Archive for May, 2011

Tallgrass Brewing Company Buffalo Sweat (365 Day 181)

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat

Buffalo Sweat. When you hear that does it make you think of great American craft beer. For me it takes me back to a time in my youth when traveling through the Badlands in South Dakota seeing the enormous Buffalo running wild. I guess now, as an adult, I think of a big male Buffalo having sweat on his balls. Yeah, not that appetizing but that because my mind works in a very strange way. And, no, I do not like Buffalo balls.

Based on my above rant, I was a little skeptical of Buffalo Sweat by Tallgrass Brewing Company. After cracking the can open the blast of roast malt let me know that labels are just that.

Buffalo Sweat is a solid stout with a kind sweetness that helps add complexity to the malts: roasted, chocolate, and coffee. Probably not the biggest bodied stout but not every stout has to be as thick as tar in order to have quality. Definitely would like another. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: In the tenth century A.D. There was not one city in Europe with a population over 400,000.

Bell’s Brewery, Inc Oberon (365 Day 180)

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Bell's Oberon

Nothing says summer like a pint of Oberon by Bell’s Brewery, Inc.. Rich’s middle son had his graduation party and Rich thought it would be a great idea to just have a keg of Oberon on tap. Great thought! Needless to say i9t was it up pretty hard and I would be surprised if any survived the evening.

Oberon is an awesome cross-over beer that just about anyone loves, especially with a nice piece of orange dashed in there to add some citrus complexity. Rich and I believe that the beer has changed over the years, allowing it to become an easier cross-over beer. We even asked the head chemist at the 25th Anniversary celebration, replying that it was true. We started noticing the change several years ago when Oberon started popping up in local grocery chains. I will never know the true reason why they changed the recipe (I thought it had more natural citrus but is now more dry wheat forward than the past) but I really think it was to appeal to more people, this may be toeing the line, but to bring down cost.

On tap Oberon fits the needs of a palate that has thirst; over and over again. Rich even busted out some KBS and Dark Lord as the evening wore on, adding to the winner group of beers. I only have to wait another three years for his next son to graduate. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact:

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Abacus (365 Day 179)

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Firestone Walker Abacus

My cousin is always kind enough to be on the look out for American craft beer out of his wonderful brewing state of California. He usually goes to a beer store and immediately calls me, walking up and down each isle looking for something that catches my fancy. I realize how blessed I am to have someone willing to do that for me as I don’t know how readily I would return the favor. 😉

His last visit netted me Abacus by Firestone Walker Brewing Company amongst others. Ever since then he has been asking if I have tried the Abacus. I have always replied no as I usually like to cellar “big” beers and let them age. I broke down and told him I would have it over the three day weekend.

I obviously cannot predict what this beer will taste like in the future but it is fantastic at the moment. Easily one of the best aromas I can associate with an American barleywine. The bourbon barrel aging has given the beer subtle hints of oak, vanilla, and of course bourbon which mesh well with the caramel and toffee malts. Fruits also come out as does heating booziness that you can feel all the way into the pit of your stomach. Highly recommended beer that exceeds the recommendation. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: At the court of Louis XIV, prestige was measured by the height of the chair one was allowed to sit in. Only the King and Queen could sit in chairs with arms

New Glarus Brewing Company Coffee Stout (365 Day 178)

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

New Glarus Coffee Stout

I kicked the weekend off with a home brew, Honey Pot Pale Ale, at work with the boss and a fellow IT colleague. I thought this would lead to a crazy a night of American craft beer but I found myself in the middle of a game of Titan Quest with the guys from work. I wanted something familiar, something not over bearing, something I didn’t have to physical review this time around.

Coffee Stout by New Glarus Brewing Company was exactly what I needed. New Glarus is a frequent stop, so it is something familiar. Coffee Stout is a mild stout so it wasn’t over bearing. I have had it plenty of times in the past so I didn’t have to do a review. Perfect.

Coffee Stout is a regular release from New Glarus, that has enough coffee flavor/aroma to know it was there but really allows the under lying stout to shine through, and that it does. Roasted and chocolate notes are aided by the coffee to form a nice drinking, solid stout. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 9, Look: 9, Drinkability: 9, Overall: 9.0

Useless Fact: The figure of Kong Kong seen in the original movie of the same name was actually a model 18 inches high.

Weston Brewing Company Prototype Stout (365 Day 177)

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Weston Prototype Stout

Thursday night beer club (very loosely used here) was a go for the first time, to my best recollection, during the month of May. It was also a small crew: Rich and myself. That didn’t stop the high quality list of American craft beers we tasted: Russian River Blind Pig, Russian River Pliny the Elder, and Alpine Nelson besides Weston Brewing Company Prototype Stout beer number 177 of 365 American craft beers.

Prototype Stout is a quality offering with a big roasted malt presence. I usually find oatmeal stouts to have a sense of creaminess, this one didn’t really. Big, bold bitter chocolate and coffee in the finish that lingers. Definitely let’s you know that you are drinking a stout. Enjoy!

Aroma: 8, Taste: 8, Look: 9, Drinkability: 6, Overall: 7.5

Useless Fact: No one knows where Mozart is buried.

