Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lompoc C-Note Imperial Pale Ale

Type: Imperial IPA
Origin: Portland, OR
Price: $3.99/22 oz
ABV: 6.9%
NSP: 11.24 (unscaled)

Eleventh and final beer of the Portland BeerPlow. Please don't let me ever do this again because it's exhausting. This one is another IIPA, though they left the India part out for some reason (maybe the ABV isn't quite high enough?). It's called C-Note because it's 100 IBUs on the dot, and it's brewed with the seven "C" hops (I'll let you look those up for your own edification). I definitely bought this one because the brewery shares a name with the federal penitentiary (and town) in central California. Seriously, how many movies are there with a line that goes something like "I did a 3 to 5 stretch in Lompoc, and I ain't never going back"?

Right out of the bottle, it sort of looks like Dr. Pepper. As with the Laughing Dog AlphaDog, not a good sign by my anti-malty IPA tastes. The head is pretty much nonexistent. The nose does little to inspire me, with no discernible hop aromas, heavy malt, and a little something that kind of smells like cat food. Not a good start. Despite this, I dove right in, figuring I'd treat it like a band-aid ("One motion! Right off!"). And the flavor is malt, malt, malt, and malt. But strangely, right at the end, the hops elbow their way in and cut the malt off mid-sentence, leaving a super clean and fairly enjoyable finish.

What an odd beer. I don't really like it, and I wouldn't buy it again. But at least it's not sweet. It's malty as hell, but at least they've avoided over-sugaring it. It's actually so not sweet that it almost seems salty. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it almost seems like they brewed it with soy sauce. And, no, Andy, that's not just because I'm Asian, you bleached asshole.
There isn't really any notable complexity to speak of here. It's more like the malt and hops are stumbling around in the darkness only to smack their heads together and knock each other out.

So, the 2011
Portland Thanksgiving BeerPlow in very brief summary:
Best in show, IPA category: 1) Bridgeport Hop Harvest 2011 2) HUB Hopworks IPA
Best in show, everything else: 1) Deschutes The Stoic 2) Chatoe Rogue Good Chit Pilsner 2a) Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale
Best in show: 1) Deschutes The Stoic 1a) Bridgeport Hop Harvest 2011 (I know that's a cop-out, but frankly I'm worn out by the BeerPlow. Just drink both of them)

Monday, January 30, 2012


Type: lager
Origin: Linz, Austria
Price: $4.29 per 660 mL
NSP: 8.3
ABV: 5.4%

First beer review with my new camera. Now you can see all the beer-tails with 18 MP. I bought this beer awhile back because the labeling and bottle reminded me of late 80s/early 90s styling. Just think Sinbad, BoKu, and Zima. The beer itself is pretty ordinary and there are no real distinguishing qualities. I can tell you it is a) an average lager and b) there are no major defects. Also, they actually list the ingredients on the beer, and it is just: water, barley-malt, hops. You have to love that simplicity and makes you wonder why humans drink anything other than beer.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Laughing Dog AlphaDog IIPA

Type: Imperial IPA
Origin: Ponderay, ID
Price: $7.99/22 oz
ABV: 8.5%
NSP: 6.91 (unscaled)

Beer #10 of the Portland BeerPlow, though it's actually from Idaho, and I'm back in San Diego. I'll give Laughing Dog credit- the name is clever (for the unaware, alpha acids are what give hops bitter flavor). This one claims to be 127 IBU, which I believe is the highest IBU I've ever sampled...although I'm also aware that such a number is a bit of a marketing gimmick because the scale saturates at 100. Anyway, after most of the other Portland IPAs, I'm a bit wary of amber-colored IPAs, especially imperials. They tend to be extremely malt-heavy, and super malty IPAs are not my bag. And when you kick it up to imperials, the maltiness can transition to cloying sweetness. So I admit I wasn't expecting much when I poured it.

