Ten Word Round-Up of Beers

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!


Speakeasy Double Daddy IPA

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!


Weekend in Vermont: Beer, Beef, and Light Firearms

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 »


Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale

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.


Andersonville Brewing Pale Ale

May 3, 2010

As I have pointed out before, pale ales tend be overlooked by beer dorks, mainly because they lack that extreme element that so many of us find appealing, and also because non-beer dorks can drink them without scrunching up their faces and saying “EWWWW, that is so bitter!”  This should be an indictment of beer dorks, because a good pale ale is as enjoyable as any style of beer that is out there, but beer dorks won’t care as they search out the latest barrel aged IPA fermented with Belgian yeasts and Cuban brown sugar and a hops varietal that can only be found on southern slopes in the Himalayas, and I will be leading that search, god help me.

However, as I will surely need some refreshment during that search (“I hear that ten bottles were shipped by mistake to that bodega on Central Avenue in Newark! Grab the pistol and car keys! Let’s Go!”), I could certainly do worse than the Andersonville Brewing Company’s Pale Ale.  Pale gold in color with a fluffy head, this pale ale has the most grapefruit aroma and flavor of any beer I have come across, and that includes the excellent Cross Cut Pale Ale that is brewed with grapefruit zest.  The inscription on the can claims that the brewery is solar powered.  I don’t give a shit about how green this beer is, but this dry, crisp, and refreshing pale ale is perfect for a hot and sunny day, 7/10, and if I am saving some polar bears by drinking it, that is all the better.


Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye and Racer 5 India Pale Ale

April 30, 2010

California’s Bear Republic Brewing has pretty good distribution in North Jersey, so it is easy to find and sample their beers.  In fact, their distribution is so widespread, and Bear Republic beers are so easy to find, that I was positive I had reviewed one of their beers on Tilting Suds already, but I either cannot find the review, or beer has finally addled my mind to the point where I am recalling phantom reviews.

The Racer 5 India Pale Ale is a typical West Coast IPA, plenty of hops balanced nicely by the malts.  The initial aroma is some grapefruit and pine from the hops and some bread from the malts, with the hops taking over in the taste.  The 7.0% ABV is not noticeable at all.  This is a very good IPA, 7.5/10.

The Hop Rod Rye is a different creature altogether.  Brewed with rye malts, this beer pours a clear mahogany with a slight head which is retained to the bottom of the glass.  The rye malts bring an earthy spiciness to the nose and the tongue, and the piney hops explode out of the glass.  The rye malts and the hoppy bitterness try to outdo each other, almost like they are dueling to the death, and there is a mild brown sugar flavor that ties all of these flavors together.  The 8.0% ABV is buried underneath all of these competing flavors, and is only noticeable when the glass is considerably warmed.  The Hop Rod Rye is outstanding, 8.5/10.

As Bear Republic’s beers are so widely available, I have a tendency to skip them when I am making my selection in favor of beers that are obscure and/or beers with limited releases.  That is a big mistake on my part, as Bear Republic is doing God’s work when it comes to brewing.


More Beer in Cans

April 28, 2010

After my recent dipshittery concerning canned beer, I have made an effort to seek out other examples of craft beer in cans as a sort of penance.*  I have picked up a few over the past couple of weeks, and give them the once over here.

The Phoenix Pale Ale from Pennsylvania’s Sly Fox was a tasty concoction.  The toffee malts are balanced by the mild hops, with the hops a bit stronger on the tongue than in the aroma.  This poured a beautiful clear amber, with a frothy but quickly dissipating head.  There is no ‘WOW’ factor with this beer, but it is smooth and flavorful, and at 5.1% ABV, you can knock back a few.  It has earned a spot at the back of the rotation, 6.5/10.

SF Beer, JC Backdrop

San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewing Company is not well known on the East Coast, but that should change soon as I am seeing their beers pop up in stores here more frequently.  The Brew Free or Die IPA is smooth and mild, not too hoppy for a West Coast IPA, and the smoothness masks the 7.0% ABV.  The hoppiness has a fruity aftertaste.  Again, there is no ‘WOW’ factor with this beer, but it is another good one, 6.5/10.

Sweet Jeebus, this one knocked me on my ass.  This was my last beer of the recent session with Mr. JK, and knocking back a beer with an 8.7% ABV when you are already pickled is not a smart idea.  Drinking this was like getting cold cocked by Mike Tyson in his prime.  I had another one for review purposes a few days later, and can report that the Oskar Gordon Ale is a fine beer.  Hoppy and malty at the same time, the aroma and the taste are resinous, with a chewy mouth feel.  You cannot drink many of these in a sitting, but the ones you do drink are enjoyable, 7.5/10.

*-Bless me, Father, for I have sinned

What are your sins, my son?

