Monday, September 19, 2011

Ska Decadent

type: imperial IPA
origin: Durango, CO
price: $5.90 at Spec's
abv: 10%
website (they obviously love ska music)

I was waiting for the Charlie Sheen Roast tonight, so obviously a few beers are in order.  Here's one I've been saving for a while.  The wax-dipped cap screams class (sorry about the pic), but the hop-chewing skeleton-man screams class warfare, so I was unsure what to expect from this.

POW.  Right in the face: complex flavors, BIG alcohol, and sweet maltiness balanced by high bitterness and hop aromas.  It hits you in the back of the throat like a kick from a shufflin' rude bwoy (right near da beach). This is a really good beer in my opinion, especially for less than $6.

So here's a Non-snob double thumbs up recommendation.  Keep 'em coming Ska.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spoetzl Shiner Bock

Type: Lager
Origin: Shiner, Texas
Price: Same as 6er of Bud probably
4.4% ABV

Yea Haw, ya lemme get one of them shiners u got there Gerral-Ray. That's what I imagine of when ordering this in Texas and why I have to admit I have no idea of what Texas is really like. I mean I heard Austins cool, and Explosions in the Sky is awesome, but still never been. Well anyway somehow this made it's way to some mediocre bbq place in SF, really the only eh food I have ever had in SF.

I had to look up Shiner, Texas on a map (well google maps) and it looks like a real podunk town, but apparently people in Texas drink this throughout the state if I am not mistaken. I assumed they would drink Bud Heavys as it matches their state flag. Usually a Bock means a form of a maibock, which this taste nothing like, but surprisingly it is pretty tasty. The best way to describe this beer would be a step up from a Bud (which I think is a great beer and got top honors at our blind domestic taste test), a good somewhat sweet beer with a nice finish and a slight pilsner bite. Someone tell the brewery though that this is a Lager.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout

type: imperial russian stout
origin: San Diego, CA
price: $5/22oz
abv: 10.2%

For the price/alcohol ratio, I like this, but after that I get off the train. It's simply too imperial for it's own good, but maybe that's good for a cold night in Moscow. And I think I actually tasted paint in a few early sips, but maybe that's because I was huffing glue in a parking lot just prior.

It seems obvious that regular Joe-the-Plumber type beer drinkers will hate this, but when I think about how Stone has always recognized that fact (just read any of their labels), it makes everything right again. At least they're not bullshitting us, right?

Side notes:
  1. I've got the Belgo-Anise variant of this waiting in the fridge, so we'll see how that changes the game.
  2. I'm already feeling buzzed - niiiice.
  3. Bring Da Ruckus by Wu Tang is playing...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The beers of Panama.

Panama. A country that is mostly hot, humid, lush, laid-back, working-class, and poor. The food is distinctly influenced by the Canal (Panama City has the most amazing fish market ever), and the Caribbean (coconut rice, jerk chicken, ...). So what room is there for fancy beer? Apparently none, but they do make crisp, refreshing lagers somewhat well. I just returned from a surfing/hardcore-chilling trip with my buddy Raf and my girlfriend Carey, and if we weren't drinking Abuelo rum, it was beer (or amazing fresh lemonades!).

Panama. 4.8% and $0.35 - 1.00 anywhere - yeah seriously. Brewed by Cervecerías Barú-Panama. It's similar to an MGD in the sense of being borderline too-bitter, really light, and marginally flavorful. But it's sure easy to kill ten of these.

Balboa. Again 4.8% and $0.35 - 1.00 anywhere. So as you see, there's no monetary competition, only flavor and distribution. In some areas this was all you could get (and Atlas, which I'm not showing here) presumably because the Cervecería Nacional is closest, which brews only Balboa and Atlas. The beer is a little more sweet than Panama, which means you start to notice when you're tired of drinking it.

Not featured: Atlas (a less malty version of Balboa - 3.8%), and Soberana (actually never tried because it was nowhere to be found).

