Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Beer Review: Flora Satsuma Mandarin

Reviewing the Flora Satsuma Mandarin, a barrel aged saison aged on Satsuma mandarins from the Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro, Vermont. 

Score: 94

2013 vintage bottle served in a stemmed Hill Farmstead bulb glass and enjoyed on 02/22/14.

Appearance: Pours a transparent/clean golden mead color. Not effervescent in appearance at all. Pours a ring around the glass of white head off the pour. 4/5

Smell: Mandarin oranges, mineral water, white wine, and a touch of spice. Wheat and citrus too. Smells a lot like a slightly funky/earthy white wine mixed with sweet oranges and peppercorn. The wine character grows in prominences as the beer warms and breathes. 4.5/5

Taste: Sweet citrus and orange with a little wheat grain. There is a very mild, crisp tartness upfront. Tannic, white wine towards the finish with a kiss of oak and grape. Nice, tasty mix. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light-plus bodied, and surprisingly spritzy carbonation that is appropriate for the flavor profile. Very dry finish, with a nice sweetness. 4.5/5

Overall: Superior to Blueberry Flora, and a nice orange-forward, not too funky saison.

Cost: $15 for a 375 ml bottle.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Beer Review: Port Damon

Reviewing the Port Damon from the Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro, Vermont.

Score: 86

2013 vintage bottle served in a stemmed "blackjack" tulip and enjoyed on 02/11/2014.

Appearance: Pours a black color with less than a finger of dark khaki head, which slowly settles to a thin layer. Good lacing and retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Chocolate, grape/port, and oak. Simple, but nice. 4/5

Taste: Tannic oak and lots of port flavor with a little tartness/berry flavor. Chocolate underlies. A little fruit on the finish too. Average integration. Simplistic, without shining in any of it limited dimensions. 3.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low (but appropriately so) carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel. 4.25/5

Overall: A bit to astringent and oak-forward for my taste. Definitely a step back from bourbon barrel Damon in my opinion.

Cost: $15 for a 375 ml bottle.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Beer Review: Double Barrel Damon


Reviewing the Double Barrel Damon from the Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro, Vermont. This Russian Imperial Stout is Damon aged one year in port barrels, and then one year in van winkle whiskey barrels.

Score: 99

2013 vintage bottle served in a stemmed Hill Farmstead bulb glass and enjoyed on 02/22/14.

Appearance: Pours a dark, rich syrup color that is almost black in color with some bubbles that quickly and completely dissipate. No head really, nor any lacing. There is a nice browning to the sides of the glass from swirling with solid legs too. 4.5/5

Smell: Hot fudge, dark chocolate, bourbon, and light vanilla, with the port character beginning to come through as it begins to breath. A kiss of a generic hop aroma too. So much chocolate/fudge, which only amplifies as it warms. I could smell this beer all day! 5/5

Taste: Port and sweetness upfront following by a fudgey bourbon finish and a mild bitterness that cuts through the upfront sweetness. The fudgey finish is long lasting, and intensifies as it warms up. Caramel, molasses, vanilla and a hint of fruit too. Near-perfect mix of bourbon and port and chocolate here. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. Full/full-medium bodied; amply thick, but not the most viscous stout that I have encountered. Dry finish. Great balance of sweet and bitter characters here. 4.5/5

Overall: Masterfully blended! I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this, considering that I was not a big fan of Port Damon. The bourbon and port characteristics mingle nicely, with chocolate notes for days. The bitterness on the finish imparted a nice balance, and made it all too drinkable. All-in-all, this beer took a personal favorite (bourbon Damon) to a whole new level of excellence. This one is absolutely worth seeking out!

Cost: $35 for a 375 ml bottle.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Beer Review: Cosmic Dust (Blend #10)

Reviewing Cosmic Dust, a sour golden ale aged on oak with hibiscus from The Rare Barrel out of Berkeley, California.

Score: 84

Blend #10 (2014 vintage bottle) served in a Kate the Great snifter and enjoyed on 12/23/14. Thank you Tim for sending me this bottle!

Appearance: Pours a clean and transparent honey color with a thin layer of fizzy head that quickly settles. Minimal, spotty residual lacing from swirling.  Not an "alive"-looking or "active" sour beer in appearance. 3/5

Smell: Sour grain, oak, lemon, light vinegar, a hint of something floral and a kiss of butteriness too. Some fruity bubblegum-like aroma comes through too as it warms up and breathes, which makes the aroma quite interesting and somewhat distinct from an otherwise cookie-cutter American wild ale (AWA) nose. 4/5

Taste: The taste is a lot more generic AWA than the nose, particularly because there is no fruity bubblegum-like character underlying it all. Sour grain, a hint of corn, oak, and lemon zest. Finishes with a lactic acid flavor. With some sips, I feel like subtle berry notes (raspberry?) come through on the finish as well, but I easily could be overthinking this one. Mostly crisp, but there is a little lingering young funk (and butteriness) too. Solid (but no hibiscus). 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, appropriate carbonation. Dry and tannic on the finish. Has a nice sourness that is not too intense. Mild acidity. 3.5/5

Overall: A solid, but indistinguishable sour golden ale from a new, but promising brewery (their head brewer used to work at The Bruery). I liked the mild acidity and sourness, but the butteriness knocked this one down a few pegs for me. I could see this being better with age. Also, where was the hibiscus?


Cost: $30 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Beer Review: Sapping Mammoth

Reviewing Sapping Mammoth, an IPA collaboration between Maine Beer Company, out of Freeport, Maine, and Half Acre Brewing Company, out of Chicago, Illinois.

Score: 96

November 2014 bottling served in a Half Acre tulip and enjoyed on 11/23/14. Although this was available locally, I snoozed on picking one up, so a shout out is in order to my good buddy Derek for sending me a bottle all the way from Maine!

Appearance: Pours a largely opaque, but clean-in-appearance marigold color with two-plus fingers of soapy head that settle to a thick layer atop the glass. Unreal lacing and retention/cling that sticks to the sides of the glass in what appears to be perpetuity. Lovely, fresh looking IPA. 5/5

Smell: The nose is bouquet of juicy citrus and tropical fruits mixed with dank pine - pineapple, mango, grapefruit, orange, and tangerine! A hint of black pepper too. A little resinous malt lurks in the background. This is my kind of aroma; reminds me of something particularly Vermont-y... 4.75/5

Taste: A bitter and juicy pineapple grapefruit explosion hit the tongue and linger past the finish! Mango, a little spice and a nice resinous malty splash on the finish. The grapefruit flavor lingers nicely past the swallow. This sort of tastes like a citra hopped Stigel Radler IPA. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, nicely carbonated. Nice, light malty sweetness to balance out a mild bitterness. Very juicy on the palate. Although I wish it had a little more viscosity, the lighter body of this beer makes it dangerously crushable. 4.25/5

Overall: Better than Dinner, almost as good as this year's batch of Beer Hates Astronauts. If you can find this while it is still fresh, I highly recommend picking up a bottle.

Cost: $7.99 for a 500 ml bottle.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Beer Review: CAUTION! CONTAINS REAL PUMPKIN!!!

Reviewing the CAUTION! CONTAINS REAL PUMPKIN!!! from Voodoo Brewing Company out of Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Score: 82

Bottled 09/29/14 vintage bottle served in a stemmed Doom teku-like glass and enjoyed on 10/30/14.

Appearance: Pours a clean and transparent brownish-ruby color with a thin layer of head that quickly settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, below average retention of what little lacing there is. 3.5/5

Smell: This beer has a very rich, bold pumpkin and cinnamon-vanilla cupcake nose. Notes of brown sugar, caramel, oak, raisin and syrup. The nose has a lot of nice bourbon characteristics present without coming across as being "bourbon-y" (or boozy, for that matter). 4.25/5.

Taste: My first impression is that this beer tastes like sipping pumpkin-spiked barleywine, with a mild alcohol bite, bourbon undertones, and a stale hop and dark fruit character on the finish. There's cinnamon and nutmeg on the mid-palate and some vanilla flavor on the finish. Haphazardly mixed throughout are notes of dark fruit, syrup, old hops (especially towards the back half) and ample sweet malt. The flavors are not as well integrated as they were in the nose. I'm sure barleywine fans will appreciate this one much more than myself. 3.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, minimal carbonation (perhaps a touch under-carbonated). Sweet and malty. A little alcohol warmth comes through as this one warms up, but it does not have an alcohol singe/bite. 3.25/5

Overall: The nose led promise of something delectably complex and balanced, but the flavors came across as a bit of a jumbled, malty mess that was much more average overall than hoped for.

