Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Hunt for Mad Elf

Mad Elf in the back of my car

I received a call from a friend.  He wanted to buy the case of Mad Elf a month ago, but forgot then went on vacation to Germany.  Now two days before having friends over for New Year's Eve, he wanted that case of Mad Elf.  But where is he going to get it.  Sure, you can find it easily when it comes out.  But two months later, the hunt was on.  A call to the brewery gave us a few leads.  The big case stores laughed at our inquiry.  Five, then six, then seven places told us no.  Finally, someone gave us a yes.  They had two cases, one had the name of another on it, and I placed my name on the last.  As far as I know, this was the only available case of Mad Elf east of State College, PA.

He is thrilled to get it.  The payoff for me, a bottle that he has had in his fridge, leftover from his case last year.  This is one beer that I really enjoy after a year.  I cannot wait to crack that open.  Look forward to a picture on NYE.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Like Where I Work

I cannot say I have the absolute dream job (that, if course, would be working for a micro brewery), but I do enjoy going to work everyday and have some great co-workers.

This year, like every year, for the holidays, we five each other something small. As you can see from the picture, my co-workers graced me with a bottle of Lagunitas Imperial Stout and Anderson Valley Brother Jacob Triple. I returned the favor with a bottle of Delirium Nocturnam (wanted to give the Noel, but they were sold out) and Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti. Great gift exchange.

On the home front- my wife gave me a giftcard to my homebrew store. Cannot go wrong. I also sent out a couple of bottles of my first homebrew to my brother, accompanied with a bottle of Iron Hill Brewings 10th Anniversary barleywine.  I forgot to package up a bottle of the Troegs Splinter Black for my sister in law, who a) loves stouts b) just gave birth to my second niece- I think she could use a beer.

What were your beer gifts (given or received) this year?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Beginning Homebrew DVD contest

Who doesn't like to win contests?  Who likes to homebrew, or is thinking about homebrewing? And finally, who would want to win an educational DVD that helps teach the steps to producing your own tasty brew?  Beginning Homebrew has given us a copy of their DVD to give out as a prize, and we would like to get the video out to someone who could use it (great cheap Christmas gift).

Contest Details:
To win a copy of this DVD, post a comment on this post, post a comment on A Beer in Hand's Facebook page's post about this contest or ReTweet the contest tweet (please list an email if posting a comment below).  The contest will take entries throughout the weekend, with a winner being drawn on Sunday evening.  Feel free to pass this on, the more people that are interested in the DVD the better, we might be able to get them to send us more.

Review of the DVD:

After watching this DVD, I have found that it is a very good informational video, that covers everything from sanitation to bottling.  Sure, you could YouTube all of the steps, but isn't it easier to just watch it all on one?  This video allows you to go step by step.  Maybe you are already reading one of the many homebrew books available, but want to see what they are talking about.  This video clearly shows each step in the process, making it easy for you to understand.

The video quality is good, not great, but the information is spot on.  The video is of one person talking, explaining each step of the homebrew process.  I am sure that experienced homebrewers can find some faults in the process (but I am not, so I find it educational), but they can find faults in everything from Papazian to Palmer.  This DVD package also comes with an additional CD-Rom that included a PDF of an instruction manual and flowchart, both are helpful as well.  I would recommend this DVD for the beginning brewer or someone that is trying to brew away from the Mr. Beer kit.  It would be fine for the experienced homebrewer, but they will not learn anything more than from what they already know from experience.

Sometimes favorite lists can be fun...

I just thought I would throw my 2 cents into the ring and let you know some of my favorite beers for Christmas time (generally speaking, the holiday season).  I consider these to be some of the best beers to come out around the holidays. I have not tried all of the holiday beers available, but from what I remember, these are what beers I have dancing in my head on Christmas eve.

  • Anchor Christmas Ale- a holiday tradition. Started in 1975, this has to be America's longest running Christmas beer (I did no research, but how could one be longer?).  The beer's recipe differs from one year to the next, as does the label- which features a different tree every year.  The beer is always very drinkable and very enjoyable.
  • Delirium Noel- This 10% bomb is what is needed on a cold winter's night.  The high abv is well hidden in the beer, which can easily lead to a empty bottle.  The calm spices make this beer enjoyable, and the ceramic coated bottle is a unique feature.
  • The Bruery 12 Days /Years of Christmas- There is just something about series, and these beers have been intriguing to me since they came out.  I love the unique ingredients added to make the name.  Two Turtle Doves used turtle chocolates, 3 French Hens was aged in French oak barrels- I cannot wait to see what they do for 12 Drummers Drumming.  The beers so far have been very good, with the Two Turtle Doves as my favorite.  If you see a bottle, you should pick it up.
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration- Who doesn't like Celebration?  Are there people out there?  Maybe one or two?  This is the beer that is easy to drink.  Not super high abv (6.5 % is still higher than 4% sessions), not spiced up, not a hop bomb, but a really nice drinking beer.  Now it is even labeled as a "fresh hop".  The hops and malt seem to work so well together.  One sip it is a ton of citrus hops, the next sip it features the nice malt.  Cannot go wrong.
  1. Scaldis (Bush de) Noel- the only beer that I put a number to.  I feel that this beer flies so far under the radar, it deserves some spotlight.  The above beers can be rattled off by beer geeks, most have tried them, all have heard of them- but when you ask if they tried Scaldis, many go blank.  This is the most drinkable 12% beer I know of.  It is sweet tasting with dark fruits and raisins.  Sure you can taste the booze (it is 12%), but the booze does not effect the mouthfeel.  I think it actually improves the taste, maybe thins the beer out a bit.  I don't know what it is about it, but everyone who I have had the pleasure of handing some to have all had the same comment.  Usually something like this, "Wow, that's a good beer".
So if you out looking at picking up some beers, maybe give this list a try.  Even better yet, give other beers that you have not heard of a try, they might become your favorite.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Troeg's Splinter Black

It was 14 degrees in the car when I started it at 6 a.m. this morning.  Why would I be getting into the car at 6 in the morning?  Troeg's was having the second release of their Splinter series, Splinter Black.  I did not have the Splinter Blue, but decided to have a bit of fun and stand in the freezing cold.  I have been a fan of series and sometimes do not completely understand their allure, but they usually are very good beers.

