Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blue Point Brewery - Long Island's Best Beer

Recently, I took my annual trip back to Long Island. A stop off at the Blue Point Brewery to enjoy some locally brewed beer is always on the agenda. The brewery's Toasted Lager, Hoptical Illusion and Oatmeal Stout beers are pretty much legendary by now, but I was hoping we would get a chance to try something new. With a healthy-thirst, my friend Glenn and I hopped in the car to make the trip to Patchogue.

We walked through the back entrance, past the fermentation tanks and into the insanely crowded tasting room. You just have to love a brewery that allows its patrons access to all of the equipment used in making their tasty beers.

We opened the door to the tasting room and blam! Wall-to-wall people! We fought our way to the bar, and checked out the selections on the board.

Whoa! To our delight, they had added a Dunkel Weiss and a Cherry Imperial Stout!

We quickly ordered up some of the Dunkel Weiss. Wow! A beautiful chestnut-brown fizzy head, and notes of caramel, cloves and a hint of orange. The first sip was sent from heaven ... delicious, malty goodness, a touch of bitterness and a clean, crisp finish. The Dunkel Weiss had the perfect amount of carbonation, and for me, that's quite a bit when you're talking wheat beers. Full-flavored, but not over-powering, the Blue Point Dunkel Weiss is one of the best American wheat beers I've ever enjoyed.

Next up was the Cherry Imperial Stout. My smile was ear-to-ear when Glenn handed me mine. An abyss-like darkness at first glance, followed by a crimson, dark-cherry red when I held the glass up to the light and gave it a slight tilt. A light foamy head on top, and aromas of chocolate and black cherries popped from the beer.

The first sip ... ahhhhhhh. A winter warmer for sure! The Cherry Imperial Stout was filled with rich flavors of dark malt, bitter chocolate and sour cherries ... absolutely wonderful. You could enjoy this with a slice of German Black Forest cake and probably never need to have another thing to eat or drink again. Amazing stuff.

Due to the ridiculous number of people in there, we decided to bolt, but before we did, we made sure to grab a jug each of those two outstanding Blue Point Brewery beers. I sure hope they get some distribution out west very soon!

Overall Score of the Blue Point Brewery Dunkel Weiss: 4.75 out 5.0

Overall Score of the Blue Point Brewery Cherry Imperial Stout: 4.5 out 5.0

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays, and I wish you all a wonderful New Year!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 52 - An Uncommon Celebration

It's the official one year anniversary of the Weekend Brews Report!

This week I wanted to do something special and give a little taste of what I plan on offering on this blog in 2009. One of my goals is to meet the brewers around the world making the wonderful craft beer we love, and share their stories with you here. I'll still be reviewing beers and posting news items and whatnot, but I think it's about time everyone gets to know the brewers we support and put a story behind the beverage.

So, tonight I'd like to offer you my short interview with Alec Stefansky of the Uncommon Brewers microbrewery in Santa Cruz County. The brewery is very new and at the moment, they have two beers on the market, the Golden State Ale and their Siamese Twin Ale, the latter of which I'll review after the interview.

The Uncommon Brewers use Belgian brewing techniques and some truly unique organic ingredients. I think you'll find yourself falling in love with the flavor if you give their brews a try.

Alright folks, time to crack open a cold one, and read below!

So, Alec what exactly is an "uncommon brewer," and what's the background behind you and your brewing partners?

I certainly fall into the category of an uncommon brewer. My educational background is in politics. I was in an International Policy Master's program down at the Monterrey Institute back when I decided to make the move into brewing. It seemed like a better career choice at the time.

Reed, my Assistant Brewer, hails a little closer to a brewing education, with a degree in organic chemistry. We plan to put his training to work in the coming year.

You've got two beers on the market right now, the Siamese Twin Ale and the Golden State Ale, and you're starting to get some buzz in California and the west coast. What are your plans for the future as far as distribution, new beers, brew pub, etc. go?

I have another beer, a Baltic Porter that's brewed with Star Anise and Black Licorice, hitting the market in another week or two. There's a still-unnamed Red Ale brewed with Maple sugar and wild mushrooms in the works, and a half-dozen other recipes fighting for their place in line behind it.

I should be adding a major retail chain in the coming month, making it a lot easier to find cans of the Siamese Twin Ale. A deal is in the works to have smaller runs of can labels printed, allowing us to bring more of our beers to the retail market. I should know more about that in a month or so.

We plan on continuing to self-distribute our products within the Bay Area region. I'm adding two sales reps in the coming weeks, so existing accounts will be seeing better service, and local bars and restaurants can expect to be hearing more from us as well.

There is a brew pub concept, but it's a few years out from being realized. I do have an excellent chef already lined up to handle the kitchen, and a restaurant manager available, but my focus has to first be on getting the beer right.

One of the things that caught my attention when I first heard about your beer was that you are packaging in 16 oz. cans. Awesome. What made you decide to go with cans vs. bottles, and why 16 oz. instead of 12?

If a culture of returning bottles to the brewery existed in this country, as it does in other beer-drinking countries, I would have gone with bottles in a heartbeat. Unfortunately everything we produce here gets melted down in recycling. The energy cost to recycle a can is vastly lower than what's needed for a bottle.

We went with cans for many other reasons, too. Cans are a light and oxygen-proof package, with better product stability. They're also more efficient to ship, and less likely to break. Have you picked up a case of 16 oz. bottles recently? They weigh a ton. I'm in the business of selling beer, not glass. Pound for pound cans deliver more beer to my customers.

