Friday, October 28, 2011

Bad Beer Reviews- Ithaca Cascazilla

One of my favorite beers that I discovered when we went to Ithaca, was Ithaca Brewing Cascazilla.  Sure, everyone knows Flower Power, and rightfully so, it is delicious, but Cascazilla became a quick go to beer for me there.  It was on tap at most places and was absolutely delicious.

Today, I got to thinking about it, so I decided to see what the fine people on BA and RB had to say about it.  I have no problem with people not liking beer that I like. It is just when you see somethings in a review that don't add up:

1) Purchased as variety pack from Westy's in Mechanicsburg, PA.
A- a dirt red cloudy appearance.
S- N/A
T- very dry and bad aftertaste
M-It felt like i was eating powder
D-i put it down but i wont have another.
I am just not a very big fan of Red Ales and that might be the case of the poor review but i really did not enjoy this beer and will not be having it again.
I feel that it is probably a good chance that this review states why it might be a "poor review".  They knew what they were getting into, and choose to give it bad marks because they don't like red ales.

2)Bottle acquired through trade with jchow79 and poured into standard curved shaker pint glass.
A: Pours a very deep orange, almost *brown*... very dark for an IPA. Frothy off-white head, about 1 finger in size, sits on top.
S: Very malty-sweet and earthy, with a mild scent of pine hops.
T: Earthy flavors and the taste of sweet-and-sour sugars that I find to be so prevalent in East Coast IPAs. Some pine bitterness on the back end. For me, the sugars are just overpowering. What I want out my IPA is lots of hops. Bitter hops, oily grapefruit presence, citrus hops, ect. This beer just doesn't have much of any of that.
M: Reasonably good carbonation and lots of tongue coating with the sugars and hops.
D: This isn't my kind of IPA. Just not enough bitterness or grapefruit hops in them for my liking.
This beer reminds me a lot of a Dogfish IPA, particularly 90 Minute. A lot of my friends love Dogfish 90. I'd recommend this beer to any of them. But much like Dogfish 90 (and most East Coast IPAs, for that matter), this one just isn't for me.
This person chose to rate and review this red ale as an IPA. I would have given it an F as an IPA too. On the label it says "Red Ale". Sure it has a lot of hops in it for a red ale, but that doesn't make it an IPA.

3)Excited I finally found single of this.
Appearance - Heavier on the brown side than I expected. No real hints of red at all. Just sort of a dirty sour looking caramel. Chunks of yeast floating around everywhere.
Smell - Smells like your standard red ale. Slightly sour with hints of caramel. Just sort of plain, honestly.
Taste - Slightly sour with hints of light fruits. A zesty citrus that seems slightly skunked. very musty tasting.
Mouthfeel /Drinkability - As stated, quite musty. Drinkability is high. But there were actually solid chunks of yeast that got stuck in my teeth. It just sort of tastes like a musty, slight sour and mellowed red ale. On my list of red ales, this is very low.
Sure, I am weird and a beer nerd, but I would have not reviewed a non-bottle conditioned beer if there were solid chunks of yeast in it.  I would have probably sent Ithaca an email with the bottle number/lot number whatever I could find to let them know.  Skunk, Must and Floaties are all bad signs that do not normally happen from a respected brewery.

These are the types of reviews that kill trustworthy reviewers.  As I have said in the past, I think we should just post the reviews and not worry about a rating system.  There was one other review that was under a C, but his was straight forward, with a good review.

I urge people to keep reviewing beers, that is helpful when searching for something new, but think about what you typed before you click post.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Colorado Beer Map

I must first apologize to those who sent me the Beer Drinker's Guide to Colorado (full disclosure, they sent me a Map for free to review).  This is a tremendous tool that should be used if you travel to Colorado and love beer.  This 5th Edition is packed full of coupons that easily make up the cost of the Guide.

For around $15, you can get the map with 142 Breweries and Brewpubs marked on it.  On the back of the map is a tasting guide, a list of homebrew shops, an approximate time travel chart, a list of state parks and other helpful charts. This map would be great for not only the traveler to Colorado, but also a resident.

Oh and did I mention the coupon book?  The Passport to Free Beer includes over $150 worth of coupons to many of the intriguing brewpubs and breweries. Durango Brewing, Odell Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery and Ska Brewing are a few of the breweries that have coupons included.  Who doesn't want their first beer free at Ska?

This would be the ideal map for anyone traveling to Colorado.  The full topographical map is helpful on its own, and it has the added benefit of placing you where you need to be- AT THE PUB!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nice Little Weekend

I feel the hardest thing about moving is getting to know the area.  When we jumped from place to place in Baltimore, we stayed in the same neighborhood, but each time our closest restaurants changed.  Since we lived in Canton, the first year we walked into the square to get something to eat or drink.  This wasn't our type of crowd (mostly BMC drinking right out of college crowd- we prefer smaller, quieter places).  We enjoyed a lot of the food at the places, but started to look for different restaurants off the square. At our second and third places, we were able to find great places closer to our doorstep.  It was nice to be able to walk 3-5 minutes and be at the restaurant, eat great food, and have great conversation.  