After trying a friend's awesome IPA homebrew the night before, we headed up to Troeg's and got in line for our wristbands.  We got to the line about 6:30, and were given #190 and #191.  I guess we weren't as crazy as I thought we were.  Standing in line, we found some people got to the parking lot around 4:30, many others showed up at 5 and even more were there before 6.  It was cold.  Some brought other special release beers (none of which I tried, due to my strict no beers before 11a.m. stance).  Scattered around the waiting line were bottles of Dechutes The Abyss (2009), Victory Dark Intregue, Terrapin Wake n Bake, Voodoo Brewing's Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and many more.

This morning showed to me the stregth and determination of beer geeks throughout Central/Western/Eastern Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and probably many other states.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What I wanted to have on Open It!

Sometimes, things don't go as you have planned.  I wanted to participate in Open It!, but that was derailed by a head cold, sore throat and my beer buddies surgery (he couldn't drink for a week).  So the bottles that I wanted to drink with friends, were left in the back of the fridge.

Among those bottles was the Avery Seventeenth Anniversary Lager, a dry hopped black lager- which quite possibly could be the first dry hopped lager that I have had, I don't remember having one before.

My nose is still not on top of its game, so the aroma may have been severely compromises.  The scent pulled heavy malt, with a nice citrus hop.

I was expecting it to be dark, and it was.  Not pitch black, but darker than many porters.  It poured a nice head, as you can see in the picture.  The head actually lingered around quite a bit.

When brought to my mouth, I could taste the hoppy bitterness before it touched my lips.  But when it got to my tongue, the malts were the star.  Nice chocolate malt flavor, does give way a tad to earthy, somewhat grassy bitterness.  Nicely balanced, the beer is smooth and perfectly carbonated.  The alcohol provides little burn, even though it is 8+%.

Overall, this was a very good beer- one I kind of wish I grabbed more of.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Homebrew Experience results

I was finally able to pop the cap and try my first solo homebrew.  It was not the first time I brewed, as I have been the helping hand with my brother on multiple occasions, including brewing beer for my wedding.

I finally was able to find time to start my new hobby.  While the brew day went well, there are many factors that you cannot oversee.  I was worried about contamination (even though I did my best to stay clean), improper storage (I thought my basement was a good place) and low/high carbonation.

I am proud to introduce you to my pale ale- Sierra Marietta.  (Marietta is the town that I live, the beer is a Sierra Nevada clone.)

The beer came out with a more malty sweet taste to it.  I was thinking it would be a bit more bitter, but it is still very good.  The cascade and centennial hops are present, and no where near overpowering.  This is very drinkable, and enjoyable (I had 4 last night while friends were over).

What would I do different?  I forgot Irish Moss, which will help clarify it.  Maybe add more hops to the boil, but not too many more.  I am also kicking around the idea of brewing an exact replica and adding a little herbs to it (maybe sage, rosemary or the like).

What I do know is that the beer is very enjoyable, and I am looking forward to another brew day. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Session #46- Unexpected Discovery

This month's The Session is hosted by Burgers and Brews.  It deals with something that I love- Unexpected Discoveries.  You know, when you walk into a bar and find it is a great beer bar; or you forget about a beer that is in the back of the fridge; or when you just randomly buy a beer, and it turns out to be your favorite beer of the night.  As they say:
"’s the unintended beer discovery that gives me the most thrill. It might be a run down dive, a yuppie bar, a backcountry gas station, or a sketchy bodega, but when I find good craft beer in places like this, completely unlooked for, it’s more rewarding than all those planned brewery visits."
I can think of more than a few times that this has happened.  Finding a new friend to lead me to Jay's Getaway in Morgantown, West Virginia.  Randomly picking Magic Hat's American Sour, and loving it.  Two of my favorite memories.  But the one that I will talk about, is what I consider one of the best deals that I have found.

My worst kept secret is that I love Max's Taphouse.  It was my go to beer bar (as it is with many other people), and it formed the beer geekery that I now employ.  They have some great specials, usually posted on a chalkboard across from the main bar (if you never have read it, you must when you walk in).  Special 12 ounce bottles are usually on special for $3.50 and "Big Bottles" are usually priced at $5.  And I just happened to run into Stone's Vertical Epic 09-09-09 on the Big Bottle list.

Five Bucks for VE 09-09-09?!?  Seriously!  When this beer was released, on Max's draft list it was listed as a Dark Belgian Ale.  This is one style that I like to try.  You never know what you are going to get- maybe a big spice bomb, maybe a dubbel, who knows.  On the nose, I got a lot of roasted malt, lots of chocolate.  Didn't know what I would think about it, but I brought it to my mouth.  (There are a lot of beers with roasted malt that I hadn't been into.  I couldn't get myself into the porters and stouts that I wanted to try.  I was in the middle of my hophead revolution.)  Once it hit my mouth, the taste took over me.  To me it was a porter with Belgian yeast, which made the beer an instant favorite.

So, when I saw this beer hit the $5 list, I instantly bought 4 bottles to take home (I had spent $9+ on the bottles when it came out).  This to me was a huge Unexpected Discovery, something I am always on the look out for.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Music makes the beer taste better at the Jerseytown Tavern

If you look hard enough at the picture, you can see a church organist, 3 bluegrass musicians, a music teachers son and a 72 year old singer.  This group paired nicely with 16 Mile Golden Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

There isn't much going on in Jerseytown, Pennsylvania.  About 20 houses, a church, hardware store, community center and tavern.  The Jerseytown Tavern has gained a splendid reputation of having "pick-and-grin" bluegrass every Wednesday night.  This open mic night draws anywhere between 5 and 20 players a night, most of whom have not played with each other before.  These bluegrassers come to play, have a beer and listen to other pickers. (Usually a couple of guitars, a couple of banjos, a fiddle or two and a standing bass are up front.)  But on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Tavern went rock and roll, a little bluesy, and mixed in many classic love songs.

This group of musicians were thrown together.  Some of them have played with together before, but before songs, they had to tell each other what to play- and it was amazing how they pulled everything off like they rehearsed for years.  The kind of star of the night was 72 year old "Hollywood" George Bond.  This singer belted out lyrics, walked through the crowd singing to people and you could tell he was just having a great time.  (They started off with Georgia, in which George Bond sang in impersonating a few different musicians, including Louis Armstrong.)  The musicians behind him had their time as well.  Many solos allowed for them to strut their stuff, and show their versatility.  This makeshift band at the Tavern has been come to be known as the Jerseytown All-Star Review.  Around the holidays, when other well known musicians get into town, the special music nights pack the dining room, everybody eating then drinking while listening to the music.

