Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What happened?

In preparation to the move to 100 beer lines, Max's is also replacing their old beer lines.  But to do that, they had to drain off the beer that was there,  Now there are emply taps on the wall (both sides of the center liquor section are void of beer).  It was weird to see, but I am glad that the new lines and added beer taps are coming.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Final Four

What an exciting Beer Bracket is has been so far this year.  Too many upsets to count.  Some great beer to come through in the clutch.  A #1 seed, #2 seed and two #5 seeds make it to the Final Four.

Pauwel Kwak represents Duke in the Bracket; River Horse Triple Horse represents West Virginia; Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA represents Michigan State; and Budweiser Budvar represents Butler.  These are all very good beer, and I look forward to reviewing each beer at some point this week (if I can get a hold of the beer, if not, I will go by my memory).

If you feel the urge to review any of the beer, post in a comment below, and I will place it in my review as well.

College Students Dream: A Brewery on Campus

Apparently, LSU feels that a microbrewery on campus would help with the food sciences program...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pauwel Kwak vs Jolly Pumpkin La Roja

Belgian ale vs. Belgian inspired wild ale.  The Pauwel Kwak is a classic Belgian Strong Pale Ale, while La Roja is an American Wild Ale, which takes its process from the Flanders Red style of Belgian beer.

The Pauwel Kwak is a crisp pale ale that hides the 8% abv beneath a layer of yeasty spiciness and a great malt backbone.  The sweetness of the beer does not dominate, as the spices and hops do cut through to balance everything together.

The sourness of the Jolly Pumpkin La Roja dominates, but does not overpower the rest of the beer.  When drinking a Flemish Red, you should want and expect tartness, a bit of vinegar and not much hop bitterness.  And that is exactly what you get with La Roja.

My vote goes to the Pauwel Kwak, as it remains my favorite Belgian Strong Pale Ale, and it a beer that I could drink almost any day.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA vs. Samuel Smith Taddy Porter

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA pushed past the cinderella Brewer's Art Ozzy to get to the Elite Eight, while Samuel Smith Taddy Porter beat out the number 2 seeded Kuhnhenn Solar Eclipse. Now it is a head to head of a crazy American brewery with a traditional Brittish brewery.

The Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is a smooth, sweet, hoppy beer that many consider to be one of the best. I love the 90 Minute IPA. It is one of my go to beers, as I know what I am getting, and I will always be satisfied with it. Dogfish Head is known to try many styles of beer, and many different processes of brewing, including the act of chewing grain before brewing. Their motto of being "Off-Centered" says it all.

The Samuel Smith Taddy Porter is one of the few porters that I enjoy. The creamy beer, made with chocolate malt avoids burnt, roasted malt, raising my enjoyment of the porter (I am not a fan of the roasted malt, as much as the chocolate malt. Samuel Smith is a classic english brewery that produces very good beer, perfect to style. They are known more for being consistantly good. There is no worry whenever your order their beer.

My vote goes to the 90 Minute IPA, as it is my style. Even though the Taddy Porter is strong and can beat out anyone.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Budvar vs. Selin's Grove Scottish

The first Elite Eight game is between Busweiser Budvar and Selin's
Grove Scottish. Budvar is a great pilsner style lager brewer in the
Czech Republic. Selin's Grove is one of the top brew pubs in the
country, yet the brew pub is in a town of about 10,000 residents, not
near any large cities (about 30 minutes from Harrisburg,PA) so it
stuggles to get their name out.

That is fine, more beer for those if us that get to the pub. The
Scottish ale was one of the first beers to pull me in to craft brew,
as I went to college in Selinsgrove and would hang out at the brewpub
on the weekends.

Many people confuse Budvar with the American Budweiser (I was one od
them), but at one taste, they see what a quality beer Budvar is. It
is a nice clean lager that is perfect on a hot day (I like pilsners
after yard work).

I am cheering for the Scottish ale, as it has more of a personal
meaning to me. What beer are you going with?

Flying Dog Raging Bitch vs River Horse Tripel Horse

The second Elite Eight game of the day is Flying Dog's Raging Bitch versus River Horse's Tripel Horse- a number 1 seed versus a number 2 seed. 

Flying Dog makes some great beer, and get another plus being a local beer for me.  The Raging Bitch has been a favorite of mine ever since Flying Dog released it.  An IPA made with Belgian yeast, the Raging Bitch is smooth and delicious.  This is a great beer to drink any day of the week.

