Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Karl Strauss Tower 20 IIPA

type: double IPA
origin: San Diego, CA
price: $8/22oz
ABV: 9.5%
NSP: 7.7 (scaled)

Back in the day, Karl was a good option for people interested in trying different (i.e. not AB-InBev) brands of beer but not interested in challenging their palate.  Then the shit hit the San Diego beer-fan and at least five breweries in town could produce beers ten times tastier without the Stone pompousness; and now there are even more.

As I see it, Karl found themselves in the unenviable position of trying to catch up in quality and credibility, with their only edge being the size of their operation.  Within the last five years they clearly are coming to some sort of stride, but they've been quite  hit (Two Tortugas) and miss (Fullsuit) with their seasonal and specialty brews (let's not even talk about their "light" summer ale).  Perhaps they found a new brewmaster, but what's the motivation behind the "Oh shit we better produce quality beer" attitude?  Did they know their beer has always been sub-par, or did they realize most of it sucks?  I'll bet sales numbers tell a more vivid picture though.

So let's proceed under the assumption Karl's specialty brews are now of acceptable quality for their given NSP.  I've had this in my fridge for half a year, so the freshness of the hop character may have degraded.  Although I predict a dead last finish if it had been included in our DIPA tasting, this is not a bad double IPA.  (The scourge of bad-double-IPA is well described here.)  There's a hefty malt backbone, reasonably well-balanced bitterness, and some pleasant aromas.  No, the problem is the (scaled) NSP is too low relative to other San Diego beers in the same category, namely Alpine's Pure Hoppiness, Stone's Ruination, and Ballast's Dorado.   Call it what you will, bit I find that to be a liberating way to drink beer, and it's not based in snobbery at all.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Unibroue Trois Pistoles

Type: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Origin: Chambly, Quebec, Canada
Price: $8.49/4-pack (sampler)
ABV: 9.0%
NSP: 15.07 (unscaled)

Guess I went for the dark brooding motif with the photo for this one.  Kind of fits with the goth-ass bottle.

At this point I've got high expectations for these Quebecois bastards, after La Fin du Monde and Don De Dieu were so good.  Presumably this one's named after the town in Quebec.  Apparently the University of Western Ontario's French immersion program is based there.  Go Mustangs.

I could smell this from the moment I opened the bottle, but even after I'd spent several minutes with my nose in the glass, I wasn't sure what I'm smelling because there was so much going on with it.  There's nice Belgian funk, but it comes across soft and sweet, unlike the usual sourness of a Belgian pale or a tripel.  I suppose that's probably the malt talking- it seems to round off that sharp sourness you get with the lighter Belgian fare.  There's some cola-like smells in there, a bunch of spice (Christmas-type spices), and as the website says, rum.  It's pretty impressive, especially for a beer that cost just over two bucks.

The flavor isn't quite as complex as the nose, but that's not to say that it's underwhelming.  The Belgian funk is first and foremost, but again it's softened by the enhanced malt.  In the glass it looks like it's going to be pretty rich, but the carbonation's elevated so it cuts right through.  There aren't a lot of super-refined flavors to be found.  I'll just say that it's definitely the most rum-and-coke-ish beer I've ever had, which can be a feather in its cap (I'm in this category) or a reason to stay away, depending on your preference.

Another good offering from Unibroue.  I didn't like it as much as I did the other two, but someone had to come in third in that race.  I'm beginning to think that Unibroue should sponsor Non-Snob, because they seem to make beers that fall right in line with the target around here- really good, well-crafted beers that aren't so overly complex that you feel bad about just drinking them, highly boozy, not too expensive, and easy to find.  If that ain't Non-Snob, I don't know what is.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout

Type: American Stout
Origin: Dover, DE
Price: $9/6-pack (craft beer club)
ABV: 6.1% 
NSP: 14.44


Pretty warm day here in San Diego, so why not crack into a stout?  This one came with the last of my craft beer club shipments.  I'd avoided it for a while because it's summer and stouts aren't generally summery kinds of beer.  But then I looked a bit closer at the label and saw the words 'vanilla beans'.  Into my belly it goes.

