Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 49 - No More Turkey, But Plenty of Beer

Happy weekend to ya folks. I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and now that everyone is sick of turkey, let's do the right thing and turn our thoughts to beer. Hooray for beer!

I'd like to tell you about an appetizing beer I picked up the other day. It comes from Paso Robles, California, and it's packed with flavor.

The beer is the Double Barrel Ale from the Firestone Walker Brewing Company. After being named the mid-sized brewery of the year at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival, I have a feeling they brew some pretty damn good beer over there. Let's check it out ...

The beer pours a perfectly clear amber into my pint glass, and forms a creamy, dreamy head fit for a milkshake. There's some light lacing on the walls of the glass as the head dies down, but there's still a little foam on top waiting to be enjoyed. The slight smell of a pine needles from the hops and caramel from the malt fill my nostrils.

So, who wants to try it? I DO!

Interesting flavors indeed. The beer goes down smoothly with a slightly dry finish. I detect some vanilla and caramel hiding in there, with just enough bitterness from the hops to round it out. According to the brewery's website, this beer is brewed in the style of an English pale ale, and finished in oak barrels, and that's what adds that vanilla I'm tasting. The Double Barrel Ale, or DBA, is a welcome change from the usually über-hopped west coast pale ales. I'm looking forward to trying more from the talented folks at Firestone Walker.

Give it a go if you can find it, and let me know what you think.


Overall score of the Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale: 3.75 out 5.0

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 48 - 'Tis the Season to be Drinkin'

Happy Friday friends! It's time to jump right into some tasty seasonal beers. It's winter time, so that means the breweries come correct with beers filled with all kinds of spices and specialty malts. Isn't that nice of them?

I sliced the tip of my thumb off yesterday, so typing is kind of annoying and the camera thing just isn't happening today. Sorry folks. Hopefully my whimsical prose will entertain you just enough. Oh wait, it wouldn't be the holiday winter season without some of this nonsense right? Who wants to be a misfit elfin dentist?

First up is the White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager from the Moylan's Brewing Company in Novato, California. It's nice to have a winter lager for a change. Seems I'm always downing winter ales, so perhaps this will be a good alternative.

The beer is spiced with orange zest, mace, cinnamon, coriander and white pepper. Whoa! Looks like someone decided to clean out the back of the spice cabinet. Mace? Seriously? Who the hell uses that stuff? ha ha ha. And now is the time we talk about the beer ...

The color is a light copper and a bit cloudy. A light and fizzy head pops up fast and settles even faster. There's some good head retention as well. I bend the neck and my nose dives into the cavernous mug ... mmmmm. I smell that orange zest in a big way, followed by the white pepper. Ooooo spicy! I'm not getting much else in terms of aromas though.

Now the moment of truth; the tasting. Huh, not bad for spiced beer. Sometimes those spices can be over the top, but these add a nice flavor to the brew. The mouthfeel is light, smooth and kinda buttery. Weird. The beer finishes crisp. I can dig it.

I have to say this is a pretty good offering from Moylan's. It's not bursting with flavor, but I'm glad it wasn't overpowering as tends to happen with some winter seasonals. I'd buy another one if I had to. Check it out and give me your thoughts.

Overall score of the Moylan's White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager: 3.0 out 5.0

Next up is a beer my friend Adrian emailed me about, the New Belgium 2 Below Ale.

Oh man, I've been waiting to try this all day! Let's go!

I pour it straight into the pint glass and a thick and foamy head says, "hello!" and sticks around as if to say, "that's right fool, I'm a kick-ass beer you're going to love!"

This beer is brewed with roasted malts and Sterling and Liberty hops.

The beer is gorgeous and clear. A perfect medium-bodied amber stares me in the mouth. Oh praise Jeebus! I just smelled it, and it is full of pungent citrus and pine from the hops. Thank you New Belgium!

I've gotta taste it! I'VE GOTTA TASTE IT!!!

Oh for the love of sod! This beer is outstanding. Somehow they've managed to make it full of flavor with those delicious roasted malts, but balanced perfectly with those slightly bitter hops. This beer is one smooth and satisfying mofo. You know you can really tell when a brewmaster and crew nail it, and this is one of those times. This is probably the best winter seasonal I've ever had.

Throw in New Belgium's outstanding ability to care for the environment, the community around them and the designers they use to market their products, and you've got one of the best breweries in America. Thank you.

Go and get this one if you can. It'll only be around for a short while.

Oh, and check this link out ... FRAMBOZEN. Holy shit. I've got to find this beer immediately. I need to drink this while on the way to getting fat and passing out on Thanksgiving. Oh yes. It shall be done.

