Alternate Spellings of Names

October 18, 2010

Do you know what really chaps my ass?  Alternate spellings of first names.  Using my first name as an example, Shaun, Shawn, and, God help us, Chone, are unacceptable spellings of Sean.  If it is good enough for Sean Connery, it is good enough for everyone.

This alternate spelling of Jennifer is the Queen of Alternate Spellings. What. The. Fuck.  I am not sure what is more offensive:  The way she spells her name, that she lists her profession as Child Caretaker/Magician’s Assistant, or that she lists her greatest accomplishment as, and I quote, “Being able to enrich the lives of others through dance has been my greatest aspiration.”  The sad thing is that she is good looking enough that guys have been telling her that it is cool that she spells her name that way in a desperate attempt to get in her pants.

On to beer: Oskar Blues Old Chub is a scotch ale with a malty caramel body and a smoky aftertaste.  It pours a deep mahogany with a cafe au lait colored head, a rich velvety mouthfeel, and a touch of coffee and chocolate in the aroma.  I am generally not a fan of scotch ales, not hoppy enough for me, but this is a good one.  Another winner from Oskar Blues, 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.

Oskar Ten Fidy Stout

May 3, 2010

YOWZA!  This is a Stout’s Stout.  Great espresso aroma and taste, with a chewy mouth feel, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Russian Imperial Stout is one of the top beers that Tilting Suds has come across in a lifetime of beer drinking.  The pour is a beautiful, deep, deep black with a long lasting cappuccino colored head, and the bouquet from the malts and the hops in this beer is outstanding.  The overwhelming flavor profile is of roasted grains and dark coffee, but there is enough hoppy bitterness to provide balance to any sweetness from the malts.  The 10.5% ABV is nicely warming.  With the weather as warm as it is here in North Jersey, I do not think I will be revisiting this beer any time soon, but when the leaves change and the weather cools, this will be a regular part of the stout rotation, 9.5/10.

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

Beers from Minnesota

April 20, 2010

Genius is a word that gets thrown around too often these days.  ‘Genius’ should be reserved for people like Norman Einstein. However, someone occasionally comes up with an idea that is so startlingly brilliant that attention must be paid.  To be clear, I am not saying that the Vice Blogger ** is a genius, but he did come up with a genius idea.  He took the standard NCAA Pool that everyone has in their office, and made it about beer.  Instead of the usual ten buck entry fee, he set up a pool where you promised to send the winner a couple of bottles of locally brewed beer.  So simple, yet so brilliant.

Just before the Sweet Sixteen, I managed to forge an alliance (just like a contestant on Survivor***) with the eventual winner, so I am getting a partial share of the winnings, despite finishing fourth overall in the pool.  I just might be a genius.  I am at least an idiot savant.

I initially had a grand plan to collect all of the beers from my winnings and then invite some friends over for a tasting party, but that plan bit the dust when the first box of beer arrived.  I did not want to wait to try these beers.  Also, I am greedy, and I really do not like my friends enough to share my beer with them.

The first batch of beers to show up on my stoop in Jersey City came from a Vice Blog reader in Minnesota.  Looking at the list of States in my categories sidebar, I do not see Minnesota listed, so I have certainly not reviewed any beers from Minnesota.  I have never been to Minnesota, and to the best of my knowledge I have never come across any beers from Minnesota in my travels.  As far as I can tell, my only connections to Minnesota are 1) my brother-in-law is a Minnesota native and 2) my over the top fascination with the music of Bob Dylan, Hibbing, Minnesota’s most famous son.****  When I opened the box, and saw the two bottles and two cans, I did a little dance around the kitchen because these were all virgin pours for me.

Showing a remarkable amount of self control and discipline, both highly unusual for me, I split the tasting over two nights.  The first beer of the first night was the Lift Bridge Cross Cut Pale Ale.  This poured copper and crystal clear, and the first thing I picked up on in the aroma and the taste was some unusual citric bitterness.  Turning the bottle on its side, there was a little blurb saying that the beer is brewed with grapefruit peel, which seemed to me to add a different bitterness from what you usually get from hops, but which nicely complemented the hoppiness and the mild maltiness.  At 5.5% ABV, you can knock back a few of these at a sitting. This is a tasty and balanced pale ale, and if it was available in Northern New Jersey, it would be in the regular rotation. 7.5/10.

The next bottle to be popped was Mantorville Brewing’s Stage Coach Smoked Porter.  Nice opaque pour with almost no head.  There was a subtle smokiness to this porter, with a touch of mocha.  As the beer warmed, I picked up an espresso aftertaste.  I would love to try this beer while eating some barbecued brisket.  The smokiness of the beer and the smokiness of the brisket would go together nicely, and I am always looking for a reason to drink beer and eat brisket.  This was a great beer. 8.5/10.

The second night was devoted to the two cans of Surly Brewing Company’s beer that I received.  I have already made an ass of myself when it comes to canned beer, so I will not use this space to recount the benefits of canned beer, nor will I claim to have noticed any metallic taste in these beers. I will say that Surly brewing has a sterling reputation, word of which has even reached the Swamps of Jersey, and I was anticipating great things from these beers.

The Surly Furious did not let me down.  Holy shit, this is a good one!  As soon as I finished the pour, I was hit with a bouquet of piney and herbal hops.  The hops tasted resinous at first, before exploding in fruity goodness.  This beer had a liquid velvet mouth feel, almost creamy, and the hoppiness was nicely balanced by toffee tasting malts. I did not pick up any oak, which is the norm for an IPA, but it was not missed.  At only 6.2% ABV, you can knock back a few of these, and if I had any more, I would have done so.  This is one hell of an IPA, 9/10.

The Back of the Furious can

After the glory of the Surly Furious, I thought there was no way that the Surly Bender  was going to match it, and it did not, but it was still one hell of a beer.  Described as an oatmeal brown ale,  this had a nutty flavor, with some coffee and chocolate in the background.  It had a mild hoppy bitterness to it, with an orange peel taste. At only 5.1% ABV, this was a very smooth drinking beer.  I am not a fan of brown ales in general, but this was easily the most interesting brown ale I have gulped down.  I am giving it a 7.5/10.

Back of the Bender can. Those are my sausage size fingers

** If you do not read the Vice Blog, you should go check it out.  Aaron has good taste in beer, and he is funny as hell.  More often than not his reviews are stories of his tomcatting around NYC, with the beer a secondary consideration.

***I have never seen a single episode of Survivor.  I am basing that comment on what I have been told by fans of the show.

****I go through phases with Dylan.  Sometimes I listen to the good songs from the bad albums he made in the 80s.  Sometimes I go with the acoustic early albums, other times I immerse myself in the complete Basement Tapes.  The holy trinity of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde get heavy play on my Ipod.  Right now, I have been listening to Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong, the two albums of folk song covers he did in the early 1990s, and a bootleg recording of a 1966 show from Sydney, Australia.  Anyone who knows me, or who has spent more than an hour with me, knows I can mount a defense of Self-Portrait to a certain extent, and I can and will defend Saved as a brilliant album, so discount my ravings as that of a devoted Dylan-ophile, but if you are looking for some bootlegs, I can probably hook you up.

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale

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 aluminum6.5/10.

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.

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