Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I don't know why some people post ratings

Another Gem from Beer Advocate.

Backstory: I asked All-Star Czech Beer man- Alistair Reece- what are his favorite Czech lagers found in the US. He replied with a couple beers I have had, Budvar and Zatec, and with a couple I have not heard of, Primator and Czech Rebel.  Czech Rebel sounded intreging, so I decided to look it up.  See what others had to say.

Now, I do not expect everyone to like every beer style. But I take Fuggled's taste to be pretty accurate of the Czech stuff.  This reviewer states that they do not have a liking for pilsners.  But then to review it poorly, simply because it isn't your cup o' tea, is even worse:

look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2
Loved the name if the beer. It made me wanna try it which is good for the brewery. But as I sat down to enjoy this brew I realized that I really can't get into pilasters too much. So I sat there trying to toss back a rather large bottle of beer for myself. Clear yellow and grassy and a fluffy head on this one.
 Just to think about the "Look" score.  He states that it is "Clear yellow and grassy and a fluffy head", what more could you ask for? If that is true, shouldn't it be given a "5"?

I have no problem with people who rate to taste, instead of staying strictly on style- for beers that are brewed away from style.  But this seems like a classic example of a pilsner, which is it how he should have rated it. Don't expect an hazy, amber beer with no head.  This has me riled.

As I have stated before, I hate the review sites- for their rating systems.  I like to see what people like about beers, hate about beers and whatnot.  But to me there is no reason this beer should have been given a D- by this guy, simply based on his description of what it looks like.

(I could go on and on, but it is time for me to end my rant.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Great Divide Yeti vs. Southern Tier Mokah

The first Final Four game pairs Southern Tier's Mokah against Great Divide's Yeti.

What can I say about these two beers?  Both immediately come to mind when I feel like a big stout.  Both are great with dinner, after dinner or in the middle of the day.  Both measure up on the rating sites (Both A- on Beer Advocate; Yeti is a 100, Mokah a 99 on Rate Beer).  Both have huge coffee and chocolate notes to them. Where do these differ? Area of the country.

Great Divide is an awesome brewery in Denver, Colorado.  I love and respect this brewery so much that I sent a friend there when she was in town for a conference (I have heard wonders of their tasting room).  I pick up their variety packs, and have never been disappointed.  The Yeti can come in a variety of styles.  Oak  aged, Chocolate Oak aged, Espresso Oak aged, Barrel aged and the regular finishing.  Almost all of the different Yetis are a turn on and off to certain people.  I prefer the Barrel aged to the Oak.  I like the Chocolate, but the Espresso is too much.  There is a variety for every one.

The Mokah on the other hand, is a blend of the Java and Chokolat. Southern Tier is based out of  Lakewood, in the southern tier of New York.  Fifteen miles or so from Lake Erie. I love this brewery as well, with many of their offerings being regulars in my rotation.  The Mokah compliments both the coffee and chocolate flavors well, making sure that neither gets the upper hand.

If it was up to me, I think I would enjoy a Yeti instead of the Mokah (but this was a hard decision to make).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quick Review- Allgauer Cambonator

I thought that I should try to finish off the beers in the back of the box. First up, Allgauer Cambonator. This doppelbock, obvious from the -ator ending in the name, is a dark lager, stronger in alcohol that the typical German lager.

Pours a dark reddish brown, with a tan head that disappears quickly. It smells of dark fruits. Some cherries, raisins and a ton of sweetness. Cannot wait to get this to my lips.

First impression on the taste is the sweetness. The dark malt brings a bit of caramelized flavors to the party, and is followed up by the raisin/cherry. Very sweet. The perfect carbonation allows for the beer to be very drinkable, even if the 7.2% comes through like it is a 8+% beer (I was thinking it was above 9% at first taste).

This doppelbock was very good. I wouldn't put it on the level of Ayinger Celebrator, and a slight bit behind the Troegenator. But this is definitely a beer to check out when it comes back around.

The Final Four!

It comes down to this.  The final week.  Four teams (beers) that not very many people picked to make it this far.

