Monday, December 31, 2007

Xmas in New York and New Year's Eve in Gainesville

Well I missed yet another Weekend Beelz report due to running around from place to place in Long Island. Oh well.

My trip to New York was fantastic and filled with trips to Blue Point Brewery, Brick House Brewery and Restaurant, and my local beer distributor for other tasty treats. I even got to sip some suds at Madison Square Garden with my sister while watching my beloved Rangers beat up on the Carolina Hurricanes. Awesome.

Unfortunately I did not get to spend as much time at the breweries as last year, but I did have the chance to sample the luscious Oatmeal Stout at Blue Point and it may just be the best damn Oatmeal Stout I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. I couldn't find it anywhere other than at the brewery, and they did not have six packs to go for that flavor. Bummer. So all I can tell you is that if you are on Long Island or in the New York Metro area, seek out that beauty from Blue Point. It's worth the search.

I also had the chance to drink their Imperial I.P.A. This beer, known as "No Excuses" was a beast. It came in at 10.2 % ABV, and came correct with a wallop of hops and a sweet full flavor that made me sure I only needed one. They charge a hefty $7.00 US for a pint, but it was well worth it.

I have a special place in my heart for Blue Point Brewery, not only because of Long Island pride, but they consistently produce some of the best ales and lagers I've ever had. Between Blue Point and Brooklyn Brewery, I think it is safe to say that the New York Metro area can go toe-to-toe with any other brewing region in terms of flavorful beelz.

I also made a stop in at the Brick House Brewery & Restaurant in Patchogue, NY, just a short drive from Blue Point.

I just had my fill at the other watering hole, so I only sampled one beer from Brick House. It was their Rye Pale Ale. It wasn't as tasty as the Terrapin Rye Pale Ale from Athens, GA, but it was a fine beer just as well. A nice dry finish from the Rye malt, with a nice kiss of hops made it a pleasant follow-up to the heavy hitters over at Blue Point.

All in all, my trip to the breweries was a success. I had the chance to spend some time with my sister again, and enjoy some of the fruits of the hardworking brewers on Long Island.

In fact, one of my last nights in New York was spent enjoying a case of Toasted Lager and a case of Hoptical Illusion, both from the Blue Point Brewery with some old friends. The two cases ran a bill of $71.00, but there wasn't an unsatisfied customer in the house.

So now it's New Year's Eve. God only knows what's in store. Well until next time...

I wish you all a Happy New Year and Happy New Beelz for 2008!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Weekend Brews Week 7 (I almost missed it!)

It's 15 minutes to midnight and I'm just makin' it in for Weekend Brews week 7.
Tonight I write from the great Island of Long sipping beers with an old friend Glenn, and enjoying the cold weather.

This evening brings a treat that I haven't seen anywhere in FLA, or anywhere else for that matter. Glenn brings forth the "John Labatt Heritage Pack", a 24.

It could be a four pack.

Labatt's Blue, John Labatt Classic(signature series), Honey Lager, and our favorite, Labatt 50.

Nothing says Christmas like a variety pack of beers from the Great White North.

It's all about the 50.

Glenn: Labatt 50? It's pretty good shit. It kinda tastes to me like, when your drinking something crappy, but ya really like it.

(Evan Dando records...>)

Tom/Glenn: What's the color? mmmmm Beer color. It's original beer color. It's like the very first beer looked like this.


Glenn: Is that the end of the review? Because I'm almost done.

Overall Score on the Heritage 24 Pack: 4.0 out 5.0

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weekend Brews - Week Six -Beel Two

It's time for beer number two on this fine Friday.

As the Peanuts sang in that most memorable television special... "Christmastime is here, happiness and cheer..." I'm pretty sure that last word was supposed to be beer, but all the damn kids watching probably had their parents protesting or something. Geez.

Stupid kids.

So what is all this about? What the hell is the beer?

Okay, here it is... Wychwood's Bah Humbug! Christmas Ale.

It fits nicely in my new Hobgoblin glass I received in the holiday gift exchange. Beauty. The beer boasts a beautiful copper and cherry wood appearance with a quickly vanishing head.

At first sniff it smells a slight bit sour, but then for some reason follows with a sweet aroma of dried dark cherries. It has that dark chocolate covered cherry quality to it.

This is one smooth mofo. It's almost as if this beer was brewed to be an after dinner cordial. A sweet, sweet post meal treat. Hey, wait a minute... I just finished my dinner and now I'M drinking it. Wow. Sometimes things really work out.

I will admit that when I first saw this beer with Ebenezer Scrooge on the label I thought it would be as bitter as a Cubs fan after Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Not so. Just as the Dickensian tale unfolds so doth this beverage.. It's not a sour old pickle, but rather a luscious liquid desert.

This beer comes as a single and so it should be. This is not a beer you would want to drink more than one of in a sitting. I think it is a delightful change-up though if you spend most of your time drinking bitter ales like I do.

Overall score: 3.75 out 5.0

Weekend Brews - Week Six Beer One

Friday. Thank you. Thank you so very much. My work week is over and I suddenly feel better than I have all week. Ahhhhh... time to relax and make the headaches disappear.

This Weekend Brews report comes in with two tasty beers. The second will follow in a bit as it is cooling down to proper drinking temperature in the fridge.

First up is a new favorite of mine, The Rye Pale Ale from Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, GA.

Beer, glorious beer! The Rye Pale Ale flows smoothly into my pint glass with ease as a large smile creeps across my face like the sun rising up from the horizon of the Atlantic and setting behind the dunes of Robert Moses State Park (shout out to all my Long Island peeps!).

The beer produces a decent head that disappears quickly. I always like when the head of a beer sticks around longer, but right now I don't care because I'm going to drink this ale like a pirate drinks rum. But first...

... the smell. It's a splendid citrus aroma that radiates waves of grapefruit. Man, do I love grapefruit. It's not as intense as say the usual Northwestern US Pale Ales, but it has enough hoppiness to make this weekend starter happy.

The rye in this beer certainly adds a nice touch. It comes forth with a middle of the road bitterness and follows with a perfectly dry finish. My guess is that dryness comes straight from the rye and that bitter from those Magnum hops. Gotta love those high alpha acid beauties.

This is a perfect anytime beer if you ask me. You could enjoy with some pizza, pass it around at a summer barbecue or share it with a warm chicken pot pie on a cool Fall evening.

I know the lagers tend to be the favorites as a multipurpose beer, but for me, this Terrapin Rye Pale Ale is a better match.

And you gotta love the turtle logo theme.

If you were not aware, Terrapin opened in 2002 selling their beers in Athens, GA. After being open for only six months, they decided to take a shot and enter this beer in the Great American Beer Festival's Pale Ale category. From what I understand, that is the most fiercely competitive category to enter.

Guess what? Gold Medal. No shit.

If you haven't tried it yet, do so. You will not be disappointed. And if you have tried it, drink it again. Support those folks up in Athens, GA. They are producing some fine beers for all of us.

Overall score on the Rye Pale Ale: 4.0 out of 5.0

Friday, December 7, 2007

Weekend Brews Week Five

It's the fifth installment of Weekend Brews and do I have a treat for you... or rather, me.

This week I implore you to start your weekend with a Belgian beer. Tis the season for "Christmas Beers" or winter ales. This particular selection I have chosen tonight is brewed by Brouwerij Van Bossche and it is called, Kerst Pater Special Christmas Beer.

Oh glorious beer! This Belgian masterpiece pours a dark chocolate brown with a thick foamy head that sticks around longer than the sweetest root beer you've had as a kid.

