Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anderson Valley Holiday Ale

type: ale (seasonal)
origin: Boonville, CA, USA
price: ???

The bottle says this is a copper ale. I have no idea what that means, but if it means "tastes like cream soda" then well done, AVBC. That's not such a bad thing, since I was easily able to plow through this and still had a hankering for more. This is pretty tasty, but I don't think I could drink more than, say, 4.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA

type: IPA
origin: Boonville, CA, USA
price: ???

I spent Thanksgiving at my brother's house in Petaluma (northern California). The night before we had a solid Silver Bullet session, but I noted he had a case of Anderson Valley brews in his garage; naturally, I helped myself.

For maybe the first time ever, the bottle's description of this beer is accurate. Most of the time it's blow-smoke-up-your-ass type description, but this is spot on: robust floral start, complex body, sharp, and biting. This is a pretty unique IPA, when most are too hoppy.

Metolius Damsel Blonde Ale

Type: blonde ale
Origin: Portland, Oregon
Price: $7.99 per 6 pack

I couldn't find a legitimate website for this brewery, and that should tell you everything about the beer. If your brewery is fairly new, you better have a website to show some sense of legitimacy. While most blonde ales generally don't come out right except for the Belgian style ones, this one is especially bad. The color and head profile are fairly nice, but thats where the compliments end. The smell is a very dirty malted smell, very reminiscent of a bad brown ale. The taste is just as dirty as the smell. Its a pretty tough beer to get through, even though its only 12 oz.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lagunitas Brewery

1280 N. McDowell Blvd.
Petaluma, CA 94954
(basically, located in a nondescript commercial lot)

We didn't do the brewery tour, but we did hang in the "beer sanctuary." This is a cool little area that's half indoor, half outdoor with long tables (family style) and plenty of outdoor heaters. Dog and family friendly, and completely non-pretentious.

We had a few flights, and as the picture suggests, a lot of their beers look exactly alike. The surprising thing is they taste nothing alike. Flight #1 was:

1) pale ale: My standard tester beer. It lets me see what I'm in for. Pretty hoppy, but so very good at this level of freshness.
2) IPA: Very nicely hopped and balanced.
3) Farmhouse (belgian style ale): Great flavors, and tastes nothing like 1 or 2. I doubt it would beat Allagash in a boxing match though.
4) Hop Stoopid: Hoppy as shit. Too bitter for the types of flavors going on here.
I would say excluding the Farmhouse, the IPA (#2) was the winner of the hopped-up flight.

Flight #2:
5) bourbon cappuccino stout: I'm over bourbon-barrel aged shit. They end up having the flavor profile of maple syrup mixed with ethanol.
6) spicy IPA: Yikes, that's some spicy snizz! My guess is they used habañeros, but this is delicious. I think I can only handle 4oz of this.
7) Lil Sumpin' Sumpin' (with wild yeast): Wonderful! This is the first wild yeast beer I've really enjoyed. It was like #3 but better, for whatever reason. Somebody call the OBGYN, Petaluma air has a yeast infection! That was stupid, sorry.
8) imperial stout: At ambient temp (~55 F), this is strong, flavorful, and delicious; definitely the winner here.

The overall winner? Imperial stout. Whew doggies! I was loving life with that one.

Note: Definitely check the placement of the tasters on the placemat. I only found out they were disordered because the "spicy" taster wasn't spicy, and then I realized they messed up on my previous flight, too.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ommegang Rare Vos

type: Belgian style Amber Ale
origin: Cooperstown, NY, USA
price: $8/22oz

I'm not impressed with this. A drinker shouldn't expect a 6.5% abv "Belgian style" beer to taste too alcoholic. This does, and it lacks the depth and complexity usually found with Belgian beers and the yeast strains used to make them. The head and aromatics are great, but that's all. Out of respect for Ommegang, I even tried to eat some citrusy fruit to try and pull out flavors. Nope. Nothing interesting going on here, and it's fairly difficult to get through the whole bottle.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hermitage Ale of the Hermit

type: ale
origin: San Jose, CA, USA
price: $4/16-oz
alt (they really need to get their google ranking up)

