Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Coming back to where it started

I love living in our new house. I really do. But I miss the bar. I know that sounds like I am a drunk, but really, it is about comfort level. Walking into a place, sitting at the bar, ordering a pint.  Pure comfort.  Max's was the place that really transformed my "hobby" and has kept me searching for good beer.

Yesterday, I was able to stop into Max’s to see what was on tap.  Grabbed a pint of RJ Rockers Black Pearle (Black IPA) on cask- very good- and watched some Professional Bull Riding on the television. It was nice to grab a pint and check out the tap list.  I feel that I am behind the times.  Reading through the list, there were so many that I had not sampled.  I know that I will not be able to try all the beers in the world, but I want to try. 

I was able to sample the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum- very nice, huge hop in a glass. This beer (maybe because of the timing of the release) has been compared to HopSlam. If HopSlam is as good as this beer, it is worth the money.

Also poured into my glass was a small sample of BrewDog’s 1000 IBU.  This was a very bitter beer.  I would say that it was good, but the Hoptimum was much better. I also enjoyed the Stone Lukcy Basartd.  This completed the hop trio.  Lukcy Basartd was very good.  It was a bit different than the Hoptimum and 1000 IBU, as the malt came forward and presented through the bitterness- overall maybe the most drinkable of the three.

A trip to Max’s wouldn’t be complete without a couple of sours.  I was thrilled to see a Bahnhof Berliner Weisse on tap, as well as Rodenbach Classic.  Both lived up to my expectations.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Third of Three

After opening the Dogfish Head Saison du BUFF, I felt the need to open the Victory.
I had sample all three in one sitting, and finally trying a bottle of each reinforced what I thought. The Stone was herbally, the Dogfish Head was the bitter one and the Victory was the balanced brew.
The beer looks golden with a nice poured head- very similar to the other two. The aroma was lemony, with a slight touch of hops and of the herbs used.
The taste is similar to the smell. The lemon jumps out at you, followed by a small bouquet of the sage/Rosemary/other herbs, then finished off by the hops.
The alcohol is hidden in the complexity of the other tastes. This has the best carbonation level, making it a really nice beer to drink.

Overall, this was my favorite of the three- but I would have no problem drinking any of them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brew Day Beer Review

Today, the ice disrupted my trip to work, so I gave the Wife a ride to her work, waited for her (she was only a couple of hours), and then stopped at the homebrew shop.  I am getting low on my first homebrew, which was awesome.  So I decided to use a similar recipe, but switch up the hops. 

The hop that I went with was the Amarillo; I am hoping for a more aggressive hop bitterness.  A post will be following my brew night.

Tonight, I also thought that I would pop the cap on my Dogfish Head version of the Dogfish Head/Stone/Victory Saison du BUFF.  It is great to think of summer on a cold winter night by drinking my favorite summer beer, a saison.

After getting past a crazy pour, the head exploded, as did the aroma of sage and lemon.  The sage scent starts to dominate as my nose got closer to the glass.  The brew pours a nice cloudy straw color.  The head remains strong, nice and full.

First taste is exactly what is expected.  The sage has a dominant hold on the taste.  Maybe a little lemon, and a slight teaser of hop bitterness.  The wheat malt backbone is prevelent, but is overrun by the sage.  Even though the sage dominates the taste, it is not dominating in an annoying way.  It would make a very nice compliment to a herbal meal (I am thinking Peruvian chicken).

The carbonation is well balanced with the malt.  The 6.8 percent alcohol does not push though, and it is barely there- if you want to look for it.

Overall, this was a very nice beer.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Old Friends

Did you ever order a beer, one you haven't had in a while, and been like, "I forgot how much I have enjoyed you".  This happened Saturday night.  We met up with some friends at a local pub (usually have a nice selection, nothing special), and sitting on tap was Green Flash West Coast IPA

Now, I haven't had Green Flash in probably a year.  I know it is good, will mention it here or while commenting on other blogs as one of my favorite West Coasters.  But for whatever reason, I have not picked it up lately.

Green Flash was one of the beers that helped propel me into IPAs.  Though I have been changing my "favorite" style basically every month, I can always drink an IPA.  I feel that there is a distinct West Coast/East Coast IPA rivalry.  I base these comparisons on the Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon and Victory Hop Devil as my East beers, while Stone IPA, Bear Republic Racer 5 and Green Flash West Coast IPA are my West beers.  (Yes, there are many more, but I feel that these beers perform the best for each side of the country.)

