Thursday, April 28, 2011

Girardin Gueuze 1882 (black label)


Type: Gueuze
Origin: Belgium
Price: $12 375mL
5% ABV

I had never heard of this style of beer before Alex brought it over while we were weighing our greens (see pic). Good 'ole wiki says it is a type of lambic made by blending young and mature lambics and fermenting a second time.

No doubt, the results are interesting. I feel like this style is an acquired taste, one I have yet to acquire. I was convinced it tasted like bottled lemon juice concentrate, with a tad less tartness and some more complexity from the bitterness. Regardless, I was on the verge of being trashed and even then I wasn't a fan.

Plow Plow

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ninkasai Spring Reign

type: session ale
origin: Eugene, OR
price $3/22oz
abv: 6%

Crotch shot!! First.

I love the idea of a session ale. My favorite is the McNair collaboration, but it's time for a challenger in terms of sessionability (is this word another first?)...

Not here. The aromas are inviting, but the taste is off. Here is a brew that confuses the idea of a session ale: I'm supposed to be drinking this quickly (OK, I was doing that) but also enjoying the flavors, and really all I'm doing is thinking this tastes like chalk. Not a good drinking session in my humble opinion.

Their redemption is the dollar/alcohol ratio: $2.27/oz versus $5.95/oz for McNair's session ale. It's certainly not so bad that the brewery should disown it, and for the price I say definitely do it again, but I do hope they spend a little more time crafting this.

Here's a gem I found. If anyone wants to know what I looked like on New Year's Eve 2010, here's evidence that I know how to party. That's Brats in the back trying not to be as disgusting as myself.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hitachino Nest XH Ale




Type: Belgian Strong Ale
Origin: Ibaraki, Japan
Price: $6.29 330mL
7.0% ABV
website


Let's start by noting that this fucker was a burster when opened! It started foaming like mad and I probably lost 1/5th of the beer to the drain. That's the first time it has ever happened to me, so I didn't react much except with a "WTF". Clearly this beer was overcarbonated, and it produced a mad yellow foaming head after pouring. As a homebrewer, that is a rookie mistake in my book.

Besides that, this was a relatively tasty beer. Very much in the style of a Flemish oud bruin, it had the typical slightly sour qualities and herbal like bitterness. The sake cask aging is slightly noticeable, and any of you sake lovers out there will be able to pick up on some subtle flavors in the background. I love sake, but I'm no expert in the matter. Unfortunately, while drinking, the beer fizzes like crazy on the tongue, just like drinking soda with a straw out of a can. I doubt that was intentional, and it takes away from the overall quality of an otherwise solid beer. I will be reviewing more from this brewery in the coming weeks.

On a side note, this is the first Japanese microbrew we have reviewed on our site. I am sure all of you know about the recent havoc in Japan from a massive earthquake. This microbrewery actually took on damage. They began bottling water instead of beer to help their peeps out. So do your part and donate to a relief group. Don't be a cheap beer drinker, we don't like you if you are.

I like this particular relief effort since it distributes donations to different aid groups. There is still time to help:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/japan-earthquake-tsunami-relief/

Allgauer Bayrisch Hell

Type: Lager
Origin: Kempten, Germany
Price: $2.79 per .5 liter
Website

Just a classic lager beer: very traditional German style. The beer has slight fruit taste combined with malts and a nice hop finish. The beer has a very natural taste and a slight bitterness. I personally prefer the Pilsner they make, but shit this one is solid too. If ever in Germany this is likely the beer you will find everyone drinking from morning to night. God I miss you Germany, where its acceptable nay required! to drink beer on the street during your breakfast/lunch/afternoon snack. This is seriously killing me writing this review on a Monday stuck in an office, while right now some lucky German is sitting in a park with some gorgeous German girl and a nice buzz from Allgauer Hell (shit more like Heaven).