Cost: $19 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beer Review: Tequila Barrel Aged Mexican Cake (2014 Vintage, Fresh)

Reviewing the Tequila Barrel Aged Mexican Cake from Westbrook Brewing Company out of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Score: 95

September 2014 vintage bottle (green label) served in a Toppling Goliath chalice and enjoyed on 10/15/14. Thank you Paul for sharing this treat!

Appearance: Inky black in color, with a thin layer of khaki head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, okay retention of what little lacing there is. Nice oily legs. 4/5

Smell: Milk chocolate, cinnamon, and dessert-y sweet vanilla (like cupcake frosting), with a twist of agave. I do not like tequila, but it mixes in quite well with the adjuncts in the aroma. A kiss of pepper, but substantial muted relative to the non-barrel 2014 release of Mexican Cake. A dash of sea salt too. Really loving this nose, which it easily my favorite of the three variants -- it smells like a tequila chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting. 4.75/5

Taste: Tastes just like it smells, with a touch of pepper heat on the finish. Lovely, bold mix of vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate. Lasting chocolatiness on the finish. Very well integrated. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, appropriately carbonated. Nice balanced flavor -- not too sweet and just a touch spicy on the finish, with a light, balancing bitterness coming across in the mix as well. 4.25/5

Overall: This is the variant that comes closest in quality to the 2013 Mexican Cake variants. Of all three of the 2014 variants, the tequila barrel aged Mexican Cake is the one with the boldest adjunct characteristics, and the least "bland" (i.e., similar to all too many other barrel aged stouts) of the group.

Cost: $30 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Beer Review: Four Roses Bourbon Barrel Aged Mexican Cake (2014 Vintage, Fresh)

Reviewing the Four Roses Bourbon Barrel Aged Mexican Cake from Westbrook Brewing Company out of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Score: 93

September 2014 vintage bottle (pink/red label) served in a stemmed Mikkeller & Friends glass and enjoyed on 10/15/14. Thank you Paul for sharing this treat!

Appearance: Ink black color with a thin layer of khaki head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing (even less residual head than the tequila version), okay retention of what little lacing there is. Nice oily legs. 4/5

Smell: Oak, campfire roasted vanilla, caramel, and pepper. No chocolate in the nose for this variant. A dash of cinnamon too, but it was more prominent in the tequila variant in my opinion. 4.5/5

Taste: Milk chocolate and sweet bourbon flavors, with a little alcohol bite on the finish. Virtually no pepper flavor/heat here, unless I am mistaking the alcohol heat for spiciness. There's a crisp accent upfront, but it quickly dissipates. As it warms up and layers, a kiss of tropical fruity pepper character comes through on the finish (but maybe I am just seeking it out?) along with a bit of spiciness -- though less than the tequila version. Nicely complex mix of flavor. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, a bit more carbonation than tequila, but still appropriate for the style (low, but not under-carbonated). Dry on the finish. Drier and a touch sweeter than the tequila version, but still very balanced. 4/5

Overall: Delicious, but not a cannot miss beer in the vein of Jack Daniels Barrel Aged Mexican Cake, which had more depth and punch to it, and was better integrated to boot.

Cost: $30 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle (2 per person limit).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beer Review: Double Barrel (Bourbon and Rye) Aged Mexican Cake (2014 Vintage, Fresh)

Reviewing the Double Barrel (Bourbon and Rye) Aged Mexican Cake from Westbrook Brewing Company out of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Score: 85

September 2014 vintage bottle (yellow label) served in a stemmed Mikkeller "the Original" glass and enjoyed on 10/15/14. Thank you Paul for sharing this treat!

Appearance: Same appearance as the other two variants of the 2014 Mexican Cake. Inky black color with a thin layer of head that settles to a thin ring around the glass. No lacing or retention, but nice oily legs. 4/5

Smell: Heavy oak, "green" rye spice, licorice and dark chocolate. Hotter/boozier on the nose than the other two 2014 variants. The nose is largely muted and predominately oak and licorice. Notably "harsher" than the other two variants. No cinnamon/vanilla or spice/pepper. 3.5/5

Taste: Dark chocolate, cinnamon, oak, and licorice. Finishes with the chocolate and cinnamon. No pepper character other than a touch of layering heat on the finish, and no vanilla either. A bit boozy too. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: The viscosity level on this brew falls somewhere between the tequila variant and the bourbon variant. Appropriate carbonation. Nice faint spiciness, but nothing remarkable. Good balance overall. 4/5

Overall: A solid, average/above average barrel aged stout in a sea of indistinguishably whose adjuncts are muted to the point that they might as well have never been added to the brew. This brew was boozy and easily the harshest of the Mexican Cake variants.

Cost: $30 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle (4 per person limit).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beer Review: The Lily

Reviewing The Lily, an American wild ale fermented in oak barrels with Tempranillo grapes from De Garde Brewing out of Tillamook, Oregon.

Score: 70

2014 vintage bottle served in a stemmed Perennial wine glass and enjoyed on 06/23/14.

Appearance: Pours a translucent dark ruby color with a light purplish tinge with a half finger of cream color head that settles to a thick ring around the glass. Very good lacing and retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Graham crackers, strawberry jam and grape! Light oak and little raspberry too. Underneath the fruit character is a lactic acid backbone that is not too intense, but adds a nice zestiness and boldness to the nose. This beer reminds me of a better Madame Rose. I absolutely love the graham cracker and strawberry here! As it warms up, the nose sadly loses a little bit of its zing and brightness. Nonetheless, it remains pretty appealing. 4.5/5

Taste: Less lacto on taste than the nose, with the lacto character mostly limited to the finish. Strawberry seed jamminess, oak and grape upfront with a little vanilla too. Finishes with an unpleasantly funky rubber band flavor with unfortunate lasting power. The upfront flavor is really nice, but this beer leaves you with a lastingly, unpleasant taste in your mouth. As it warms, the funkiness softens a bit, but at the expense of some tartness and in tandem with an exacerbation of its under-carbonation. Based on the reviews and reputation of this beer, maybe I got an "off" bottle? 3/5

Mouthfeel: Thin-medium bodied, under-carbonated. Dry finish. Lasting funkiness. 2/5

Overall: Excellent smell and a good flavor absolutely marred by a unpleasantly funky finish and under-carbonation. Bottle variation? Maybe. But given the hype I'll stick to their more consistent bottles.

Cost: $15 for a 750 ml bottle.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Beer Review: Vanglorious

Reviewing the Vanglorious from the Goose Island Beer Company out of Chicago, Illinois. This glorious Clyborn brewpub creation is their Vanitas (a Belgian-style stout aged in a mix of bourbon and red wine barrels) blended with black raspberries and black cat espresso from intelligentsia.

Score: 97

Tap pour served in a 10 oz snifter and enjoyed on 09/18/14.

Appearance: Deep brown/black in color. Served with less than a half finger of khaki head with a visibly purplish/pink hue to it, which settles to a ring around the glass. Great lacing and retention. Clean in appearance. I am loving the purplish/pink hue to the otherwise traditional stout appearance -- it is really cool and unique. 5/5

Smell: The nose is a lovely mix of raspberry, roast, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, and jammy fruit. Bold and well-integrated. This smells like a masterful blend of Bramble Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout and Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout  4.75/5

Taste: Tastes just like it smells -- a marvelous mix of coffee and chocolate and fruit and jammy raspberry with a light oak character. The barrel character is very subtle overall, and I certainly would not have been able to tell you this was aged in red wine barrels but for the waitress relaying that fact to me. Marvelous integration, with a nice lasting finish of roast and raspberry. While you might get committed to a mental asylum for shouting "raspberry" in response to "coffee" during a game of word association, these otherwise oddly paired flavors totally work here. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Unfortunately, the body on this beer lacks heft (though it is not "thin" bodied). Low carbonation. Slightly creamy mouthfeel. Good balance between the slightly tangy fruit and the bitterness/roast. 3.5/5

Overall: I could drink this keg dry (and pretty much did). I wish that Goose Island had bottled this instead of Grim Vicar.

