Friday, June 27, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 28 - Thunder!

Yep, it's Friday! And it's time to start feeling good again.

I've just returned from a three-day jaunt over to San Francisco, and I'm happy to be able to sleep in my own bed again. Beds in cheap hotels are the worst! Of course in San Francisco a cheap hotel is anything under $150. Sonsabitches.

Anyway, there's a good storm going here in Gainesville, so sit back, put on your favorite Black Sabbath or Ronnie James Dio tune (personally I'd go with The Wizard from Sabbath), and get ready to enjoy an delicious beer while listening to the thunder roll on in(sorry, I forgot to mention the all too familiar cliche of AC/DC, but you were thinking of it anyway, so I was gonna skip it).

So what should we drink tonight to celebrate the stormy weather? Why don't we try this little saison farmhouse ale I picked up? Today's Weekend Beers Report presents, Le Merle from the North Coast Brewing Company's American Artisan Series.

Le Merle Haggard, maybe.

This beer inspired by the traditions of the Flanders region (okelee dokelee) should be a fine treat on this dark and dreary Friday evening.

The Le Merle pours into the wide-mouthed glass and creates an outstanding orange glow with a light and fluffy head that it wears well, just like an old-timey guy wears his top hat and monocle(Bully!). Go on, stick ya nose in there!

The beer bursts with the aromas of pineapple, orange, passion fruit and a wee touch of banana. I'm always amazed at the way a yeast strain can produce those kinds of smells. I can assure you, there were no fruit additions made during the brewing process.

A nice bit of the brew goes down the hatch...

... and yes, we have a winner! One of my favorite things about a good farmhouse ale is the abundance of natural carbonation. This brew features tons of tiny little bubbles that tickle the throat as this refreshing and flavorful ale makes its way to my tummy. The flavor is slightly fruity... mostly citrus with just a tiny touch of bitterness and a nice dry finish.

Le Merle is an excellent treat for those wanting to sample an excellent American version of a saison. North Coast once again gets the job done.

Go out and get yourself a bottle. Only $7.99 at Ward's in Gainesville.


Overall score of Le Merle: 4.5 out 5.0.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 27 - Cooperstown Apocalypse

Sorry folks, it's a late entry for this week's Weekend Brews report, but have no fear, I have saved some time to tell you about another fantastic brew that has made its way to Florida. Hooray!

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the award-winning brewery up in Cooperstown, New York. Yes, that's right, the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I had the pleasure of visiting the hall when I was a wee lad growing up in New York. It's an inspiring place to be to say the least... especially for a little kid just getting into baseball. Seeing the plaques of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Babe Ruth... wow. The Hall is a heavenly place. I can't wait to visit there again as an adult and see my childhood heroes that have been inducted into the Hall. Someday, I will return to that hallowed ground.

Okay, enough of the nostalgia, this blog is about beer. This Weekend Brews report presents to you a beer from the now famous Ommegang Brewery. Ladies and gents, I give you "Ommegeddon."

Described as a, "funkhouse ale with brettanomyces," this beverage is sure to be an exciting adventure for the palette. It's a dry-hopped, blonde ale that has got to be good!

The Ommegeddon flows from the bottle to the glass and creates an incredible tangerine glow. A fluffy head sits atop the glass, and I'm ready to give this beer a try. I bring the glass in close to get a whiff... as prefaced by its orange glow, the beer gives off a beautiful scent of citrus. This beer smells fresh and enticing. And so we drink...

... mmmm, very nice. This beer is clean, crisp and dry. The Ommegeddon is an extremely refreshing ale, and that citrus smell from the hops is adding to the sensory pleasure. For an 8.0% ABV beer, it seems much lighter than I had expected. Well done.

While not a fan of all the Ommegang offerings, this Cooperstown, New York brewery definitely knows their stuff. However, I will admit, the name and labeling leave much to be desired. When I saw the name, "Ommegeddon" I was thinking I'd be tasting something a bit more intense... a beer that blew me away like the mushroom cloud on the front of the bottle. This beer is very good, but I'm a bit disappointed in thinking I'd be experiencing something outstanding and mind-blowing.

Look, don't let my last paragraph discourage you from trying Ommegeddon. This beer is a quality beverage that I believe every beer drinker would enjoy. It's great for a Summer day, and since it's crazy hot in "the Fla.," I'd say go get yourself a bottle.

Happy Friday my friends. Enjoy.

Overall score of the Ommegeddon: 3.75 out 5.0

Friday, June 13, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 26 - Coney Island Special

Happy Friday ya freaks! We've made it through another week of nonsense, and now it's time to kick back and enjoy a few cold ones. Today I do this in honor of R. Kelly being acquitted on 14 charges. Now who's trapped in the closet suckas? (I have no idea what that means.)

