Saturday, January 31, 2009

San Francisco Beer Week - Who's Ready?

For someone like me who just moved to the Bay Area last Fall, the idea of an entire week of Bay Area beer events is amazing! All the way back in Florida, the only week long beer events we had were when my friends and I would drink every night for a week. ha ha.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the event listings, please visit for all of the glorious details.

Unfortunately for me, most of the beer dinners are out of my price range, but I will be attending the Bistro Double IPA Festival on Saturday, February 7th, and then I'll hop around to whatever other events I can get to. There's so much fantastic stuff going on, it will be difficult to choose.

If you live in the Bay Area, or are visiting like my friend Adrian will be, do yourself a favor and click over to and find an event or two for yourself.

Cheers to beers and a community that supports them.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekend Brews - Week 57 - Stone Cali-Belgie IPA ... Say What?

Happy Friday! It's time for another Weekend Brews Report, and because I'm packing for my move to Oakland tomorrow, I'll make this quick. I've got a great weekend beer to tell you about and it is called the Cali-Belgie IPA from Stone Brewing Company.

What the hell is it?

Well, the Cali-Belgie IPA is essentially the Stone IPA brewed with a special Belgian yeast strain. Now that sounds like an interesting beer to me. Before I go further, let me apologize for the lack of photos. The camera got packed in a box by mistake, so I'll have to upload some images after the move. Sorry! The logo above is from Okay, let's get to it.

It pours a light copper color into the glass and creates a light and fizzy head that disappears quickly. Aromas of clove, nutmeg and coriander are plentiful in the nose. The yeast has certainly added the classic spicy notes often found in Belgian beers. What could it possibly taste like? Well, why don't we drink this sumbitch?

Ahhhhhhh. The Cali-Belgie IPA is a crisp and refreshing beverage with some smooth malt character followed up by a nice bite of bitterness from the hops. Upon the second sip as the beer warms up, there's more sweetness followed by the taste of black pepper. Very nice. This beer is most definitely more complex than their standard IPA. I dig this beer in a big way.

It looks like this beer is going to be a limited release, year-round addition to the Stone Brewing line up, but you should go out and grab some now just in case they change their minds.

Happy drinking y'all. Enjoy the big game on Sunday.

Go Cards!


Overall Score of the Stone Brewing Company Cali-Belgie IPA: 4.0 out 5.0

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Damn the Torpedos ... Extra IPA

Every now and then a beautiful thing happens in the world of beer. That beautiful thing today is the release of a new, year-round selection from Sierra Nevada called Torpedo Extra IPA. Praise the gods! (After living in Gainesville, Florida for six years, I had to throw in a little Tom Petty reference in the title.)

Okay, so first off, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company uses what they call the "Hop Torpedo." Wow. That sounds incredible. What the hell is it? Well, to quote the press release as read on
Beer Advocate:

The Hop Torpedo is a cylindrical stainless steel vessel that was developed to harness the essential oils and resins in hops, without extracting bitterness. The device essentially works like an espresso machine. A stainless filter basket is packed full of whole cone hops loaded into the vessel and sealed against pressure. The device is then placed in the fermentation cellars where beer from the cylindroconical fermenters is pushed down from the tanks, through the pressurized column of hops and back into the fermenting tank. The flow of beer out of the tanks, into the Torpedo and back into the fermenter can be controlled to extract different levels of flavor, aroma and bitterness. Essentially, it is a new way of dry-hopping that extracts all of the oily resin without the residual bitterness of the traditional method.

Holy crap! Who doesn't want one of those?

Okay, let's get a look at, and taste of this Torpedo Extra IPA shall we?

The amber glow of the liquid makes the Sierra Nevada pint glass light up like the face of an airline CEO after collecting checked baggage fees over a holiday travel weekend. A light and foamy head sits comfortably on top and slowly creates moon-like craters as it dips down into the beer. Alluring aromas of citrus, pine and sugary sweetness bound from the glass. Oh man, this looks and smells amazing! How's it taste?

Good god y'all! Help me! Somebody slap me in the face! I've just been torpedoed!

Flavors of citrus, sweet malty goodness and smooth as a mofo. Now that's what I call an American IPA!

I'll be honest, Dogfish 90 minute IPA still has a leg up on this beer if ya ask me, but Sierra Nevada has certainly made the right choice in adding this brew to its regular line up. Hooray for another quality IPA!

If the store near you hasn't stocked this yet, demand they do! If you dig the IPAs, you will not be disappointed.


Overall Score of the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA: 4.5 out 5.0

Oh yeah, and here's your Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hopsickle Time!

First off, let me say that naming a beer, Hopsickle Imperial Ale is guaranteed to make me want one. The idea of a Popsicle made with a hoppy beer is one I fully support. Alas, this is no frozen desert, but it is a beer, and beer is good. Hooray for beer!

The Hopsickle Imperial Ale is brought to you by Moylan's Brewing Company in Novato, California. Let's open this sucker and see what's up ...