From the first sip you are immersed in a flavorful quicksand that sucks you down into its core. A deliciously sweet nectar of various malts mixed with what must be the most intelligent strain of yeast I've yet to encounter.

Well, what the hell does that mean? It means, that this yeast seems to produce the perfect balance of alcohol and carbonation to dance upon the tongue with fizziness, but finish with the elegance of a European pastry.

Most writers describing food and drink tend to go to the earth's end to find the most elaborate descriptions to entice readers to try what they have tried, but honestly, regardless of which fancy words and phrases are used in this post, you have to try this beer. It's amazing.

A loss for words, perhaps not, but for a beer of this caliber, I'm not sure anyone from Dickens to Thoreau could put this into adequate prose.

Just try it. It's an expensive beer compared to most at $8.00 US a 750ml bottle, but believe me, it is worth at least that.

Are you going to a holiday dinner? Family celebration in the next few weeks? Show up with a bottle of Kerst Pater Christmas Ale and you will be loved forever.

I can say no more.

Overall score: 5.0 out of 5.0

What? They make beer in Aruba?

Yes folks it's true, they make beer in Aruba. At least I know that now, and so do you. Why a beer from Aruba?

Well, my friends Max and Tisha were kind enough to bring one back for me from their recent vacation. They know of my love for beelz or all kinds, so what more exotic than an beer from Aruba? ha ha. Okay, it's not exactly the number one or number 46 destination for fine ales and lagers. However, I had to thank them with a post about their find.

Okay, well it comes in a lovely aluminum can and the beer is called, Balashi. It's a golden Pilsner lager fit for a silver can. It's brewed by Brouwerij Nacional Balashi who is know for well... this beer.

I could tell you about it's fairly non-existent aroma, and the fact that it tastes like a watered down Miller Lite, but really, I would be doing my readers a great injustice if I did not provide a word for word quote from their website, so here ya go:

"The taste of Balashi is the result of a scientific approach towards surveying the local taste. A panel of local experts tasted different categories of beer available both in Aruba and in the region.

The results of this survey were sent to the laboratory. The world famous brewer Mr. Gerhard Lindenhahn, who has over 50 Years of experience, assisted our Brew master Mr. Klaus Eckert, who had successfully run the Kubuli Brewery on the island of Dominica.

Together they prepared our secret recipe, which has proven to be a big winner.

The Arubans prefer their beer with a deep golden color totally clear and transparent, with a bitterness which is soft to the tongue and the nose, however with an aroma of fresh hobs, a short aftertaste and an easy foam. The combination should feel fresh and smooth to the mouth when cold served, perfect as refreshment in Aruba’s hot climate."

There's no way I could have written a better description than the above. It really does have a great aroma of hobs. ha ha ha. Calvin and Hobbes, maybe.

Alright, this was my entertainment for the evening. My Weekend Beelz report will be up shortly.

Thanks again to Max and Tisha for the Aruba beer. It actually wasn't bad at all, and I could see drinking many of these on the beach while enjoying the warm tropical sun. So take my sarcasm for what it's worth.

However, if you have a choice of many beelz, this is probably not one you would want to pick up... unless of course you were in Aruba, and well, if Miller Lite was not available, this would suffice.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Weekend Brews Week Five... Uhhh I Mean Four

Alright so I admit I'm a fool and let the tryptophan phase out my brain cells and force me to forget about the Weekend Brews post last Friday. I'm pretty sure it was the turkey's fault, although it could have been the Anchor Christmas beer and other assorted seasonal beers we enjoyed while watching the Packers beat up on the Lions. (Go Pack Go!)

Hey, did someone say, "seasonal?" Oh yeah, that was me. Speaking of seasonal beers, how about a winter ale to add to your weekend fun? Sweeeeeeeet.

This Friday's follow-up to Turbodog is a tasty brew from the Mendocino Brewing Company (there's a link to their website, but damn do they need a new designer, this site is awful... hello! Call me, I know some good web people).

It's the Limited Edition Imperial IPA. Did I hear a call for more hops? Well, then this beer is for you.

It pours a comforting copper (Chester Copperpot is possibly what I'd call it) hue, with a fairly creamy head that sticks around only long enough to let you know you just put beer in your glass.

It's a smelly old bugger that lifts the nostrils with a strong piney scent that puts me in the mindset for a nice stroll in the Adirondacks. (ha ha ha. Sorry, that just made me laugh. What am I writing as a critic for the Wine Enthusiast?)

The strong fumes from what appears to be a massive hop addition plays out well for this hop head. The title "Imperial IPA" tells me this is a beer fit for royalty. Yes!

Sip... sip... gulp. Ahhhhhhhhh. Well maybe King Ferdinand of Spain would disagree with the taste, but I'd bet Jerry "the King" Lawler would suck down a few of these IPAs with me. He is surely the type of gent that would sit down at the tavern table and speak of revolution with his fellow friends.

The Mendocino Imperial IPA grabs with a strong bitterness that should be part of every solid IPA brew and keeps a decent amount of maltiness in the flavor as well. The aftertaste is a bit harsh though, so if you are not prone to drinking hoppity hop hop beers, you might want to steer clear of this one. It will leave that taste in your mouth for quite some time.

Me, well, I'd wear it as a cologne and swear by it as a breath mint. Tic Tacs my ass.

I know I love Pale Ales of all kinds, and I'd recommend you try this one. Granted, it would not be my first choice, or even my third choice amongst IPAs out there, but Mendocino does make some good brews and thus deserves the support of the craft beer drinking world.

This is the first I've seen it in our neck of the woods, and from what I understand, it is only available for a short time (see label that reads, "Limited Edition").

Overall score on the Mendocino Imperial IPA: 3.25 out of 5.0

Man's Best Friend...

Once again Friday is upon us... thank God.

And so I write a small post about man's best friend, the dog. My dog Lucy is certainly a fantastic companion and always good for a few laughs. That's her right down there.

In her honor, I've decided today's first beer is a classic brew known as Turbodog.

If you haven't tasted Turbodog from Abita Brewing Company, you are missing out. Sure it's been around for awhile, but it deserves a shout out as much as any other beer out there.

is a beautiful dark brown ale crafted in small batches that pours into the glass with a healthy head of foam. It's always nice to see that chocolately brown color in the head of a dark beer, and it gets you ready for the aromas that follow...

... Mmmmm... chocolate and toffee. This beer may be as close as you can get to a liquid Heath Bar, or maybe even a Twix. With its smooth mouthfeel and tiny bite from the Williamette hops, I would have this beer for both breakfast and dessert.

Living in Florida where it never seems to get cold, I dream of being back up North for some winter chill to go with this beverage. I'd like to tailgate for a December Giants game with this pride of Louisiana in hand.

I can just imagine biting into a hot and spicy steak sandwich and washing it down with a gulp of Turbodog. Ahhhhhhh. Can't you just smell the red hot coals cooking the well seasoned beef, peppers and onions while you and your friends get fired up for the game? Oh man, it's going to be good going back home for the holidays.

I've got another tasty beer to add for this week's Weekend Beelz report. That one should be up shortly, but for now, grab yourself a sixer of Turbodog and pretend it's cold outside(that is if your stuck in the South, otherwise, just open the window).

My overall score for Abita's Turbodog: 4.5 out of 5.0


Monday, November 26, 2007

Oops, I missed Weekend Brews! And In Other News...

Okay, so I'm an idiot. Who knew there would be a Friday after Thanksgiving? ha ha. I promise to double the dose of beer fun this week with two entries for Weekend Brews, although one will have to be Weekday Brews to make up for my mistake.

It shall be done!

In other news...

... my good friend Dave and his pals on the left coast have started a beer blog as well. Hooray! Click on the link for "Brewed For Thought" on the links panel there and check it out. Good stuff working over there on the west.