For the past one plus year, we keep trying to find the local places around our house. It is different now, because in the city, we would take the dog for a walk and see the new places to try.  Now, we rely on the internet or ads in the newspaper for tips on new food joints. Luckily, we found one right down the road.

This past weekend, my parents came down to visit over night and to take us out for our first anniversary. We made reservations down at McCleary's Public House in Marietta.  This is a place that on Friday and Saturday night is usually pretty packed.  It had been closed for a couple of weeks (like most other places in Marietta), due to the flooding.  They also had a band (Big Red) that was going to start playing later in the evening.  This is a place that I occasionally come to grab wings with a couple of friends, so I know their beer selection is pretty good (starndard Guinness/Smithwicks/Harp tap and 4-5 rotating craft taps, and a very nice bottle selection). My mom ordered a raspberry cosmo and my dad got whatever he always drinks.  I ordered a Founders Red's Rye.  The beer was very good, a strong bitterness starts off the beer but gives way to the malt and rye.  Very easy drinker.

Our meals came out and they were about as good as you could have, except that they thought my father ordered the black and blue burger instead of black and blue steak- which they quickly took care of (they definitely felt worse about it than we did). I ordered the "surf and turf" which was filet mignon and a crabcake.  The filet was grilled perfectly medium, and melted in my mouth. After living in Baltimore for 4 years, I am usually disappointed after ordering a crabcake, but for the first time, I was not.  The crabcake would have fit in perfectly at any restaurant in Canton, Fells Point, Harbor East, Federal Hill or anywhere else.  It was delicious.

Once the band started playing a nice bluesy, jazzy, funk 70-90's rock (mostly original music from what I think I heard), I ordered the Flying Fish Organic Amber ale and then the Stoudt's Oktoberfest. The Flying Fish was a nice basic amber. It didn't wow me nor did I want to return the glass, a simple beer to enjoy.  The Stoudt's was a good Oktoberfest, nice malty backbone with a bit of bitterness that broke everything apart.

We left after listening to the band for an hour to get back home.  Overall, it was a nice night.  If you get around Marietta, McCleary's is a great place to check out. It is a place with good food, friendly waitstaff and a nice beer selection.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Newcastle Winter IPA

I didn't know much about this beer before drinking, and the label only had the Surgeon General's warning on it. I didn't know what the difference between a regular IPA and a Winter IPA would be, but I was willing to find out.

This beer poured with very little head, even though I tried to pour somewhat vigorously.  The beer is lighter brown, but still a shade or two darker than many American IPAs.  From the nose, I could tell what the big difference was going to be in my perception and reality. I was thinking of a hoppy IPA, but it was a dead giveaway that this was an English Style IPA.

Sidebar (that is in the middle of the review): the English IPA is not the big, bold, hops-first IPA that has been all the rage the last 5 years or so.  The much more balanced beer has more emphasis on the malt with a slight bitterness.  They are bittered more than other English styles, but no where near the American counterparts.

The floral, citrus hops are replaced with a nice calm bitterness, and not much aroma, which is dominated by the malt.  The taste has a nice sweetness, that is cut by the bitterness of the hops. The creamy mouth-feel (same as in the Werewolf) helps to make the beer smooth and an easy drinker.

Overall, this beer seems close to style, nothing amazing, but something a little different for the hopheads.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Newcastle Werewolf

A couple of weeks ago, a PR rep contacted me about doing a review of the new Newcastle beers- Werewolf and Winter IPA.  So up first is Werewolf:

Werewolf, a "Blood Red Ale", is a new seasonal brew- apparently a Halloween beer. After the pour, the beer looks marvelous. It was extremely easy to pour with a gorgeous 3/4 inch creamy, off-white head.  The brown colored beer had a little reddish hue to it, I guess helping out the blood red name.

The scent was extremely inviting.  It actually drew me into the beer.  The sweet aroma of caramel malts and something a little sweeter (smelled like some fruit that I couldn't put my finger on).  Just a little hop aroma was present.  I was ready for this red ale.

Once it hit my lips, it was a bit of a let down. Taste was on par with an amber ale (not much red to talk about), not on par with Bell's Amber, but certainly better than Killians. It had a slight fruity taste to it, but nothing that really makes a mark. The mouth-feel was off putting to me.  It felt almost creamy. I want something smooth, but this beer kind of left a coating in my mouth, that was not appetizing.  It did lead me to drinking more though.

