Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Style: Imperial Stout
Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Purchased at 99 Bottles. Federal Way, WA
Read More about Goose Island on Beer Advocate.
Aroma: Rich aroma of bourbon and burnt oak with hints of dark chocolate and vanilla coming through as well. There is a spicy alcohol aroma that nearly burns the nose if you take a good breath in of this beer, which you want to do because the aroma is excellent. A slight roasted character lies in the back but you have to look for it amongst the bourbon and wood.
Appearance: Pours a motor oil black with initially an almond brown head, though the head dissipates very quickly and is all but gone within a minute of pouring. The beer does maintain a very thin ring around the glass. Light lacing will stick to the glass with a swirl.
Flavor: The tongue is hit up front with an oaken bourbon character which is quickly followed by a rich dark chocolate sweetness. Some dark fruit is present as the flavors progress toward the middle, prune and molasses are clear but there is the hint of vanilla as well. Toward the middle further enters a roasted quality, and the bourbon comes back again in full force before an alcohol bite finishes the beer off with a hot spice. The finish closes with some sweetness on the tongue and alcohol spice.
Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with medium carbonation. The malt character fills the mouth with a stickiness but this is offset by the dryness and warming character of the 13% alcohol content. Finish is dry at the back of the throat, but the malty body maintains a sticky sweetness on the tongue and lips.
Overall: Of Bourbon Barrel aged beers this certainly sits as one of my favorites. The bourbon character is well pronounced without being overwhelming. Aroma and flavor character runs the gamut from warm alcohol and bourbon spice to malt and chocolate richness. The combination of bourbon character and a rich imperial stout make this an excellent example of bourbon barrel aging.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
also labeled as Bush De Noël
Brewed By: Brasserie Dubuisson Fréres sprl
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Purchased at North Coast Co-Op
Read more about Brasserie Dubuisson Fréres sprl on Beer Advocate.
Stemming from my recent Belgian tasting extravaganza at Belgianfest in Seattle, I picked up a few other Belgian style ales while in Eureka, CA for work. The North Coast Co-Op there has an impressive selection of craft beer and an assortment of Belgian ales. I pulled two 8.48 fl. oz. bottles of this off the shelve.
Aroma: Lasting for only a moment right out of the glass comes the aroma of a champagne-like spice aroma. This is followed by a peppery phenolic yeast character and alcohol notes. Caramel malt profile rounds out the nose. There is a fusel alcohol profile dancing around in the aroma that is light, but slightly off-putting.
Appearance: Pours a light apple red to honey amber in color with crystal clarity. The head forms initially but almost immediately fades to but a trace of bubbles around the edge of the glass. The appearance of effervescent carbonation produces a constant stream of carbonation bubbles rising to the surface.
Flavor: A tangy bite of grapefruit rind blended with caramel sweetness. These come together on the tongue with equal strength but the flavor moves toward a nearly harsh alcoholic bite in the middle. This fades to another sting of alcohol in the dry finish with a bit of nobel hop bitterness becoming present.
Mouthfeel: Light body with high carbonation. The carbonation tricks the perception of body, though doesn’t hold firm enough to fill the mouth. There is a lot of alcohol warming the throat and mouth with a burning astringency. Puckering and drying in the finish with an alcoholic “cooling” effect in the throat and mouth after you breath out.
Overall: You certainly won’t be mistaken at the 12% ABV of this beer because alcohol takes part in nearly every aspect. There are positive aspects of this ale, phenolic yeast aromatics and caramel malt character, but nearly everything is overshadowed by a burning alcohol presence. If there were some malt backbone to back this up with more body and sweetness, this beer would be a very nice sipper. As it is, this Belgian may pair well with a robust cigar or a T-Bone Steak.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Bottled on 10/14/09
Purchased at Blue Max Liquors in Burnsville, MN
$9.19 for a 4-pack
Read about Founders Brewing Co. on Beer Advocate
Aroma: First up in the aroma is a gritty cold-press coffee nose with a background of sweet chocolate. Dark roasted malt presence is subtle, but helps to round out the predominately roasted coffee notes.