River Horse is a brewery from New Jersey, who in the last couple of years has started to produce some quality beer.  I have had some very good beer from them (their Double White Belgian Style Ale is absolutely delicious) and some bad beer (just had their Belgian Freeze winter seasonal- very forgetful).  I think the Triple Horse is a very good beer, that is comparable to style. 

I am rooting for the Raging Bitch, but I wouldn't put it past the Tripel Horse to get past them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Im My Glass- Weyerbacher Merry Monks' Ale

Tonight, I grabbed a Weyerbacher Merry Monks' Ale out of the fridge. Poured out a strawish color, with a little hint of orange. The beer had an one inch head. The head dissipated quickly, and left just a trace of lacing on the glass.

The smell is earthy and grassy. The Belgian yeast spiciness comes out as well as the alcohol (9.3%).

The taste is of the spice and caramelized sugars. I love the combination of the spice and the sweetness. I find fault in the amount of alcohol in the taste. For me it is overpowering, but being over 9%, it should be expected.

The beer is smooth in the mouth, even with a good amount of carbonation. This is a very good beer, and extremely drinkable. I will definitely be grabbing another.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Beer Bracket 2010- The Sweet 16

After an exciting first round, and an even more exciting second round, the Sweet 16 is set.  Every beer in the Sweet 16 is a beer that I enjoy. The beers that came out on top were:
Brewer's Art Ozzy
DogFish Head 90 Minute IPA
Kuhnhenn Solar Eclipse
Selin's Grove Scottish
Jolly Pumpkin La Roja
River Horse Triple
Flying Dog Raging Bitch
The Bruery Autumn Maple
Avery Maharaja
North Coast Old Rasputin
Bush Noel
De Dolle Dulle Teve
Pauwel Kwak
Samuel Smith Toddy Porter
Budweiser Budvar
BrewDog Tokio

A little something for everyone.  From IPAs, a Belgian Christmas ale, imperial stouts and a beer made with maple syrup.  Crazyness.  Hopefully your favorite team beer is still in the tournament.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beer not in the Beer Bracket

There are some beers that I have left off of the list.  It isn't that I do not enjoy the other beers, but they are just beers that I have not been able to try yet.  I cannot wait to get some New Belgium, New Glarius, Russian River, etc.  I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to try as many beers as I have, but there are still beers out there to try.

I appreciate the comments on the Beer Bracket, because it keeps showing me how many beers are out there- and that I need to go get them.

Please keep the comments coming, it pushes me to find these better beers.

Anderson Valley is being sold

According to the North Bay Business Journal, Anderson Valley Brewing Company is being sold to an "industry verteran".

Anderson Valley Brewing Co., maker of craft beers Boont Amber Ale and Hop Ottin’ IPA, today announced it reached a definitive purchase agreement with HMB Holdings LLC, new company led by a former beer marketing company executive.
Anderson Valley was started by Ken Allen, who build the brewery from the ground up to what it has become today.  I love some of their offerings, even giving Brother Jacob Dubbel a spot in this years Beer Bracket.  Hop Ottin' IPA is also considered a favorite by many IPA fans.

About HMB Holdings LLC: (From
HMB Holdings LLC is owned and managed by Trey White, a fifteen year veteran of the alcoholic beverage industry. Through his role as executive vice-president at United States Beverage, Mr. White worked with a variety of fast growing successful American craft beers including Goose Island, Rogue, Ipswich and SLO as well as selected imports including Grolsch from Holland. HMB will retain the current brewing and production facilities at Anderson Valley Brewery while expanding the sales and marketing capabilities.

Best of luck to both Ken Allen and HMB Holdings LLC!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ultimate Bartender

As many other bloggers have posted, the b, The Baltimore Sun's free daily newspaper that is aimed toward the younger crowd, is hosting a Best Bartender contest.  A few of my favorite bartenders are on the list- Jason and Bob from Max's, Jeff from Elliott's Pour House and Shannon from The Pickled Parrot.  So get over there and vote.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beer Bracket 2010

Here is this year's Beer Bracket.  Each beer will follow the team that takes its place on the NCAA basketball tournament.  Throughout the tournament I will be sampling some of these beers and posting my thoughts on the beer and the team for which the beer represents.  (I will not get to all of them, feel free to post your thoughts in a comment or shoot me an email and I will post it as a blog post.)