I'm looking forward to reading more myself.

That's all for now, happy drinking... even if it is 9:30AM on a Monday. Boooo work.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weekend Brews! Week Four

Okay, well it's Friday night, almost midnight and well this week's beer to start your weekend is Lagunitas "Censored" Rich Copper Ale. The description of this beer on the brewery website is the best I've read in a long time. ha ha ha.

Right to it in order to make it before midnight:

This beer pours a smooth, copper, yes, copper, hue with a nice creamy head. It smells like a sweet malty wonderworld touched with a kiss of hoppiness. This is one of those beers that you can enjoy a full six pack of and not feel like you drank a well full of syrup. It's perfectly balanced, and light bodied enough to enjoy all six beers by yourself... or share with a friend.

Right now I'm enjoying mine in front of a roaring fire. In North Central Florida this opportunity appears perhaps, once or thrice a year, so I have to say, I'm very happy to have a Lagunitas brew in front of me on this special occasion.

This left coast brewery has yet to disappoint me. I even saw a case of "Brown Shugga" from Lagunitas waiting to be opened at my local beer store, and I will most definitely be going back to pick up that seasonal delight.

When I do, I'll be sure to tell you about it right here.

Well, sorry for the hasty post and all, but it's after midnight now, and well, there's a fire in my living room and I live in Florida. I have to take advantage of this experience right now, or forever regret it.

Pick up some Lagunitas this weekend. Any of 'em. I have no doubt in my mind it will make you a happier person... at least temporarily.

Overall Score: 3.25 out of 5.0


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beer Advocate Magazine

I wanted to put up a post about Beer Advocate Magazine. It's the print version of all that is wonderful from the Alström brothers' website

Each month they put out a new issue filled with fantastic articles about beer and everything related to the subject, including interviews with some of the world's best brewers, tips on where to drink when you visit different cities, homebrewing tips, beer reviews, and just about everything else that a beer lover wants to read.

They usually have some great photography to go along with the interesting writing as well.

Now this isn't a literary mag, so if you're looking for the "New Yorker" go pick it up and stay the hell away from Beer Advocate. That's not to say the writing is poor, it's just written in a more informal manner. Personally I believe that's exactly how a beer magazine should be written.

They only charge $20/year for subscriptions right now, and that's a damn good deal.

I'm always looking forward to the new issue each time I open the mailbox. In fact, there hasn't been a day yet that I didn't read it cover to cover as soon as it was delivered.

So, if you dig beer as much as I do, and wouldn't mind learning more about the subject and what's going on in the industry, as well as some advice about new beers to try, pick yourself up a copy. Or, better yet, get a subscription, it's only $20. That's probably less than what most of us spend on one weekend of beer anyway.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Weekend Brews - Week Three

It's the third edition of Weekend Brews!

This Friday we start the weekend off with yet another new brew that I have been wanting to try.
So I did. It's just that easy. Okay, whatever, just drink it.(07:55)

Straight from the Shmaltz Brewing Company creating magical beers from the combination of folks from New York and San Francisco, comes, "Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A." It's a tribute beer of sorts, and one I can fully support. This beer is a sort of "thank you" to Lenny Bruce. Granted he's a man a bit before my time, but I can certainly respect his attitude and ability to question the norms of society and take everything that is status quo and slap it upside the head.

If you ever get the chance, look up some info on the man on the old internet, and you'll see that for people who are sick of the nonsense that surrounds us, he can be an inspiration. He'd probably tell me to fuck off if he was alive and reading this, but that's sort of the point.

Okay, enough of the history nonsense. Lenny Bruce was great, but we're talkin' about the ice cold beer in the glass in front of me.

So what is "Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A.?" Well it's a double I.P.A. with tons of malt and hops, say the good folks who make HE'BREW beer. It's brewed with rye malt which definitely will impact the flavor of this brew.

It pours a dark copper color with a decent head that seems to fall just a bit too fast for me. I like the head to stick around awhile when I stick my nose in the glass to get a goof whiff of what's inside. Nonetheless, the aroma makes up for it.

Oh beautiful gods of malt, praises unto thee! This beer features a rich, nutty smell that includes a touch of sweetness in the nose. I'm not catching the intense hop aroma I figured would be front and center in the double I.P.A. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just surprising.

Alright, this smells just too damn good, I'm goin' for it...

...Holy crap! That's like drinking a caramel milkshake blended with fresh cut grass. Wowsers. This beer just made my day! It's no secret I love the big hoppy brews normally associated with the intense brewers of the U.S., and this beer puts a smile on my face without the tons of bitterness I expect from an American I.P.A. The rye malt definitely adds some serious character, and most likely is putting forth that clean, caramel-like intensity. This is one smooth mofo!

It's another one of those big bottles of fairly high-priced beers. However, it's equivalent to buying a cheap wine, and it tastes a world better than cheap vino. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy some tasty red wine now and then, but for those of you that want to complain about the price of a good beer and then go spend money of wine... well, it's time to step up and realize that you can get much more flavor and complexity in a $7 bottle of beer than from a bottle of wine at the same price. It's not even a contest. It is fact... or at least my opinion. ha ha.

Overall score on this beauty: 4.5 out 5.0

So, it's Friday, get your weekend going. Pick up a bottle of Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. Hell, while you're at it, put on some protest songs, fire up the "incense" and actually try and enjoy the weekend and forget about your damn job.

That's what I'll do.

Till next time... Prost!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Weekend Brews! Week Two

Praise be to Friday!

Yes, it's the second edition of Weekend Brews, your guide to fine crafted brews to please the palette and get your weekend fired up.

I have to say, I've been addicted to American craft brews as of late, but this weekend I'm starting with a fine English Ale. What beer could it be you ask? Well, it's a tasty blonde ale from across the pond my friend.

It's Wychcraft! A spooky little beer from the Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxofordshire, England. Ah, yes, the same folks that brought us the famed Hobgobline Ale (known as the "Mark Knopfler" to those of us here in Gainesville, Fla.).

Hooray! Okay you bloody fools, here's what you're in for when you crack open one of these finely designed bottles of ale...

... Well it says, "Golden" and "Blonde" on the label, but this beer pours a slightly darker shade. It's not exactly an amber, but if that's gold, it's what I would call a dirty gold, or filthy blonde. ha ha. Okay, that's a ridiculous description fit only for a cheap Vegas hooker, but you get the idea.

The head on this beast was substantial, but fell apart in a hurry. I find that a bit disappointing, but then again, it's Friday and why the hell do I want the head to get in the way of all that tasty liquid? Moving on...

...The aroma is fruity and floral. Considering I'm a hop head and addicted to that piney, citrus blast that comes from American Pale Ales, especially those featuring the classic haze of Cascade hops, this English Ale is a nice change of pace. It's actually a very gently, I would say, soft-scented ale. The hops are apparent, but do not overpower the brew.

And the taste? Drum roll... is good! The flavor is also gentle compared to the American Ales I've been downing the past year. I believe that is something to appreciate from an English Ale. It's not a hop lover's delight, but rather a nice mix of creamy malt character with a slight touch of bitterness.

As the folks at Wychwood mention, this is a great summertime beer. Granted I would recommend several wheat brews for a hot Florida day before I'd tell you to pick up a Wychcraft, but I can see where they are going with their thoughts. Then again, Summer in the U.K. can't possibly compare to the brutal nonsense we deal with in FLA. Not even close.

Regardless of all that, this English Ale is a tasty one. It is incredibly smooth and goes down quickly, and has got to go well with fish and chips! Sorry, I had to say it. I haven't tried it with those tasty fried fish wrapped in newspaper, but I'm pretty damn sure it would make my day to have both in front of me on a Saturday afternoon.

