Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekend Brews Week 10... A Day Late

Alright so I missed another Friday addition of Weekend Brews. Once again it was a rock n' roll show to blame. We played at a new place called "The Kickstand" in Gainesville. It's sort of a community bicycle repair and hang out. Good bunch of folks.

So it is now Saturday and it's time to taste another brew.

Tonight's offering is a beer I've had before, but it was quite some time ago, so I thought I'd revisit the flavors. It's the Dogfish Head Chickory Stout. A fine selection for a winter's day, even here in rainy Florida. An exquisite beer brewed with roasted chickory, Mexican coffee, St. John's Wort, and licorice root. Wowsers. Another eccentric bunch of ingredients that immediately lets you know this beer is from Dogfish Head.

The beer pours a dark chocolate brown and creates a healthy chestnut-colored foamy head. Only a brief head retention, but that's fine considering I'm ready to drink it now.

The nose is filled with strong currents of dark chocolate and roasted coffee beans with just a hint of caramel. This beer could be on the dessert menu, but would go perfectly well with a hearty beef stew or shepherd's pie. It has a perfect amount of carbonation... actually a touch more than most stouts I've enjoyed. It still carries a smooth character, but that extra carbonation gives it a unique mouthfeel and makes it a special treat among stouts.

The Chickory Stout is a nice touch as I once again relax in front of the fireplace with my dog Lucy.
It may be raining and ugly outside, but in here it's toasty, cozy and delicious. Ahhhhhh...

So go out and try the Dogfish Head Chickory Stout, and if you've already had it, drink it again.


Overall Score: 4.0 out of 5.0

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Weekend Brews... a day early... week nine

Yeah it's Thursday, so what?

I missed last week's installment of Weekend Brews mainly because the band had a show on Friday which meant my drinking was done off-premises. By the time I got home I had a solid buzz going and it was 2:30AM or so, and I went to bed. Zzzzzzzzz...

Anyway, it's Thursday and I'm starting this weekend a day early with a brand new selection from Sierra Nevada that I've never seen, nor heard of before. It is the Sierra Nevada ESB.

Now the usual meaning of ESB is Extra Special Bitter, a traditional English ale, but Ken Grossman and the folks at Sierra Nevada gave it a little twist and called it their, "Early Spring Beer." Regardless, it is meant to be crafted in the English ESB tradition with a blast of West Coast US brewing style.

As mentioned on the brewery's website, this beer is brewed with a combination of English and US malts and hops, and left unfiltered. The beverage features some British Maris Otter malt as the specialty addition with some English Challenger hops giving birth to the bitterness. This is going to be a treat...

The ESB pours smoothly into the glass, which by the way is a Sierra Nevada pint glass with the logo etched on it, a gift from my good friend and band/beermate, Mikey Chops.
Now that sumbitch knows a thing or two about beer.

The beer produces a thick and foamy head that sticks around awhile. The aroma is astounding! It grabs your nose's attention with that classic citrus note to be expected from a Sierra Nevada brew, but also hits you with a musty, wood barrel sort of smell. Imagine yourself in an old New England pub with the original wood floorboards and the bartender just placing a pint of ale in front of you... that's what I'm feelin'.

Oooooo the bitterness. It grabs me and keeps my happy like my old Green Bay sweatshirt on a cold winter evening at the game. While the bitterness is certainly the first flavor you will encounter, the ESB brings with it a tender sweetness that balances this drink incredibly well.

I can even say that the mouthfeel is quite smooth and barely leaves behind any dryness, at least not the dryness you might experience from say your favorite IPA, or even Sierra's Pale Ale.

Overall I am very pleased with this brand new seasonal from Sierra Nevada. They consistently produce some of the greatest beers this country has to offer.

I'd say go pick yourself some of this new release ESB to start your weekend. I obviously have and it's not even Friday yet.

Overall Score: 4.5 out 5.0

Friday, January 4, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week Eight... Happy New Beelz!

One would imagine that having a three day work week would make the first work week of 2008 a bit easier to deal with. The truth is, this week was just as bad as any other.

And now it's Friday and time for beer. Praise you Friday.

I decided to start the new year off with a Belgian selection. A beer I've never had before, but one I am very happy I picked up at the store. It's a beauty, and it's the Tripel from Affligem Brewery, known simply as, "Affligem."

You know when you go to a brewery website and see a Belgian served in a glass goblet that it is worth your time to try. There are even instructions on the side of the bottle on how to pour the beer into a proper glass.

It is an extreme pleasure learning about the Belgian brewing tradition and just how much pride they take in their beer. I love to support the craft brewers of the US as much as possible, but there is something magical about a Belgian ale that every beer drinker needs to experience now and then.

So, on to the brew...

It pours smoothly into the wide-mouthed glass forming a near perfect head that could put up a good fight for the retention gold medal versus even the heaviest of whipped cream. The color is a beautiful gold littered with the elegant upward flow of tiny little bubbles letting me know there's going to be a nice level of carbonation to this beverage.

The aroma is familiar to many other well-crafted Belgian beers, ripe with banana and a touch of orange zest.

This beer slides down the throat with ease. A very smooth mouthfeel with the tiniest dry bite to finish the taste. I actually wouldn't mind a drier finish to this beer, but the smoothness is a treat I suppose.

I prefer a bit more carbonation as well, but again, I should not complain because not all beers are created equal or meant to taste alike.

The Affligem is a welcome starter to the weekend. I had a couple of Sierra Nevada Pale Ales earlier in the evening, so the Belgian was a tasty nightcap in front of the fireplace as we brave this chilly North Florida evening(just kidding, it's only 45 degrees... but the fire is still blazing).

Grab an Affligem Tripel when you get the chance and don't be shy to explore the world of Belgian Abbey ales. There are so many to choose from, I can't wait to try more throughout the new year.

Enjoy my friends.

Overall score: 3.75 out 5.0