The 16 oz sizing came about because we knew that we couldn't compete as an Organic craft product in a six-pack price point. The four-packs give us a different place on the store shelf.

We're also using KeyKegs for many of the same reasons. They're a recyclable keg, one-way.

Uncommon Brewers is their launching customer in the U.S., and I wouldn't expect us to be their last. They're currently expanding like mad in Europe.

I'm sure it took awhile to finally decide on the two beers you were going to package and bring to market as your first offerings. I'm guessing there were quite a few test batches and other ideas before you made a final decision. What were some of the craziest beers you tried to brew before settling on the Siamese Twin and Golden State Ales?

I'm not sure if the early beers were more crazy, or just bad. We actually began by working without hops at all. Then we started using hops again, and making drinkable beer. Well that's not quite true. I have a wonderful gruit recipe, entirely unmarketable, but really tasty in its own way. The strangest experimental batches involved wild medicinal herbs, yarrow, milk thistle, and the like.

I noticed your slogan is "uncommon beer for uncommon people." I have to admit, that sounds a bit like the Dogfish Head slogan, "off-centered ales for off-centered people." Do you guys have plans to be the west coast version of Dogfish Head and take on Sam Calagione and company in producing the most adventurous beers out there?

The funny thing is that I'd never even heard of Sam's amazing beers when I came up with our slogan. Living here on the West Coast, and as a relative hermit while working on our recipes, I first came across Dogfish Head a year or so after coining our motto. It followed naturally from the brewery's name. I don't know that we'll ever be competition for Dogfish Head. We'd be happy enough to be ranked as a co-conspirator.

As I'm sure you've heard, SF Beer Week is coming up in February. Do you guys have any plans to participate, or come up and drink with us in the Bay Area?

We will be participating in SF Beer Week. Thanks for reminding me that I need to post our event. I'll be hosting a dinner at the Red Lounge in Santa Cruz. It's going to be a 5+ course dinner with beer pairings, prepared by Todd Williamson of Nepenthe in Big Sur.

Are you planning on being at any events in the near future you can tell us about, so my avid readers can meet the brewers and sample your wares?

There aren't any special events planned, but your readers are welcome to contact us for a visit if they're in our area. We do open the brewery to visits by appointment.

Finally, where can people get your beer?

The best place to check for availability is our website. I'm working on expanding our distribution outside of the Santa Cruz area. There should be a large spike upwards in the next two months.

Thanks Alec!

As promised, here's my review of the Uncommon Brewers tasty Siamese Twin Ale.

First off, it comes in a 16 ounce can. How cool is that? There's always something special about drinking a great beer from a can.

The Siamese Twin Ale is brewed with organic ingredients featuring Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and coriander. The brewers recommend enjoying this beer with a hot and spicy curry. Now that sounds like a great idea!

Nice and cold from the fridge, the beer is ready to be poured and enjoyed ...

The beer is a beautiful orange/amber color and crowned with a fizzy head that simmers down, but leaves a little bit of foam lying on top. Aromas of coriander, lemongrass and a touch of brown sugar come forward to the nose. This "Belgian-style Double" is full-bodied and filled with flavors of sweet malt, a sample of citrus and the taste of a breakfast sweet roll. Mmmmmm.

It's an incredibly smooth beer, but you do get the warm tingle from the alcohol right at the end. Very nice. I'm looking forward to trying the Golden State Ale next, as well as the Baltic Porter Alec mentioned.

Right now they have limited distribution, but check the Uncommon Brewers website to find out where you can get yours. Keep an eye out for these guys, they should be making their way to your neighborhood soon.


Overall Score for the Uncommon Brewers Siamese Twin Ale: 4.25 out 5.0

Friday, December 12, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 51 - Pale O' Mine

Happy Friday! Another Weekend Brews Report here and at week 51, it looks like next Friday will be the official one year anniversary of the Weekend Brews report. Woo hoo!

Tonight I was feeling kinda hoppy and thought I'd celebrate my Irish-American skin tone with some pleasurable pale ales. Huzzah!

First up is a pale ale brewed in Paso Robles, California at the Firestone Walker Brewing Company. This beer is aptly named, the Pale 31 California Pale Ale. Right on dude.

The beer pours into the glass with a light golden color and as the light shines through you can see the clean carbonation racing to the top. The pale ale smells of citrus and pine as this beer is well-hopped with Cascade, Centennial and Chinook. And now we taste ...

Hmmmmm, yes. That is one tasty mofo. Light malt flavor with a perfect amount of bite and bitterness. Well done lads. You can really taste those hops. Fantastic. It's no wonder this beer has won medals everywhere it goes.

You definitely want to get yourself some of this ... and soon!

Overall Score of the Firestone Walker Pale 31 California Pale Ale: 4.5 out 5.0

Beer number two tonight is another California Pale Ale. It's the XP Pale Ale from the Bear Republic Brewing Company in Cloverdale, California.

It's another left coast classic as it's light amber body fills the glass with a head like the center of a Moon Pie. The smell of fresh cut grass and citrus are the key players. A tip of the glass and and down it goes ... ahhhh. An easy-to-drink well-hopped beer is what I'd call it. A good balance of sweet malt and bitter hops, but nothing too abrasive. It's not at the top of my list, but it is a better than average American Pale Ale.
This beer would probably go well with a bowl full of fresh steamed mussels steeped in garlic and oil, served with some warm, crusty French bread, on an outside deck overlooking the Bay. Yeahhhh I'd be into that.

