Thursday, May 31, 2012

Beer Review: BORIS Royale

Reviewing the BORIS Royale from Hoppin' Frog Brewery.
Score: 91

Unknown vintage bottle served in a plastic cup and enjoyed the night before Dark Lord Day (04/27/12). Review is from notes.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown, black coffee-like color. 4/5

Smell: Roasted chocolate, brown sugar, coconut, sweet chocolate and a little cherry. 4/5

Taste: Sweet milk chocolate, roast, and a light amount of oak. Cherry flavor on the midpalate. A little bit of whiskey flavor on the back half. Muted coconut throughout. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, no carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel. Roasty, slightly sweet finish. 4/5

Overall: A solid beer, but easily my least favorite of all the BORIS variations. Ironically, this is the hardest to find of those variations. Stick with the BORIS and Barrel Aged BORIS.

Recommendation: Worth trying, but not worth going out of your way to seek this one out when BORIS is readily available year-round for $10.

Pairings: Chocolate ice cream.

Cost: $14.99 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beer Review: Mother Of All Storms

Reviewing the Mother Of All Storms from Pelican Pub & Brewery.
Score: 82

2011 vintage bottle served in a plastic cup and enjoyed the night before Dark Lord Day (04/27/12). Review is from notes.

Appearance: Looks like syrup. 4/5

Smell: Caramel malt, booze, brown sugar, light barley and a hint of cherry. Lots of malt and ample bourbon. 4/5

Loads of caramel malt flavor and booze. Like a lot of booze. And residual cherry. Maybe a little brown sugar. The flavor of this beer is essentially 90% caramel, 9% booze and 1% cherry flavor. Hot, unbalanced, and super malty. 3.25/5

Mouthfeel: Has the mouthfeel of hot, malty and boozy syrupy. No carbonation, medium-full bodied. 3.5/5

Overall: Too hot, malty and boozy for my taste, but I guess that's what a traditional barleywine is supposed to be like. For me, a few ounces was enough.

Recommendation: Fans of malty barleywines should seek this one out, but let it cool off in the cellar for a while.

Pairings: Fudge brownies.

Cost: $20 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beer Review: Crème Brûlée Java Stout

Reviewing the Crème Brûlée Java Stout from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company. Thank you Frank and Lester for sharing this majestic brew with me and many others the night before Dark Lord Day at the Marriott Courtyard.
Score: 96

Growler pour served in a plastic cup and enjoyed 04/27/12. Once the growler passed around, I was able to get a larger pour, and I could not have been happier. Review is from notes.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown, coffee-like color with ruby highlights and a thin tan ring of head around the glass. No lacing or retention discernible. 4/5

Smell: Ridiculously inviting! An excellent medley of creamy coffee, roast, crème brûlée, vanilla, milk chocolate and mocha. 5/5

Taste: Iced coffee, roasted, milk chocolate and mocha. Modest vanilla and plenty of bittersweet nestle morsels flavor. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel. Slightly bitter, roasty finish. Thinner bodied than hoped for, but it does not undermine the overall quality of the beer too much. 3.5/5

Overall: A very flavorful and delicious smelling non-imperial stout. Fans of chocolate, mocha and crème brûlée unite! I will surely be seeking out bottles of this in the future.

Recommendation: A great starter craft beer for iced coffee drinkers and flavorful stout for beer geeks.

Pairings: Crème brûlée, of course.

Cost: $28 for a 64 oz growler.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Beer Review: Live A Rich Life (Shark Pants)

Reviewing the Live A Rich Life (Shark Pants) belgian IPA, a collaboration between Three Floyds Brewing Company and De Struise Brouwers in honor of the memory of Rich Sheppard -- a Three Floyds' employee that passed away on 04/12/11. Thank you Robbie Moy for hooking me up with a bottle after I forgot to pick one up before leaving the Three Floyds' grounds at Dark Lord Day! I got to sample this one tap at Dark Lord Day, and it was fantastic.
Score: 96

No bottle stamp, which is par for the court with Three Floyds. I picked up this bottle at Dark Lord Day (04/28/12). Served in a Dogfish Head snifter and enjoyed on 05/07/12.

Appearance: Pours a slight cloudy/murky/translucent golden-orange color. One finger of off-white seafoam head at pour settles to a thin foggy layer atop the beer. Excellent lacing and retention. Amazing cling. My glass was not sedimenty at all because I poured my glass first, but my roommate's pour had a big clump of dead yeast settle to the bottom of the glass. If not for my roommate's sedimenty glass, I probably would have given this beer a five for appearance. 4.5/5

Smell: Strong notes of zesty citrus, a little bit of fruit and light yeast. Candied grapefruit, lemon zest, hoppy orange, mango, sugary pineapple and a little peach. Floral and piney hops too. Touch of creamy grain and residual spice. The Belgian yeast is essentially in the background of the nose, acting as a nice compliment to the citrus. Absolutely amazing aroma here. 5/5