Let me know what you think of the bracket, my beer selections, omissions and what else you would have liked to see on the bracket- I have forgotten many of the good beers out there, so remind me, there is still time to change them up.

Click to enlarge Bracket

Friday, March 12, 2010

In My Glass- Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale

This is one of my favorite styles.  I haven't reviewed very many of them though, so hang with me.  I know what I like in a Flemish Red (Rodenbach Grand Cru's sour tartness), and kind of compare every other Flemish Red to the Grand Cru.

The Monk's Cafe pours a dark brown with hints of red.  It has a nice head to it (one inch) that quickly disappears.  The nose presents a sourness to it.  You can also pick up quite a bit of acidity which is typical.  On the first sip, I can tell the acidity will be a prominent part of the beer.  The acidity overpowers the sour tartness, but the sourness is still a very active taste.  It tastes as if it is a green apple sour, very nice.

The beer is smooth, kind of creamy, but not heavy.  I am slightly surprised by how light it is in the mouth and still being slightly creamy.  As the beer warmed, the acidity smoothed out, even though it was still dominant, making the beer drinkable.  I would not suggest the Monk's Cafe Flemish Red to someone that has not had a Flemish Red before, I would rather suggest the Leroy Paulus I had the other day, as the flavors are more muted and less offensive or active.  But if someone knows what kind of beer they are getting into. the Monk's Cafe Flemish Red would be a great beer to have.  Probably not more than one or two of the, but a nice beer to drink.

Quick Run to the store- Stillwater Artisanal Ales Stateside Saison

The time had come for grabbing the newest beer out of Baltimore.  Stillwater Artisanal Ales released their bottles onto the beer loving community this week, and after receiving a tweet from HoneyGo Wine and Spirits, I made sure to get some of the first batch.

The Stillwater Stateside Saison made its Maryland debut at Max's Belgian Beer Festival this year, and if you didn't get the beer right away, it didn't last long.  It is a very good Saison that also has a hoppy backbone to it (hence the name Stateside, because we hop things up apparently).

I was able to pick up some other stuff, to make the trip completely worthwhile.  I was able to grab a couple bottles of Victory's Yakima Twilight (I liked it so much the other day, I needed to share it with some friends that didn't have it/can't get it), a bottle of Clay Pipe's Hop-Ocalypse (R.I.P.), Brewer's Alley 1634 Pale ale, Monk's Cafe Flemish Red and Anchor's Porter.  I am looking forward to trying a these beers out, and hopefully I get a couple of winners.

 (I apologize for the crappy camera phone pictures, I was too lazy to get out the good camera.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday at Max's...

I was poured a Nugget Nectar as soon as I walked into Max's yesterday.  Can't beat it.  Otter Creek was the pint night, but even though I don't mind their beer, there was just too much on the rest of the list.  Nugget Nectar was followed by Oliver's Biere de Garde.  Although I was intrigued by the Farmhouse ale moniker, it failed to live up to my expectations.  It was a very good beer, but I was looking for some great Belgian farmhouse ale from a very good English style company (I do enjoy many Oliver beers, but this, while good, is thankfully not their full time beer). 

I finished the night with a Leroy Paulus Flemish Red.  I was looking for a sour bomb to finish the night, and what I got was a creamy beer that had a little sourness and tartness.  Thicker in the mouth than I wanted, with a bready taste, not the slightest bit of hops and mild mild acidity.  The best that I can say is that it has a slightly unique taste and was very easy to drink.  I don't know if I would have another, but maybe suggest it for someone breaking into sours.

What have you had lately?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Tournament Season...

As the college basketball conference tournaments get under way, it is time again to bring forth the Beer Bracket.  Beer Bracket 2010 will run according to the rules of the inaugural Beer Bracket.  I have not decided on the split in the bracket (last year it was domestic and foreign).  Maybe East Coast, West Coast, Belgian and Rest of the World?  I don't know.

What is nice is the influx of new beers that will receive high seeds-- Flying Dog Raging Bitch and Weyerbacher Zotten Verboten will be two new inclusions.  And I will try to match up the beer and teams that made it last year, making the defending champ Rodenbach Grand Cru's chance of being in the tourney smaller (I might just place it on a new team- unless UNC gets in).