I enjoyed the XP. I think it's worth a try.


Overall Score of the Bear Republic XP Pale Ale: 3.5 out 5.0

P.S. Sorry about the crappy photos. The camera is out on another mission tonight.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Santa's Private Reserve

Who wants a seasonal beer?
Who wants a sip of a delicious Rogue Ale? Really? Me too!

Ya know, besides beer, the first thing that comes to mind when I read the words, "ho, ho, ho," is this ...

However, tonight we shall talk about beer. Please, please hold your applause. Let's discuss a seasonal classic from the folks at Rogue Ales.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Santa's Private Reserve.

I pop the top off this special seasonal ale and pour it into a glass that's just a bit too big for the 12 ounces of beer. Oh well. It's a ravishing ruby red color, and comes equipped with a velvety cream head that seems to want to stick around for the holidays.

Notes of brown sugar and pine trees blast the nose. The Rogue Ales brewery website even says there's a special hop called, "Rudolph" in the beer too (not sure I'm buying that story)! Okay, before it gets warm, let's give it a taste ...

Mmmmmm. Ahhhhhh. This red ale is chock full of hops and bitterness, perfect for a cold Northern California night. The hop flavors stick to my tongue and make it tingle. Oh Santa you cheeky bastard, your magical elixir is making me smile!

It's a good one friends. Full of winter flavor and a piny finish, I'm going to have another after this one. If you enjoy a tasty, hoppy ale, I'd recommend picking up one of these Santa's Special Reserve ales while their around.

Happy Drinkingdays everyone!

Overall Score of the Rogue Ales Santa's Private Reserve: 4.0 out of 5.0

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Old Man Cometh

Coming from the east coast, I haven't had the chance to sample many of the beers coming from the Russian River Brewing Company. Luckily, now in Northern California, I can get my hands on all the good brews.

I've heard of and read about their famous Pliny the Elder double IPA, and I finally tracked some down at the City Beer Store. Sweeeeeeeet.

I immediately popped the top as I got home from work, and poured the liquid into a pint glass. A translucent gold and amber mix crowned with a thick and creamy head tell me this beer has potential. My nose just wants to dive into that foam ... a deep sniff and ... OHHHHH! I feel like I've just been transplanted into the heart of a Northern California forest with all the pine needle aromas coming from the glass.

Lordamercy. Down the hatch it goes bitches!

I say gotdamn! That is a tasty beverage. A sweet, marvelous malt base sets the stage for a big burst of bitterness from the tons of hops that fill this brilliant beer.

A champion amongst champions, Pliny the Elder is definitely working its way up my favorite beer list.

I compel you to find it. Drink it. Love it.

Now go on and get it!

Overall Score of Russian River Brewing Co.'s Pliny the Elder: 4.5 out 5.0

Weekend Brews - Week 50 - Happy Repeal Day! 75 Years and Counting

As I'm sure my fellow beer disciples know, today is the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution. Yes, god bless the 21st, the amendment that bitch-slapped the 18th Amendment and happily ended the evil era of Prohibition. Woo Hoo! Our ability to drink beer brewed by people from our own neighborhoods or from around the world is something that makes this country incredible. I'd like to support my local brewers tonight, and tell you about my visit to a special place ...

I can think of no better place to spend this blessed day then the aptly named 21st Amendment Brewery. Earlier in the week I was bummed to find out I missed the tapping of their new beer, the Beerly Legal Lager. But alas! Working only a stone's throw from the brewery, I quickly learned that they had plenty of that special beer still on tap and ready for a thirsty worker such as myself.

I rolled on over to the brewery to be greeted by a large gathering of people marching through the doorway holding signs that read, "We Want Beer!" and "Repeal Is Here!" One after the other, the gaggle of beer lovers dressed in period garb entered the bar shouting for beer. ha ha ha. Awesome!

The next thing I hear are the bright brass notes being blown by a small band playing some old-timey music to help keep the beer lovers marching straight to the back of the brewery. Brilliant!

With all this commotion and entertainment I almost forgot I had a beer in my hand. Whoa! It's a pint of the Beerly Legal Lager I had craved earlier in the week. Hooray!

The beer was a clear, golden sunshine shade of gorgeous, with a light fizzy head poking out the top of the glass. Aromas of malt and hints of pine from the hops fill the air. I quickly took a gulp and smiled. Flavors of delicious light malt followed by some hoppy bitterness, and a crisp, clean finish are what this beer is all about. Niiiiiiiiice. I could've easily had about 10 of these. Unfortunately I had to drive home. Damnit!

Overall, the Beerly Legal Lager was an easy-drinking golden lager fit for anytime. I'm not sure if this new brew is going to be a regular menu item, so if you're in the Bay Area, get some now just in case it disappears.

You can purchase some of the other canned goodness from 21st Amendment Brewery around the Bay Area and beyond, but if you live around here, or if you visit, it's worth your time to stop by and try everything on the menu.
Happy Repeal Day everyone!


Overall Score of the Beerly Legal Lager: 3.75 out 5.0

P.S. Check out Chipper Dave's thoughtful insight on the glory of the 21st Amendment.

I hoist a pint in your direction good sir!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 49 - No More Turkey, But Plenty of Beer

Happy weekend to ya folks. I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and now that everyone is sick of turkey, let's do the right thing and turn our thoughts to beer. Hooray for beer!