It has a very sweet, musty malt nose with just a dash of florality. So the malt dominates the nose, but hopefully not the flavor, but...yup, it's too sweet. The problem here, as with the previous Silver Moon Hoptagon, Speakeasy's Double Daddy and dozens of other IIPAs, is that the sweetness of the malt completely obscures all of the complexity the hops offer, leaving them unable to add anything beyond basic bitterness. There are appealing qualities to this beer- the malt by itself could produce a decent brown ale- but I can't help but feel like this is a mistreatment of hops. Folks, you can't just dump a shitload of hops into a sugar bomb. I realize the IIPA hops/malt balance is a difficult proposition, but this just isn't the way to solve it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Scotch Silly

Type: scottish style ale
Origin: Silly, Belgium
Price: $9.99 per 750 mL
ABV: 8%
NSP: 6

Scottish ales are not my normal go to as I think most are boring and off-putting. This one however made me not care about my prior scotch ale disposition. For one, it's from the Silly Brewery, which is well, silly. Secondly, I was wondering how the belgians would pull off a scotch ale. And let me start by saying that I am pleasantly surprised with this one. There are background notes of traditional scotch ale layered nicely on a light belgian dubbel. There is a slight cola(I think) flavor lingering around and some hazelnuts.

On second inspection, I change my review to overbearing. This beer gets a bit overpowering, and is not easy to drink. Definitely drink with a friend, or don't drink at all. I don't know how I'm going to get through this, but I'm sure I'll survive.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Silver Moon Hoptagon IIPA

Type: Imperial IPA
Origin: Bend, OR
Price: $4.49/22 oz
ABV: 8.5%
NSP: 12.31 (unscaled)

Finishing off the Portland BeerPlow with a trio of imperial IPAs (two of which I had to bring home, because, as you might imagine if you've been reading the BeerPlow, I was a bit beered out by the end of the trip). The first, #9 overall, was the Hoptagon, a 99 IBU bastard.

Finally, some thunderous hoppiness- the nose is a nice slap in the face, which is delightful after a slew of muted IPAs. There's a whole bunch of green apple and pineapple in the flavor, and the hops are super intense, as well they should be. It's decently refreshing, and finishes pretty cleanly. The only complaint I have is that it's too sweet- a common failing of IIPAs. And by the time my palate could start to figure things out, it was overwhelmed by the potency of flavors. I was left confused as to whether or not I even liked it (and a bit drunk), mainly because that sweetness weighed everything else down.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Session Lager

type: lager
origin: Hood River, OR
price: $12 / 12-pack 11oz
abv: 5.1%
NSP: 16.6

OK, I found my new go-to lager, and it's appropriately named since I could probably sling back 15 or so of these.  It's light and easy to drink, but also surprisingly flavorful.  I describe it as a better version of Bud Heavy (as if that could be possible!).  Tasty stuff and apparently award winning.  Now I'm interested to try their Black Lager...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Deschutes The Stoic

Type: Belgian-Style Quad
Origin: Bend, OR
Price: $12.79/22 oz
ABV: 11.0%
NSP: 5.59 (unscaled)

Kicking things up ABV-wise towards the end of the Portland BeerPlow with #8, Deschutes' The Stoic. Before I get into the beer- the wax cap. I understand that it's supposed to make the beer look all special on the shelf, but I'd appreciate it more if it didn't crumble into 931 pieces (see photo) when I tried to remove it. Outside of that, that label's a beaut, isn't it?

Anyway, the beer's got a thick, frothy head that glues itself to the glass, sort of what I'd expect from the style. This is brewed with pomegranate and aged in rye and wine casks, and all of that shows in the nose, which is hugely fruity. It's significantly more complex than the style-similar Victory V-12, with a lot of squash character (kind of like pumpkin pie, actually). It's a pretty incredible nose, and it kind of makes me want to dunk my face in the beer.

It's got a thick, velvety mouthfeel, and the fruitiness is pretty massive on the flavor. But here's where the pomegranate shines through, adding not only another facet to the fruit flavor, but also a nice tangy acidity that rounds off what would otherwise be overwhelmingly rich. All in all, wine, rye, and pomegranate all make a whole lot of sense as supporting characters for the quad style. And unlike the V-12, the alcohol is pretty well concealed; the acidity definitely helps that aspect too. All told, I think this is pretty top notch. This isn't ordinarily my favorite style, but I'd definitely get this again, even at that price. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Deschutes excels once again.

Oh, and Deschutes- this belongs in 750s. Get it done.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Southern Tier IPA

type: IPA
origin: Lakewood, NY
price: ~$2/12oz
abv: 7.3
NSP: 13.0

Whoa, what a pleasant surprise from the state that produces such gems as Yuengling and Genesee Light!  This is wonderful and refreshing, but fair warning: it's extremely bitter, and not likely to be enjoyed but by the heartiest of IPA fans.  At 7.3% it's just as "arrogant" as Stone IPA, but the hop bittering is way beyond.  So, Stone, does that make this more or less arrogant?  Arrogant pricks.