And the winner?! The proof is in the sleeveless t-shirt:

And let us not forget - these beers are less than a dollar! So think of that next time you drop $5 for a shitty beer, or it's $12 beer night at your favorite club (Sambo, Fluxx tonight!?!?!).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tiger Beer

Type: Lager
Origin: Singapore
Price: Cheap
5% ABV

So it's my 2nd night in Singapore, and I'm still jetlagged as fuck. On top of that it's cloudy, a cool 85 degrees out, with close to 100% humidity. So you want a beer huh? What beer would you fancy? A San Diego IPA? FUCK NO. A German lager or Czech pilsner? Too bitter. Wait wait, back up a second?? Too bitter? Ummmm... yup.

This is why Singapore's local brewers chose Tiger as their mass beer recipe. Its absolutely refreshing, crisp, with only a slight bitterness in the middle and a malty sweet finish. In this humidity, I couldn't imagine a better beer. Now back in San Diego I might think this tastes like crap (here's andy's review), but right here right now (more like a month ago), Tiger really hits the spot.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Baird Japan Tale Ale

Type: Wheat Ale
Origin: Shizuoka, Japan
Price: 1000 yen/pint
6.2% ABV

Some of Baird's beers make a claim to using "soft" Numazu water, which is local to the brewery. And let me tell ya, you really can feel its "softness". This beer is absolutely silky on the tongue. So much so I didn't want to swallow the damn thing, just swirl it around my mouth. In terms of flavor, it's similar to a Belgian wit, but instead of strong banana bread like flavors, this one highlights the ever famous Japanese ume plum. I love ume, the entire time I was traveling in Japan I had to have pickled ume stuffed in rice balls with every meal. And the most distinct flavors from this delicate fruit showcase very nicely in this beer. I could drink this all summer long, and it makes me sad that I can't find anything like it in San Diego. As much as I love Lightning's Thunderweizen, I dare say I crave this beer more. Crazy, I know. Glad to see Japan is producing quality craft beers with local influences.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bear Republic XP Pale Ale

Type: pale ale
Origin: Cloverdale, California
Price: $4.29 per 22 oz

Bear republic is my new go to brand. Everything I have had from them has been wonderful, and this is no exception. The best way to describe this is a nice mix of a good california pale ale (say sierra) and a good british bitter (I can't think of one because I haven't had an exceptional or characteristic one). It changes character often, and both ends of the spectrum are delightful. It is a bit light, but still let's you know that it is not to be fucked with. They say the XP stands for "Exception Pale Ale", but I think it should be "Extreme Phucking Ale".

Saturday, September 3, 2011

White Birch Brewing: Belgian Style Pale Ale

Type: Belgian pale ale
Origin: Hooksett, New Hampshire
Price: $9/22oz at Smiley's
8.2% abv

OK, so I'm pretty new to NH, but holy crap it seems like they have some respectable beer and this liquor store even will deliver your booze and pizza too?! What am I doing living in NJ again?

The last time I had a beer with this type of flavor I was actually in Bruges, Belgium. It reminds me of the flavor in the Westvleteren Blond, which is completely impossible to find in the US, and even a bitch to find in Belgium unless you go to the brewery. These guys pretty much nailed it, just damn. They don't bear the label of an Authentic Trappist Product, and I would bet that the economic purpose is more about profit than assistance, but it sure tastes like they're doing the brew just about the same as some of the tastiest Belgians I've had.

The beer is nice and crisp, with a major hop fragrance and fruityness, and hardly any bittering. That awesome Belgian yeast flavor is on it too, which I need to find me some of for a future brew batch. At 8.2%, it's potent enough to pack some punch, but not so much that you can't enjoy a pint or two. If not for these spectacular qualities I would be happy to write this one off as another overpriced microbrew, but having sampled the contents, I'm not surprised that it costs a mean $9. So if you dig on the Belgian flavor, and you have $9 to spend, I suggest you spring on this tasty treat.