Cost: $6 for a 5 oz pour.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Beer Review: The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose

Reviewing The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose from Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville out of Boonville, California.

Score: 78

Forgot to check the canning date. Served in a mini nonic pint glass and enjoyed on 10/12/14.

Appearance: Pours a translucent, dull dandelion/gold wheat color with a finger of fizzy soda like head that quickly and completely settles. Clean, effervescent appearance. 3.5/5

Smell: Sour grain, corn, lemon and doughiness. A touch of funk. Pleasant. 4/5

Taste: Tart/sour grain/malt upfront followed by sea salt and a hint of lemon upfront. Finishes with sweet corn/grain and little plasticky funk on the finish. I did not care for the finish. 3/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, amply carbonated. Has a good sour bite upfront followed by a sweet and salty middle/finish. Really pleasant, save for the lingering plasticky corn funk. 4.25/5

Overall: A poor man's alternative to Westbook Gose, akin to settling for Alltech's Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout in lieu of Bourbon County Brandy Stout. It will do the job, but it is no substitute.

Cost: $5 for a 12 oz can (bar price).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Beer Review: Thrillseeker IPA

Reviewing the Thrillseeker IPA from Beachwood BBQ & Brewing out of Long Beach, California. This "west cost-style" IPA is generously hopped with a mix of Chinook, Summit, Centennial, and Simcoe hops.

Score: 90

Bottled the last week of September 2014. Served in a Kate the Great snifter and enjoyed on 10/13/14. Thank you Jazz for sending me this one!

Appearance: Pours a clean, transparent honey color with a finger of white head that settles to a thin, coating layer. Amazing lacing and retention. Quite a beautiful IPA. 5/5

Smell: A big citrus blast followed by a light earthy kick that rounds out the aroma. Orange, grapefruit, citrus, sweet malt, mango, pine and bready malt. A touch herbal too. Quite pleasant. 4/5

Taste: Earthy and bitter upfront, followed by orange rind, lemon and grapefruit on the finish. Lingering grapefruit and bitterness. This is a really pleasant, bitterly citrusy IPA. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, appropriate carbonation. Watery/juicy mouthfeel with a dry, bitter, and slightly astringent finish. This IPA has a pleasantly bitter kick with a lingering finish. 4/5

Overall: An unexpectedly pleasant IPA. I saw Summit on the label and expected to hate this, but I did not get any onion character -- just a pleasantly complex earthiness mixed amongst a nice citrusy, bitter IPA profile. This is my kind of IPA.


Cost: $8 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Beer Review: 3-Way IPA

Reviewing the 3-Way IPA, an IPA collaboration among Oregon breweries Block 15, Boneyard Beer Company and Fort George Brewery.

Score: 92

Canned 07/15/14. Served in a Hopslam tulip/snifter combo glass and enjoyed on 08/14/14.

Appearance: Pours a transparent honey color with some hazy floaties. Pours two fingers of head that settles to a thin ring around the glass. Poor lacing, okay retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Pine, grapefruit, oak, black pepper, honey and pineapple. Nice malty sweetness underlying. Appetizingly bold IPA nose. 4.25/5

Taste: Sweet caramel malt, bitter grapefruit, pine, spicy hops and a little black pepper on the finish. Really well done IPA with a nice mix of tropical fruit, bitterness and malty sweetness. Lasting spicy hop, sweet malt and bitter grapefruit. Nice integration. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, appropriate carbonation. Oily mouthfeel. Bitter finish with a light sweetness. 4.25/5

Overall: Impressive under-the-radar IPA.

Cost: $9.99 for a four pack of 16 oz cans.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beer Review: Blueberry Flora

Reviewing Blueberry Flora from the Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro, Vermont.

Score: 87

February 2014 vintage bottle from the June 2014 release, served in a stemmed Hill Farmstead taster glass and enjoyed on 08/06/14. Thank you Paul for the chance to tick this one!

Appearance: Pours a murky blueberry juice purple color, with a thin layer of head that completely settles. No lacing or retention, with a little residual oiliness that clings to the sides of the glass. 4/5

Smell: Blueberries and oak. A hint of citrus, and a little bit of wine/tannic character on the back half of the whiff. Some blue cheese/yogurty funk too. 3.75/5

Taste: Tart, but delicate blueberry flavor throughout. A hint of lemon zest upfront, with a wine flavored finish. Has a bit of that cheesy/yogurt funk lingering on the finish too, which I do not love, but which is also not pronounced enough to ruin the beer. Notes of oak and wheat on the finish too, increasingly so as it warms, masking much of the funk. 3.75

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, appropriately carbonated. Has a delicateness to the sourness, without much acidity, though the finish is like a white wine with a mild tannic character. A little bit creamy on the mouthfeel. The dregs of the bottle make the last sips super dry. 4.5/5

Overall: This beer is complex and has an excellent mouthfeel, but I would prefer more blueberry fruitiness/tartness and less funk. I much prefer a blueberry sour more in the vein of Blueberry Flanders to this brew (though they are entirely different creatures).

Cost: $20 for a 500 ml bottle.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Beer Review: Ghost Face Killah

Reviewing the Ghost Face Killah from Twisted Pine Brewing Company out of Boulder, Colorado

Score: 40

Unknown vintage bottle served in a 7venth Sun snifter and enjoyed on 08/24/14. Thank you Robbie Moy for the bottle...

Appearance: Pours an opaque, light orange color with a finger of cream-colored head that almost instantaneously settles entirely. No lacing or retention. 3/5

Smell: Fresh jalapenos, chili peppers, salsa, cilantro and a little tropical fruit. It's a bit vegetal, but not bad. The nose gives off the distinct impression that it is going to be pretty spicy. 3/5

Taste: There is not much flavor; just pepper heat. Vegetal chili peppers with a hint of cilantro hit initially, followed by a big spiciness on the front of the tongue that moves up the sides of the tongue before receding back and lingering on the front and top of the tongue. The center of the tongue has a lingering chili pepper flavor. This brew is one note, quite spicy and general unpleasant to drink. I'm sure it has its niche, and heat fiends probably do not find it unpalatable. However, 4 oz was my limit. 1.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, fizzy carbonation that really accentuates the heat. Spicy with a little bit of tropical fruit-like sweetness. The spiciness is long lasting. If big, lasting chili spiciness is what you want in a beer, this is your ale. 3/5

Overall: A hot, vegetal novelty that got tiresome and unpleasant before I could get halfway down the glass. If you are the kind of person that enjoys dumping a full bottle of Dave's insanity sauce on your food, I recommend you give this brew a whirl. I think I can confidently say that all others can life a happy and fulfilled life without ever having consumed this.

Cost: $3.99 for a 12 oz bottle.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Beer Review: Cerveza de Tempranillo

Reviewing the Cerveza de Tempranillo, a barrel aged wild ale refermented with Tempranillo grapes from Jester King Craft Brewery out of Austin, Texas.

Score: 85

January 2014 vintage bottle served in a Surly Darkness chalice and enjoyed on 08/20/14.

Appearance: Clean appearance; red grape/cherry juice red in color,. Pours a thin layer of off white head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, solid retention. Love the color, though its not as vibrant at other fruited sour projects I have encountered in recent memory. 4.25/5

Smell: Sweet grape, must, oak/wood, dusty attic funk and a hint of bleu cheese. The funk seems more present  on some whiffs, while absent on others. Bizarre. 3/5

Taste: Red wine-like, dryly sweet grape flavor with a little bit of cheesy funk on the finish. Vinous and a bit tannic. Cold and right after the bottle is opened, there is a bit of funk that largely breathes out after about 20 or 30 minutes. Tastes more like wine than a (sour) beer. Finishes with a mix of acidity and fusel alcohol, plus a hint of residual vinegar. Not quite what I was expecting, but solid. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, low carbonation (maybe a touch under-carbonated). Modestly sweet profile with a tannic, dry finish. Drinks very wine-like, and unlike a beer. 3.75/5

Overall: Solid, but nothing special. Drinks more like a red wine with a bit of funk than a beer.