The bottle claims four types of hops and four types of malt were used, but for me neither profile makes it past the bitterness.  I still enjoyed it though.  And now I have something to look out for on my visit to Buffalo over the summer, besides Labatt Blue Light Lime of course.

Monday, January 23, 2012

HUB (Hopworks Urban Brewery) Hopworks IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Portland, OR
Price: $3.99/22 oz
ABV: 6.6%
NSP: 10.75 (unscaled)

Beer #7 of the BeerPlow. The bottle says "Ride Your Bike". Ah, Portland. I like the vaguely communist-era, Rage Against the Machine-looking label style. It definitely makes it pop on the shelf.

This is the only Pacific Northwest non-imperial (more on that later) IPA I had with a nose that's as robust as a San Diego IPA. But it only lingers for a few moments right after the initial pour. It fades quickly to a pretty muted pininess, leaving me wishing it had stuck around longer because it was pretty nice.

The first shot on the palate raised my expectations that this might be a standout, with a good malt balance and nice sharp bitterness. But after a few seconds, I got a metallic flavor that knocked everything askew. And it never quite recovered the initial balance, with the malt fading quickly and the hops lingering for a long time with the metal accent on the side. Out of all of the IPAs I had in Portland, this is the only one that had the same hop muscle of the bigger San Diego IPAs, and a cleaner finish and better balance could put it on the top shelf.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Slaters 50/50 (San Diego)

2750 Dewey Road Building 193 (Liberty Station)
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 398-2600

Assuming you eat and drink here, be prepared to leave this place with ~4000 calories under your belt.  It feels like everything has bacon in it here - even their vodka apparently does.  In fact, the 50/50 part of the name is in reference to their burger patty, comprised roughly of 50% bacon and 50% beef.  JTFC.

The beer selection is impressive though, something like 130-140 beers, most of which are on tap.  The taster shown in the pic:

  1. Napa Smith Hopageddon - Jesus god that's bitter, exactly as expected at 144 IBU.  It's so bitter it causes a puckering in the lower half of your mouth.  But that makes it hard to tell you're drinking 10% IIPA.
  2. Iron Fist Gauntlet - Much tastier than Hopaggedon (also an IIPA).
  3. Ommegang Seduction - I remember it being ridiculously good, but that is all.
  4. Avery Hog Heaven - A barleywine that reminds you why you shouldn't be drinking barleywine too often.  Not that it's bad, just an absolute monster of a beer to be ordering anywhere.
Sambo had Airdale Panda or something like that, which I think rocked the balls off the place.  Here he is with our broham Kasey, next to picture of a polar bear's ass.  No connection, clearly.

My formal recommendation is this: Go and get a few tasters here once and a while, and eat only the veggie burger (but add bacon of course).  Otherwise, just go the Beagle and have a beer with the Non Snob crew.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Elysian The Immortal IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Seattle, WA
Price: $4.49/22 oz
ABV: 6.3%
NSP: 9.12 (unscaled)

I completely forgot to take a picture of beer #6 of the Portland BeerPlow (as you'll see, such an oversight is commensurate with the review), so photo credit to Bob's Brew and Liquor Reviews. I should also note that my review is right in line with Bob's.

The nose is pretty dull. There's a bit of hoppiness, but...is this really an IPA? Much less an Immortal one? The flavor...again, IPA? Really? There's a bit of hop bitterness, but that's about it, no notable complexity. There's some maltiness, but it's beer, so maltiness is pretty routine.

Frankly, this beer is just plain boring. Nothing outrightly sucks about it, but mediocrity isn't really something that should be pursued. I see on the bottle that they've been brewing a lot of this at New Belgium...maybe that explains why it's such an unremarkable IPA, if it's been influenced by the ho-hum Ranger. Enough of this one, I'm bored of thinking of synonyms for boring.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oro Di Milano Riserva Speciale

Type: brown amber ale
Origin: Monza, Italy
Price: $10.99 per 750 mL
NSP: 5.6

I reviewed this awhile ago and wrote the review while I was drinking it. I never posted it because I felt like I needed to add more to it, but just couldn't think of anything else. Here is the review:

