I hope for your sake that you have distribution in your area for Oskar Blues’ phenomenal canned beers. Their Dale’s Pale Ale and Old Chub really set the bar for what canned beer can be. The only problem is that both of these beers are pretty strong (Don’t even get me started on the Gordon or Ten Fidy)! So, assuming you want to take some canned beers to your BBQ or the beach, then you gotta take it pretty slow with this stuff. So, I’m glad to see the Yella finally showing up in cans over here. I tasted this stuff during a trip to Longmont, CO and found it enjoyable. It is crisp, refreshing, and much lower in alcohol, thus making it the prime canned beer for my upcoming summer season.
The Yella pours a crystal clear medium yellow (yella) color with a fairly course white head that flares up and then dissipates into a thin coating, but leaves substantial spiderwebbing down the sides of the glass. In the nose, this stuff smells super rich for a pilsner. It is sharp & grainy, but has some very rich, sweet tones that you won’t normally find in a pilsner. In the mouth, this stuff is very unique in the land of Pilsners, as well. The first thing you notice is a sharp light sweetness on the tip of the tongue, coupled with that typical pilsner grainy flavor that you’re accustomed to. However, as the beer progresses down the tongue, a blast of rich sweetness comes into play. There are big hints of caramel and butter here, making this almost desert-like for a few seconds. As the beer heads on down the throat, the hop plays a slightly larger role, leaving an aftertaste that is equal parts bitter and sweet, but sticks around for quite some time. Also, the mouthfeel here is pretty large – coating the tongue and mouth with tasty goodness. I won’t lie to you, this is NOT as refreshing as most pilsners. But, it is a much better beer in terms of flavor and aspirations. This may not see a lot of play with me as a beach beer, but you better believe I’ll be drinking this at my next grilling session. In fact, I inaugurated my bocce season with a six-pack of these and a patch of grass, and that worked out just perfectly…
During the Craft Brewers Conference (C.B.C) the Technical Committee of the Brewers Association released their Draught Beer Quality Manual. It is a very thorough guide, with input from major brewers through out the industry, on maintaining a draught beer system for the proper dispensing of beer. The manual can be found in both pdf and wiki form at http://draughtquality.org/.
I have only given the guide a cursory glance (I do not own a ‘draught system’, so I am in no big rush to get through the guide) but it seems quite detailed and definitely gives me a better appreciation of what “better beer bars” have to do to keep their systems running effectively.
If you live on the Pacific Coast (specifically North Pacific Coast, if I remember correctly), you soon might be able to pick up a Stone beer at your local 7-11. Stone and 7-11 have struck an agreement where 7-11 franchises can stock Stone beers. It should be noted, this does not mean every 7-11 will stock Stone beer, just those “franchises who choose to participate”. Being able to purchase something other then macro-beers at 7-11 is a step in the right direction in getting better beer out to the masses. Not that I can purchase any beers at 7-11… thanks Blue Laws.
With the 2009 Craft Brewers Conference (C.B.C.) over, it’s time for some posts. Since C.B.C. was an industry only event, and I only pretend to be part of the industry through this blog, I was not part of the conference. However, during the conference there were a bunch of public parties happening at the better beer bars of Boston. I was fortunate enough to attend a few of these, and they were great fun. I was able to meet and talk to a lot of great people, and drink many a great beer. I could ramble on about those happenings but that would be quite boring for you my dear reader. So instead, I have something much better.
Why don’t you get a favorite craft brew… I’ll wait… sit back and watch Greg Koch’s (CEO of the Stone Brewing Co.) introduction to his conference keynote speech entitled “Be Remarkable: Collaboration Ethics Camaraderie Passion.” It is a fabulous video (and it gets bonus points for its Sigur Ros soundtrack).
For all those people who enjoy reading lists, the Brewers Association recently released their “Top 50 Breweries” list. The list is actually two lists, one being “Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies by Beer Sales Volume (Based on 2008 sales)” and the other “Top 50 Overall Brewing Companies by Beer Sales Volume (Based on 2008 sales)”. The Brewers Association also has an interesting page of “craft brewing statistics“.
April 16th is the showing of the Beer Wars Movie. The one night event, which is being broadcast via satellite to 440 theaters, will consist of the documentary movie and then a 30 minute panel discussion with six people involved in the beer industry. More details about the event can be found at the film’s website. I have my tickets, and there might be some left for a theater in your neck of the woods, so be sure to check it out.
For whatever reason, I always get excited about Brett. And, when I say Brett, I mean Brettanomyces, the testy strain of yeast that tends to do wild and unpredictable things to otherwise staid beers. Oftentimes, the results are bad. Sometimes, the results are good. They’re always pretty weird. In this case, Victory chose to take a normal batch of their Hop Devil IPA and toss in some Brett for fermentation, and this is the result.
