid showing for TNBC. Whose next? Just as long as it isn’t all lager or sours, it should be fun. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: In 1915 the average annual family income in the United States was $687 a year.