Oregon is the Bourdeaux region of American Craft Beer. There are just so many great breweries in Oregon, and they are churning out so many great beers, that it is hard to keep up. Hop Czar is the only beer from Bridgeport Brewing that I have had, and it is a good one. The color is a bright, almost weird orange. As soon as you pour this, you get hit in your nose with some strong citrusy hops. Those hops carry over into the flavor, balanced with some breadlike malts and a slight burn from the 7.5% ABV. Me likey this Imperial IPA very much, 8/10.
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.
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!
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 »
I hear so much about how great West Coast brewers are (a reputation that is generally well deserved) and living and drinking on the East Coast, I have ready access to the best beers that the Atlantic side of the country has to offer, that I tend to ignore brewers from the Upper Midwest, either because they are not readily available here, or they are not one of the glamorous names from California, Oregon or Washington. This is foolish, as there some great beers coming from the middle of the country, and Bell’s Hopslam is one of them. This is a mouth-puckeringly bitter Imperial IPA, but it is has some caramel malts to balance all of those resinous and bitter grapefruit hops. It poured a cloudy amber with a sticky head, had a nice honey aroma along with the hopped up pine and grapefruit, and had a wonderful creamy texture. At 10% ABV, you are not going to drink this beer all night long, but you will enjoy every single one that you pour, 8.5/10.
***I received this as part of my winnings from the NCAA Boxes of Beer Pool. Every single one of you should join the World Cup Edition being run by the Vice Blog. Even if you are not a soccer fan, and I am not, you probably know someone who is and who will help you fill out your brackets, and if not, just wing it. You’ll have a rooting interest in the World Cup, and if you win, you get lots of great beer to try.
Tilting Suds is a big fan of Victory Brewing. Hop Wallop was a Christmas offering a few years back, and proved to be so popular that it was made into a year round Imperial IPA. It is aptly named, as it does pack a wallop of hops bitterness. Hazy and pale gold in color, with a fluffy white head, this has the lacing of a hefeweizen, but that is where the similarity ends. This has piney hops, orange peel hops, grapefruit hops and just when you think that you are hopped out, here come some peppery hops. The Hop Wallop is very dry with no malt sweetness whatsoever. I loved this beer, 7.5/10, but I am not sure how many of these I would want to drink in a night, and at 8.5% ABV, I am not sure how many I could drink in a night.
In my Garden of Eden, there would be a few things I’d absolutely require. My two dogs would be there with me, and my nieces could come and visit them anytime. There would be a perpetual barbecue pit going, and a never-ending supply of brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, and lamb shoulders would always be just ready to come out of the smoke, along with a few chickens when I feel like dining light. Apple would make a 160 gig Ipod Touch for me, so I could have all of my music, plus the web surfing capability of the Touch. There would be a small library with enough books to keep me occupied. Scarlett Johannson and Chan Marshall would be in a perpetual cat fight over me, and Christina Hendricks would pop in every so often just to see how I was doing. Finally, instead of a river of crystal clear water, there would be several babbling brooks of good beers that I could dip my mug in and savor at my heart’s delight. Remember Augustus Gloop and the River of Chocolate? It would be like that, except beer instead of chocolate, and there would be no pain in the tucchus Wonka to gripe about me contaminating the river.
One of those brooks would be an Imperial IPA, and the Weyerbacher Unfiltered Double Simcoe IPA is a candidate to be the beer bouncing over the rocks. This poured a hazy deep burnt orange with a sticky head. Some mango and pine on the aroma, but the hops taste was a blast of pineapple, with a good malty undercurrent to balance it out. The 9% ABV is prominent in the nose and the taste. This may not be the one to make it to the Garden of Eden, I have more beers to sample before I make that decision, but it is a good one, 8/10, and I hope there are at least a couple of kegs of this in Purgatory.