As far as English Ales go, I'd give this a solid score: 3.75 out 5.0

If you've been hangin' in the American craft brew scene, go ahead and take a weekend off and try a few from overseas to change it up a bit. Support brewers from all over the world, and they will in turn keep making these creative elixirs that make our work weeks bearable.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Weekend Brews ... The Series Begins!

Friday. The day known to all of us working folk as the first glimpse of hope of relaxation and free time to do whatever the hell we want to. Alright, maybe it's not all that glorious, but it is a chance to happily seek out a new tasty beer to sample and tell you about.

So, now that it is Friday, who wants a couple-ah ice cold beers?

Every week I plan on writing about a new beer or beers to get your weekend going. You only really have two days off, so it's important that you drink some delicious beers while you have the chance. And for that reason, I have decided to start the new series, "Weekend Brews." Trust me, this is going to be good for all of us.

For this premiere entry of "Weekend Brews", I've selected a fine 1 pint, 6 fl.oz. bottle of Fresh Hop Pale Ale from the Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado. It's always a little bit more special when your pouring from a big old bottle as opposed to the old 12 oz. standard.

Once poured, the pale ale sets up in the glass nicely. A frothy head sits atop the translucent amber liquid just begging me to taste it. That foamy goodness dissipates quickly to the edge of beer, but leaves a pleasing white lace covering around the sides of the vessel. And the smell...

... Ahhhhhhhhh, the aroma of the gods. This being a "fresh hop pale ale", it is filled with that crisp scent of grass that was just cut on a dew-filled morning. Well, it's not like a PGA golf tournament or anything, but I'd love to open my window at sunrise and have that slap me in the face.

See, Great Divide Brewing Co. is lucky enough to have the connections to get their hops right at the peak of the harvest season shipped overnight to the brewery. This unique flower and grass character can really only be achieved by using hops that fresh... and considering the fact that the fresher the hops, the more you need to impact flavor, the beer is a tiny bit pricey. It's nothing crazy, but it will run you $6-$7 for the bottle.

Alright, enough with the nonsense, what the hell does it taste like?

Oh man it's good. Nicked with a touch of bitterness, it has a stellar bite with an ample amount of sweetness. The bitterness is the feature here though, and I think it works well with the fresh hop smell.

This beer's not as intense as say a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but it does the trick. It may not be an everyday beer, but I definitely recommend that you drink one down considering they only get the chance to brew with hops this fresh once a year.

Grab one today or tomorrow and give your weekend a little extra slice of happiness pie.

Overall score on this one: 4.0 out 5.0.

Drink it.

Remember, I'll be featuring your Weekend Brews every Friday from now on. So drop down some comments and if you have some suggestions for upcoming Weekend Brews, let me know.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Beer of the Week to Start This Friday!

Well just what in the hell is a blog about beer that doesn't have a beer of the week review, right? Exactly. So starting this Friday I will be happy to drink and review another tantalizing brew that will hopefully tickle your tastebuds and encourage you to get out there and do your part in support craft breweries. And, Friday is just such a perfect day to begin drooling over fine ales and lagers. Mmmmmm...

We are now in the Fall season, well not here in Florida, but I'm from New York so it's still Fall to me. That means some great seasonal beers, especially those winter brews should be hitting the shelves.

I'm looking forward to exploring those and don't be shy if you want to drop a line of post a comment on this blog. It gets lonely in this quiet little beer cave sometimes.

If you have some recommendations for Beer of the Week, just let me know.


Monday, October 8, 2007

R.I.P. Beer Hunter

I should have put this post up back in August when it happened, but I feel it is always better late than never to show tribute to a great man. The man is Michael Jackson. The "Beer Hunter." As someone who enjoys writing and reading the written words of others, he has certainly been an inspiration.

Michael Jackson has written some brilliant books and articles on beer and it's origins even before I knew what beer was. He was one of the individuals responsible for sparking interest in beautfully crafted beers from around the world, and without a doubt is at least partly responsible for the rise in craft breweries, and the love for craft beer here in the US. The fact that this man had a passion for great beer and turned that passion into a career is absolutely fascinating. His eloquent prose on the subject is second to none, and you know if Michael Jackson writes well of a certain brew, you had better give it a try.

To see the way he interacted with the young craft brewers of the US and did his best to promote them is a testament to the man's passion and belief in those who are trying to keep the history of good beer alive and well in the 21st Century.

If you haven't yet, pick up one of his books or at least read more about him online. He will be missed. Thank you Beer Hunter.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Four New Tasty Brews to Talk About

It's a been awhile since I've posted anything on ye ole blog, so I'm hittin' up the page with some news on four new tasty brews I've had the pleasure of sampling.

Wrote a post about 'em, wanna read it? Here it go...

First up is a selection from Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was the movie, "American Beer" that inspired me to want to track down some beers from Bell's. Lucky for us in Gainesville, Florida, they just got distribution here. Hooray! The Bell's beer I'd like to tell you about is called, Oberon. It's their summer beer offering. It was a tasty wheat ale certainly fit for summer with it's light body and citrus aroma. The beer poured nice and created a nice creamy head. I was thinking it would be a bit more foamy than creamy, but nonetheless, its appearance of a cloudy golden hue matched well with the silky head.

The Oberon featured an aroma filled with fruit, mainly banana and some citrus. In this particular bottle the orange smell was front and center, a perfect scent for a summertime grill out. A nice big burger would do well with this one.

The flavor followed suit, heavy on the citrus, and extremely smooth. Personally I thought the carbonation level on this beer was too low. I think a bit more of that bubbling refreshment from more CO2 would've added a better finish to this summer brew. Overall though, I have to say the beer was a good introduction to Bell's and I look forward to trying more of their beverages as they become available here.

My overall score for Bell's Oberon: 3.25 out of 5.00

Beer number two is Sierra Nevada's Anniversary Ale.

Now who am I not to celebrate the anniversary of a great craft brewer? I'm a big fan of the Sierra Nevada brews, and this beer did not disappoint at all. With a gorgeous amber body and wonderfully full and foamy head, this beer introduced itself to the glass with class. This was like that amber they found the mosquito in for Jurassic Park... just beautiful.

The aroma? Lordamercy! Can you say Cascade Hops? This beer can... and with a blast of pungent citrus and floral notes, this ale was screaming at me to drink it! So I did. It's been said before, but this beer truly does represent the perfect marriage of hops and malt. It seemed less hoppy than their Pale Ale, and thus was a nice change of pace for a Sierra Nevada ale. It had a great malt character and lovely sweetness that made each sip taste like a gulp of joy. This beer does not have the bite that the Pale Ale does and thus you don't get that dry mouth feeling so often associated with hoppy American Pale Ales and I.P.A.s. All in all, this beer is certainly a worthy addition to their beer line up, and definitely something worth celebrating.

Overall score for Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale: 4.5 out 5.0

Third beer? I thought you'd never ask. It's from another brewery that just started to distribute to our area. It's Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale. Wowsers! This beer makes me happy.

The Imperial Red coated the glass with a dark copper/brown liquid fit for a king. A thick solid head that could stand the test of time greets your nose as you lift the glass. I'm pretty sure you could float on that head like you were vacationing at the Great Salt Lake. The aroma was a magical mixture of sweetness and hoppiness featuring another citrus blast with a creme brulee finish.

Drink it down I say! And I did. This brew has a serious malt character that offers up some serious sweetness that is balanced well with the hop bitterness. This beer is a smooth and thick like gravy ale that would be a perfect after-dinner drink. This is not the type of beer you'd sit and drink a sixer of. In fact, based on my aroma thoughts above, I'd say this beer would actually match perfectly with creme brulee. I just may have to try that one of these days.