Cost: $15 for a 500 ml bottle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Beer Review: Fleur Desay

Reviewing Fleur Desay, a sour farmhouse gruit aged in oak chardonnay beer from De Garde Brewing out of Tillamook, Oregon.

Score: 97

2014 vintage bottle served in a Darkness chalice and enjoyed on 08/20/14.

Appearance: Pours a murky yellow orange color that fades from orange to yellow from bottom to top with a thin layer of head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, but good retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Sour melon, strawberry/fruity, grapefruit, orange, lemon, sour wheat, wine, white grape, and a kiss of herbal something or another and lacto. Faint, faint hint of butteriness, but it surprisingly works. Wonderful and complex! 4.75/5

Taste: White grape, watermelon lemonade, citrus fruitiness and strawberry. Spritzy sourness, with a crisp, but sour finish. A little nondescript spice and mild acidity on the midpalate. Perfect integration. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, spritzy carbonation. Nice sourness (accentuated by the carbonation) with a little residual sweetness and good liveliness on the gums. Dry finish. Nice acidity level too. 4.75/5

Overall: One of the best De Garde beers I have sampled to date. I find that Trevor's brews are often hit-or-miss, but man, when they hit... Seek this one out with confidence!

Cost: $10 for a 750 ml bottle.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Beer Review: Farmer's Reserve No. 1

Reviewing the Farmer's Reserve No. 1, a wild ale brewed with plums and three different types of grapes from the Almanac Beer Co. out of San Francisco, California.

Score: 85

February 2013 vintage bottle served in a 7venth Sun snifter and enjoyed on 08/19/14. Thank you Fabrizio for the bottle!

Appearance: Reddish orange in color with a distinct yellow fade when held up to the light. Pours a half finger of head that settles to a ring around the glass with an island of residual froth floating in the center of the glass. Excellent lacing and retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Grape, plum, lemon, must, pear and a little lactic acid. Straight out of the fridge there is a distinctly unpleasant waft of poo poo pediococcus, but this disappears as the beer sits out to breath for about 10 minutes. Otherwise, quite pleasant. 4/5

Taste: Stone fruit and grape upfront, lacto and a residual sweetness on the finish. Sourness comes mostly across in the middle. Slightly buttery on the finish, with a little lasting power. Solid, but unspectacular. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium/medium-light carbonation. Nice, but not strong, sourness. Modestly dry finish. 3.5/5

Overall: There's a bit of off flavor here, most of which airs out as the beer warms up and gets a chance to breathe, but this is/was a solid first commercially brewed (fruited) wild ale from a newer brewery. Later sour projects such as Farmer's Reserve No. 3 and the Pluot sour certainly demonstrate their competence as a local alternative to Russian River.

Cost: $12.99 for a 375 ml bottle.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Beer Review: Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Speedway Stout

Reviewing the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Speedway Stout from the AleSmith Brewing Company out of San Diego, California

Score: 93

February 2014 vintage bottle served in a Ghandi Bot snifter and enjoyed on 08/15/14.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color with a finger and a half of khaki head that settles to a thin coating. Very good lacing and retention. Looks pretty much exactly like you would expect and desire a stout to look like. 4.75/5

Smell: Nutty, slightly grassy coffee with a light roastiness and a very pronounced chocolate character. A little bit of dark fruit too, which crescendos as the beer warms up. Quite lovely. 4.5/5

Taste: There is a lot more dark fruit in the taste than in the nose, which hits right away and lingers past the finish. Frankly, the taste is mostly about the dark fruit. Alcohol spiciness on the midpalate. Chocolate and a kiss of teriyaki sauce on the backhalf and finish, with some nuttiness and a wee bit of roast (much less than the nose) upfront. Solid integration. Tasty, but not on par with the likes of Kopi Coffee Speedway or Vietnamese Coffee Speedway. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, low carbonation. No acidity, mild bitterness and not much sweetness. Well-balanced save for the booziness, which is somewhat unexpected given my experiences with other iterations of Coffee Speedway, but perhaps, at the same time, this should not be too unexpected given that this beer is 12% ABV. 4.25/5

Overall: A quality stout and definite improvement over the base beer that just does not live up to the standard of excellence established by other iterations of this beer. Kopi Coffee Speedway is still king in my book, animal cruelty concerns notwithstanding.

Cost: $30 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Beer Review: Veritas 010

Reviewing Veritas 010, a blended sour ale aged in french oak barrels with peaches from The Lost Abbey out of San Marcos, California.

Score: 88

2011 vintage bottle served in a Lost Abbey teku and enjoyed on 07/27/14, alongside Yellow Bus and Fuzzy.

Appearance: Pours a murky peach/yellow-orange color with a thin fizz of head that totally settles. No lacing or retention. 3/5

Smell: Peach vinegar, white wine and oak. Has that traditional American wild ale nose underlying, with a hint of nail polish coming through as it warms up. 3.25/5

Taste: Nice tartness and mild vinegar character, with a balanced acidity that is not too intense. A little wine flavor on the finish. Tastes like Upland Peach, but milder and better balanced. Ample and lasting peach flavor, though it is not a "fresh peach" flavor. Much smoother than the nose led on 4.25/5




Mouthfeel: Light bodied, modest acidity. Good carbonation. A little underlying sweetness, good tartness and a dry finish. 4/5

Overall: Thankfully, this tasted better than it smelled. If you liked Upland Peach, then I imagine that you would likely enjoy this beer. Solid overall, but nowhere near the quality of Yellow Bus (or Fuzzy, for that matter). It is even less like Yellow Bus than Veritas 012 is unlike Cable Car Kriek in my opinion.

Cost: $40 for a 750 ml bottle.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Beer Review: R&D Wild Peach

Reviewing the R&D Wild Peach, a sour brown ale with Michigan peaches that was spontaneously fermented and aged on oak from the New Glarus Brewing Company out of New Glarus, Wisconsin. This beer is a blend of beer that was brewed in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Score: 97

Blend of 2011, 2012 and 2014 beer bottled in August 2014. Served in a Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery tulip and enjoyed on 08/11/14.

Appearance: Watch out, this one gushes! Pours a murky, brownish red color with nice edge-to-center fade and 3 fingers of tan foamy head that settles to a thick ring around the glass with clumps of foam and what appear to be residual fruit shavings/dregs atop the brew. Solid lacing, very good retention. 4/5

Smell: Fresh peaches, peach syrup and peach jelly in spades! Behind that is graham cracker, brown sugar, oak, a little lemon and a dash of vanilla. Faint hint of brett and hay hidden in the background. This beer smells like a peach cobbler. 5/5

Taste: Peach syrup and fresh peach galore in the taste as well, though it does not taste like a peach cobbler. Behind the big wall of fresh peach is oak, sweet malt, brett and a light barnyard funk. Finishes with a mild bourbon flavor with ample peach syrup and a little bit of brett also lingering. There is a lot more funk on the taste than there was in the nose, but it is still relatively subtle and mixes well with the rest of the flavor profile. Really well balanced, mixing sweetness with a light sourness and a bit of young funk. As it warms, the peach lingers longer. Mmmm. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Viscous for a sour, effervescent and appropriately carbonated. The sourness level here is very mild, but the carbonation level renders it lively on the tongue nonetheless. Dry finish. 4.75/5

Overall: I was skeptical of what a bourbon aged brown ale with peaches would smell and taste like, but New Glarus hit the mark on this one. The nose is absolutely sublime. This beer is not sour like very sour blackberry, but why should it have to be? It is a different base beer entirely. Think Peche 'n Brett with more peach and a little bourbon.

Cost: $8 for a 500 ml bottle.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Beer Review: Yellow Bus

Reviewing the infamous Yellow Bus , a "yellow sour" (American wild ale) with white peaches from The Lost Abbey out of San Marcos, California. Although unsigned, the bottle has been verified as authentic.

Score: 98

2008 vintage bottle served in a Lost Abbey teku and enjoyed on 07/27/14 alongside Veritas 010.