I was down on Chimay (VCU) this year.  Didn't think it had what it takes, but they came through strong.  From the Play-In, all the way to the Final Four.  Chimay matches against Yuengling Traditional Lager.  Yuengling (Butler), even though it is a beer that I drink all the time (maybe even my regular beer), has showed that it can be what it was in previous years (Butler was in the finals last year).

The other side of the bracket matches Southern Tier Mokah (Kentucky) and Great Divide Yeti (UConn).  Two big big stouts that have something to prove. I have long been a champion of both these beers, and they have finally lived up to their Beer Bracket promise.  Great semifinal shaping up.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Out of the area beer/food tasting- Miss-i-Sippin

This may not have much relevance to me, but I like to support those less fortunate.  In this case, it is the citizens of Mississippi. 

A group of people around the University of Mississippi have come together to create an event to show people how beer can compliment food, and vice versa.  The the fundraiser for the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council is called Miss-i-Sippin:

The craft beer is represented by Lazy Magnolia, who sound like they know what is going on.  Sounds like a great idea, now if I only lived a bit closer.

We took the traditional upscale gala event of a wine tasting and revamped it into a causal laid back event by creating a beer and food tasting. We felt people wanted to relax and enjoy themselves.

Here is their menu:
Coors & Coors Light paired with:
Curry Coconut Popcorn with Toasted Sesame Seeds
Mexican Style Popcorn with Cumin and Red Pepper

Blue Moon paired with:
Spoons of Creme Fraiche, Orange Gelee and Pickled Ginger

Reb Ale paired with:
Smoked Quail En Croute
(Sponsored by Wiseacre and Papa Johns)

Dos XX, Tecate & Sol paired with:
Chorizo Quesadilla

Stella & Hoegarde paired with:
Garlic Pesto Gnocchi with Lemon

Jefferson Stout paired with:
Ice Cream Floats

Guinness paired with:
Make Your Own S'mores

Bass & Harps paired with:
Crispy Catfish Po' Boy with Comeback Sauce
(Sponsored by Country Select)

Southern Pecan & Abita paired with:
BBQ Pork Sliders
(Sponsored by Papa Johns)

Becks & Indian Summer paired with:
Marinated Shrimp and Polk's Brand Cajun Smoked Sausage Skewers
(Sponsored by Polk's)

Newcastle & Sierra Nevada paired with:
Mini Corndogs with Magnolia Red Casing Sausage
(Sponsored by Polk's)

Blue Moon Seasonal paired with:
Tempura Vegetables
(Sponsored by Yocna Farms)

Sushi provided by Kabuki
Mini Pizzas provided by Papa Johns
If only all the beer was MicroBrews, but I guess you have to work with what you have.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beer Bracket 2011- Sweet 16

Down to 16 teams beers, the bracket looks tough.  Too many good ones to cheer for, upsets galore and no clear favorite. No major surprises in the East Coast (Troegs Nugget Nectar, Southern Tier Mokah, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere and Selin's Grove Phoenix) or West Coast (Avery Maharaja, Lagunitas A Little Sumpin Wild, Great Divide Yeti and North Coast Old Rasputin) brackets- although it is interesting that Yeti and Old Rasputin are matched up, as many people match those beers up as the top Stouts (I do).

But when you look at the European bracket, all heck broke loose. Westvleteren 8 (#1) is the odds on favorite, as it is accompanied by #12 seed Budvar (who was in the finals last year), #11 Chimay (who had to overcome the Play-In game) and #10 BrewDog Tokio* (who beat the #2 seed Cantillion).  Still all great beers left.  It gets better in the Canned Beer bracket, although the #1 seed Oskar Blues Gubna was downed by Yuengling Traditional Lager.  Guinness (#4), 21st Amendment Back in Black (#3) and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (#2) were all expected to progress to this level. 

Check out the results below and let me know who you think will pull it out.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Last 4 In/Out

Just like the analysts want to predict leading up to Selection Sunday, I, too, had my last four in and out.

Last In:
1. Old Forge Underbite IPA- this is my favorite from a local brewpub
2. Moylans Hopsickle- just a great Double IPA from the California brewery
3. Newcastle Brown Ale- just couldn't take it off. One of the easiest drinkers on the list
4. Lancaster Rumspringa- wanted to get a Lancaster beer on the list, and this one is new to the canning line.