-I made a misleading statement on the internet about canned beer

Say three Our Fathers, three Hail Marys, and drink three canned beers


Saisons on a Sunday Afternoon

April 20, 2010

Mr. JK emailed me on Saturday night with some interesting news.  His son had become buddies with an exchange student from France, and the French student had smuggled in some unique cheeses (a raw milk cheese for starters) when he came to study in Bernardsville.  As Mr. JK had been given a selection of these cheeses, why didn’t I come in to NYC on Sunday and try some?  Sure thing, I said, as long as it was copasetic with Mrs. JK.  Late Sunday morning I got the green light, all systems were go, so I hopped on the PATH, grabbed a few beers when I got to NYC, and headed to their apartment.

mmmmmm, cheese...

Mr. JK set out the raw milk brie type cheese (which felt like velvet on my tongue), a goat cheese rolled in ash (which was brilliant), and an interesting roquefort, among some others.  He also made some salsa and hummus.  Mr. JK is a gourmand, like me, and an excellent cook.  I have never had a bad meal made by Mr. JK, although whatever he can make, I can make better, and he knows it.  Enough about him, let’s get to the beer.

Although we had not coordinated beforehand, Mr. JK and I both picked up a couple of saisons for our afternoon of beer and cheese.  The first one that we cracked open was the Weyerbacher Muse Farmhouse Ale. Mr. JK took one sip and said that he hoped I was going to pan it.  I didn’t think it was that bad, but of the three saisons we sampled, it was the lesser of the group.  The Muse poured a cloudy orange, with some herbs and orange zest on the tongue.  Not awful at all, in fact it was quite drinkable, but it lacked the complexity I associate with saisons, and Belgian style beers in general, and it fell well short of the next two beers we tried.  5.5/10.

Jolly Pumpkin has an excellent reputation, and I was looking forward to cracking open this bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere Farmhouse Ale. I was not disappointed. It poured cloudy and orange, with that funky yeast aroma that I love, along with some coriander and lemongrass on the nose.  I noticed some fruity flavors, apple and pear, and a very subtle hops bitterness.   Mr. JK was less impressed with the Jolly Pumpkin than he was with the Weyerbacher, giving it a “three at best.”  I disagree with him, giving it a 7.5/10.

We finally agreed on the Bruery Saison de Lente.  This is the Bruery’s spring seasonal, and it is light and refreshing and perfect for a warm spring afternoon.  It has a pillowy head that lasts to the bottom of the glass.  I picked up some lemony notes in the aroma and the taste, with the subtle funkiness from the yeast adding some fennel seed flavors, all tied together by the flowery hops.  I am not sure what Mr. JK gave it, but I am giving it a 8.5/10After we kicked the saisons and the cheese, I accompanied Mrs. JK to the Post Office across from the Garden to help her mail some packages.  We replenished our beer supply (reviews to come later) and got Mrs. JK some wine, and retired to the roof deck for drinks and laughs.  I have been advised that any photos taken that evening of the participants are not to be published.


Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

April 7, 2010

Now this is more like it.  I was sorely disappointed in the bottle of Stone Levitation Ale I had a few weeks back.  It flat out sucked, and Stone usually does wonderful things with beer.  The Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale restores my faith in Stone, the universe, and everything.  This poured a deep mahogany brown, almost black, with a minimal tan head.  It had a very nice pine and grapefruit hop flavor, backed up by some toasted malt with a dark chocolate aftertaste.  Clocks in at 8.7% ABV, but you do not notice the alcohol at all. I don’t know whether to call this a dark IPA or a hoppy porter, but I am calling it a 7/10.


Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot

April 6, 2010

I am trying to think of a more overrated band than Wilco, and the only one I can come up with is Radiohead.  I actually kind of like both bands, but I do not understand the fervor Wilco and Radiohead have amongst their respective fanbases.  Both bands are ok, but whenever I hear how Wilco/Radiohead is ‘pushing the boundaries of what popular music sounds like and ushering in a new age of something somethng something’ I tend to nod off and hum ‘Rocks Off’ to myself.  If I had to choose one over the other, I would probably pick Wilco over Radiohead, mainly because Radiohead sound cold and mechanical to my ears.  I realize that the ‘cold, mechanical sound is probably a grand artistic statement about the alienation of modern man from the culture around him blah blah blah’, but cold and mechanical is cold and mechanical.  As for Wilco, on the one hand, Jeff Tweedy comes across as an unbearable twat in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart; On the plus side of the ledger for Wilco, Tweedy was one of the songwriters for Uncle Tupelo, one of the great bands of the last twenty five years. Then again, Uncle Tupelo broke up.  Which band do I find more annoying?  I am going to hold off on this decision.***

On to the beer:  Wilco Tango Foxtrot is described by Lagunitas as an Imperial Brown Ale, and I won’t argue with that designation.  It had a mild cocoa aroma and flavor, with some traces of coffee in the malt as well, nicely balanced by some assertive herbal hops. The beer had a peaty aftertaste that was quite pleasant, and which masked the 7.8% ABV.  JK thought it was the best beer of our recent weekend.  I am not going to go that far, but it gets a solid 8/10.

*** Itunes tells me that I listen to Wilco more than Radiohead, but that I listen to Kid A more than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  The jury is still out on this one.  I will revisit this important question when Lagunitas releases the Paranoid Android Ale.


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