Friday, December 28, 2007

Liefmans Brewery In Bankruptcy

I don't usually comment a lot on "the beer business" but I was saddened to see that Riva, the parent company of Liefmans, has declared bankruptcy. This has been talked about on several beer related sites and blogs but seems to be covered quite well on Stonch's blog.

Terribly sad news. We may be jumping the gun as the beer may still be made - during bankruptcy proceedings and perhaps after a restructuring of the business.

Still, there is always a chance that the brand won't survive. Goudenband is one of my favorite beers ever. I have always liked their fruit beers since they used an Oud Bruin as a base instead of lambic or, increasingly, a bland wheat beer.

It looks like I'll have to go find some Gluhkriek just in case.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 25: N'ice Chouffe 2004

One last entry in this series and for the last entries I picked one of my all-time favorites. According to the bottle, this winter ale is brewed with spring water, barley, hops, dried orange peel, thyme (?!?) and "a lot of candy sugar". Guess that candy sugar helps boost the alcohol content up to 10% ABV. The bottle also suggests that this beer may be aged up to 5 years. This version is from 2004, three years of age on it.

It pours an opaque nutty brown with a enormous, frothy head. Tons of thick lacing. A very spicy nose and not just sweet spice. There a bitterness and peppery quality to the aroma.

Although this is a big beer, there is nary a hint of alcohol in the mouth. Nor is this beer overly sweet like so many big ales from Belgium. The body is thinner than you might expect, though not too thin, and the spice and hops really shine through. It's a nice balance that makes this enormous beer quite the easy drinker. The spice and hops create an interesting bitterness, especially in the finish. Is it the thyme? I think so. The orange peel flavor is there to giving that dryness to the body. It's a really interesting beer and takes awhile to wrap your head around.

One thing for sure is that this one's a one of a kind ale. Go get some.

Brouwerij Achouffe

Monday, December 24, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 24: Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic

I had to scuttle the original beer scheduled for tonight. It was a 2004 version of SweetWater Festive Ale. When fresh, this beer is a bit heavy on the spice so I thought it might age well. I was wrong. It was completely spoiled. Undrinkable.

So I dipped into the Samuel Adams Winter Mix yet again and snagged a bottle of Cranberry Lambic. I don't have the loathing for this beer that many "beer geeks" do but it does usually linger and I end up using it for cooking more often than not. Although it is not a true lambic, the Sam Adams website states that they do use a strain of wild yeast in the brewing process. It's a sessionable beer at 4.6% ABV.

It a pleasant orangey copper in the glass with a frothy but quickly dissipating ivory head. The smell is the unusual part. It sour but sweet. But not too sweet as the sweetness imparts a bit of tartness. There's a sour, bready wheat malt. But overall it is sweet. It's not puckering at all. But still...there's a tad of sourness. It's odd but not nearly as complex as I'm making it out.

That hint of sourness disappears in the taste. It's sweetish but not overpoweringly so. There's some tartness but it's certainly not sour. A bit of graininess or cereal like flavors from the malt. It finishes surprisingly clean, not a lot of residual stickiness in the mouth.

It's really not so bad but it's certainly not my style. But adding it to your chili? It adds a nice flavor and some body...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 23: Anchor Old Foghorn

Anchor Brewing is taking over this list! Along with Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Old Foghorn was one of the first widely available American barleywines. It is listed at 8-10% ABV on their website, is hopped with Cascades and then dry hopped with more Cascade during aging.

It is a murky orangey brown in the glass with a wispy thin khaki head. Smells of big, rich, nutty caramel malt. Very sweet aromas. Citrusy hops aromas, grapefruit and orange rind.

The first thing that strikes me is how balanced this beer is. It has big flavors but the voluminous hops and malt balance each other very well. As much as I love Bigfoot, the hops dominate that beer unless you lay it down for a few years. Big cascades and big nutty malt. The finish is lightly sweet but, again, is then balanced by the hops in the aftertaste.

It always delivers. A good beer when the weather turns chilly.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 22: Unibroue Quelque Chose

This is one of my favorite winter beers and one of the more unusual. Why? Because this is a beer that's designed to be served hot.

Quelque Chose is "ale brewed with cherries" and is 8% ABV. This particular bottle is a couple of years old but it holds up very well.

I warmed the beer up on the stove. This is how I typically do it: Uncork the beer, place a pan with some water on the stove, place the bottle in the pan and heat on low until the bottle is hot.

This one pours a ruby brown with very little froth. This beer is very still by nature. The aroma is sweet with cherry and fills the nose with sweet spices.

If you've ever had mulled wine then you know the sensation this beer delivers up front. Warm sweetness with sweet spice shining through. Cinnamon, nutmeg and clove flavors. Faintly sour in the finish. The body is wicked smooth. It's just silky.

It's a good one and a unique beer experience. I've had this beer cold and warm now but I recommend it warmed up.

Friday, December 21, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 21: Samuel Adams Winter Lager

Yet another winter tradition from the Sam Adam Holiday Mix Pack. It's a bock beer (single bocks are a rarity around these parts), seems to be spiced and weighs in at 5.8% ABV.

It pours deep amber with a lacy off-white head. It smells lightly spicy. Orange aromas perhaps? Also some lightly malty sweet aromas.

Taste is malty and sweet, much maltier than I remember this beer being before. Fruity undertones with hints of citrus and cloves. Medium bodied and sticky with a caramel and molasses aftertaste with a moderately hoppy finish to balance it out. Very drinkable with a suprisingly full body.

I may have sold this beer short in the past. This is damn good. Worth a second look.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 20: Anchor OSA 2003

The final edition of this mini-vertical within the greater Christmas beers focus.

No need to describe the appearance. It's the same as all the other editions! Plus, I have a picture posted right?

Smells of sweet dark malt, some nutmeg and clove aromas.

Fruity malt, some bituing spice, allspice and ginger flavors. Faint citrusy flavor, lemony. Odd oxidized finish. Some piney flavors especially in the aftertaste.

This one is still good but just a tad haphazard with the flavor profile. It shows signs of being just about ready to fall apart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 19: Anchor OSA 2004

Yet another version of Anchor OSA, this time from 2004.

Like all the other versions, it pours opaque brown with a thin tan head. More pine in the nose for this version and a touch more of that sweet spice.

