Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 32 - On Hold

"Sorry folks, the park's closed. The moose out front should have told ya." I apologize for missing last week's brews report. It was the band's last show, and well... I had to play music while drinking beer. That required all appendages and I couldn't spare a hand to type up some thoughts on good beer.

I'm heading out to the San Francisco Bay area again this week, so my goal is to bring back some choice treats from the left coast. Check back in on Friday, and I'll tell you what I found. Cheers.

Until then, dig this:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 31.666 - Milwaukee's Other Beer

Okay, so I purchased a few more than two beers today, and I just popped open number three. I really love the weekend.

After tasting this beer, I thought it worthy of a blog spot at the very least. The beer is Lakefront Brewery's Bridge Burner Special Reserve Ale. It must be brand new because it isn't even mentioned on their website. Yes, that's right, the famous brewery in Milwaukee that houses the old Bernie Brewer slide from the original Brewer's stadium. If you've ever seen the fantastic movie, "American Beer", then you are familiar with the brewery.

The beer is a friendly dark amber color (pssssst... the glass behind the bottle next to the laptop is what I'm drinking... it's good...) with a nose filled with a bit of citrus and touch of fruity esters. My flavor description for the Bridge Burner... if this even makes sense... is light and smooth, but full enough to taste like a quality ale. Sure, that's a vague explanation at best, but it's an easy-drinking beer that fools you with its appearance.

Granted, I've started my evening with an imperial IPA and a hoppy lager, so perhaps I should have reversed the order. Either way, the Lakefront Bridge Burner is a quality brew that if available in six-packs, would be a regular in my weekend rotation of beers to enjoy while watching the game... any game.

Ward's grocery in town has it for only $3.99 for a 22oz. bottle. Great price for an 8.0% ABV American craft-brewed ale.

Give it go!


Overall score of the Lakefront Bridge Burner Special Reserve Ale: 3.5 out 5.0

Weekend Brews - Week 31 - Ring the Alarm!

Ring the alarm... another Friday's upon us! It always feels good to hear that imaginary work whistle blow, and today the above song struck me as the tune to start the weekend.

Today I took a trip down to the local beer store... or rather hippie market with good beer selection, and found a few tasty treats.

First up is an organic beer from Chico, California from Butte Creek Brewing Company... the Organic Revolution XI Imperial India Pale Ale.

I crack the seal and pour...

The Organic Imperial IPA lands smack dab in the glass brightening the room with its amber glow. The smell of citrus and malt sweetness fill the air. A healthy heap of hops was surely part of the ingredients list for this fine brew.

The flavor is impeccable. A classic double IPA with plenty of barley malt fullness matched with hoppy bitterness. At 8.6% ABV, this brew packs a punch, but does not overwhelm with the taste of alcohol. As a huge fan of the style, it's great to be able to see a brewery pull it off using organic ingredients. Excellent job.

Look out Sierra Nevada, there's another brewery in Chico coming correct with some tasty beers. Those college kids in that town are some lucky bastards!

Overall Score of the Butte Creek Organic Revolution XI Imperial IPA (damn that's a long name!): 4.5 out 5.0

I shall post again in just a bit with my other selection(s).


... and I'm back. Thanks for waiting.

Part two of Weekend Brews 31 features yet another selection from the Schmaltz Brewing Company... the Coney Island Lager. I've tried the other Coney Island selections and they were delicious. So, I thought I'd try the third one available here in Gainesville.

It's a nice, healthy, copper-colored lager with a light scent of citrus from the hops. It looks heavier then it smells.

This beer brewed using Czech Pilsner yeast comes across with that famous dry finish of a pils. It's an easy-drinking beer, that should not discourage those who are not used to drinking lagers with a darker hue.

This is not your grandpappy's lager.

FYI, proceeds from the Coney Island lagers benefit Coney Island USA, a non-profit organization decidated to preserving "lost forms of American popular arts and culture"(as read from the bottle). Check out the website for more info.

Overall score for the Coney Island Lager: 3.25 0ut of 5.0

Friday, July 11, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 30 - When There's Heat, There's Wheat!