Now to the beer review.  The Tavern is macro dominated, which is expected for a small place in the rural community.  The owner has added Sierra Nevada bottles, and 16 Mile-apparently the reps were there earlier in the day- has been on draft (they have 4 taps- Miller Lite, Bud Light-sometimes regular Bud, and Yuengling are the others).  The Sierra Nevada (when coming from a city) is a great value at $3 a bottle, the 16 Mile- $2.50 a draft.  The food is good.  They have a special board, which is worth it to check out.

But the highlight is the atmosphere.  The Tavern has family seating.  Your group of four will probably be sitting next to another group.  No one minds.  Most get along, some keep to themselves.  The waitstaff is friendly, the kitchen predictable.  What more can you ask for.  But if you want to come on a special music day or a Wednesday for the music, you better get there early.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mad Elf and the Troegs Ticket

This might be the only time I would think about buying a case of Troegs Mad Elf.  Don't get me wrong- I enjoy having a bottle or two, but could never even thing about drinking a case, until now (from their newsletter):
ISO: Tröegs Ticket and Classic Mad Elf Labels!

Starting next week an extremely limited number of Mad Elf cases will be shipped randomly to beer distributors in our home state. The purchaser of these cases will have the opportunity to be one of the first people to see the new Tröegs Brewery in Hershey when we open in the fall 2011.

So how do you know if you bought the special case? There are no markings on the outside of the case but once you open it two things will make the case special – there will be an envelope taped to the lid of case containing a Troegs Ticket and 12 of the bottles will adorn our classic Mad Elf logo.

If you get one of these special cases, read the Tröegs Ticket, follow the directions and keep one of those special bottles, as you will need it, along with the ticket, to get a special behind-the-scenes tour of the brewery next fall from the Tröegs brothers.

Good luck if you buy a case.

Think Willy Wonka style.  Hopefully, the lucky few that get the golden ticket have a good time, and maybe it might just be me!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Sounds Like Fun: Open It!

This is a "community blog project" by our friends across the pond.  I saw the announcement on Pencil and Spoon (Mark Dredge) and thought it was a good idea- then I forgot about it.  Good thing he posted again today about it.

Open It! is, as he says, "about collaboration, sharing and having an excuse to open something special".  The idea is to open up that bottle that you have been saving over the weekend of December 3-5.  Share it with a friend.  Blog, tweet or just talk about it (you can also post on their facebook page here).  There is no better time than now to drink it. 

We will be having friends over on that weekend, and that is always the best reason for me to open up a bottle or two.  Now I just need to decide what to open.  I don't have anything super special, but many good options.  Maybe one of my BrewDog Abstrakts, Victory Wild Devil or one of the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary bottles?  Who knows.

Why don't you join us, and Open It!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Post #200- Why I am a Beer Blogger.

I tried to save my feelings on blogging for a memorable post.  Post #100 came and went.  I didn't really realize that I was typing it, and I really didn't know why I was blogging.  Post #100 happened to be a The Session post, it was a nice post, which talked about my favorite bar, Mike McGoverns, which still is a great neighborhood bar in Baltimore.  I have talked a little before on how I got into this blog, where the name comes from and my feelings for it- but not I thought I would throw it all out there.

I find myself blogging because I find my random thoughts throughout the day revolve around beer, beer events and, now, homebrewing.  I started blogging as a reminder of what I drank.  It was a way for me to express in words what I am tasting.  This helped develop my palate and allow me to explore the beers fully.  Throughout the past year and a half, I was able to discover more beers than I ever expected.  I have had to opportunity to try some amazing beers, and I just missed out on trying others.

Another reason I love to blog is the beer blogger/twitter community.  I have met some great people and feel fortunate when I get to meet them, and then run into them at different events or randomly at the bar.  They have been mentors as well as friends, and have been able to educate me on brands/styles/business, motivate me to explore more and keep me humble at the same time (no one wants to be a beer snob, beer geek yes, not beer snob).  To these guys, thank you.

Selection of Groomsmen Bottles

The knowledge and further understanding of the different beer and beer culture has developed and intense love.  This love is recognized by many of my friends when we go shopping for beer or are sitting in a bar.  They respect my opinion, and many times come to me looking for advice.  I translated this into my gifts for my groomsmen.  I feel that my gifts were heartfelt and, if I may say, perfect.  We were able to get coolers personalized (soft-sided, picnic style) and inside I placed a six-pack of beers that I felt they would like.  I included a Oktoberfest or two (wedding was in October) along with beer specifically for the guys.  Some included all three Saison du BUFFs, BrewDog Tokio*, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, Flying Dog Dogtoberfest and Ommegang Abbey Ale.

Finally, if you are not blogging about something you love, I invite you to start.  If you are already blogging, I hope that I am following you (if I am not, let me know, I love to read others posts, no matter what the subject). Thanks again to those who I have met through this great Blogging World, and I look forward to meeting more people as I progress.  This has been a great journey, one I am looking forward to continuing.  

I would also like to apologize for the cell phone pictures, some day I will use our good camera.
How Many Can You Identify?
My Prize- Westys for the Wedding

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beer Series

For whatever it is, there is a certain allure about drinking beers that are released in a series.  Recently, I have had the opportunity to partake Vertical Epic 10-10-10, Three French Hens and Scratch #35.  These beers are a part of a series that have will have the next bottle released a year later.  They are special releases, but not as limited as beers such as Dark Lord, Pliny the Younger, et cetera.

The Stone Brewing Vertical Epic series have been around since 2002; the beers are released on the matching month, day and year.  The first was released February 2, 2002 (hence 02-02-02).  This year's Vertical Epic was released on October 10, and is a Belgian Strong Ale that has honey and spices. 

The Bruery's 12 Days/Years of Christmas series is in its third year.  It started with Partridge in a Pear Tree, last year's release was Two Turtle Doves, and this year gives us Three French Hens.  These beers are all Belgian Dark Ales, but each has a twist.  A portion of the Three French Hens is aged in French Oak Barrels. Two Turtle Doves features cocoa, taken from the turtle chocolate candies.  Partridge in a Pear Tree was a Belgian Dark Ale that helps form the base of the future beers.

Troeg's Scratch Series are one-off beers that the brewers make when they want to try something out.  It could be an IPA, saison, Belgian pale ale or stout.  The sky is the limit, and sometimes the beers have been bad, and sometimes the beers have been so good they put it into production (like the Flying Mouflan).