Appearance: The beer pours a cloudy yellow-orange peach color that is a darker hue than the Veritas 010, with a thin later of head that settles to a ring around the glass. Has a lovely fade with an orange-ish center (this is sadly not particularly apparent in my photo). No lacing or retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Peach/peach syrup, oak, tannins and vanilla. So lovely. A hint of must and stone fruit. Has a little zesty, mildly jammy character. Quite remarkable, though not quite the best sour peach nose I have encountered to date. Lovely mix of aromatics here. 5/5

Taste: Peach, peach, peach, mineral water, a hint of stone fruit and a kiss of oak. So lovely. It's 90% peach, with a little jellied sweetness, wine, oak and other faint underlying complexities that make you doubt this is Lost Abbey. Do not get me wrong, Tomme makes some delicious sours, but subtly has never been his calling card. Finishes with lasting peach flavor. Just a hint of vinegar. More acidity/sourness if you let it sit on the tongue more. 4.75

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, spot on carbonation. More "pop" from the cork than there was with Veritas 010. Soft tartness with a little sweetness. Virtually no acidity and has the delicateness of the best Belgian lambic, which is quite unlike Veritas 010. Excellent balance. 5/5

Overall: A remarkable ghost whale; one of the better white whales out there that I have sampled to date. It is not a unique beer so much as it is a masterfully brewed and balanced one. I would put this a half step above Fuzzy in quality, noting that it is six or so years old and thus likely faded from its peak. I personally would take a bottle like Black & Wild over this if given a choice, but this bottle did not disappoint.

Cost: Unknown (was never a bottle sold to the public).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beer Review: Coffee Abraxas

Reviewing the Coffee Abraxas from Perennial Artisan Ales out of St. Louis, Missouri.

Score: 43

Fall 2013 vintage bottle served in an Abraxas glass and enjoyed on 07/25/14, alongside batch 1 and batch 2 Barrel Aged Abraxas.

Appearance: Pours a shiny, inky black color with a finger of head of mocha colored head. Good lacing and retention. Nice oily legs and browning from the swirl too. 4.25/5

Smell: Lots of green pepper, with subtler notes of cinnamon, milk chocolate and very faint coffee behind it. This nose has a lot of vegetal similarity, in a bad way, with Sump and regular Barrel Aged Sump; maybe it has something to do with the coffee blend used? The green pepper character is pretty unpleasant, but the residual aroma of cinnamon and milk chocolate is nice and saves this aroma from being a complete disaster. 2/5

Taste: Has a sharp green pepper flavor upfront with a little tang and fruitiness on the back half. Definitely some minor off flavors present here. There's a mix of milk chocolate and old coffee on the back half, with a kiss of cinnamon on the midpalate. Poor flavor integration here, which is a shame given the balanced master piece of regular Abraxas and Barrel Aged Abraxas. A tinge of booze too. The green pepper character in the taste, like the nose, is quite unpleasant, but it is not undrinkable. The beer finishes with a faint milk chocolate flavor that sticks around a bit. 2/5

Mouthfeel: Thin bodied, low-medium carbonation. Given the viscous body of regular Abraxas and Barrel Aged Abraxas, this is a huge disappointment. Vegetal flavor, but otherwise balanced with a touch of residual sweetness on the finish. 1.5/5

Overall: This beer was much roastier and chocolatey on tap (and it had none of the green pepper character) the night before FOBAB compared to this bottle. I have sampled much fresher pours from two other bottles, and my experience with those bottles was roughly comparable to this one. I think the coffee character here was entirely too vegetal, and that it overshadowed and overpowered the characters that make Abraxas special. I would certainly give this beer another whirl if I saw it on tap, but I would not seek out another pour from a bottle.

Cost: $30 for a 750 ml bottle.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Beer Review: Rue D'Floyd (The Bruery version)

Reviewing Rue D'Floyd, an imperial porter aged in bourbon barrels with cherries, coffee and vanilla beans added brewed by The Bruery out of Placentia, California in collaboration with Three Floyd's Brewing Company out of Munster, Indiana. This beer was unintentionally infected with lactobacillus, meaning that it is apt to develop off/unintended flavors over time. The Bruery, in their mea culpa email about the infection, asserted that it would be best by June 30, 2014 (i.e., no infection flaws apparent if drank by then).

Score: 93

March 2014 vintage bottle served in a 2011 Surly Darkness chalice and enjoyed on 07/19/14.

Appearance: Pours a dark chocolate color with a thin layer of khaki head that settles to a thick ring around the glass. Okay lacing, average retention. 4/5

Smell: Vanilla bean ice cream, coffee, brown sugar, light roast, bourbon, cherry and a hint of chocolate. The cherry (and bourbon) is much more pronounced in the nose of The Bruery brewed version of this beer than the Three Floyd's brewed version, but it is still pretty subdued overall. The aromatic mix is nice, and the vanilla is quite lovely, but it is not quite as marvelously integrated as the Three Floyd's version was. 4.5/5

Taste: Bourbon-forward flavor followed by ample chocolate (much more so than the nose). Oaky vanilla on the finish. Not getting much cherry right out of the fridge, but as it warms up, a little bit of restrained cherry flavor comes through on the back half. Long-lasting finish of bourbon and oak. A bit of alcohol heat and more sweetness comes across than I recall in the Three Floyd's version. No off flavors present in this bottle as of late July 2014. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Similar mouthfeel to the Three Floyd's version, but with more alcohol heat. Full bodied, minimal carbonation. Viscous, chewy and a little creamy mouthfeel. Sweeter than I recall the Three Floyd's version being. 4.75/5

Overall: Very good, but it's not quite the robust beast that the Three Floyd's brewed version was -- whether that be because of slight differences in the brewing process or the coffee element or otherwise.

Cost: $20 for a 750 ml bottle.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Beer Review: Nocturn Chrysalis

Reviewing the Nocturn Chrysalis from the Jester King Craft Brewery out of Austin, Texas.

Score:91

May 2014 vintage bottle served in a stemmed Jester King beer glass and enjoyed on 07/17/14.

Appearance: Pours a blackberry pulp color akin to New Glarus R&D Very Sour Blackberry, with a thin layer of light purple head that quickly settles to a thick ring around the glass. Solid lacing, great retention. 4.25/5

Smell: Blackberry jam and lacto primarily, with notes of lemon, oak and vanilla. Well integrated and pleasant nose. The nose is not quite "blackberry yogurt," but the comparison is apt nonetheless. 4.25/5

Taste: Has a sour bite upfront with oak and blackberry, followed by a surprisingly faint lacto flavor. Finishes with a dry, lemon juice-like, slightly acidic sourness without much flavor. No real linger on this beer. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, appropriately carbonated. Dry finish, good sourness. Good balance, with a nice, light acidity. Could use a little sweetness. 4/5

Overall: This beer is good, but nowhere near the level of quality relative to other Jester King fruited sour projects such as Atrial Rubicite and Omniscience & Proselytism. I think this beer might be a bit too overattenuated. The sourness and blackberry flavor is nice, but the lack of sweetness from the fruit sugars holds this one back from being great.

Cost: $15 for a 500 ml bottle.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Beer Review: Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. Van Wink

Reviewing the Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. Van Wink from the Hoppin' Frog Brewery out of Akron, Ohio. This beer is Hoppin' Frog's signature BORIS Russian imperial stout aged in pappy van winkle barrels.

Score: 84

November 2013 vintage bottle served in a Surly Darkness chalice and enjoyed on 07/12/14. Thank you Kevin S. for sending me this brew!

Appearance: Pours a pitch black color with just under a finger of khaki head that recedes quickly to a thick ring around the glass. Okay lacing and retention, light browning from swirling. 4/5

Smell: Fudge, bourbon, oak, caramel, chocolate and a little roast. Really nice mix! 4.5/5

Taste: Taste is boozier, oakier and less integrated than the nose. Licorice, oak, dark fruit, booze and baker's chocolate. Has a kiss of ashiness. Not bad at all, but it is a far cry from the quality that the nose led on or even regular barrel aged BORIS. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low carbonation. More bitter than anticipated. Creamy mouthfeel. 3.5/5

Overall: A solid, but far from spectacular beer that proves that using Pappy barrels does not always make a beer better. Regular barrel aged BORIS, and even non-barrel aged BORIS, were better in my opinion.

Cost: $15.99 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Beer Review: Black Damnation V (Double Black)

Reviewing the infamous Black Damnation V (Double Black), an eised barrel aged Russian imperial stout from De Struise Brouwers our of Belgium. This beer is their Cuvee Delphine (bourbon barrel aged Black Albert), ice distilled to 26% ABV.