My experience with Italian beverages has been much more in the wine category or the basic lager category (peroni, birra moretti). I really did not know what to expect from this, and I probably only bought this since it was next to the belgians at BevMo! (also it has a very sexy slender physique). Lets just say that I am really glad I purchased this. On the first sip, I thought there might be a little bit of white wine in this, which becomes subdued over future sips, but is still prominent throughout. For a brown ale, the flavors are not too strong and malty. It has the refreshing crispness of a clean pilsner...

and thats all folks. You are probably disappointed, so you should probably just read this article about a nazi-fighting alcoholic bear:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale

Type: Golden/Blonde Ale
Origin: Bend, OR
Price: Not really sure, it was in the fridge when I got there, but let's guess it's the usual $9/6-pack like Mirror Pond
ABV: 5.0%
NSP: 11.83 (unscaled)

Beer #5 of the Portland BeerPlow. It's not summer. It's actually closer to something from the incredible documentary The Day After Tomorrow. But it was in the fridge, and I love me some Deschutes, so bottoms up.

Most summer ales I've had are sort of in the Sam Adams style- light and fruity with some light hoppiness, not really challenging, but then they're not really supposed to be. Not this one. This has all the complexity of flavor one would expect from an outstanding IPA, just without the alcohol punch that could make you regret drinking a sixer on your own. It's just the kind of IPA-style session ale you'd expect to find in San Diego. There's a noteworthy green apple thing going on, with a super clean finish. Damn good all around. If I can find this locally when it's actually summer, I'll be all over it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Smuttynose: IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: NH, US
ABV: 6.90%
Price: some dollas

Last summer, when it was horrendously hot and humid out, I walked down the way one night for a backyard BBQ with a new crowd. It was sweltering in the evening darkness, and the snackery coming off the grill was unmatchable. Between the sting of mosquitoes, and the bedazzle of fireflies staggering around in the heat like little comets crashing into the darkness, this six pack of beer I brought with me was sweating through the box in sublime mischievousness. Moments later, while making some new greetings, the box disintegrated from the moisture, spilling glistening bottles of yummy brouha all over the lawn. At this point I realized, "damn, I guess it's about time to drink this coolaid".

BBQ, fireflies, and new acquaintances aside, this is a pretty astounding beer. Among the general malt mess I had come to know as the east coast IPA, smuttynose landed a winner. This one is nicely light bodied for the warm weather, and well enough hopped to bring home that nostalgia about west coast green flavored beer. Not quite pine sappy hopped, but well hopped just the same. Almost definitely dry hopped even. Anyway, this stuff went down like air after a good workout, so it's a good thing I only had to walk half a block home.

PS. If you're from La Jolla, and are ever on the Kittery side of Portsmouth and you're jonesing for a Don Carlos burrito, a lobster roll from Hebert Brothers Seafood is just about the closest thing you'll find.
PPS. If you ask nicely they just might have a stash of Smuttynose Session Ale to complement even though it's not on the menu.

Boatswain Twin Screw Steamer

type: IIPA
origin: Monroe, WI
price: $2 / 22oz
abv: 8.4%
NSP: 27.3

OK, now here's an example of some straight bullshit.  First things first, the value is high unless you scale it; then the NSP is 5.46.  And fellow beer binger blogger Colin Jemmott technically feels the same way as I do (his description is spot on), but he doesn't let the rage flow to obscenity.  So here it goes...

This is just bitter-as-shit, crappy homebrew that's been packaged and distributed by some rich beer bandwagoneer.  I seriously spend like five minutes how to turn their name into an insult.  Twin Screw is too obvious (see Cartman's response).  "Bo'sun" beer is too easy: What a bunch of bo'sun bullshit!  So, I think I'll go with Steamer:  This tastes worse than a Cleveland Steamer followed by a Santorum cocktail.

So let's recap, shall we?   PASS ON THIS GARBAGE.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oakshire Brewing Watershed IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Eugene, OR
Price: $4.99/22 oz
ABV: 7.1%
NSP: 9.23 (unscaled)

Beer #4 of the 2011 Portland BeerPlow. Oakshire is apparently a relative new kid on the block (yes, they're Hangin' Tough), opened in 2006. The website is impressively nondescript- it's pretty much 'This is our IPA, and it tastes like IPA.' The picture shows the head just a moment after the pour...where did it go? Who knows. The nose on this one's quite nice, really- well-balanced with good amounts of both malt and pine. The malt stays pretty strong on the flavor, but it's followed by a weird spoiled sour cream/cheese/butter (I guess dairy would be more succinct) thing. Something's just off. The finish isn't half bad, but man, that first spoiled shot just kills the whole deal. Maybe I got a bad bottle...but maybe I didn't. Not much more to say about it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Newcastle seasonal brews: pre-release review

Type: Newcastle
Origin: UK
Price: how much your mom cost me

The Newcastle folks were super cool and sent us (both east AND west coast correspondents!) three each of two new seasonal brews to sample: Winter IPA and Werewolf blood red ale.

