Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Naked while in Japan Beer Tasting

Origin: Japan
Type: Japanese Lagers
Price: 141 yen or $1.70 each
4% ABV Asahi and 5% ABV Kirin

This was my 1st night in Japan. I was in Kyoto, and it felt like I popped a triple decker of ecstasy. I was tingling all over; I'd been waiting most of my life to visit this fucking country; and there I was, in my hotel room, in the heart of Kyoto. Exhausted, hungry, sweaty, and fucking pissed beyond belief because like the dumbshit I am, I left one of my duffel bags on the train in Tokyo, 4 hours away. It had all of my clothes in it, and my cigarettes. I'd never felt so energetic and yet so weak, so excited and yet so frustrated. Adrenaline was pumping, from head to toe, and I could hear my heart beat over my breath.

In this cacophony I had an epiphany. Drink Japanese beers I'd never laid eyes on before, and do it naked, in the comfort of my hotel room with the AC blasting. Even better, I decided to document it and provide a descriptive photograph of my experience to share with all my fellow peers. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Asahi Blue Label: I couldn't read a fucking word on this can, it was all in Japanese, and while I do know a hint of the language, I didn't really give a shit. It looked and smelled like a lager.

Kirin Honkaku Karakuchi Mugi: The name of this beer translates to "dry tasting wheat", and while this was true, what I noticed even more was a fresh hop flavor. Shocking, I know, a lager with fresh hop dericiousness. Full flavored but light and very very dry. I'm proud of Kirin, considering I hate their normal lager offering here in the states (I would much rather drink a Coors light).

The Asahi next to the Kirin tasted like tonic water. Slightly sweet and bubbly, zero flavor. On a humid day, not a bad choice. But the Kirin really shines in this comparison, and if we could purchase it at a reasonable price in the US of A, it would be my go to light beer. But it's not even offered here.

More importantly, I was drinking beer, in my hotel room, in the heart of Kyoto, naked. And yes, that is my penis blurred in the pic. Everyone should visit Japan. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hermitage 1 Door Flemish Sour Ale

Type: Flemish Sour Ale
Origin: San Jose, California
Price: $3.49 per 22 oz

I have become a small fan of Hermitage's beers, but this one is just not as interesting as I thought it would be. I was hoping for it to be a bit more sour, but it is really just like a brown ale with a slight splash of lemon juice. It has too much in the way of malts for a sour, and that is probably why the sour is just not shining. The only positive is the price, but in all honesty, I wanted 22 oz of sour, and I probably can find it for a buck or two more.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Golden City Evolution IPA

Type: India Pale Ale
Origin: Golden, CO
Price: cheap
7.10% ABV

This is a tiny brewery nestled in Golden Colorado and hugely overshadowed by the monstrous Coors brewery. Dylplow brought me this as a gift, because he's secretly in love with me. It has a nice hoppy smell with plenty of roasted malts. It's really more of a pale ale with some noticeable chocolate flavors from the dark malt additions. I liked it, especially because it's cheap. I don't know how cheap but if it's cheap who cares right? It was a tad bit under carbonated but otherwise tasty.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cold Spring Moonlight Ale

Type: ale
Origin: Cold Spring, Minnesota
Price: $3.29 per 32 oz can at Whole Foods

I saw this tonight at Whole Foods and I was in awe of the three beers from this company in 32 oz cans. Also the price was a big shocker. It seemed like it should be in some seedy liquor store or gas station owned by one of Samer's friends. This is a rather strange beer, and I don't really know if I have had anything like it. The overpowering flavor in this is A&W Cream Soda. It even looks a bit like it. If I didn't like the vanilla cream soda flavor, I would absolutely hate this beer, so I could definitely see how someone would find this absolutely appalling.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coney Island Albino Python

Type: white lager
Origin: Saratoga Springs, New York
Price: $4.69 per 22 oz

First Coney Island beer for me and I am glad I finally tried it. If only large-scale lager makers made beers like this, no one would think that America is full of tasteless shitheads. The color and head on this are beautiful: nice light yellow, opaque, full of foam. The taste in the front of the mouth takes on characteristics of wheat beers with a nice sweet, slightly citrusy flavor. The back of the mouth, this is simple crisp pale lager in its finest form. I looked at the website right after writing the above lines and found that they use 5 types of malts on this (although I wouldn't characterize this as malty), including wheat (+1 point for me) and three spices, including orange peel (+1 more point for me). I'll give myself another point for "caramel pils", for my description of the finish on this.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Belgium Le Terroir