Score: 87

2010 vintage bottle, Lot B. "Best by" 2016. Served in a Black Damnation tulip taster and enjoyed on 07/12/14. Thank you Paul for sharing this one!
 
Appearance: Pours a viscous, motor oil color with no head. Minimal pop to the uncorking of the synthetic cork. Has a crazy browning effect from the swirl with chunky lacing and good legs. This brew looks imposing. 4.5/5

Smell: Roasted chocolate, tobacco, malt and black licorice. Bourbon, alcohol (though not nearly as much as you would expect from a 26% ABV monster), cherry, plum and caramelized sugars too. A touch of cardboard-like oxidation. Those nose is solid, with average integration, but it is nothing particularly amazing. The nose is big and bold and can be smelled a foot away from the glass. 3.75/5

Taste: Taste just like it smells with a strong fruity oxidation character to the finish. Caramelized sugars/brown sugar, barley malt, dark fruit chocolate and tobacco are the primary flavors through and in the linger. Less bourbon character in the taste than in the nose. This beer is surprisingly "smooth" for 26% ABV -- with three to four years of age on it, this beer lacks the "here I am, rock you like a hurricane" heat of higher (but relatively lower) ABV brews like World World Stout and Black Tuesday. Lots of lasting fruitiness/oxidation and tobacco/dark fruit flavor to the finish. 3.75/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. The mouthfeel is so viscous and chewy. Big, lasting flavors coat the palate. Has a flavor profile consisting of sweet components that does not come across as being "sweet" a la Double Barrel Hunahpu's. 4.75/5

Overall: A good/solid, but not great or "cannot miss stout" in my opinion. I have had better bottles of this, but never one I had a good pour of that was quality enough to justify the high retail price tag or secondary market trade value. The flavor profile here reminds me of Double Barrel Hunahpu's, minus the spices/peppers, with relatively poorer integration. Among the many hard-to-get, highly touted beers out there, this one is notably skippable; tickers and completionists be forewarned.

Cost: $50 for a 750 ml bottle.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Beer Review: Portuguese Brandy Barrel Aged Dark Lord (2014 vintage)

Reviewing the Portuguese Brandy Barrel Aged Dark Lord from Three Floyds Brewing Company out of Munster, Indiana.

Score: 55

Bottle #496/608. From the April 2014 Dark Lord Day release. Served in a orange logo Dark Lord mini snifter and enjoyed on 07/12/14. Thank you Robbie for bringing this bottle to share.

Appearance: Pours a motor oil black color with a wisp of dark khaki head that quickly and completely settles. No lacing or retention, but solid oily legs with a nice browning from the swirl. This beer looks dense, viscous. 4.5/5

Smell: Milk chocolate, brandy, green peppers, prunes and plums. Hint of cherry. Leather too, anise and char. Not my favorite mix of aromas and everything does not integrate the best. Not a fan of how bold the green pepper character is. After this beer sat out for awhile (approximately 2 hours), I felt that the chocolate character in the nose became a bit more prominent while the harshness of the char/anise/green pepper combo softened, resulting in a better integrated, more rounded nose. 3/5

Taste: Milk chocolate, burnt char, licorice, prunes, tobacco and a heavy brandy and bell pepper finish. A kiss of cherry. The finish is lasting, but not pleasant. A kiss of molasses on the back half too. While not as a sweet as say Moscatel Dark Lord, this is a sweet beer. 2/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, low carbonation. Has a chewy, viscous and sticky mouthfeel a la Double Barrel Hunahpu's. Sweet, but not quite cloying. 4.5/5

Overall: This beer features a plethora of flavors I do not care for (black licorice, bell peppers and a brandy flavor that does not come close to the quality of the 2011 vintage), with poor integration to boot. While I cannot say this is one of the three worst barrel aged Dark Lord variants I have sampled (that honor belongs to Moscatel Dark Lord, Cognac De Muerte Dark Lord and Port Dark Lord), it is subpar beer that is not worth the tick in my opinion. I would not recommend paying $50 for a bottle, let alone trading rare beer or going above dollar-for-dollar in trade to acquire this.

Cost: $50 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Beer Review: Exodus (2011 vintage)

Reviewing Exodus, an intentionally soured red ale aged in bourbon barrels with cherries from Central Waters Brewing Company out of Amherst, Wisconsin.

Score: 94

Fall 2011 vintage bottle served in a Goose Island Chicago flag snifter and enjoyed on 07/01/14.

Appearance: Pours a murky, reddish-orange color with a slight brownish tinge with a half finger of head that settles to a thick ring around the glass. The last pour is quite sediment-y. Nothing special in the lacing/retention/lacing department, but this is a sour ale. 3.75/5

Smell: Cherry, lacto, vanilla and oak working in a nice harmony. Relative to how this was fresh, the acidity has softened a bit and the cherry has faded a bit in a good way such that the medicinal character that was once there fresh is now gone. A kiss of lemon too. 4.25/5

Taste: Tart cherry, oak and a kiss of lacto on the finish. Has a well-rounded acidity. Tart cherry throughout. Really pleasant balance here. No medicinal character anymore. A little residual sweetness on the back half. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Dry finish. Medium bodied, appropriate carbonation. Has a nice sourness with an underlying/balancing residual sweetness. 4.5/5

Overall: Excellent, early sour project from Central Waters that has aged marvelously. Recent batches on tap have been even better than this was fresh.

Cost: $14.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Beer Review: Murda'd Out Stout

Reviewing Murda'd Out Stout, a bourbon barrel aged stout collaboration between Three Floyds Brewing Company out of Munster, Indiana (Dark Lord), Surly Brewing Company out of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, De Struise Brouwers out of Belgium, and Mikkeller out of Denmark. This beer is not "Barrel Aged Baller Stout." Rather, the components beers were individually barrel aged before blending.

Score: 98

January 2013 vintage bottle served in a stemmed Mikkeller "The Original" taster glass and enjoyed on 06/02/14.

Appearance: Pours an inky black color with a thin layer of tan head that settles to a bubbly ring around the glass. Poor lacing, okay retention. Nice legs and browning/tanning of the side of the glass from swirling. 4.5/5

Smell: Fudgey chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and a light oak character. Some cherry and fig too. Marvelous integration of this big bold barrel aged stout nose. 4.75/5

Taste: Tastes even better than it smells! Milk chocolate, fudge, vanilla, dark fruit and brown sugar/molasses. Big, lasting bourbon and chocolate finish. So...much...fudge! 5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, spot on low carbonation. Chewy and creamy mouthfeel. Nice sweet-leaning balance. The flavors absolutely coat the palate here. 5/5

Overall: Who said this beer was falling off? It is still drinking like a champ. This beer is just as good as Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord, and is one of the better barrel aged stouts out there (and it was priced accordingly). I would love to acquire another if the opportunity presents itself.

Cost: $50 for a 750 ml bottle.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Beer Review: David

Reviewing David, a collaboration imperial IPA between Toppling Goliath Brewing Company out of Decorah, Iowa and Tree House Brewing Company out of Monson, Massachusetts.

Score: 91

Bottle from the May 2014 release. Served in an Upland snifter and enjoyed on 06/11/14.

Appearance: Pours an orange color with a half finger of cream colored head that settles to a foggy cap. Great lacing and retention. Some floaties/sediment present. 4.25/5

Smell: Fruity, grassy hops with a light caramel sweetness and booziness. Behind that is a pine/resin character and a sweet tropical fruit nose. Does not quite jump out of the glass like Triple Sunshine did. 4.25/5

Taste: Big sweet/juicy fruity mosaic hop character with a little musty/funky orange towards finish. Booziness in the middle. Reminds me a lot of Sosus, but boozier. Grapefruit, sweet caramel maltiness. Lots of sweet juiciness, no real bitterness or pine quality to the taste. Solid integration. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low carbonation. Oily mouthfeel with a malty sweetness and light bitterness on the finish. 4/5

Overall: A nice and fruity IPA that is more in the vein of Sosus than Pseudo Sue. The mosaic hop fruitiness dominates the flavor (mosaic hops are not among my favorite variety) and there is no real bitterness or bite here. This beer is definitely well made, and definitely delicious. Alas, for me, it was merely good and not great, lacking some of the IPA bite that I was hoping for given the brewers involved.