Let's start with the winter IPA. I must disclaim that I am a bit of a hophead. My first impression of this beer was: it's a Newcastle (apparently the only type of beer they make), so for those of you fond of Newcastle, this one will be a win. The recipe tastes exactly like the standard Newcastle brew, with some subtle  hints of hops and maybe wintry spices if you use your imagination. I think they were trying to stick true to the typical Newcastle flavor to avoid distancing their long run customers. Personally, I would have labeled such a brew as an ale or maybe a pale ale, but by San Diego hop mountain standards it falls a bit closer to the ale side of the spectrum. Being an IPA fan, I have a hard time calling this one an IPA, but it's certainly closer than a standard Newcastle. I've come to expect a beer labelled 'winter' to have a bit more spice too, but maybe they're just talking about the season and not the style on that part of the name. All things considered, this was a tasty Newcastle-esque brew with more hops, hints of spice, and perhaps a slightly overambitious name.

On to the Werewolf blood red ale. Not photographed, but the label was sort of cool. If you ask me, this one was also strongly Newcastle flavored. And blood red was a bit of an overstatement. I did get a mean tingle down my spine when the moon came out though, and I recall a stronger urge to chase rabbits and other small animals, and also howl, so maybe there is something to this werewolf naming...

Magic Hat: Blind Faith

Type: east coast IPA
Origin: Vermont
Price: not bad
ABV: 6.2%

I distinctly recall this beer being another in a long series of malt shockers which welcomed me to the east coast. It was heavily bodied, and bitter enough to earn the name IPA, but only traditionally speaking. By newfangled west coast measure, especially in San Diego, this beer would be rated a weak barley wine. I think the thing they're missing is the dry hop stage, but they must also be full boiling the barley or blending it to smithereens to extract all the sugars, because there was little green hop nose and lots of heavy malt in there.

In hindsight, with the recent frost and blustery winds, I can sort of relate to the desire for a heartier beer, but I'm still tempted to call it something other than IPA. Apparently all beer is not like in San Diego, but I guess that's just part of the adventure.

Dogfish head: Namaste

Type: Witbier
Origin: Milton, DE
Price: not bad
ABV: 5%

It's nice writing about this tasty brew from almost six months ago which brings back memories of nice warm weather to temper the freaking ice collecting on my toes as I type.

One thing I especially recall being a bit disappointed in was the minor to absent hints of lemongrass. I really wanted to taste a reminder of the fine lemongrass flavors from my Thailand trip a while back. In a witbier, you generally get some orange and coriander flavors, but the lemongrass sounded new to me and got my stoke all up. When I drank it I tried and tried, but either there was no lemongrass flavor or I had some bad karma catching up with me as I sipped. Either way, it was otherwise a great refreshing beer, especially after I figured out how awesome freezing your glasses can be for drinking on hot summer days. So namaste or some other shit yogis say, for a laugh.

Moat Mountain: Barleywine

Type: Barley Wine
Origin: New Hampshire
Price: not bad
ABV: ?

I think I drank this one way back in the summer during a crazy humid/hot spell. The bottle came from Smiley's in Dover, NH where they live free and you can order pizza and beer for delivery.

As you can see, it wasn't very heady, and I recall it being yet another malt bomb in my east coast experience coming from the west. Sure there was a huge amount of alcohol, but not compared to the malt madness muddying my mouth. I couldn't even tell you if they put any hops in there, but there sure was a hell of a lot of malt flavor. Now that I've adjusted it might be fun to revisit, but I think I'll shoot for the brewery if I do.

Petrus Aged Pale

Type: Sour
Origin: Belgium
Price: $hit (maybe $10?)
ABV: 7.3%

Seriously, I haven't been AWOL all this time. Your friendly east coast correspondent has been staggering around doing his best to widely sample the brews of the east and holding up until inclement weather (presently well below freezing) to sit down with some hot beverage (maple buttered rye whiskey anyone?) to capture the jaunt. So here goes:

Ahh, another night at the Rabbit Club. This hole of a bar has more sours than they have business hording, but at least it's a nice go-to if you're looking for a new sour. They probably have several I still haven't tried. I don't remember how much I paid, but when I did it felt like I was throwing a bunch of cash down a hole just the same, enjoyably though. Clearly I had a great time.