Last Out:
1. Stoudt's Double IPA- just got pushed out by plethora of East Coast beers, plus I haven't had it in a while
3. Mikeller- I haven't drank anything more than once or twice, even though they are one of the best breweries
4. Dales Pale Ale- was a casualty of the one brew from each brewery rule.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Beer Bracket 2011

It is that time of year.  The NCAA released their bracket, so not it is time for A Beer in Hand's Beer Bracket.  Like in years past, the bracket replaces the NCAA teams with some of the best brews from around the country and around the world.  You can use the bracket for a few different reasons.

a. To find new beers to seek out and to try
b. To fill out an office poll (just pretend the colleges are the brews, pick your favorites)
c. To find a new team to follow (find your beer, find your team)

This year's bracket is broken up into 4 different groups.  East Coast beers are any that are east of the Mississippi.  West Coast beers are (surprisingly) west of the Mississippi.  European beers are those that are brewed in Europe (hopefully, I didn't need to explain that one either).  And finally, I chose to honor the rash of Canned Beers.  I fully support the canned beer movement, and feel that more breweries should look into canning.

So here is the Bracket.  Analyze it, review it, print it out and make your predictions.

Click to Enlarge

Note: I tried to only post beers that I have drank on the bracket.  I know there are a million great beers out there, but there are only 68 slots.  Please forgive me for not getting to try Russian River, Firestone Walker, Hair of the Dog (or any of the bazillion Portland Brewpubs), Cigar City, etc.  I try to get out and find these great breweries, but sometimes I just cannot get to them.  If you feel that strongly about it, you can feel free to send me a bottle of something that I need to try.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Getting Slammed, HopSlammed

My wife was out of town, so I figured I should get something to eat.  A friend and I traveled down to a local pub, which he said had a good beer selection.  I didn't know what to expect, until I checked it out online.

Bully's Restaurant in Columbia, PA has a great bottle selection,  a pretty good tap selection and some pretty good food (on that day, I had a burger; I took my wife a couple days later and we had a full meal that was just as good).  They have a well put together beer menu, which divides the beers into styles.  The taps have 4 (or so) that are standard, and 4 (or so) rotating.  They also provide a beer tap list, with short, yet complete descriptions (they beers that I recognized were all very accurately described).

They also had a couple specialty bottles (seasonal); which included the Bell's HopSlam.  HopSlam, and Imperial IPA that is bitter like crazy, with a huge hop nose, has a cult-like following.  When released, the bottles are usually bought up quickly.  I had never had HopSlam, but was not going to go on a witch hunt for it either.  It was a pleasant surprise when I saw it on the chalk board as I was walking in.

The beer did not disappoint.  Even though I am in the running for worst pourers ever, the beer gave a nice off-white head that didn't linger around long.  I was surprised it was not darker, but the clarity made up for the color (which isn't a huge issue).  The nose brings a bouquet of hops.  In my mind, it is comparable to Nugget Nectar's aroma, as it overtakes all other senses.

When brought to my mouth, I was actually underwhelmed by hops.  Not because it wasn't bitter or grapefruity.  It was mainly because the malt had such a presence. (I was looking for the hops to completely dominate the malt, but the malt still showed up to the party.)  Sometimes being underwhelmed can be a good (sweet) surprise.

The beer finishes smooth.  Not much of an alcohol burn (only because I was looking for it, did I find it). Overall, due to its 10% abv, it would be an easy beer to drink a couple of, but the alcohol will catch up fast.  It was a great experience to try it, and enjoy it.  Something I hope to have in the future.

Note: Yes, I could have bought a case of it when it came out.  My problem with that is that I would have a case of 10% beer to drink (plus the price).  I am a one beer a night type of guy, and the 5-7% beers are perfect for that.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I do love Parody Videos

Out from Ska Brewing, comes Brew Minions, a parody of the Brew Masters TV Show (it even includes Sam Calagione). 