They call this one 'Oak Barrel Stout'.  But on the back of the label and on the website, it says it's 'dry-hopped' with oak...chips.  I know 'Oak Chip Stout' doesn't quite have the same ring, but 'Oak Barrel Stout' is a bit misleading.  The bottle's a twist-off, which is only noteworthy because I'm not sure I'm aware of any other stouts that come in twist-offs.  The color's nice and stouty, dark and opaque.  The vanilla's there on the nose along with the usual roasted malt aromas, but it's pretty light...I guess that shouldn't be surprising, since this isn't called a Vanilla Oak Barrel Stout.  There's a touch of smoke, but the oak comes through stronger as an actual wood smell, which is interesting.

The flavor's more complex than I would've expected, but not all of the complexity is beneficial.  The roasted malt is of course there, while the vanilla only really comes out once the beer's warmed a bit, and even then it's pretty meek.  The oak is pretty unique, in that it brings some woodsy flavor (no way in hell I'm going to call it woody flavor with this crowd), but also a dry mouthfeel, like it does with wine and whisky.  There's also an odd sourness, a vinegary sort of thing that I'm not sure I like, and I don't know if it's from the oak or something else.  It kind of drags the beer down a bit because none of the other flavors are potent enough to hide it.

All in all not bad, especially because it's presumably cheap since it came from the craft beer club.  I'd like it more if they doubled the vanilla influence, because as it currently stands it feels like it's lacking something, and I don't think adding more oak would help. So maybe it's good that it's not actually a true Oak Barrel Stout.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Three Heads Loopy Oatmeal Red Ale

type: red ale
origin: Honeoye Falls (Rochester), NY
price: $5.50/16oz at Tap and Mallet
ABV: 6.5%
NSP: 5.6

This is definitely a red ale in the sense that it's dry (not overly sweet) and bitter, with some kick from the alcohol.  The great thing about, though, it is the smoothness imparted by the addition of oats in the mash.  So this ends up being a pretty unique and wonderful beer.  Sometimes creative-sounding beers can end up tasting like shit, but this is a testament to good brewing practices.  It's delicious, and unique, so I'll probably keep an eye out for 3HB in the future.  Hopefully I won't confuse it with those power-ballad monsters 3EB.

Monday, July 23, 2012

DIPA Blind Tasting: Heady Topper vs. Pliny The Elder vs. Pure Hoppiness

I opened my fridge the other day and had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity.  I saw that I had a can of Heady Topper (The Alchemist Brewery, Waterbury, VT, 8% ABV) and a bottle of Pliny the Elder (Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA, 8% ABV) sitting right next to each other on the bottom shelf.  As you may or may not be aware, these are two of Beer Advocate's current top 5 beers on the planet- #3 and #5, respectively, sitting behind the top-rated but nearly-impossible-to-find Pliny the Younger both overall and in the double/imperial IIPA category.  I figured, how often do you get a chance to put these two head-to-head since they're so narrowly distributed?  So I called in Andy, the Heady source, to join me in the excursion.  But then I saw that I also had a bottle of #94-ranked Pure Hoppiness (Alpine Beer Company, Alpine, CA, 8% ABV) lurking on the back of the shelf, and since it's my opinion that Alpine can stand toe-to-toe with anyone in the IPA market, I threw that into the mix as well.  To make the tasting blind even though only two of us were involved, we did a two-stage serving- Andy left the room while I poured a pair of each beer, and then I left the room while Andy marked each pair in random order.  And then at the end, we matched how I poured with how he marked.

The results:
1) Heady Topper
2) Pure Hoppiness
3) Pliny
1) Pure Hoppiness
2) Heady Topper
3) Pliny

The criteria for ranking these was extremely nit-picky, because they're all so incredibly well-crafted you really have to dig to find some way to separate them. Overall, none of them are overly bitter even though they're double IPAs.  This may be exactly why they're all so highly-regarded- they're powerfully hoppy, but not so bitter that you can't taste anything else.  Well, at least until you've had a couple, by then your palate's pretty shot. They all have similarly light body and are on the dry end, with the malt providing backbone and balance but not much else. 