These two lines of beers are very good, and I have enjoyed them immensely.  But what makes them special?  Being special releases helps.  Knowing when the beers are released (Vertical Epic on the matching day, The Bruerys around Christmas) allows beer geeks to plan on them.  I have found that they are great beers.  The Vertical Epic 09-09-09 has been one of my favorite beers to drink.  And has lead me to pick up the beer whenever I see it on the shelves.  The Scratch Series is different, as the beers are released on a more random basis.

These series are very intriguing, and have lead to many people being happy.  The Vertical Epic series is always highly regarded, the 12 Days/Years of Christmas are always great Holiday beers and the Scratch Series are always well crafted beers that leave you wanting more. 

I look forward to finding and trying more beer series, and eventually becoming addicted to them all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Variety Case Top 5

I started thinking about the variety cases that are available, and which are really worth buying.  I was able to come up with a strong five that I feel are well worth it. 

1. Weyerbacher's Big Beer variety case- you can't beat a variety case of big beers.  And if I was to chose a brewery to drink their big beers, Weyerbacher is one of the top breweries on the list.  Included in the case are 6 each of Old Heathen (Imperial Stout), Merry Monks (Tripel), Blithering Idiot (BarleyWine) and Double Simcoe (Imperial IPA).  All very good beers, and I believe that Double Simcoe is a top 5 Imperial IPA (if you haven't had it, you must).
2. Troeg's Anthology (Fall/Winter)- I love all of Troeg's beers.  Included in the Fall/Spring case are HopBack (Amber ale- more of an IPA), Java Head (stout), Dreamweaver Wheat (American wheat), and Pale Ale.  These are all solid beers, that offer a wide variety of styles- something for everyone.
3. Great Divide- one of my favorite breweries from Colorado gives Titan IPA, Samurai (rice ale), Denver Pale Ale and Hades (Belgian Strong Pale Ale).  While they do not offer a large range of styles, Great Divide does give solid beers and all offer something a little different than the others.
4. Bell's- this is what I am drinking right now.  These beers all offer a great range of styles and are all solid.  Kalamazoo Stout, Oberon (American wheat), Amber Ale and Two Hearted (IPA) are included.  The Two Hearted is the shining star. but the Kalamazoo Stout would also be a contender.  The Amber and Oberon are basic solid beers (although I feel Oberon is one of the better "put a orange in your beer" American wheats).
5. Southern Tier- an often overlooked brewery gives a great variety pack.  Southern Tier continually produces great beer, even though they do not get the credibility they deserve.  Their variety case includes their IPA, Tripel, Porter and Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale (Pale Ale).  Whatever it is, Phin and Matt's is and Extraordinary beer.

There are many, many more breweries that produce a variety case.  Breweries such as Magic Hat, Founders, Arcadia, SlyFox, Yuengling, Flying Dog, Clipper City (I am saying Clipper City since their variety pack are their basic beers, none of the branded Heavy Seas beers), River Horse, and Sam Adams.  If there are more that you think of, pose below and I will add them.

Edit: Another great, and I mean great variety case is Ithaca Brewing.  Grab it if you see it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to get the best out of the case stores

One thing about moving back to Pennsylvania that I dislike, is the case store.  In Baltimore, I would be able to go into Wine Underground, Wine Source or Chesapeake Wine and pick up a six pack, or sometimes just single bottles of the beers that I wanted to try.  Not so in Pennsylvania.  Unless a bar has a carry out license, you cannot buy singles/sixers (there are a few exceptions, but they are very few and far between).

This lead me to buying a case of beer.  Which leads to the question- What beer do I like enough to buy and entire case of?  This was a hard thing to answer.  My tastes can go from saison one day, to stout the next.  IPA to Belgian Dubbel.  Sure, a case of Dale's Pale Ale, Dogfish Head 60 Minute or Troegs Hopback are welcome in my house (I am almost always in the mood for those beers), but I like to experiment and get something different.  This was the internal confrontation that I was dealing with.

In comes the variety case.  The variety case, normally a brewery's main year round beers packaged together (many times it is 4 six packs in a case) gives the buyer the opportunity to sample four different beers in their case.  I have been accustomed to buying the Troeg's Anthology Series (they have 2, one Spring/Summer, one Fall/Winter), Magic Hat's Variety Case with their seasonal Odd Notion mixed in and the Victory variety, but these cases all contain beers that I have had what feels like a million times.

Sitting next to each other on the shelf were the variety cases that I narrowed my choice down to.
1. Bell's Brewery (Kalamazoo, Michigan)- to many beer geeks that live in Pennsylvania, Bell's is a regular find, but you cannot get it in Maryland.  The case includes their Amber Ale, Two Hearted ale, Kalamazoo Stout and Oberon. I have had the Oberon and the Two Hearted previously.  How I explain the Oberon (an American wheat) is like Magic Hat #9, but a million times better- and that is not saying #9 is bad, but Oberon is very good.  Two Hearted ale is a delicious IPA, that any hophead would be happy to drink.
2. Founders (Grand Rapids, Michigan)- like Bell's, Founders can be found in Pennsylvania, but I have not been able to get it in Maryland.  I have had few beers from them, but they too have a great reputation.  Included in their case was Centennial IPA, Pale Ale, Porter, and Breakfast Stout (not the Kentucky or Canadian Breakfast Stout).  I knew the Centennial IPA was a good basic IPA, and the Breakfast Stout was good, but did not know much about the other two.

I ended up purchasing the Bell's.  The huge difference was the range of beers that was offered.  I was able to get a wheat, IPA, amber and stout all in one case.  This should allow me to be satisfied no matter what beer I am looking for.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A New Hobby Begins

Sunday, October 31 was Halloween, it was also the start to a my new hobby- homebrewing.  After the success that was my Wedding Beer, I decided to take the plunge and become a solo artist.  This does also have a duel purpose, hopefully lowering my beer costs, while allowing me to increase my beer knowledge and understanding.

I chose to brew a simple pale ale, based on a Sierra Nevada clone.  I used both Centennial and Cascade hops, hopefully giving it a slight bitterness.  I wanted to brew something that would appeal to not only me, but to anyone that would want to try my beer.

Here are a couple of pics of the beer:

my brew partner

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Wedding Recap

After the fun of brewing and kegging the beer for my wedding, the day came for our guests to experience it.  We used forced carbonation for the kegs, thinking it was more reliable than natural carbonation.  More reliable as in easier to control. 