The last Hermitage beer I had was Hoptopia, which I was not blown away by; it was OK. Sidenote: Hermitage contract brews for BevMo, and is the reason you always see Coastal Fog beer there. This is definitely a step up in their arsenal. It's the kind of ale Sam Adams wishes they could produce. At 8% abv the ale is a little too strong for it's own good; it's reminiscent of a not-quite-there homebrew. I would buy this again, and I hope Hermitage works on the recipe. If they do this could be world class.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Düsseldorf Alt Beer

Düsseldorf was the first city that we visited on our trip a few weeks back and they drink mainly Altbier, which is a top fermenting beer and, according to Wikipedia, is the old style brewing method before lagers. The Alts are generally between 1 and 2 euros for a small 0.2-0.25 L glass. They are fairly bitter and simple beers. The top pic is of Schumacher Alt, which was the first brewery to use the name Alt in 1838. The greatest thing about Alt beers is the wonderful environment in which they are consumed in Düsseldorf. The main area, the Altstadt has over 200 bars in which most have outdoor standing areas with ample amounts of heat lamps. The waiters just start bringing you beers, and they keep coming until you tell them to stop. It could definitely get a little out of control if you don't keep track.

The best pic I have of one of the Alt-houses:

Some Alt with sausage:

A better pic of the Altstadt I got from Wiki:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pauwel Kwak

Type: amber ale, belgian
Origin: Buggenhout, Belgium
Price: €0.94 per 12 oz

As a basic cheap beer, Kwak definitely does not disappoint. For a cheap belgian, I think it falls a bit flat. It has a bit of a dirty flavor that is hard to pick out, but kinda reminds me of a Newcastle. It should be noted this is much better than Newcastle, but that is not that hard to accomplish. If you drink this at an appreciable rate and without smelling, it starts to take on flavors of a traditional tripel, so I guess that is a pleasant surprise. Its also a healthy 8.4%, which is always a nice touch.

Also, check out our awesome Mannekin Pis bottle opener. Definitely not compensating for anything.

Bush Ambree (Amber) Triple

Type: amber ale, belgian tripel
Origin: Pipaix, Belgium
Price: €3.95 for 750 mL

The Bush Amber Tripel is a special edition beer brewed for the 75th anniversary of the creation of Bush Amber. I didn't have the basic Bush Amber, but from having this, I can assure you it is probably very good. This is a very unique belgian tripel, and the best way to describe it is a traditional belgian tripel mixed with toffee, probably coming from the bottle re-fermentation and proprietary yeasts. The sweetness is very subdued, and there is a hint of bitterness. I would definitely like to try the normal amber since they are both 12% and this one is an homage to the amber.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Maredsous Brown

Type: Belgian, brown ale
Origin: Denee, Belgium
Price: €0.86 for 12 oz

I bought this in a grocery store in Brussels simply because of the price. I regularly see 750's of Maredsous at Whole Foods or BevMo for $12-14, so for 86 euro cents, I think this was worth it. For a brown ale, this is pretty good, although I am still not a huge fan of brown ales, and this is not turning me to the dark side anytime soon. It has a nice hoppiness that is generally absent from brown ales, but it does have the stereotypical nutty/malted flavors one would expect. It does get bonus points from the 8% ABV. I don't think I've ever seen a brown ale close to those levels. I think in the end, I would still stay away from this. Opt for the traditional Dubbel or Tripel from Maredsous.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Grand Teton Trout Hop Black IPA

Type: dark IPA
Origin: Victor, Idaho
Price: $5 per pint

This is a beer that I found at Small Bar and it seemed like one of the more interesting beers on the menu. The color was obviously dark, and there was a sweet floral smell throughout. The flavors included hops (duh) and a nice sweet berry element. There was a bit of nuttiness to add to the excitement. Overall, this was a pretty good beer, although nothing was screaming at me for a repeat performance.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Pale Ale

Type: Pale Ale
Origin: Yorks, England
Price: $3.69 per 22 oz

Alright, having drank this long before going to Europe and only writing a few notes about this, I am just going to list the qualities. Let it be known that Samuel Smith brews a damn good beer and this is no exception.