Allgauer Tuetsch Pils

Type: Pilsner
Origin: Kempten, Germany
Price: $2.79 per .5 liter
Website

This beer is so German I had to negotiate through their site just by my little knowledge of German words. Ja or Nein! on the screen (Basically am I over the legal drinking age of 16, god why couldn't I of grown up in Germany). Regarding the beer this is a solid Pilsner, with some German hop variety that adds a unique taste compared to the traditional Czech Pilsner. Don't get me wrong, drinking a Pilsen in Prague was awesome, but I would of rather had this gem to drink in massive quantities.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jenlain Blonde


Type: farmhouse ale
Origin: Jenlain, France
Price: $8.99 per 750 mL
Website

I was enjoying a nice Steel Kettle and the lady was like "I want some wine, but we don't have any". So I was like "Pull out one of the big beers." She pulled out a nice Gran Cru and I was like "maybe not that one baby, how bout the French farmhouse ale." So yeah, that's is the story of this review. When I first poured it, I thought something was up because there was a strange skunkiness to it that I really thought couldn't exist in beers like this. Fortunately, it doesn't taste like that. There are definitely some forward fruit flavors on this, I just can't think of the right word to describe it. Very light apricot and maybe a little peach cobbler. I should probably ask Samer about it. It has an interesting aftertaste/burn - I think this is where I am getting the peach notes since the feeling I am getting is like drinking peach schnapps. This is an interesting one, but I don't think I would buy it in the US again, but probably in Europe. The skunkiness still is kinda getting to me that I think I am not doing this justice.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kokanee

type: "glacier fresh beer" (GFB)
origin: Creston, B.C., Canada
price: $5 or less?/6-pack
website (pretty fuckin' XTREME)

GFB? Hell yeah I'll take some - in a damn tulip glass just for yuks. This is good, cheap, shitty lager, but I have one thing to say: Drink it very cold, or it won't be. Take that Silver Bullet, I'm tappin' the fuck out of the Columbia mountains.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Franziskaner Dunkel Hefe-Weisse


Type: dunkel, dark hefeweisen
Origin: Munich, Germany
Price: $2.19 per 0.5 L
Website

I've definitely had enough regular Franz that I figured I should give another beer from their line a try. This is pretty much a mixture of traditional hefeweisen mixed with a brown ale. The hefe part lends a nice sweetness, wheatiness, and slight citrus notes. The brown ale half adds the dry maltiness and a hint of dirtiness. Not a bad beer, but I think I'll stick with the original.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ovila Dubbel


Type: belgian style dubbel ale
Origin: Chico, California
Price: $10.49 per 750 mL
Website

Another collaboration, another success. This time between New Clairvaux and Sierra Nevada.

Man this is damn good. Its got great malt balance, with a nice sweet, syrupy fruit quality with very caramelized sugar flavor. There is a slight wheat backnote, but it is quickly overpowered by a strong alcohol burn even though its only 7.5%. It has a wonderful wine smell when you open it (definitely no wine taste though). You can slightly sense that sierra got their hands on it with a bit of hoppiness that you would never find in this type of beer.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Coniston Brewing Bluebird Bitter


Type: bitter english ale
Origin: Coniston, UK
Price: $5.99 per 0.5 L
Website

I just went to the bestdamnbeerstore, and after picking up a number of other beers, I was really in the mood to add a bitter to the cart (not truly bitter for those of you from SoCal, just what those Brits like to call a bitter). I've never seen this one, and the price was ok, so decided to give it a shot. Upon opening, I got a whiff of some skunkiness, but it quickly disappeared. Disaster averted. The flavors in this are really simple: overall medium level bitterness. It just slightly numbs the entire mouth. There are really no floral or citrus bitter notes on this, which is a bit of a disappointment. This is probably a step above Fuller's, but who really cares.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Steel Kettle Whistle


Type: lager
Origin: La Crosse, Wisconsin
Price: $4.99 per 12 pack at Fresh and Easy
Website

This is my new go to crap beer. The ABV is 4.8%, and it is 42 cents a can. The whole case costs the same as a single Stone Pale Ale in a bar. And it really doesn't taste that bad. Its a little sweet, but not terrible. Really typical lager. Beer advocate gave this a D+, but they are a bunch of assholes. Ok, maybe they are right. Maybe it is a D+. Still, this is two dollars cheaper than Natty and loads better.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pietra



Type: pilsner/ amber ale
Origin: Corsica, France
Price: $3.79 per 11.2 oz
Website

They call this an amber ale, but it is completely a third world pilsner. Skunked as hell, sweet tarts flavor and easy to consume in large quantities. The color is off, the taste is off, the smell is off, but who gives a shit.