When we woke up on Saturday morning, took the kegs to the reception hall and picked up a couple of jockey boxes (one for the homebrew kegs, one for the Yuengling), we found that the homebrew tasted a bit under carbonated.  The beer tasted good, but the lower carbonation didn't make it as drinkable as we were hoping.  My brother called his homebrew buddies, seeing if they had a quick fix.  With no solution in sight, we just went with it, ordered a macro light lager to make sure we had drinkable beer, and continued our set up.

The jockey boxes came set up for macro half kegs.  Not being the same as our homebrew connections, we tried multiple fixes, but had to settle on one jockey box, and the homebrew being poured from our simple taps.  The gas on the Yuengling and Bud Light was screwy all day, but we settled on filling pitchers and pouring (which probably made it go faster for the guests) and the homebrew from the tap.  All in all, it was very successful.

The homebrew Oktoberfest Ale was tapped first.  We had multiple people come up to us to say how well it tasted.  Once the beer was on ice, the carbonation really showed up.  It became the super-drinkable beer that we knew it would be.  After the Oktoberfest kicked, the Wheat (with coriander) came on tap.  This beer was also very drinkable, and it was enjoyed by those who favor Blue Moon.

I was extremely happy that the wedding and reception went so well, and couldn't be happier.  I feel we turned a lot of people's head with our homebrew.  I think they came into the reception thinking it would be some "cooking lager", but came away knowing that people can brew great beer out of there home (this is something that beer geeks know, but I feel the general public doesn't believe).

I rate my beer an A+.

I didn't take any pictures of the bar (full bar, two friends were bartenders), but here is our favor (chocolate/caramel apples) and the room all set up (we had to do everything, way too much work).

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Session #45- Wheat Beers

This month's version of The Session is hosted by Beer Taster and dips its feet into Wheat Beers:

"We have the honour of hosting the 45th session which allows us to choose the topic we will all be exploring, we wanted to get back closer to the roots of the Session and pick a topic which was simple and yet gives a wide range of interpretations so we chose, simply (or perhaps not so simply), Wheat Beers.

Feel free to take this topic in any direction you like, specific reviews, historical information, or any other twist you'd like to use. Wheat beers are a pretty wide topic and actually cover German style Weizen, Heffe Weizen, etc. along with Belgian style Witbier and even Flavoured Wheat beers.

There are very few guidelines here, just have some fun drinking Wheat Beers in the fall instead of the summer."
What I would like to highlight is the last part of the last sentence- "just have some fun drinking Wheat Beers in the fall instead of the summer".  What turns me on about this sentence, is that I have never really felt you must drink certain beers in certain seasons.  Sure, I love a good crisp pilsner (Victory Prima Pils) after mowing the lawn on a hot day.  I love sitting infront of our fireplace with a nice coffee stout (Southern Tier Mokah). But more often than not, I just go for whatever I am in the mood for.  I try to keep a nice balance of beers on hand.

This year, I have been drinking a lot of Saisons.  What was one of the beers that I had during the Christmas festivities last year?  I went with an Ommegang Hennepin.  Multiple times I grabbed a Guinness while sitting outside for lunch during the summer, and one of the best beer experiences this year was having an Organic Shade Mountain Oatmeal Stout (Selin's Grove Brewing) while chatting with my brother on a very warm April day (sure April is still a "dark beer" month, but it was very warm and we were sitting outside in the sun).  Hopefully, I am getting my point across that I like all beers in all weather.

As for the Wheat Beers, I do love them.  But when I started my journey, I strayed away from them.  Why?  Blue Moon and Hoegaarden.  Blue Moon was a Miller rip off.  I had strong feelings against BMC.  (I understand there is a lot ok with BMC- you know what you are getting, everytime.  Too bad it isn't something good.  Blue Moon is standable, but I would rather not have it.)  Hoegaarden was good, but I viewed it as the Belgian Macro.  A beer that you could obtain a million places (well now looking at it, it is good and I don't blame those places for having a very drinkable beer on tap).  Now I have been keeping Wheat Beers (more Belgian then German) in my rotation.

A couple of the "usual" wheat beers that fill the beer box include: Allagash White, Hitachino Nest White Ale, Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat, Sierra Nevada Kellerweis and The Bruery Hottenroth.

I love drinking these beers year round, and look forward to opening my next.  What do you suggest drinking?  How do you feel about drinking certain beers during the seasons?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Do the right thing.

Some people may say that it doesn't really matter, but if you don't vote, you aren't allowed to complain.  And remember, Good People Vote, then Drink Good Beer.

Friday, October 8, 2010

With a little help from my friends

One of the nice things about nice people, is that they will share.  I was able to stop into Max's on Wednesday night, and while enjoying a couple of beers, Bob opened up a bottle of Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Wet Hop Ale.  This is the beer that has ingredients they grew on their property.

First off, when a brewery waxes the top of the bottle to completely seal it, it looks awesome.  I have no clue whether or not there are any advantages to it, but it looks awesome.  It also gives it a superiority feeling to the bottle; maybe the bottle looks at the other bottles and laughs, who knows?

Bob then offered to give me and the couple next to me a taste.  Of course I accepted, and this is what I got from my small sample.  I cannot say what drinking a pint of this would feel like, but my sample definitely showed huge, fresh hops (which it was supposed to have) and a sweet malt (caramelly- I don't think that is a word, but I used it).  The hops were the big flavor, coming hard with the piney taste and a bit of grapfruity flavors.  I could see this being a very good beer, and something that I will go and try to pick up.

In regards to trying samples from other people's beers, I have found that 95% of beer geeks offer up a sample when you are talking to them.  I have no problem sharing at any time, and I love sharing a bottle.  It is another part of the beer community that needs to be recognized and applauded.  Go to most Buy-as-you-go beer events, and you can see the community sharing between each other.  It puts a smile on my face, just knowing I joined the fun.

Beer for NFL Teams

I would bet that 99 out of 100 blogs that do Beer and Sports teams together place BMC or other Macros associated with BMC as most of the teams.  Today, I was happy to find a blog that was that 1.  In comes Tailgate Advice and their post Best Beer for Tailgating (although they did throw a couple of BMC beers in the mix).  Nice list of beers, many that I have heard of, some that I haven't.  It is worth a look.  As for the Ravens:

Baltimore Ravens- Heavy Seas Beer, Big DIPA The Ravens are personified by players like Ray Lewis, tough and rugged. So when you go down to M&T Bank Stadium, you need a real tough guy beer. Saying that be careful how many Big DIPAs (TRIPLE hopped DOUBLE IPA) you order. Too many of these monstrous beers and you will be streaking on the field and getting slammed by Ray Lewis!
 Can't go wrong with placing Heavy Seas as the beer for a Ravens game.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baltimore Beer Week

Starting October 7, Baltimore Beer Week takes over the city.  Being the week before and the week of my wedding, I will probably not be able to attend many events (if any).  But there are a couple that I would like to highlight, that I wish I could get to.