beautiful reddish orange color, soft frothy head
sweet, berry hoppy smell
taste is closer to a brown ale mixed with a pale ale
some light maltiness and nuttiness
pretty damn good

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sierra Kellerweis

Type: Hefeweisen
Origin: Chico, California
Price: $7.99 per 6 pack

It was a long time ago when I actually drank this, but I remember it being a very good hefeweisen with the distinctive Sierra bitterness. The flavors are very light and the beer doesn't sit too heavy, lending this beer superb drinkability. I think I had 4 of these in 1 sitting, but if you know me, thats really not interesting or impressive.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Deschutes Hop Trip

type: pale ale
origin: Bend, OR, USA
price: ~$5/pint at the Beagle

Part of the "Bond Street Series" along with Hop in the Dark, this beer was a wonderful way to clear the Deschutes palate after the Inversion monstrosity. The flavors here are much better defined, but not oppressive. It feels entirely too drinkable, like you could take a 6 oz gulp and not blink an eye, but the "fresh hop" character brings you back to reality. Pow pow.

Deschutes Inversion

type: IPA
origin: Bend, OR, USA
price $10/6-pack

I had high hopes, since apparently I have a semi for Deschutes (thanks, Steggy), but this is boring and inverts my drinking libido. It's definitely light and crisp, but also under hopped by any IPA standards. Is San Diego rubbing me off too hard? I don't think so.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grimbergen 8 Gold

Type: Belgian Abbey Ale, blonde ale
Origin: Grimberg, Belgium
Price: €5 for 4 pack of 12 oz

I bought this in Antwerp one night when we decided to make some brats for dinner. I actually used half of one of these to beer batter the brats since we had no oil in the hostel. Pretty fantastic. This is a very nice blonde belgian ale. Its not the best I had, but bringing it back to the states depresses me since its hard to get something of this quality for the price here. The color is a very light golden opaque color and the head is fairly fizzy. The smell is slightly sour, but very subdued. The taste is fairly sweet and wheaty, but definitely not in a hefeweisen way. There is a bit of a fizzy pop to this that puts it in a category of its own. And its 8% alcohol, so how can you go wrong.

Westmalle Tripel

Type: belgian ale
Origin: Westmalle, Belgium
Price: €3.40 per 12 oz in Netherlands

One of the 7 trappist breweries, Westmalle is truly fantastic. And it is cheap as hell in Europe. I got this in a bar across the street from my hostel in Amsterdam and Sol was more expensive on the menu. Here is photo proof:

Anyways, this is an extraordinary beer. It has a nice golden color with a fizzy champagne style head. The flavors are very similar to a stereotypical belgian tripel, but with a surprising bitterness. The taste is very light and sweet at the beginning, but comes on strong on the finish.

Regal Beagle Ale House

3659 India St. #101
San Diego, CA 92103

Around the corner from my house is a San Diego darkhorse: the Beagle. Incredibly diverse set of taps (something like 25-30) that changes significantly each time I'm there, at dirt cheap prices. And if you're sick of awesome good beer, you can order a Sparks. Seriously.

They do have some pretty delicious sausages from a San Marcos sausage monger, though I don't understand why they don't use the Sausage King - he really is the king, and nearly right around the block.

The bar name is inspired by Three's Company and I'll bet the owners still have a secret stash of Suzanne Somers pictures.

Grolsch Kanon

Type: barley wine, dutch malt liquor
Origin: Enschede, Netherlands
Price: €1-2 per 16 oz tallboy

I just got back from a long trip to Europe (hence the lack of posts), and this is the first beer I popped open from the trip. Most of what I got was from Belgium, but this one I got at a corner store in Amsterdam. I saw this and said to myself "A tall boy, 11.6% Grolsch! Sign me the fuck up for that." I was expecting an absolutely shitty beer, but I am completely surprised by this. It is an incredibly high quality product with a perfect sweet balance. It reminds me most of a pilsner mixed with a barleywine. It does have an alcoholy flavor to it, but what do you expect from 11.6%. If only our cheap fortified beers tasted like this.