There's still lots of pine in the mouth and some clove and nutmeg spice as well. Sweet dark malt and a sticky and resiny finish and aftertaste. It's real good.
Of all the years sampled thus far, 2004 is holding up the best by far.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 18: Sierra Nevada Celebration 2003

Against my better judgement, I put a bottle of Celebration in the cellar for a number of years. I have heard of other people doing this and while I don't typically don't lay down IPA's, my curiosity outweighed my prudence. It does have nearly 7% ABV and is bottle conditioned so you never know. This bottle has been in my possession for 4 years.

It pours a reddish copper with a quickly dissipating head (from the age I presume). Still quite hoppy in the nose with slight fruity malt and some aromas from mild oxidation.
The hops have faded revealing some lightly fruity pale malt. The body is quite fizzy, perhaps from bottle conditioning creating more carbonation. Some light oxidation and lightly stale cascade hops. Lightly sticky finish.
It's not great but I was expecting a mess. It actually aged quite nicely for the style. Not recommended but an interesting experiment.

Monday, December 17, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 17: Samichlaus 2003

Perhaps one of the first Christmas beers, Samichlaus is only brewed once a year on December 6th and stored for more than 10 months at the Eggenberg brewery before release. It was at one time the strongest beer commercially available at 14% ABV. Originally the beer was brewed in Switzerland but after a disappearance and revival it is brewed in Austria. This beer was bottled in 2003 and has been in my cellar for three years.

It pours bright red with a bit of golden brown mixed in and topped by a thin tan head that quickly dissipates down to a wisp. The nose is filled with powerful fruity malt. It an enormous aroma of vanilla, oak, dark fruit, overripe plums, lightly sour cherries and big caramel flavors.

In the mouth there is still some alcohol present and it is surrounded by the swirling flavors of dark fruit, vanilla, oakiness and big rich caramel malt. Also it is sugary and sweet. However the finish is relatively clean.
It's huge and a slow sipper for sure but a once a year treat.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 16: Samuel Adams Holiday Porter

The Samuel Adams Winter Classics Mix Pack is a tradition and has been in my house for about 14 years. The selection has changed over the years and three years ago Boston Beer added the Holiday Porter which at the time was the only porter in their lineup. (They have since revived their excellent Honey Porter.) It's an easy drinker clocking in at 5.9% ABV.
It pours a dark brown with a frothy and dense light brown head. Lots of fine lacing. A sweet malty smell but also some significant hops in the aroma as well. Smoky chocolate in the nose too.

Very creamy mocha taste takes over the palate. Bitter and roasty notes are prominent. Roasty bitter finish as well.
If you like your porters to deliver some of that roastiness from the malt (and I do) you'll like this porter. It does deliever some balancing creaminess too.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 15: Ommegang Three Philosophers 2004

Not a winter seasonal per se but just seems to call to me in the winter. Three Philosophers is an unusual ale in that Ommegang brews a big quadrupel (9.8% ABV) and then blends with it a portion of Lindemans Kriek before bottling.
This ale pours a murky brown with a quickly dissipating head. Big fruity malt aromas. Quite bready and hints of sour dark fruit.

Big malty and fruity flavors in the mouth. Dark fruit and oak, hints of vanilla. If I search I can still pick out the cherry from the Lindemans Kriek in there but as opposed to when fresh all the flavors have melded together. Whereas it was easy to taste that this one beer was once two, it is nearly imperceptible now. There is still some light sour flavors but the overall body is big and rich now with a sticky fruity finish.

A gem at three years. Wonderful.

Friday, December 14, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 14: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout 04-05

I am woefully behind in my 25 Beers posts. Let's try to catch up...

Another old winter favorite takes the stage next. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is an annual ritual and one of the better aging beers I've experimented with. Upon release it needs a good year in the cellar before it really shines. At 10%, it's sometimes a little hot right away. This bottle is three years old, the 04-05 version.

Pours like motor oil with a quickly dissipating light brown head. Smells chocolatey with hints of alcohol esters. There are aromas of dark fruit from oxidation and a hint of vanilla.

The taste is sweet and chocoaltey with almost no hint of alcohol. Lightly bitter with smooth mocha flavors. A big sweet sticky mouth. There's some light oaky and black currant flavors from oxidation. Sticky finish with some estery alcohol in the finish.

It's a good one. Throw a couple in the basement.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 13: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2004

One of the oldest stashes of beer in my collection is the several bottles of 2004 Bigfoot. Ah, a (nearly) four year old classic! This was the first barleywine I ever had (back in the mid-90's) and it ages wonderfully. Bigfoot clocks in at 9.6% and 90 IBU.

Pours the color of cherry wood with a thin tan head. Sparse lacing on the glass. The nose can still pick out some Cascade hops but mostly is big caramel malt and the oxidized flavors (sherry, vanilla, raisin) mixed in.

The bittering hops are still quite evident in the mouth although greatly muted from when the beer is fresh. The muted herbal hops are now in good balance with the big caramel malt. Fruity flavors from the malt, raisin and black currant. Big sticky mouth. Hops take over again in the finish. Nice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 12: St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel

Straight out of Belgium, next up is Cuvee de Noel from Brasserie St. Feuillien. It's an abbey ale brewed to 9.5% ABV.

Pours opaque ruby brown brimmed by a frothy and dense tan head.

The aroma... Rich maltiness and caramel malt, strident spiciness, perhaps from the yeast. Lightly fruity almost like tart apples.. Some hops seem to be present in the nose. Crazy.

Flavor is very malty, fruity malt and caramel malt, considerable spice, some bitterness, tastes like hops but may be a product of the spice as this style usually doesn't display hops lightly sticky sweet finish and aftertaste.

That is one tasty abbey ale. Good stuff.

Brasserie St. Feuillien

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 11: Avery Old Jubilation 2007

I was knocked over by a two-year old version of Old Jubilation early in this little project which astonished me given that I wasn't that crazy about it when I had it fresh. Was this due to changing perceptions or was it really a beer that improves greatly with age? I decided to find out with a fresh sample.
Most of the initial impressions are the same. "Pours a nearly opaque reddish brown with a wispy thin tan head. No real lacing to speak of. Smells very malty. Sweet with some sweet spiciness some alcohol in the nose." These are all still valid observations.

The taste is another matter. While the hops are still present, the fruity malt with all it's blackcurrant and raisin has the upper hand on those hops. The earthy hops are still quite present but they do not shine like they did in the aged version. This seems counter intuitive as hops usually are one of the first things to fade when you age beer. There is a bit more alcohol evident in the flavor so maybe the hops come out when that fades. Or maybe the oxidation cancels out some other malt flavors and the hops win out again. Whatever the reason, this beer does improve with the age on the bottles. It's still quite good but the two-year old sample was better. Good to know...