Marin Tripel Dipsea


Type: Tripel Belgian Style Ale
Origin: Larkspur, CA
Price: $4.49 22oz
9.2% ABV
website

The last Marin beer I had I really did not enjoy. It's not that it wasn't a quality beer, just an overly sweet triple hefeweizen. This time around, I did enjoy their offering, although I felt it was a bit basic.

That makes sense though, considering this is a Belgian style tripel at a ridiculously cheap $4 price point. And although it's very drinkable, it kinda tasted cheap. But I still found myself enjoying the experience. It's a tad lighter than most tripels I've come across, and definitely filtered. Looks more like a hefty blond as a result. It's slightly sweet on the finish, which I didn't mind. Overall: decent offering at a great price.

Oh, and good job Marin on a proper back label; it was actually informative. See Andy, I really do love semicolons.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nogne O IPA

type: IPA
origin: Grimstaad, Norway
price: $9/.5l at BDB
abv: 7.5%

OK, so this is not good for my Norway-beer semi-chub. These assholes did it again! What we have here is a creatively crafted treat - not like any IPA I've tasted. The aroma is of wonderful I-don't-know-what berries, and homebrew maltiness; but, it's so perfectly hopped, and the main flavors remind me of how your clothes smell after sitting around a campfire all night burning hardwood. [Insert erect penis joke.]

Alas! It's certainly too expensive (not to mention rare) to be my go-to IPA, but it's also too delicious to ever be forgotten about. The funny thing is that Chris and I both had this in the queue. He happened to get to it first, and here's how the resulting conversation went:
C: Drinking a Nogne O IPA. Interesting, unexpected. Almost like a cross between a brown ale (more malty and sweet than the locals) and a CA pale ale.

Me: Good to hear. The pale ale was surprisingly wonderful so I was hoping for that.

C: Still wondering how Norwegians learned how to make good beer when their culinary heritage includes pickled fish assholes.

Me: Can I quote that?

C: Are there Norwegian terrorists? I don't want to get on their bad side.

Me: No they have some fucked up black metal suicide scene but I'm not worried.

C: Those folks probably don't also include browsing obscure vulgar American beer blogs among their regular activities, so it's probably not an issue.

Me: Yeah. Not having more than 4 hours of darkness is fucked up.

C: Probably what drives the fucked up black metal suicide thing.
And so, if you are a Norske-black-metal fan taking offense, please don't kill me or Chris. Then I wouldn't be able to drink beers like this, and that would suck more than a self-mutilation "performance art" show in Norway*.

*For the brave, and strong-stomached... find the clip on youtube of Frost of Satyricon, from the documentary "Until The Light Takes Us".

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 San Diego International Beer Festival Pre-Sale Now

Hey Non-Snobbers,

Last year, the San Diego International Beer Festival was a great success, and our friends at the fair have asked us to promote the event. Seriously, this event is amazing. The festival hosts 150 breweries from around the world with over 350 beers and unlimited tasters. They also have pretzel necklaces. If you are from San Diego, you should go to this. If you are not from San Diego, move to San Diego and go to this.

The festival this year is from Friday June 24 to Sunday June 26 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds during the San Diego County Fair. They are offering a special deal for 10 bucks off between now and April 15 with the promo password "stout". You can obtain tickets through Ticketmaster and just search "2011 San Diego International Beer Festival". There are 4 sessions, each of which is a few hours long.

Below is the flyer:

Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire series: iO Saison


Type: Herbal Saison Ale
Origin: Dexter, MI
Price: $14 750mL
6.8% ABV

First off, a craft brewery from Michigan?? I thought people from there only drank Bud heavies after a hard days work making shitty cars...

Kidding aside, Jolly Pumpkin is a well respected brewery, and from my experience make exceptional quality beers. This one is no exception, at least from an experimental brewing aspect. Brewed with rose hips, rose petals, and hibiscus, you would expect this to taste like a flowery jamaica (a drink made from steeping hibiscus) except with alcohol. That's actually kind of the case. If you've ever had a jamaica, you will recognize the distinct taste of hibiscus right off, and the distinct pink-purple color as well. Unfortunately, it finishes with a bitterness usually experienced from overcooking herbs, which isn't masked one bit since this is a very dry beer. That was particularly difficult for me to get over. It also has a slight sour quality, but its not the same as from sour ales, more of an astringent flavor. It's difficult to describe this beer, but I did enjoy it, just not enough to purchase again.

