July 6, 2011
Having tried Jester King’s Wytchmaker Rye IPA on tap a few times, and being somewhat underwhelmed by it, I was not especially enthused to crack this bottle open. Holy Crap was I wrong about that! The bottled Wytchmaker Rye IPA was great, one of the better beers I have tried in some time. It pours a cloudy burnt orange with a fluffy head and the mouthfeel is creamy and chewy and was complex with the pungent citrus, mango and piney hops offset by the rye and caramel malts. This is a beer I would give to a wine snob who claims that beer is unsophisticated, as the interplay of flavors is fantastic. Definitely a contender for Beer of the Year, 9.5/10.
In addition to making a kick ass beer, Jester King needs to be applauded for taking a stand against beer protectionism in Texas. The full story is here, but the short story is that Texas law makes it difficult for out of state breweries to sell their beers here, particularly if the beer is a one-off beer. Jester King understands that making good beer available to Texas beer drinkers, no matter where that beer is brewed, will only serve to increase the thirst for good and interesting beer in Texas. Good for them for taking a stand against a bad law, even though the law may serve their interests in the short run.
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.
December 1, 2010
Continuing in my journey through the generally excellent (and at least to me, surprisingly so) beers of Texas, we come to Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale. This might as well be marketed specifically to me as it is (1) a hoppy, piney, sticky-icky IPA and (2) it comes in a can, which as loyal readers know I have become a passionate champion for after my initial fuckwittery concerning canned beers. It pours a deep and cloudy orange, with some massive hops aroma and a foamy head with great retention. At 6.5 % ABV, this is one beer to have when you are having more than one, as long as someone else is driving. This is a fantastic beer, 9/10, is in the starting rotation, and is damn close to being the ace of the staff.
April 5, 2010
At the request of JPE, I am going to give a quick review of the Aprihop from Dogfish Head. As you already know, Dogfish Head is one of my favorite brewers, and they have lined up another winner with this spring seasonal offering. This is a hoppy mofo, and the hops are balanced perfectly by the addition of apricots to the wort. If you think about the taste of apricots, with that combination of sweetness balanced by a tart bitterness, it is similar to beer, and I predict that apricots and hops will one day be a classic combination on par with stout and oysters, peanut butter and jelly, and Duke Men’s basketball and me being pissed off every spring. All of these flavors are topped off by a 7% ABV. I wish this one was available all year. 7/10.
March 29, 2010
Sorry about the crappy cell phone pic
I have previously written about my trip to Oregon here, but I want to revisit the trip one more time to discuss the Fort George Brewery. Astoria, Oregon is a couple of hours north of Portland. It is a quaint town on the water. We wandered around and came upon the Fort George Brewery. The brewpub is located in an old Ford dealership and has an industrial look to it. BB, JPE and I grabbed a table and ordered up some beers and food.
I had the Vortex IPA. I did not take notes (my beer dorkiness had not fully bloomed at that time) so I cannot give you any tasting notes. All I can say is that I had one sip and knew that I was in the presence of greatness. The one thing I clearly remember about this beer is that it had a creamy mouthfeel. The jar on the right in the picture that serves as the masthead of this blog is the Vortex IPA. I remember having a pale ale as well, and the picture above looks like a stout or a porter, though I must confess that I do not recall which. The hot sauce in the picture is made by a local kid who started bottling it and selling it to local businesses. Good stuff.
We were getting ready to leave when I noticed that they had some guest beers, including Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. I had heard of Pliny the Elder, but being an East Coast guy, I had never actually seen any. I whined, stamped my feet, and threw a temper tantrum until I was allowed to try it. Again, I have no tasting notes, but I do remember loving this beer.
BB has since moved from Portland, and as far as I can recall I do not know anybody in Astoria, or Oregon for that matter, but if the opportunity arose, I’d move to Astoria in a New York Minute just to be close to the Fort George Brewery.
March 27, 2010
When I started drinking good beer, someone told me that bottles were better containers for beer because they did not impart any metallic taste to the beer in the way that cans did. There is a certain logic to that. Coke from a bottle tastes different from Coke from a can. The Coke in the can has a tinny flavor. However, storing beer in bottles has limitations. Light is the enemy of hops, and even dark glass bottles let some light in, leading to a deterioration of taste. It may not matter with a beer like Corona which has no taste anyway, hell, they sell that stuff in clear glass bottles, but better beers are usually sold in brown glass bottles to limit the impact of light on the flavor. Some craft brewers use six pack carriers with high sides to further reduce light exposure. In terms of reducing light deterioration, cans are superior to bottles.
It was only a matter of time before a craft brewer started using cans instead of bottles, and Colorado’s Oskar Blues is the first that I am aware of to do so. I thought “marketing gimmick” the first time I saw their cans, thinking they were appealing to the hipster crowd who ironically drink Pabst Blue Ribbon from a can, but it does make some sense from a brewer’s point of view. Brief Sidenote: Is there anything that can be done to the thin the hipster herd a bit? I had such high hopes for the various Middle East Wars, hoping that a draft would be instituted and take some of those mopey bastards off the streets, but no such luck.
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale pours a nice deep copper color with a medium. It is hoppy on the nose and the taste, mostly citrus, balanced by a bready malt flavor. Was there any metallic flavor? Yeah, I thought I noticed a slight aluminum taste, but I drank this with the bottle can in front of me, so it may have been entirely in my head. (That’s right, I wrote bottle at first, and posted it that way even after proofreading). I would like to either try this in a blind taste test or side by side with a draft to see if I still detect that aluminum. 6.5/10.
UPDATE: After getting some emails and a comment on the subject, I did some research and found that Oskar Blues uses a special coating on the inside of the cans which prevents any metallic flavors being imparted into the beer, so that “aluminum” I tasted was a complete figment of my imagination. I found this information by poking around the Oskar Blues website for all of about fifteen seconds. The lesson, as always, is that I am an idiot.
March 26, 2010
I really do not understand the pro-prohibition argument at all. Oh yeah, it is for the children!