Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jack's Bistro

Ate at Jack's Bistro tonight for restaurant week.  Delicious meal.  Also of note is their Thursday beer dinner.  Tonight's beer dinner was based on the Brewer's Art Ozzy.  The food sounded delicious, but I couldn't pass up the steak frites as well as my 3 samplers of Scaldis Noel, North Coast Brother Thelonious and Dupont Avec Les Bon Voeux- Unfiltered Farmhouse Saison.

Their other beers on tap (according to their email blast):
Brewer's Art "Ozzy"- Belgian Style Golden Ale- Baltimore

Synbrychoff Porter- Finland
Southern Tier "Unearthly"- Oaked IPA- New York
Scaldis "Noel" Winter Beer- Belgium
Dupont "Avec Les Bon Voeux"- Unfiltered Farmhouse Saison- Belgium
Wolavers Certified Organic Oatmeal Stout- Vermont
Clipper City "Holy Sheet"- Strong Dark Ale- Baltimore
Corsendunk Brown Ale- Belgium

(I believe the North Coast took the place of the Clipper City.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Surpirse Beer

When I walk into my local beer bar, I look to find something good to drink. Simple enough. I usually try 2 or 3 beers, looking for something I expect, something I have heard was good but did not try yet, and finally a surprise. The surprise might be a beer that I have wanted to try, or a beer that just sounds cool.

Recently, I was in the bar and a beer caught my eye. I didn't know whether to try it or not, but I thought, what the heck. When the beer came, I was surprised at the color, aroma, taste and overall feeling of this beer. It is the pleasent feeling that keeps me trying good beers and bad beers.

I had a Magic Hat the other day at Max's and I was blown away by it. I am not the biggest fan of the Vermont Brewery. Roxy Rolles and Blind Faith are ok, and I could do without #9 or Circus Boy. But the other day I sampled their America Sour, their winter Odd Notion. I was stunned, I didn't know what to say other than it was different, in a good way.

Now, I like sour beers. I will partake in a Rodenback Grand Cru a couple times a year (I claim it is my favorite). And I am thrilled to have a couple of Jolly Pumpkin, Brett is always welcome in my fridge, so I was skepicle when I saw the American Sour. But I was wondering if this might be the Magic Hat beer that I could rave about. And I think it was.

Your memory of a surprise beer may be good or bad. The beer may be a style that you do not normally like, but now is a favorite. Or the beer may be a favorite style, from a brewery that normally produces great stuff, but it was a turnoff. The beer may have made the brewery out to be a bad, or, as in my case, turned me onto a brewery that I haven't really liked in my short beer drinking life.

I was thrilled and almost giddy over this beer. I want to hear your thoughts and feelings (highs and/or lows).  Did this beer change your thoughts on a brewery or style. Has your tastes changed?

in the news

It is always nice to see Growlers getting their due. The New York Times ran a piece on the trend of growlers in the city scene.
“In the beginning we tried to figure out, ‘Who’s going to be our market?’ ” said Ben Granger, 32, an owner of Bierkraft, which began filling growlers in spring 2006. “We thought, mullet-heads and beer-bellied dudes. But the first run was ladies with strollers. They will tell you they’re buying them for their husbands. Three weeks later, they’ve got two. One’s his and one’s hers. The next one that caught me by surprise was dads coming in with their kids. Then there’s the beer crowd who’ll rush in to get on this or that before it’s gone. There’s no age limit.”
All beer geeks know what they are and the benefits of growlers.  For others like me (I do not consider myself a beer geek, but a beer lover), the growler is an untapped resource.  I was lucky enough to have an older brother that loved beer much more than me.  He has an extensive growler collection, grabbing them from most brewpubs that sell them.  The growler was also our biggest asset when we went to the now defunct DuClaws in Fells Point.  We would take our growler in and get it refilled a couple of time (it was $7 for a refill, couldn't beat those prices). 

If you don't have a growler, you need to get one.  Many bars will fill them, and it is the best way to drink at home (unless you have a tap at home).  My place to refill has been Baltimore Taphouse (formerly known as Growlers).  They have a great selection of brews, and it is cheaper than buying the bottles.