Monday, December 10, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 10: Rogue Festive Ale 2006

Rogue Festive Ale is a Saison that goes clocks in at 8.5% alcohol. According to the website, it's brewed with a variety of spices including Grains of Paradise, ginger root and orange peel. This is a bomber I picked up last year. Let's see how it held up.

This pours a hazy bright orange topped with voluminous frothy khaki head that leaves light lacing. The aroma is filled with spice. There's coriander and pepper smells (I'm guessing from the Grains of Paradise) along with some lightly fruity malt.

The flavor is also dominated by the considerable spice. I can't pick out the ginger root but the orange peel is quite evident in the middle of the spice. Some sweet fruity malt. Quite big flavors. Not too sweet as the spice tend to dry the palate a bit. Spices dominate the finish and aftertaste.

This is clearly the best American brewed Saison I've ever tasted.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 9: Mendocino Winter Ale

There's a couple of firsts here with beer number 9 in the 25 beers of Christmas. First, it's the first Imperial IPA on this list (and the only winter seasonal I know that is made in this style). Second, I didn't remember seeing this one before and according to the website this is indeed the first year this beer has been offered. It weighs in at 7.5% ABV, so lets dive in.
This ale pours crystal clear copper with a creamy ivory head. The head leaves spotty lacing down the side of the glass. Sticking a nose into the glass reveals the most beautiful citrusy aroma from the hops. Copious amounts of grapefruit and tangerine with hints orange rind.

Bitter, bitter, bitter. This one hits you it the mouth. It's chewing on an orange rind bitter. The hops dominate but somehow a biscuity malt profile does manage to break through now and then. Mostly it's the bitterness, overpowering at times but that's what you drink an imperial IPA, right? It's hoppy in the finish and aftertaste. Full bodied.

Nice IPA. It's nice to break up the malty ones for once, right?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 8: JW Dundee's Festive Ale

The JW Dundee line is brewed by High Falls Brewing in Rochester. High Falls is probably most famous for brewing the Genesee line (sadly, this no longer includes the excellent 12 Horse Ale) but don't let that pedestrian lineup fool you. JW Dundee label has graced some fantastic beers including the unique and amazing Pale Bock. This is the first year I have seen the Festive Ale (6.2% ABV, 30 IBU) so I decided to check it out.

This one pours a clear dark mahogany and builds a frothy and persistent khaki head that leaves thick sheeting lace. There's the definitive smell of sweet spice. I'm getting nutmeg and coriander, along with other peppery spice aromas. There's a hint of lightly fruity malt.
In the mouth, this ale gives a nice balance of malt and spice. Although it's quite spicy up front, soon the fruity malt takes over and dominates the finish. The spice (nutmeg, cinnamon) lingers in the aftertaste as well.

A nice surprise and one that I'll have to seek out again.

Friday, December 7, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 7: Stoudt's Winter

Stoudts Winter is a roasty porter from the brewery out of Adamstown, PA. The recipe tends to change every couple of years so there is little available on how this beer is made.

This beer is jet black with a light brown head. No real lacing. The aroma is equal parts roasty malt and sweet malt.
Again, sweetish malt in the mouth balanced by some light roastiness and metallic flavors. The roastiness builds the more you sip. Lightly sticky mouth and a roasty finish.
Pretty drinkable porter and a nice winter brew.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 6: Blue Moon Full Moon

The year was 1997 and I was still in the Navy. Money was tight and I was a newlywed making very little money on my E-5 salary. But I loved my beer.

Enter Blue Moon Brewing. I knew they were a subsidiary of Coors but the six-packs of Blue Moon were only $4.99 and they were often accompanied by $1.00 off coupons placed around the neck of the bottle. Thus, they were a go-to beer for my fridge.

Back then, there was Blue Moon Belgian White and their Pumpkin Beer seemed to be available year round. They also had Blue Moon Abbey Ale. I had already been to Belgium twice at this point and knew it wasn't truly authentic but it wasn't bad at all. It was a frequent purchase but disappeared from the shelves a couple of years later.

Tonight I had Blue Moon's Full Moon and I believe it is actually the same recipe for the Abbey Ale I enjoyed many years ago.

It pours a clear reddish-orange and is topped by a thin ivory head. Smells lightly spicy and fruity.

It tastes lightly metallic. Some candy sugar flavor, some estery flavors. Is a bit sticky in the mouth but finishes cleaner than you would expect.

Don't expect your typical Belgian abbey but it's pretty good stuff.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 5: Anchor OSA 2005

Still more Anchor "Our Special Ale", this version is from 2005.

An opaque brown with a creamy tan head. Sheeting lace on the glass. A quite piney smell under which is the aroma of rich roasty malt

The flavor is of roasty malt and lots of piney bitterness. Lightly sticky in the mouth with that piney taste all over the finish.
Lots more pine taste and a lot less spice than the 2006 recipe. Good stuff.

Anchor Brewing

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 4: Delirium Noel 2004

The next beer is a three year old sample of of Delirium Noel, the christmas beer in the Delirium line, brought to you by Brouwerij Huyghe in Melle, Belgium. It's a big one at 10% ABV but there's not much more information about the beer to be found. So let's get to drinking!

This big ale is a hazy dark orange in the glass and topped by a voluminous tan head. Some light lacing is evident on the side of the glass. It smells very fruity, like sweet cherries and some tart raspberry. Raisins and spiced tart apple aromas are evident as well.

Taste is all that sweet fruitiness. Spiced apple and cherry, black currant and raisin. Still a bit boozy. Is there licorice in the finish? There's certainly something bitter but certainly doesn't taste like hops.

The age seems to have taken the stickiness out of the finish. It does seem to have improved but this one remains a once a year affair for me. But I will report that if you finish one of these by yourself, you may begin to see the pink elephants march right off the label.

Brouwerij Huyghe

Monday, December 3, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 3: Anchor "Our Special Ale" 2006

I've been drinking Anchor's OSA for so long it's nearly become a family tradition. So, of course, OSA will be prominently featured in the 25 Beers of Christmas. First up, the 2006 version (5.5% ABV) which was pretty understated compared to previous years in my opinion. There seemed to be a bit more spice but much less pine and malt flavors.