Taste: The taste is not quite as pronounced as the aroma, but it is still quite delicious. Zesty and hoppy orange and a little clove and yeast upfront. Fruity hops, juicy citrus and clove. A little bit of earthy hoppiness. There is a subtle menthol-like cooling on the back of the tongue in the aftertaste. Sweet-and-sour grapfruit lemonade and mango/pineapple throughout. Piney hops and residual banana-yeast in the finish. There is a fruity hop aftertaste that seemingly gets stronger as it layers. There is a very, very mild onion flavor towards the finish that does not add a lot of flavor, but adds some the oniony warmth you'd associate with earthier IPA's on the back of the tongue as it hits room temperature (supplanting the initial menthol-like cooling). That residual fruitiness really lingers. Very refreshing, very drinkable. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation that makes the piney sweet-and-sour citrus and hops pop on the tongue. Juicy mouthfeel. Sweet-and-sour finish with mild bitterness and very modest dryness. 4.5/5

Overall: A stand out beer from arguably the best brewery in America at making hoppy beers. Not nearly as fruity/yeasty as the Bedlam, this is truly an imperial IPA with a Belgian twist. If you are a fan of the sweet-and-sour IPA style (Heady Topper, Ghandi Bot, Antihero, etc.) then this is a beer you should hunt down before it goes stale. I seriously hope Three Floyds' considers making this beer a mainstay.

Recommendation: This stuff is almost as good as Heady Topper, and it's just as good as, albeit different from, Artic Panzer Wolf and Dreadnaught. Seek this beer out while it is still fresh.

Pairings: Grilled chicken.

Cost: $15 for a 22 oz bottle.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beer Review: Down 'N Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

Reviewing Down 'N Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout from Tyranena Brewing Company.
Score: 91

Bottled March 07, 2012. Served in a Dogfish Head snifter and enjoyed on 05/07/12.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown syrup, almost black color. Totally opaque save for a thin film strip of caramel highlight at the top of the glass when held up to light. A finger-and-a-half of creamy/seafoam tan head settles to a thin film atop the beer. Good lacing and retention. Nice cling. 4.5/5

Smell: Lots of roast and toasted oats. Cocoa, bitter raw chocolate, coffee and oatmeal. A little creamer. Very breakfast stout-like. 4/5

Taste: Very creamy and roasty. Cocoa, roasted bitter chocolate, creamy oatmeal, and coffee. Oats and a little barley. Light hoppiness on the back end. Very pleasant oatmeal stout. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, light carbonation. Very creamy mouthfeel. Bitter, slightly acidic finish. Modestly dry. Really excellent mouthfeel. 4.5/5

Overall: Really underrated off-the-shelf oatmeal stout from Tyranena Brewing Company. It is very creamy, chocolately and roasty. I would absolutely love to try the barrel aged version of this -- the Doubly Down 'N Even Dirtier. Down 'N Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout is better than New Glarus' Road Slush.

Recommendation: Seek a bottle of this out. Even casual beer drinkers should enjoy this one. If you have a non-beer geek friend that loves Guinness, give him a bottle of this to start his craft beer journey.

Pairings: Vanilla bean ice cream.

Cost: $2 for a 12 oz bottle.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beer Review: The Marquis

Reviewing the Marquis from Revolution Brewing Company out of Chicago the afternoon before Dark Lord Day. Revolution has a fantastical barrel aging program, and even though I did not like the base beer I decided to give this one a whirl. As with Gravedigger Billy, I was rewarded for my curiosity.
Score: 91

10 oz tap our served in a tulip and enjoyed at the Revolution brewpub on 04/27/12. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Translucent auburn orange color. Served with thin layer of off-white head. Good lacing and retention. 4/5

Smell: Cherry, raspberry, grassy black currant and red grape. The Cabernet barrel aging is very apparent, very well incorporated. Pear, fruity/floral malt and a light amount of alcohol. Some sweet fruit and a little brown sugar too. 4.25/5

Taste: Very complex fruit sweetness. Fruity red wine, cherry and currant. Plenty of acidic red wine sweetness, though it is more apparent in back half than upfront. Pear, cherry and melon juiciness. A little brown sugar/molasses on the midpalate. Lingering red grape finish that grows as it layers. A little sugary sweet, but not overly sweet. Dry Cabernet finish with more brown sugar at room temp. Booziness almost entirely hidden. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, medium carbonation. Very smooth mouthfeel; almost like an oily and thin syrup. Sweet and dry finish. 4/5

Overall: The base beer was not very good, but once again Revolution proves a good barrel program can do wonders to even the most mediocre beer. I would not call this one of my favorite barrel aged beers by Revolution, and I feel it was a bit overpriced at $10 for a 10 oz pour, but I welcome the experimentation and will continue to try their barrel aged beers if they keep churning out brews up to the quality of Gravedigger Billy once in a while. I cannot wait for the Revolution Brewing groundbreaking party for their new canning facility -- where I finally intend to drink/review Baracus and BA Baracus.

Recommendation: Give the beer a whirl if you are at Revolution if you like drier/sweeter beers or red wine.

Pairings: The antihero chicken sandwich.

Cost: $10 for a 10 oz pour.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beer Review: Scurvy

Reviewing the Survy from Tyranena Brewing Company out of Wisconsin. This is a seasonal IPA brewed with orange zest. It just hit shelves the other week. This used to come in four packs as part of the Brewers Gone Wild series, but it was released in six packs this time around.
Score: 88

Bottled April 13, 2012. Served in a Dogfish Head snifter and enjoyed on 05/07/12.