Up next in the news was word on the Founders Nemesis series. was where I was able to get the details on the first release.
Description: The 2009 release of Nemesis is best described as a Maple Bourbon barrel aged wheat wine holding 12% abv and 70 ibu’s. The barrels have been resting deep in the mines of Grand Rapids for nearly 9 months and have been most effective in developing a great product.
Sounds promising.  I am losing my contact for Michigan beers (my brother was promoted to the big city of Chicago), but am looking forward to the new horizons in Illinois.  Hopefully, I can get my hands on some Nemesis before he goes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I told you so

This one is for you Brad.  Here is the Filet Mignon with Scallped potatoes and veggies. 

It was a great time that I was able to spend meeting Brian, Brian, Chuck, Brad and others at Elliot's Pour House.

In the Home state

Coming out of Philadelphia Weekly is a great article that describes the atrocity which is the PLCB.  Some of the things pointed out in the article:

If you buy alcohol in Jersey or Delaware and bring it back to the Keystone state, by law you risk up to 90 days in jail—you can’t even arrange to pay the state tax.
Here is an article in which Lew Bryson tried to be a perfect citizen and pay the PA Tax to bring in wine from out of state, which is apparently illegal.

These are just a few reasons to get rid of the PLCB.  For more information read the PW article and check out Lew Bryson's blog, Why the PLCB Should Be Abolished.

Friday, January 15, 2010

From the news wire...

A-B cuting jobs, pisses people off.

I wish that people didn't lose their jobs, but it is bound to happen.  Hopefully those laid off will be able to find work elsewhere.

As for the beer.  Stella and Leffe are good beers.  I say good, because they are average swill that I would take over many others.  I wish they had the same attention that they did years ago (I heard they used to be great), but got swallowed up by the giant.

A porter I like?

While taking in the Ravens/Patriots game last Sunday at McGovern's, I decided to give the Evolution Lucky 7 Porter a try.  Normally I do not prefer the overly smokey or burnt taste to many porters.  This beer on the other hand was a delight.

It poured a dark dark brown, and produced a half inch tan head.  It had a faint smell of chocolate and smoke, with toffee and caramel coming in the nose as it warmed just a bit.  The taste was a delightful blend of the chocolate, toffee and caramel and a hint of smoke.  The little bit of bitterness came out at the end, just to break up the rest of the flavors.  The beer was very light and smooth, and at 5.8% made it extremely drinkable.

I liked this beer, and it somehow made me feel good to like a porter, one style that I don't drink often enough.  Many others love the burnt/smokey taste to the porters, but it just isn't my style.  The other porters that I would drink on most days are the Sierra Nevada Porter, and the Stone Vertical Epic 09-09-09 (which makes it hard to enjoy that beer, since I will have to find people to trade, I only have one bottle left- Should I keep shelf it?).

Anywho, any porter out there that you love?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh Boy, what a beer.

I was given this can of Red Oval Classic Lager.  Apparently you can buy it for 50 cents a can at Trader Joes.  It does not surprise me.  This beer poured a beautiful pale straw color.  Smelled, tasted and felt like a crappy American adjunct lager.  Which it was.

Made by Minhas Craft Brewery (I assume they say craft because the would be smaller) in Monroe, Wisconsin, I would bet that this is one of the beers that gets poured down the drain at frat parties.

Amusing to me is that this brewery was build (on its present site) in 1845, as the Monroe Brewery.  And survived Prohibition by making near beer, ice cream and other tricks of the trade that breweries did to make money (I have always accepted that they just sold beer out the back door). 

The brewery was bought in 2006 by an aspiring (my assumption) younger guy (he is a 2005 college grad), Ravinder Minhas.  I am sure that getting the beer into the market place (Trader Joe's) is a step in the right direction, if only they were to produce a higher quality beer.  But if the price is right, it will be sold.  Hopefully, they will be able to realize that quality is more important than price point. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Beer Eve Party

I like to turn ordinary "party" nights into info sessions.  Beer Info.  The best kind. The night started about 1 PM when we loaded the car to run home before the snow and ice could affect the ride.  This lead me to make quick decisions on what beers to grab.  I was happy with my selection.  The valuable cargo consisted of a bottle of He'Brew Jewbelation 13 and Scaldis (Bush) Noel.