On a side note, what the fuck is up with certain craft breweries describing their beers as if they can't even smell their own shit on their knees? The label on this one is so damn haughty it made the entire Andrews St. household sick to their stomachs. "A romantic world, dimly lit by distant memory, yet alive and inspiration to us pursue beauty at any cost... Let the muse guide you". The best part? It doesn't invoke a single useful piece of information about what distinguishes this beer from others, or even what to expect from it. I don't need you to paint me fucking rainbows, I'm drinking a beer for god's sake. I mean, fuck, not even wineries are anywhere this douchey in describing their product. An elephant couldn't take a shit this big. Consensus? Interesting beer. Fucking unbearable label anecdote. Get your shit together Jolly Pumpkin writers. I mean, Jesus tits, you're from Michigan, don't forget that.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beer Here Dark Hops

type: dark ale
origin: Grimstad, Norway
price: $9/.5l at BDB
abv: 8.5%
website (use google.translate)

What's this? The product of an (acclaimed?) Danish brewmaster working with Nøgne ø?? Sign me up.

This is a fine Cascade-hopped dark ale that's similar to Hop in the Dark except more in yo' face, and not as balanced. The head is mighty, has a disconcerting color similar to John Boehner's spray-tanned orange face. The beer tastes very imperial, with plenty of bitter dark-malt flavors; the hops are nice, but somewhat lacking.  I want more!

So they're calling this a one-time experiment, and  I think it's successful (certainly much better than many dark ales); but, I'd still buy Deschutes' version any day.   Regardless, I need to find a way to abate this Norske-beer semi-chub, so consider this a baby-step in the direction of flaccidness.

Here's Mr. Speaker of the House in all of his orange-faced glory.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Alpine Ale

type: pale ale
origin: Alpine, CA
price: $4/22 @ Alpine
abv: 5.5%

Seems to me this is a traditional English-style pale ale. With the aromatic hops well marginalized, it is pretty malty and a tad too bitter to be really good. So, it's just good. Despite that, it's certainly drinkable; so, if I see it at Shakespeare's any time soon I'll gladly order it just to take a piss on their bollocky good time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale


Type: Imperial Pale Ale
Origin: Ontario, OR
Price: $5 22oz (on sale)
9% ABV
website

I popped this bottle open after consuming a crab sandwich at El Pescador fish market on a 75 degree day during San Diego's brutal winter season. I must say, due to the refreshing weather and the fact that it was merely 1PM, this was a very difficult beer to finish. It is not for the meek.

It has an intense bitterness and strong alcohol presence, and yet manages to be pleasant enough to drink. It produced one of the most insane heads of foam I've ever seen. It was seriously as thick as marshmallows and it wouldn't subside one bit. It smells like malts with little hop aroma. Those malts come through and are nice and roasty, but they are quickly overpowered by a strong gritty bitterness. It then finishes off letting you know you are drinking a strong beer. I think its a good beer, but it might be better on a cold rainy night, and not a nice sunny day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Russian River Supplication Ale


Type: Belgian style sour ale
Origin: Santa Rosa, CA
Price: $13 375mL
7.0% ABV
website

This beer is fucking expensive! It's equivalent to a $26 bottle of wine. Jesus tits. It helps that homeboy Brent purchased this cuz I'm broke as a joke at the moment. Brent was also sweet enough to pour me a tasting, and I thank the heavens he did. I love this beer.