Appearance: Pours a deep golden-amber color with a finger-plus of creamy off-white head that settles into a thin foggy film atop of the beer. Pretty good lacing, excellent retention and cling. 4.5/5

Smell: The orange zest is very prominent. In addition, there is grapefruit, sharp lemon, and a hint of onion. Earthy, dirty hops. 4/5

Taste: Like the nose, the bitter orange zest is very prominent upfront. Earthy, oniony hops on the midpalate. Sweet caramel malt backbone. Lots of non-describe bitter citrus hoppiness throughout. Simple, but tasty. Bitter caramel malt aftertaste. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-minus bodied, light carbonation. Oily mouthfeel. Bitter finish. A bit thin and under-carbonated. 3.5/5

Overall: A solid, above average seasonal release from Tyranena Brewing Company. Tyranena does a pretty good job at making hoppy beers. This one is nothing special, but it is probably very accessible and a good beer for the price. I'd order this at a bar in the future.

Recommendation: Pick this one up whiles its fresh unless you hate earthy, hoppy beers. Scurvy is a very mild IPA for those looking to get into the style.

Pairings: The chicken with almonds Lean Cuisine.

Cost: $2 for a 12 oz bottle.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Beer Review: Mexican Cake

Reviewing the Mexican Cake by Westbrook Brewing Company. This beer was brewed to celebrate Westbrook's first anniversary and has gotten a lot of hype since it's release. Let's see if it lives up to the hype. 
Score: 92

2012 vintage bottle served in a Founders CBS snifter and enjoyed on 04/25/12.

Appearance: This beer is a jet black vacuum of light. Pours four fingers of foamy mocha head. Amazing lacing, very good retention. This is an absolutely gorgeous looking imperial stout. 5/5

Smell: Doughy vanilla and lots of fudge. Cocoa and cinnamon. Light cherry and a mild spicy pepper aroma too. Smells like a fluffy vanilla-chocolate cake. Very inviting. 4.5/5

Taste: Sadly, the taste is not quite as good as the aroma led on. Lots of cinnamon throughout. Fudge, raw chocolate, a touch of brown sugar and a little bit of roast. There is some pepper heat on the midpalate that grows on the tongue as the beer layers and warms. Modest chocolate covered cherry flavor (done right, unlike the Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout) on the back half with residual chili/pepper spice flavor in the finish. I am enjoying the flavors of this beer more with every sip -- perhaps because of the growing pepper effect giving the cinnamon and cocoa flavors more liveliness. No booziness whatsoever. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, mild carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with growing pepper heat on the tongue. It's not overly spicy, however. Moderately dry finish. 4/5

Overall: This beer is certainly overhyped, and I would absolutely not trade the King Henry-level asking price this beer is commonly commanding on the trading forum in order to get a hold of another. That said, I really did enjoy this beer a lot, and if it was relatively available around here I would certainly buy another bottle at the price. Hopefully this one will be brewed again in the future.

Recommendation: Spicy averse people (those who can't even consume the pickled jalapenos at Subway) should avoid this one. Others should seek this one out -- but not at the price of a King Henry quality beer.

Pairings: Gingerbread cake or horchata.

Cost: $10.99 for a 22 oz botle.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Beer Review: Dancing Man Wheat

Reviewing the Dancing Man Wheat from New Glarus Brewing Company out of Wisconsin. This wheat beer, like Black Top, is one of New Glarus' most sought after seasonals, and several of friends have proclaimed this beer to be one of the best American-made wheat beers. Let's put that claim to the test!
Score: 95

Bottle stamp is "1042 11:53," meaning it was packaged on the 96th day of the year (April 12, 2012). This beer just hit shelves a week or two ago. Served in a 312 weizen glass and enjoyed on 05/05/12.

Appearance: Pours a golden wheat color with lots of visible effervescence. Very clean, transparent appearance. Four to five fingers of foamy white head at pour gradually settles into a decently sized layer that is thicker than what you would get hard pouring a Bourbon County Brand Stout. Minimal lacing, poor retention. 4/5

Smell: Pungent banana and lots of wheat. Phenolic Belgian yeast, fruity wheat, clove, coriander, doughy biscuit and malty banana bread. The aroma is flavorful, but on the "lighter" side. A pitch perfect smelling hefeweizen, honestly. 4.75/5

Taste: Ripe banana throughout. Fruity Belgian yeast, creamy wheat, clove, a little coriander and orange. There is a slightly, sweet doughy "Cheerios" flavor on the back half of a dry, cotton-mouthing finish. There's a faint hint of menthol present and a growing sweet fruitiness/spiciness on midpalate as the beer warms. A little orange and lemon flavor in the background too. Crisp with a residual fruitiness and refreshing. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, higher carbonation. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel with a good prickliness from the carbonated wheat on the tongue. Very dry finish. 4/5

Overall: Knockout hefeweizen here. Very simplistic, traditional, drinkable and refreshing. On a hot summer day, this one would absolutely hit the spot.

Recommendation: Seek this beer out. This would be a great gateway beer into craft for casual beer drinkers.

Pairings: A garden omelet with cheese.

Cost: $9.99 for a six pack.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beer Review: Black Top IPA

Reviewing the Black Top from New Glarus Brewing Company out of Wisconsin. This beer is one of New Glarus' most sought after seasonal beers.
Score: 89

Bottle stamp is "0962 13:39," meaning it was packaged on the 96th day of the year (April 5, 2012). This beer just hit shelves a week or two ago. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 05/05/12.

