Monday, November 28, 2011

New Holland el Mole Ocho

So, the Thanksgiving festivities are over, and I am back to work. That sucks!

At least I am starting the week with a big new brew...

New Holland el Mole Ocho is an 8.4% ABV beer that is modeled after mole, the legendary sauce of Central Mexico. This brew is a 2011 vintage, and part of their High Gravity series. The beer's label features a large clay pot, presumably what the mole was made in traditionally.

The brew pours a hazy, dirty brown color with a tiny head of off-white bubbles. It smells of chocolate and chili pepper, and the first sip is very heavily malted. I taste lots of cocoa and earthy barley, and then the pepper comes in at the end. A decent beer, but the earthy flavors are a bit overwhelming.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Southern Tier Raspberry Wheat

Yesterday I celebrated the 7th anniversary of marrying my best friend, and high school sweetheart. We don't get to go out too frequently anymore as just the two of us, so it was nice to get dressed up and head to a decent restaurant for a change.

We went to a small little bistro near the river and the food was excellent! I ordered a 14 oz ribeye served with a blue cheese/horseradish sauce, and the wife got a filet topped with boursin cheese and a white wine sauce. Both steaks were prepared perfectly, and the sides paired beautifully. All I needed was an extensive tap list to go with the meal...Nailed it!

Southern Tier Raspberry Wheat is a 4.9% ABV, clear, brilliant-gold brew with a thin, filmy ring of white lace. The beer smells fruity - you can tell the raspberry is there, but I also get citrus and spices. At first sip, I taste a really good, sweet and tart brew with a bit of bubblegum in the finish. Refreshing and easy to drink, I could handle a bunch of these - especially during the warmer months!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Foothills Seeing Double IPA

Ran my first 5K this morning, in just under 26 minutes. Not too bad...but my goal was under 25 - I guess there's always next time!

After the race I needed a recovery meal so a race buddy and I headed to Rivermont Pizza for a pie and some brews. I got the Quatro Carne, a pizza loaded down with meat, and it was delicious! This, of course, had to be chased with some quality suds!

Foothills Seeing Double IPA is a 9.5% ABV, orangish-amber brew with a two-finger head of dense, off-white foam. The beer smells very piney, and at first sip is pretty sweet. Then, the bitterness comes on late to pound you! A bit of citrus in the finish makes this a really great beer. I highly recommend trying one!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot

Tonight as I sit here watching my Virginia Tech Hokies pave their way to a rematch with the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship game, I can't help but think about another big story in college football right now - and I have to throw my two cents out there...

I really don't mean to turn this blog into my own personal rantings, but I can't leave this topic untouched. There are a lot of things in the world that piss me off but leave me holding my tongue - but when I hear about someone taking advantage of the elderly or children my blood starts to boil.

As more and more comes out in the press about the Jerry Sandusky scandal (yes, please remember this is about the sick f&#% that perpetrated the crimes and not what Joe Pa did or did not do...), my immediate thoughts jump to these poor kids and how screwed up their future will be as a result of this pervert. My hope is that they can persevere through the horrible circumstances and be stronger men on the other side - but more realistically I expect the worst.

There are a lot of people being blamed for "not doing enough", and I believe they are all at fault! I can only speak for what I would do in the situation, but I am 28 right now and I can confidently say that if I were Mike McQueary and had walked into that locker room shower I would be the one going to jail.

The beer I am sampling tonight I think is fitting for the conversation...

Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot is a 7.83% ABV brew with a dark sense of humor. The brewery originally made this beer in 2009 as a "Correction Ale" as a nod to the poor economy. It was then to be released as a "Recovery Ale" in 2010, but without much improvement that was scrapped. Finally, it exists now as WTF, a "malty, robust, jobless recovery ale."

The beer pours a hazy, brownish-copper color with a two-finger tan head. It smells of grassy hops and toffee, and at first sip there is much more to this beer than meets the eye. Great balance between the hops and a deep, malty character is built up with flavors of honey, raisins and warm alcohol. This is a really great beer, and a nice big bottle I need to finish!

I'm gonna need it...they just announced another potential child sex scandal with a basketball coach at Syracuse. WTF!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sixpoint Bengali Tiger

Ahhh, Hump Day, you have finally arrived...two days to go before some much needed time off!

