Archive | December, 2011
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Brew Review: Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

29 Dec

Brew: Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

Brewed by: Mikkeller (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Style: Double/Imperial Stout (10.9% ABV)

Another brew shared on the holy weekend that contained Darkness Day. Shared once again with those same two special friend from Chicago. This was brought up from the Chi and was apparently a little older than I had thought, I believe that it was picked up early in 2011 like January or February if I remember right. With that being said the coffee aspect might have been a little past its best date but I wasn’t complaining in the least. You should probably just read Mikkeller’s website on it to see what its really made out of since that is one of the more interesting parts of this beer. On with the beer.

The Brunch poured out a thick deep oily black color. Not much light escapes from this black hole of a beer. It also has a thick brown head that is impressive in itself. A great looking stout that you can tell houses some interesting flavors and hidden gems.

The smell is full of coffee, apparently the age didn’t affect that part very much. There is also some chocolate in there as well. The stout bitterness also comes though as this is probably a dry stout that will offer some bitterness. I also get a faint wiff of some plastic smells as well. It sort of smelled a little like a brand new happy meal toy right from the packaging. I don’t know why I kept thinking that but I figured I would throw it out there since I kept thinking it. In the end that wasn’t much of the smell but I picked it up.

The first taste was full of chocolate, and dark chocolate at that. It was very smooth, coffee glides over the tongue and down. It was full and complex. There wasn’t a ton of coffee, which was surprising since the main attraction was it was brewed with what I’ve heard is the most expensive coffee in the world. Some story about how weasels eat these coffee beans and some fool goes around picking up the weasels poo and then puts it into coffee and then this beer. Don’t know how I feel about that, but hey it tasted good so I guess it was a good idea after all. It wasn’t as bitter as I was expecting either. I know that there were oats used in the brewing process so that probably added to the creamy body and the lessening of the bitterness, at least to my perception. There was a little bit of potable warming as it warmed up and as I drank more of it.

I don’t really know how I want to grade this one. On one hand it was a good solid stout but the plastic flavor was weird and it wasn’t as chocolaty or coffee-like as I had expected after reading about it and hearing people talk about it. I wasn’t unhappy with it, maybe it would have been a little better if it was a little younger. I don’t know.

Final Grade: B+/A- (I don’t really know)

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Brew Review: Black Butte XXIII

29 Dec

Brew: Black Butte XXIII

Brewed by: Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR)

Style: Porter (10.8% ABV)

 

I was excited the second I saw this at the liquor store, the only regret I have about it is that I didn’t get more than 1 bottle, mistake on my part. Enjoyed it during a great beer weekend with a couple friends from Chicago. I didn’t let it age as long as the label had prescribed, it told me to let this sit for at least a year. One of better things about the label is that it mentioned a best “after” date. Which is different because usually beers have a best “before” date which means this was supposed to sit for a while, but I couldn’t hold back and had to bring it out.

Chipped at the wax seal and poured this black beauty into a little tulip glass. It poured out a deep dark brown. Almost black but there were some red hints around the edges that gave this a great overall look. There was a big frothy mocha tan head that stuck around for a while and laced the glass perfectly. Wow I couldn’t ask for a better looking beer.

The smell was rushed since I was so excited to taste it but it was sweet with chocolate and rich roasted malts. There was some whiskey hints in there mixed with deep rich fruity smells. It says its brewed with oranges and chilies but I can’t really smell either of those, maybe they will show up in the taste. This is a good smelling brew, since only 25% was aged in bourbon barrels there is a good balance with the bourbon not overpowering anything.

The taste was amazing to say the least. The bourbon is once again well balanced and doesn’t mess it up at all, the 25% mark was a good one to go with. With the booze there is some vanilla. The brew is thick and sweet, there is tons of chocolate and a little hint of the oranges at the end. A well crafted beer that hides the alcohol content very well, though its not one that is drank in any way but sipping as its big and powerful. At the very end there is a little alcohol detected as it goes down but that’s about it.

Wow, this was a treat, even without letting it sit for the prescribed year it was still magnificent. So much going on and so much to appreciate. I was glad I was able to share this with people as it was a perfect brew to sit around and talk about as everyone in the room liked it a lot. Its a big beer with plenty to offer, the flavors are all balanced so well that there is really nothing negative to mention about it. Once again my only mistake was to not get more than one, shame on me.