The Wild Devil pours a medium amber color with some excess golden thrown in. The head is quite luxurious – just slightly off-white, super dense, and rocky and thick. In the nose, you’ll catch some of that floral bitterness that is typical of the Hop Devil. However, there is a gamey sourness that takes over most of the scent. It is full of citrus, but has an excess of another wilder sourness that is hard to describe, but you’ll know it if you’re experienced with Brett beers. In the mouth, this is certainly no longer a Hop Devil. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of hop here. It is bitter and big and the hop flows through the mouth and has a notable presence in the nasal cavity. However, the yeast has absolutely taken over the majority of the beer here. Initially, there’s a light citrus bite on the tongue. This little bite soon turns into a blast of wild sourness around the middle of the tongue. There are aspects of both sweet and sour in this flavor, and it evolves given space and time in the mouth. Honestly, the flavor the Brettanomyces brings to the beer is almost impossible to adequately describe, but wild and sour do the best. Brett is known to be difficult to predict and hard to control, and you can taste this in the beer. It doesn’t taste orchestrated – it just tastes like something went a little crazy and we’re tasting the result. Whether you like it or hate it, you can’t help but be intrigued by just what a change to this crazy yeast can do to a beer you otherwise know well. So, I can’t say that this is a beer lots of people will like – it’s just a little crazy. But, anyone who is a fan of Hop Devil, Brett beers, or just experimentation will want to try this just for the sake of experience. It’ll broaden your horizons!
This little ditty comes from the most recent of the Side Project selections (vol. 4) that I’ve come across. It probably isn’t the newest, since I haven’t been to the beer store in a while, but it’s the newest to me. And turns out, I generally buy these “limited edition” from Terrapin and let them sit in the fridge for a while. In short, I’m a Johnny-Come-Lately but fortunately you guys don’t seem to mind. This one’s brewed with Ecuadorian cocoa, in both the powder and nib form. I don’t know what I nib is but it sounds delicious so let’s get to it.
The color, you guessed it dark, dark black. There is little head retention with this beer leaving only a few caramel colored bubbles scattered about. The nose has the characteristic smokey aroma associated with porters, which is further enhanced by the chocolate ingredients. The smell is very thin and unassuming, but still pretty inviting. The taste has a very dark, malty personality; which was to be expected, I mean it IS a porter. The smokey flavors rush over the front of the tongue then unfold and splash on the inside of the cheeks. At this point the cocoa flavors take over and finish the taste. There are mild chocolate undertones that lightly touch the back part of the palate and extend into the throat. Again the word “thin” comes to mind. I expected a fuller, rounder characteristic but got just the opposite. However, in this case it’s working. This isn’t a complex, oversized beer. Instead it’s subtle, refreshing and well-balanced despite it’s genre. I can’t say I’ve ever said a porter was refreshing, so this is proof there is a first time for everything. It finishes with a minor effervescent quality and mild smokey aftertaste. Another job well done by Terrapin, especially with another experimental brew.
Another brew from Moylan’s! These guys have been on the top of my list for newly discovered breweries in the past few months. I’ve had a couple of their beers, and each time the product has surpassed my expectations. I was especially entranced with their Hopsickle IIIPA that I reviewed recently. Frankly, I think it’ll be impossible for this beer to surpass those impressions, but anything close will still be very good.
The Moylander pours a deep golden that isn’t necessarily hazy, but just dense. There isn’t visible debris in the beer, but you can’t necessarily see through the beer. It just seems thick and dense and, most likely, full of goodness. The head of this starts out thick and white, but dwindles quickly to a small coating. In the nose, this is a hop bomb! It’s full of bitter hops with some light malty hints. The hops are a mixture of floral and metallic, and are totally in your face. In the mouth, this beer proves that its bite equals its bark. Again, TONS of hop here. It isn’t necessarily fresh and sticky like some West coast IPAs, but the hop does have some good floral flavors and is super pungent. The bitterness starts at the front of the tongue, peaks around the middle, and begins to dwindle some down the throat, but leaves a mighty persistent aftertaste. The flavor, however, is fairly unilateral, not changing too heavily through the mouth. There is also a decent malt profile here, though the hop nearly buries it. Compared to the Hopsickle, this is actually MORE hoppy in its effect, mainly because the Hopsickle had a much bigger malt contribution to balance it out. So, if you just love big, raw, bitter hops, you’re going to love this. If you want something still huge, but with a bit more balance, then go for the Hopsickle. Either way, you’ll be getting a great beer for your money. Keep ‘em coming, Moylan’s!