And by the way, the beaches are so much free-er in NH than in NJ, both free as in beer, and free as in freedom. Eat my shorts Jersey.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lightning Fulminator Lager

Type: dark wheat lager
Origin: Poway, California
Price: $13 for 64 oz growler

Lightning strikes again! I went to the Lightning Brewery 2 weekends ago with the mindset of getting Electrostatic and Thunderweizen. There was no Electrostatic to be had, so I had to find a replacement, and boy did I ever. The Fulminator is a dark, wheat lager that packs quite a punch. Its a little bit syrupy and has a little cream sherry thing going on with it (especially after letting it sit in a growler a week). The alcohol is a bit strong on this, and it does have a bit of a burn (although this may be due to consuming it in growler form, and not just a 22 of it)

Tijuana Bufadora Maibock

Type: Maibock
Origin: Tijuana, Baja California
Price: $3
7.4% ABV

It's funny i'm sure was an easy site to get, but still not a very creative name for a brewery or one that makes people want to drink as tj is well tj, I mean hey I love it, but you know.

This beer had a nice amber color with a caramel malt taste and slight hop finish. I was presently surprised, I mean I wasn't expecting much especially from tj, but it was very easy to drink. This would be a lot more dangerous to drink then my typical trips to Mexico involving drinking 15 or so tecates. The only bad thing I could say was the beer was slightly unbalanced, which I feel a lot of maibocks are, but I would definitely and am definitely going to drink this again.

The next place, Classico club didn't even serve beer so unfortunately no more tj beers to taste, but soon. I think I might have to drag the nonsnobers down to Tj next beerfest and then some tj tacos!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jeremiah Weed Lightning Lemonade

Type: malt liquor, hard lemonade
Origin: Plainfield, Illinois
Price: $3.29 per 23.5 oz can

So after a night of watching Georgia Tech lay into the Western Carolina Catamounts (seriously wtf is a catamount), I had to get something supremely extreme. I also needed to get some cash out at 7-11 (free citibank atms), and I spotted this behemoth in the chilled section. I have always wanted to try this considering they only advertise on ESPN. Since it says "Southern Style" and I just watched southern college football, perfect fit. The color on this is white, with a tinge of yellow. The smell on this is whiskey sour, one of the first whiskey drinks I got into, so definite plus. The taste is actually rather gentle and light with a good non-sour lemonade base and a nice crisp alcohol bite. This is definitely much better than I ever expected, and better than I remember Mike's or any other hard lemonade.

Stone/Baird/Ishii collaboration: Japanese Green Tea IPA (On draft in Tokyo)

Type: green tea IPA
Origin: Tokyo, Japan
Price: 1100 yen or $14 pint
9% ABV

My good friend Kiel was showing me around Tokyo before he surprised me with a visit to this hidden brewery near the Harajuku district. I had seen Andy's review of this beer only 2 days prior to being taken to Baird Brewery's taproom, and it was all completely by chance. Life is funny isn't it?

Harajuku, by the way, is an amazingly interesting place, and on the main outdoor shopping street, has about 3 people per square foot, not even kidding. Not only that, but people wear some funky f'ing outfits, check out this badass grandpa:

After sitting down and realizing this was THAT brewery, I was jittery with joy. Obviously, I ordered the Japanese green tea IPA, especially after the American bartender said they were on their last keg and it would be tapped by the end of the day! Lucky me ha? REALLY lucky for me it was fourteen fucking dollars for a goddamn pint of beer. But it was well worth it. I was paying for the experience and the bragging rights as much as the beer itself so in the end it's like drinking a $6 pint at Regal Beagle. Not to mention that all the profit from the beer was being donated to charities helping with the Japanese Tohoku earthquake.

The description claims that the beer was created using whole leaf Shizuoka sencha (green tea leaves from a specific locale in Japan). You can really smell the fresh hops in this bad boy. Mind blowing really. And for how hoppy it is claimed to be (over 100 IBU's, aka more hoppy than a Green Flash IPA), I was surprised by how smooth and well balanced the bitterness was. I could drink this much more easily than any hop monster I've had in the past. It was also well balanced in terms of dryness. The best part? The green tea flavors are super mellow and only noticeable in the finish, which I imagine makes the beer tremendously better than if the green tea was more obvious. All in all, I completely agree with Andy's take. So why the review? So I can brag about being in Japan, duhhhhh.