 

Final Grade: A

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Brew Review: Tasty Waves

29 Dec

Brew: Tasty Waves Pale Ale

Brewed by: Half Acre Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL)

Style: American Pale Ale (5.0% ABV)

 

My other acquisition on my trip to the Half Acre brewery in Chicago. I got the growler of Mr. Ouroboros and then a 22 ounce bomber of this brew. After finishing off the growler I was hoping that this one was better than the other. Too bad there were only 22oz of these ones and only growlers of the other.

The Tasty Waves poured a clear orange tangerine color. Tasty looking indeed. Like marmalade skies in fact. Just seeing the labeling on this makes me think of some psychedelic ’60’s pop/rock song so I’m running with that. The one shortfall was that there wasn’t a ton of head on my pour. I don’t know if it was just under-carbonated or what but it didn’t bring much out. Not much lacing down the glass either, I was hoping for a little more, but I guess I can’t have everything.

The aroma is also tasty, its hoppy with fruity hop aromas bursting out. Sweet fruits that bring up thoughts of tropical starbursts. Mangoes, tangerines, citrus and some piney scents on the end. This great hop aroma is balanced by some bitterness and some grassy hop smells as well as a faint malt background.

The taste is bitter to start, the hops are definitely present. I don’t really get anything more than that after the initial bitter touch. There isn’t a great balance by the malts, I could have used a couple more to complement the hop profile. The beer is a little bit lighter, which I think was what the brewers were going for. It is supposed to be a more session-type beer, meaning you can enjoy more than one and still be coherent enough to carry a conversation. That must be why they are only putting it in 22oz bombers.

For the most part the look and smell of the beer were the highlights, which is a little disappointing since I had to drink 22 ounces of it after all. For its purpose, a session beer, this was spot on. It was definitely one I could enjoy a few of and have a good time with some good friends. I think this would be a great beer to utilize with a good burger or other pub foods. It wouldn’t dominate the food and if you could find the right combination could complement something quite nicely. Couldn’t tell you what that meal would be since I’m not a food expert but I am going out on a limb and saying it has potential. A solid beer but not one I would search out with a passion again.

 

Final Grade: B

Brew Review: Mr. Ouroboros

28 Dec

Brew: Mr. Oroborolous

Brewed by: Half Acre Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL)

Style: Americo-German Pale Ale (6.0% ABV)

 

On that same trip to Chicago I stopped off at the Half Acre brewery to see what they had as their specialties. I was hoping for a couple certain ones but they ended up having this one. Described to me as a German-American pale ale. They used an American style pale ale recipe and a German Kolsch style yeast strain. The combination was one I hadn’t even thought of before and didn’t really know what to expect. Well I got a whole growler of it so I was hoping it was good.

It poured out of the growler clear golden color. It was a little red/orange as well. It was a good looking brew. Not much by way of head, but I think that was because it was it the growler a little long and wasn’t sealed the best so it lost a little carbonation.

The smell was very unique. There were floral hops and some sweet malts from the pale ale side of things. However, mixed in there was also some skunky/earthy tones from the kolsch yeast. So there was an American influence mashed up with a more European style which created a totally unique brew

The taste starts out bitter, the American influence shows up there with extra hops. The kolsch light yeasty flavors also show up a little. In the end it comes off as a weird combination.

I found myself wanting either one or the other of the styles. Either a sweet/floral American Pale ale or a light summery Kolsch style that is more for pounding at the volleyball court in the heat. I didn’t really appreciate the mixed styles, I think that Half Acre should retire this one and not bring it back.

 

Final Grade: C

Brew Review: 90 Minute IPA

28 Dec

Brew: 90 Minute IPA

Brewed by: Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales (Milton, DE)

Style: American Double/Imperial IPA (9.0% ABV)

 

Another Dogfish Head brew. I tend to think these are somewhat hit or miss for the most part. Some are excellent beers and most are thought out well and executed to perfection, but the extremity of the style or goal of the beers is sometimes too much to handle. I as hoping that the 90 minute would be a toned down version of the 120 minute and something that would be much more drinkable throughout the beer. Starting at 9% doesn’t give me much hope but I will give it shot regardless.

The beer poured out a bright clear orange, somewhat light amber color. A good looking color, almost like marmalade. There was also a half inch white head that disappeared quickly but left good lacing through the whole glass.

