Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 40 - Cold Alaskan Nights

In honor of possibly the worst VP candidate in my lifetime (Dan Quayle is in a tight race for that title), I'd like to tell of a fantastic beer from the 49th state. Ladies and gents it's time to crack open the Winter seasonal from the Alaskan Brewing Company. It's the Alaskan Winter Ale!

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll see any snow in the Bay Area, but fortunately just a few hours away are mountains soon to be filled with the glorious white powder of the west. I can't wait to rent a cabin and do some snowboarding in a few months. Woo Hoo!

The Alaskan Winter Ale is brewed in the style of an old English ale with plenty of malt, and without "over-the-top" hop bitterness. Brewed with fresh water from Alaska ... in fact here's a quote from the brewery's website, "Our water originates in the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field and from the more than 90 inches of rainfall we receive each year."

Now that sounds like a brewery that's interested in making fresh beer.

Not only is this beer brewed with water from an "ice field," it's brewed with the tips of spruce trees! Seriously!

The beer is a solid copper color and has plenty of malt coming through in the aroma. There's also some overtones of an upstate New York pine forest in the dead of winter, and it actually smells a bit like cotton candy! Weird.

The flavor is lighter than expected, and has hints of some sort of breakfast bread ... that sort of sweet and flavorful bread you might find at a decent hotel continental breakfast. There's even a hint of fruit in there.

The Alaskan Brewing Company has its ups and downs with their offerings as far as I'm concerned, but this beer is pretty good. It's far from the best seasonal I've had, but a decent choice if you're looking for a good beer to enjoy in the colder climates.

Check it out in your area if you can, and let me know what you think. Lucy and I await your comments ... okay, well maybe not Lucy.


Overall Score of the Alaskan Winter Ale: 3.25 out 5.0

Weekend Brews - Week 40 - Wet Hops and Fried Ganip Ganops

Happy Friday folks! It's time to celebrate week 40 of the Weekend Brews Report! I know, I know there should be a 40oz to talk about, but ya know, when you go to the beer store and see all the great craft brews staring you in the face, it's very difficult to pick up a bottle of OE.

Sierra Nevada just delivered the fifth release of their Chico Estate Harvest Wet Hop Ale. Hooray! There's something special about a beer brewed with fresh hops right off the vine. It lends itself to a crispness that you don't always get with dried hops.

Capped and bottled in a fat 24oz. brown bottle, the Harvest is calling out to us all ... drink me, drink me!

Okay, okay.

The beer pours a perfect amber color into my Mets glass. That's right, I'm celebrating another end-of-the-season demise of my hometown team. Bums. Anyway, the beer. The aroma is sweet with notes of brown sugar mixed with the smell of fresh cut grass and citrus groves.

The brew goes down easy. There's a healthy dose of bitterness from those wet hops, and little smoother finish then the Sierra Nevada pale ale. This is a great after work beer! ha ha. What beer isn't?!

I'm going to kick back and watch the presidential debate saved on the DVR and drink until I start laughing. This may take awhile. I'd rather watch this:

Stay tuned, as later on tonight I'll be writing about another new seasonal from the land of Scott Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky. I can't wait for that one.

For now, if the Wet Hop Ale is in your store, go grab it! It won't be around for long.


Overall Score of the Sierra Nevada Chico Estate Harvest Wet Hop Ale: 4.25 out 5.0

P.S. Anyone who knows the "fried ganip ganops" reference in the title needs to post a comment. I'll even buy you a beer if your in my neighborhood. ha ha.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weekend Brews Report - Week 39 - Berkeley and Beyond

Greetings from the left coast and welcome to another installment of the Weekend Brews Report. It's "Week 39" and tonight I'd like to tell you about a local selection from Berkeley, California.

Nestled in the bustling college town lies a talented bunch of brewers that go by the name of the Bison Brewing Company. Using organic ingredients, they produce some mighty fine beers that are fantastic weekend starters.

Straight from the store after a hard day's work, I grabbed a tall 22 oz. bottle of their Belgian Ale.

I pop the top, and pour into the only goblet-like vessel I own ... a wine glass. Sorry, sorry. The beer sports a color combination of gold and orange and a thin foamy head sits proudly at the rim of the glass.

There's a spicy scent from the coriander used in this beer, as well as notes of figs and plums. Weird.

To the taste I say!

The Belgian Ale goes down smooth like a chapter of R. Kelly's, Trapped In the Closet.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

If you enjoy the spiciness of good Belgian beer, this is a nice American version of the style. It's incredibly easy to drink, and an excellent Friday brew. Go to your local beer store and check it out. If they don't have it, ask them to stock it. Bison Brewing Company deserves a little love for their efforts.

