December 15, 2010
The folks from Chico have long been among my favorite brewers, and two recent releases have done nothing to cool my ardor for them. The Estate Homegrown Ale is made entirely from ingredients grown by the brewery, and it is a fresh tasting, subtly hoppy ale. It poured a hazy orange with a creamy white head, nice lacing up the side of the glass and frisky carbonation. The hops were fruity and sharp, and the malts were fruity as well, with some plum and citrus. I wanted to grab some more of this, but by the time I got back to my local beer emporium, it was all gone. I am glad I grabbed a bottle when I did, 8.5/10.
I was a big fan of the Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, so I had high hopes for the Northern Hemisphere edition. Although not quite as good, the Northern Hemisphere Harvest Wet Hop Ale was still a fine drink, with some piney and resinous hops, balanced by some bready and sweet malts. It had a mild apple cider aftertaste that was very nice. I did not love it, but I did like it, 7/10.
October 27, 2010
This is a dry, crisp ale that is hopped up enough to be classified as an IPA, but is easy drinking enough to be a pale ale. The hops are not all that bitter, more mango sweet than anything, and at slightly less than 6% ABV, you can have a couple of these at a sitting. The Humming Ale tasted remarkably bright and fresh and vegetal, with plenty of flavor. It tastes like a summer beer brewed for the autumn. Unfortunately, it also appears to have been a limited release. A few days after trying this, I went back to my local beer emporium to grab some more, and it was entirely sold out, and the diminutive Chinaman who runs the shop told me “No More! No More!” If you find some, grab it, because it is a good one, 8/10.
Check out this interview with Fritz Maytag, the founder of Anchor Brewing, and the grandfather of the American Craft Beer Movement.
July 19, 2010
Another winner from the good folks at Sierra Nevada. Using hops from New Zealand, the Southern Hemisphere Harvest is a big citrus and pine hop bomb, more of a sipping IPA rather than a chugging beer. To be honest, the flavor is so intense that finishing the bottle by myself was not quite challenging, but not exactly easy either. The fluffy two fingered head stuck around to the bottom of the glass, and the creamy mouthfeel and bubbly carbonation helped bring out the malty aftertaste. It only clocks in at 6.7 % ABV. Given the intense flavors, that ABV might have been higher. I am giving this an 8/10.
June 24, 2010
I have fallen a bit behind on reviewing beers, so I am going to do a quick round-up of some recent beers in ten words or less. Here we go:
Schmaltz Brewing He-Brew Rejewvenator (Year of the Date-2009): Too Sweet for me, match with salty pastrami, good marketing, 6/10.
Arcadia Brewing Big Dick’s Old Ale: Stupid name, vinegary, malty, possibly skunked, poured out, nothing else, N/A.
Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA: Run, do not walk, for this outstanding Imperial IPA, 8.5/10.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock: German Smoked beer, dry cured sausage, must try other styles, 7/10.
Southhampton Biere De Mars: Nice malty, hoppy, yeasty balance, smooth, bready aftertaste, delicious, 7.5/10.
Oskar Blues Truck: Craft Beer in Cans is taking over!
June 23, 2010
I loved this beer. It was to my tastebuds a typical West Coast Imperial IPA: High Alcohol (9.5% ABV), caramel malts, and hoppy as a mofo, with some mango and orange peel mixed in there as well. The Speakeasy Double Daddy IPA poured a cloudy orange with nice head retention. Mr. JK loved this one too. We paired it with some skirt steak and broccoli rabe*, and it was fantastic, 8/10.
*MR. JK and I have perfected the art of cooking greens. We blanche the greens (in this instance, broccoli rabe) in rapidly boiling salted water, then plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking, and then drained and squeezed to get as much water out of there as possible. With broccoli rabe, the peeled stems are added first to cook them some more than the leaves, which cook quickly. Minced garlic and ginger are tossed into a hot wok with some sesame oil and cooked quickly, and then the greens are added to the wok, along with some super hot pickled peppers that Mr. JK picked up on one of his Chinatown excursions. Tasty stuff!
June 9, 2010
Mr. JK has a second home near Bellows Falls, Vermont. The house is the oldest home in the county. It has a fully modern kitchen, a pool, all sorts of grilling and smoking devices, and it is situated a stone’s throw from the Connecticut River. Mr. JK tries to organize a ‘Boy’s Weekend’ in the spring and the fall, and invites friends, colleagues from work, random passerby on the street, etc. The 2010 Spring Weekend was a few weeks back. Unfortunately, everyone Mr. JK invited crapped out on him except for the V-Man and me, so it was just the three of us.
Being in Vermont is wonderful, but getting to Vermont is a royal pain in the ass. For reasons that no one can adequately explain, the V-Man and I left Jersey City at about 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon, with Mr. JK taking the train to New Haven. We were going to pick him up there when he got off the train shortly after 4 p.m. and continue on to Vermont. That plan did not survive first contact with the enemy. The V-Man and I hit the Merritt Parkway at which point we came to a dead stop. We never got above twenty miles per hour, and even though Connecticut is a small state, it takes forever to cross it if you are constantly braking your car. Things got so bad that I picked out a fat bald guy smoking a cigar in his Audi convertible, and told the V-Man that I wanted to grab the tire iron from the trunk and beat the crap out of “that smug asshole.” The V-Man is as even keeled and as level-headed as anyone I have ever known, and even he thought it was a pretty good idea. Good God, we hated that guy, smoking his stogie with his stubby pink fingers, while he jibber-jabbered on his cell phone, no doubt locking in another obscene bonus with our bailout money.* Read the rest of this entry »
May 21, 2010
A little maltier than it’s cousins, the Red Rocket Ale is another winner from Bear Republic Brewing. This pours a dark amber, almost mahogany, and the hops aromas are up front, with bitter grapefruit and pine the most prominent. The malts give a nice caramel sweetness to the flavor, and there is a touch of spiciness to round it out. This beer walks a thin line between being a hoppy bomber and a malty amber ale, and if it strays too far in either direction it would not work, but Bear Republic gets the balance right. I preferred the Racer 5 and the Hop Rod Rye over this one, but only by a little, 7/10.