Friday, August 30, 2013

Beer Review: Shaggin' In The Woods

Reviewing Shaggin' In The Woods from Tyranena Brewing Company out of Lake Mills, Wisconsin.

Score: 82

2013 vintage bottle served in an Upland snifter and enjoyed on 05/07/13. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Dark bourbon color, pours a thin layer of tan head. Poor lacing and retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Caramel, cocoa, fruity malt and oak. Faint vanilla, hops too. 4/5

Taste: Caramel, malt and oak. Sweet (but not bold) bourbon flavor with vanilla. Not complex at all. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, low-medium carbonation. Malty and sweet. Way too thin for what it's trying to offer; it's practically watery. 1.5/5

Overall: Solid flavor and aroma, marred by a horrible mouthfeel. This brew lacks any semblance of viscosity.

Cost: $9.99 for a four pack.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beer Review: Dry Hopped L'Brett D'or

Reviewing the Dry Hopped L'Brett D'or from the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project out of Denver, Colorado.

Score: 98

2012 vintage bottle served in a Perennial tulip/snifter hybrid glass and enjoyed on 05/07/13. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours a nice and vibrant orange peel color with a thin layer of bubbly head that settles to a bubbly ring around glass. Poor lacing and retention, but I love the lively color! 4.75/5

Smell: Grapefruit, mango, apricot, peach, and orange. This smells like a soured tropical fruit IPA. A little eucalyptus menthol too. Complex tropical qualities galore. 4.75/5

Taste: Super tart grapefruit/mango/peach juice. Tastes like a tropically juicy version of the regular L'Brett D'or. Imagine what a freshly juiced tropical fruit medley would smell like if bretted and fermented -- that is this beer. Some grassy hoppiness towards the finish gives this beer a nice bitterness to boot with the tart finish. Grows in tartness as it warms up. A hint of oak comes through as the beer warms up. Truly delicious and refreshing. I could drink this beer all summer long. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, spot on carbonation. Nice zesty tartness and juiciness. 4.5/5

Overall: A truly outstanding beer. This is like a soured Heady Topper; it's so juicy and citrusy. I wish I had a case of this; I would drink it all summer long. Do yourself a favor and seek out a bottle.

Cost: $10 for a 375 ml bottle.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Beer Review: 70K

Reviewing the 70K from Against The Grain Brewery out of Louisville, Kentucky. This is the imperial version of their 35K milk stout, aged for an extended period of time in Angel's Envy.

Score: 94
Tap pour served in a snifter glass and enjoyed on 05/24/13 while in Louisville for my best friend's bachelor party. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Deep brown, maybe black in color (it's 10pm and I'm outside, so color is hard to pin down). Served with a finger-plus of khaki head that settles to a ring around the glass. Good lacing, excellent retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Oak, maple sweetness, bourbon, caramel, hint of vanilla. Some coconut too! Hint of milk chocolate. Touch of booze. 4.25/5

Taste: Maple, vanilla and chocolate flavors primarily. Much less oak and more chocolate in taste than in nose. Caramel maltiness and bourbon flavor towards finish. Has a light coconut flavor in finish, substantially less than was in the nose. Tastes even better than it smells! 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, low carbonation. Super creamy mouthfeel. Nice level of sweetness without being overly sweet for my tastes. Love the barrel character here, as its complexity-imparting without hitting you over the head with bourbon notes or totally overshadowing the base brew.

Overall: Another home run beer for Against The Grain. It's about on the same level of quality as the Pappy aged Bo & Luke.

Cost: $8 for a 12 oz pour.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Beer Review: Sinister

Reviewing Sinister from 18th Street Brewery, a local gypsy brewery founded by a Pipeworks' employee named Drew.

Score: 90

February 2012 vintage bottle served in a taster glass and enjoyed on 02/22/13. Review is from iPhone notes. This bottle is the third one from the left in the graveyard photo.

Appearance: Clean and clear bourbon color. Pours a finger of off white head that settles to a thick ring around the glass. Good lacing and retention. 4/5

Smell: Dank, resinous pine sap, dirty hops, orangey malt, mango, juicy pineapple and a little spice. 4.25/5

Taste: Earthy malt. A lot more maltiness on the palate than anticipated by the nose. Slightly oniony, akin to the Goose Island Imperial IPA (but not oniony like Deviant Dales or Devil Dancer). Some spice on the tongue too. Some acidity to boot with the bitter hoppiness. Residual bitterness. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Nice bitterness. A little alcohol warmth on palate. 3.75/5

Overall: A solid first brew from a local brewery. I am excited to check a few more of their selections out as they become available.

Cost: $9.99 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beer Review: Hottenroth

Reviewing the Hottenroth from The Bruery out of Placentia, California.