Type: Wild ale
Origin: Fort Collins, CO
Price: ~$12 22oz
7.5% ABV

I had this beer something like 4 months ago, and the memory of drinking it is still fresh. I really enjoyed this sour ale. It had flavors similar to the Girardin Gueuze I reviewed. But much more interesting and complex. It's quite tart with a dry finish that has very noticeable hoppy goodness. It has that familiar wet dog smell all of my favorite sours have in common with a citrusy kick and some wheatiness to boot. New Belgium is producing great beers, I just wish their most popular beer wasn't so lame.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hermitage Single Hop: Amarillo

type: IPA, single hop
origin: San Jose, CA
price: $5/22-oz
abv: 7%

I'm on a boat! I actually just got off a ship at the Panama Canal, but I wrote this shortly before I left San Diego and scheduled it for today, since this is the first day after not having beer for 13 days. No beer and no TV make Andy something something...

Part III of the single-hop beerxperiment: the Amarillo hop. Oh fuck, this is good. Looks like we have a winner! Spicy, citrusy bitterness, with hop flavors in the background, and aromas up-front is how I would characterize this; this works perfectly for this level of alcohol and maltiness

So here's my final ranking:
  1. Amarillo (hands down)
  2. Admiral
  3. Citra

This has been really enlightening, and it's actually very easy to distinguish styles, so go do this yourself and let me know what your
rankings are. And who knows, maybe I'll even make a graph to compare them -
if you're lucky.


Previously on the beerxpermient...
Part I: Citra
Part II: Admiral

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dogfish Head Squall IPA

Type: India pale ale
Origin: Delaware
Price: $8 750mL
9% ABV

Man, I'm 3 months behind on this review. Talk about time flying. This brew is a solid IPA fashioned after west coast IPAs developed in our very own backyard. Unfortunately, the bottle I drank turned out a tad bit too under carbonated. But even so, it is quite tasty. Whenever a beer claims to be bottle conditioned, it means that it is naturally carbonated inside the bottle thanks to leaving yeast in the beer. Because of this the occasional under/over carbonated bottle is possible.

This is definitely an IPA, but it is still slightly too malty to truly be west coast style. Stone's IPA is hoppier and drier, for instance. It's potent at 9%, and you can smell the alcohol as much as the fresh hops. It's an exceptionally smooth beer. Keith Stone smooth. Nice and dry finish. It has nice citrusy flavors from the hops, and Chris pointed out pineapple, which I completely agree but didn't notice it personally until he mentioned it. Will drink again, on occasion. A 22 of Big Eye is a much better deal in my opinion.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beer Here Nordic Rye

type: "Scandanavian Farmhouse Ale" whatever that means.
origin: Grimstad, Norway (at Nøgne ø)
price: $10/.5l
abv: 8%

Yeah this is pricey, but it was my birthday and I was showing some respect for the people of Norway after the recent tragedy. Plus once you get a Norske-beer boner (e.g. the IPA), it never really goes away...

So this tastes like a cross between a porter and a brown ale, and I'm not so sure I get rye flavors. This bothers me about "rye" ales - where the F is the RYE??!

But after a few glugs, while watching Louie, I realized the best way to drink this is with little sips in the front of your mouth. It really is fantastic that way - which seems odd to me. I don't think I'll get it again, but worth a try I suppose.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Alaskan Imperial IPA Pilot Series

Type: Ale
Origin: Juneau, AK
Price: $9.99 22oz

I like regular Alaskan IPA, it's nothing special, but it is easy to find and I usually enjoy it as a middle of the road IPA. So I saw this at the beer store and figured awesome this has to be great. The beer has a nice color with a malty smell overwhelming the hops, so far so good. I tasted it and was immediately pissed off, why would they sell this crap. It was so bad, I think what they did is use the boot/swamp water in the image on the bottle instead of fresh Alaskan spring water, maybe a deer got into this water source or some shit, literally. The thing I am most mad about is I chose this over a scuplin just to review for our site, god damn you nonsnob you sobs making me try new things. Well don't buy this, simple as that. A few adjustments to this beer it would be much better, it just didnt balance as the finish and first taste were equally as bad.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lagunitas Lucky 13 Anniversary Release