Last but not least from the BMOC is this ditty from France. It’s an amber ale brewed with chestnut flour. Huh?!? Sounds strange but when it comes to beer I’m up for anything. First thing’s first, this doesn’t look like an amber. As a matter of fact there’s nothing amber about it. No deep copper-reddish hue, instead it’s golden. The aroma is strange as well. It is uber sour, the twinge dances around in the nose. I can’t help but wonder what is going on here because again these characteristics aren’t adding up to what I know is an amber. Right not I’m thinking pilsner-esque. The overall taste is bitter and metallic. This transforms into a grape-like sweetness and then transforms again into a hint of sourness that carries over from the smell which makes for a really weird experience. It’s crisp and refreshing, for the most part, but the taste seems to collect on the back of the throat, and by collect I mean thicken. There it has a subtle creamy characteristic and now I’m completely confused. I don’t know what to make of this beer. First of all it’s unlike any amber I’ve ever had AND the flavors aren’t harmonious to say the least. The fact is this beer certainly has some good points but they are counteracted by absolute weirdness. So, I will say it’s interesting, it’s definitely not a beer I would seek out but I would drink it on rare occasions just for something different.
Next on our roster from the Beer of the Month Club is something from Uinta Brewery. I’ve had a generally good experience with these guys, despite the fact that I’ve only had a couple of their beers. This one is a pale ale – a fairly straightforward genre with much potential for success – so I’m hoping for a good showing!
The Anglers Pale pours a deep ruby-golden color with a thin but very persistent off-white head that sticks heavily to the sides of the glass. The aroma here is fabulous – it’s robust and sticky and full of fresh floral hops. The hop presence here is exceptional for a pale ale, and more akin to something I’d expect to find in an IPA. In the mouth, I’m instantly sold on this beer. It isn’t a typical pale ale in that hops are present here in much higher quantities, and they’re great floral and fresh hops – delicious. It also isn’t an IPA, as there are more pronounced deeper malt flavors, almost akin to a light amber. Finally, even though there is a lot of flavor here, the beer is rather light and doesn’t weigh heavily on the palate or belly. These characteristics work together to make a beer that is extraordinarily flavorful but washes away clean and refreshing. Apparently this was made to appeal to the outdoorsy sportsman crowd, and I think it has accomplished this goal – nothing sounds much nicer than a cooler full of this stuff and a nice day of fly fishing out on the river. However, if you’re more inclined to sit on the couch, I think you’ll still love this beer. I really wish I could buy this here in NC – I certainly would.
Next up from this months Beer of the Month Club shipment is a white ale from Corisa, France. Honestly, I think that France puts out some decent beers – maybe not QUITE as many as their Belgian or German neighbors, but some good stuff nonetheless. However, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a brew coming from the diminutive Corsican island to the South. This fact, coupled with the fact that I’m really into white ales lately, makes me really excited to try out this brew.
The Colomba pours a hazy whitish gold color with lots of debris both in the beer and caked to the bottom of the bottle. The head on this is bright white and super dense, bubbling up quickly and then slowly subsiding to nothing. The aroma here is sour and citrusy. It isn’t too strange for a white ale, but there is an off-scent that surprises me a bit. I suppose it’s just an exacerbated sourness that isn’t quite citrus. It isn’t ruining the beer for me, but it’s pungent and surprising. In the mouth, the initial sensation is an acidic citrus burn on the tip of the tongue. This merges into a sweet maltiness that is quite bready and gives the beer a thickish mouthfeel for a white ale. On through the mouth, a big yeast note presents itself, which is no surprise for the genre. The yeast is quite flavorful, and it mingles with big lemony citrus tones to give this beer an explosion of of flavor about the middle of the tongue that toes the line between bodacious and bogus. After this blast of flavor, the beer settles into a lightly malty aftertaste that doesn’t stick around for too long. If you like a white ale with some powerful citrus punch, you may like this. If you don’t, then this may have a bit too much bite for you. I’m undecided, but the more I drink, the more I like it. So, this may turn into an acquired taste. So, overall, it’s a beer that may divide some critics, but certainly a unique showing for an Corsican brewery.
We’re way behind on our BMOC reviews. To be quite honest we’re way behind all of our reviews. Earlier in the year Ben had anticipated reaching 1000 posts around June/July. At this rate we’ll get there somewhere in 2013. That being said I’ll take one step closer to our goal and begin with this irish style red ale, again from BMOC. Turns out this is their Spring seasonal brewed just in time for St Patty’s day. It should be noted that on the Harpoon website this is listed as the Celtic Ale, not the Hibernian. Not that it matters, but it’s something I want to point out since I’ve labeled it as such.
It pours a clean copper with little head retention. The aroma is subtly sweet. I’m really having to inhale forcefully to sustain this smell but it can be done with effort. It (the smell) certainly has a more “pronounced” maltiness as compared to the hop characteristic which shows up at the very end of the breath. The taste isn’t amazing but it is well balanced and clean. It’s less “bready” than the sweet smell would suggest, instead it has more of a roasted flavor. This morphs into a slight bitterness that is then enhanced by some floral undertones. The aftertaste is composed of residual earthiness with a semi-thick mouthfeel. I like the body of this beer, it’s round enough to give the beer some personality but thin enough to make it very drinkable.