Score: 70

2013 vintage bottle served in an upland snifter and enjoyed on 05/07/13. Review is from iPhone notes

Appearance: Pours a murky dull peach color with a finger of white head. Good lacing and retention. Has a light and delicate appearance. 4/5

Smell: Tons of cereal grain, wheat, a little sweet citrus and apples. 3/5

Taste: Has an offensively flat cereal grain flavor upfront with a very faint tartness on the back end. A little buttery too. Wheaty finish. Has a better citrus tartness if you swish the beer rather than let it sit on the palate, but its very grain heavy when it sits on tongue and the wheat lingers. 2/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, low carbonation. Dry finish with a little prickliness. 3.5/5

Overall: I have not had very many berliner weiss, but this is the most "grainy" one that I have sampled to date. Not a fan.

Cost: $7.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Beer Review: Thumbprint Berliner Weiss (2008 vintage) and Unplugged Berliner Weiss (2013 vintage)

Reviewing both vintages (2008 and 2013) of New Glarus' Unplugged/Thumbprint Berliner Weiss. New Glarus is a Wisconsin brewery that no longer distributes its beer outside of Wisconsin. I reviewed the 2008 vintage of this beer last year. The 2008 vintage used a mix of Pinot Grigio and Riesling grapes, while the new release only used Riesling grapes.

Score: 91 (2008), 85 (2013)

2008 and 2013 vintage bottles served side-by-side in Perennial snifter/tulip hybrid glasses and enjoyed on 05/07/13.

Appearance: The older vintage pours a hazy amber color with a slightly yellowish hue in the light that is substantially different than the lighter white wine golden straw color of the new vintage. Both beers pour a thin layer of white head, with the older head having a darker tinge. Both vintages have above average lacing, with the fresher one having substantial better retention. Both have good retention. 4/5 (2008), 3.5/5 (2013)

Smell: The 2008 vintage aroma is red wine sweetness, apples juice and light vanilla. The 2008 vintage smells like charossets without the nuts. A little fruity oxidation too in a good way. The newer vintage smells of grainy apples, white grapes and cheap white wine (like those single serving bottles they serve on airplanes). The newer vintage has a faint lager-like quality to the nose with hint of banana too. 4/5 (2008), 3.5/4 (2013)

Taste: The 2008 vintage is much more vinous than I remember it being a year prior. The 2008 vintage tastes less like apple cider this time around, and instead tastes like charossets without the nuts plus a light earthiness and fruitiness. The 2008 vintage has a mild, but pleasant tartness. Finishes with charrossets and fruity positive oxidation. By contrast, the 2013 vintage primarily tastes of tart apples, cereal grain, cheap and tannic white wine and wheat. The 2013 vintage tastes a lot like a better Hottenroth, with more tartness and better carbonation. The 2013 does not taste bad, but it tastes very average side-by-side with the 2008 vintage. The 2013 vintage gains a little more tartness as it opens up, but this unfortunately the accenuates grainy finish, which I am not a fan of. 4.25/5 (2008), 3.25/5 (2013)

Mouthfeel: The 2008 vintage is heavier in body (just shy of medium bodied) and has minimal carbonation, less tartness and a mellow dryness. The newer vintage is lighter in body ad has more carbonation and tartness. The 2013 is pretty effervescent out of the gate and less dry on the finish. 3.25/5 (2008), 3.75/5 (2013)

Overall: I much preferred the older vintage, which is drinking nicely. The new vintage was too grainy and the cheap white wine quality was off-putting to me.

Cost: $10 for a four pack of 12 oz bottles.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beer Re-Review: KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) (2011 vintage, 2 years old)

Reviewing the 2011 vintage of KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) (2011) from Founders Brewing Company out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is one of Founders' most well-known beers and probably their most sought out special annual release that is bottled. I have not been a fan of the 2012 or 2013 vintages, so I thought I would dig into my cellar to revisit the last year I recall enjoying this brew. I originally reviewed this vintage of KBS back in January 2012.

Score: 96

March 2011 vintage bottle served in a Upland snifter and enjoyed on 07/07/13. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color with minimal head. Poor lacing and retention. 3.75/5

Smell: Stale coffee, vanilla, oak, and lots of chocolate. A little "old stout" smell and cocoa too. Still smells nice, but not nearly as sublime as when it was fresh. 4.25/5

