Tuesday, May 31, 2011

See Dick Drink...RJ Rockers Son of a Peach

Tonight my friend Dick provides the guest review, and I must say I am not too upset about having missed this one. 

I am not typically a big fan of fruit-flavored beer, I kind of deviate from my friends in that regard. This fact also allows for the continual ability to tease them unrelentingly about their "feminine" choices of beverage. I mean, let's face it...this beer looks it could double as a Fuzzy Navel wine cooler!

Oh, and his taste in music sucks too - You'll see

Haha! Let's see what Dick thinks...

For this review I must begin by building a bit of a back story! All “late-20 somethings” remember the Alternative rush that flooded the adolescent culture in the mid-to-late 20th century. Bands such as GreenDay, Weezer, and Nirvana were all producing top 40 hits (those were good days). One such band was “The Presidents of the United States of America”. One of my favorite songs by this 3 or 4 hit wonder (actually two-time Grammy nominated) was, “Peaches”. One of the more famous lines of this song was, “Millions of peaches, peaches for me. Millions of peaches, peaches for free.” When I saw RJ Rockers “Son of a Peach”, I immediately thought of this song and hummed it all the way to the register.

Now, in my experience, I have either had a wonderful experience with fruit-flavored brews or I thought I was eating some sort of expired Halloween candy! RJ Rockers “Son of a Peach” Wheat Ale lends itself to the former, rather than the latter. This 5.8% ABV has a wonderfully strong peach aroma. It boasts a golden peach color, thin, but present cream head. This unfiltered wheat has lots of yeast particulates in the glass. This brew builds with the best of them! It begins with a bit of a watery, weak start, but builds to a fairly intense, but not overbearing, peach sweetness and moves toward a sourness. I thought this brew was fantastic! Even though I could not sit and drink this by the case, I could easily enjoy 2 in a row, which would be 2 more than the Festina Peche by Dogfish! Pick up one, try it, and let me know what you think!

Dick give this 3.9 kegs out of 5!

P.S. - Just kidding, Dick. Don't get your panties in a bunch!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Devil's Backbone Jack Brown's Pale Ale

What a great Memorial Day weekend so far!

Saturday was a nice, relaxing day by the pool to enjoy the warm weather and some cold brews at my In-laws' house. For a lot of people this would be a teeth-clenching experience, but fortunately I get along very well with my wife's parents - and it helps that her dad is also an avid craft beer fan!

Sunday saw a few of our friends over for a cookout and the annual croquet battle royale. Several cold ones were enjoyed over the course of the day, and I will review them each in due time.

My friend Dick brought over a growler of another fine beverage from the Devil's Backbone Brewing Company in nearby Nelson County, Virginia. This was a new beer from brewmaster Jason Oliver, and a collaboration with the Jack Brown's Beer and Burger Joint in Harrisonburg.

Jack Brown's Pale Ale is a 6.1% ABV, unfiltered, copper penny-colored brew that pours to a one-finger head of off-white foam and lace. The beer smells heavily of pungent hops, all American grown according to the DBBC website.

At first sip, there is some serious sweetness, which I was not expecting, almost honey-like in flavor. This quickly fades into a bready-textured, medium body with lots of hop bitterness and a lingering dryness in the finish. Centennial, Warrior, and Amarillo hops add up to a respectable 65 IBUs in this pale ale, and I was happy to help my friends finish off this growler in short order!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tom's Two Cents...Kelly's Irish Raspberry Cider

As mentioned before, the new baby doesn't allow for much time to post my own reviews, so fortunately friends are pitching in to lend a hand!

Tom is my resident cider, Belgian, and wine cooler (only kidding! But really...) expert, and here is his review of Kelly's Irish Raspberry Cider.

Take it away, Tom...

In spite of Matt’s bitter hatred of ciders, he inexplicably allows me to occasionally review one for his non-cider-hating readers.
The owner of our local craft beer shop enjoys a cider every now and then, so he recommended that I try Kelly’s Irish Raspberry Cider. In spite of my love of ciders, I cringed at the thought of two fruit flavors. I had imagined a Jolly Rancher-like, artificial flavor with a sickening sweetness. However, I was pleasantly surprised.
This cider is reminiscent of Champagne in color. And, like many ciders, it leaves no head, but is more carbonated than it appears. It gives off a white wine aroma with a raspberry background. The flavor is drier than expected. It is only slightly sweet with tart apple and white wine flavors with a light raspberry finish and pleasant raspberry aftertaste. At 4.6% ABV, this cider is very easy to drink and pleasantly dry.
This is not a great cider, but it is super refreshing and a pleasant deviation from run-of-the-mill ciders. If you can find it, consider it as an excellent change of pace.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One more thing to add to the Bucket (or Growler) List...

Wow....When this stuff is completed looks like I will need to plan another trip to San Diego. Like I needed another reason!

Stone's Upcoming Projects from stonebrew on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

North Coast Brother Thelonious

I want to start off by saying that this is post number 550, but beer number 770, so I have some serious catching up to do!

Yesterday was the first time I really left the house for more than the trip to work or the grocery store, and it turned out to be a beautiful day to be outside. 

It was sunny and in the low eighties with a light breeze - perfect to sit out and watch an airshow!