It's a dark mahoghany in the glass and sports a dense and frothy tan head. Nice thick lacing on the glass. Ginger and other sweet spice (perhaps nutmeg and clove) fill the nose, underpinned by a sweet, dark, almost biscuity malt. There's a hint of pine but its very subdued.

The mouth is filled by the flavors of the rich dark malt and it dominates the taste buds. Slowly, the sweet spice mentioned before becomes apparent. It finishes with some piney flavors, much more pine than in the mose, and woodier in the aftertaste. Its a very full mouth, a bit sticky but an offsetting piney aftertaste as the beer goes down.

So far I'm 3 for 3, every one of these beers has been fantastic. The cellar likes me. It really, really likes me!


I have been out of commission for awhile due to protracted illness, the worst part of which was I could not drink beer during this time! So, what did I do instead? I kept reading about beer on other beer related blogs. Here's a few of them I wish to highlight and I will add these to the existing links.

First, The Brew Site checked in and let me know that they too are doing a "Beer Advent Calendar" this month so that ensures I'll be checking in to see if our lists overlap!

Second is a site that is so excellent it is unmissable. The blog on The Belgian Beer Board is outstanding. It's full of information about new beers, new cafes, new breweries and beer festivals - all in Belgium and written by a very knowledgeable Belgian, Filip Geerts. Indispensible if you are planning a trip to the beery motherland and downright addicting even if you aren't.

Shut Up About Barclay Perkins is an entertaining read about an English ex-pat living in The Netherlands and his various pubs that he has the pleasure to visit. Even more interesting than that though is all the historical information about beer that he manages to dig up (including the Whitbread gravity book) that is quickly putting some myths about British beer styles soundly to bed.

Delving even further into the beery history (primarily) of Great Britain is Zythophile. Lots of great posts that are impossible to stop reading once you start.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 2: Avery Old Jubilation 2005

In my neverending cellaring experiments, I put down a couple bottles of Avery's Old Jubilation in December of 2005. This was not too difficult as I was underwhelmed with this beer upon my original sampling. This big ale clocks in at 8% ABV and, according to the Avery website, is a blend of 5 specialty malts. It also says, "Cellarable for two years". Perfect!

Pours a nearly opaque reddish brown with a wispy thin tan head. No real lacing to speak of. Smells very malty. Sweet with some sweet spiciness some alcohol in the nose
The hops in this are crazy. Even with the age on this beer, even with the big malt profile, these earthy bitter hops still come through. I imagine this hop is the source of the sweet spice I smelled. Underneath that, there's a sweet fruity malt, lots of dark fruit flavors, blackcurrant and maybe a little raisin too. Again, lots of hops in the aftertaste. The bitterness lingers on the cheeks and gums.

Wow. I was not real impressed with this beer when I had it fresh but it's outstanding now. Is that the aging or simply a different point of view two years later? I don't know but I'm sure a fresh sample will help solve that dilema.

Avery Brewing Company

Saturday, December 1, 2007

25 Beers of Christmas, Day 1: Smuttynose Barleywine 2004

F0r the Christmas season, I've decided to do a review of 25 different beers, one each day in December, just like a beery advent calendar. I will be focusing on Christmas and winter seasonals but there may be other special treats I pull out of my cellar.

The first beer is a bomber of Smutynose Barleywine from 2004. It was their winter seasonal and I picked up a few bottles on my way out of Maine during my move down to Georgia, fearing it would be a very long time before I laid my hands on it again. (It was.)

Smuttynose did something kind of unusual with their barleywine in that they used primarily Belgian malts and then used primarily Simcoe for bittering. It's bottle conditioned and clocks in at 10% ABV. Let's see how this one holds up after three and a half years.

It pours a kind of hazy burnt orange with a creamy and persistent tan head. Rich caramel malt in the nose and not much else to be detected.

Upon taking the first sip, I am shocked that there are still a ton of hops present in this beer, even after all this time. But while the hops overwhelm early, a substantial malt profile becomes apparent. Lots caramel, toffee and lightly fruity malt flavors. It's got thick and sticky body and while the hops dominate early, it's all malt in the finish and aftertaste.

Man, this one aged brilliantly. It's calmed down as far as the alcohol burn but all the other flavors have melded and maintained the intensity. I thought this one would be a nice candidate for aging but this has surpassed even my expectations. Excellent start to this exercise!

Smuttynose Brewing Company

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tasting Notes: Anchor Small Beer

Brewery: Anchor Brewing Company
Date Poured: August 2007
ABV: 3.3%

In the interests of science, (yeah, right) I have always wanted to try Anchor Small. Why? First, it the only beer where the brewery admits it make the wort from second runnings of another beer. Second, it it made from the second runnings of one of my all time favorite beers, Old Foghorn. Third, it's really rare to try a good low alcohol craft beer in this country. So let's get to drinking!

This one pours very pale copper with a frothy ivory head. Smells surprisingly malty for a beer so light. Sweet caramel malt with underpinnings of floral hops.

Initially, lots of carbonic bite in the mouth. Very, very carbonated without a lot of body to offset it. You can taste some caramel malt in here but it is, as expected, quite thin. Very fizzy, very crisp and very light.

If the carbonation was backed off a little bit, this would be a pretty tasty and refreshing ale. The ample carbonation, however, serves to overpower the rest of the flavors instead of enhancing them. I'll have to give it another try sometime but this one is pretty disappointing.

Anchor Brewing

Friday, October 26, 2007

Coaster: Pilsner Urquell

I got this coaster in a 12-pack of Pilsner Urquell in 1997. I remember it because the coaster is made out of leather which is pretty unusual I think.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dead Reckoning Porter

Brewer: Troegs Brewing Company
ABV: 5.4%
Poured: September 2007

Filled my Troegs growler while passing through Harrisburg, PA on Labor Day weekend.

Pours a nearly opaque dark brown with mahogany highlights. Smells of roasty and sweet malt but clearly a lot of spicy hops aromas as well.

The hops bite right up front. Certainly the hoppiest regular porter I've ever tasted. The only other porter that would rival its hop profile would be Flying Dog's Imperial Porter and that's saying something. Anyway, after the hops it's creamy smooth and some sweeter flavors shine through. The finish glows with hops and the hops linger long after the beer has entered the gullet. There's an odd yeasty profile too, somewhat English in character but I can't really put my finger on it.