Cost: $10 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Beer Review: Dinner

Reviewing Dinner, an imperial IPA from Maine Beer Company out of Freeport, Maine.

Score: 93

Bottle is from the 05/21/14 release. Served in an Upland snifter and enjoyed on 06/11/14. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours a nice orange-peach color with a finger of frothy head that settles to a thin coating. Excellent lacing, good retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Grapefruit, grapefruit, grapefruit and forest-y pine. The nose features a nice mix of tropical fruitiness and grassy/piney hop characteristics. Quite lovely. 4.5/5

Taste: Grapefruit and orange zest, with a nice piney bite on the back half. So...much...grapefruit! Simple, effective and delicious IPA. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Thin and watery, undercarbonated. Watery mouthfeeel, but nice bitterness. Lasting bitterness and grapefruit. 2.5/5

Overall: A really lovely grapefruit bomb IPA that needs more heft and carbonation in the mouthfeel to be a truly elite beer.

Cost: $10 for a 500 ml bottle.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Beer Review: Triple Sunshine

Reviewing the Triple Sunshine from Lawson's Finest Liquids out of Warren, Vermont

Score: 100

From the 05/24/13 bottle release. Served in an Upland snifter and enjoyed on 06/11/14.

Appearance: Pours a radiant and murky light tangerine color with a finger of white head that settles to a thin foggy cap. Excellent lacing with crazy cling/retention. Has a cascading head when tilted. Such a gorgeous beer. 5/5

Smell: Bright and bold mango, peach, pineapple, fresh and dank tropical fruit and pine. Has a sticky, resinous sweetness to the nose. Really awesome. Reminds me of a danker, sweeter-malt aroma version of Double Sunshine. So much citrus, pine and dank freshness. Has a light spice character to the nose. 5/5

Taste: This beer has the same big juicy citrus and tropical fruit character of Double Sunshine upfront -- especially the mango and pineapple assault, in addition to the grapefruit -- but this is quickly followed by a bitter piney hop bite and lasting bitterness. Has a nice underlying sweetness, but definitely more bitter leaning than Double Sunshine's balanced juiciness. There is a little spicy/earthy character to the finish along with a little caramel malt flavor. Lasting bitterness and a nice resin flavor towards the back half. No booziness here, in my opinion. The bitterness layers nicely, with the flavors growing in intensity with every sip. Great integration here. 5/

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, perfect carbonation. Really viscous for an IPA. Slick, oily mouthfeel with a nice mildly dry finish. Bitter leaning with a stick-around-sweetness too. 5/5

Overall: A slightly spicy, bitterer and drier version of Double Sunshine with a nice dank quality to it. This beer falls somewhere between my two favorite IPA -- Double Sunshine and Abrasive -- with its bitter hop bite and sweet/juicy tropical fruit character. I can dig it!

Cost: $12 for a 22 oz (bomber).

Monday, September 29, 2014

Beer Review: Opuntia

Reviewing Opuntia, a sour ale aged in first-use small-batch tequila barrels with prickly pears for 9 months from Avery Brewing Company out of Boulder, Colorado.

Score: 96

Bottle is dated 02/19/14. Served in an Upland snifter and enjoyed on 06/11/14.

Appearance: Pours a translucent orange-amber color with a thin layer of head that settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, below average retention. 3.75/5

Smell: Sour pears, lime, grape and agave/tequila! I hate tequila, yet I love this nose! Light oakiness and apple. 4.75/5

Taste: Sour pear, lime and green apple with a sugary sweetness and light tropical fruitiness. Faint agave/tequila (particularly relative to the nose). A touch of oak in the finish with the sugary fruit. Lasting sour pear flavor. So delicious. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, appropriate carbonation. Nice acidity with a good sourness without being super intense or overly dry and bracingly tart. 4.5/5

Overall: If you like pears and limes, then you must seek this delectable sour out.


Cost: $12 for a 12 oz bottle.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Beer Review: La Fosse

Reviewing La Fosse, a fruited wild ale from Side Project Brewing out of St. Louis, Missouri. This beer is the same base beer as Fuzzy, but it was aged for 18 months with Turkish apricots (rather than peaches) in Chardonnay barrels.

Score: 96

2014 keg. Tap pour served in a snifter glass and enjoyed on 06/13/14 at the Northdown Taproom's annual "Lions, Tigers and Beer (Oh My!)" event to raise money for The Wildcat Sanctuary in Minnesota.

Appearance: Pours a translucent golden honey color with a thin coating of white head that settles to a thin ring around the glass. Good lacing and retention. This beer has a more orange hue then Fuzzy, if memory serves. 4.75/5

Smell: Chardonnay followed canned apricot syrup. Light vanilla too and oak. Some lacto/lactic acid character and a hint of lemon. Warms up to a kiss of wet musty funk. Really nice nose. 4.75/5

Taste: Big, acidic apricot tartness throughout with a syrupy sweetness towards the finish. Lacto and light rice vinegar too. Upfront is a little buttery Chardonnay/oak and noodle-y flour character that sounds weird, but is actually totally awesome and melds nicely with the acidic fruitiness. As the beer warms up, it loses a little bit of acidity and gains a bit more roundness and a light, pleasant funkiness to it. Big lasting apricot sweetness. I also feel like I am tasting peach too, but there's no peach in this...right? 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, appropriate carbonation. Big acidic bite, nice sourness. Dry finish with ample acidic pucker. A little rough-around-the-edges, particularly cold and fresh off the tap, but it rounds out a bit as it warms. 4.25/5

Overall: La Fosse is an excellent beer that is not quite as good as its brother Fuzzy, in my personal opinion, due to its sharper acidity. Fuzzy seemed to masterfully straddle the fine line between awesome bold sourness and vinegary acidity overkill a la The Lost Abby's best sours (e.g., Tracks #5 and #7, Cable Car, Duck Duck Gooze), whereas La Fosse was leaning closer to (without landing in) Upland sour territory. La Fosse is bigger and bolder and more fruit-forward than its brother Fuzzy, but it is also rougher and less quaffable. Acidic and rougher-around-the-edges or not, however, La Fosse is still an excellent beer worthy of the Side Project Brewing brand.

Cost: $8 for a 10 oz snifter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Beer Review: Beelzebub

Reviewing the Beelzebub, an imperial stout from The Alchemist out of Waterbury, Vermont.

Score: 97

05/24/14 vintage can served in a Kate the Great snifter and enjoyed on 06/15/14 while BBQ hamburgers for our Father's Day dinner.

Appearance: Pours an opaque black color with a half finger of khaki head that settles to a thick ring around the glass and foggy coating. Crazy awesome lacing and retention. This is your ideal looking stout. 5/5

Smell: Big, bold dark chocolate, figs and dates, char/roast, a hint of syrup, milk chocolate and a faint hop character define the nose while the brew is on the colder side, straight out of the fridge. As it warms up though, a perfectly integrated assault of citrusy and slightly grassy hops emerge to create a delightful mix of chocolate and fruitiness. The aroma develops from lovely, traditional stout to a more complex stout that perfectly embraces all the things I love about citra hops. 4.75/5

Taste: Dark chocolate covered dates with a light burnt/char character and roastiness that linger long in the finish. A light amount of coffee towards the back half too. The flavor here is aggressively bitter, with so much chocolate flavor lingering. As it warms up, as with the nose, a big tropical fruity hop character comes through. Bitter grapefruit and orange zest explode towards the back half, pairing nicely with the bold dark chocolate flavor. The hop character melds perfectly with the chocolate and roast and dark fruit. Who knew a hoppy stout could be this delicious? 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Medium/medium-light bodied, low carbonation. Very, very, very bitter (but I like that). Juicy mouthfeel, dry (and lasting) finish. Thin bodied for the style, but not in a way that ruined the brew. 4.5/5

Overall: One of the best new beers I have had had in a long while. I had never heard of this beer until I received it as an extra from a very generous friend who was sending me some northeast IPA's, but given its quality, I am shocked there are not more people talking about this brew and seeking it out. Although I am not a fan of black IPA/Cascadian dark ales, I was blown away by this beer. I guess we should expect nothing less than this degree of mastery from The Alchemist, one of America's hop masters. If you like grapefruit and oranges and bitter, bitter dark chocolate, you need to seek this beer out.