The beer is a beautiful translucent amber color with a light and creamy head that likes to stick around. As the head begins to sink, it leaves a thick coating on the inside of the glass. Aromas of tangerine, lemon and grapefruit coming screaming out the brew and jump right up my nose. Whoa! This thing smells like the citrus fruit section of a Florida farmer's market. The bottle claims this beer is, "triple hoppy," so I'm guessing we're going to encounter some extreme bitterness once we taste.

Okay, let's see what happens ...

Ahhhhhhhhh! Holy bitterness! The beer is more bitter than Brit Hume after hearing about the Obama victory. Jebus man! There's a serious punch of pine flavor and a strong amount of alcohol. This beer comes in at 9.2% ABV, and you can taste it. Unfortunately, there isn't enough malt sweetness to balance out this hop bomb. In fact, there's more mouth puckering going on here than anything else. The Hopsickle actually starts off smooth, but within a few seconds it goes straight to a tart bite in the mouth.

Well, just when I thought there wasn't much chance of me ever finding a hoppy beer I didn't like, here it is. I normally don't write about beers I don't care for, but I feel it's important to warn you about this one. Why this one, you ask? Because it was $9.50 for the 22oz. bottle! WTF?!!

Strangely enough, this beer has a "A-" rating on Beer Advocate. I just don't get it. Perhaps I've encountered a bad bottle, but at almost 10 bucks a pop, there shouldn't be any chance of getting a bad bottle. Damn!

Okay, if anyone has tried this and can tell me they found some malt character hiding in this beer, let me know. All I get is a bitter, astringent and disappointing beverage. I love hoppy beers that make you pucker, but this one lacks serious flavor.


Overall Score for the Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial Ale: 2.0 out 5.0

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weekend Brews - Week 56 - He'Brew Jewbelation 12

Happy Friday everyone! It's another Weekend Brews Report, and this week we turn to our friends at the Schmaltz Brewing Company, and tip our hats in their direction. They are celebrating their 12th anniversary, and have released Jewbelation 12. That's 12 different malts and 12 different hops ready to say, "How YOU doin'?" all up in yo face! Speaking of 12, it's about time I got a song stuck in your heads:

Schmaltz Brewing Company always has something fantastic hidden in those big brown bottles, so let's get to it.

A pop of the cap and a tip of the bottle ... the dark opaque beer coats the inside of the glass and forms a fluffy light brown head that I'm sure will make a fantastic foam mustache upon first sip. Scents of raisins, prunes, caramel, toffee and fresh bread emanate from the brew. It certainly smells like those 12 malts are going to be out in front of the 12 different hops. And now we taste ...

Whoa! Flavors of fig, caramel, and dark cherries mix with a smooth, but strong rum and bourbon backbone. The Jewbelation 12 is thick and rich, and finishes slightly dry with some help from all of those hops. This beer is crazy! Honestly, this beer is so complex it's difficult to describe. Level after level of flavor appear the longer the beer sits in front of me.

Look, they only make this beer once. Any accomplished brewer that makes a single offering like this deserves your attention. Please go and get one of these bottles and let me know what you think. I have a feeling there's even more flavors and aromas then what I've been able to write about here. This beer is one adventure you need to embark upon.

Go on and get it!

Overall Score of the He'Brew Jewbelation 12: 4.0 out 5.0

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Trip to the Hop Yard with Deschutes Brewery

I hope your weekend has been filled with delicious beer so far. I just sampled a fine seasonal offering from Deschutes Brewery I thought you should know about. It's the Hop Trip fresh hop pale ale from the brewery's Bond Street Series. Hooray for hops!

As the bottle explains, this beer celebrates the Fall hop harvest. One brewer gets the kettle going in Bend, Oregon, "as another rushes back from the Willamette Valley," with a truckload of hops. Man, I wish I had a truckload of hops. Talk about a perfect way to stuff your mattress!

So, to the beer ...

It features a sunset-like amber color with a super-soft and creamy head. The hypnotizing hop aroma gives off scents of citrus groves and fresh cut grass. This beer is screaming, "drink me now!" So I shall.

The first gulp offers a blast of heavenly hop goodness as the bite comes quick and settles into a smooth and malty finish. The texture of this beer almost reminds me of a Boddington's Pub Draft. Weird. The malt gives off an amazing flavor of rich brown sugar-coated sweet rolls fresh out of the oven. I'm not talking over-the-top sweetness, as I normally don't like that sort of thing, rahter this sugary vibe I speak of is perfectly balanced by the bittering hops. In a word, this beer is superb.

The Deschutes Brewery is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I can't say I've had a single beer from them that I didn't like. One of these days I need to take a trip up to Oregon and say hello.

Well, that's it for now. If you can get your hands on a bottle of Deschutes Brewery's Hop Trip, I highly recommend it.


Overall Score of the Deschutes Brewery Hop Trip Fresh Hop Ale: 4.5 out 5.0

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weekend Brews - Week 55 - Chocolate Beer!

