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


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.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Beer Review: Baudoinia

Reviewing Baudoinia from the Goose Island Beer Company out of Chicago, Illinois. Baudoinia is a variant of 2012 Bourbon County Brandy Stout that is aged low storage bourbon barrels and is named after the eponymous fungus that grows on such barrels in distillery rickhouses.

Score: 98

2012 vintage keg tap pour served in a snifter glass and enjoyed on 05/31/14 at Rockwell's 10th anniversary ice cream social. Review is from iPhone notes.

Appearance: Classic shiny, inky black/deep brown Bourbon County color. Served with a thin layer of head. Great oily legs and browning from the swirl. 4.5/5

Smell: The nose is an explosion of fudgey chocolate, oaky vanilla, bourbon, brown sugar and a little bit of cherry. 4.75/5

Taste: Vanilla and fudge, with a lasting chocolatey bourbon finish. Dark fruit on the midpalate with a kiss of cherry. Smooth bourbon backbone. Oak in the finish too. So much chocolate and vanilla, no alcohol heat. This is so much better now than it was fresh. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, low carbonation. Creamy, viscous mouthfeel. Sweet, but in a great way and less sweet than regular Bourbon County. 5/5

Overall: As you would expect of any Bourbon County beer, this beer has aged marvelously. It has more chocolate and vanilla presence than regular Bourbon County and less alcohol character as well. The deliciousness of this beer was magnified by, and paired perfectly with, the Rockwell's homemade Founder's Rubaeus ice cream.

Cost: $5 for a 5 oz pour that came with a scoop of ice cream!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Beer Review: Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze Vintage (2003)

Reviewing the Oude Geuze Vintage 2003 from Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen out of Belgium.

Score: 95

Bottle is dated 03/05/03. Served in a Drie Fonteinen fountain tumbler and enjoyed on 05/28/14. Thank you Paul for sharing this treat!

Appearance: Pours a murky golden yellow color with a slight brown tinge and a thin layer of head that totally settles. Poor lacing and retention. This looks like your typical 3F Oude Geuze. 4/5

Smell: Musty lemon, cedar/wood, and a light barnyard funk. Residual "brightness" relative to the citrus character is fresher vintage OGV's. Reminisce (perhaps just because of the cedar/wood character) of Blauw, but with less complexity/zing. 4.5/5

Taste: Funkier than the nose, particularly on the finish. Tart lemon bite, must, grain, peach, and a little spice. Faint wood character on the finish. Lasting musty lemon on the finish. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, good carbonation. Juicy mouthfeel with a nice gum-dryness to the finish. Nice tart bite with good linger. 4.5/5

Overall: The six year old bottle of 2007 and 2008 OGV that I have previously sampled still reign king among the different vintages of OGV sampled, but this still drank quite nice. Relative to the non-OGV Oude Geuze 2004 recently sampled, this vintage bottle had more zing despite being a year older. The OGV series is a testament to proper storage and the reliability of Armand's personal stash. I most recommend acquiring OGV 2008 or OGV 2007, but the OGV 2003 is also quite recommendable as well.

Cost: $40 for a 750 ml bottle.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Beer Review: Black & Wild

Reviewing Black & Wild, a dark sour aged in an bourbon barrel used to age Barrel Aged Abraxas from Side Project Brewing out of St. Louis, Missouri.

Score: 100

April 2014 vintage bottle served in a stemmed Side Project Brewing bulb glass and enjoyed on 05/28/14. HUGE thank you to Ryan for sharing this delectable treat.

Appearance: Pours a black coffee color with a half finger of tan head. Average lacing, really good retention. 5/5

Smell: Burnt maple syrup, cinnamon, tart cherries and chocolate. Hint of bourbon. Perfect integration on the nose. 5/5

Taste: Very tart whiskey soaked cherries with a light cinnamon twist on the midpalate and a delectable dark chocolate finish. Maple syrup backbone. No acidity, lovely sweet and sour with a nice sour bite upfront. More cinnamon and maple as it warms. Like the nose, the taste integration is sheer perfection. No booziness whatsoever. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, perfect carbonation. Big tart bite upfront. Lovely sweet and sour mix. 5/5

Overall: For me, this is a top five overall American wild ale and the best dark sour that I have had the chance to sample. This beer is on par with Very Sour Blackberry, Cable Car Kriek, Blackberry Raspberry Lambic and Blueberry Flanders. The Abraxas-derived complexities interact perfectly with the dark sour/tart cherry characteristics. If you can get a bottle, I highly recommend seeking this one out.

Cost: $25 for a 750 ml bottle.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Beer Review: Omniscience & Proselytism

Reviewing Omniscience & Proselytism, a wild ale fermented in oak barrels with strawberries from the Jester King Craft Brewery out of Austin, Texas.

Score: 97

Fall 2013 vintage bottle served in a Kuhnhenn snifter and enjoyed on 05/28/14. Thank you Scott for sending me this delicious treat!

Appearance: Pours a nice sunset orange color with a nice orange-to-yellow fade. Okay lacing, good retention. 4/5

Smell: Bright strawberry jam and seeds, oak, hay, black pepper and a hint of plastic. A hint of lemon zest too. So jammy, so strawberry forward. 5/5

Taste: Strawberry jam, crackers, lemon rind, oak, hay and more strawberry on the finish. Although somewhat simplistic in how strawberry-forward this beer is, it has some nice supplemental complexities. Lasting strawberry fruit-by-the-foot finish. 4.75/5

Mouthfeel: Medium/medium-light bodied, spot on carbonation. Juicy mouthfeel with a very dry finish. Great tartness, mild acidity. 4.75/5

Overall: Wow. So...much...strawberry. This was better than Atrial Rubicite in my opinion, perhaps because I love strawberries so much. This is my favorite strawberry sour sampled to date.

Cost: Unknown (bottle was a gift).