This is the first time I've distinctly been able to taste SOUR cherry in a sour ale. But my favorite flavor is the fresh cut green apple that is noticeable in the aroma as well. It is also bitter in the aftertaste and has a nice lingering finish. I love that I could still taste it well after I finished drinking. It's nice and fizzy too. I wanted to chug the damn thing, but I had to force myself to drink slow and savor it or it would surely be over far too quick. In my opinion I would go for this over consecration on most days. Russian River needs to stop being so dumb and expand their brewing capacity.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA

type: Imperial IPA
origin: Boulder, CO
price: $5/14oz

Holy crap Avery does it again. If you guys are ever in Colorado go to Avery, it's honestly one of my favorite breweries and at the end of the tour I heard they give you free pitchers of beer. I was excited about this relativley new IPA and was waiting to try it. So Friday at Livewire; another awesome beer bar (my home away from home), I noticed they had it and immediately ordered it. Only thing kinda lame is it came in a crown glass as seen, but I didn't really care it was just weird ( I know now why the beer came in a crown it is 10.24% alcohol, dang). The beer stenches of hops. Honestly I was about a foot away and could smell the delicious flavored hops. It has an initial hoppy taste, but is surprisingly smooth as can be with a beautiful malt finish. The beer has a nice white head and amber color and the malt and hop balance is unlike anything I have ever had before. I have never tasted an IPA like this and I am completely amazed. Only bad thing about this beer is it's so easy to drink you are likely to get messed up after 2 or 3 of these. Enough said, just go buy a 6 pack and then call me and I'll be over in 5. Oh One more thing it's great also that Samer is on the cover.

Ichtegem's Grand Cru


Type: flemish red ale
Origin: Ichtegem, Belgium
Price: $4.99 per 11.2 oz
Website

The bestdamnbeerstore strikes again. After purchasing a bunch of good beers, I wanted a good lambic, and something out of the ordinary. I've never seen this one before, and it was the cheapest, so we have a winner. The color on this one is a nice blood red, with a minimal head. The aromas are sour, but not overpowering (you really have to get your nose in there). The taste is nice and mellow. There is a good sour quality, but nothing to make you cringe. This is pretty much the most balanced red ale I've had and I would strongly suggest it for you sour fans.

Shock Top Belgian White

Type: Belgian White
Origin: St. Louis, Missouri
Price: $5 for 6 pack special, regular $8
Website

Okay well the only reason I bought this garbage is because it was $5 for a 6 pack at vons and I was feeling like drinking crap tonight I guess. What amazes me about this shit is it's all over San Diego bars. Can you semi-cool bars replace Shock Top with Spaten Franziskaner? please ...please please. They must have a good distribitor that can sell a ketchup popsicle to a girl in white gloves. To top it all off they tell you on the bottle how to perfectly pour a beer....one classic quote from this description is you how you have to "lay the bottle on its side and roll it gently back and forth to mix what's left." uh i think no ones trying to savor the last bits of this beer. I guarantee the Belgians are pissed off about this beer. Okay about the beer, it's a wheat ale not a white (confusing) brewed with orange and citrus with corainder spice (this is all believe it or not what the bottle said too). lemme see anything else on this bottle , oh another gem "wheat ale brewed with spices." Holy crap they used spices, this bottle contradicts itself. It only says one spice but here is says 2. Hey Half Orange Mohawk Guy with Sunglasses give me my $5 back and just go the fuck away. Oh and Also Anhueser Busch owns this brewery. Is this an attempt to be like Blue Moon of Coors?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Nogne O #100 Barley Wine-Style Ale


Type: barley wine
Origin: Grimstad, Norway
Price: $9.99 per 0.5 L
Website

I have heard way too much about this brewery from Andy and Samer that I had to try one. The price is a bit unsettling, but it is worth every penny. Shit from Norway is supposed to be expensive anyways. I went for the barley wine because it offered me the best $/ABV ratio of any of their beers and Andy has already reviewed their most popular ones. Also, barley wine is a very technically difficult beer to produce well, and I thought if anyone could do it, Nogne O could. On the open, I am hit by some wonderful sweet malts with absolutely perfect freshness. The pour was a bit darker than I was expecting, almost like a reddish porter. After the pour, the smell is a very syrupy, alcoholy malty hop mixture with some nice spice notes that I cant figure out. There are also some dark berry notes buried in there. Upon tasting, I knew it would take awhile to truly get everything since I just ate dinner (tortellini with Sriracha - fantastic combo). Nothing is too outlandish on the taste, there is just a really nice combo of malts, hops, spice and alcohol. Also, who can turn down how perfect their labels are. Perfectly understated, classy, and nice simple Scandinavian charm.