Definitely a unique porter but plenty tasty. I had no trouble finishing off the growler!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Out of the Cellar: Rogue Old Crustacean and I2PA

For this installment of Out of the Cellar, a couple of 12 oz bottles from Rogue's XS series. When Rogue began switching from 12oz bottle to the big ceramic bottles for their XS series, I snatched up a bunch of the more reasonably priced bottles of Old Crustacean and I2PA. Both were hot and raging with hops so I put a few down to mellow.

Fast forward 3 years. Time to check them out.
Rogue Old Crustacean

This one pours a muddy opaque brown sporting a thin brown head. A whiff reveals huge citrusy hops(still!). Some alcohol aromas but not as overpowering as when young. Looks like the "heat" ahs subsided a bit. And of course rich decadent malt aromas fill the nose as well.

The first sip...still smacks you right in the face. Enormous hops, even after all this time, assault the tongue. Very citrusy, very bitter. Lots more alcohol than I would have expected in the flavor as well. Guess it hasn't mellowed quite as much as originally thought.

Overall though, it's not as hot, the hops have toned down a bit and the flavors are blending a lot more. It's also fruitier than I remember.
But this is all relative. It's still a wild one and it can go a lot longer. I have heard people say that this beer holds up after 11 years and I'm beginning to believe them.

Rogue I2PA

As a rule, I never even attempt to age any sort of IPA even doubles and triples. IPAs are meant to be drunk sooner than later in my opinion.

However, this one was so hoppy and so hot that I thought it might defy convention so I gave it a shot. Really, it drinks more like a blonde barleywine so it's a good candidate. This bottle has been in the cellar for two years.

The I2PA pours very hazy but luminous copper with hints of orange. Lots and lots of little yeast floaties in suspension and a dense and frothy ivory head. Lots of hops in the aroma, mostly cascade. Big citrusy smell of the hops, some sourish fruity malt and hints of alcohol in the aroma.

Taking a drink, the hops are agressive but toned down a bit from when fresh. There is a slightly fruitier malt profile and certainly flavors are better balanced. A bit of alcohol flavor is evident but nowhere near as pronounced when young. Sweetish finish and lingering hops after the swallow.

This one's ready to drink now. A couple of years on it has done wonders but she's ready to go.

So, to recap, Old Crustacean can keep on aging past 3 years and after 2 years the I2PA is still primed and ready.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Beer For 18 Year Olds?

Not a shocking proposal to me but I was shocked to see this opinion column in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) written by a UGA senior. Not an notion that would normally be entertained in the Bible Belt south. Good stuff, even only if it means people are beginning to talk about the idea.


I never really addressed this story about the Georgia Legislature making changes to what is allowed in brewery tours in the state. The change that's really sticking in the brewers' craw in the provision that would make it unlawful to charge admission and then serve beer. Now I don't agree that this would "cripple" the brewers' as Fred Bench from Sweetwater says. I've been to plenty of tours and I can't think of one that charged me a cover to get in. I mean, there are other business models out there that allow for tours and samples that would be OK under this new law.

But really, what's the big deal? Is this practice that is done by three breweries in the state and makes up a mere fraction of a percent of GA's beer drinkers really worth all this consideration? For being such a Republican state, Georgia is sure inhospitable to small business sometimes...


The Brick Store Pub in Decatur is participating in the Michael Jackson Toast on September 30th. Ditto for Aromas up in Athens, GA.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Beer Coaster: Lieve

Yet another coaster from my last Belgium trip in 1997. I got this one in Antwerp and after your drink your beer you can flip the coaster over and write a postcard to brag to your friends about where you are drinking.

Lieve was a golden ale that I believe is brewed by a Dutch brewery but honestly it's all a bit hazy...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tasting Notes: O'Fallon Cherry Chocolate Ale

Brewery: O'Fallon Brewing Company
Date Poured: September 2007
ABV: 5.7%

Still more bottles from this summer's trips west of the Mississippi...

This one pours a deep reddish dark copper with a tan frothy head. Some light lacing. Smells cherry soda. Let me try that again...(sniff, sniff)...yeah, black cherry soda mixed with a malty pale ale. That's what it smells like. I am shuddering to see what it tastes like.
It tastes a lot like a bizarre radler of black cherry soda and pale ale. There's lots of extracty cherry flavor with the weird underlying chocolate extract. The chocolate flavor is understated but is just odd in this beer (hell, maybe any beer). The cherry and chocolate flavors do not compliment or meld with the malt flavors (or even each other). They just sort of sit there on top like a plastic coating.

The mouth is surprisingly crisp with the light caramel malt. A bit sticky in the finish though. This is pretty much a mess. Take a pass.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Brewery News From Around Georgia

Twain's brewpub down in Decatur is planning their first ever beer dinner on September 27th. Five courses and five house beers for $40. Beers on tap at Twain's these days: Saison DuCATUR, Hannibal Red Ale (nice and hoppy), Sleepy Conscience ESB, Up The Kriek ("Our Saison DuCATUR brewed without spices then conditioned with a sour cherry slurry") among other regulars. More found here: Twain's Billards and Tap

The opening of the Terrapin Brewery in Athens draws ever closer. (They have primarily contract brewed up to this point...). The target date for the first brewery tour is October 18th. Also, the fall seasonal Big Hoppy Monster is set for release and the India Brown Ale, originally a one-off for the brewery's fifth anniversary, will now be a year-round offering. More at

Sweetwater's latest addition from their recent "Catch and Release" series will be a big hoppy barleywine called Donkey Punch! It will be released on September 21st in liter bottles, perfect for the cellar. More at

Friday, September 7, 2007

Beer Travel: Troeg's Brewery

OK, I'll write this up even though I lost all the damn pictures I took during my visit to the brewery! Argh!

Anyhow, this past weekend (September 1) I was passing through Harrisburg and went to tour the Troeg's brewery as well as to fill up my old Troeg's growler with some tasty beverage. I arrived about 15 minutes early for the tour but they were serving free samples so I decided to partake. The first beer I tried was a very spicy tripel they had brewed called Scratch Beer #3. It clocks in at 10% ABV and showed it a bit in the taste but a very nice tripel for sure. Also sampled some of their new fall seasonal, a porter named Dead Reckoning. Very hoppy for a porter! I ended up filling my growler with that beer so more on that at a later date.

Chris Troeg, one of the two brothers who are the brewery's namesake, gave the tour and it was fairly informative without getting too technical and going over the heads of the non-beer geek crowd. What was interesting to me is how small Troegs still is. You see their beers all over Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania so you get the impression that they would be a bigger operation. Their bottling line in downright tiny!