Appearance: Pours an opaque black with a rich almond brown head. A very well retained head with good lacing sticking to the edge of the glass.
Flavor: Burnt coffee and dark chocolate flavors hit your tongue immediately with a creamy sweet backdrop. This follows with a peppery presence as well through the middle that is almost burning. This spice backs up the coffee and chocolate sweetness well. Finish is of bitter dark chocolate and is probably the only area where an earthy hop bitterness is present.
Mouthfeel: Full body with low carbonation. While the beer has a drying and bitter quality, the coffee and chocolate have such an intensity that the flavors attach themselves to your palate with an oily consistency.
Overall: A stouty-stout with rich body and a flavor profile that is very focused on coffee and deep 80% dark chocolate. The aroma isn't as rich as I expected from this beer and is surprisingly similar to Surly's Coffee Bender. I suspect they use the same process to add the coffee.
An excellent stout worthy of casual enjoyment or to occupy space in your cellar.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I just finished reading Candice Alström's article titled “How to Lose Friends & Alienate the Industry” in Beer Advocate Issue #35. In the article Candice discusses the problem of craft beer advocates becoming beer snobs. I truly enjoyed the article and believe every beer lover would benefit from reading it. Given the fact that you’re reading this blog, and more than likely you’ve read the article, it's nearly a certain bet you’ve been guilty at one time or another of beer snobbery.
“Where did we get this idea that being a snob was a good thing? ...why would anybody be proud to admit that they are a beer snob?”
The article suggests we as Beer Advocates take a step back and ensure we do not descend into the realm of a snobbish beer society. Rather, the craft beer loving community needs to remain humble and embrace our true inner self. We are geeks. Beer geeks.
In the article Candice takes the time to define the words “snob” and “geek” for us;
Snob: -One who blatantly imitates, fawningly admires, or vulgarly seeks association with those regarded as social superiors
-One who tends to rebuff, avoid, or ignore those regarded as inferior
Geek: -An enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity
From my own perspective I feel the connotation of "beer geek" is spot on. Here I am a Beer Advocate subscriber, an online forum participant, a BJCP Recognized judge, a homebrewer, an Ambassador for Taplister.com, and now in a twist of fate or just plain boredom I have a beer blog. Without question or confusion I am a beer geek. I recently sought after a bottle of Life & Limb as if my own life depended on it.
I am also guilty in the past for sinking to low levels as a beer snob. I’ve turned an upward nose at Light American Lagers even on the hottest of summer days, and I’d be known to let out a chuckle when a waitress recites the tap list at a pub beginning with “Bud, Bud Light, Coors, ...”
I think the phenomenon Candice writes about really represents a small subset of the craft beer culture. My own experience with snobs in the beer business has been extremely limited. What I have seen as snobbery usually manifests itself as a pissing contest of “I know more about beer than you do”. Though as discussed in the article it is a great benefit to recognize your own faults and correct them, quickly.
In my experience the beer community is incredibly welcoming and respective of the craft, those who love it, or seek to learn more about it. During a long conversation with a brewery owner about how he started his business I was continually amazed at how open his demeanor was. Even when we got into the financial details, his willingness to share seemed as natural as buying a round of beers at the pub.
Sitting at one of many great beer geek bars in Seattle it’s not hard to strike up an enthusiastic conversation with complete strangers about the beer we’re drinking, or beers we’ve had in the past. There is incredible camaraderie surrounding the sub-culture of craft beer advocates. Statements like “have you tried this beer?!” always open up exciting prospects.
Homebrewers as well are extremely open about their process and recipes. Recently I stopped by an individual’s house to swap kegs with another homebrewer. There were several brewers present, and in the middle of their brew day. While I only knew one of them directly as soon as I arrived I was offered a beer, food off the grill, and a cigar. There wasn’t a snob to be found around the brew kettle that day.