Back to Saturday night-  I ordered the beer, knowing it was great.  But as Will Ferrell said in Old School, "It's just so good when it hits your lips".  The absolute BLAST of piney hops reminded me of what I had forgotten.  For the first half a beer, I had regret for not picking up a six pack every once in a while. (Or even a case here in PA.)

Yesterday, I started thinking about the other beers that I have put to the back of my mind.  Those forgotten old friends that are so great I forget about them.  Maybe I take them for granted, maybe the bars don't have them when I enter.  For whatever reason, I go way too long between enjoying these beers.

My Other Old Friends:
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe
Great Divide Claymore
Abita TurboDog
Allagash White

Hopefully it was lout

Here is a story that can bring tears to your eyes:
Charges are pending against a 32-year-old Milwaukee man who was arrested after beating and smashed a truckload of beer with a metal pipe.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the attacker scolded the deliveryman Friday for bringing what he called 'poison' into his neighborhood. Police say several people took advantage during the altercation and stole beer from the deliveryman's truck.

Whether it was Neo-Prohibitionists, radical MADD or whomever, beer isn't illegal, but what you did, was.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Working my way through Christmas Gifts

I decided to go to the back of the fridge and grab this Anderson Valley Brother David's Triple.  This was a Christmas gift from my co-worker, and as it is 20 degrees outside, and we have Anchorman on the television- I felt it would be a good night to pop the cap.

The beer poured and orange (maybe burnt orange) color, with a small quarter inch head (I had to work to get that much).  Aroma is entirely based on sweetness and the belgian yeast.  No expectation of hop aromas, none found.

The initial taste (out of fridge,  cool/cold) was a sweet beer but showcasing a lot of the fruity yeast flavors.  The alcohol is well hidden, even though it clocks in at 10 percent.  Hopefully as it warms, it will bring forth a little more.

Second taste:  Leaving the beer warm a bit, the sweetness remains, as the yeast mellows.  Whether it is candy sugar or whatever, but the sweetness really tries to overpower the beer. 

The carbonation is perfectly in order, cutting through the sweetness to make this a very drinkable beer.  The beer is smooth, yet has a great body to it.  Even though the beer had no head retention, it is viscus enough to cling to the sides of the glass- resembling what would be looked for in a fine wine.*

Overall, I feel that this is a very drinkable beer.  Very enjoyable, and might be considered dangerously drinkable.  The only reason I would not suggest this beer, is if you are not a fan of sweeter Belgian beers.  Other than that, I would give it a try.

*I know very little about fine wines, but I think this is true.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I felt the need to take a beer in snow picture, now that I finally have a house to take a half decent picture.  Here is what we have, so far:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Great Wedding Gift?

This beer was apart of a wedding gift given to us (my wife received a bottle of Riesling, I received Maredsous 10).  The beer pours darker than expected, with a nice orange hue. (I was looking for more yellow in it- no complaints!)  The head is full, and the aroma jumps from the glass with fruit and the Belgian yeast being very noticeable.

Initially with the beer very cool from the fridge, there is a strong taste of booze and dark fruits.  High carbonation blocks the tripel from flowing smoothly.  As it warms, the dark fruits really hit the nose before the glass gets to the mouth.  The carbonation drops down to a much more reasonable (yet still on the high side) level, and a lot more fruity tones come forward.  Red grapes with a sharp tartness deliver an easy drinker. 

Overall, this is a beer that got better as it warmed.  It started with high booze and carbonation, but as it warmed, both decided to take a back seat to the fruits and bit of tartness.

Pop the cork and enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Session #47- Beer Brownies

This would surprise most people, but I cook dinner 80+% of the time at my house (my wife and I cook together many days- she would attest to my help).  So when this month's The Session topic came up, I was kind of intregued.  Until I realized that I rarely use beer in my cooking- other than drinking it while cooking that is.

The Session was hosted by David Jensen over at
We all know beer is great for drinking but what about using it as an ingredient in cooking? Wine is used as an ingredient for numerous dishes and recipes yet beer seems to be under utilized in cooking. However, with the rise in popularity of craft beer and advocacy from the likes of The Homebrew Chef, I think this trend is slowly changing. For the month of January, Beer 47 will be hosting The Session #47 and encouraging beer bloggers from all over the internet to discuss Cooking with Beer.
The food with beer that I have experienced the most, were brownies made with stouts and porters.  What makes eating a delicious stout brownie even better is that you can wash it down with another stout.  If you use a milk stout for in the brownie, try Lancaster Milk Stout, I would think that milk would wash the brownie down as well as anything else.  If you would use a chocolate stout, think Young's Double Chocolate, it would work extremely well with the chocolate in the brownie, giving you a double dose of chocolate.  Maybe plop a scoop of ice cream next to it, call it a sundae.  Finally, if you like coffee with your dessert, use a coffee stout, maybe Southern Tier Java to compliment the coffee in the mug.