I'd like to tell you about an appetizing beer I picked up the other day. It comes from Paso Robles, California, and it's packed with flavor.

The beer is the Double Barrel Ale from the Firestone Walker Brewing Company. After being named the mid-sized brewery of the year at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival, I have a feeling they brew some pretty damn good beer over there. Let's check it out ...

The beer pours a perfectly clear amber into my pint glass, and forms a creamy, dreamy head fit for a milkshake. There's some light lacing on the walls of the glass as the head dies down, but there's still a little foam on top waiting to be enjoyed. The slight smell of a pine needles from the hops and caramel from the malt fill my nostrils.

So, who wants to try it? I DO!

Interesting flavors indeed. The beer goes down smoothly with a slightly dry finish. I detect some vanilla and caramel hiding in there, with just enough bitterness from the hops to round it out. According to the brewery's website, this beer is brewed in the style of an English pale ale, and finished in oak barrels, and that's what adds that vanilla I'm tasting. The Double Barrel Ale, or DBA, is a welcome change from the usually über-hopped west coast pale ales. I'm looking forward to trying more from the talented folks at Firestone Walker.

Give it a go if you can find it, and let me know what you think.


Overall score of the Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale: 3.75 out 5.0

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 48 - 'Tis the Season to be Drinkin'

Happy Friday friends! It's time to jump right into some tasty seasonal beers. It's winter time, so that means the breweries come correct with beers filled with all kinds of spices and specialty malts. Isn't that nice of them?

I sliced the tip of my thumb off yesterday, so typing is kind of annoying and the camera thing just isn't happening today. Sorry folks. Hopefully my whimsical prose will entertain you just enough. Oh wait, it wouldn't be the holiday winter season without some of this nonsense right? Who wants to be a misfit elfin dentist?

First up is the White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager from the Moylan's Brewing Company in Novato, California. It's nice to have a winter lager for a change. Seems I'm always downing winter ales, so perhaps this will be a good alternative.

The beer is spiced with orange zest, mace, cinnamon, coriander and white pepper. Whoa! Looks like someone decided to clean out the back of the spice cabinet. Mace? Seriously? Who the hell uses that stuff? ha ha ha. And now is the time we talk about the beer ...

The color is a light copper and a bit cloudy. A light and fizzy head pops up fast and settles even faster. There's some good head retention as well. I bend the neck and my nose dives into the cavernous mug ... mmmmm. I smell that orange zest in a big way, followed by the white pepper. Ooooo spicy! I'm not getting much else in terms of aromas though.

Now the moment of truth; the tasting. Huh, not bad for spiced beer. Sometimes those spices can be over the top, but these add a nice flavor to the brew. The mouthfeel is light, smooth and kinda buttery. Weird. The beer finishes crisp. I can dig it.

I have to say this is a pretty good offering from Moylan's. It's not bursting with flavor, but I'm glad it wasn't overpowering as tends to happen with some winter seasonals. I'd buy another one if I had to. Check it out and give me your thoughts.

Overall score of the Moylan's White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager: 3.0 out 5.0

Next up is a beer my friend Adrian emailed me about, the New Belgium 2 Below Ale.

Oh man, I've been waiting to try this all day! Let's go!

I pour it straight into the pint glass and a thick and foamy head says, "hello!" and sticks around as if to say, "that's right fool, I'm a kick-ass beer you're going to love!"

This beer is brewed with roasted malts and Sterling and Liberty hops.

The beer is gorgeous and clear. A perfect medium-bodied amber stares me in the mouth. Oh praise Jeebus! I just smelled it, and it is full of pungent citrus and pine from the hops. Thank you New Belgium!

I've gotta taste it! I'VE GOTTA TASTE IT!!!

Oh for the love of sod! This beer is outstanding. Somehow they've managed to make it full of flavor with those delicious roasted malts, but balanced perfectly with those slightly bitter hops. This beer is one smooth and satisfying mofo. You know you can really tell when a brewmaster and crew nail it, and this is one of those times. This is probably the best winter seasonal I've ever had.

Throw in New Belgium's outstanding ability to care for the environment, the community around them and the designers they use to market their products, and you've got one of the best breweries in America. Thank you.

Go and get this one if you can. It'll only be around for a short while.

Oh, and check this link out ... FRAMBOZEN. Holy shit. I've got to find this beer immediately. I need to drink this while on the way to getting fat and passing out on Thanksgiving. Oh yes. It shall be done.

Overall score for the New Belgium 2 Below Ale: 5.o out 5.o
(Please find me a better winter seasonal, I dare you.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guess what tastes really good?

Really hoppy beers with tons of flavor, like this ...

That's right, it's the 12th release of the Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale.

It pours a dark and delightful amber and creates a fluffy foam head that leaves a doily-like lacing on the inside of the glass.

Go on smell it! Aromas of fresh cut grass, pine and citrus groves permeate the room. Oh my god, this smells amazing.

Let us drink. The beer bursts with bitterness, but there's enough malt sweetness to make this an enjoyable beer. It's certainly heavier on bitter than sweet, but finishes light and refreshing ... none of that dryness on the palate you get with other super hoppy beers.

Now that's a nice beverage. If you enjoy the hops and that classic Sierra Nevada flavor, this beer is a must.

Get it while it's fresh! GO!