As with many things, it’s the people that make the difference. And craft beer is no exception. The article by Candice Alström was extremely well written and has excellent timing. We beer geeks need to keep our heads in check lest we fall into a mindset of superiority that will ultimately lead to our own demise.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Surly Brewing Co. Coffee Bender
Style: American Brown Ale
Serving Type: Can
Read more about Surly on Beer Advocate.
Aroma: Grainy dark chocolate and coffee aroma are certainly in the forefront with caramel notes in the background. There is a defined “grit” in the nose that I would guess is coming from the coffee.
Appearance: Though the name suggests coffee, this beer exhibits an appearance closer to dark brown, rather than coffee black. There is a small amount of deep ruby light getting through the edges. As you pour, the head forms about 1 finger of almond brown foam. The head falls fairly quickly however, to just a ring around the outside of the glass.
Flavor: A bite of cold press coffee hits you at the first sip. It is pronounced but not bitter. There is surprisingly a fair amount of sweet chocolate following this up. The flavor moves to light roasted barley in the middle with hop bitterness coming into play with an earthy presence. Toward the finish the coffee tones come back at you with a bitter flavor. The finish is dry with lingering coffee and hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with light carbonation. Not cloying or astringent but the bitterness in the finish will have a slight puckering effect. Though this is light.
Overall: An excellent example of coffee flavors and aroma adding to the complexity of the beer. The bitterness coming off the coffee marries well with the hop and roasted barley qualities in this beer. I feel like I'm saying it all the time lately but the mouthfeel is a little thin, it moves toward watery in the end but I suppose this leads to a crisp and clean finish.
As a side note, several years ago in the great white north of Duluth, MN I happened upon an event by Surly at a pub called Carmody Irish Pub. I had the pleasure of speaking with Todd Haug, head brewer of Surly, for some time. Perhaps it was the beer but Todd was so easy to talk to it felt like I'd known him for years. Here's a picture of my brush with brewing fame.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Russian River Blind Pig IPA
Style: American IPA
Serving Type: Bottle
Purchased at the Brewery in Santa Rosa, CA
$4.75 for 600ml bottle
Bottled on 12/11/09
Aroma: Citrus hop aroma up front with rich grapefruit rind. Crisp and bright, almost harsh hop aroma. Very little malt aroma.
Appearance: Light honey to a golden wheat with cloudiness suggesting the use of dry hopping. A thin white head blankets the beer with consistency. If you swirl the glass the foam will stick to the side but no lacing is present.
Flavor: Initially hits you with huge hop bitterness, a huge citrus bite right on the tongue. After that initial hop stab, the flavor fades out to almost nothing. The beer is surprisingly thin on malt character in the middle. The hop complexity of grapefruit, citrus and some pine are framed up very nicely, but there really isn’t much to the malt to drive any sweetness into the mix. As pleasant as I find the hop character to be, you could call this beer unbalanced. There is a tendency to have a bit of a puckering effect, like the feeling of sucking on a hop leaf. The hop character comes off so bright and clean however, for a hop lover this is a real treat.
Mouthfeel: Medium to light with medium carbonation. Finishes clean except it has a puckering tannin effect. Back to chewing on that hop leaf with all the hop bitterness.
Overall: While Russian River considers the Blind Pig one of their standard IPA’s, this would be a huge IPA for most breweries. I don’t think I’m too far off the mark by saying for a great number of breweries in the country this would qualify as their Double IPA. The hop bitterness is extremely well defined and really does feel like you’re drinking some liquid hops. If you’re looking for a beer with excellent bitterness that doesn’t mess around with subtle malt complexities, then this is your beer.
I’ll admit some bias when drinking this beer because I know what a reputable brewery it comes from and how much I enjoy everything that Russian River puts out. If the Blind Pig was placed before me in an unmarked mason jar, I would probably tell you the beer was unbalanced and needed some biscuit malt complexity to back up all the grapefruit.