Anyway, it was a typical brewery tour. They are building some new, bigger fermenters and looking to expand a bit. The most unusual part of the tour is that when it was done, Chris let us basically have the run of the place so we could take a look around. It was then that I found (where the new fermenters were going to be located) several new oak barrels with names of beers scrawled in chalk. There was the name of a beer and then a date (ex: Naked Elf 071407) I did not know that Troegs barrel aged any of their beers so it was quite a surprise to find these.

On my way out, I was paying for my growler and Chris was nearby and I asked him if they were releasing any oak aged beers in the future. He said that no they weren't and that those barrels were holding beer that was being treated with wild yeasts as an experiment. You mean like brett is being added? Yes, he replied. Cool.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tasting Notes: Kilgubbin Red Ale

Brewer: Goose Island
Poured: August 2007
ABV: 4.5%

More from my trips out west this summer:

I was curious to see Goose Islands take on an Irish Red. I am a fan of their Honkers Ale and IPA but this beer should be malt focused, not on the hops. Hmmmm....

Pours more of a deep orangish-copper than red. Topped by a wispy ivory colored head. Smells of fruity english type of malt. Bready aromas and british hops. Sweetish malt smells.

This beer is fruity and spicy in the mouth. There's light but distinct dark roasted malt flavors. A quite bready malt profile and decent balancing hops in the finish. Sweetish mouth but not overly done. Quite a nice and drinkable brew.

Does Goose Island make a bad beer? This is not even a style I am particularly fond of but the guys at Goose Island do it up right. Recommended.

Goose Island Beer Company

Friday, August 31, 2007

Michael Jackson: 1942-2007

I was saddened this week to learn of the death of "The Beer Hunter", Michael Jackson after a long bout with Parkinson's Disease.

In 1992, at the age of 21, I bought a hardcover copy of his 1988 revision of The New World Guide to Beer and, at the risk of sounding completely sappy and geeky, it truly did change my life. My new found interest in "microbrews" was pretty enthusiastic but now I had a beer bible! Styles I had never dreamed of, brewing processes, origins and producers of the great classics were now revealed in glossy pictures and words that breathed life into those pictures.

My favorite quote: "It's a perilously drinkable brew." That was in reference to De Konninck but I'm sure he used it elsewhere.

I loved his writing style. He was sometimes criticized for being too easy on beer that was less than stellar. People sometimes missed the subtlety in his jabs at soulless, corporate beer but Jackson was a beer ambassador more than a pure critic. His writing was pure beery poetry.

Mostly, Michael Jackson inspired me to seek out the beer. My tendency to road trip or plan entire vacations or incorporate beer hunting into vacation or business trips is directly attributed to Jackson. (I actually call those entries in my blog "Beer Hunts".) Getting the beer at the source is very rewarding on many levels.

So, to Mr. Jackson I'll raise a pint or three today. But every pint I've had up until now and every pint I'll have after will really be in his honor.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tasting Notes: Skinny Dip

Brewer: New Belgium Brewing Co.
Poured: June 2007
ABV: 4.2%

According to New Belgium, one of my old favorites, Loft, is no longer produced but Skinny Dip was recommended as a similar beer by a New Belgium rep. On the surface, they do seem similar. They are both golden ales, both spiced with kaffir lime and both are fairly low in alcohol making them nice options for summer session brews. The proof, however, is in the pudding.

The skinny dip pours bright gold into my New Belgium pilsner glass and is topped by a billowing creamy white head. It smells of light citrus (from the Cascade hops I suppose).

Surprisingly, the hops aren't the first thing I noticed in the flavor. The pale malt is front and center, lightly sweet with a creamy mouth. The cascade kicks in lightly for balance but this beer is far less crisp than I was expecting and finishes very clean. More sweet in the finish than dry, this is where the similarities to Loft end.

Loft was crisp not creamy, and had a fruity Belgian yeast quality (that made for a wonderful juxtaposition in a summer ale) while this one finishes very clean, no yeast character to speak of.

I don't intend to run down Skinny Dip, it's a very passable summer beer but in my book it doesn't compare to the retired Loft.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Out of the Cellar: Samuel Adams Double Bock

Brewer: Boston Beer Company
Poured: Jul 2007
Aged: 1 year and 2 years
ABV%: 8.8%

This is one of those accidental cellarings, at least accidental for the beers to be cellared this long. I have heard that Samuel Adams Double Bock is a beautiful thing with a year of cellaring on it so against my better judgement I put some away last spring...and the spring before that.

In my experience, doppelbocks don't age well, nor or they meant to. I experimented with Celebrator and it goes from being a world class beer to pure garbage in about nine months. However, I have heard that Samuel Adams Double Bock really shines with a year on it so I decided to find out.

So, for this tasting, I have a bottle that has been aged for one year and a bottle that I forgot about that has been aged for two years. Into the fray...

The first thing I notice is the older one is noticeably darker. The second thing I notice is that the older one has a more intense aroma, more fruity, a richer toffee smell. In the younger version, all the above is evident, just not to the same level and there is still a noticeable alcohol aroma.

Upon drinking them, the two-year old version has no discernible alcohol and the mouth seem thinner. Unfortunately, there is also a wet cardboard flavor that pretty much obscures a lot of the "good" flavors of the oxidation. No shocker here but the two year old sample is undrinkable.

On to the bottle with one year on it. The alcohol flavors are muted a bit when compared to fresh but there are more rich toffee and dark fruit notes. Rich caramel malt, big and sticky mouth. It's not as rough around the edges as when fresh...but to my tastes it's still better fresh. Maybe a happy medium (6 months) would be the right balance.

Well, all in all, I think I'll drink my doppelbocks fresh but if there is one that will improve (for some) it would be this one.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tasting Notes: Bear Republic Big Bear Stout

Brewery: Bear Republic Brewery
Poured: July 2007
ABV: 8.1%

I brought back this bomber from a business trip to Wilmington, DE earlier this year.

It pours a dark opaque brown, not a motor oil black like I expected, with a rocky tan head. Smells sweet and malty with significant citrusy hops in the nose, no roastiness detected.

There is a good balance of the sweet and roasty dark malts in the flavor. There is some persistent citrusy hops peeking through in the finish, unusual for a big stout like this. Mouth is medium bodied but lots of flavor. The roastiness builds as you make your way through the glass. The aftertaste has lots of hops, Cascade certainly or something like it. The robust ABV is well-masked and is very drinkable.