The aroma was very hoppy, the bitterness of the hops was present right from the start and never really stopped. However there was also a solid showing of malts as well in an attempt to balance out the 90 minutes of continuous hop additions during the boil of this beast. They tried at least.

The taste of the beer was off-putting to say the least. Right away on the first sip it was bitter, very bitter. I know this was what they were going for but this might have been a bit much. I really only got the feeling that they somehow figured out how to make hops into syrup and then just dumped that into this bottle. However with that syrup they didn’t get any of the floral or fruity goodness that comes along with hops. After the initial shock of being blasted into Aunt Jemima’s Hop Syrup I did pick up some sweetness from what I can only assume are the malts. At this point my taste buds are pretty much shot and trying to pick out one flavor from another is like choosing between apples and apples. The hops needed balance badly, like Captian Hook needing’ a mother very, very badly.’ The alcohol burn at the end was also unpleasant and unnecessary.

Overall, I think they tried a bit harder on the 120 minute and should have tried to create a recipe that would showcase what they were trying to do with the 90 minute instead of just throwing it at you and then having your taste buds rendered useless after a bottle so you couldn’t tell if it was a bad beer or not.

 

Final Grade: B-

Brew Review: Old Rasputin

28 Dec

Brew: Old Rasputin

Brewed by: North Coast Brewing Co. (Fort Bragg, CA)

Style: Russian Imperial Stout (9.0% ABV)

 

I have had the pleasure of having this beer in the past and decided that I liked it enough that I would search it out again and take some notes on it. I especially like the name, a very fitting name for a Russian Stout, and it makes one think of a greasy, slimeball of a guy. Some of the words to describe the beer might be the same as for the man.

Rasputin pours out a thick rich black brew. Looks like it would be something from a witches cauldron, deep, dark and mysterious. A great big tan head also came with the pour, something that makes a good stout even better when it has that big foamy head resting peacefully waiting for you to take a sip and then end up with an upper lip covered with it.

The smell is perfect. There is tons of chocolate and the roasty warming presence of grains. The bitter dry aroma of an old school stout is also present and lends a foil to the sweet chocolate grain presence also present. There is also some dark fruity smells in there, like raisins or licorice. A great smelling stout, something that you would want a big hearty beer to smell like without showing that its going to be too sweet.

The taste of the brew followed in the aromas footsteps. It was a thick chocolaty affair, with toffee and caramel tastes mixed in there as well. It was big, deep, and chewy. This was a beer that could fill you up with the loads of malt and high ABV. The dry stout taste also showed up in the end, with a hint of the booze to finish it off. For it being 9% however there was no real noticeable alcohol tastes throughout, which was amazing. There must have been a fair amount of hops added to this brew as well since there was a lingering bitterness to it as well.

A great dry stout. It seems like a lot of small breweries are making stouts that are sweet and sugary these days. I like that North Coast has taken a step back and reexamined the dry stout category since those can be turned into excellent beers as well.

 

Final Grade: A

Brew Review: Bottom Up Wit

27 Dec

Brew: Bottom Up Wit

Brewed by: Revolution Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL)

Style: Belgian Wit Beer (4.5% ABV)

 

Another entry from the Revolution trip in Chicago. Now this beer was not one I actually ordered but tried a sip or two from a fellow diner and therefore decided to take some quick notes on it.

The beer came out looking like someone had peed into a half-full glass of lemonade. It didn’t look good in any way. Hazy yellow, both dark and lighter yellows thrown together with a sort of old bathwater feel to it. Not appetizing. Hopefully the taste picks it up.

The beer is all citrus in the nose. Orange and lemon dominate. The yeast is also present, the Belgian influence in detectable, but the orange dominates.

The taste is also very fruity. The yeast, wheat aspects, orange peels and the spices all lead to a zesty orange and lemon mash-up. The beer was overall very light drinking. At a low ABV, this is one that you can have 2 or 3 of on a hot summer night. It can cool you off and refresh you at the same time. A very sessionable beer. The fruit aspects of the beer were not overpowering or off-putting in any way not like Magic Hat #9 that holds the fruity aspects in a whole different way, not so good way.

Still not my favorite, the look of the beer is troubling and I would rather have a traditional hefe beer instead to refresh.