Sometimes it feels like all I do is complain about my job on here. Truth is, I love my job! I'm simply always exhausted (like most of you) with two kids under 4 and a slight case of insomnia,

The only thing that gets me through the work week is my early-morning workout routine. For those of you that don't know, I am HUGE fan of Crossfit, the fastest-growing training regimen in the world for law enforcement, military, MMA, professional athletes, housewives, couch potatoes etc. This stuff is NOT P-90X, Zumba, or any of those other fad video routines that die out after 6-12 months.

Perhaps you have seen the Crossfit Games on ESPN2 with their motto, "Forging Elite Fitness", or heard of the local affiliate in your town? Coach Bergener has been providing broad, general, inclusive workouts for almost 40 years now! (Est. 1974) They are here to stay.

Anyway, I have been doing their Workout of the Day (WOD's) for about a year now, and am seeing serious results. I was a pretty decent athlete in high school, and have always taken pride in my health (kinda ironic for a guy that loves beer so much, right?!) but I can honestly say I am in the best shape of my life. I highly recommend checking out these routines that ANYONE CAN DO and taking ownership of your health.

Enough about that, on to the nightly recovery beer!

Sixpoint Bengali Tiger is a 6.4% ABV, hazy golden-orange brew with a one-finger head of off-white lace. The beer was named for the striped lacing that hangs onto the glass as you drink it, and the can (as always) features a sweet quote, "What immortal hand or eye, could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

The beer smells citrusy and piney, and has a VERY strong aroma. I detect a bready texture and some malty sweetness in the first sip, that transition to a bit of a salty taste with a stronger grapefruit bitterness. This brew is truly well balanced, and I would call it a great IPA, but Sixpoint doesn't label their beers. Go get some!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weyerbacher AutumnFest

Just three more days before vacation time, and just over a week before my favorite day of the year!

I love Thanksgiving - more specifically, I love food. Fortunately for me, I get to eat Thanksgiving dinner three times, not including the week's worth of leftovers that I bring home. Each one is different: I get the old school favorites at my grandparents' house for lunch on Thursday (sweet potato casserole, fruit & nut jello and cascade salad, etc.), my parents' house for dinner and a low-carb version, and the in-laws for dinner on Friday for a modern rendition of the classics.

All of them, of course, will be celebrated with lots of craft beer!

Tonight I am in the midst of a beer that sounds like it was made for such a time as this.

Weyerbacher AutumnFest is a 5.4% ABV, amber colored brew with a big three-finger head of off-white lacy foam. The label features a farm scene complete with barn and scarecrow,

The beer smells sweet of toffee and molasses. The first sip is robust and malty with syrupy bubblegum sweetness and earthy maple flavor. Not too thick like some of the Fall/Winter brews out right now, but heavy enough to knock the chill off and retain its flavor. Good stuff!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Southern Tier Mokah Imperial Stout

Can you tell I'm on a bit of a Southern Tier kick? And why not?, they make some AWESOME beer!

Tonight I am sampling another one of their big-bottle Blackwater series, and this brew is a BEAST. A mixture of their Jahva and Choklat stouts, this beer incorporates Jamaican-roast coffee and Belgian chocolate to make a true original.

Southern Tier Mokah Imperial Stout is an 11.2% ABV beer that pours a deep, inky black with a two-finger head of tan, lacy foam. The label features an old-school metal percolator and a Southern Tier-logoed chocolate bar.

This beer smells heavily of bittersweet chocolate. At first sip it has a creamy and milky texture, almost like a dark hot chocolate. It is very sweet up front, and then the roasty bitterness of the coffee beans kicks in.

This is really a wonderful beer all the way through! To me, it is a tamer, much more enjoyable version of their Creme Brulee.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Southern Tier Harvest Ale

After last night's crazy sweet beer, I need something tonight that is going to bring me back down to Earth...

What better to do that then a beer that celebrates the Earth and the harvest?

Southern Tier Harvest Ale is a 6.7% ABV English Extra Special Bitter (ESB) that pours a dark golden red with a one-finger head of white foam. The bottle explains that it celebrates 4 different varieties of hops and 2 malts.

