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