Overall Score for the Bison Brewing Company's Belgian Ale: 3.25 out 5.0

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekend Brews Report - Week 38 - Tom Discovers BevMo!

Another weekend upon us, and even though I don't start my new job until Wednesday, moving to another coast in a week was work enough for me. I'm officially a resident of California ... my car is registered and my slightly sunburned face is buried deep in the DMV database. Hooray!

Today I discovered something that brought tears to my eyes. Friends, especially those back on the east coast, this evening I had my first trip to a BevMo! What's a BevMo you may ask, well picture a store the size of say a small to medium-sized supermarket, but instead of groceries, it's filled with alcoholic beverages, sodas, mixers, glassware ... pretty much anything and everything you would need to start your weekend in amazing fashion.

Living in Gainesville, Florida for the last six years, I've never seen such a place. Simply put, it's beautiful. They had an extensive selection of craft brewed beers from the US, and many from overseas. To celebrate my arrival, I decided to purchase a highly-recommended beer from the Bear Republic Brewery. The beer is the Red Rocket Ale.

This interesting brew, made from five different grains is a dark red ale that slides into the glass and creates a rootbeer-like thick head. That enticing foam sticks around for awhile, but don't worry, I won't let it stay still for much longer. The aroma is filled with notes of brown sugar and caramel. From the smell I'm expecting sweetness, but I know there's hops hiding deep down in the amber ambrosia.

Mmmmmm ... man, that is a tasty beverage. It has the smoothness, richness and bite of an excellent Scotch ale. I found it funny that the brewery's website said this beer was the choice of mountain bikers and adventurous types. Shit, if I were to drink a few of these and go mountain biking, I think I'd probably wind up tumbling down the side of the damn mountain. ha ha ha.

I'd recommend drinking after a ride personally. Wait a minute ... what the hell am I talking about? I don't even own a bicycle! Sorry, lost my train of thought ... let's get back to the beer.

This is a fantastic strong ale. I doubt I'd ever have more than one, but at 6.8% ABV in a 22oz. bottle, that's about all I need from this beer. It's a solid serving size.

I'm not sure if you can get this out on the east coast, but if you can, give it a try. I'm a big fan of McEwan's Scotch Ale, and I think this beer, while not brewed as a traditional Scotch ale, is a great American counterpart. Go and get it.

Overall Score for the Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale: 4.25 out of 5.0

Friday, September 5, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 37 - Sunshine and Wheat

It's Friday again folks, and I'm on the road. We've stopped in a town called Kingman, Arizona. It's basically in the middle of nowhere ... just east of the California border and Mojave National Preserve. That's right friends, the desert. If there's one place a pale Irish-American guy should not be, it's the desert. And for all the folks that say it's not the heat, it's the humidity, you're full of shit. It's fucking crazy hot out here!

So I'm in Kingman. Of course, the first thing that came to mind when I saw the exit sign was my first baseball game ever. I believe it was 1982 at Shea Stadium where I witnessed my first home run hit by none other than Dave Kingman. A classic power-hitter ... lots of home runs and RBIs, but one of the worst averages in baseball. For the moment, that man was my hero.

Sorry, I digress, let's get back to the beer.

I am happy to tell you that I have finally tracked down some New Belgium beers! Hooray! This morning I stopped at a Shell station in Flagstaff and they had an amazing selection of brews. Yes, at the gas station! They had stuff from New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Boulder Beer, and much, much more. I couldn't believe it.

I grabbed a sixer of New Belgium's Sunshine. I figured if I'm going to get burnt by the sun all day while driving, I might as well suck down a few suds in honor of the big bright star once I get off the road.

I don't have a glass so I can't give you a proper description. You'll have to deal with the review straight from the bottle.

I can tell you it is a wheat beer brewed with spices.

I pop the top and the aromas of citrus and coriander hit my nostrils. I take a swig and the beer goes down smooth. They mention some notes of apple and honey on the brewery website, and they are certainly correct. This beer is light and refreshing with plenty of friendly flavors to swirl around your mouth.

It's a fine choice for this evil dry desert heat, and I'm looking forward to trying more from New Belgium once I arrive in California.

Only one more day to CA, and two more days until we arrive up in Walnut Creek ... our new home.

Next week I hope to have more wonderful news about the delicious brews of the left coast.

Tune in then. For now, cheers!

Overall Score of the New Belgium Sunshine Wheat Beer: 3.75 out 5.0