Being lower in abv, the alcohol was not a factor in the taste, and the taste disappeared as soon as it was out of my mouth.  Overall, this beer was good. I would drink another one and suggest it to someone that likes this style of beer. Would it be something that I would seek out? No, but I wouldn't write it off either.

(I will revisit this beer later in the week to make sure my initial thoughts are on par with a second tasting. Also coming this week will be Newcastle Winter IPA.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Session 56- Cheers to the Big Boys

The 56th edition of The Session (I have no participated in all of them, but am glad I have gotten involved), was hosted by The Tale of the Ale, and we will be looking to say cheers to the big guys:
Anyway I want people to pick a large brewery or corporation that owns a lot of breweries. There are many to chose from. Give thanks to them for something they have done. Maybe they produce a beer you do actually like. Maybe they do great things for the cause of beer in general even if their beer is bland and tasteless but enjoyed by millions every day.
Well, I am grateful for the big brewers.  Those who own multiple brands, put out more beer than Africa has water.  I am grateful that they taught me what bad beer tastes like, how marketing programs can revolve around a false sense of what beer should taste like ("ice-cold", "triple-hopped") and how to get scantily clad women in every commercial. As for all of these fun and exciting lessons that they taught me, I do feel that Anheuser-Busch get some things right.

First off, they have quality control down to a T. If you can make that much beer taste exactly the same, all of the time, that is pretty impressive.  Sure there isn't much taste to it, but still impressive.

Second, in the summer of 2006, Bloomsburg was hit with what we thought was a 100 year flood (apparently it was a 5 year flood, as this year was much worse than that one). The town was shocked to a standstill.  The town was without drinkable water, and what came in to help was truckloads of Anheuser-Busch water in cans.  Crazy, I know. (If I can get a picture of it from my in-laws, I'll post it.) The water did not save the town, but it was a huge relief.  I am sure that they provide services like this to may disaster areas, and don't blast their name all over the news.

Finally, as many forgettable commercials and marketing campaigns that the big boys have had, A-B came through with some commercials that can be cherished:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Interesting Label from Stone

Well this might be fun.  Apparently, those crazy guys over at Stone are releasing another beer called "Stone IPA... Ruined".  I will just assume that it has something to do with Stone Ruination, maybe the middle road between the two (Ruination is a Double IPA- so maybe Ruined is a 1.5 IPA).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baltimore Beer Week 2011- Almost Here

Something that I missed out on after moving away from Baltimore was the plethora of events that Baltimore Beer Week 2010 had. I didn't know if the BBW 2011 (October 6-16) could match the intensity, but then I looked at the events. As with last year, many events are pay as you go special tap events hosted by the numerous beer bars throughout town, along side the special events that cost a bit of money.

The Baltimore Beer Week website makes searching for events that best suit you very easy. Using the advanced search function, a person could find out what is going on at their favorite/local bars or neighborhood or just look for the type of event that they want to check out. With the introduction of a few different brands to the Baltimore region in the past year (New Belgium and Firestone Walker to name two), the events keep piling up.

It is too easy to just say "Show up at Max's everyday for something good" or "Go to Metropolitan", so here are a few that I feel are a bit special (and some cost a little bit of money), but you should definitely consider them:

10/6- Opening Tap at Ram's Head Live, $30- this is where the beer begins to flow.  If you are the talkative type, I'm sure you will have the opportunity to run into some of the Baltimore Beer Geek Hall of Famers- maybe Brad Kilpner, Joe Gold, Hugh Sisson, Brian Strumke, Steve Jones, etc.

10/6- Science on Tap: Beer-ology 101 (at Maryland Science Center), $45- join DuClaw's brewmaster Jim Wagner for this interactive look into the science behind the taste, sight and smell of beer.

10/8- Weissner/American Brewery tour, FREE- tour one of the old Baltimore Breweries.  Check out this post, by Mr. Alexander Mitchell IV, for more details.

10/9- Stillwater Ales Day (at Max's Taphouse), pay as you go- a remarkable lineup of Baltimore's own.  Many small batches, unique/rare stuff from one of the best brewers around. I must go for any beer lover in Baltimore.  They will also be selling bottles of Olde Bay Saison- very limited.

10/13- Stillwater Artisanal Ales dinner at Jack's Bistro, $65- This is a pair made in heaven. I have not had the pleasure of being at one of Stillwater's beer dinners, but I have heard that they are great. I don't know where you can go wrong with the great Stillwater beers and Jack's creative menu- who knows what Ted will come up with.

10/15- Pratt Street Real Ale Fest (at Pratt Street Ale House), $40 (advance)/$50 (door)- This Real Ale Festival (otherwise know as cask)- features over 23 Breweries and 40+ different brews.  Something for everyone, and everyone there loves good beer. The BrewDog Paradox Smokehead and Stillwater/Oliver Breweries/The Brewers Art – S.O.B. look intreguing.

And many, many more.  Check out the schedule to figure out your weekend.