Appearance: Pour a deep caramel, almost black color with ruby highlights in the body when held up to light. Two fingers of creamy off-white/tan head at pour settles to a bubbly ring around the glass and thin film atop the glass. Average lacing and average retention with residual cling. 4/5

Smell: Lots of piney/grassy hops and citrus. Lemon, grapefruit, tangerine and a little sugary pineapple. A touch of creamy milk chocolate too. Really nice IPA aroma with a light chocolate twist. 4.5/5

Taste: A lot less IPA-like (and flavorful) than the nose let on. Creamy chocolate, chocolate malt, and a light amount of creamy coffee flavor upfront and on the midpalate. Then some creamy lemon citrus and grapefruit. Mildly hoppy finish. The nose is very flavor-intense, but the taste is quite subdued in comparison. Very drinkable and refreshing. Gets a little hoppier as it layers on the tongue. 3.75/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, medium carbonation. Smooth, oily, creamy mouthfeel. Slighty acidic and hoppy finish. 3.5/5

Overall: Solid black IPA, but I have had better. The nose is really nice, but it sets up the wrong kind of expectations for the taste. I would absolutely drink another, but not quite sure I would want five more.

Recommendation: This mild hybrid IPA is probably a good gateway beer for casual beer drinkers looking to get into IPA. Snag a bottle while it's fresh and in season.

Pairings: Hamburgers.

Cost: $9.99 for a six pack.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Beer Review: Serpent's Stout

Reviewing the Serpent's Stout from The Lost Abbey. This is part of the base beer used to blend and barrel aged the Deliverance Ale I reviewed earlier this year. Thank you David Forrest for hooking me up with this bottle!
Score: 91

No bottle date, but this was received from California in early January 2012. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 05/05/12.

Appearance: Jet black with a film of brown caramel highlight at the very top of the glass when held directly up to light. One-plus fingers of foamy mocha head at pour settles to a creamy ring around the glass and thin film atop the glass. Awesome lacing, amazing retention. This is an absolutely gorgeous-looking stout. 5/5

Smell: Fig, raisin, dark fruit, burnt brown sugar and roasted milk chocolate. Cocoa, faint coffee grounds, and a hint of vanilla bean. There are subtle notes of black cherry and the faintest hint of sweet soy. 4.5/5

Taste: A little alcohol warmth up front along with burnt brown sugar, burnt fig and used coffee ground. A lot of "burnt" roast. Cocoa and raw chocolate on the back of the tongue and on the midpalate. Milk chocolate and brown sugar in the finish. Good roasty chocolate and bitter coffee ground linger. Some fizzy black cherry comes out on the midpalate and in the finish as the beer warms and layers. There's a real nice bitter roast flavor medley here. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, medium-plus carbonation. Too much carbonation for the style, to be frank. The mouthfeel is a little syrupy and sticky. Bitter finish with faint sweetness. 3.5/5

Overall: A really nice smelling/tasting beer marred by over-carbonation. Maybe this is a bottling issue, as Port Brewing/Lost Abbey is well known for their inability to get bottle carbonation right. I would absolutely love to try this one off tap/cask or even a nitro-tap.

Recommendation: Seek a bottle out. Definitely worth giving a whirl, and not overly expensive.

Pairings: Steak.

Cost: $11.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beer Review: Bitter Valentine

Reviewing the Bitter Valentine from Williamsburg AleWerks out of Virginia. This, like Pipework's Ninja vs. Unicorn, is a highly hyped and newer IPA on the market. Thank you ProperHops (Joseph) for sending me this treat!
Score: 84

No bottle date, which is never a good sign for an IPA bottle. Why do brewers even bother selling beer without bottled on date? Marginal revenue at the expense of bad customer experiences and quality control is never good marketing. Served in a Half Acre tulip and enjoyed on 05/04/12.

Appearance: Pours a lighter, but translucent, orange-amber color with one-plus fingers of seafoam tan head at pour that settles to a thin foggy cap and bubbly ring around the glass. Average lacing, above average retention. 4/5

Smell: Malty orange citrus, dirty/earthy hops and a little lemon. Residual onion/horseradish. 3.5/5

Taste: Bitter orange rind and malty orange. A bit of sharp/spicy onion on the midpalate. Bitter earthy hops on the back of the tongue. You can tell this is not the freshest, but it's still pretty solid. Seems to get bitter/maltier as it layers, with less citrus flavor. Lingering hop bitterness. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Oily mouthfeel. Bitter finish with a little residual intensity on the tongue. 3.5/5

Overall: You can tell there's potential here, but this beer was likely not the freshest. Williamsburg AleWerks really should bottle date their stuff. I would like to revisit this when a new batch is released.

Recommendation: A decent IIPA as is, but seek this one out fresh. Bitter/oniony hop haters and casual beer drinkers should probably avoid this beer.

Pairings: Grilled chicken.

Cost: $7.99 for a 22 oz bottle.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beer Review: Citra Double IPA

Reviewing the infamous Citra Double IPA from Kern River Brewing Company out of California. Today marks the last day of class in my law school career. I needed to celebrate with something special. Thank you Steven for sending me this one!

Score: 91

This bottle is from the March 23, 2012 release. Served in a Half Acre tulip and enjoyed on 05/02/12. Per Steven, this was stored in a fridge with set to a low/mid-30's temperature to help preserve its freshness.