Overall score of the Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale: 4.25 out of 5.0

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 47 - Bitter Bliss

Wellllll, slap my momma, it's Friday night!

Yes, that's right, another Weekend Brews Report comin' atcha, and this evening I've got a big bitter smile on my face. What? Bitter smile? What the hell could that possibly mean? It means that I found a bottle of the Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout hiding out at the local Bevmo!

Let's get to it!

Oh glorious darkness. The stout is a sea of opaqueness. Nestled on top of the liquid sits a milk-chocolaty, fluffy head reminiscent of a rootbeer float. Go on and stick your nose in there ... lordamercy. The aromas of rich chocolate and fresh roasted coffee bring the love. That's what I'm talkin' aboot.

What's that you say? Drink it?

YES! YES! YES! I command you all to go out and buy this beer and drink it!

It's exploding with smooth, lush chocolate flavor and finishes with a perfect bitterness the same way a well-brewed espresso hits the palate. Awesome.

I haven't had the chance to drink other anniversary beers from Stone, and that's a shame. However, I am lucky enough to have discovered this one. I'm a fan of just about everything else I've had from their brewery, so it comes as no surprise that I can strongly recommend this beer.

That's it for now brothers and sisters. I'll try and get to some others in the fridge later on.


Overall Score of the Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout: 4.5 out 5.0

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Belgians I Know

I mentioned earlier about some Belgian beers I had purchased to write about this weekend. Guess what?! Now is the time to discuss.

First up is a top-fermented ale from the Brouwerij De Koninck in Antwerp. This is their namesake beverage that comes in at a light 5.2% ABV, and I'm looking forward to enjoying a little less in the alcohol department.

A medium-bodied amber liquid falls into the glass and produces a thin head that almost instantly falls back into the beer leaving nothing more than a few circles of foam on the side of the vessel.

The beer smells rich with malt flavor ... I'm getting the aroma of a sourdough bread sprinkled with brown sugar and dipped in beef broth (but that's just me). This brew is surprising as it slides down the gullet with the ease of an American macro-brewed lager, but follows with the full flavor of a finely crafted Belgian ale. the De Koninck has a sour finish. I don't think that's necessarily a negative; just a uniqueness. The flavor is appealing, but I would not put this in my list of top Belgian ales.

Don't be discouraged ... this beer is worth trying. If you've read this blog before, you know by now that I'm not a fan of wasting time writing about beers I don't enjoy. I like it, and there's a good chance you will too.

Give it a chance, and as always, please let me know what you think.

Overall score of the De Koninck: 3.0 out of 5.0

Op uw gezondheid!

And finally ... tonight's final selection comes from Brasserie Dubuisson, it is called Scaldis, a.k.a. Bush Ambrée. According to the Wikipedia entry on the brewery, the name translates as, "Bush" (how appropriate!) and is labeled as Scaldis by importers (I wonder if that's because Busch beer is awful, or because the presidential family sucks... hmmmm? Either way, good move).

This brew comes in at a hearty 12% ABV, and will definitely be my last beer of the night. ha ha ha. Based on its appearance, the Scaldis seems a standard ale with a familiar amber hue and quickly disappearing head. With my nose in the glass I can smell a strong scent of alcohol and the fresh smell of hops. I have a feeling this is going to knock me out for the evening.

He drinks ... he scores! Wow. Strangely enough, you can most certainly smell the alcohol, but you cannot taste it. This beer is super smooth with a strong malt character, a dry finish and well ... okay, I admit it ... in the end you can taste the alcohol. Once again, you will have to give me your thoughts on this beer. I've had a few different samples this evening which undoubtedly have had an effect on my judgment. However, I do think this beer proves itself worthy of a taste even if you fear the beers of higher ABV.

Overall Score for the Dubuisson Scaldis: 3.25 out 5.0

Alright, that's it for me. I'm out. It's crazy late for my east coast friends, and I'm preparing for NFL Sunday morning fun tomorrow.

Take it easy everybody. I hope you all have a great weekend of brilliant beers.


Weekend Brews - Week 46 - Holidaze, Freaks and Belgians, Oh My!

Hooray for beer! Weekend Brews Week 46 in full effect yo!

I've got a few tasty beers to tell you about my good readers. Let's get right into it with a west coast holiday beer from the Marin Brewing Company. Ladies and gents let's try a 22oz. bottle of Hoppy Holidaze!

I pour it into my giant mug and it quickly creates a big foamy head that sticks around for awhile. The color is a light copper, and a tiny bit cloudy ... although that could be my glass.

This beer is brewed with pale, wheat, caramalt and Munich malts, and Sterling and Styrian Goldings hops. Wait! There's more! It's a holiday brew, so they threw in some cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel and vanilla extract. Interesting choices indeed.

There is definitely a strong aroma from the hops ... clean, piney, and that vanilla comes through as well. I'm not detecting anything from the other spices.

The first sip, and there are those holiday flavors. This beer is abundant with vanilla and nutmeg, and finishes with a crisp start and smooth finale. There is definitely some sweetness, but I look for that in a holiday beer with those ingredients. Good stuff. This is clearly not a beer you'd have several of, but certainly a nice winter warmer for the season. Personally I'd like more bitterness from the hops, but whatcha gonna do?

Overall Score for the Marin Brewing Company Hoppy Holidaze: 3.0 out 5.0

Next up is another tasty beverage from the Golden State (Warriors come out and playeeeeyay). Let's get freaky y'all!