Andy thought Pure Hoppiness tasted like hoppy ice cream- piny and citrusy with a buttery aspect.  I picked Pure Hoppiness #1 because I thought it achieved an excellent blend of pine and citrus hop flavors, with the citrus winning out- this strong citrus character is a hallmark of Alpine's IPAs and is the exact reason why I love them so much.  We both agreed that Heady was the most bitter of the three; Andy picked out a bit of smoke, which allowed him to identify it in the lineup. In addition to the enhanced bitterness, I thought that Heady also seemed a bit boozy (despite it being the same ABV as the other two), and thus generally the most potent- which is why I picked it #2 over Pliny, I liked the boozy, bitter punch it gave me.  We both felt that Pliny was a bit weak, bland, and lacking in complexity in comparison to the other two- which is of course not to say that we thought it was bad, it just didn't quite measure up.

As we finished the tasting, I remarked that I'd probably pick a different order if we did it again, and sure enough I reversed Pure Hoppiness and Heady on a second tasting.  I suppose it could've been because at that point my palate was beating a hasty retreat, and Heady's extra oomph allowed me to taste it a bit better than the other two.  Andy's second tasting ranked them identically to his first one, which shows that the megaboner he has for Heady exists for good reason.

So all in all, an interesting diversion and a good way to waste a Sunday afternoon. It's really unfortunate that all three of these breweries have such limited distribution- Alchemist isn't distributed to the west coast, Alpine isn't distributed to the east coast, and Russian River is undoubtedly a rare commodity on the east coast if it makes it over there at all.  Each of these beers is a masterpiece, and the only thing better than drinking one of them is drinking all three.

Pretty things: Meadowlark IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Cambridge, MA
Price: $7.99/22oz
ABV: 7% 
NSP: 5.7

Pretty things is probably one of the best things about Cambridge beer. A husband and wife pair run the whole operation, they have an awesome line of flavors, it's mostly found in Cambridge, and they don't actually own a brewery. All their beer is brewed, bottled and kegged at other local breweries, then distributed locally, and it all kicks ass.

This one is a nice crisp, clear IPA, with a mild hop nose and a stiff bittering which hangs around after each sip. There isn't the meaty malt typical of many east coast ipas, but there's plenty of body to temper the bitter. There's maybe even a hint of lager skunkiness... or maybe that's my neighbor joint wafting across their yard.

It certainly could hold it's own, but this evening being the hot summer variety, I pulled out some cold summer special pizza leftovers from Regina pizza in the north end, which complemented it reasonably. Definitely not a bad way to finish off a weekend of concerts and sailing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Beans

Type: Porter (smoked, plus vanilla)
Origin: Escondido, CA
Price: $2.99/12oz
ABV: 5.9%
NSP: 7.01

Kind of surprised Andy hasn't jumped all over this one for a review.  A ways back I asked him what he thought was the best porter in San Diego. He claimed without hesitation that it was Stone's Smoked Porter, which, in a second surprise, we also haven't yet reviewed. But whatever, I just saw they'd made a porter with vanilla beans, and since I'd eat an old boot if it was marinated in vanilla, I'm game.

I see that Stone put another novel that I don't want to read on the back of the bottle.  Since it's a 12-ouncer, it's written in roughly 2.5-point font.  Pretty much the only way I'd squint my way through it is if the bottle was in the bathroom and I was on the can and had already read the back of the toothpaste.  Anyway, the beer looks (dark but not fully opaque) and smells (portery with dark malts and coffee, plus a lot of vanilla and a touch of smoke) like a porter.  When I first poured it, the vanilla made it smell a bit astringent, but that thankfully faded quickly as it hung out in the glass.  As I continued to smell it, it almost brought an American strong ale to mind, because the vanilla gives it a lot of sweetness and it comes off a bit raisiny.

The flavor is, again, exactly what the title suggests.  Dark and coffee-bitter malt, smoke, vanilla. The carb is pretty poppy, which is a bit of a surprise, as most vanilla porters I've had tend to be a bit more creamy.  It's incredibly well-balanced, and they've done a really impressive job melding the smoke and vanilla together.  In other words, it tastes less of vanilla and smoke than it does of vanilla smoke- they're blended well enough that you can't really separate them into unique flavors.  It's one of the more uniquely-flavored beers I've had, because the smoke keeps it from being one of those beer ice cream-flavored vanilla porters (I love those).