There's a bit of that dry I.P.A.-like aftertaste, but that sort of effect fits this beer style well.

Overall score for Lagunitas Imperial Red: 4.25 out of 5.00

The fourth and final beer is from Terrapin Beer Company in Athens,GA.

The beer was their Golden Ale. This was actually the first of the four I tasted, but what the hell, you get to read about it last. This beer is a great introduction for those not acquainted with the craft beers of the U.S.A. It's a light bodied ale with, you guessed it, a warm golden color. It produced a light and fluffy head when it hit the glass, and actually had a very welcoming appearance with some serious carbonation adding to its golden color. I just love watching those little bubbles make their way up through the drink.

The Golden Ale had a light aroma to match its body. A slighty fruity smell was present, but nothing too overwhelming. The flavor followed suit, easy to drink, smooth with a slightly biting aftertaste. It actually reminded me more of a German lager than an ale, but overall it was satisfying.

I think if you are going to try a beer from Terrapin I'd first recommend the Rye Pale Ale for those who enjoy their craft brewed beverages. However, if you are a begginer, this ale is a nice place to start and ease your way up to the fuller, hoppier beers that are available.

Overall score for Terrapin Golden Ale: 3.5 out 5.00

Okay, that's all for this installment. Check back soon as I try some of Germany's Oktoberfest selections. Man, what a great time of year it is for beer!


Monday, August 13, 2007

Biers of the World... or rather the U.S. (I'll explain...)

So I got back from a trip to beautiful Rochester, NY to visit my old pal Dave. Last time I was up there, which was two years ago, my friend brought me to a store that had an incredible selection of beelz. Granted I was already several drinks into the day, so I didn't remember much other than that. Turns out this beer store that I barely rememebered was called, "Beers of the World". We pulled up in front of this beer store trapped in the center of the average American strip mall. Now based on its location alone, I was starting to think this was not the place I was thinking of. I was slightly bummed. Regardless, we took the bold leap forward through the glass door plastered with beer posters and discount ads(actually we opened the door like normal human beings... of course had it been later in the day there might've been a chance of someone leaping through the glass).

I stepped over the threshold and fell into what was a virtual wonderland for beer lovers. Beer to the left of me, and beer to the right... aisles and aisles of glorious beelz! The front of the store was dedicated to the international beer selections. Belgians were up against the right wall (facing the back of the store) mixed in with some German and Austrian selections. Down the center were more German choices, and then everything else you can think of... beers from all over Asian, Europe, Australia, South America, Africa... they truly represented the name "Beers of the World". Almost the entire left side of the store were coolers filled with singles, six packs, twelve packs and mini kegs. Hell there was even a cooler dedicated to the local brewer, Rohrbach. Absolutely stunning selection. It was overwhelming to say the least.

I decided I would stick to the American craft brewed selections. So I walked further into the long and narrow store to discover aisles and aisles of mouth-watering brews. There was so many to choose from, I was really sorry I didn't bring an extra suitcase with me. I only had room for whatever would fit in my roller luggage thing, which was already filled with my stupid clothes. Damnit!

Well I decided to grab as many different beelz as I could. I made sure to get the craft beers that are not available in Gainesville, Fla. The rest of my friends, not being beer freaks, were laughing at me as I scoured the aisles with the wide-eyed appearance of Charlie Bucket upon discovering the final Golden Ticket. Sorry Grandpa Joe, you ain't gettin' none of my beelz!

Here are the beelz I picked up at that lovely store, the same ones I treated some of my friends to taste upon arriving back in FLA:

First up was the Heinnieweisse. That's the one in the green can in the photo above. A wheat beer in a can just seemed strange to me, but upon pouring, I could see this would indeed qualify as a tasty wheat brew. A nice cloudy wheat beer appearance, a spicy and floral aroma and a decent head when it filled the glass. It had the classic wheat beer spice and a pleasant and bubbly champagne-like mouthfeel. It's a great beer to enjoy on a hot summer's day, but lacked a bit in the flavor department. It was kind of bland after tasting it a few times, but overall I think it is worth giving a try at least noce. I'm keeping it simple as far as the scoring goes on this well-traveled lot... 6.75 out 10.

Next up was Blue Star Wheat Beer from North Coast Brewing. North Coast is one of my favorite craft brewers, so I had to give their wheat offering a try. This beer was much more fruity than the Heinnieweisse, but didn't have the spiciness or bite that I enjoy. The appearance was right on with a solid unfiltered wheat beer, fit with the cloudiness and golden hue. This beer is a decent version of an American wheat brew, but for me, it just didn't have the mouthfeel and flavor I'd like to see from a quality brewery like North Coast. I give it a 6.0 out 10.

Third on the list was Brooklyn Summer Ale from the Broolyn Brewery. If you've read the other posts, you will by now know that I am a huge supporter of the Brooklyn Brewery. Garrett Oliver is a brewing genius! Time after time I truly love to sample their brews. The Summer Ale is a classic light bodied ale with a nice malt presence that is not at all overpowering. It has the pleasant citrus aroma and flavor often associated with American summer beers. I will be honest, it is not my favorite Summer beer, but all in all is a solid approach to the golden light ales that have come to wear the moniker of "summer brew" in the U.S. I'd give Brooklyn's Summer Ale a 7.0 out of 10.

Singletrack Copper Ale from Boulder Beer was next up at the tasting table. This was a delightful surprise. For some reason when I've seen ales described as "amber" or "copper" they seem to fall short in the flavor category. Not Singletrack. This beer had a beautiful copper(imagine that?) color and produced a nice tall, foamy head with decent retention. It had a soft malty aroma, and was full of flavor. This was one of the smoothest beers we sampled in the bunch. Not too hoppy, not too malty. A nice blend of the two, the way this beer was crafted to taste. Well done Boulder. It turns out we actually do have this beer available in Gainesville. So I wasted a spot in my luggage. AHH! I still enjoyed it nonetheless. I give it a 7.5 out of 10.

Now on to the more interesting brews...

We begin with Hanami Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Co. They have this beer listed as a Spring seasonal on their website. It's appearance is amber with a hint of crimson due to the addition of cherry juice in the brew. I'm not a huge fan of fruity beers, but this ale was very refreshing. It didn't have much of a head on it, but other than that, it was a nice surprise to everyone that tasted it. It had a curious little bite to it with a slight cherry bitterness and aroma without any overabundant sweetness. It had more of a sour cherry flavor to it rather than usual burst from the sweet side of the fruit. Personally I think they did a great job using the sour and bitterness of the fruit in this beer, and I think those elements of that particular fruit match perfectly with a well crafted ale. A nice Spring brew indeed. 7.5 out of 10.

Then came the Hop Heads Delights...

Representing my homeland of Long Island is the Hoptical Illusion IPA from Blue Point Brewing Company. This brewery has a special place in my heart because being a kid that grew up in Long Island, I take pride in knowing there's a brewery pumping out great beers not far from where I grew up. Strangely enough, when I went to Blue Point, the Hoptical Illusion was one of the few beers I didn't get a chance to taste. Yes, I am a fool. This is a beautiful IPA filled with that hoppy goodness we all know and love, a pungent floral aroma and nice tiny touch of warming alcohol at the end of each sip. It has the bitterness, the hop character and the flavor of a top ranked IPA. This beer should make Long Islanders proud. I give it a 8.25 out 10.