Now if I could only get my hands on some of the beer that I wish I could drink from them.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Session #49- The Regular Beer

This month's topic for The Session, comes from one of the original creators, Stan at Appellation Beer.  The topic: regular beer.  He asks:

Please write about a regular beer (time to lose the quotation marks). You get to define what that means, but a few possibilities:
* It might be your “go to” beer, brewed commercially or at home. The one you drink regularly.
* I could be a beer your enjoy on a regular special occasion. When in San Francisco I always like to start with draft Anchor Liberty Ale. But it might be your poker night beer.
* It doesn’t have to be a “session beer,” but it can be.
* It probably shouldn’t have an SPE of more than $25 (that’s a very soft number; prices may vary by region and on premise further confuses the matter). Ask yourself, is it what somebody in a Miller High Life TV commercial in the 1970s could afford? Because affordability matters. I’m all for paying a fair price (which can mean higher than we’d like) to assure quality and even more for special beers, but I’m not ready to part with the notion that beer should be an everyman’s drink.
* Brewery size, ownership, nationality do not matter. Brew length doesn’t matter. Ingredients don’t matter. It feels a little strange typing that last sentence, since the Mission Statement here says ingredients matter. But I hope you get the point. I prefer beer that costs a little more because its ingredients cost more, because there’s more labor involved. You don’t have to. Beer should be inclusive.
 When I first read about the topic, many beers came to the forefront of my brain.  I could do it on some special beer that I love to drink when I see it; I could write about some local beer that most people don't know about, but would love it when they try it; I could use the old "the next beer is my favorite regular beer" cop-out; or I just just plain and simply say Yuengling.

I have posted on here before about Yuengling.  It is cheap, has a nice taste and you can put back quite a few (some might call it a session beer- depending on your abv definition).  For me it is also a local beer.  I have a two friends that work there (one in marketing, one in the brewhaus). And finally, everyone likes it- well, no one complains about it.

It started when we first came of age, no one liked the cheap stuff, so we went the next realm up (a whole $4 more- to college kids that seemed like the world).  We knew we liked better beer, Bass/Harp/Guinness when we had the cash, and Selin's Grove Brewpub was a must on the weekends.  But straight up, price/taste/drinkability- Yuengling made the most sense.

So tonight I raise a pint to the brewers from Pottsville, Pa.  Thank you for brewing Lager.

On a side note, I do enjoy their other beers. Lord Chesterfield was always in the fridge, and now their Bock has really started to show up- it has the same qualities- cheap/good tasting/session beer.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tournament Time

It is almost time for the Big Dance, so post below any beers that should be included in the 2011 Beer Bracket.  I will accept new beers, or  old beers.  I prefer beers that I had the pleasure of drinking, but make a case for others that I have not been able to partake in.

Check out last year's intro, initial bracket, Sweet 16, Final Four and Champion.

The Imperial Red

A couple of months ago, my brother (who is a much better homebrew than I ever will be), told me he was in the process of formulating his next beer, an Imperial Red.  I had not noticed imperial reds before.  Never even thought of it. But now, it seems like I keep running into them.

From my friends at Side Street Brewing (a couple homebrewers with craft beer intentions) to Rogue XS Imperial Red to Lagunitas Lucky 13 and more, it just seems to me like the imperial red ales are being noticed more often.

On the heels of this comes Flying Fish Exit 9:
Created by Head Brewer Casey Hughes, Exit 9 Hoppy Scarlet Ale is a richly flavored red beer crafted with a variety of domestic and imported malts and a classic American yeast strain.  It is assertively hopped with Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook and Citra hops for a bouquet with complex notes of citrus and tropical fruits and an appropriate bitterness in the finish.  Hughes recommends it with spicy foods, such as gumbo or curry, as well as alongside rich blue or sharp cheddar cheeses, or just by itself.
The Exit series has been a very good line (in my eyes).  I haven't found much fault in may of the beers.  The Exit 1 Oyster Stout was great (even though I don't like oysters), the Exit 4 triple was fantastic, and the others that I tried, Exit 6 Wallonian Rye and Exit 11  Hoppy American Wheat, were very good. It is good to see these beers on the shelf or on tap, as I know that I can always give them a go.