Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Adelbert's The Traveler

type: Belgian IPA
origin: Austin, TX
price: $9/750ml
ABV: 7%
NSP: 5.8

Unknown corked beer has been staring at me in the face at Beltro's, so I indulged.  It's a good thing they caged the cork on this because it's ultra carbonated.  Although over-carb'd beers can be annoying, and mask interesting flavors, it's not always the brewer's fault.  In this case the excess is likely due to yeast production since the bottling date, which was almost a year ago.

I have no idea what it tasted like in February of 2014,  but it has more than held up over time, maybe even improved with such a long bottle conditioning.  Now, in February 2015, it's a wonderfully juicy and fruity IPA, with a touch of sweetness from the malt and a bit of subtle Belgian-iness lingering.  Partially because of the carbonation, this is best at a slightly cold temperature; so, let it warm up a touch out of the fridge.

This would be perfect with a nice homemade English muffin with some strawberry preserves slathered all over it.  Any beer that makes me think of eating is alright with me.  Plus, they're talking shit about the range of Belgian IPAs on the label.  Dat's dat dope game.

Batch No. 001 MUH FUKKAH!
Already talkin' shit, right out of the gate.  I approve.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bear Republic Grand-Am

type: American pale ale (basically an IPA)
origin: Cloverdale, CA
price: $8/6-pack
ABV: 6%
NSP: 16.0

Lately I've been wondering what happened to XP, but also noticing a new(ish) beer from Bear Republic: Grand-Am.  At this point I think they just repackaged/rebranded XP, which makes me happy because I've always loved that beer.  Setting that aside, this a fantastic hoppy pale ale.  The term "American pale ale" is code speak by brewers that make excellent IPA's to indicate a mild IPA that would beat most any malt-centric IPA around.  Specifically, this is light, crisp, nicely aromatic and bitter, but not overdone, and a bit citrusy -- just a damn fine APA.  At this NSP it's hard to recommend much else from this category, and the ABV will hit you in the feels after a few.  Highly recommended folks -- rub that lotion.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Monkish Shaolin Fist

type: Belgian dubbel
origin: Torrance, Los Angeles
price: $12/750ml
ABV: 7.0%
NSP: 4.4

I was wondering what the deal with LA was: Are they in a craft beer bubble?  Well apparently not if this is any indication of the state of LA-beer affairs.

With Shaolin Fist, Monkish brewers manage to get those classic dubbel flavors to exist somewhere between subtly and actually perfect.  Peppercorns and yeast lend herbal aromas -- think licorice, anise -- that are really appetizing.  Dubbels are one of the most pleasing beer styles to me since they tow the line between monstrous, flavorful, and rich.  Allagash makes one hell of a dubbel, but so too does Monkish, apparently.  The finish is clean and attenuated, and there's even a touch of kola essence that I looooove.  Fucking nice.

Although the bottle suggests this can be cellared, I doubt it will improve much, and you'll probably just fuck it up by stashing it behind your shit-stained underwear for 6 months.  Just drink the damn bottle, OK!?

So allow me to welcome you to the 36 Chambers, Monkish! Raekwon the Chef has something to say about all this:
Wu-Tang dubbels aint nuttin to fuk wit!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Stone 18th Anniversary IPA

type: IPA
origin: San Diego, CA
price: ~ $7-8/22oz
ABV: 8.5%
NSP: 7.9

After having this I really didn't give two shits about writing a review for it.  (We'll get to why in a second.)  But, that attitude doesn't work very well for beer blogs, so what does it taste like?  Basically... a light version of Stone's Arrogant Bastard.  A big ABV romper with caramel malts running train on your tongue; lots of brown sugar swirling around, ultra bitter, and mildly aromatic.  After a few months out from the bottling date, I'm pretty much meh on this.

As with the Mendocino Anniversary Ale, I'm quite surprised Stone let a great opportunity to have a big release end up being absolutely boring.  Just straight up boring, and yet another example of BA irrelevance.

Although I can see it having a place next to a big fat plate of charred, smoked brisket, how often does that happen for most people besides Chris?  Most of you will just slug this back with a big plate of microwaved leftover brussel sprouts and frozen burritos, right?

In the end I couldn't give less of a shit whether or not people drink this.  But if you do, here's a special treat:
We're so blah blah blah and this IPA is not for the average beer drinker and blah blah blah blah fucking blah.  Thanks for yet another lesson Stone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Brew Dog 5 A.M. Saint

type: hoppy red ale
origin: Ellon, Aberdeenshire (Scotland)
price: $5/4-pack
ABV: 5%
NSP: 13.3

Beer from Brew Dog?  I was soured early on by a piss poor attempt at an IPA that was backed by some bullshit dick swagging (on the label).  But then I made a visit to Brew Dog in Firenze (Florence), Italy, and I decided to revisit their beers.

This is their "hoppy red ale", which is hoppy enough to make me forget about the under-attenuated malt base (it should be about 7%) and the dirty water / metallic sips and the slight funk on the tongue.  It's a good beer, to be sure, but I find myself projecting quality into the future, imagining that after just a few months of extra shelf time, this will taste like shit (once the hops have degraded in "freshness").  It may be perfect for a nice day in Scotland, though.

This is imported by Anchor, so I'm wondering if we see it more ofter in the bay area than, say, San Diego.  Maybe not, but at least it's at the local Trader Joes at a very reasonable price. So I'll buy it, but mostly because I rarely have access to Blazing World; and Hop Head Red is 8%.  And I'm not totally convinced it should be in the Lotion Club.