It's Le Freak from the Green Flash Brewing Company in San Diego County.

Mmmmm that sounds good. The label describes Le Freak as an, "extreme ale converging San Diego-style imperial pale ale and Belgian-style trippel." Say whaaaaaaat?

San Diego-style? Is this beer brewed by that damn chicken?

Damn you chicken! Sorry, let's talk about the beer ... it looks good. It pours a healthy-looking orange into the glass with a light and lacey foam it wears as a hat purchased from the finest haberdashery.

Scents of orange, lemon, lime and some fresh cut grass crawl up the nostrils (gross!), this has got to be a beer for hopheads such as myself. The first gulp (that's right we're gulping now, sips are for losers!), and a smile creeps slowly across my face.

Oh sweet bitterness. Wait, does that even make sense? It does to me, and you just read it, so there! A fine mixture of bitter with a spectacular dry finish, but don't worry, there's a kiss of sweetness from the malt to make a perfect balance. Pardon me. I just burped and it smelled like a pine forest. Awesome. Thank you Le Freak.

I have two more beer to write about, but honestly, if they can beat this one, I'll be surprised. Aww crap. I guess that's not the best teaser for another post later tonight, huh? Oh well, fuck it. This beer is damn good. It's great! Go get 'em!

Overall score of the Green Flash Brewing Company's Le Freak: 4.75 out of 5.0

Psssssssst! Check back a little later and I'll tell ya about those Belgians I mentioned in the headline.

P.S. Photos this week were from my friend and boss, Jef Loyola. We're working on some ideas for re-designing this blog and making it a whole hell of a lot better. I can't wait.

For now ... Prost!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Weekend Brews Update

Tonight's Weekend Brews Report is on hold until tomorrow. Sorry, y'all it's my anniversary with the lady and well, you know how that goes.

I do have three or four new beers to write about, so be sure to check out the blog tomorrow.

So, I'll talk at ya the day after this one.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More exciting beer news from the world of science

Check out this article by Anna Davison on the MIT Technology Review website

Students are actually trying to brew a beer to replicate resveratrol, the anti-aging component found in red wine. Lucky kids.

This story makes my four years in college seem like a total waste of time. 


Beer Advertising Gets the Thumbs Up From Google

I thought I'd put up a short post about good news for beer distributors, breweries and the like ... Google is now going to allow beer ads! Okay, so perhaps you didn't know that Google would not allow beer marketers to advertise using their AdWords program, but that has been the case.

They have wised up and realized the additional revenue potential. Hooray! Hopefully that will lead to more craft beer awareness and sales for those smaller breweries that don't have the budget to get the word about about their products using traditional media.

I read the article on Search Engine Land. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Yeah, I know this is a beer blog, but I couldn't help myself from posting on election night about this historic occasion. I don't care who you voted for, this shit is amazing! As a student of American history I have chills running down my spine.

Tonight I toast to the nation, and I hope all of you are out there celebrating with your favorite beers.

Here's to a hopeful next four years.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 45 - Cuffin' the Jeans and Greasin' the Hair

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we talk about the beer that Fonzie would drink. Yeah, I know Fonzie was from Milwaukee, but I'm pretty sure if he road his hog over to the left coast, he'd stop and down some of this.

Tonight we try a rye ale from the left coast. Tonight we sip from the big mug filled with Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye!

Brewed with 20% rye malt and with stats like 7.5% ABV, and a 90+ on the IBU scale, it sounds like a beer for a hophead like myself.

The Hop Rod Rye is a dark amber color and produces a large foamy head as it pours. Wonderful lacing of foam as the head slowly dips, but leaves about a 1/4" of foam waiting on top. Nice!

A big healthy nose of citrus ... grapefruit and lime followed by a touch of brown sugar. Let's take a big gulp of this beauty ... mmmmmm.

Right from the start you get a blast of bitter hop juice balanced by malty sweetness. I recommend drinking this 22oz. bottle from a big Oktoberfest-style mug. The big glass allows you to really get your nose in there and pick up the amazing smell of hops as you drink it down. You can also look like a badass in your leather jacket as you throw back a giant beer. I'm pretty sure the chicks would be all over you. They'd probably freak out!

Described as a strong American IPA by the brewers, I'd say it is worth the $3.49 I spent on it.

They have flames on the label, so perhaps this would be enjoyable around a campfire? ha ha. I doubt that's the vibe they're going for.

So, check it out y'all. It's worth your hard-earned cash.

Good luck out there on the Devil's night, and be sure to steal candy from the neighborhood kids.


Overall Score of the Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye: 4.0 out 5.0

Hoppy Halloween!

So how many blogs about beer or brewing will use the above headline today? ha ha ha. I'd venture a guess at somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 75%. We shall see.

I'm not a fan of any of the pumpkin ales out there, so I'm not going to write about them. Sorry. However, since I'm now in the Bay Area, I hear Buffalo Bill's is one of the best ... straight outta Hayward, CA. If you have some thoughts on pumpkin ales, share them in the comments section. I'd love to hear about it.

I've got to get back to work, so for now, enjoy this, and I'll write atcha later on. Prost!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My First Smoked Beer

I first read about the German Rauchbier a year or two ago ... I think it was in one of Charlie Papazian's books. This special beer is made with a healthy dose of smoked malted barley to give it a unique flavor. Being a former resident of Florida where we spent many an early morning and afternoon sitting around the smoker waiting for pork shoulder, ribs, beef brisket and chicken to impart the magical flavors of hickory and apple wood smoke, this beer style made complete sense to me. Man, I miss southern barbecue.(photo courtesy of wikipedia)

My first rauchbier comes from the Brauerei Spezial in Bamberg, Germany, brewers since 1536 according to the Shelton Brothers website. This is very exciting and I cannot wait to try it!