Get on with it already...

Okay, I shall. This week I head back to the store to find yet another treat from the Shmaltz Brewing Company. I know I've been writing about them quite a bit lately, but hell, they make great beer, what do you want from me?

This brew must be brand new because it's not even listed on their website. Zak Davis from Shmaltz did write in to tell me of some new beers being released, and this must be one of them. Sweeeeeeeet. I'll try it!

The beer is known as the "Coney Island Sword Swallower Steel Hop Lager." It's been awhile since I've had a fine craft-brewed lager. It's a nice change of pace from the heavy IPAs and stouts that have been regulars in my fridge lately.

From the big 22-ounce bottle I pour... the magnificent liquid falls ferociously into the pint glass and forms a light head. It's a golden beauty filled with friendly little bubbles racing to the surface.

The aroma could easily be mistaken for a pale ale due to the abundance of citrus notes from the hops, and the sugary sweet, fresh-baked goods smell of the malt. There's no doubt in my mind that we've got something good here.

Ooooooo... that's a nice flavor. A good touch of bitterness from those abundant hops, but rivaled with a fair sweetness from the four different malts in this brew. This beer stays on the palate for quite some time, but doesn't have the dry mouth effect that we've all had from drinking heavily hopped ales.

The beer's label says it's for "lager freaks and beer geeks." ha ha. I'm not sure I'm a lager freak, but in most surveys I'd probably come out labeled as the latter. That's cool with me.

Well friends, this is another fine offering from the Shmaltz Brewing Company. This one brewed in Saratoga Springs, NY and with the Coney Island theme makes this New York kid smile. The artwork on the label is absolutely worth the price of admission alone. It's great to see small breweries using great graphic design on their products. Gotta love it.

These brews just hit Gainesville, Fla. I found mine at Ward's. I've got the other Coney Island brew to review as well. I'll have to get to that one later on. For now, if you're over that way, stop in the grocer and grab yourself one of these tasty jewels.

Overall Score for the Coney Island Sword Swallower Steel Hop Lager: 4.0 out 5.0

Friday, June 6, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 25 - A Belgian Friday

Greetings friends and fellow beer lovers! Another weekend is upon us, the wicked sun is beating us with a miserable 96 degrees here in Gainesville, Florida, and so it is time to cool off with a delicious adult beverage.

This week we're headed across the pond to a little nation you may be familiar with... in fact, I'm pretty sure they're known for their brewing. ha ha ha. It's time for beer from Belgium! Hooray!

It's been awhile since we've explored the beers of Belgium, and I thought this hot and sticky Friday would be a perfect time to reintroduce ourselves to these finely crafted brews.

The Weekend Brews report is proud to present, La Chouffe from the Brasserie d' Achouffe. Brewed by two brothers-in-law, Pierre Gobron and Chris Bauweraerts, this artisanal golden ale is made from spring water (from a spring right near the brewery!), malted barley, Styrie and Saaz hops and coriander for a little spice.

La Chouffe has won numerous awards since the brothers-in-law began brewing back in 1982. And you can just tell from their creepy little gnome mascot that this beer is going to be good.

Lets get to it!

The La Chouffe looks brilliant as it fills the glass with a "Florida sunshine" orange glow. A light and foamy head sits neatly atop the orange liquid. Tipping the glass toward my nose I smell the aroma of coriander, Saaz hops, a very light note of citrus and the faint smell of banana.

Another tilt of the glass and down the hatch she goes... mmmmm. Very nice. This beer is light, refreshing and flavorful. The perfectly smooth beverage is highlighted by the effervescent carbonation that does just fine on this brutally hot June evening. There's a slight taste of citrus, although my tongue may be getting fooled by the fact that it looks like there's a big orange in my glass. ha ha. Either way, this beer is damn good!

If you're suffering through the heat, I recommended kicking back with a bottle of La Chouffe. It's 8.0 ABV though, so you'll only need one. This beer would go great with some grilled chicken and a Caesar salad. You don't want to mix this one with any heavy foods as far as I'm concerned.

So give it a shot. Let this bottle take you away from the humidity and over to the dry and comfortable climate of Belgium. I even gave you a photo of the brewery in the wintertime(courtesy of their website) to make you feel a better.

Enjoy my friends, and happy Friday!


Overall score of the La Chouffe: 4.25 out 5.0

P.S. I just checked the temperature and it has dropped to 92 degrees. Woo Hoo!

And here's a little magic from a dixieland band at the brewery's Grande Choufferie celebration!