Overall score for the New Belgium 2 Below Ale: 5.o out 5.o
(Please find me a better winter seasonal, I dare you.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guess what tastes really good?

Really hoppy beers with tons of flavor, like this ...

That's right, it's the 12th release of the Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale.

It pours a dark and delightful amber and creates a fluffy foam head that leaves a doily-like lacing on the inside of the glass.

Go on smell it! Aromas of fresh cut grass, pine and citrus groves permeate the room. Oh my god, this smells amazing.

Let us drink. The beer bursts with bitterness, but there's enough malt sweetness to make this an enjoyable beer. It's certainly heavier on bitter than sweet, but finishes light and refreshing ... none of that dryness on the palate you get with other super hoppy beers.

Now that's a nice beverage. If you enjoy the hops and that classic Sierra Nevada flavor, this beer is a must.

Get it while it's fresh! GO!

Overall score of the Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale: 4.25 out of 5.0

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weekend Brews - Week 47 - Bitter Bliss

Wellllll, slap my momma, it's Friday night!

Yes, that's right, another Weekend Brews Report comin' atcha, and this evening I've got a big bitter smile on my face. What? Bitter smile? What the hell could that possibly mean? It means that I found a bottle of the Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout hiding out at the local Bevmo!

Let's get to it!

Oh glorious darkness. The stout is a sea of opaqueness. Nestled on top of the liquid sits a milk-chocolaty, fluffy head reminiscent of a rootbeer float. Go on and stick your nose in there ... lordamercy. The aromas of rich chocolate and fresh roasted coffee bring the love. That's what I'm talkin' aboot.

What's that you say? Drink it?

YES! YES! YES! I command you all to go out and buy this beer and drink it!

It's exploding with smooth, lush chocolate flavor and finishes with a perfect bitterness the same way a well-brewed espresso hits the palate. Awesome.

I haven't had the chance to drink other anniversary beers from Stone, and that's a shame. However, I am lucky enough to have discovered this one. I'm a fan of just about everything else I've had from their brewery, so it comes as no surprise that I can strongly recommend this beer.

That's it for now brothers and sisters. I'll try and get to some others in the fridge later on.


Overall Score of the Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout: 4.5 out 5.0

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Belgians I Know

I mentioned earlier about some Belgian beers I had purchased to write about this weekend. Guess what?! Now is the time to discuss.

First up is a top-fermented ale from the Brouwerij De Koninck in Antwerp. This is their namesake beverage that comes in at a light 5.2% ABV, and I'm looking forward to enjoying a little less in the alcohol department.

A medium-bodied amber liquid falls into the glass and produces a thin head that almost instantly falls back into the beer leaving nothing more than a few circles of foam on the side of the vessel.

The beer smells rich with malt flavor ... I'm getting the aroma of a sourdough bread sprinkled with brown sugar and dipped in beef broth (but that's just me). This brew is surprising as it slides down the gullet with the ease of an American macro-brewed lager, but follows with the full flavor of a finely crafted Belgian ale. the De Koninck has a sour finish. I don't think that's necessarily a negative; just a uniqueness. The flavor is appealing, but I would not put this in my list of top Belgian ales.

Don't be discouraged ... this beer is worth trying. If you've read this blog before, you know by now that I'm not a fan of wasting time writing about beers I don't enjoy. I like it, and there's a good chance you will too.

Give it a chance, and as always, please let me know what you think.

Overall score of the De Koninck: 3.0 out of 5.0

Op uw gezondheid!

And finally ... tonight's final selection comes from Brasserie Dubuisson, it is called Scaldis, a.k.a. Bush Ambrée. According to the Wikipedia entry on the brewery, the name translates as, "Bush" (how appropriate!) and is labeled as Scaldis by importers (I wonder if that's because Busch beer is awful, or because the presidential family sucks... hmmmm? Either way, good move).

This brew comes in at a hearty 12% ABV, and will definitely be my last beer of the night. ha ha ha. Based on its appearance, the Scaldis seems a standard ale with a familiar amber hue and quickly disappearing head. With my nose in the glass I can smell a strong scent of alcohol and the fresh smell of hops. I have a feeling this is going to knock me out for the evening.

He drinks ... he scores! Wow. Strangely enough, you can most certainly smell the alcohol, but you cannot taste it. This beer is super smooth with a strong malt character, a dry finish and well ... okay, I admit it ... in the end you can taste the alcohol. Once again, you will have to give me your thoughts on this beer. I've had a few different samples this evening which undoubtedly have had an effect on my judgment. However, I do think this beer proves itself worthy of a taste even if you fear the beers of higher ABV.