Type: IPA
Origin: Petaluma, California
Price: $4.50 per 22 oz

I wish I would have bought a normal Lucky 13 to compare this properly because it has been too long since I have had it. At least I have the previous review to go off of. Everything I have had from Lagunitas has been very fresh tasting with great complex hop flavors. This is definitely no exception. The IBUs are down in the 70s here, but the ABV is sitting strong at 8.9%. On the first sip, I encounter a very strange tingling fizziness in my mouth that is usually only reserved for soft drinks. After a few more sips, I realize that it is a slight numbing from the hops on the center of my tongue. Rather odd, but I am not complaining. There is a pretty nice mouthfeel on this, lending it towards the cough syrup end of the spectrum. On the normal Lucky 13 I noted that it had a "cherry cough syrup flavor" going on, which I think pops through a bit on this one, but I think some of the cherry flavors get replaced with some slight malts. This is a definite must try at this price.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

IPA Tasting

The crew (minus Matt) did a blind tasting of various IPAs. Being a nerd, I obviously had to graph the results - but they are enlightening. Take a look:
If the dot is to the far right, it's shows that we all thought it was the best of the bunch, and if it is to the far left, it means we all thought it was the worst of the bunch. So this shows a few interesting things:
  • There was no unanimous winner, and there's not much difference between the top five, except that Mikkeller costs $7/12-oz and the others $4/22-oz, so you decide which is the better value.
  • There's a unanimous loser though: The self-proclaimed "best IPA in America". This was a shocker to us. And 90-minute's little brother, 60-minute, is also ranked pretty low. Huh?!?!
Granted Cali-Belgique is not a traditional IPA, and 90-minute is very imperial, but this shows the power of marketing. If you keep saying you're the best, then people will try your beer as if you are.

Even though these are all pretty damn delicious beers, I'm ordering Racer 5 anywhere I see it now. As Chris says, it's a great "bar beer", and now I fully agree.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dogfish Head: My Antonia

type: pilsner
origin: Milton, Delaware
price: $?/25.6oz at Joe Canal's (Princeton, NJ)
abv: 7.5%

So when I think pilsner I think light hoppy and not very stiff. As always, dogfishhead has broken these rules, but I'm not really surprised, that's how they roll right? Apparently a Bohemian beer tribute to the similarly titled novel by American author Willa Cather about a Bohemian woman.

For a 'continuously hopped' pilsner, this wasn't incredibly hoppy by nose or by bitter, but there were certainly hops in it. As I'm finding so characteristic of the east coast brew, the maltiness of this beer was tremendous, which really made me revisit what it means to be a pilsner. I would be surprised if any of the malt used in this beer was pale, because it had so much body, or maybe if it did they boiled it hard for a while after the mash. I was also surprised to find it so cloudy, since usually a bottom fermenting yeast produces a more clear beer, but maybe that part is supposed to represent Lena from the book. And to be honest I would bet you that they used an ale yeast or something because as much as I've tried to get a flavor of pilsner yeast, I couldn't match it to the flavor at the bottom of this bottle. So pilsner is: pale malt, saazy, clear, bottom fermented beer, none of which I would guess went into this beer.

We can only hope that the brewer in charge at Dogfish Head was hopelessly lovestruck or lusting or something while making this beer, because otherwise I'm having a hard time respectably figuring out why they called it a pilsner. At least then we know why they named it My Antonia.

Bar Harbor Brewing Co: Thunder Hole Ale

type: brown ale
origin: Bar Harbor, ME
price: $? (I lost the receipt, but I didn't have sticker shock)/22oz at Joe Canal's (Princeton, NJ)
abv: too huge to even write on the bottle

Since I was out of town for Andy's birthday bashery, I thought to myself when I saw this bottle in the store "what better way to salute a good friend's birthday than an earth shattering salvo from the old thunder hole?"

Andy don't read this paragraph. When I popped it open I was a bit disappointed in the meager hiss instead of a thunderous report, but I guess I should have known since it wasn't sporting a cork and only a normal bottle cap. We'll just tell Andy that it was solidly respectable.