Cost: $13 for a four pack of 16 oz cans.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Beer Review: Nooner Batch 5

Reviewing Nooner Batch 5, a rum barrel aged milk stout from Peg's Cantina & Brewpub out of Gulfport, Florida.

Score: 96

March 2014 vintage bottle served in a footed De Garde tulip and enjoyed on 06/05/14.

Appearance: Jet black in color, totally opaque. Pours about a finger of khaki head that settles to a thin layer. Great lacing and retention. 5/5

Smell: Sweet chocolate, burnt brown sugar, woody vanilla, molasses, and oak. A touch of dark fruit and a little alcohol heat. Excellent mix. 4.75/5

Taste: Woody vanilla, burnt chocolate, dark chocolate, oak, dates, and a little wine-reminisce acidity towards the finish. Finishes with oak and chocolate and a kiss of residual vanilla. More oak as the beer warms. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Full-medium bodied, appropriate carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a lightly dry finish. Good balance. 4.5/5

Overall: Doug makes some excellent stouts, and this brew is a prime example of his talent (if you ever get the chance to try Whiskey Hazelnut DDT, you run to the tap line). Fresh on the tap line, I felt as though there was a bit more vanilla and a little less acidity, but this growler has held up marvelously. Personally, I preferred my pour on the colder side because it masked the oak character a bit more without muting the other flavors. Seek this one out with delicious confidence.

Cost: $20 for a 500 ml growler.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Beer Review: Humidor Series American Sour Ale

Reviewing the Humidor Series American Sour Ale, a wild ale aged on Spanish cedar from Cigar City Brewing out of Tampa, Florida.

Score: 94

2014 vintage bottle served in a mini wine goblet and enjoyed on 06/04/14. Thank you Jon for sharing this treat.

Appearance: Pours a honey-amber color with a thin fizz of head that quickly settles to a ring around the glass. Poor lacing, okay retention. 3/5

Smell: Bright, lemony cedar and grapefruit! A faint waft of funk. A bit of grassiness too. 4.5/5

Taste: Cedar hits first, and lasts throughout as a nice backbone underlying tart lemon, grapefruit juice, and black pepper. Lasting cedar-y finish. Everything here integrates well. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, appropriate carbonation. Nice sour zing on the mid-palate, but it is not bracingly sour. Juicy mouthfeel and finish. 4.5/5

Overall: Different, strange, and delicious! You would not think cedar would marry so nicely with a sour/wild ale, but it really does when done right like it is here. This was unexpectedly excellent brew and a great addition to Cigar City's 2014 release lineup. I will definitely be revisiting this one in the future.

Cost: $10 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beer Review: Snozzberry

BEER REVIEW #600!!

Reviewing Snozzberry, a mysteriously fruited wild ale from Block 15 out of Corvallis, Oregon.

Score: 94

April 2014 vintage bottle served in a footed De Garde tulip and enjoyed on 06/04/14.

Appearance: Pours a murky, slightly pinkish peach color with minimal head that totally settles off the pour. No lacing or retention. 3/5

Smell: Raspberry, hay, strawberry, mango, berry, oak and musty peach/nectarine. Really interesting mix of fruitiness with a young funk character that is very bright and slightly sweet. Super complex and funky fruit roll-up-esque. 4.75/5

Taste: Strawberry upfront and in the finish with a nice raspberry flavor in the middle. Some lingering plastic-like flavor in the finish. Super fruity. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Very juicy mouthfeel with a dry finish. Good tartness throughout. Light bodied, appropriate carbonation. Nice mix of sweet and sour fruit characteristics here. 4.5/5

Overall: A really tasty fruit-blast of a sour ale that would be legitimately excellent but for the plastic character in the finish.

Cost: $9.50 for a 375 ml bottle.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beer Review: Dos Osos

Reviewing Dos Osos, a collaborative IPA from Revolution Brewing Company out of Chicago, Illinois and Firestone Walker Brewing Company out of Paso Robles, California.

Score: 93

Tap pour served in a Revolution mug club member mug and enjoyed on 06/01/14.

Appearance: Pours a clean orange-amber color with a half finger of head. Good lacing, okay retention. 4.25/5

Smell: Fruity, piney hops. A little dank. Orange, grapefruit and a nice sweet caramel maltiness. A touch of spice too. Really lovely. 4.5/5

Taste: Tastes exactly like it smells. Piney, bitter bite upfront with a soothing caramel malt sweetness on the finish. Fruity backbone with a nice orange/grapefruit flavor underlying everything. A kiss of residual spice on the finish. Nice lasting fruitiness and grapefruit flavor. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Oily mouthfeel with a mildly dry finish. Nice bitterness, without being very extreme. 4.25/5

Overall: I was glad to see this IPA from last year's Chicago Craft Beer Week re-brewed. Great price point and really delicious.

Cost: $6 for a 20 oz mug.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Beer Review: Boysen The Woods

Reviewing Boysen The Woods from Central Waters Brewing Company out of Amherst, Wisconsin. This beer is an intentionally soured version of their La Riviere Coule Belgian pale ale with boysenberries added, aged in a red wine barrel.

Score: 50

Tap pour from a 2014 vintage keg served in a snifter glass and enjoyed on 06/01/14 at the Local Option. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Pours a murky and opaque reddish-purple/grape color with a thin layer of head that quickly settles to a ring around the glass. 3.5/5

Smell: Boysenberries, vanilla/oak, cherry jam, brown sugar, and graham cracker. Really lovely nose. 4.5/5

Taste: Tart boysenberries, oaky vanilla and pie crust, followed three seconds later by a bold, lasting and unpleasant buttered popcorn finish. Tastes like a boysenberry flanders red with a side of Orville Redenbacher being jammed down your throat against your will. This diacetyl bomb of a finish is unfortunate because the upfront flavor is quite nice. This would probably be a good beer paired with a sip of seltzer water to neutralize the palate after every sip. 1.75/5

Mouthfeel: Light-plus bodied, appropriate carbonation. Big tartness with a little sweetness. 3.5/5

Overall: A nice and tart flavor upfront was quickly and utterly marred by a pungent diacetyl/buttered popcorn finish.

Cost: $9 for a 10 oz pour.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beer Review: Rye D'Floyd (Three Floyd's version)

Reviewing Rue D'Floyd, an imperial porter aged in bourbon barrels with cherries and vanilla beans added brewed by Three Floyd's Brewing Company out of Munster, Indiana out of their facility in collaboration with The Bruery. The Bruery version, which also has coffee in it, was reportedly infected with unintended lactobacillus (it still tasted good fresh, but the infection likely means it will develop off/unintended flavors over time). However, this version was brewed and aged separately by Three Floyds and thus does not share the same concerns as (or the coffee in) the Bruery released version.

Score: 98

May 2014 vintage bottle served in a stemmed 2013 Midwest Belgian Beer Fest tulip and enjoyed on 06/01/14.

Appearance: Pours a dark chocolate color with minimal head that totally settles. No lacing or retention, but nice browning effect from the swirl. 4/5

Smell: Rich, desserty vanilla and chocolate cake, bourbon, brown sugar, molasses and light cherry. Wow. Smells incredible. The cherry character is not very prominent on the nose, but it is there. This is one of the best stout/porter noses I have encountered in a while. 5/5

Taste: Much more cherry in the flavor. Upfront is a nice mix of cherry, chocolate and a vanilla flavor that tastes like a donuts glaze. Bourbon and cherry flavor on the back half, with a big, lasting chocolate-vanilla flavored finish. The bourbon character comes out more and more as it warms up, and the longer you let the beer sit on the tongue. Lovely integration here. No real booziness. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. Viscous, chewy and a little creamy mouthfeel. Sweet, but not cloying and very balanced. 5/5

Overall: Incredible. Viscous, decadent and robust, without being cloying. This is one of Three Floyd's and The Bruery's best barrel aged stout/porter releases. Heck, this is better than over half of the Barrel Aged Dark Lord releases to date.

Cost: $30 for a 750 ml bottle.