(photo by Jef Loyola)

Into the glass it goes, and quickly a light foamy head appears and in a minute slides back down the sidewalls. The Spezial Rauchbier Lager is a medium brown, butterscotch color and it appears to be a tiny bit cloudy. Deep scents of smoke, chocolate and caramel fill the room. And now we taste ...

Whoa. Now that's certainly not like any other beer I've had before. There's a lot of caramel going on in there, you can taste the smokey flavor and a hint of black pepper. Man, I have to try more of these!

Okay, I know it sounds weird, smoked beer. What the hell, right? Well, I think you should give it a try. It's probably not something you're going to buy on the regular or bring in mass quantities to a backyard party, BUT, this beer style a great change of pace.

If I can find more of this, my next goal is to enjoy a rauchbier while eating some delicious barbecue. I think there's a joint in town. I'm going to have to give it a try.

Okay folks, that's it for me tonight. The Rays blew game three of the series, and well, I'm blogging off.


Overall Score of the Spezial Rauchbier: 3.5 out 5.0

World Series of German Beer

Okay, perhaps the headline is deceiving ... I'm pretty sure there's no World Series of German Beer, but I am watching the World Series while drinking German beer. It's sorta the same thing, right?

Tonight we drink the dunkel weisse brewed by the Weissbierbrauerei Hopf in Miesbach, Germany. An unfiltered dark wheat beer, this is bound to be a tasty treat.

The brew is a delightful dark chocolate brown with a thick and creamy beige-colored head. Aromas of caramel and cloves up front with just a hint of banana in the back. I take a hearty gulp from my big German beer mug and drift into dark beer heaven.

Delicious. Smooth. Warming and Refreshing. Ahhhhhh.

(photo by Jef Loyola)

The dunkel weisse style is a great beer to get the newbie started on the darker beers. It's light enough to be easy on the stomach, but full of malty flavor to lead you into the heartier beer styles. And, this Hopf beer is a perfect choice for watching the game.

Grab yourself a few of these tall bottles and root on the Rays!


Overall Score of the Hopf Dunkel Weisse: 4.0 out 5.0

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 44 - Welcome to Franconia!

Tonight's special brew comes from Franconia! It's in short supply according to the Shelton Brothers blog, so I'm happy to share it with you. This little German beauty is sure to be a great weekend starter, so without further ado, let's get to it!

Tonight's selection is from the Löwenbräu Buttenheim, a small craft brewery in Franconia. The beer is called Ungespundetes Lagerbier. Now I'm not going to pretend I understand German, but I do understand beer. And to me that sounds good. Ya!

To my dismay (for comedy reasons only) this is not the same Lowenbrau that brought us this commercial in 1984:

Oh Reagan's America. What an interesting place and time.

Anyway, this bier pours an appetizing dark gold into the long, slender glass. A light and fizzy head pops up, and then slowly creeps down the inner walls. There's a strong scent of brewer's yeast, fresh-baked bread and spice. And now ... the first sip ...

Ahhhhhhhhh. This brew has a smooth texture, a pleasing light malt flavor, a touch of hop bitterness and a perfectly crisp finish. Excellent job by the Franconians! At only 4.8% ABV, it's a nice change from the stronger beers I've been enjoying for quite some time. It's a fantastic accompaniment to my pizza as well. Beauty.

It sounds like this beer is only going to be available in the states for awhile, so get it while you can.


Overall Score of the Löwenbräu Buttenheim Ungespundetes Lagerbier: 3.75 out 5.0

P.S. A special thanks to Jef Loyola for helping me with the photos.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 43 - Gimmee Some Moylan's

Welcome to another installment of the Weekend Brews Report. This week we down a pint of a tasty American IPA from beautiful Novato, California. That's right folks, another hip-hoppy, wonderfully bitter liquid treat ripe for the tasting. YES!

Tonight's featured beer is the IPA crafted by Moylan's Brewery. I know I talk about the hoppy beers quite a bit, but hey ... your supposed to write about what you love right? At least that's my take on it.

The Moylan's pours a mixture of golden and amber into the glass. A frothy head sits proudly atop the beer and slowly fades away. An abundance of citrus notes begin escaping into the air and with a closer tip of the nose, you can get a whiff of what smells like the rind of a lime. Weird.

A healthy gulp and the bitter blast of hops hits hard, but the brew does have some malty flavor to balance out the bitterness. Not the best I've had, but certainly not the worst. I'll have to pay this brewpub a visit one of these days to try this one on tap.

Sorry no pix from the camera this week. I think my crappy Kodak has finally died. Bummer. Hopefully that fat bastard in the red coat and big beard will bring me one in December. You hear me fat man?!! Just sayin'.

Anyway, go out there and enjoy your weekend. That's what I'll be doing.


Overall Score of the Moylan's IPA: 2.75 out 5.0

Oh, and I have a mini keg of Paulaner Hefeweizen in the fridge. If you haven't had it, go get it! This is a fantastic wheat beer that everyone should try.

Overall Score of the Paulaner Hefeweizen (without a full review): 4.5 out 5.0

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bay Area Drinking Without the Driving

I had to throw this up on the blog after discovering it today.