So in addition to the deafening bottle opening, this beer was pretty damned good... (I wrote the rest of this on my porch between playing guitar and listening to the hurricane since we lost power and my battery was dying) I was not thunderously over bodied (think godzilla) like so many of the other east coast beers I've had, but solidly full of flavor. The hop notes were pretty light as well, but there was an awesome nutty flavor and darkness to this beer that can only come from expert mashing. The fact that this is a world beer championships gold medal winner, and a small batch series, stands out clearly. Well done Bar Harbor, I'll be back.

So happy (belated) birthday Andy. sorry I took a while to post this, but I needed a hurricane for inspiration.
Thunder on sir.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Erie Brewing Company: Misery Bay

type: IPA
origin: Erie, Pennsylvania
price: $1.69/12oz at Joe Canal's (Princeton, NJ)
abv: 6.5%

When I first moved to New Jersey from San Diego, misery described my feelings pretty well. On the label of this bottle is a boat full of depraved looking fools straining on their oars in some wrong direction, and the one guy with any direction in the boat is pointing away saying 'No, I think the Brewery is THAT way!' I was once so lost, but at least I found my way to the place selling THIS beer.

In addition to my last review, this beer is contributing further to my impression of the difference between an east coast and a west coast IPA. On the west coast (especially San Diego) you often find a crisp, light bodied IPA with HUGE amounts of hops in it and maybe only mild malty notes. Over here on the east coast there are still plenty of hops in the IPA (that is the point anyway, right?), but every IPA I've tasted has been way more malty and full bodied.

As I was saying, misery bay is pretty light on the hop bitter but still has plenty of hop nose and florals. It's another nice clear IPA, and it has a pretty solid malty body, but this time I noticed a little something extra. Is there some rye in here, or maybe some sort of fancy yeast flavor? Whatever it is, I would think twice about throwing this beer overboard if I was sinking in misery bay, but not if I was sitting on a case full of Alpine.

One thing is for sure though: either I'm going to need to train my pallette to distinguish maltiness a bit more, and probably get used to lighter hopping for my sampling over here, or else I'm going to have to work with our east coast friends to bring some of that San Diego crispy hop action to the bottles over here!

Heavy Seas: Loose Cannon

type: IPA
origin: Baltimore, MD
price: $1.59/12oz at Joe Canal's (Princeton, NJ)
abv: 7.25%

Arrgh matey! This beer makes me feel pretty piratey and reminds me of the good ol' bucaneer days at Two Harbor's. If you're in California in the beginning of October you should bring your pirate garb, grab some wenches and booze, and sail west until the sea turns to booze and you find
a thousand pirates in the midst of wreaking debauchery, orgies, and tomfoolery; profane parrots guarding seaworthy kegcraft, and you'll know what I'm talking about.

If it comes on to blow and Davey Jones stirs it up, you might even feel a bit of the 'heavy seas', but unless a loose cannon bumps your galley wenches three times and they drop a whole treasure chest of hops into the kettle each time, you won't necessarily know this beer much better. Right, back to the beer...

It has a nice clear reddish tinge and a... holy damn I've drunk near the whole thing since starting this passage! OK, before I get too arsy versy here, lets get down to business. There's a blustery hop nose on this brew, but it's hardly bitter unless you're really looking for it on the finish. The malts give it a nice mouth feel, coming through nice and solid, but the overall character isn't too heavy. If I were a pirate on heavy seas with a loose cannon rolling around, I'd be perfectly happy if I put back maybe three of these, but being a grounded science monkey I'm perfectly happy putting back only one of them! Not to say that I'm finished or anything...

Hermitage Single Hop: Admiral

type: IPA
origin: San Jose, CA
price: $5/22oz
abv: 7%

The single hop experiment part 2: the Admiral hop. As opposed to the Citra, this is neither floral nor fruity; rather, it's merely a bittering hop. The effect is utilitarian in a way - balance at the expense of complexity. It can transform a mediocre strong ale into a powerful, satisfying, English-style India pale ale. Some would argue there's beauty in simplicity, and I would argue that they should grow a sack, but with this beer it works.

The score so far: Admiral 1, Citra 0.