Did someone say hops? How could I not pick up some of the legendary HopDevil Ale from Victory Brewing? Yeah, so I got some. I've never had this beer before, but when I brought it out, everyone in the room was stoked! Here I was expecting an explosion of hops and bitterness, only to be slapped in the face with flavor. Wow. This beer does indeed have a very upfront hop character, a sweet hop aroma, but somehow manages to combine its bitterness with a lush malt presence to create a flavor that can only be called HopDevil. I can honestly say that I've never had a beer with that sort of hop content coupled with such a unique flavor. If you are a hop head, but sometimes grow tired of the standard bitterness and aroma combo, try HopDevil. You will be delighted at the complexity of flavor that hides in that little 12oz. bottle. I love this brew.
I give it a 9 out of 10.

Next up was the Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA from the Weyerbacher Brewing Company. Now this beer has intrigued me ever since I saw their 1/4 page ad in BeerAdvocate Magazine. Why you ask? Well, their use of Simcoe hops of course. We've brewed beers many times using the Simcoe hop variety, and I just love the bitterness and aroma of that high alpha acid beauty. Many times have I stuck my nose deep into the bag of Simcoe hops and taken a deep breath to soak up the green goodness into my sinus cavities. This beer did not disappoint. Knowing that Simcoe brings the bitterness, I had a feeling of what to expect. It was indeed filled with that classic Simcoe bitterness and aroma. A classic amber hue filled the glass and the beer had that stinging mouthfeel that can be associated with the heavily hopped American IPA. This was not my favorite IPA in the world, but it is a well-crafted brew to say the least. Bitter, a nice ABV and a pretty easy drinking beverage. I'd like to try more from Weyerbacher as this was a nice introduction to what they can do. I give it an 8 out 10.

The final hop lovers choice was the Stone IPA from Stone Brewing Company of San Diego, California. I've heard great things about this beer, and when I saw it on the shelf in its dark brown 22oz. bottle, I had to grab one to taste. Holy crap! Now that's what an American IPA is all about. A huge hop aroma tackles your nasal cavities right as you pour it into the glass. Great head retention and pleasing amber color. Did it have bite? Yes, but interestingly enough, the crisp bite and bitterness associated with IPAs was met with perfect malt balance. This was an IPA that had the higher ABV, the super hoppiness, but somehow managed to have a damn smooth finish. A brilliantly refreshing piece of craft beer artistry. I think it was unanimous around the room, that this was the best IPA of the bunch. I now want to try all of what Stone has to offer. I give it a 9.25 out 10.

I've decided to save the most interesting for last. The final tasting of the night was another selection from the Brooklyn Brewery. This time it was the brand new, Local 1. Wow. This beer may just be the definition of complexity and artisanal beauty. Garrett Oliver once again brings the best to the table. This is a Belgian style ale with tons of flavor. Using German malt and hops, raw sugar from Mauritius and yeast from Belgium, Mr. Oliver and friends have created a tasty beverage fit for any beer lover. Now mind you, this isn't the type of beer you're going to grab a bunch of for the cooler. This is the type of brew that you want to sit with in front of a fireplace and share with friends. It has a majestic warming effect from the strong alcohol content that would match with many a gourmet meal. And the alcohol is not overwhelming. There is still plenty of head room for the light hop aroma and fruitiness created by the Belgian yeast strain. This bottle-fermented ale is worthy of any fine dining table to replace that wine you were going to purchase at first thought. Having a dinner party and don't know what to get? Try the Broolyn Local 1, and your guests will thank you. This beer is probably the most complex brew I've tasted to date. I implore you to go to the brewery's website and watch the video about this exciting new release. I give it a 8.75 out 10.

Well I think I've written plenty for this post. I hope you enjoyed it. Go out and storm your local beer store and demand they start carrying some of the above tasty brews. You and your community deserve it. And as always, support your local brewers.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Best Beer in Gainesville Tournament Begins!

It's official, tonight will be the first of many tastings in the "Best American Beer in Gainesville" 2007 beer tasting tournament. It works like the NCAA basketball deal. Check out the bracket PDF if you please. Five judges conducting blind taste tests, 8 different beers to sample per sitting.

There's more details, but those are to come. For now, if ya want, download the bracket and follow along. Feel free to hold your own tourney. The beers were chosen based on the best American beers available in Gainesville, Florida. They were chosen using an average total score based on those scores available on and

Here's to finding the best beer in Gainesville.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Brilliant Beer Marketing

A couple of days ago I received a package from the Boston Beer Company. If you are a member of the American Homebrewers Association and Beer Advocate, you too may have had the same experience.

Around 11PM I was returning home to find a small cardboard box in front of my door. I brought it inside and examined its exterior. There was a silhouette of a glass on the side and it read, "Sam Adams Boston Lager 16oz." Sweet! Someone sent me beer glasses.

I opened up the box and there was a letter from Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company explaining that he had been searching for the perfect glass to serve his Sam Adams Boston Lager in. It also said as a member of AHA and Beer Advocate, I would be the type of person that would understand his quest for this perfect pint glass. Right off the bat I was amazed. And no I didn't think he sent me a personal letter. ha ha. He explained that as a homebrewer he would be honored if I used his glass to serve one of my own homebrews. How cool is that? What a great way to market your product. I can say that I wanted to immediately go out and purchase some Sam Adams Boston Lager to try out these glasses(I actually had a Brookyln Lager in the glass first... sorry Jim, that's all I had in the fridge).

As a marketing professional and a homebrewer it always makes me happy when I see a talented brewer using tasteful marketing to promote their hard work.

Great job Jim Koch, and if you have a chance, check out the glasses for yourself. Enjoy.

Bring Me Down Brown

Now as a lover of craft beer, I like to try as many small batch brewed beelz as possible. And if at all possible support my local brewers. There's a small brewery/pub in Dunedin, Florida. I've yet to take the trek down there to see it in person, but they do distribute their bottled brews here in Gainesville, FL. So my fellow band members and I decided to try a few of their brews. This particular review is for their "Beach Tale Brown Ale".

We popped the top and poured three small samples from the 16oz brown bottle. It produced a nice health head of chocolate brown foam that left a nice silky residue on the glass as it very slowly creeped down the glass. The aroma was a bit strange. It had almost an astringent smell to it. I wouldn't say it was a bad smell, just not what I expected from a brown ale brewed with roasted and chocolate malts. The color was a dark brown with some serious carbonation going on. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw that kind of carbonation in a dark brown ale.

Then to the fun part, the tasting. Each of us slowly ingested this murky brew to see what it was all about. "Awwwwww maaaaaaaan", was the first thought out of our mouths. That astringent smell led to an over-carbonated bitter flavor that bitch slapped our palates. We were disgusted. This beer had some hints of old apples, alcohol bitterness and a mouthfeel like sandpaper. Not exactly what any of us were anticipating. It was almost comparable to a super-carbonated rootbeer without any of the sweetness. Just bitter, bubbly, and overwhelmingly disheartening.

One of our least favorite beers is Shiner Bock. As my friend Dave put it, "Shiner Bock is the Mendoza Line for beers." ha ha. Good point. This Dunedin Beach Tale Brown Ale fell way below that line.

I hate to dog the local Florida brewery, but man, this beer was not good. At least that's the way the three of us judged it across the board.

I'd stay away from this one if I were you. Give one of their other brews a try. We sure will as I hope they can do better than that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Brooklyn Beer is now in Florida!

If you haven't heard already, Brooklyn Brewery has begun its efforts to distribute its fantastic beers to the state of Florida. Right now in Gainesville, FL, the only selection available is the Brookyln Lager. The flagship brew of this fine brewery, this lager has a crisp, refreshing taste with an abundance of hop flavor that in my opinion surpasses that of the Sam Adams Boston lager that has become so popular in the past few years. If you like a nice amber lager with a good dose of hoppiness, then Brooklyn Lager is a must. Try this beer with a burger and some onion rings and your day will immediately improve.