Bear Republic makes damn good beer, in case you haven't heard.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tasting Notes: Schell Pilsner

Brewer: Schell's Brewery
Date Poured: July 2007
ABV: 5.6%

Another one of my finds on my last trip to the midwest.

It's a crystal clear, very, very pale yellow-gold brew with a rocky ivory head. Nice lacing left on the glass. A very sweet pale malt aroma, some faint sweet but herbal hops aromas as well.
Very sweet malt, balanced somewhat by the herbal hops. Very sticky (for a pilsner) in the finish but the noble hops get more pronounced in the aftertaste the longer you drink it. Body is a bit soft and sweetish; I like my pilsners crisp and clean, at least as far as the malt goes.

Nothing at all wrong with it, I only wish it was just a touch less sweet.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Tasting Notes: Oud Beersel Framboise

Brewer: Oud Beersel
Poured: August 2007
ABV: 6.0%

I was pretty excited to find this beer the last time I was downtown since I am a big fan of Oud Beersel's Oude Gueuze Vieille and Oude Kriek Vieille. I have never seen this one before so I snapped up the last bottle available.

This one pours a hazy brown with a slight tint of red. There's a purplish colored frothy head that quickly dissipates leaving no head to speak of. Tart raspberry and funky barnyard aromas waft out of the glass. Some hints of vinegar too.

Tastes quite tart and funky. There's a sweetness here too but it's not at all sticky or cloying. The sweetness is balanced by the with a nice dryness, hints of vinegar and the bretty funk. The mouth is medium bodied and lightly dry, especially in the finish

Not bad for a sweetened framboise, not overly sweet and enough tartness to provide a nice balance. It doesn't rise to the great heights of the more "traditional" offerings from Oud Beersel but it's still excellent in it's own right

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Beer Coaster: Samuel Adams

I picked this coaster up in the early 90's, probably at one of the Sam Adams pubs in an airport.

Nothing really great about this coaster but it does feature the old stoic Sam Adams instead of the newer mug-raising "party patriot" Sam Adams that graces the bottles now. I prefer the version pictured above.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tasting Notes: Burning Skye Scottish Ale

Brewery: Empyrean Brewing Company
Date Poured: July 2007
ABV: 5.8%

Another beer I picked up on my last trip to the midwest. Empyrean Brewing is based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

It pours a crystal clear coppery brown with a thin ivory head. It smells of sweet earthy malt, lightly smoky and lightly sweet.

The taste is no surprise as it mirrors the smell. Earthy and sweetish, hops way in the background here. I like the smoky flavor that they get in this beer, a lot of brewer's downplay that aspect of Scottish ales. (I find later that they do use Rauch malt.)

Body is a touch light but it's plenty drinkable. I've had better but it's still a fine Scottish ale.

Empyrean Brewing Co.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beer Hunting: The Midwest, June 2007

I will always be swayed by the occasional surprise while beer hunting but I typically have a focus, a general idea of what I'm looking for before embarking on a trip. On this trip out west, I was looking for La Folie, New Belgium's limited edition brew that seems to be sporadically distributed around the mid-west but I never seem able to find. Since I would be travelling from Atlanta to South Dakota, it seemed to be a good bet that I would find it somewhere...

I used Beer Advocate's BeerFly to locate some good beer stores along the way and hoped for the best.

Kansas City, MO - First things first, we grabbed some dinner at one of the better (I'm told) BBQ restaurants in town, Hayward's Pit Barbeque. the beef brisket burger is outstanding and the sauce was spicy with just enough sweetness to balance it out. They also had bottles of Boulevard Pale Ale so I ordered one of those. It was hoppy enough to hold it's own against the sauce and complemented my meal nicely. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Boulevard was carried widely in restaurants from KC all the way to Mitchell, SD and if you've tried anything from Boulevard, you know that's not a bad thing.

That night I ran out to Luka's a few miles away as fellow Beer Advocates had deemed it the best place for beer in Kansas City (at least on the side of town I was on). My plans of just picking up one six-pack were quickly dashed as I wandered the aisles of beer. They had make-your-own sixpacks, a rarity in Atlanta, so I was guaranteed to have to get one of those and they had a lot of Bell's beers which I had not laid hands on in nearly two years so I was going to have to get a sixer of one of their stouts. In the end I got a mixed six of various Bell's and O'Dell beers, a sixer of Bell's Java Stout and a bomber of O'Fallon Smoke (I'm a sucker for smoked beers). I could've bought a lot more but was already over my self-imposed limit. La Folie? I wandered the aisles, scanned the shelves but there was no sign of it. If this store didn't carry it, who would?

The next day we were headed north, up through Omaha on the way to South Dakota. BeerFly had recommended Brewtopia, which was an easy drive for me off the interstate. I ran in and for a small store, this one packed quite a wallop. I got a mixed sixer of various beers from Summit, Spanish Peaks and Empyrean and also an interesting looking beer in a corked and caged 750 ml bottle called Batch 1000 from Upstream Brewing. And...they had the New Belgium La Folie! I grabbed two pricey bottles. I later found out that it was fellow BA bditty187 who rang up my order. Mission accomplished...for now.

On our way home, we stopped by Taylor's Pantry in Sioux Falls, SD to see what was there. The answer was: Not much that you haven't gotten elsewhere on this trip. I did get a mixed sixer of beers from Big Sky, Schell's, Boulder and more Spanish Peaks.

We stopped in KC once more on the way home and I had to go to Luka's just one more time. This time I walked out with a case plus of beer. I got some more Bell's Java Stout, O'Dells Imperial Stout, Goose Island Demolition, Anchor Small Beer and a mixed sixer with Schafly, O'Dell and Flying Monkey.

Some very nice scores on this trip. Reports on the actual beer to follow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tasting Notes: Carlsberg Jacobsen Dark Lager

Brewer: Carlsberg
Poured: June 2007
ABV: 5.8%

My wife has a soft spot for Carlsberg so when I saw this interesting looking offering from Denmark, I picked it up.

This one pours somewhere between a dark amber and light brown with a frothy tan head that leaves intricate lacing. Rich caramel malt in the nose. A very sweet caramel maltiness in the mouth infused with a fruitiness that you don't typically find in German-style dark lagers. It's lightly crisp in the mouth with a faint noble hop flavor in the finish.