This was a super light bodied and MEGA sour mess of a sour at first. After I adjusted to the sourness (it takes a while to get used to the ways of the rabbit hole), it became pleasantly drinkable. Still it was incredibly light bodied, but I definitely recall some fruity hints in there. Definitely not the beer for anyone but a sour fiend though.

Compare with my first review.

Chatoe Rogue Good Chit Pilsner

Type: Pilsner
Origin: Newport, OR
Price: $5.79/22 oz
ABV: 6.0%
NSP: 6.74 (unscaled)

Had to take a bit of a break from the Portland BeerPlow (work, illness, life, etc.), but here I am back with #3. I've never been much of a pilsner guy. I never really minded them, but I never hurried to drink them. If all pilsners tasted like this (or the deliciously refreshing Konig), I'd probably change my mind. The head was super thick and frothy, and took a long time to dissipate, which tried my patience because I was really thirsty at the time. The nose was super light, with a unique celery accent. The typical pilsner skunk is very delicate and fades quickly, transitioning from a light sourness to a nice sweetness the moment you swallow it. They spend a hell of a lot of time with the malt in this one, using a floor malting process usually reserved for single malt whisky, and it shows. The malt character has a lot of complexity despite being feather-light- exactly like it is in some of the best single malts (it made me wonder what a peated pilsner would be like...intriguing). It made me want to sit around and drink it all day...and I guess when you're talking pilsner, that's the point, right?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Deschutes Conflux No. 2

Type: White IPA
Origin: Bend, OR and Kansas City, MO (collaboration)
Price: $8 22 oz.
7.3% ABV
NSP 8.9

The conflux series of brews from Deschutes is meant to produce one-time only collaborations with other breweries that are out of state. Although this is tagged No. 2, it is the only conflux brew that has been released thus far (and no longer available). The recipe is designed in partnership with Boulevard Brewing Co. The concept is to combine Boulevard's expertise in wheat and belgian style beers with Deschutes local hop sources. As such the white IPA was born, a totally original combination from my experience.

The beer is GOOD. Not phenomenal, but definitely enjoyable. It's everything you expect from a wit- citrusy whiteness with a smooth finish- only complicated with excellent hoppy goodness. Well done indeed. Except for one thing. From what the boys and I could tell, it looks like somebody busted a load in our beer. Likely someone who has been eating lots of citrus for a week or maybe more. Check out all the sperm floaties in the pic.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Alchemist | Ninkasi | Stone collaboration: More Brown Than Black IPA

type: IPA
origin: Waterbury, VT; Eugene, OR; San Diego, CA
price: $3.29/12oz
abv: 7.4
websites: Alchemist | NinkasiStone

I'm obviously a big fan of the Stone collabs, but I'm not so sure about this one.  Our bro-dy Brent likes it, but he's a snob so scratch that from the record.  It's got some big-time hoppage going on, but not in an overwhelming way.   I'm not so stoked on the flavors, even though I'm intrigued at the idea of a brown IPA; I cant' say I've had that before.  It does have complexity on it's side though, so by the time I finished I still had no idea what I was really tasting.  I liked it enough to drink every drop, obviously, but I don't think I'll be quick to pick another up too soon.  I do hope they develop this idea further though...

Side note: According to the label the proceeds go to rebuilding the Achemy Brewery, which was apparently damaged by Hurricane Irene.  Not exactly cutting edge philanthropy, but certainly a great gesture.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Karl Strauss Two Tortugas

type: Holiday Quad Ale
origin: San Diego, CA, USA
price: $5
NSP: 16.8

I have had a lot of Karl beers and am generally not too impressed with them. Their IPA is good, but nothing special, and amber is eh. After looking at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) results a few months back I saw that Karl won bronze in the Belgium-Style Abbey Ale for this beer so figured I would give it a shot. This beer starts off with a malty laced head that quickly disappears, try to get a quick sip of it before the deliciousness goes away (I couldn't even get a pic of it). The pour is a dark red with a fruity raisin plum taste that is surprisingly great and very unique. Some people may think there is too much alcohol, however it is a fucking quad ale and shit I wish I had this beer to deal with the family for the holidays, oh well till next year. The beer is 11.1% and I would say just have one, especially when you are at bluefoot and they are serving it to you in a pint glass for $5. Another good find Speedway Stout at Livewire in a pint for $5. NSP to the Roof!