Appearance: Pours a real nice golden orange color with two-plus fingers of foamy off-white head that slowly settles into a thin layer atop the glass. Very dense looking, and on the opaque side of translucent. Average lacing, good retention. 4/5

Smell: Lots of fresh tropical citrus in the nose. Pineapple, grapefruit, peach, mango, hoppy orange, lemon zest, and sweet-and-sour lemonade. Piney hops and fresh grass clipping. Incredible DIPA aroma. 4.5/5

Taste: You can tell the hops have fallen off a bit in the beer, but it still tastes good. Sweet tropical citrus upfront, counterbalanced by grassiness on back end. Upfront is zesty sweet-and-sour lemon, candied grapefruit, bitter orange rind, and pineapple juice. The back half is plenty juicy citrus as well, and mildly bitter on the linger with orange flavor to boot. The flavor profile is very similar to Heady Topper and Ghandi Bot, just "duller" and lacking any real bitter bite. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and on the higher end of carbonation. Juicy mouthfeel. 4/5

Overall: A solid, but nothing spectacular DIPA. I have had fresher batches since the original review, and although the nose is always great, the taste lacks the punch I prefer in an IPA.

Recommendation: Worth drinking, but overhyped.

Cost: $8 for a 22 oz bottle.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Beer Review: Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord Imperial Stout

Today I finished law school. I decided to celebrate in epic style. This is review #250. How fitting that all the epicness align.

Reviewing the incredibly rare and highly sought after Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord Imperial Stout from Three Floyds Brewing Company. This is bottle number 500 out of 934.
Score: 100

2012 vintage bottle from the April 28, 2012 Dark Lord Day release. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 05/11/12.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color that is completely opaque save for a thin film of brown atop the glass when held up to light. Half a finger of creamy dark mocha/milk chocolate colored head at pour settles into a ring around the glass. Average lacing, but awesome retention and cling. 5/5

Smell: Rich and sugary vanilla and bourbon-y molasses. Lots of sweet raisin, brown sugar and creamy milk chocolate. Dark fruit and a little caramel. A little wood too. No booziness whatsoever despite 13% ABV. 5/5

Taste: Rich and sweet, but not overly sweet. Sweet, creamy vanilla and milk chocolate upfront and in the finish. A little warmth on the palate, but no booziness. Ample doses of sweet raisin on midpalate and in the finish as well. Sugary vanilla frosting and sweet brown sugar on the midpalate too. There's a smooth, somewhat subtle bourbon backbone. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Full-medium bodied, no carbonation. Syrupy mouthfeel. Sugary sweet finish. Not overly heavy, which works perfectly with the flavor profile. 5/5

Overall: This beer is decadent. Rich and delicious, this is the ultimate definition of digestif. This beer was a little hard to finish by myself at 13% ABV given the level of sweetness (it is not diabetes-inducing like the regular Dark Lord), but that is why I enjoyed this one with a few friends. This is truly one of the most tasty beers made, and it's completely on par with how Bourbon County Vanilla is currently drinking. I think I ever slightly prefer the Bourbon County Rare to this, however.

Recommendation: Seek a bottle of this out, but don't trade your rare to get it.

Pairings: Digestif. Seriously. Just enjoy this one on it's own.

Cost: $50 for a 750 ml bottle.

Beer Review: Be Hoppy

Reviewing the Be Hoppy from Wormtown Brewing Company out of Massachusetts.
Score: 90

No bottling date, but received this one in a trade as an extra in the last week of March. Served in an Avery stemmed beer glass and enjoyed on 04/09/12.

Appearance: Pours a translucent golden color with three fingers of foamy off-white head that slowly settles to a thin layer. Excellent lacing, pretty good retention. 4/5

Smell: Lots of sweet grapefruit, lemon and fresh citrus. Plenty of piney hops. There is an orange juice aroma in the background of the nose. 4/5

Taste: Juicy citrus and grassy hops. Malty orange juice backbone. Lemon, grapefruit, orange and mango. Lingering bitter citrus and malty orange juice finish. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Juicy mouthfeel. Bitter and slightly malty sweet finish. 4/5

Overall: A really solid and juicy everyday IPA offering. Refreshing and flavorful.

Recommendation: If you live in Massachusetts, seek a bottle of this stuff out.

Pairings: Rainbow sherbet ice cream.

Cost: $8 for a 22 oz bottle.

Beer Review: Thank You Allan

Reviewing the Thank You Allan from Maine Beer Company.
Score: 69

Not bottle date, but a Google search indicates this beer was released March 1, 2012 and there are only 250 bottles. Served in a Russian River footed glass and enjoyed on 05/10/12.

Appearance: Pours a translucent apple juice color with a finger of fizzy white head that quickly and totally settles. No pop to the cork, which was disappointing after the shotgun rocket that was the cork to the Oude Gueze I had last weekend. No lacing or retention. There is no sediment in my glass, despite the bottle's warning about yeasty sediment in the bottle. 3.5/5

Smell: Sour apple, white grape, pear syrup and candied lemon. There is a hint of sweet rice vinegar and a little grapefruit too. No hops. Decent sour aroma without any funkiness. 3.75/5

Taste: What the eff? This is not a wild ale. There's a crisp bitter citrus sourness upfront, but that quickly subsides into a medley of bland lager flavors. There is a tin-y aftertaste with a residual stale apple juice linger. Cornmeal, bready malt, grain and apple cores. Bleh! This is not undrinkable, but why drink this? 2/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, medium-plus carbonation. Has a thin "lager juice" mouthfeel. Dry finish. A bit acidic. 3/5

Overall: I don't care what Maine Beer Company says; this is not a wild ale. This beer tastes like an American adjunct lager with a stale apple twist.