Two the intrigue me deal with local awesome brewer Brian Strumke of Stillwater Ales.  Stillwater ales will be the featured beer for a couple of beer dinners in the city.  The first will be at the Metropolitan on Wednesday, October 13.  This beer dinner will be a Stillwater/12% Imports event.  12% Imports are the distributor who has helped Stillwater to become in demand in the NCY/Philly/Baltimore markets.

The second beer dinner is the event that I wish I could go to out of all of them.  Held at Jack's Bistro and paired with Stillwater ales on Thursday, October 14, you cannot go wrong.  Jack's Bistro is my favorite restaurant in Baltimore.  The chef consistently comes up with great new menu items, and we have never had a bad meal there.  I am sure he will cater to Stillwaters strengths, and the food will be delicious.

I wish I could attend these events, and I hope you can make it to one of them.

Quick Review- The Bruery Orchard White

Even though it is a cold night, I decided to think of summer.  In comes the bottle of The Bruery Orchard White that is in the beer box.  From The Bruery's website:
Orchard White is an unfiltered, bottle conditioned Belgian-style witbier. This hazy, straw yellow beer is spiced with coriander, citrus peel and lavender added to the boil and whirlpool. A spicy, fruity yeast strain is used to add complexity, and rolled oats are added for a silky texture.
I will open, sample while cold, and then make notes as it warms:

Poured a bright yellow, with the smallest amount of orange.  Huge head hangs for a bit, then diminishes to a quarter inch on top.  No lacing remains.  In the nose, the beer comes with a lot of yeasty spiciness.  Also gives off a scent of lemon (peel?) and rosemary lavender (decided to read the bottle).

Initial taste:  Carbination jumps out of the glass and doesn't allow the coriander and lavender to flourish.  Yeasty spice comes through, and combines with the nice malt to create a nice backbone.  Lavender holds on to the finish.  The combination mends well together, creating a drinkable beer (even though the carbination may be a bit too much).

The 5.7% abv doesn't effect the beer, and it might as well not even be present.  Seems like a beer that I could easily have a few of.

Slightly warmer, the carbination calms down, the citrus (lemon?) turns up.  Coriander also becomes more of a featured taste.  With the lavender continuing to dominate the finish.  As the beer continues to warm, the coriander becomes dominant, as the other flavors mellow.  The yeasty spiciness disappears, and the lavender and lemony flavors are subjected to the background.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Session- Frankenstein Beers

To begin this awesome month, Drink With the Wench asks us about Frankenstein Beers:

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a blog post on "Frankenstein Beers." There are no rules about how to write about this topic — feel free to highlight a Frankenstien brewer, brewery, beer tasting notes … or just your opinions on the concept."
I may sound like an old fart on the subject (which I am not). Or maybe just some traditionalist (again, which I am not). The reality is that I have no problem with crazy beers. I love trying new and experimental brews. Popping open the Saison du BUFFs from Dogfish Head/Stone/Victory, ordering whatever is weird from Max's or finding something brewed with herbs and spices I never heard of at the Michigan Brewer's Guild Summer festival, I have never shied away from the different. 

But at the same time, many times I would just rather have a basic simple beer.  I love getting a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and knowing what is coming at me. Pour me a Prima Pils, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Bear Republic Racer 5 or Old Rasputin and I will never complain. It may not be as fun, but it is still enjoyable. 

For every Frankenstein beer that comes out, every crazy new fad (goze, sours, RIS, hop-bombs)- there will always be solid basic beers that will win people to craft beer, and keep beer geeks/snobs happy. My favorite beer is the one in my hand, and I would be happy to share it with you. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cool night= a beer with some heat

It just felt like a good night for some Stone Old Guardian barleywine. So here is my instant review.

It pours with a nice half inch creamy head on a amber/dark orange beer. (The lacing hangs on the side of the glass, refusing to give up throughout the entire serving.) Smell brings a lot of sweetness (molasses and caramel). Makes me want to get this beer to my mouth. Slight smell of grapefruit hops. This is exactly what I want an 11% beer to smell like. I cannot wait to taste it.

Once the beer is brought to my lips, the hops really kick in. Super hopped. The bitterness cuts the malt in half, almost overpowering it. The alcohol is very prevalent in the mouth, you can tell it is big. As the beer warms, it develops with more flavors coming out. A little more caramel, toffee and dark fruits.

Not as thick as I was expecting, the Old Guardian is smooth going down as the carbonation is just right. Overall, it is a very enjoyable beer. Something that I would like to sip in front of the fire this upcoming winter. I think during time, this beer could firm up and balance out so the hops don't overpower it. Can't wait to try in the future with some age on it.
After (drinking) thoughts:

I didn't put much thought into this beer before I drank it. Now after evaluating it, I realized that this is the first time I can remember having it. Many times, I have had the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Victory Old Horizontal, Lagunitas Olde GnarleyWine and (my new favorite) Troegs Flying Mouflan, but I am surprised I didn't have Old Guardian before. I now look for this to enter my beer box for a bit of age, and for it to be on the rotation of barleywines that I consume.

Wedding Brew Day

Our simple setup.
What does a beer geek do for the beer selection when getting ready for his wedding? I pondered that question for a long time. Then while talking to my brother (an experienced homebrewer), we decided to brew for the wedding. Then, what style do we brew? The answer came in the form of when the wedding was taking place (October) and what can we make (ale)... this turned into our own Oktoberfest style ale (we also brewed a basic Witbier to give another option for the reception).  Because of time and simplicity, we chose to go with a partial malt recipe, we didn't have and entire day to devote to the beer.
The Lighting of the Kettle

My brother lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a couple of years.  Down the street from where he lived were a group of guys who love beer, and all brewed together.  This helped my brother out trremendously, as their knowledge helped develop his skills.  He, in turn, is helping me learn the art.  (It was great having someone who knows what is going on, and why everything works- as well as his equipment.)

The day turned out to be a nice brewday.  A bit chilly in the morning, high in the mid 70's, with little breeze.

Sometimes you have to wait
My brother and I started the day by both grabbing a variety pack from the distributer.  He showed up with Troeg's Anthology (one of the greatest mixed packs out there- in my opinion).  I decided to give the Magic Hat variety pack a whirl.  

