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").