Recommendation: Avoid this beer. I truly appreciate the generous gesture from my friend in sending me this limited brew, but this beer is not good.

Pairings: Brats.

Cost: $25 for a 500 ml bottle.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beer Review: World Wide Stout (2004, 8 years old)

Reviewing a 2004 vintage bottle of the infamous World Wide Stout from the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. I have had this one several times before, but I have never had a bottle that is more than two years old before. This beer is pretty “hot” and boozy fresh, so I am curious to see what eight years of age can do. Shout out/thank you to Nick for sharing this bottle with me.
Score: 94

2004 vintage bottle served in a Jester King snifter and enjoyed on 03/11/12.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color. Completely opaque; no light cuts through this beer. A thin tan head quickly settles to a pencil thin ring around the glass. Oily lacing with poor retention – which is to be expected from a nearly 20% ABV beer. This beer is about as imposing as they come. 4/5

Smell: Fig, plum, thick fudge and a modest amount of what can only be described as a red grape/merlot-like red wine aroma. A little black licorice, barley and a hint of stale coffee. A light amount of raspberry and brown sugar. Some oak and molasses. A touch of rubbing alcohol esters come through as it hits room temperature. 4/5

Taste: Holy moley. After 8 years in the bottle, the booziness has almost completely vanished. Rich chocolate upfront. Mellow dark cherry/raspberry on the midpalate. There is a moderate red wine flavor throughout, but it is much less pronounced than it was when the beer was fresh. Raisin/fig/dark fruit and brown sugar/syrup-like sweetness on the back half. Finishes with chocolate and prune with a residual bittersweet chocolate linger. More sweetness as the beer layers. Some alcohol booziness comes out of the woodwork as the bitter gets close to room temperature. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. Smooth and syrupy mouthfeel. Very dry, moderately sweet finish. 4.5/5

Overall: Age has done wonders for this beer. It’s a bit of a booze bomb, albeit a tasty one, when fresh – which is of course not unexpected from a beer that’s almost 20% ABV. This well aged bottle, however, masked most of the booziness in favor of the beer’s rich complexities. I have a four pack from February 2010. I guess I won’t be opening them for another five or six years.

Recommendation: Seek out a bottle or two of this beer and let it age for a long time.

Pairings: Red velvet cake muffins. And not just any red velvet cake muffins -- only the stuff Ilana Feldman makes.

Cost: $9.99 for a 12 oz bottle.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beer Review: Nugget Nectar

Reviewing the Nugget Nectar from Tröegs Brewing Company. 
Score: 91

Batch #120117. Bottled 02/06/12, served in a Half Ace tulip and enjoyed on 04/12/12. A hearty thank you to Joseph over at ProperHops for sending me this brew. You can check out Joseph's YouTube video reviews by clicking here.

Appearance: Pours a translucent orange-amber color with just under a finger of creamy cream colored head that settles to a thin layer. Above average lacing and average retention. 4/5

Smell: Piney hops, nutty malt, walnut, toffee, caramel, grapefruit and barley. The citrus and hops aroma is a lot more muted than expected. Very malty aroma, but in a pleasant way. 4/5

Taste: Strong mix of malty caramel, barley and piney hop oils. Layering bitter grapefruit and lemon. Earthy nut flavor on the midpalate and back half. Residual spice. There are a lot more hops in the taste then in the nose. Lingering lemon, nut and barley finish. Nugget Nectar is similar to Zoe in that it’s an IPA-like amber, but I think I preferred Zoe more. Not sure how much of that preference has to do with the fact that this bottle is just over two months old, however. 4.25

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied with carbonation on the higher end (but not overcarbonated). The carbonation makes the bitterness of the hops perky on the tongue. Very oily and smooth mouthfeel. Malty, bitter and modestly dry finish. 4/5

Overall: Quite tasty, but I imagine this is even better fresh. I will have to revisit this one in 2013. Best described as a nutty and malty IPA. This is one of only two amber ales (the other being Zoe) that I have ever truly enjoyed. I imagine that I would also like Brian Boru and Ginger Twin.

Recommendation: Casual beer drinkers are less likely to enjoy this one, but beer geeks should seek this beer out when it’s fresh.

Pairings: Gruyere cheese

Cost: $12-14 for a six pack.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Beer Review: Bedlam

Reviewing the Bedlam from Ale Asylum out of Madison, Wisconsin.
Score: 91

Spring 2012 release with the code “2043 73w1745” stamped on the bottle. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 04/12/12.