Taste: One of the reasons this beer is so great is that it used to be so balanced (the last couple of years have been overly acidic/bitter in my opinion). The bitter chocolate and coffee in this vintage counters the sweet barrel and sweet chocolate notes. This bottle has become drier and more bitter with age, but it is not acidic or acrid. Despite being one of the post-vanilla vintages and two years, I still detect ample vanilla notes from the bourbon without the oak or brown sugar -- a lovely quality I think is quite lacking in the recent two years. Dark chocolate is also present, and there is less coffee than nose. Has an "old roastiness" quality to the flavor that I love. The vanilla present is mostly upfront, with the drier/bitter favors prevalent on the finish. The complexity of this brew really shines as it flows from the front of the tongue to the back, and it opens up nicely as it warms. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. The mouthfeel has lost a little of the smoothness as it has dried out with age. The finish no longer leans sweet, and is arguably more balanced from the bitterness that has grown a bit in the flavor profile with age. I originally claimed it was a better beer than fresh Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, but I think it's a slight notch below how the 2011 vintage is currently drinking. 4.75/5

Overall: As was the case with 2008 KBS, 2011 KBS is not quite the same beast that it was fresh (it was near perfect then), but I think that it is still drinking quite nicely with age and better than the fresher vintages. The nose took the biggest hit in quality, gaining a slight "old" (but not oxidized) taste, but taste is where it counts and KBS still delivers in that regard. The coffee has faded a little and the brew has dried out some, but that has lent it a slightly better balance. I was surprised by how much vanilla I detected in this bottle considering that it is a post-vanilla vintage. Give me properly cellared KBS over the newer releases any day; hopefully Founders gets KBS back on track in 2014.

Cost: $5 for a 12 oz bottle.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beer Review: Sofie Paradisi

Reviewing the Sofie Paradisi from Goose Island Beer Company out of Chicago, Illinois. This is their year-round saison aged with grapefruit.

Score: 90

Tap pour served in a 16 oz pint glass and enjoyed on 06/09/13. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours a dull yellow color with a think layer of fizzy white head that settles to a broken ring around the glass. Poor lacing, bad retention. 3/5

Smell: Grapefruit, lemon, touch of oak and a hint of funk. Weizen-like notes. A touch of banana, and fruity wheat beer like notes. Smells like slightly funky grapefruit juice. 4/5

Taste: Grapefruit with a light funky twist. Very juicy and light on the palate, like a fermented/old juice. Belgian yeast fruitiness, hint of lemon, and a dash of pepper towards finish. Finishes with fruity yeast and grapefruit flavor. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Super juicy mouthfeel. Light bodied, spot on light but fizzy carbonation. Light citrus sweetness with a hint of counterbalancing earthiness. 4.25/5

Overall: A refreshing and juicy summer beer. I am not a fan of the style generally, but this variant had a nice "mass appeal" to it due to heavy "grapefruiting" -- think of it as fermented grapefruit juice. If something like that appeals to you, give it a whirl.

Cost: $8 for a 16 oz pour.

Beer Review: Maple Barrel Aged Fayston Maple Imperial Stout (Batch 1, 2010)

Reviewing the Maple Barrel Aged Fayston Maple Imperial Stout from Lawson's Finest Liquids out of Warren, Vermont.

Score: 93

Batch 1, Bottled in December 2010. vintage bottle served in a GLASS and enjoyed on 06/19/13.

Appearance: Pours virtually no head above an inky black body. Minimal lacing and retention. Has some oily legs. 3.75/5

Smell: Lots of oaky vanilla, maple, chocolate and some roast. Smells a bit sweet, nothing complex. Better integration as it warms up. 3.75/5

Taste: Chocolate, maple and lots of roast. Vanilla too, which is more pronounced on the back half than upfront. Raw unsweetened chocolate flavor in the finish. I love how there is a nice medley of "sweet flavors" that are not sweet. Quite drinkable. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, low carbonation. The flavors that hit you are initially sweet, but then a roasty bitteness takes over and balances the sweetness just right. This makes for an interesting mouthfeel, as it gets the palate quite dry. No residual sweetness. The dryness borderlines on chalky at points, but I like that a lot. Reminds me of The Count in that regard. 4.5/5

Overall: The nose was better in batch 2, but the taste here is so much better. The bitter dryness and roastiness is done just nice, and the lack of residual sugar makes this an excellent beer to drink more than a few ounces of. Gets better as it warms up, and the nose integrates better.

Cost: ??? for a 750 ml bottle.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Beer Review: Wild Wild Brett Violet (W.W.B.V)

Reviewing the Wild Wild Brett Violet (W.W.B.V) from the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project out of Denver, Colorado.

Score: 97

2013 vintage bottle, number 1082/1526. Served in a Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 06/19/13.