Overall, if you want to help, you can suggest beer that matches a team (think creatively) or just other new beers that have to go on the bracket (Life and Limb).  Any suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In My Glass- Victory Yakima Twilight

In my glass tonight, is a brew from Victory that I have been looking forward to, Yakima Twilight.  It is an 8.7% American Strong Ale.  From the bottle:
The Yakima Valley of Washington is the heartland of American hops, having contributed uniquely flavorful varieties that have helped redefine American brewing.  Late summer harvest yealds the bounty that builds this exciting ale.  Vibrant and aromatic, this is their moment of glory as the vines have withered by the time you sip this. Dark malt warm the hops' bright edge bringing harmony to the finish.  Rest well hop roots.Spring will come and we'll be thirsty again.
The dark, mahogany color of the beer is accented by the small head that quickly disappates.  The smell is of sweet dark malts and a hint of citrus hops.  The alcohol is not hidden in the nose, nor in the mouth.  The sweet caramel start to the ale turns bitter when the hops get in the mix.  The carbination is not overpowering, but a little more than I like with the sweetness.

This is a very nice beer, it has something for everyone, the caramel taste from the malt and a nice hoppy bitter backbone.  In the mouth, this beer is smooth and creamy, yet the carbination gets in the way.  I would love to have this beer again, and am happy to have tried it.  I don't think that I could have 4 or 5 of them in a night (the abv may be a tad too high), but a second would already be poured if I had one.  Good beer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

In My Glass- Flying Fish Exit 4

From Flying Fish's website:
For the first release, we chose Exit 4--right up the street from the Flying Fish brewery. Because we were one of the first craft brewers to embrace Belgian-style beers, we've chosen as our representative beer, a Belgian trippel finished with plenty of American hops.

This inspired Belgian-style Trippel has a hazy golden hue and the aroma of citrus with hints of banana and clove. Predominant Belgian malt flavors give way to a subdued bitterness in the finish. Bottle conditioned, this beer will develop as it ages.

This was one of the beers from the mixed 6 pack that I picked up at Honey Go Wine and Spirits. It says that it is an American Trippel. Very nice to look at. It didn't pour with much of a head, but I am probably the worst person at pouring. The head didn't wait around for me to examine it, as it dissipated quickly. You can smell the sweetness pouring out of the beer. I am thinking added honey. You can also pick up on the hops and some spice, maybe from the yeast.

The taste is more complex than the nose. Lots of bubble gumish flavors, followed by the Belgian yeast. A bit of hops push through, where I assume that the "American" part of the style comes in. A little more carbonation than I like in a beer, but it still is a very nice beer to drink.

Overall, I think this is a really nice beer. Nothing special, but it would be something that I would pick up in the future.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Session #37- The Display Shelf

This month The Session is hosted by The Ferm and is titled The Display Shelf- When to Drink the Good Stuff.  He goes on to say:
Over the past few years, I have purchased or been gifted numerous bottles of beers that I subsequently cellared and designated as “to be opened on a special occasion.” My dilemma, however, is matching an occasion with opening a particular bottle in my collection.
Collecting beer is something that I love to do.  I just enjoy having good beer on hand.   Saving beer, on the other hand, is not something that I am able to do easily.  Sometimes I am not in the mood for the beer after I buy it, so it seems like I was hoping onto it, but really I just didn't feel like drinking it.

There have been certain occasions in which I was able to hold onto the beer for a time, with designated days in which I planned on drinking them... here is the reason those days are special.

Sam Adams Utopias (2005)
This bottle was not owned by me, but upon my arrival at my brother's house following the birth of his first child, he couldn't wait to open it (it was his wife's Christmas present to him the year before).  We didn't know much about the beer other than the cost, high abv and it was supposed to be very good.  Served in a brandy snifter, the maple syrup was a very nice drink to celebrate a great occasion.

Victory Wild Devil
This past 4th of July I proposed to my (now) fiance.  We decided to have an engagement party in August.  This is where I opened my bottle of Wild Devil (I read online many times that said to hold onto the Wild Devil and the beer would develop nicely, so I did).  I bought the bottle in March, and it was hard not to open it before August.  So along side of the Yuengling, Brewer's Art Ozzy and Troeg's Nugget Nectar (they did a mid-summer release), there was my bottle of Wild Devil.  Once we opened it, we knew it was different.  A very good different.  The funkiness from the Brett, and the hop bomb base delivered something extremely memorable.  I am currently holding onto another one for a longer time.