The Saint Louis Brewery – Schlafly Irish Style Extra Stout (365 Day 176)

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Schlafly Irish Style Extra Stout

It has been almost two weeks since I have had access to my American craft beer pictures to put on the site and Sips because of a computer crash I mentioned. Once I got the new computer working, I tried to hook my camera up and download images; I also had to hook up my old hard drive and get those images off it. One of those things that until it completely pisses me off, I really don’t pay attention as there are other things that are much important. So now I have a card reader rather than hooking the camera up directly. What a great purchase as it is ridiculously fast and easy to use compared to the straight link up from the camera.

Back to American craft beer as I can tend to geek out on technology.

Irish Style Extra Stout by The Saint Louis Brewery – Schlafly is an Foreign Extra Stout which just so happens to be a style that I don’t have all that often. The qualities of any good stout come through: roast, chocolate, and coffee are there for sure while alcohol, maybe some dark fruits, and creaminess all add complexity to full bodied beer that goes down easy for it’s 8.0% ABV. A solid beer that deserves your attention. Enjoy!

Aroma: 7, Taste: 9, Look: 10, Drinkability: 9, Overall: 8.7

Useless Fact: In his last days, the painter Pierre Renoir was so crippled with arthritis that he had to have the brushes tied to his arms in order to execute his paintings.

Mother Earth Brewing Tripel Overhead (365 Day 175)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Mother Earth Tripel Overhead

I was hoping that I would be reviewing American craft beer number 175 as a celebratory beer. Instead, it was to wash away my sorrows as the Miami Heat took at 3-to-1 lead in the best of seven series against my beloved Bulls. The Bulls just don’t have the offensive choices that the Heat do.

My wife and I were both coaches and when LeBron James had that charge (which was a charge, no doubt) with eight seconds left, I said if the Bulls put the ball in Rose’s hands one-on-one against James, Tom Thibodeau should have his coach of the year award stripped. Rose wasn’t going to score against LeBron in that situation, pick and roll, damnit!

When I went to the cellar looking for something last night, I couldn’t find one beer that was lighter than Tripel Overhead by Mother Earth Brewing. Tripel Overhead is a solid offering with an aroma and taste above average for the style. Maybe a bit too sticky would be my once negative on an otherwise quality beer. Enjoy!

Aroma: 9, Taste: 9, Look: 9, Drinkability: 7, Overall: 8.3

Useless Fact:

New Holland Brewing Company Envious (365 Day 174)

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

New Holland Envious

It is craft beer week in Chicago. To the uninitiated that means tons of great American craft beers will be on tap throughout the city at special events and tapping through next weekend. Unfortunately, I usually have to watch the event from the outside looking in as it is difficult for a guy with three young kids to go craft beer seeking on week nights, especially when I live a good hour or more from any of the events. Luckily for me the wife is really taking a liking to craft beer and she thought going to a tapping would be exciting.

When the first email came to me about noon in which she stated we need to go to something, I knew the game was on. Now it was just figuring out what worked best in our schedule. She quickly found that Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro! was tapping Envious by New Holland Brewing Company. She offered to pick me up from work, with the kids, and head up to the North side for dinner and a beer. How could I refuse?

Envious is an interesting beer. It second fermentation on Michigan pears then placed on oak and raspberries. Quite the mix. As the beer warms, beers are always too cold from the tap, the nuisances of raspberry and oak begin to play on the nose and palate, with the raspberry strong enough to be the focus but subtle enough to let other characteristics come through. The one thing that distracted was a dry vegetal aroma that lasted throughout the drink. I would probably rate this in the mid to high seven range. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Human eyes are so sensitive that on a clear night when there is no moon, a person sitting on a mountain peak can see a match struck 50 miles a way.

Coop Ale Works Native Amber (365 Day 173)

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Coop Ale Works Native Amber

Oklahoma is now notched as another state down in terms of having a beer from every state in the Untied States. I am trying to trim the list down to single digits but filling some of the holes has been slow and a bit challenging.

Native Amber by Coop Ale Works was the beer and brewery that knocked Oklahoma off the list.

I have to say my introductory beer to the state was a great way to kick it off. In spite of Native Amber being an amber ale, it is actually complex with a nice, but not over the top, hop additions. I could even go so far as saying that it is an amber I could like on more than an occasional basis. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: The famous Swedish astronomer Tycho Brahe had a nose made of gold. It was a replacement for his own, which he lost in a duel with a Danish nobleman in 1566.

Dick’s Brewing Company Lava Rock Porter (365 Day 172)

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Dick's Lava Rock Porter

In spite of being close to the end of May, the weather in Chicago has not really warmed up that well. We have had a few teaser days but nothing sustained and overall the temperature has been below normal. To be honest, I am not complaining, but rather reporting. 70 is about my limit on temperature. I like it cool or comfortable in my book.

With the continued coolness it has kept my thirst going for a bit heavier beers. Lava Rock Porter by Dick’s Brewing Company hit the mark. A beer not normally available here, it is a transaction beer. I have to admit when I saw the ratings on some sites on the net I wasn’t overally joyed with the chance up front. No, it wasn’t’ going to be bad, I just didn’t think it was going to be a game breaker.

That’s why we all want to try American craft beers ourselves: we all have our own set of senses that perceive things differently. I thought that lava rocks had plenty of character: good, complex maltiness mellowed by spicy, herbal, and earthly hop additions. Definitely a smooth and easy drinking porter. Enjoy!

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

Useless Fact: In 1824, Andrew Jackson received more popular votes than John Adams, yet lost the election. The vote was so close that neither candidate received a majority of the electoral votes. The decision then went to the House of Representatives, which elected Adams.