Magic Hat's beer is good, but I always thought it was somewhat basic.  Their #9, very popular with many of my friends, is good, but I can't get into it like others.  I always thought that Blind Faith was very good, and loved buying a pint, but then they stopped making in (yes, I am happy they just brought it back). They just released Vinyl, which is a Amber Lager, something you can drink all night, but not go out of my way for.  What I do appreciate, is their Odd Notion series.  Not always my favorite beers, but sometimes they bring on a great beer- the American Sour was absolutely amazing.

In the two mix packs were:

Troeg's- HopBack, DreamWeaver, Pale Ale, and Java Head.
Magic Hat- #9, Hi.P.A., Hex, Odd Notion (Green Apple Wit)

The Hex (and Oktoberfest) and the Odd Notion made alot of sense on the day, as we were brewing both (although no green apple).  All of the Troeg's were delicious, as usual.  The Odd Notion had a strong Green Apple smell, but was very mellow when drank.  All the beer was very drinkable, and perfect for an early Autumn/late Summer day.

Some of the other guys came around for the brew, one guy (my former roommate and Max's drinking partner) brought his leftover 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA- can't go wrong.

We decided to get spring water, chosing to avoid the hard water found at the house.  After firing up the kettle, we were able to use the first of my brother's toys that he brought along.  The 7lb. Barley Crusher grain mill ripped the malt apart for us.  The chocolate malt and pale malt then went into the pot.
Exact amounts

We were originally going to feature only Hellertau hops in the Oktoberfest, but instead chose to use the Hellertau in the boil and help it out with some Saaz towards the end.

The Witbier used wheat flakes as well as some pale malt flavored with coriander.  We also utilized Hellertau and Saaz hops for the witbier to match the Oktoberfest.

It just smelled so good.
We will be kegging the beer into corny kegs after the fermentation in complete. Overall, we are looking for these beers to be enjoyable by both craft drinkers and macro drinkers. The fact that remains is: it is a wedding, people will drink whatever is available.  Maybe one of these people will say, wow, this has more flavor than Bud Light.  Then the next time they are out, they order something new.  Who know?  It could happen.

Boil, Boil, Toil makes trouble.

Waiting isn't a problem when you have beer.
Detailed conversation.
Fun with Hops

Must Love Burgers (we needed to eat too)

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Session #43- Walking into a New Kid's Place

The Beer Babe brings us Session #43- Welcoming the New Kids:
With the astounding growth of the number of craft breweries this year, chances are there’s a new one in development, or has just started out in your area. My challenge to you is to seek out a new brewery and think about ways in which they could be welcomed into the existing beer community. How does their beer compare to the craft beer scene in your area? Are they doing anything in a new/exciting way? What advice, as a beer consumer, would you give to these new breweries?

Take this opportunity to say hello to the new neighbors in your area. Maybe its a nanobrewery that came to a festival for the first time that you vowed to “check out” later. Maybe it’s a new local beer on a shelf on the corner store that you hadn’t seen before. Dig deeper and tell us a story about the “new kids on the block.” I look forward to welcoming them to the neighborhood!

In my life, I have had to make some radical changes in the last 6 months.  Buying a new home, moving, commuting 75 miles each way to work and preparing for a wedding (we are doing 90% of everything for this wedding).  This has taken up much of my time.  But I have been able to notice the brewpubs that keep opening up.  (Sure, we aren’t Portland, but we have grown in Central PA too.)

The last couple of years, my home area has grown with beer, and sadly (not really sadly) I have been absent of it, due to me living in Baltimore.  We always had Selin’s Grove Brewing and Bullfrog Brewing, which are great- but we were missing out on more selection. Now comes word of a new brewpub trying to open in Bloomsburg, as well as Bavarian Barbarian, Breaker and One Guy Berwick Brewing.

I am going to forgo talking about the brewpubs, you should all try your local one out, or go to one mentioned above.  I am going to talk about walking into a brewpub that isn’t your home base- and how you should be treated.

I love to travel.  I don’t do it as much as I would like, but I love to travel.  What brewpubs have to realize is that everyone walking into it matters.  My post takes me to a friend’s bachelor party in Morgantown, WV.  As the others were still on the golf course (I got there later than them), I was able to find Morgantown Brewing, which I posted here.  There are four things that I feel a brewpub needs to establish to be successful to all clients (beer drinkers)- Morgantown Brewing as some examples.

1.  Education- the bartenders/servers at the brewpub have to understand the beer.  At Morgantown, I asked for the beer list.  The bartender wanted to help out while I was browsing the list.  I got to the bar right as it opened, looking for lunch and a beer or two.  The bartender did not know my BeerQ level (Beer IQ), and did a great job explaining some of their beers.

2. Service- the servers/bartenders might be knowledgeable, but shouldn’t talk down to someone who is walking into a brewpub for the first time (or someone who they think is walking into a brewpub for the first time).  They should ask basic questions to understand the customers BeerQ, as to not insult them nor sound like an elitist.  At Morgantown, the bartender was nice.  She was able to go back and forth with me when I asked intelligent questions, or when I asked dumb questions about the beer.  I didn’t need someone to tell me what a Scotch ale was, just someone to tell me if theirs was hop heavy (it wasn’t) or malt heavy (it was).  Also along the lines of service, you cannot have a 40 minute wait between beers.  Sure if you are trying to serve a million people in a small bar, that is one thing.  But if I go to a brewpub, there is 5 servers for 20 people (at the bar and tables), I should be able to get a beer- this was not at Morgantown.

3. Good Beer- this should be obvious.  Good beer will always bring people back.  Go ahead and make the basic IPA, pale ale, stout, brown ale, pilsner (or “lager”), blonde and even throw in an Alt.  Those are base beers that most brewpubs have, but brewpubs that stand out take it to a new level.  Brew some great Belgian dubbels or triples, throw a marzen in the mix or just drop cherries/raspberries/chocolate/etc. in the beer.  Show me you are trying.  If it fails, it fails- but it will bring me back.

4. Regular customers- when you get people coming in once/twice a week, take notice.  These people will get others to come, who will tell others to come.  They can be welcoming to newbies or a deterrent.  They are some of the first people that I notice when I sit at the bar, because they are right next to me.  Granted, it is not up to the brewpub to supply the regulars, but with Education, Service and Good Beer, regulars will form.