Finally, here's proof that I'm willing to give them another chance:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Napa Smith Crush

type: amber lager "with grapes"
origin: Napa, CA
price: $3/22oz
ABV: 6%
NSP: 13.0

Napa Smith was knocked out of the IPA Tournament early, and brutally.  That organic IPA of theirs was a fat pile of bullshit, and so I've come to expect very little from them.  But, for some reason this caught my eye, and I'm rather enjoying it.

On the surface it's just a boring-ass amber lager that faintly reminds me of Oktoberfest, without the blacking-out.  But it's nothing that any German brewery couldn't blow out of the water with a small bit of [insert German word for precision stoic effort].

The trick here is the "with grapes" thing.  The only thing I can figure out is they used some small amount of trash red-wine grapes from this year's harvest, if only because of the maroon label, and the tinge of red in the appearance.  The addition works though.  There's a nice acidity that masks a bit of the harshness of the lager, and an essence of grape that mixes nicely with the carbonation.  It's got a nice ABV too.  (In terms of a harvest celebrator, it's nowhere near Great Beer... Great Wine though.)

The wifey said it "tastes like water", but then added "although... I have been drinking wine, so who knows."  Way to pony up and acknowledge any potential bias, Lyn!  That makes perfect sense though: this isn't a wine-grape lager.  No, it's a lager "with grapes", strictly as advertised.  Still, I think this qualifies for the Lotion Club, and is one (small) step towards me respecting NS.  Welcome to the club, friends.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Knee Deep Hop-De-Ranged

type: quadruple IPA, or an imperial as fuck imperial IPA
origin: Lincoln, CA
price: ~$10/22ox
ABV: 13.1%
NSP: 8.5

None of us have ever tried to hide the fact that we love Knee Deep.  They rank highly with us because of their excessive-hopping skills: they make the entire gambit of IPA taste about as hoppy/dank/attenuated as you've ever had, all while maintaining a good level of distribution.

And this takes the cake as their most potent offering. Just look at those stats!  FUG THIS SHIB.  But it's actually not as oppressive as I thought it would be, so in a sense it's not all that "insane" of a beer -- unless you're planning on making a night out of it.  I would recommend against that, Stretch.

There are a few things plainly obvious here: ultra high ABV layered over a not-so-dry body.  And you can be damn sure the level of hops ain't gonna disappoint.  Actually, they've achieved a wonderful balance between all of those things, so much so that I would venture this would beat Expo in a blind taste.  The hops impart a fantastic tropical flavor that makes me think I'm at the Tonga Room wailing down 15 dollar buckets of blue blackout juice.  NOICE!

Well hot diggity looks like we got ourselves a Ken Caminiti style beer-slugger.  Although, instead of calling this a IIIIPA, as the wonks would have it, let's just call it an after-a-couple-sips-I'm-drunk-PA. And I'm thinking this wont die from going too hard on speedballs.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Freigeist Ottekolong

type: kolsch
origin: Cologne, Germany
price: $6/0.5l
ABV: 4.8%
NSP: 4

There's an art to achieving something simple and also fantastic.  Cologne's thirst quenching drink -- the "Kolsch" as we call it -- can have both of those traits.  But it can also suck a fat one depending on the quality of the brewing operation.

This strikes a pleasing chord with me.  The malts are on full display, and yet it remains light-bodied with major croosh.  There is a bit too much residual sweetness for me, but shit it's hard to argue with a good kolsch.  No flaws as far as I can tell, and given that this has been imported, I'd be surprised if the beer at the source isn't phenomenal.

So I guess I'm pretty much in agreement with this reviewer, but the NSP is dreadful.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Epic Pumpkin Pie Gose

Type: Flavored Gose
Origin: Seattle, WA
Price: $9ish per 22 oz
ABV: 6%

How could I not buy and review this beer. The description just screams disgusting since no part of pumpkin pie should be salty except for the refluxed turkey and gravy during dessert. I have only had one beer from Epic Ales before, the balsamic mushroom masterpiece, and it was definitely an interesting experience. I must also mention the artwork makes no sense. The name is very simple, 'pumpkin pie gose', but the picture depicts a slice of pie viciously clubbing his pumpkin brothers from whence he came. The slice of pie looks a little Hitlerjugend, so maybe that's what they were going trying for with this classic German style.

Anyways, is this beer as god-awful as it sounds? The smell is horrendous. It smells exactly like an over-skunked Miller High Life. The taste on the other hand is quite pleasant. A good funky sour more in line with some of the Russian River sours and just a tinge of saltiness that somewhat clears the palate. Pumpkin spices or essence are completely non-existent however. Maybe a little bit of nutmeg/cinnamon heat but none of the flavor. As a gose, this is a tremendous offering. As a pumpkin seasonal, I would move along, although no one really enjoys pumpkin beers all that much so maybe this is a good thing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

off color brewing Scurry

type: Kottbusser (dark honey ale)
origin: Chicago, IL
price: $12/4-pack
ABV: 5.3%
NSP: 6.4

This is a style I've not had before--"Kottbusser"--and it reminds me of one of those true kola-root sodas, but with booze in it -- like if Michelob Ultra'd a good porter, or something like that.  It's like an Alt beer, but with excessively light body.  And the minimal carbonation is key ingredient to this: I'd wager that any higher levels of carb would mute the delicate flavors.

I ended up plowing through 3 of these bottles in 15 minutes because it was so ri-goddamn-diculously refreshing.  It was pretty warm outside and it absolutely crushed my thirst.

After tasting only two other beers make by off color, and now this, I'm completely sold on their abilities.  They seem to make unique, and well executed beers, with an impeccable taste for good design.

Overall: A very satisfying beer from an excellent brewery.  I'm planning to take down the entire four-pack on my next Caltrain ride to SF.