Friday, August 29, 2008

Tasting Notes: Florida Brewery Spotlight - Hurricane Reef Pale Ale

Brewery: Florida Beer Company
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: ???
Date Poured: August 2008

The second beer for the Florida Brewery Spotlight comes from...the Florida Beer Company based in Melbourne, Florida. The name of the brewery is not very creative, let's see how they did with the beer.
Pours a crystal clear copper with an creamy ivory head. Fruity malt and and herbal hop aromas wafting from the glass..

The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth and creamy but...the hop profile in the mouth is quite muted and not particularly tasty. Very little malt profile too, quite watery tasting overall. You could call it refreshing if it was actually pleasing to the tongue but it's really not. It's thin and what little hop flavor there is comes off as harsh and vegetal. Crisp finish.

They need to get more flavor in this one. The mouthfeel is great but it delivers a disappointing tasting ale.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tasting Notes: Florida Brewery Spotlight - Saint Somewhere Saison Athene

Brewery: Saint Somewhere
Style: Saison
ABV: 7.5%
Date Poured: August 2008

Saint Somewhere is a new brewery located in Tarpon Springs, on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Saint Somewhere has taken the unusual (for Florida) strategy of brewing Belgian-style ales and only distributing them in 750ml bottles.

Pours a bright lightly hazy straw color with a dense snow white head. The head is quite persistent with sheeting lace down the side of the glass. Smells spicy and lightly fruity with just hint of funk.

Sweet spice in the mouth and more hops apparent on the tongue than hinted at in the nose. It has a dry, light citrusy sweetness. Sweet spices shine through as well. Hints of cinnamon and black pepper. Earthy. Smooth mouthfeel but with enough heft for a significant sweet and spicy aftertaste to linger. Tasty. The only criticism would be that the spice is a tad heavy-handed but that's really nitpicking.

It is shocking to me that this beer comes from Florida! Very ambitious and a very good saison. Recommended.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tasting Notes: Florida Brewery Spotlight - Holy Mackerel Mack in Black

Brewer: Gordash Brewing
Style: Imperial Black Ale
ABV: 8.00%
Date Poured: August 2008

A small spotlight on some beers brewed in Florida. Before I did some research for my trip last month, I couldn't have named a Florida brewery. But they do have a few.

The first offering is from a brand new contract brewed operation called Gordash Brewing. The brewer is a former homebrewer who won the Sam Adams World Homebrew Contest. Mack in Black is one of the two beers they have on the market and bills itself as an Imperial Black Ale.

Pours jet black. No light escaping from this one. A persistent but thin light brown head. The pomegranate juice is evident in the aroma buoyed by a sweet roasty malt.

Tastes of roasty malt with the fruity sweetness from the pomegranate. As it warms the pomegranate fades a bit and lets that big roastiness through. Big full body with a lingering sweetness.

My only complaint is that the pomegranate is a little heavy handed. The bottle says it can be aged for up to two years. I wonder if some age will mellow out the fruit. Three more bottles left. I plan to find out.

Gordash Brewing

Monday, August 11, 2008

Can The Brick Store Actually Get Better?

The Brick Store Pub in Decatur, GA is already one of the best beer bars on the east coast. It's getting better still.

Owen Ogletree, a writer for Southern Brew News, posted this video on YouTube. It's Dave Blanchard and Mike Gallagher, owners of the Brick Store, showing off their new beer cellar under the pub and detailing their plans for cellaring beers for the pub. Great stuff!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Free Beer? One Man's True Story

It's not everyday you get a chance for free beer so when it comes, you had better take advantage of it.

Thanks to a tip for a Beer Advocate buddy, I learned about a new Atlanta bar called Stout Irish Pub that is offering a free beer and lunch to announce their opening. Not one to leave free beer on the table, I took them up on the offer.

Stout (Stout's?) is not exactly a cozy bar. It's a hybrid of an Irish-themed pub and a sports bar. While the atmosphere was lacking, the service was not. The waitress was prompt and friendly and the beer menu was surprisingly good. The draft list is fair with the highlight being Rogue Chocolate Stout. The bottle list stands at 40 with highlights including Bridge Port Stout, Left Hand Imperial Stout, Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout, Sweetwater 420, Stoudts Double IPA and Duvel. Not a beer geek's dream but a very nice list. It would certainly be the best beer menu in the Buckhead neighborhood where this bar is.

I had an Old Rasputin Imperial Stout with their burger. The burger was surprisingly good and they had malt vinegar and salt to put on the fries, always a plus in my book. I also sampled their "house beer" but that turned out to be the very disappointing Anheuser Busch product, Bareknuckle Stout.

Overall, great food and great beer make for a great experience. It's hardly a special trip destination but if I find myself in Buckhead, this would be the place to stop off for a pint.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Coaster: Samuel Smith's Old Brewery

This coaster was in a holiday pack of Samuel Smith beers along with a glass. Not much to say about it except that I like the way they incorporated the logo into the coaster. Very nice design.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

BA Imperial Stout Meet-Up

This past Saturday, several Atlanta area BA's (Beer Advocates) met up in Decatur for an Imperial Stout tasting. Tim works at The 5th Earl Market so he provided the venue and organized the event.