I think this sounds like a great idea- maybe I will make a few batches of brownies this weekend.  What stout would you use to make the brownie?  What else would you "pair" with it? (coffee, ice cream, milk, etc.)

Here is a recipe for a stout brownie that comes from, sounds like a winner:


Butter for coating pan
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup coffee stout
2 tablespoons bourbon
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, such as macadamia, pecans, or walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare a 9-inch metal baking pan by buttering it well and dusting inside with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Set aside. In a large 2-quart saucepan, melt stick of butter over low heat until liquid. Add chopped chocolate, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool to luke-warm (still liquid but not hot).
Stir in sugars and mix well. Beat together 2 eggs, yolks, vanilla, stout, and bourbon in a large measuring cup until smooth. Sift flour with salt. Stir stout mixture into saucepan by thirds, alternating with flour by 1/3 cupfuls, and batter is just blended. Stir in nuts if desired. Do not overbeat.
Scrape batter into prepared 9-inch-square metal pan and bake at 325°F for about 1 hour. Let cool to lukewarm before slicing. Use a knife dipped in warm water and wipe clean with each slice (otherwise, because of the very fudgy texture, the brownies clump).

(from The Best of American Beer & Food by Lucy Saunders)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sam Adams, Craft Brewer

By now, you should have heard that the Brewers Association has changed their definition of "craft brewer", by increasing the maximum barrels produced from 2 million barrels per year, to 6 million.  This change directly influences Boston Brewing Company, in the next few years, they will surpass the 2 million barrel mark.

To me, it really doesn't mean that much.  I want good beer to be produced as much as they can, and it is just a status.  What I think it does mean, is that there is a respect for Boston Brewing Company, and what it has done for the craft brewing industry.  Sure, Sam Calagione and his Brew Masters television show has forced his way onto mainstream cable tv- I have had many friends call me about the show- but it is DogFish Head centered.  Sam Adams beers are continually being drank by macro swillers, even my father-in-law drinks Boston Lager, it took me forever to convince him that it was a craft beer.

I would feel confident that Sam Adams is the number one brewery gateway beer that leads macro drinkers to the craft world.  I have been fortune to see it happen with not only my father-in-law, but also many of my friends.

So, hear is to you Boston Beer Company, for all that you do.  May you continue to be a craft brewer the rest of your days (may they be many).

And if you would like to read the news release that was sent out by the Brewers Association, it can be found here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What I did/didn't do in 2010

I am excited to say that not only did I get married in the past year, but I was able to share two great homebrews with our guests.  Without prompting them (I would have made most say it), many guests complimented our brews, and stated that they were surprised that we could produce such good (drinkable) beer.

Sometimes, I regret things.  After attending one of the greatest beer festivals in 2009 (Michigan Brewer's Guild Summer Festival), I vowed to get back for 2010.  I didn't make it.  This year's is a must make for me, even though my brother isn't living in Ann Arbor anymore, I am sure he is going and I can crash at one of his friends.

I was able to get to Max's Belgian Fest for the fourth consecutive year.  This annual display of all things that are good about Belgium, allowed me to experience many different brews and to become friends with many different people- despite the blizzard that prevented many from getting to the brews.

I missed out on two major events in Denver- 1) the Great American Beer Festival 2) Beer Bloggers Conference.  Hopefully, I will be able to attend the BBC 2011- making A Beer in Hand a powerful force to be reckoned with; and get to the GABF some time- this may be a few years off.

Finally, I was able to start homebrewing (solo).  I only got to one batch, which ended up being a great Pale Ale (Sierra Marietta); but the experience has me yearning for more.  This year has brought be back to the basic beers.  Giving me an appreciation of a well put together pale ale (sure it is basic, but way too many people don't make a good one), hefeweizen and stout.

What are you able to say you are proud of doing in 2010?

Again with the (bad) reviews

This one comes from my iPhone app Pintley.  It was a review for Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale.  Considering the huge outburst of sour beers in the past year and a half, I wouldn't trust much of what RedTapeAD has to say.  If "sour and beer not a good combo", then why is that beer delicious.  Or why would Rodenbach have such a great following. 

My Number 1 Rule to reviewing is to know what the style is, and should taste like.