 

Final Grade: B-

 

Brew Review: Skara Brae

27 Dec

Brew: Skara Brae

Brewed by: Revolution Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL)

Style: Scotch Ale aged in Heaven Hill Rye barrels (9.0% ABV)

 

This was the brew I was most excited for. A scotch ale but then barrel aged. I keep looking for that perfect scotch ale and this seemed like that one that could make a good run at one of the best. It was a great concept, I was hoping it could deliver in the product. At 9% and after already having 2 other beers I was glad I was taking the bus after this one.

The beer came out to me in a little 10oz snifter glass. It looked like a little blob of pitch. This was a black beer, not really any other colors perceivable. There was no head, the carbonation was low, which was fine, no need for that on there. There was a small ring of what looked somewhat like chai on the top of the glass but that was about all the foam I ever saw from the beer.

The aroma was a mix of sweet malts/chocolate and then the booze from the barrel aging. The rye barrels shown through with vigor with most of the other aromas taking a back seat at this point in the beer.

The taste has the classic scotch ale tastes blending with the rye whiskey. I thought this was great, although I would have preferred to have the scotch malts come out on top in that fight. The whiskey I think could have taken a back seat into a more complimentary role. As it stood it was a main player that let everyone know it was around with how distinct it was.

Great balance to this beer, I would have just suggested one thing and that was the leave that balance a little out of whack in favor of the scotch ale flavors instead of the whiskey.

 

Final Grade: B+

Brew Review: Diggity Dunkel

27 Dec

Brew: Diggity Dunkel

Brewed by: Revolution Brewing Co. (Chicago, IL)

Style: Dunkelweizen (6.1% ABV)

 

Another stop on my trip in Chicago. This one was at Revolution brewing, who I must admit had some of the best food I had on the trip. The burger I had was amazing. I would go back there just for that if I got the chance. The beers were pretty solid too, I got to try a couple of them so the next few posts will be from them.

The Diggity Dunkel came to me a pale brown color that also looked a little lighter orange/yellow as well. The nice part about this one was the big frothy head that came with it. The big white head sat atop a beer that was fairly hazy, traditional to the style.

The brew smelled very much as I was expecting. The wheat shone through complimented by the funky yeasts that brought up the typical ‘bananas and cloves’ that everybody gets from a beer of this style.

The taste was also very expected. There were sweet wheat characteristics that were matched by the funky yeasts. The tang and spice of the yeasts were subtle and not overpowering which made way for lots of banana in the taste. Overall a very refreshing beer. One that is matches up with the style as it should.

This is a solid refreshing beer that would be great on a hot day. A summer beer that didnt push anything to far and wasn’t anything people weren’t expecting.

 

Final Grade: B

Brew Review: Full Frontal Ale

23 Dec

Brew: Full Frontal

Brewed by: Piece Brewery & Pizzeria (Chicago, IL)

Style: America Pale Ale (5.5% ABV)

 

I was fortunate enough to have a stop closer to the downtown area of Chicago the last time I was there and got to sample some of the local wares there. Piece Brewery and Pizzeria is a great place that has award winning beer and some really good pizza, I mean its Chicago they better have good pizza. Got there a little before the others in our group showed up so I got to write down some quick notes about one of their beers.

The Full Frontal pale ale poured out a light amber color, a little orange in there and some lighter reds. It was also a bit hazy, not as clear as I was expecting for a pale ale. There was also not much to speak of by way of foam, there was a thin cap that was spotty through the whole brew.

The aroma of the beer was definitely American in its classification of a pale ale. There were plenty of hops to start out with, spicy and pine were the dominant pieces. Then as I got further into it, the malts showed up and provided a nice balance to the hops that played a more important role at the beginning of the beer.

The taste of the beer was somewhat similar to the smell. Right off the bat there were deep, rich hop bitterness and residual hop flavors. The hops were of pine, citrus and earthy/grassy characters. Not as much floral or fruit flavors as I was hoping for but then again this isn’t an IPA so the balance between the malts and hops has to be there. The bitterness was a good level so nothing off-putting about it.

This beer reminded me a lot of another Chicago brew, Daisy Cutter by Half Acre brewing. The same tendencies to be more hoppy and IPA-like, although the Daisy Cutter in my opinion is a bit better.

 

Final Grade: B+