Every now and then you come across a beer that features ingredients that just sound right. Tonight that beer is from Cooperstown, New York. The magic ingredient is Belgian chocolate. The beer is Ommegang's Chocolate Indulgence.

See? I told you. Doesn't that beer just sound amazing? Well, luckily I'm hear to drink it for you, and make sure the beer lives up to it's name.

I pop the cork on the big brown bottle and slowly pour the liquid into a glass. A breathtaking blackness stares me in the eyes, and I marvel at the impressive milk chocolate-like pillow-soft head. The foam has no interest in leaving the scene and waits for me to enjoy the sight for awhile before it sinks back down. This beer looks like someone liquefied a slice of German chocolate cake, it just has to be good!

Aromas of dark bitter chocolate leap forth backed by notes of clove and a hint of banana. Oh man, I'm getting hungry ... I mean thirsty.

The first sip ... lordamercy! The chocolate hits you right in the mouth. It goes down incredibly smooth and leaves a happy little tingle on the tongue. There's a nice bitter balance in there, so don't think you're getting a sweetened Hershey's bar here. There's a friendly warming aftertaste from the alcohol in this 7% ABV beast to let you know of its power.

Well, if you're looking for a dessert wine, stop! Put down the wine list, and find yourself a bottle of the Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence. This beer would be fantastic with some tiramisu or a Belgian waffle covered in fresh strawberries, whipped cream and warm chocolate sauce. Just sayin'.

That's it for now. Give this one a try and let me know what you think.


Overall Score of the Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence: 4.0 out 5.0

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weekend Brews - Week 54 - California Beer and Pizza

Pizza played an important role in my life growing up on Long Island. It's what you ate at the end of the soccer season. It's what you ate on Fridays during Lent if you grew up Catholic. The pizzeria was where you went with your friends because it was close enough to ride your bike to, and the price was right for the few bucks you had in your pocket. And, on any given weekend night, you'd be grabbing a slice on the "late night" after drinking a few beers and running around town because one of your friends decided to be the designated driver. Thank you driver.

Pizza is a New York point of pride
, and I'm glad I grew up around it. (Okay ... hold on, give me a minute as I wipe the tears from my face.)

Speaking of beer, I'm pretty sure that pizza and beer is the best food combination on earth.

Okay, so now that we know pizza is on the menu, what type of beer do you think is a good match? A lager? Lagers are a good choice. But for me, it's better if the beer has plenty of hops.

So tonight let's celebrate California beer and pizza! Whatdaya say?

The pizza is from Rocco's. The beer is from the Firestone Walker Brewery.

It's the Union Jack India Pale Ale!

It pours a sunrise orange and amber into the glass and creates a fluffy head fit for taking a nap. Strong aromas of orange, grapefruit, pineapple, and pine combine with a hint of fresh bread. Lordamercy, this beer smells amazing!

And now to sip this fine beverage after I grab a bite.

Did I say bite? Wow! That's exactly what you get from the Union Jack I.P.A. A tight bitterness balanced well with a medium-bodied malt flavor. Rounded out with a classic quick and dry finish ... an excellent example of the American I.P.A.

I have to say, starting your weekend with some tasty beer and pizza gets my full recommendation. Go out there and order up a pie, grab a sixer of your favorite brew and go to town! You won't regret it.


Overall score of the Firestone Walker Union Jack I.P.A. 4.0 out of 5.0

Psssssst! Although Rocco's makes a good California pie, it doesn't compare to my beloved New York pizza. I miss you New York pizza. A slice of grandma pizza from Rosa's in Huntington haunts my dreams at night. Oh man!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Weekend Brews - Week 53 - Happy New Beer!

Hey it's Friday again, and even though I didn't have to work this week, it still feels good.

Friday means it's time for another Weekend Brews Report, and tonight I'd like to talk about a beer from New Belgium Brewing. If this doesn't improve your weekend, I don't know what will ...

The beer? 1554. It's what they call an "enlightened black ale." This beer represents a story of resilience. In 1997 the New Belgium Brewery lost the recipe for this beer due to a flood. Brewmaster Peter Bouckaert and researcher Phil Benstein took the challenge to find another. They traveled to Belgium and dug through books from hundreds of years ago, and rediscovered the ingredients and brewing techniques that would soon become the 1554 black ale.

Let's pop the top and get going.

Hellooooo darkness! A beautiful black liquid slides into the glass and creates a lush, foamy head. It leaves behind some delicate lacing, and a few small circular bubbles on top. Notes of chocolate and toffee are abundant. Wowsers! The first sip goes down faster than Glass Joe!

Oh man that is gooooooood! Silky smooth with flavors of dark chocolate cake and a shot of espresso, this beer is perfect for a cold January evening. It finishes dry and leaves behind hints of bittersweet cocoa to keep you happy until the next sip. I could get used to drinking this as my after dinner beer of choice.

If you haven't tried the 1554 from New Belgium, I highly recommend it. The smart folks from Fort Collins, Colorado have done it again.


Overall Score for the New Belgium 1554: 4.5 out 5.0