The full list of beers (as far as I can remember) is as follows:

Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti
Southern Tier Oat
Southern Tier Jahva
Peche Mortel
Mikkeller Black
O'Dell's Imperial Stout
Brewdog Paradox (not sure which release...)
Eel River Raven's Eye
Lagunitas Imperial Stout
Great Lakes Blackout Stout
Weyerbacher Old Heathen
Weyerbacher XIII
Weyerbacher Heresey
Bell's Expedition
Samuel Smith's Imperial stout
Smuttynose Imperial Stout
Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout
Duck Rabbit Rabid Duck
Left Hand Imperial stout
Fish Tale Poseidon's Imperial Stout

Personal highlights included the Smuttynose Imperial Stout, Weyerbacher Heresey, Southern Tier Jahva and Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout. Samuel Smith's was quite a surprise as it held its own against this crew of American heavyweights. Mikkeller Black was the most unique tasting (this Danish stout clocks in at 17.5%) but probably need a couple years aging (at least) to reach its potential.

As far as food, one of group ordered the Newcastle Mussels which smelled amazing (I did not have any). Others were kind enough to share some blue cheese and crackers with the group and I discovered that drizzling a little honey on the blue chees is a fantastic combination.

A good time to be sure. Met some new people and reconnected with some old acquaintances. Drank some great beer.

(On a side note, I arrived early and had one of the bar's draft offerings, Allagash Hugh Malone. Very good stuff.)

Thanks to Tim and The 5th Earl Market for hosting the event. A few snapshots are below.

BA Imperial Stout Gathering

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Out of the Cellar: Aventinus Weizen Eisbock

Brewery: Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn
Style: Eisbock

ABV: 12%
Date Cellared: October 2004
Date Poured: April 2008

My notes from 2004 describe this as a very rich and complex beer but also hot, hot, hot! It wears all of its 12% ABV on its sleeve when young. More than three years later, I decided to crack open another one to see if time has reigned this wild one in.

Pours a very dark, nearly opaque brown. Very thin tan head. Aromas of dark fruit and toffee with vanilla and oaky notes. Just a hint of pipe tobacco and a hint of ripe banana.

The alcohol in this monster has really calmed down. It allows deeper malty, dark fruit, banana, cherry and ripe banana flavors to shine through. It's still boozy but does not dominate the palate. Very sticky mouth and huge body. Finish is not cloying (thank in part to the alcohol) but a long sticky sweetness lingers forever.

This beer takes 3.5 years in the cellar like a champ. It mellows and develops lots of crazy flavors. Easily age this one at least three years for best results. I would imagine it could go a year or two more.

Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tasting Notes: Flying Dog Garde Dog

Brewery: Flying Dog Brewery
Style: Biere de Garde
ABV: 5.5%
Date Poured: July 2008

I have a real love and hate relationship with Flying Dog. They have some beers I adore and others I can't stand. Either way, it's always a surprise. There are few Biere de Gardes made in the U.S. so I figured this was worth a try.

Bright yellow gold in the glass with a dense white head. Aromas are of citrusy , pale malt. Lightly vinous and fruity. Just a hint of clove and coriander.

The taste is quite spicy and the body is quite dry. These are traits that I typically love in a beer but somehow the combination is falling flat to me. Listless in the mouth with a peppery aftertaste.

It's not bad but it's not great either. I am unmoved.

Flying Dog Brewery

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Session #18: Happy Anniversary

For this 18th edition of The Session, the theme was selected by Ray of Barley Blog. It reads:

For August, the theme is “Happy Anniversary”.

Use this as an excuse to celebrate. Open a limited release anniversary beer from your favorite brewer. Enjoy that special beer you normally only open on your wedding anniversary or birthday. Either way, tell us about it. Why is it a beer you may only drink once a year? Why is that brewery’s annual release the one you selected?

Only open on a wedding anniversary or a birthday? A beer I only drink once a year? Perhaps I am not sentimental enough but these concepts are foreign to me.

I wouldn't even celebrate my birthday if not for my wife and kids sake. I find it self-indulgent and silly for a grown man to get all worked up over his own birthday. And wedding anniversary? That's for sharing with my wife and while she likes beer too, a bottle of wine is usually what we end up splitting.

I guess it all boils down to this: Any day is a good day to break out that special beer.

I have a nice collection in my cellar. I could crack open something "special" everyday for a year or two and not run out of beer to drink. The specialness these days is finding the time to relax and indulge myself in, for example, a good aged barleywine. Kids do take up your time and energy you know.

So that leaves me to pick out something that was a one-off or a limited edition beer. While Unibroue is not my favorite brewer, they are a long-time favorite. So I decided to crack open a bottle of Unibroue Edition 2004. Why? I have quite a few of these bottles left!

It pours an orangey almond with a wispy ivory head. Some floaties (yeast) in the beer. Truly wicked fruity aromas emanating from the glass. Spiced apples and plums. Pears. Sweet spices like coriander and nutmeg with just a hint of cinnamon, toffee and vanilla. Some lightly sour green apple in the nose as well.

Explodes with flavor in the mouth. Very spicy earthy yeastiness and a decadent fruitiness form the malt. Ripe pears, plums, nutmeg, coriander and green apples underpinned by oaky toffee and vanilla. Just a hint of alcohol in the finish helps to dry the body out a bit but leaves a sticky sweet aftertaste in the mouth.

So while I'm not a "special occasion beer" guy, thanks to Ray for giving me an excuse to break out a beer that is worthy of a special occasion.

More entries for The Session can be found over here at this month's host, Barley Blog.