Appearance: Pours a dull pumpkin color lightened by a slightly yellow hue. Pours a thin layer of head that settles to a thick ring around the glass and whisper coating in the center of the ring.
Very good lacing, above average retention. 4.25/5

Smell: Pomegranate mixed with tart and juicy tropical citrus, like a much more mellow L'Brett D'or infused with pomegranate. Floral lavender too, though it is not nearly pronounced as the pomegranate and citrus. Passion fruit and orange, a dash of nondescript vinaigrette. Very inviting! The lavender character increases as it warms up. 4.75/5

Taste: Tons of tart and juicy pomegranate and tropical citrus upfront with a delicious tart pomegranate and lemon-lime finish that is akin to the mouthfeel of drinking lime juice. Much more lime than lemon flavor as the beer layers, warms and opens up. Lavender and a dash of spice in the middle. There's a light amount of complementary lacto and vinegar throughout that give the flavors life and accent without dominating. Like the nose, the lavender grows as this one warms up. Love the complex mix of flavors. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Light-plus bodied, spot on carbonation. Nice zesty sourness that is juicy on the tongue and slightly drying on the finish. Like drinking very complex lime juice. 4.75/5

Overall: A truly excellent, juicy sour with ample sour kick. Crooked Stave is doing everything right right now.

Cost: $15 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beer Review: Oud Floris

Reviewing Oud Floris from Avery Brewing Company out of Boulder, Colorado.

Score: 93

Bottled June 14, 2012. Served in a Bourbon County Brand Stout snifter and enjoyed on 06/13/13.

Appearance: Pours a murky chestnut brown color with some fade to dull yellow atop when held up to the light with a thin layer of tan bubble head that quickly settles to a bubbly ring around the glass. Poor lacing and retention. 3/5

Smell: Smells sour and acidic, but not funky. Balsamic vinegar, tart lactic acid, wet wood, rum and notes of sour cherry. When it warms, I get hints of "plastic." 4.25/5

Taste: Super tart, and growingly so as this beer warms up. The tartness hits you sharply on the inside of the cheeks. Lots of lactic acid, rum, sour cherry, balsamic and vinegar. A hint of medicinal funk, but it's very mellow and well incorporated. Wet wood and hints of vanilla too. Finishes with tart cherry, lacto and a little sour dark fruit. Tastes a lot like it smells with a little more funk, a dash of dark fruit and the flavors seemingly hitting you in a different order. The sour dark fruit and lacto flavors linger well past the swallow. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-minus bodied, low carbonation. Super tart and quite dry. Spot on mouthfeel for what I want on this beer. 4.75/5

Overall: A delicious sour brown with great complexity from the marry of barrel blending. This is one of my favorite Avery sours.

Cost: $12 for a 12 oz bottle.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Beer Review: La Roja Grand Reserve

Reviewing the La Roja Grand Reserve from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales out of Dexter, Michigan.

Score: 94

Bottled 03-13-2012. Label says "Batch 454 & 469", whatever that means. Served in a stemmed Doom teku-wannabe glass and enjoyed on 06/12/13.

Appearance: Pours a super cloud reddish-brown color that fades to a super dull and pale yellow color at the top. Pours a ring around the glass of off-white bubbly head. Minimal lacing and retention. 2.5/5

Smell: Tons of sharp vinegar, musty and sour cherry and oak. Red grape and a touch of dark fruit too. Lots of lacto. Shares a quality that I can't put my finger on with the Crooked Stave Cognac Sentience I had last week. 4.25/5

Taste: Super tart. Sour cherry, vinegar, lacto-ey greek yogurt and oak (in that order). Hints of dark fruit in the finish too. Lingering lacto-infused cherry, but clean otherwise. No funk. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel:  Just shy of medium bodied, minimal carbonation. Super tart, dries out the cheeks. 4.5/5

Overall: A delicious American wild ale. Blows regular La Roja out of the water. Sour cherry and lacto without being medicinal. Glad I have another in the cellar!

Cost: $10 for an 11.2 oz (330 ml) stubby bottle.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beer Review: La Muerta (2011)

Reviewing the La Muerta from Freetail Brewing Company out of San Antonio, Texas.

Score: 91

2011 vintage served in a mini-chalice glass and enjoyed on 06/12/13.

Appearance: Pours an inky black color that is not totally opaque at the outer edges. Pours a layer of dark khaki head that settles to a ring around the glass. Average lacing, but really good retention. 4.25/5

Smell: Smoke, chocolate and roast. Residual coffee and a touch of hops. Pretty one dimensional (almost entirely roast/smoke and chocolate), but I really like that dimension. 4.25/5

Taste: Tastes just like it smells. Lots of roast, smoke and milk chocolate. Hint of coffee too. The smokiness lingers and layers. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low carbonation. Smoke prickles the palate and absolutely coats the tongue. This one is kind of a palate killer, so drink it last. Delicious nonetheless. 3.5/5

Overall: Not complex, but this is a great example of doing a simple flavor profile very well. Haters of smoke beware, lovers of smoke rejoice. I have heard reports that the 2012 vintage is allegedly infected, but the 2011 is still holding up well.

Cost: $10 for an 11.2 oz (330 ml) stubby bottle.