We got home in time for a shower and nap before the beginning of the drinking.  After arriving at our friend's house, and convincing them to turn the temperature above 55 degrees, I popped open my first brew.  I wanted to start with something simple and clean tasting.  Brewer's Alley Pilsner it is.  It is a great tasting pilsner that is not offensive to future beers.  Nice way to start the night.  After a round of two of Yuengling, central PA- you must drink Yuengling, we decided to see what the Jewbelation 13 holds for us.

Right from the pour you could tell it was special.  We weren't too sure whether that is a good special or a bad special, but it was special.  The darkness to it (reminded us of Old Engine Oil) scared off a couple of friends who try crafts, but rarely drink to the extent of some of us. The sweet smell gets a kick in the behind by the alcohol, you can definitely tell it is 13%.  The taste is sweet from the get-go, fading away as it goes down.  Again, the alcohol is very present, and a slight touch of bitterness comes alive.  The beer leaves a slight coating in your mouth, like a fine liquor.  I would go for another drink of Jewbelation (I poured a second helping from the bottle), as long as I am not driving.

We gave it a rest, and went back to our 4.5% Yuengling, fulling knowing the Scaldis would be coming up soon.  And the time came.  Scaldis is one of my favorite christmas beers, and something I look forward to every year.  The Scaldis poured much lighter than the He'Brew did.  This also gives off a sweet, alcoholy smell, but a better balance between the two.  Upon tasting, I find the major difference to be the bit of carbination breaks the beer up, and makes it an easier drink.  The sweetness and very slight hop character to it.  The spices are aligned and do not overpower the beer.  Still the sweet caramel taste remains, without the major alcohol taste (unlike the Jewbelation).  This beer is easily drinkable, and I force myself to a limit of one bottle when I go shopping. Great beer.

After a 13% and 12% beer, I stayed on the Yuengling train.  I was inclined to bring my Bell's Sparkling Ale for midnight, but it was forgotten.  I had that a few days later, and it was an absolutely delightful triple, with a bit more carbination than usual (for a triple), it was a sparkling ale. Very nice beer.

I hope you had a pleasant New Beers Eve, and can share your story as well.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Session, New Beer's Resolution

The Session for this month is hosted by Beer for Chicks.  The question is:
So we want to know what was your best and worst of beer for 2009? What beer mistakes did you make? What beer resolutions do you have for 2010? What are your beer regrets and embarrassing moments? What are you hoping to change about your beer experience in 2010?

I took multiple risks when ordering beer in the past year.  Hoping and wishing to hit the mark.  Some where great beers that I was thrilled to have, others were failures, that I hope to never remember having.  Of the top beers that I was able to try for the first time were Flying Dog Raging Bitch, Weyerbacher Zotten, multiple Belgians at the Belgian Festival and Stone's Vertical Epic 09-09-09.  All were special in their own way, and thrilled me.  But the beer that I feel was the best was a Jolly Pumpkin La Roja du Kriek, from the Michigan Brewer's Guild Summer Festival.

The worst beer that I had in the past year is most likely either Bud Light or Miller Light, both of which were free, a style of beer that I do not normally turn down.  But the worst mistake of a beer from the past year has to be trying the Bamberg Rauchbier from Saugatuck Brewing at the MBG Summer Festival.  I only had a sip, but it distorted the taste on the next couple of beers.  It wasn't that bad for a Rauchbier, but I just shouldn't have had it.

My beer resolution for the upcoming year is to brew a fantatic beer for my wedding.  We think was have it set as an Oktoberfest style Red ale, put that in your head (if you are a brewer/homebrewer let me know your thoughts).  It will be a good time, and hopefully we can produce something that everyone will love.  I was embarrassed to order a Bud Light at the bar.  But sometimes, late at night, it is easier and cheaper to go that route.

My biggest regret is that I missed out on so many beers.  There are always great beers coming out, and I just don't have the time to get out and grab them all.  I make it so hard to get to Max's and Mahaffeys for their casks/firkins, when I should just get over there for some great real ale.

Hopefully in 2010, I will be able to travel and experience more of the beer culture.  Going again to the MBG Summer Festival, maybe getting the Colorado and finally to California.  I would love to try some of the hard to find beers that I have not had the opportunity to have, Westys are on the top of that list.  And finally, I just hope to have a fun and safe time around beer, while meeting unique beerites along the way.

Cheers to 2010.