New Years sample pack
I am from Pennsylvania, and currently reside in Baltimore.  My friends at home love good beer, but unless buying a case, or a bottle from the bar, they are not able to get the selection I have access to.  So, holidays (especially New Years) are my time to grab a box at the beer store and fill it up for my friends at home.  This past year I grabbed He'Brew Jewbilation, Scaldis Noel and a few other choice beers for them to try.  Even though the Jewbilation was a let down to me, the night was a great time and my friends were able to try many beers that we cannot otherwise get.

And Finally, the Number One time that I will be opening the special beer will be on my wedding day.  Currently, I am in the process of trading with a guy to get a bottle of Westvleteren 12.  This will be shared on the big day between my brother, my best friend and me.  I am not expecting it to blow me away beer wise, but the search and capture of this beer will make it worth while, and of course it is rated in the top 2 in the world.

I do not need a special occasion to open a good bottle of beer, maybe I will open the Westmalle that is in my beer box tonight just for the heck of it, but finding a special occasion, celebrating with friends and family makes the beer even more special.  I will always think of my niece when Utopias is mentioned, think of my engagement party when talking about Victory or Wild Devil and then be able to think about my wedding whenever Westy 12 is brought up.  That is the experience that makes having a special beer worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beer Run...

I needed to run up to White Marsh to get some home office supplies, so it just made sense for me to give Honey Go Wine and Liquors a go.  I walked away with a mixed 6, a sixer of Troegs Nugget Nectar (my favorite, maybe should have grabbed a case) and a 4 pack of 21st Amendment Monk's Blood- I have already had it, but it was good enough to get some to share with my friends from home.

In the mixed pack, I grabbed Peak Organic IPA, Weyerbacher Merry Monks Tripel, River Horse Belgian Freeze winter ale, Flying Fish Exit 4 (American Trippel), Victory Yakima Twilight (I have been patiently waiting to try it) and Flying Dog's Garde Dog (Biere de Garde).

I was thrilled with their selection, and knowing that it is easy to get to.  I will keep an eye out for their special sales (many times posted on Twitter or Facebook), so I can stock up on the cheap.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Zotten Replaced with Verboten

As most people know, Weyerbacher had to take Zotten off the shelves about a month ago due to a trademark dispute with a Belgian brewery.  So out comes Verboten.  Basically the same brew, but with different labels, different name and no longer featuring a jester.  Hopefully, this is safe and we can go back to enjoying the delicious brew.

A Tea Beer...

I was able to complete my search for a beer brewed with tea, when I stepped into Jack's Bistro last Thursday.  As I posted earlier when Jack's email list came out:
I posted a question on twitter the other day, why aren't beers brewed with tea. I couldn't think of any at that moment. @cauderus mentioned Sah'tea from Dogfish Head, @beertodd mentioned brewers preference,as well as some are brewed with green tea and said some tea would get tannic and astringent when boiled (he is the brewer at Copper Canyon in Michigan). Low and behold Jack's has a beer brewed with tea on their new tap list. I will have to get down to try it out.
After trying to get down and get the BFM (Brasserie Des Franches-Montagnes) Tarry Suchong, I was thrilled to finally have a pint in front of me.  The beer did not disappoint.  As I tweeted:

Nothing stands out in the nose. A bit of fruit and a little sour tartness. Taste gives way to a tart, slightly smoky tea flavor. Smooth and extremely drinkable. I will get down here to try it again.

My senses are not the most refined, but nothing stood out.  There was a tad bit of sourness, backed by a tart, smokey flavor, if you can picture that.  It was different.  I would love to get down and try another.

Jack's Bistro's Thursday beer dinner totally stole the show.  First course was an Italian cheese dip, followed by a not so spicy shrimp stir fry.  They paired it with a Boulder Mojo Risin' Double IPA.  The beer was good, the food was better.  I would recommend stopping down to check out their beer dinners, as they make delicious food, and pair it perfectly with an appropriate beer.

On a side note, my local pub, Mike McGovern's, has Sierra Nevada Glissade on tap, as well as carrying Stone Ruination and Dogfish Head Midas Touch in bottles.  They normally don't have the largest selection, but carry the basics- which is good enough for me.