Overall Score for the Dubuisson Scaldis: 3.25 out 5.0

Alright, that's it for me. I'm out. It's crazy late for my east coast friends, and I'm preparing for NFL Sunday morning fun tomorrow.

Take it easy everybody. I hope you all have a great weekend of brilliant beers.


Weekend Brews - Week 46 - Holidaze, Freaks and Belgians, Oh My!

Hooray for beer! Weekend Brews Week 46 in full effect yo!

I've got a few tasty beers to tell you about my good readers. Let's get right into it with a west coast holiday beer from the Marin Brewing Company. Ladies and gents let's try a 22oz. bottle of Hoppy Holidaze!

I pour it into my giant mug and it quickly creates a big foamy head that sticks around for awhile. The color is a light copper, and a tiny bit cloudy ... although that could be my glass.

This beer is brewed with pale, wheat, caramalt and Munich malts, and Sterling and Styrian Goldings hops. Wait! There's more! It's a holiday brew, so they threw in some cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel and vanilla extract. Interesting choices indeed.

There is definitely a strong aroma from the hops ... clean, piney, and that vanilla comes through as well. I'm not detecting anything from the other spices.

The first sip, and there are those holiday flavors. This beer is abundant with vanilla and nutmeg, and finishes with a crisp start and smooth finale. There is definitely some sweetness, but I look for that in a holiday beer with those ingredients. Good stuff. This is clearly not a beer you'd have several of, but certainly a nice winter warmer for the season. Personally I'd like more bitterness from the hops, but whatcha gonna do?

Overall Score for the Marin Brewing Company Hoppy Holidaze: 3.0 out 5.0

Next up is another tasty beverage from the Golden State (Warriors come out and playeeeeyay). Let's get freaky y'all!

It's Le Freak from the Green Flash Brewing Company in San Diego County.

Mmmmm that sounds good. The label describes Le Freak as an, "extreme ale converging San Diego-style imperial pale ale and Belgian-style trippel." Say whaaaaaaat?

San Diego-style? Is this beer brewed by that damn chicken?

Damn you chicken! Sorry, let's talk about the beer ... it looks good. It pours a healthy-looking orange into the glass with a light and lacey foam it wears as a hat purchased from the finest haberdashery.

Scents of orange, lemon, lime and some fresh cut grass crawl up the nostrils (gross!), this has got to be a beer for hopheads such as myself. The first gulp (that's right we're gulping now, sips are for losers!), and a smile creeps slowly across my face.

Oh sweet bitterness. Wait, does that even make sense? It does to me, and you just read it, so there! A fine mixture of bitter with a spectacular dry finish, but don't worry, there's a kiss of sweetness from the malt to make a perfect balance. Pardon me. I just burped and it smelled like a pine forest. Awesome. Thank you Le Freak.

I have two more beer to write about, but honestly, if they can beat this one, I'll be surprised. Aww crap. I guess that's not the best teaser for another post later tonight, huh? Oh well, fuck it. This beer is damn good. It's great! Go get 'em!

Overall score of the Green Flash Brewing Company's Le Freak: 4.75 out of 5.0

Psssssssst! Check back a little later and I'll tell ya about those Belgians I mentioned in the headline.

P.S. Photos this week were from my friend and boss, Jef Loyola. We're working on some ideas for re-designing this blog and making it a whole hell of a lot better. I can't wait.

For now ... Prost!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Weekend Brews Update

Tonight's Weekend Brews Report is on hold until tomorrow. Sorry, y'all it's my anniversary with the lady and well, you know how that goes.

I do have three or four new beers to write about, so be sure to check out the blog tomorrow.

So, I'll talk at ya the day after this one.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More exciting beer news from the world of science

Check out this article by Anna Davison on the MIT Technology Review website

Students are actually trying to brew a beer to replicate resveratrol, the anti-aging component found in red wine. Lucky kids.

This story makes my four years in college seem like a total waste of time. 


Beer Advertising Gets the Thumbs Up From Google

I thought I'd put up a short post about good news for beer distributors, breweries and the like ... Google is now going to allow beer ads! Okay, so perhaps you didn't know that Google would not allow beer marketers to advertise using their AdWords program, but that has been the case.

They have wised up and realized the additional revenue potential. Hooray! Hopefully that will lead to more craft beer awareness and sales for those smaller breweries that don't have the budget to get the word about about their products using traditional media.

I read the article on Search Engine Land. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Yeah, I know this is a beer blog, but I couldn't help myself from posting on election night about this historic occasion. I don't care who you voted for, this shit is amazing! As a student of American history I have chills running down my spine.

Tonight I toast to the nation, and I hope all of you are out there celebrating with your favorite beers.

Here's to a hopeful next four years.