Hopefully my thoughts made sense to you, and you can agree with me.  If you feel there are other keys to a great brewpub, let me know.

Monday, August 30, 2010


If I get told good things about a certain beer, I try to stay away from expectations.  Expectations can hurt your experience with any beer, and the experience is what I look forward to the most.

Sometimes when I drink a beer, I just don't know what to think about it. This Ayinger was one of those beers. I started drinking the Jahrhundert Bier with high expectations.  I was told that it was a great beer, something that I would enjoy.  I was hoping for a nice balanced beer, that would combine a nice sweet malt with a good hop backbone. What I got was just sweet, bready malt. A little too much. It was smooth and not over carbonated, but I needed the hops to crash it at the end and it never came. Maybe I was expecting too much.

The other side of the expectation story comes to Bear Republic Racer X.  This was a beer that I had been looking for ever since I knew it existed.  Racer 5 is one of my favorite beers available.  The beer is a very easy drinking West Coast IPA that feature the citrus characteristics of the hop, instead of the bitterness.  Racer X is a Imperial IPA, that is the spawn of Racer 5.  The major difference in the two beers is the factor of a bit more bitterness in the X (but it doesn't overpower the beer).  The beer was well balanced, with the malt pushing through after the initial hop citrus and bitterness.  Overall, this was a very drinkable beer, but one that you should watch out for due to the alcohol content.

Whenever a person has expectations, it is hard to hit it right on the nose.  Typically, the outcome is better or worse than expected.  In these two beers, I was able to get one that was better than expected, and another which was lower.

Have you had your expectations reached/fallen short lately?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Finally a BUFF Beer

I finally decided to open up the Stone/Dogfish Head/Victory collaboration Saison du BUFF.  I have been loving saisons for a couple of months now, but since I picked up the Saison du Buff, I have been on a IPA kick.  But today, after doing the yard work, I figure it would be a great treat.

The Saison du Buff is a collaborative effort between Greg Koch (Stone), Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head) and Bill Covaleski (Victory).  The BUFF part of the beer stands for Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor.  Seven years ago, the three brewers started this "organization" with the intentions to push the limits.  I personally think they did it to just have a bunch of fun.

First, the pour- I again allow the head to get out of control.  The color looks perfect for a saison, darker yellow- and very clear.  The nose is full of spices.  It is dominated by rosemary (one of my favorite meals is to have steak and rosemary potatoes- a smell I will never forget) and a nice minty sage.

First sip brings a good saison yeast taste to it.  Then, BAM! the spices kick in and run over you like a Mack tractor trailer truck going 70 miles per hour.  Big time rosemary.  HUGE rosemary.  The sage clears up the spices on the back of the tongue.

The beer is highly carbonated, as expected with a saison.  It is light in the mouth, and surprisingly smooth going down (the spices do not make it hard to swallow).  I think this beer is a drinkable beer, maybe have two or three, but I doubt I could handle any more than that.

Overall, this beer is very good.  A nice collaborative effort on the part of three great brewers.  This beer reminded me of the Jolly Pumpkin/Stone/Nogne O Holiday Ale collaboration that I tried last February.  A ton of spice, but everything works together well, creating a very good beer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dreaming of beer, and a Rant against ratings.

So I sit here thinking about the beers that I can't wait to drink in the future.  Checking out people's Top Whatever lists, looking for some hidden gems. So naturally, I start thinking about mid-January when I can begin drinking Nugget Nectar again.  My mind continues to wonder, so I decide to go to Beer Advocate and check up on the reviews.  The first review kind of blew my mind:
"Appearance was typical beer yellow with half inch head that lasted fairly long. Aroma was mostly citrus, especially grapefruit with piney notes. Flavor was pure hop bitterness with a touch of the grapefruit. Way too bitter! Mouthfeel was light to medium but balanced over the palate. Drinkability is low, it's just way too bitter, a real hop bomb. NOT recommended!"

It starts off with a description that I never heard of before (or saw as I have drank cases of this beer).  "Typical beer yellow"?  I have never seen a beer yellow NN- ever.  The Aroma and Flaver are spot on.  Yes, NN is mostly citrus- grapefruit and pine in the nose.  Yes, it is pure hop bitterness- have you seen the awesome label.

But then this person* goes off the deep end.  The lines- "Way too bitter!" and "NOT recommended" took me for surprise.  I must also note that this guy gave the beer a D.   D?!?!?!? How is that possible.  Then I came to my senses and thought about his remarks.  If you don't like hop bombs, or big Amber (Double IPA) ales, then no you won't like this beer.  But if you don't like those styles, why would you even pick it up? Again, did you not look at the label when you bought the bottle?

This reinforces my feelings about the overall ratings of the beers on Rate Beer and Beer Advocate.  I love the reviews, love other blogger's reviews and the such, but this guys D rating influences the overall score when he outlines exactly why it has an overall A rating.  I try my best to rate the beers to style.  I do not really like Scottish beers, I know this.  If I rate one on a rating site, I judge it based on what it should taste like, not whether or not I like the beer.

So anywho, I cannot wait to taste the sweet nectar from the gods again.  Are there any beers that you cannot wait to get again?

*this reviewer was all over the book on his other reviews as well.  Maybe it is inexperience, maybe he has a load of bad bottles.  I don't know, but I will not take his reviews for what they're worth.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Session #42

This month's Session is brought to us by Ramblings of a Beer Runner and has to deal with:

"So I ask for this 42nd Session that you write about a special place in your life, and a beer or brewery that connects you to that place. It can be the beer from your childhood home, a place you once lived, your current hometown, a memorable vacation you once took, or a place you've always wanted to go to but never had the chance. Please take a few moments to think about the how the beer connects you to this place, and share this with us. Of course, the definition of "place" is rather open ended, and in some cases, highly debatable, so it will be interesting to see the responses on what constitutes a place."

In my beer life, I have had the fortunate ability to try some of the world's greatest beers, but there is one beer that holds a close place in my heart.  Yuengling Lager.
Is the the best beer that I have ever had? No way.  But it takes me back to my hometown with my friends.  I grew up 45 minutes from the brewery, and when we started drinking, that is the beer we had.  We shared many a beer on the front porch talking about religion, politics, girls and sports. Many nights, the only thing that we could agree on was that we wanted another beer.  These friends have been there for me (and I for them) through thick and thin, and still we get together and share thoughts over Yuengling.
Why wouldn't we drink it?  It is cheap, local, easy drinking and I think it tastes good- as I write this post, I am having a lager (that is how we order it- "give me a lager").