Another balmy evening here in North Central Florida and there's only one way I can think of putting an end to this sweaty misery... beer! Not just any beer, but wheat beer! There's just something about the refreshing flavor and bubbly goodness of a quality weizen beer.

In honor of the New York Knicks hiring a new coach and point guard this Summer, we're going to try a new wheat brew. It's a happy Friday folks, because today there is Slam Dunkel! It's a double dunkelweizen from the talented brew crew at Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton, Pennsylvania. Woo Hoo!

This beauty is brewed with 50% wheat malt, along with pale, Munich and chocolate malts to round out the flavor and color.

From the bottle pours a captivating chestnut brown liquid that flows gently into the long slender glass. A thick foam that looks like the inside of the Three Musketeers bar floats to the top and greets me with a smile ("Helloooooo!").

The pleasant aroma of spices, a little nutmeg, coriander, and more hit the nostrils. There's even a hint of what smells like a breakfast bread of some kind... maybe a sweet roll. Ahhhh. And to the taste...

Wheat Jesus that's good! Mmmmmm. This beer is wonderfully smooth and full of malt flavor. You get just a hint of that chocolate malt, and the refreshing crisp finish from the wheat. There are flavors of caramel, a slight hint of citrus and the perfect amount of carbonation to round out this fantastically hearty brew. Good show chaps!

The dunkelweizen may not be your best choice for a warm day (it is a dark beer after all), but with that 50% wheat grain bill, there's enough refreshment for to at least have one or two.

So come on inside and get out of that horrible heat. Crank up the AC, and pour yourself a Slam Dunkel. I might just have to send a bottle or two up to MSG to get the Knicks ready for a run at the playoffs.

Enjoy my friends.


Overall Score of the Weyerbacher Slam Dunkel: 4.0 out 5.0

Friday, July 4, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 29 - Happy Independence Day!

In the spirit of independence, we're going to sample a variety of beers from independent breweries on the left coast. Normally, I'd do this post while enjoying said beverages, but since it's the 4th of July, I'll be out grillin' and chillin' and won't have time to post.

So, I shared my west coast finds with a few friends yesterday and here's the scoop...

I decided to go a little IPA crazy. I discovered a fantastic little joint in San Francisco called the City Beer Store. It was only a few blocks from my hotel when I was visiting last week, and a quick read of their website told me I had to stop by.

It was a pleasurable experience to say the least. It was the first beer store I've been to where you can actually enjoy a pint while shopping for beer. I sampled the Sonoma Farmhouse Hop Stoopid, a double IPA from Lagunitas. You can read some reviews of it on

Okay, so what did I bring back? Here's the run down:

1. Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema - This beer was a Summer treat for sure. We all agreed it was the lawnmower beer for beer snobs. ha ha. It poured a light copper color into the glass, and had the appearance of a pale ale. The aroma was filled with sweet vanilla and fresh baked cookies. It wasn't overwhelming, but certainly alluded to what was in store come tasting time.

I thought this beer could have used more carbonation, but overall it was satisfying. The Summer Solstice tasted like cream soda with a hint of beer. You wouldn't mind sucking down several of these sweet brews on a hot day... that I can promise you. It's not necessarily my favorite style of beer, but for a cream ale, it's definitely towards the top of the list.

Overall Score for Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema: 3.25 out 5.0

2. Alaskan IPA - Now we dive into the IPAs with a treat from the great state of Alaska. There's not much coming out of the Alaskan Brewing Company that isn't delicious. This IPA is no exception. You have to love the idea of glacier-fed water... that just sounds amazing!

The Alaskan IPA appeared a bit light for an IPA. Instead of the usual dark amber hues you get in most heavily malted and hopped American IPAs, the Alaskan had a light golden color. The smell from the glass was chock full of citrus courtesy of the abundance of hops. I love that smell!

The beer was smooth as silk, light, dry and fantastic. It wasn't as full as I would expect from an American IPA, and it was bit more on the bitter side than reaching that perfect malt/hop balance. Either way, I'd drink it again.