The beer smells very earthy and bitter, with a powerful woody, piney hop aroma. It is incredibly fresh tasting due to the use of new barley and several additions of hops. The heavier alcohol is masked by all of the character from the caramel sweetness and grassy bitterness. This is a really good beer!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Southern Tier Creme Brulee

I am done with pumpkin brews for now, and as the weather starts to FINALLY get colder I begin reacher for increasing darker, heavier beers.

Tonight I am in need of something potent as we start another work week. The beer I am about to crack open should be powerful enough to take the edge off, weighing in at a hefty 9.6% ABV. I have heard some crazy things about this brew and I'm anxious to see what all the hype is about.

Southern Tier Creme Brulee Imperial Stout is brewed with vanilla beans and dark caramel malt, tons of lactose sugar, columbus hops in the kettle and some horizon hops sprinkled in for aroma.

The beer pours jet black with a one-finger head of dense foam, and smells incredibly sweet - oddly enough the nose is quite similar to that of a Werther's Original candy! I was warned from several different people that this stout is the sweetest beer they have ever sampled, and that it may be difficult to drink it by the glass. All it takes is one sip to realize that this is an accurate statement!

So, I am sitting here with this huge 22 oz bottle of liquified dessert and I am genuinely concerned that I will not be able to drink it! The beer is actually excellent, and very complex - I get notes of caramel, chocolate, java and vanilla bean. The hop additions add back in a level of bite, but the molasses/sugar taste is almost overpowering. Then I have an idea...

After drinking approximately half of the bottle, I decided to pour the remainder over a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream. What a difference that made! The result is by far the most amazing dessert I have ever sampled. The added dairy really allows all of the flavors to come out and play, and they are each more noticeable on the blank palette of vanilla!

My recommendation to you all would be to either share the bottle with some friends, or try the recipe above. Either way, this is a dessert beer to the core - do not drink with food!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Southern Tier Pumking

Only 8:30, and my fantasy football team has already locked up this week's win. That makes me 7-2 so far on the season baby!

To celebrate I am sitting here with the 3rd and final big bottle of pumpkin brew, and hopefully I have saved the best for last...

Southern Tier Pumking is a 9% ABV, coppery-orange colored brew that pours to a tiny white head that looks like dirty dishwater. Fortunately, that is the only part of the beer that is off-putting!

The painted-on label of this bottle features a grisly jack-o'lantern wearing a crown. The beer truly smells like pumpkin pie in a glass, with nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar in the nose. Add in the taste of the gourd in that first sip and you get one of my favorite desserts, graham cracker flavor and all - the only thing that is missing is the Cool Whip!

The beer is sweet and spicy, with caramel and lots of cinnamon and a sharp bitterness that helps to balance the complexity of flavors. The mouthfeel is velvety and makes for a very pleasant experience - none of that medicinal/metallic flavor that I got from the Shipyard yesterday. 

This is one that I will definitely be picking up again in the future - I know now why it comes so highly recommended!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shipyard Pugsley's Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin

Sitting down to the second bomber of seasonal pumpkin beer in two nights, and chomping at the bit to pop this puppy open.

Tonight we went out to dinner with some friends that we haven't been able to see for a while, and now they have come over to watch the all-important LSU vs. Alabama game. I am glad they were able to hang out tonight, and now I am glad that I can share this huge beer with somebody!

Shipyard Pugsley's Signature Series Smashed Pumpkin is a 9% ABV, copper-orange colored brew with a two-finger head of dense, off-white foam. The beer smells of boiled veggies and nutmeg, and from the first sip the nutmeg is entirely overwhelming. Warmth eminates from this brew and builds as you drink it, but the spice is too much to really notice anything else.

At first I was very excited at the size of this bottle, but now I am having second thoughts! The beer is turning out to be very astringent and overly one-dimensional - I am really struggling through this one...good thing I am sharing it!

Finally, after letting it sit and warm up over the course of an hour the beer starts to settle on the palate. Even though it is much more manageable, I am disappointed in the final product. I had heard a lot of good things about this beer but in the end I will pass on it next time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin

This weekend I'm on a mission to sample a bunch of the pumpkin brews that are sitting in the beer fridge before the season passes. 

This is kind of a tall order, because I love this style so there are a ton of them to go through - but I am definitely up to the task!

This year I was able to pick up three in particular that I have missed in years previous, and I am pretty excited about these 22 oz'ers: Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin, Southern Tier Pumking, and this one...

Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin is an 8.5% ABV beer that pours a dark amber with a one-finger creamy head of off-white lace. The label features a the standard skull-and-crossbones of their Mutiny Fleet, with a carved pumpkin head as the pirate skull.

The brew's aroma is the traditional "pumpkin pie" smell, albeit a little more aggressive than I was expecting. Lots of nutmeg and cinnamon with the telltale nose of sweet pumpkin meat. The first sip is spicy and sweet, with the essence of clove coming out a bit more than I would have liked. This is followed by a bit of bubblegum and then finishes with pumpkin spice and the warmth of a heavier ABV. Good beer, and I will try it again, but I now have my sights set on their GreatER Pumpkin!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

DuClaw Naked Fish

Glad today is over, just one more day to the weekend!

Tonight I am sitting down to watch the FSU vs. BC game, and it is time to sample the other brew I picked up from DuClaw. After last night's journey with their Venom Pale Ale, I am pretty excited to see where this one takes me!

DuClaw Naked Fish is a 4.6% ABV chocolate raspberry stout that pours dark brown with a one-finger, quickly thinning head of off-white lace. The label on this bomber demands you to, "Get that top off; its time to...get naked."

You can definitely smell the chocolate and coffee immediately upon uncapping this sucker, but the fruity esters are harder to pick up on unless you inhale deeply. Then, during the first sip you get the full-on presence of the berries right away! The beer is thick and roasty with a truly great stout base, and the added tang from the raspberries takes it over the edge.

This is a perfect dessert beer, and I am sure it would go very well over ice cream. Unfortunately, I don't have any on hand, so you guys will just have to try it and let me know how it turns out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

DuClaw Venom Pale Ale

For a guy that has sampled over 1,000 craft brews, you would think I would be more familiar with the breweries that are less than 5 hours from me!

My first experience with DuClaw Brewing Company from Abingdon, Maryland was actually at the Top of the Hops festival this summer. At that time I sampled their Black Lightning and Mad Bishop Oktoberfest and was pretty impressed. Since then, I have been searching for more of their stuff and only recently stumbled onto some.

Tonight I am sitting down to try the more moderate of the two I picked up, but as a huge fan of American Pale Ales I am still excited!

DuClaw Venom Pale Ale is a 5.6% ABV, dark golden beer with a one-finger head of off-white foam. The label features the script baring fangs, with the phrase "bite me" emblazoned beneath it.

The beer smells aggressively of citrus and floral hops. At first sip, there are lots of conflicting flavors here: sweet, astringently bitter, chocolate and toffee all ending in a dry finish. Pretty good stuff in my opinion...Do as the bottle says, "Fear the fluid!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SweetWater IPA & Blue

To close out the last night of our trip to Tennessee, I threw some porkchops on the grill and had a couple of brews left to sample before hitting the road early the next morning.

The duo I had remaining were from Atlanta, Georgia, and a brewery I had only tried once before. My experience with SweetWater Brewing Co. has been limited to a rather poor, tall mug of their 420 Extra Pale Ale in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport at a Samuel Adams Brewpub...I wasn't very impressed then, but the environment paired with the fact I had just sampled TONS of wonderful beer while in Salt Lake City could have had something to do with it!

This time around I had chosen a couple of brews with a little more potential: their IPA and "Blue" - a blueberry infused wheat beer.

SweetWater IPA is a bit light on the palate for an IPA, but still tremendously better than their 420! The beer pours a bright amber color with a two-finger head of off-white lacy foam. From the first sip there is a nice bitter presence, both in aroma and flavor. It is also very easy to drink and could have handled several of these in a sitting.

SweetWater Blue is a much brighter, clear pilsner yellow brew with a large, three-finger head of white fizz. The beer weighs in at 4.6% ABV and won a World Beer Cup Silver Medal back in '98. This wheat ale has a light blueberry aroma, and actually is a bit tangy at first taste. Its fruity overtones provide a mouth-watering reaction that surprised me, but I ended up really enjoying this refreshing beer - the best of the three I have tried so far in my opinion!

They were both a great way to close out the weekend away, and I am looking forward to journeying back to the Smokies in the future. Maybe next time it won't take me a full week-and-a-half to write up the trip!