Appearance: Pours a transparentish sunset orange color. When held up to light, the beer fades from a dull golden color in the upper third of the glass to a light reddish orange color. A thin layer of off-white creamy head at pour quickly settles to a pencil thin ring around the glass. Awesome lacing, above average retention. 4/5

Smell: Grapefruit citrus, fruity/floral hops and “phenolic yeast.” Smells a lot like a trappist quad with an IPA twist. A little lemon and pulpy orange juice. A touch of residual spices. This is my first Belgian IPA, and it is unlike any other IPA I have ever smelled. 4/5

Taste: Tastes more like a Belgian with an IPA twist than an IPA with a Belgian twist. Orange flavored hops, grapefruit and floral spice with a fruity banana/Belgian yeast backbone. Lots of the banana/Belgian yeast flavor on the midpalate. Has a growing bitter hop bite in the finish as it layers. Muted fruit in the back half with clove. Lingering orange juice malt flavor. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, with lively carbonation on the tongue. Oily mouthfeel. Has a dry finish that is mildly fruity/malty. 4/5

Overall: Unique to say the least. This is my first Belgian IPA, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This is probably Ale Asylum’s best beer. It is not great by any means, but it is something refreshingly different from your traditional oniony IPA or earthy IPA or juicy IPA. Give it a whirl while it is in season.

Recommendation: If you like Belgian beers and IPAs, hunt this one down.

Pairings: Greek salad or banana break.

Cost: $10.99 for a six pack.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Beer Review: Troegenator Double Bock

Reviewing the Troegenator Double Bock from Tröegs Brewing Company.
Score: 79

Unknown bottle date or batch number -- too much of the bottle stamp was rubbed off of the bottle neck. Served in a New Belgium Globe Glass and enjoyed on 01/19/12.

Appearance: Pours a dark and translucent mahogany color with a thin layer of creamy tan head that settles to a bubble ring around the glass. Poor lacing, but good retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Caramel candy, a little toffee and vanilla. Modest roasted chocolate, fig and dates. This beer has a really nice, malty-sweet aroma. No booziness. 4/5

Taste: The flavors are very muted and watered down. Strange, given the relative potency of the aroma. Malty caramel, dates and brown sugar sweetness. Mild vanilla cream soda on the back half. Very sweet and less "balanced" than the aroma leads on. No booziness, however. Sweet toffee on midpalate. Malty residual linger. 3.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, low carbonation. Watery mouthfeel. Sweet and malty. 2.5/5

Overall: Has a really pleasant aroma, but the flavor is overly malty sweet.

Recommendation: Average, passable dopplebock. Worth a whirl if it's the best thing on tap.

Pairings: Tiramisu.

Cost: $9.99 for a six pack.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Beer Review: Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze (2010)

Reviewing the Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze from Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen out of Belgium. This beer is off the shelf, but it's supposed to be one of the best off-the-shelf lambics out there.
Score: 95

Bottled 11/10/10. Served in a New Glarus flute and enjoyed on 05/05/12.

Appearance: Super carbonated. The cork to this beer rocketed off the top like a champagne cork when I tried to open it. Thankfully, no one was harmed in the consumption of this beer. Has a bubbly, effervescent appearance. Three to four fingers of white soapy head at pour quickly settles to a thin layer. Minimal lacing, minimal retention. 4/5

Smell: Sweet-and-sour cherry, tart lemon citrus, candied sour fruit and only the faintest hint of funk. White grape juice, granny smith apple and a hint of oak. Very pleasant sweet-and-sour aroma. 4.5/5

Taste: Sweet lemon citrus and tart granny smith apple. Sour white grape. Mild drying oak on midpalate. Simultaneously juicy and upfront and drying on the back end. A little sweet rice vinegar on the back end. Nice sweet-and-sour flavor mix here. There is a mild sour pucker, but nothing intense. Like the nose, there is a subtle musty funk, but it's well incorporated into the background of the flavor profile. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, high carbonation. Champagne-like mouthfeel. Dry lemony-tart finish. 4.5/5

Overall: Absolutely delicious gueuze here. People go nuts for the funk and pucker, but for less than $20, you can sit on this beer for 18 months and have something fantastic to drink without emptying your cellar. I do not go nuts for sours like others do, but I thoroughly enjoyed this brew.

Recommendation: Great intro sour; seek this out.

Pairings: Grilled chicken.

Cost: $9.99 for a 355 ml bottle or $16.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Beer Review: Hunahpu's Imperial Stout

Reviewing the infamous Hunahpu's Imperial Stout from Cigar City Brewing. Scott's eagle eye saw this beer was on tap within 10 minutes after arriving within the gates of Dark Lord Day gates. We threw down our Tocobaga Red and Blueberry Muffin Brown and dashed for the line just before everyone else did. It was totally worth it.
Score: 95

10 oz tap pour served in a plastic cup and enjoyed at Dark Lord Day (04/28/12) around 10:30 AM. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: The beer is a very deep brown, almost black color. There's some dark chocolaty brown highlights atop the glass when held up to light. Given the "glassware" this beer is served it, it was hard to determine lacing or retention. Basically, the beer looked like motor oil. I plan to crack a bottle of this in the future and will have to revise the score if the appearance is anything more impressive when served in proper glassware out of a bottle and not at a festival. At Dark Lord Day, perhaps because of early morning stout fatigue, this just looked like a pretty good stout (as opposed to something visually impressive). 4/5

Smell: Chocolate and cocoa, cherry, cinnamon, chili peppers and coffee. A little vanilla bean and tobacco. Hint of dark fruit. Nice aromatic medley of spice here. 4.25/5

Taste: Less heat on the tongue than Mexican Cake, but there is still plenty of spice and flavor. Chilli pepper, milk chocolate and a little coffee. Only light heat prickle on the midpalate and back of tongue. Muted vanilla. Plenty of cinnamon throughout. Sweet fig upfront. Layering chilli heat prickliness on the palate. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, low carbonation. Slightly sweet and creamy mouthfeel. 4.5/5

Overall: Absolutely outstanding imperial stout to have the pleasure to sip and enjoy in line for the Three Floyds' Brewpub. There is a real nice spice and chocolate flavor, and I can see why this beer is so sought after. Hunahpu is much better than Mexican Cake. We also got a glass of the Apple Brandy Zhukov right after the Hunahpu kicked, and that beer absolutely blows this one out of the water.