Overall score for the Alaskan IPA: 3.5 out 5.0

3. Speakeasy Double Daddy Imperial IPA - I've been wanting to try some more beer from Speakeasy out of San Francisco. It's always great to be able to sample beers that we cannot get in Gainesville, Fla. This 9.5% ABV beauty was my favorite of the bunch.

The Double Daddy was light copper and cloudy as it poured into the glass. An incredible blast of hop aroma filled the room when this brew was opened. A powerful waft of grapefruit lets you know there's some serious hop goodness inside.

The flavor was extraordinary with an almost perfect balance of hop bitterness and malt sweetness. This is one of the better Imperial IPAs I've tasted. A solid dry finish made this beer the tops on my list.

Overall score for the Speakeasy Double Daddy Imperial IPA - 4.5 out 5.0

4. Hair of the Dog Blue Dot Double IPA - Yes another double IPA! More malt! More hops! YES! Okay, so I get excited about IPAs... sue me.

The Blue Dot was cloudy and golden as it fell from the bottle. There's something comforting about that yeast cloud... it first tells you that the beer is bottle-conditioned, and gives you a feeling that this could basically be a homebrew. That says small craft brewery to me, and it feels good to support a small business.

This beer smelled funky. At first it had a dirty sock vibe going on with some fruity overtones. Very strange. This double IPA was strong and bitter. There was some malt sweetness missing from this one to make up for the bitter. It was a decent double, but not the best.

Overall Score for the Hair of the Dog Blue Dot Double IPA - 3.5 out 5.0

5. Marin Brewing Company IPA - This beer was a treat just for the fact that I've never seen it before... nor had any of my fellow beer drinking friends. The Marin Brewing Company is a small operation located north of the San Francisco Bay Area, and they have the honor of being Marin County's first brewpub ever. Kudos to Brendan Moylan for bringing great beer to Marin County.

This IPA was an inviting amber color that said, "drink me!" The aroma was a tiny bit peppery at first and then I was hit with the usual citrus blast. It's a familiar scent for any IPA fan.

Sliding down the gullet, the Marin IPA was smooth and hoppy with a tasty touch of sweetness. It was sweeter than expected, but still a pleasant treat.

Overall score for the Marin Brewing Company IPA - 3.5 out 5.0

6. Anderson Valley 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA - This beer was a close second to the Double Daddy IPA in terms of my favorite of the bunch. Anderson Valley consistently brews excellent award-winning beverages that would make any beer lover smile.

This amber beauty had a powerful aroma of lemons and fresh oranges. It was almost as if they knew this beer was going to be transported and enjoyed in Florida!

This special anniversary offering was outstanding! This refreshing brew was jam packed with citrus flavors of lemon and freshly squeezed orange juice balanced by malt sweetness. This beer was probably the most refreshing I've had in awhile. To say this beer was unique would be an understatement. The fresh orange juice vibe was incredibly surprising and certainly a nice change of pace. Click here for a little more info from

Overall score for the Anderson Valley 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA: 4.25 out 5.0

7. Green Flash Brewing Company's Imperial IPA - Holy Hops grandma! Green Flash Brewing Company of San Diego was not fooling around when they decided to make this double IPA coming in at 101 IBUs.

Another amber liquid to throw down the hatch. Here we go...

From the strong citrus aromas and scent of fresh cut grass, you could tell this was going to be bitter... and it was. Even though they claim 101 IBUs, this certainly wasn't as bitter as I had expected(perhaps it was because I had just tried five other IPAs? ha ha).

The Green Flash Imperial IPA was smooth and refreshing. Yes, it was hoppy and bitter, but there was fine undertone of light malt flavor that made this beer incredibly drinkable. I had seen this brew written about in the latest issue of Zymurgy magazine, so I was excited to give it a try. Nice work from the folks over in San Diego.

Overall score of the Green Flash Brewing Company's Imperial IPA - 3.75 out 5.0

All in all we were happy with the lot. The left coast certainly has some of the best beers in America(granted the east coast breweries can hold their own). I'm looking forward to my move out there to sample to my heart's content and tell you all about it!

Happy 4th of July! Cheers.

P.S. Thanks to Natalie for shooting the photos!