Imported dark lagers don't hold up well and tend not to be fresh by the time they get to our shores (my opinion) but this one held up well and is a good choice when looking for a dark lager.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Beer Coaster: Rodenbach

I picked up this coaster out of a cafe in Antwerp that I have long since forgotten the name of in 1996. I am guessing the pitch here was to juxtapose one lovely Belgian redhead with another. I remember enjoying Rodenbach on my initial visit and curse myself to this day for not finding Rodenbach Alexander during that trip. Ah, regrets...

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Session #5: Atmosphere

Atmosphere. This was a tough one for me because typically, I don't care that much about atmosphere when I'm drinking. Outside of a cool jukebox selection and a good beer list, I require little else from a drinking establishment. Why is that? Well, I think it's because I figured out that who I'm drinking with has more to do with my enjoyment than where I'm drinking it. So I decided to write about two of my longest running drinking partners and highlight a few of the memorable places we have shared a fine brew or three.

My Wife
I am fortunate that my wife has an adventurous palate and after a rocky start (she hated the first Sam Adams I bought for her) has developed a fine appreciation for craft brew, especially Imperial Stouts. We have drank all over the world, so here's the top five places I remember sharing a beer with her.

Manorbier, Wales
We stayed in a small B&B in this tiny village in 1997 that boasted little more than a ruined castle, an old church, access to the nearby cliffs and a tiny pub where we would end our evenings. They had Theakston's Old Peculier...on cask. Nothing like enjoying cask ale at a classic Welsh village pub with your girl.
Antwerp, Belgium
We arrived in Antwerp in the Fall of 1996 quite by accident and only because we were unable to find affordable lodging in Brussels. After stashing our backpacks, I dragged her out to the first promising cafe I could find. It was my first trip into Belgium and I was delighted to see that I could order a Duvel in a bar for the first time in my life (this was long before specialty beer bars had made an appearance where I lived...). She ordered a Kriek of some sort, they brought us our beers, each with it's own distinctive glass and I was in heaven.
Jacksonville, FL
The Fly's Tie was an Irish pub near Jacksonville Beach. You wouldn't think so but it had been decorated and furnished in such a way that it had a very authentic fell and the live Celtic music they featured didn't hurt things. We enjoyed many a night downing pints of Guinness, Black and Tan's and Snakebites in the early days of our marriage.
Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec City is one of the most underrated cities ever. The old city is as beautiful as any place I have ever been. There are many cafe's with outdoor seating and we had the pleasure of enjoying some Blanche de Chambly outdoors on a cool Sunday afternoon in early May while all the bells of the various cathedrals pealed out around us. Awesome.
Munich, Germany
We got a little carried away with our Biergarten "crawl" around Munich, it was all so good. But my favorite place we found that day was one of the Augustiner biergartens with the traditional bench seating and the traditional sauerbraten for dinner. The big mugs of dunkelweizen we shared weren't bad either.


The first time I enjoyed a craft beer (called "microbrews" in the early 90's) it was with Dave and it was a Samuel Adams Boston Lager. We have been exploring beer together ever since (and before that really). Our careers and families have led us far away form each other, then back together and apart again but we always remain in touch, always share our beery experiences (among other things) and we will finally be taking the "Holy Grail" trip we have planned on for years (ever since I returned from my brief Belgian encounters 11 years ago), the Belgium trip this spring.

Morgantown, WV
While attending WVU in the early-90's we spent way too much time at the Nyabinghi Dance Hall, a bar/music venue. We saw many musical acts there; Rusted Root, Royal Crescent Mob, Rasta Rafiki, They Might Be Giants, Tooling For Bovines, The Blake Babies and countless others. However, one of the things I remember best was the night we figured out that we could get Genesee 12 Horse for the same price as Busch Light ($.75 a bottle) and that it was much, much better! Genesee 12 Horse was our beer of choice from then on. Nyabinghi has long since been gutted by fire and Genesee stopped making 12 Horse, revived it, then discontinued it again but both of them hold fond places in my heart to this day.
Alexandria, VA
I drank a lot of Guinness at one point and Ireland's Own was one of our regular hangouts. It's also long gone (President Reagan visited once or twice, a fact they promoted a lot but at the time it was a very popular place to go drink, listen to music and just generally have a good time. This was a staple location for Dave and I until I joined the Navy.
The Forks, ME
We camped on the Northern Outdoors property up in north central Maine, which, not so coincidentally, also housed a brewpub. But the best part of the drinking day was not spent inside the lodge drinking their beers (although the Magic Hole IPA and the Penobscot Porter are highly recommended) but back at out tent site, right on the banks of the Kennebec River, sipping the brown ale we had purchased growlers of earlier in the day straight from the Oak Pond Brewery in Skowhegan sitting by the campfire.
Rockland, ME
The Waterworks Pub in Rockland poured brews from the (now defunct) Rocky Bay Brewing Company including the wonderful Viking Plunder in the winter. Good brunch there too. Since Dave lived just north in Camden, this made a natural spot for the occasional pint. And the nearness to Rockland Harbor didn't hurt either.
Boston, MA
The first Beer Advocate Extreme Beer Fest in 2003 was the first beerfest Dave and I attended together and was a revelation to us both. Where else are you going to enjoy Cantillon Vigeronne, Oaked Arrogant Bastard, Peanut Butter Porter and Seaweed Ale all in the space of a couple of hours. Jim Koch told us about his quest for "beer that burns" and Sam Caligione spoke about pairing beer with various musical acts. We overindulged. It was good.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Out of the Cellar: Middle Ages Tripel Crown

Brewer: Middle Ages Brewing, Syracuse, NY
Date Cellared: Oct 2004
Poured: June 2007
ABV: 10%

One of the more unusual combinations you'll ever taste is Middle Ages Tripel Crown which they bill as a "British Style Tripel". Actually, you'll likely never taste this brew if you haven't already as they discontinued this beer in 2005.

This beer shines a luminescent hazy orange topped by a dense but thin ivory head. Fruity aromas, spiced apple, sweet spice and alcohol in the nose.

More toffee and vanilla than I remember from the fresh tasting and still quite a bit of alcohol flavor. Much less spiciness with the age on it and not quite as carbonated as I recall either.

Has it improved? Hmmmm. Not sure but it certainly has mellowed a bit. I'm not sure if I would want to age the alcohol flavors down any further but it has enough heat that I certainly could let it go another 6 months to a year. I have two left so I think I'll check back in a few more months.

Middle Ages Brewing