I will post updates as more of the Brooklyn Brewery beers become available in Gainesville and the surrounding areas.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Battle of the Beers List Released Today!

Here it is! The official list of American beelz that will be part of the 64 beel bracket that will determine the best overall beel available in Gainesville,Florida. It's a tough task, but we're up to it. The list is set up with the name of the beel in bold and the Brewery in italics. Check it out!

60 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head

90 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head

Abita Turbo Dog

Allagash Dubbel Reserve

Allagash White

Alleycat Amber
Lost Coast

Anchor Liberty Ale

Anchor Porter

Anchor Steam

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter

Avery IPA

Bison Chocolate Stout

Black Dog Ale
Spanish Peaks

Black Dog Pale Ale
Spanish Peaks

Brooklyn Lager
Brookyln Brewery

Coal Porter

Cream City Pale Ale

Dale's Pale Ale
Oskar Blues

Downtown Brown
Lost Coast

Eye of the Hawk

Fat Dog Stout

Fish Tale Amber

Fish Tale IPA

Flying Dog Old Scratch
Flying Dog

Fuel Cafe

Full Sail Amber Ale
Full Sail

Full Sail Pale Ale
Full Sail

Genesis Ale
Olde Saratoga

Harpoon IPA

Hazed & Infused


Hercules Double IPA
Great Divide

Jamaica Red
Mad River

Lost Coast 8-Ball Stout
Lost Coast

Mojo IPA

Old Chub
Oskar Blues

Old Rasputin
North Coast


Organic Porter
Butte Creek

Peg Leg
Clipper City


North Coast

Rare Vos

Red Seal
North Coast

Red Tail Ale

Road Dog Scottish Porter
Flying Dog

Rogue American Amber

Rogue Chocolate Stout

Rogue Mocha Porter

Rogue Shakespear Stout

Sam Adams Boston Lager
Boston Beer

Shipyard Bluefine Lager

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada Porter
Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada Stout
Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada Wheat
Sierra Nevada

Small Craft
Clipper City

Snake Dog IPA
Flying Dog

Steelhead Extra Pale Ale
Mad River

Stoudts American Pale Ale

Titan IPA
Great Divide</td>

White Rascal

Yuengling Porter


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Battle of the Beers Coming Soon!

David of the Castellanos clan has done what most of us could only think of... he has taken the time to create a 64-team... uhhh beer, bracket to determine the best beer available here in Gainesville, Florida... American beer that is... hey yesterday was the 4th of July afterall. Now since it will only be beer we can get around here, no complaints if your favorite does not appear. Actually he had to scale the bracket down a bit and even some of my favorites didn't make it. Based on combinations of info from and, Dave has made a pretty damn comprehensive list of competitors. Over the next few months we will be having blind taste tests using a system of judging we're still trying to figure out. ha ha. So keep checking back here as the bracket will be available as a downloadable PDF so you too can play along if you so choose. This is sure to help us get through another disgustingly hot and humid North Central Florida Summer.

So here's to beers and all the magical flavors they provide.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Beer and Baseball Trip Day 2 -Part 2 (6/23/07)

So another Mets victory and we hopped back on the 7 Train, this time headed towards Manhattan. Right before we left I put up a post on the NYC Beer Forum of I asked what the BA crowd thought would be a good place to chill after the game. I was offered several excellent suggestions, but we decided to find a place called The Collins Bar. I was told it would be closing soon, so we figured we should check it out. After walking past it by probably 10 blocks or so, we decided to turnaround and there it was with a large neon sign out front that read, "BAR". Yeah, not sure how the hell we missed that one. Anyhow, after grabbin' a few slices at Original Ray's or whatever one it was, we headed on into the dark and narrow NYC pub. And then...

BEER! GLORIOUS BEER!!! It was a bit difficult to see in that joint, but I managed to read the chalk board listing what was on draught that night. A fine selection indeed. I don't recall everything they had, but by some miracle I do recall what we drank there.

First up was La Gunitas Pilsner. A fine beverage... clean, crisp and a great way to start the beer tasting late night hours(I forgot to mention we arrived sometime shortly after Midnight). I can honestly say this is probably the best American Pilsner I've had. Granted I don't have a long list of ones I've tried, but La Gunitas brews some fine beers, and this is a great one for a Summer's night. If you are a fan of the light and easy drinkin' lagers, check this one out.

Next up was the Victory Whirlwind Wit Beer. Another refreshing Belgian style wheat beverage. Just enough hops added to lift a sweet floral aroma from the pint glass, with an accompanying bit of spice that pleased the taste buds. Great second choice of the evening.

I forgot to mention that Dave had the goal of catching the Ultimate Fighter 5 replay on Spike TV. We tried to go to one place that advertised having the fight, but that place was playing some crappy dance music and some big moron out front was behind a velvet rope checking IDs. Uhhhh... no Peg. No way we were going there. So we asked the bartender if we could change the channel on the TV near us, and the guy said, "no problem." Outstanding! So now we have UFC on, a great beer selection, and damned if they didn't play all the bands I love on the stereo!

No shit. Some highlights were The Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Op Ivy, The Ramones, and I think maybe some Minor Threat, but I'm not exactly sure. Either way, amazing selections all around.

Okay, back to the beer.

Dave decided on the Magic Hat #9 As it was listed as an "Apricot Ale" I didn't think I'd dig it all that much. Wrong! It was damn tasty. A nice pale ale type beer with a nice floral hop aroma mixed with a large nose of Apricot. The fruit flavor addition to the beer was pretty well balanced. It was not overwhelmingly sweet, but rather lent a nice touch to what was already a good pale ale on its own. Not my first choice at any bar, but it was worth a taste.

And then it became Weiss beer night at The Collins Bar. Dave, Matt and I are all huge fans of the weizen beers. So once we saw our buddy Doug(he just moved up to NYC from Florida... it was great to see ya Doug!) ordering a Brooklyn Weiss, Dave and I had to follow suit. There really is nothing like a Weiss beer served in that tall narrow glass, and if you like garnished with a lemon or orange wedge. Yes I know the beer snobs would say we're ruining it, but I say if you think it tastes good with it, then do it. If you like it without, then don't use any wedge. Whatever. Who the fuck really cares about such nonsense?

Anyway, I go back and forth on the fruit wedge, but for the first round I dug on that little bit of added lemon. Brooklyn Brewery makes a finely crafted weiss beer with those classic spice notes of corriander and citrus mixed into a beautifully cloudy concoction of wheat malt and yeast. Ahhhhhhhhhh! I could literally drink weiss beers every damn day.

So down goes one Brooklyn Weiss, then another, then... well I figured I should try some of the bottled selections they had while I still had a few bucks left.

We stuck with the wheat beers and asked for a bottle of Schneider's Edel-Weiss. Now if you've never had a beer brewed by Schneider's I demand that you go to your closest beer store and buy one! They make outstanding wheat beers that will freak your tastebuds out! It's brewed with organic ingredients that produce a nice golden hazy body, and a rich bit of spice and citrus flavor. It has a bit of banana vibe as well. The bartender gets an A+ on his perfect pour, making sure to roll the bottle and get that last bit of yeasty goodness from the bottom.