Kiuchi Brewery

1257, Kounosu, Naka-machi
Ibaraki-ken Naka-gun, 311-0133
+81 (0)29-298-0105

This post is several months overdue. I did so much shit last summer I needed time to distance myself from the experience and go back and revisit it purely via memory, photographs, and a few notes I jotted down. This has to be one of the most memorable side trips I took while visiting Japan. My hot girlfriend and I took a train out into the Jap boonies, where we could actually see some of the damage of the Tohoku-oki earthquake and were at risk of increased radiation levels. Speaking of, I think my balls have grown abnormally large in the last few months...

The Jap countryside is a sight to behold; it's absolutely mesmerizing. After almost vomiting with hatred of Tokyo (neither I nor the lady were very fond of the city), my love for the country was immediately renewed upon stepping off the train. We made our way towards the Kiuchi Brewery, fine purveyors of sake, and known in some parts of the states for brewing Hitachino Nest beer.
The ultra friendly staff gave us a tour of the sake brewery, which is defunct during the summer (the work is done in the winter and spring seasons). The beer is brewed elsewhere (on to that in a moment). We had a free taster of the Hitachino Nest white ale, which I had reviewed prior to coming here. My tasting notes having it fresh on draft from the brewery itself: "very mild aroma of wheat and citrus. Extremely delicate flavor, like a Japanese virgin. The water in Japan really is incredibly soft. This beer has far too much finesse. Light fruitiness and a mild herbal quality. No finish though :(". Sounds quite similar to my 1st review, but I must say, it really DOES grown on you.

We spent the rest of the time tasting sake, which is abso-fucking-lutely delicious. I'm now a HUGE fan of good sake, and in my opinion it gives grape wines a run for their money. We bought 2 bottles of sake (Daiginjo-shu is worth every god damned penny) and 2 bottles of umeshu, which is actually made from distilling their white ale, and the only sweet liqueur I would ever strongly consider having sex with, or using as lube.

After splurging, we went to the soba restaurant that is run by the brewery itself. The owner happened to be sitting next to us and noticed we couldn't speak the language for shit. So he got up and in the process interrupted his companions, came over and translated for us, and gave us a free bottle of their Nipponia ancient ale. Talk about fucking awesome. It gets even better. Not only is the soba the best we had in Japan, but after we finished eating, the owner offered to have us taken to their beer brewery. So the staffer who gave us a tour of the sake brewery drove us there, a 15 minute detour, told us about her experience with the earthquake, etc etc, and gave us a tour of the brewery. Now that's what I like to call an all natural big titty grade experience. I will be returning to this place ASAP.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Green Flash West Coast IPA

type: IPA
origin: San Diego, CA
price: 9/4-12oz
abv: 7.3% (I know this by heart **shudder**)
NSP: 11.5

I think I know what the secret is to this beer: A proper glass!  I know it get's (sometimes) a bad rap for being a massive hop-beast, but there really is an interesting malt backbone that's dug in like an Alabama tick.  But we ain't got time to bleed in this town, so it's always served in a dumbass pint glass.  Wrong idea.  I'm arguing that with the right glass (in my case, a hybrid pilsner/weiss glass) some rich aromas come flying down your nostril, which makes the "Extravagant" hopping a manageable beast and the backbone apparent.  Of course it's hoppy and bitter as shit Captain Obvious, but as SD beer drinkers we're becoming used to this level of hopping (Brendan's review) and almost expect it.  So why avoid it, especially if it can be accessible even to the faint of heart?  And with such a high NSP, you're basically stubborn if you don't at least give this a try.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ballast Point Calico

type: amber ale
origin: San Diego, CA
price: 8.99/6-pack 12oz
abv: 5.5%
NSP: 13.0

Just look at that color.  Isn't that a gorgeous beer?  In terms of the flavor, it's pretty refreshing but also complex.  It's not a hop bomb or a malt explosion like Dorado (their double IPA), but it is pleasantly malty and just complex enough to be interesting.  It's certainly not my favorite beer around, but a pretty great option for those trying to acclamate to beer.  Even so, there are plenty of good reasons this was the keg we brought on the Anniversary Tour.

And this was taken on Christmas day in San Diego.  It was pretty much hot and sunny outside.