I just read a post on about a site called

It's a handy little guide on how to find great beer close to many of the stations that service the BART train in the Bay Area. Sweet!

So ditch the car, hop on the train and enjoy some ice cold beer!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NHL Beer Cost Index

So thanks to Greg Wyshynski who writes for the Yahoo Sports Puck Daddy Blog, I now know just how much I'll be spending on beer when I head home for the holidays to watch my New York Rangers beat up on the New Jersey Devils at MSG. I think we all know the grand total at the concession stand is going to be high that evening.

What the hell am I talking about? There's an article about the NHL releasing their Team Marketing Report which tries to gives readers some insight into the average cost of taking a family out to a hockey game.

Lucky for us, Yahoo broke down the important stuff, the beer costs.

Here's the link.

My recommendation? Go buy a 12-pack and watch the game at home, or go to your local sports bar and get some food with your beer for less than a couple of big plastic cups at the arena. Of course, there's nothing like seeing hockey live. I guess you have to go to at least a couple of games live, right?

Anyway, give it a read.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 42 - Deschutes and Lagers

Greetings and salutations. It's Week 42 of the Weekend Brews Report, and the Bay Area weather is finally getting cold!

The Rangers have their home opener tonight, there's a cold and clear night sky, and the beer is flowing "like wine."

Tonight I'd like to tell you about two fantastic beers from the fine people at Deschutes Brewery up in Bend, Oregon. I haven't had a chance to try many brews from Oregon, so I'm happy to tell ya about this duo.

Up first is the Green Lakes Organic Ale. This beer brewed with five types of organic malted barley and finished with Liberty and Sterling hops is a testament to how organic ingredients can make an excellent and well-balanced tasty libation. In fact, the Sterling hops are what they call, "salmon-safe." According to their website, "The way these flavorful, rich hops are grown makes sure that streams are shaded and there is not runoff to nearby waterways. That way the rivers stay cool and clean for migrating salmon."

I'm all for keeping the animals safe and drinking great beer. Sign me up for that

The Green Lakes Organic Ale pours a solid dark
amber into the pint glass. Aromas of brown sugar, maple syrup and a touch of citrus from the hop additions pique my interest. The first sip goes down easier than a hooker on HBO. Just sayin'.

The flavor is rich with a slightly nutty flavor mixed with caramel sweetness and a trace of bitterness in the finish. This is a fantastic beer to start off the cool night here in the East Bay. Gotta love it.

Get yourself some of this Green Lakes Organic Ale and start your weekend right.

Overall Score for the Green Lakes Organic Ale: 4.25 out of 5.0


Next up is the flagship brew of Deschutes, the Black Butte Porter.

The dark chocolate liquid slides into the glass and forms a thick foamy head like a fine a mouse.

The beer features scents of chocolate, coffee and caramel, and I'm pretty damn sure this is going to taste outstanding.

Wow! Holy crap! That's the stuff man. This beer is super smooth, full of chocolate malt flavor and a nice finish that throws in a wee bit 'o bitter. Excellent work!

These two offerings from Deschutes are absolutely perfect for the first cold evening since I've been here on
the left coast. Drink up.

Overall Score for the Black Butte Porter: 4.5 out 5.0

And a quick little note about a fine lager that I'd like to recommend. If you haven't had the chance to check out North Coast Brewing Company's Scrimshaw Pilsner, you're missing out. A delicious crisp brew that is great with a burger, or just for a treat while watching the playoffs, give the Scrimshaw a try. North Coast never disappoints. You'll love it!


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Florida Brewery Gets National Distribution

I arrived on the left coast a few weeks ago after spending nearly six years in the "Sunshine State." And so, I say ...

I am happy to announce that the best brewery in Florida (in my opinion) just signed a national distribution deal with Shelton Brothers.

That brewery is Saint Somewhere.

A fantastic brewer of
Belgian-style ales, Saint Somewhere has received rave reviews, and always seems to make its way onto the "beer trades" boards on

Keep an eye out at your local beer store for Saint Somewhere brews. If you don't see them yet, tell the store owner to get some ASAP. Tell 'em Shelton Brothers does the distro and you want them now!

I can't wait to spread the good news of Saint Somewhere as soon as it arrives in the Bay Area.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 41 - Saturday Night Special

Well, thanks to my good friend Russ and his bar tending skills, I managed to miss Friday's blog post. Turns out my old friend from Long Island is doing well in the city by the bay, and pours a fine glass of Hefeweizen ... as well as a few glasses of Belgian Tripel.

So, tonight I grab the hair of the dog, but this will be a short post because I've still got a headache. ha ha.

Today I grabbed a sixer of Pyramid Brewery's Thunderhead IPA.

I figured the name was appropriate considering the pounding in my head this morning.

The Thunderhead pours a light amber into the glass and creates a thick foamy head that likes to stick around for awhile. There's a strong scent combination featuring bread, cereal and citrus notes.

The beer is certainly bitter, but there is a sweetness to counter it from the malt. It's not the most well-balance IPA, but it does the trick.

I think this beer is worth a try. It's certainly not at the top of my list as far as American IPAs go, but it's a good brew for a weekend sampler.

That's it for now friends ... I'm going to finish this brew and get back to watching the Cubs get swept in the NLDS.


Overall Score of the Pyramind Thunderhead IPA: 3.0 out 5.0