Then something amazing occurred. I noticed the bartender taking two dollars to the end of the bar and he said, "$2 on Ratt". Now what the hell did that mean? I then saw Barry who was also with us, giving the bartender his $2 for a bet. Turns out a few dudes at the other end of the bar was focused on watching VH1 Classic's Metal Mania. Several hours of hair band videos from the 80's, and they were betting $2 a band on what the next video would be. Didn't I tell you this place was fucking awesome?!! Of course I had to get in on it and put $2 down on Skid Row. I wanted Iron Maiden, but the gal she was already taken. I turned in my cash and headed for another brew...

The next and final beer of the evening was also from Schneider's. It was called Aventinus It was another wheat beer, but a dark wheat beer! This was something I had never seen before. A wheat dopplebock with a nice warming dark nut brown color and a light and fluffy head that was just begging for me to dive into. This beer had hints of clove, cinnamon, corriander and again citrus... mostly orange. But there was also a much richer flavor underneath all the previous notes... something more like you would taste from a porter. Not as pronounced as the chocolate flavors of a good porter, but there was a little something hiding in there that made this a very unique beer. If you enjoy the weizen, then you must check out Aventinus because it is like nothing I've ever had before.

That was our last beer of the night, B.J. Penn won the fight and all was well with us in New York City. We left around 3AM or so and thanked our kind bartenders for all their help and friendly conversation.

If you are in the NYC area before July 22, get to The Collins Bar at 738 8th Ave. in Manhattan. You will not regret it.


P.S. Some bastard won $40 in the hair band pool... the winner? Guns n' fuckin' Roses. Bummer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Beer and Baseball Trip Day 2 - Part 1 (6/23/07)

It is truly amazing the number of hours one can sleep after a night of baseball and beer. Wow. Saturday was a brand new day and I was determined to find some decent beer. After all we were in New York City, how the hell could it be a problem finding good beer?

We woke up later than anticipated and our plans to visit the Brooklyn Brewery looked to be going down in flames. We knew the brewery would only be open a few more hours and we had game 2 of the Mets vs. A's series at 7PM. I was worried the gang would come up with some hangover excuses not to go, but to my surprise by 3PM we were heading to the subway with directions in hand. It took us about 45 minutes or so to make it there. We had to hop two subway trains to Brooklyn and then had about a 10-15 minute walk to the brewery, but when we arrived it was like being in heaven... with grafitti and trash in the streets.

We headed in and the guy at the door pointed us to a large room filled with fermentation tanks where there was a tour being given. It took about two minutes of listening to tour guide telling us about the history of the brewery and Garrett Oliver before I started to wonder why everyone else had beer and we didn't. I turned around and saw that there was a large room with picnic tables and a line to the kegs behind us. Now had this tour been through their operational facilities where we could see the brewers at work, the bottling line loudly clanking its way around a large room filled with the secents of malt and hops, then yeah, I would've stuck around. But considering the fact that Dave and I have both read Steve Hindy and Tom Potter's book about their brewery, I figured I knew enough about the company and was ready to sample.

I signalled to the crew that we should bolt to the beer room. The beers were $3 each and you had to purchase these little tokens to get them. Kinda weird, but probably made their lives easier. The selections at the Brewery were outstanding!

The beers available were as follows:

Brooklyner Weiss - A delicious wheat beer in the classic style brewed with barley and wheat malt and Bavarian yeast that leaves a slight haze to this beautiful spicy and citrusy perfect warm weather beer. I've had this one before, but it always tastes a bit fresher at the brewery. It is a solid choice for lovers of the wheat. My only complaint is that it wasn't served in the tall pilsner style glass that makes weiss beers really shout out their flavors and aromas.

Brooklyn Lager - Ah yes the flagship brew of Brooklyn. This has to be one of, if not the best lagers I've ever tasted. It has the perfect balance of malt character and hop bitterness without going over the top. It had a beautiful amber color letting you know that some tasty barley malt was used in brewing this delicious beverage. If you enjoy the amber lagers such as Sam Adams' Boston Lager, try this one by Brooklyn and you'll be hooked for life.

'55 Pennant Ale - I did not have enough time to have this beer at the brewery, but I have had it several times before. Afterall any beer named in honor of the '55 Brooklyn Dodgers has to be sampled at least once. It's an English style pale ale that is slightly bitter, but comes off clean and refreshing.

East India Pale Ale
- Brooklyn's I.P.A. is solid. It's not the best I've had, but it can stand toe to toe with many others out there. With that classic super hoppy bitterness and aroma that drives hop heads like Matt, Dave and I crazy, this beer had to be on the list of beverages to enjoy. As with most I.P.A.s it has a higher alcohol content (6.8% ABV according to the website), and so this beer should be enjoyed in moderation if you have other things to do during the day. ha ha.

Summer Ale - As with many craft breweries in the states, Brooklyn has come to offer several seasonal beers. This time of year they brew up batches of their tasty Summer Ale. Now growing up on Long Island and now living in Florida, I understand just how important it is to drink the right beer at the right time. There's no way I want to be slugging down a Brookyln Black Chocolate Stout when it's 87 degrees outside in Brooklyn. Instead this beer offers a nice light and refreshing choice. Unlike many other breweries, Brooklyn decided to brew this beer with a barley malt instead of wheat. The majority of other summer ales I have had used some perecentage of wheat malt to lighten the brew. They use a British two-row malt which gives it a nice golden color and light body. It is a very smooth drinking ale with hop character that leaves that citrusy aroma and taste as it leaves the glass and flows down the gullet.Solid choice during these hot Summer days. Make sure to have a cooler full for any BBQs or beach trips in your plans.

Antwerpen Ale - This was a beer that I have never seen nor heard of before. Apparently you can only get this on tap, and I've never even heard of any bar carrying it. SO... I was damn stoked to try it. I was told it was a Belgian-style pale ale. Indeed it had that spicy character of many Belgian ales and a nice amber color. This beer was extremely smooth, but I would've liked just a tad bit more carbonation. That could be due to the style they were going for, but at times it seemed just a bit flat for my tastes. Despite its amber color and maltiness, it was easy drinking, and definitely not as heavy as I had expected. Decent, but not great.

Brown Ale - This is another of Brooklyn's regularly brewered ales. I did not sample any at the brewery since I've had several times before. Brown Ales are not really my thing, but if you dig on the Brown than Brooklyn's version will be right for you. From what I remember it was a smooth, easy drinking, malty beverage that would go nicely with some onion rings and a burger. And now on to the favorite amongst friends...

Abbey Singel Ale - This beer had everyone at our table shouting for more! A Belgian style Abbey ale with a beautiful golden color and perfect level of carbonation made this beer our favorite by far. According to the Brooklyn Brewery website this is a style of beer that the Trappist Monks enjoy on the daily, not that usually stronger ales that I've tried before in the Trappist Monk style. It was probably one of the most refreshing beers I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. It was dry like champagne, but tasted like a loaf of light and airy freshly baked bread. This is another beer I had wished I could drink out of a tall glass rather than a plastic cup, but hey, you take what you can get. This is another of the Brewmasters Reserve selections that are only available on tap. So again, we could not take any home with us. Sorry folks. Everyone will just have to go to Brooklyn Brewerey themselves.

The Brooklyn Brewery was a great place to spend a few hours on Saturday afternoon. I only wished we had arrived earlier. The place closes at 6PM on Saturdays. The tasting room was a loud warehouse type set up with picnic tables and local beer lovers everywhere crowding in. You can even get pizza delivered there from a local pizzeria! Needless to say, this is what I hope heaven tastes and smells like... the Brooklyn Brewery.

We left there and headed for Game 2 of the Mets vs. A's series where once again the Mets got the win. Sorry Dave.

That's it for now. I'll post Part 2 of Day 2 in a bit. That will include our trip into Manhattan and the discovery of a great beer bar thanks to our new friends on the NYC beer forum.