Recommendation: Seek this beer out unless you are chilli flavor averse. There is less heat than there was with Mexican Cake, but more flavor, synergy and balance.

Pairings: Gingerbread cookies

Cost: $20 for a 750 ml bottle or $10 for a 10 oz pour at Dark Lord Day.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Beer Review: Goldilock's Revenge

Reviewing the Goldilock's Revenge from O'so Brewing Company. This beer is an imperial stout aged in brandy barrels for five months. A hearty thank you and shout out to Nick for sharing this one with me. I doubt I would have ever heard of it if you didn't have a bottle, and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to try this one.
Score: 91

2012 vintage bottle from the 767 bottle release in February/March. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 04/25/12.

Appearance: Pours almost no head. Jet black color with a thin later of brown highlight atop when held up to light. There is a pencil thin bubbly ring around the glass. Minimal oily lacing, virtually no retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Brandy sweetness, raw chocolate, brown sugar, and creamy chocolate. Hint of cherry and red grape. Vanilla and spice too. 4/5

Taste: Surprisingly straightforward, but very delicious. Raw chocolate, milk chocolate and sweet brandy throughout. Red grape, brown sugar and toffee. Not at all boozy. There's a hint of licorice on the midpalate. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, minimal carbonation. Syrupy mouthfeel that is a little creamy. Modestly sweet finish. 4/5

Overall: A very delicious, under-the-radar imperial stout. I have not been impressed by O'so's other beer offerings, but this one was fantastic. I hope this gets brewed again in the future and given some distribution (I think this was a brewery-only release).

Recommendation: Hunt a bottle of this beer down if you like imperial stouts.

Pairings: Chocolate macadamia cookies.

Cost: $11 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beer Review: Deviant Dale's IPA

Reviewing the Deviant Dale's IPA from Oskar Blues Grill And Brewery out of Colorado. Oskar Blue is best known for their Ten Fidy Russian Imperial Stout -- one of the best beers in the style.
Score: 90

Canned on 04/09/12. Served in a CBS snifter and enjoyed on 04/25/12.

Appearance: Pours a clean amber color with a nice layer of creamy cream colored head that slowly settles into a thin film. Really good lacing, above average retention. 4/5

Smell: Lively and earthy hops, lemon, and onion spice. There is a little bit of that honey aroma you get when you smell a Hopslam. Caramel malt and grapefruit as well. 4/5

Taste: Bitter citrus upfront. Rye, onion, lemon and sweet-and-spicy caramel malt. Grapefruit and lots of earthy hops. Growing bitterness as the beer layers. Has an oniony hop linger/finish. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Smooth and oily mouthfeel. Bitter finish. Not at all dry.

Overall: This is a super solid imperial IPA, albeit a little oniony. Oskar Blues is always on the pricier side of craft, and I'm not sure I would consistently buy this at $3-4 each, but I would absolutely drink this beer again if offered one.

Recommendation: Seek this one out fresh, unless you hate spiced hop beers or oniony IPA flavors.

Pairings: Beat goat cheese salad with balsamic.

Cost: $3.99 for a 16 oz can or $12 for a four pack.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beer Review: Double Crooked Tree IPA (2012, fresh)

Reviewing the Double Crooked Tree IPA (2012) from Dark Horse Brewing Company. I reviewed the year old vintage about a month ago, and just had to compare it to a relatively fresh bottle.
Score: 91

February 2012 vintage bottle served in a New Belgian Globe Glass and enjoyed on 04/25/12.

Appearance: Like the one year old version, this beer pours a dark and hazy and pulpy brownish-orange color with a moderately yellow hue. Two fingers of thick, foamy cream-colored head at pour slowly recedes into thin, creamy layer. Below average lacing, good retention. 4/5

Smell: A lot more hoppy citrus than the year old vintage. Lemon, grapefruit, and apple juice. Modest booziness, onion-y hops and light caramel. 4/5

Taste: Much more citrus and hops than the year old vintage. Grapefruit, lemon, apples and orange rind. Bitter hops, spiced caramel and onion. The year old version was like a DIPA barleywine, but this beer is much more like a traditional DIPA with barleywine characteristics. Lots of onion flavor in the finish. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with low carbonation. The carbonation accentuates the heavier DIPA body and bitter characteristics of this brew. Oily mouthfeel. Dry, bitter finish. 4/5

Overall: It is surprising how different this beer is with age versus fresh. This one works wells fresh as a DIPA and aged as a hoppy barleywine.

Recommendation: Seek this beer out if you like bitter beers with oniony citrus flavors.

Pairings: Chicken pot pie.

Cost: $4.19 for a 12 oz or $16.99 for a four pack.