This weekend saw the Navy's Blue Angels and other high-flying acts come to the area for the Lynchburg Regional Air Show. My nephew and daughter are absolutely fascinated with airplanes (let's be honest here, so am I!) so this was a great opportunity to get outside and have a good time.

It would have been irresponsible to take our not-yet-three-week-old so close to super-sonic jets, so we camped out about a mile from the airport to watch the festivities.

I have had the opportunity to witness the Blue Angels in person before, but it is an experience that will leave you in amazement every time. At certain points in the show, these incredible pilots will be in formations where their wing tips will be a mere 18 inches from each other. Over a mile away, it was still an intense feeling to have these planes come screaming overhead at speeds nearing Mach 2.

Events like this don't come around here very often (I think the last air show here was something like 25 years ago), so it was great to take the family out to see it.

When we got home, I figured I would end the day with a beer I had searched long and hard for, but finally came across when it was gifted to me. Just before my son was born, my office threw me a "Man Shower", full with clothes for him, diapers, and craft beer for me! This was one of the included brews...

North Coast Brother Thelonious is a Belgian-style abbey ale with some swing! This 9.4% ABV brew is a mahogany/cola color with a two-finger head of off-white fizz that dissipates quickly. The beer smells of chocolate and caramel with noticeable Belgian yeast in the aroma.

This beer was brewed in memory and respect of Thelonious Monk, the incredible jazz musician and composer. His depiction is featured on the label, dressed fittingly in monk's robes and holding a chalice of his namesake. Below the picture is the latin phrase "Carpe Diem Vita Brevis" (Seize the day for life is short).

Money raised from the sales of this brew is donated by North Coast to the Monk Institute (Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz) to train promising young musicians in college-level music classes, and to promote public school based jazz training.

The brew is also included on the list of the "25 Beers with Scholarly Significance" - Check it out!

The beer itself is very unique- the first sip is full-bodied with doughy and spicy flavors from the yeast. This is followed by sweetness from the darker malts, fruity esters and some tangy sour notes. Very boozy, the beer finishes dry with a lingering taste of milk chocolate. Excellent brew!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Devil's Backbone Black Wheat Stout

So, I'm probably not going to be making it out of town for a while, which will make it a bit difficult to pick up many new or exciting brews. I guess I will have to rely on friends and family to take care of me for a little while!

It didn't take long for them to start...Last Sunday, for Mother's Day, my in-laws went to Devil's Backbone and were gracious enough to pick me up a growler full of Jason Oliver's most recent concoction.

Devil's Backbone Black Wheat Stout is yet another uniquely different take on a traditional beer style (and one of my favorites) that is radically changed by one simple ingredient. It seems this is quickly becoming Mr. Oliver's forte - and it hasn't gone wrong for me yet!

This 6% ABV, black beer pours to a three-finger head of dark tan, dense foam. The brew smells of chocolate and chocolate as expected, but there is a unique light and airy note to the aroma.

At first sip I am actually amazed at the flavors coming off of this brew - It is still thick and creamy, an aspect I was expecting to be lacking with this beer, and in fact it just might be the easiest drinking stout I have EVER sampled! This is an excellent beer, and it finishes very clean on the tongue. I wouldn't describe it as "crisp" or "refreshing", it simply doesn't leave a film in your mouth like many other strong flavored dark beers.

It isn't the most intense, full-bodied flavor I have had, but there are definitely dark, roasty and smoky notes to this beer. I have had better representations of the style, but this is a REALLY good beer!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

New Additions...Beer, Baby & Brewtopia

Here's one to you little guy!
Hey guys, I know it has been over two weeks since I have posted, but I promise it is for good reason! As you may or may not have known, my wife had been pregnant with our second child and our son was born this past Wednesday! What better time for an update post than on Mother's Day?!

The days leading up to the due date (fittingly, it is today) have been a bit hectic, as our first child was born 3 weeks early and the doctor said to expect the same with this one. This hurry-up-and-wait period led to some mental anxiety during which the last thing I thought about was keeping up with this site.

Now that Owen is here, it is time to celebrate and catch everyone up!

I have sampled a bunch of brews over the past few weeks that I haven't posted reviews for yet, and will get to in due time, but I thought it would be best to start with the "other" most recent addition to my family...our latest homebrew!

I posted to Twitter several weeks ago about the development of our second batch and now the time has come to pop one open and sample! This time around we decided to increase everything: the amount of ingredients, alcohol content and hoppiness!

This new brew is the Inferior Brewing Co. Run O' The Mill Rye IPA - a 7.2% ABV, hazy, reddish-orange beer that pours to a three-finger head of dense, off-white foam. The beer smells flowery and citrusy due to the incredibly generous dry-hopping we put this brew through (which was a learning process to say the least!).

The beer, as expected, was absolutely delicious! The malt base is heavy, and the rye really helps to darken the flavor and add some earthy and spicy notes. The hop presence is very powerful, with over 6 ounces of Amarillo hops that add a punch to the front end, and provide a nice, dry lingering bitter finish to the end.

Awesome beer, and I have other awesome news...while I was in the hospital waiting for my son to be discharged, I received an email from a local beer festival asking if I would like to be an honorary guest/VIP!

Keep an eye out for a follow-up post about this special event, and for a chance to win tickets to come hang out with me at the festival!