I'm a big fan of this, no doubt about it.  I'm a bit curious what kind of wood they use to smoke the grain...it might be on the back of the bottle, but I'm not that curious. I'll try the chipotle version if I have a trusted source recommend it, but otherwise I'm not really a big fan of chile-flavored beer so I'll probably leave it to somebody else.  Anyway, put this in the top two of my list of the top two porters I've had of the last two porters I've had.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Harpoon Summer Ale

type: kolsch
origin: Windsor, VT
price: $14/12x12oz
ABV: 5.0%
NSP: 15.1

A well done Kolsch can inspire a massive day of drinking beer, as the surprisingly delicious Rock Bottom Kolsch proved.  So I'll use that as my reference point and say Harpoon's Kolsch isn't as crisp, but represents the style very well:  It's mild bodied, the color of straw, has a tinge of hops, and damn delicious.  On a humid summer afternoon, those traits make for a mighty refreshing ale.  For my fellow San Diegans, think Ballast Point's Yellowtail... without the suckage.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shmaltz/He'Brew Jewbelation Fifteen

Type: American Strong Ale
Origin: Saratoga Springs, NY
Price: $6.00/22 oz
ABV: 15.0% (!)
NSP: 16.25


I kept seeing this in the cooler at Pacific Liquor (an impressively terrible website) every time I stopped in on my way to Tiger Tiger and it always tempted me, especially because they'd had it on sale for $6 (down from $7.99) for the past couple of months.  Of course, after that long, it's not really a sale anymore, it's more of a "Let's get rid of this shit so we can use the cooler space for something that'll actually sell".  I figured, even if the beer's kind of old, it's a strong ale so it would've taken cellaring well, and it's been in the cooler, so what the hell, let's help Pacific out.

This beer was made in celebration of Shmaltz Brewing Company's 15th birthday, and it's composed of 15 malts, 15 hops, and 15% ABV.  The former two are clearly a gimmick, because having that much variety inevitably means that you'll just taste the average.  In all honesty, I expected this to be pretty heinous from the moment I bought it, because strong ales anywhere near this ABV are invariably over-the-top sweet.  And indeed, the pour immediately lets you know that you're in for a sugary malt bomb- it looks like beer- or cola-flavored cough syrup and smells incredibly sweet and raisiny.  I also thought I smelled plum, though I haven't eaten plums in quite a while so who knows.  But at least the nose had a touch of complexity and wasn't solely composed of sweet malt.

The following paragraph will probably sound heavily hyperbolic, but the extremities of this beer make it susceptible to hyperbole so bear with me.  This is really fucking sweet.  Teeth-rottingly sweet, the kind of thing that makes the muscles in your jaw seize up when you take a sip.  It's like drinking straight malt extract.  I think it's the first beer I've ever had that I could actually feel giving me Asian glow.  It's basically a liqueur- if you added anise to it, you'd pretty much have diet Jager.  I'm pretty sure by 15 hops they meant that they dunked a single hop berry of each varietal in the kettle for about 3 seconds apiece, because there's no hop character to be found anywhere.  As my friend Ronen said, it tastes like something Manischewitz would make, and is the beer equivalent to 'hammer wine' in that it starts giving you a pounding headache the moment you start drinking it.

So as you might imagine, I wasn't a big fan of this.  It's so sweet that there's just nothing else to it.  But I will say that in the sweetness lurks danger, and to me, if there's a redeeming quality to this beer, that's it- it's dangerous, and I like dangerous beers.  Even as you feel your teeth rotting, your head starting to pound, and a flush coming on if you're Asian, you find yourself returning for another sip. It's just like a bowl of candy- the sweetness, even if it's over-the-top, keeps you coming back even though you know you shouldn't and you don't really want to.  And at 15%, that's no small hazard.  So if you like strong ales (and I mean reeaaaalllly like them), I'd say give it a whirl, even though your head and your stomach may not thank you afterwards.  Otherwise, I'd say go after something more tame like a double IPA. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Russian River Row 2/Hill 56 Pale Ale

Type: American Pale Ale
Origin: Santa Rosa, CA
Price: $5.99/500mL
ABV: 5.8% 
NSP: 4.84

Saw this one on the bottle list at Bine and Vine and trundled right on over there to pick one up.  There aren't many breweries for whom I'll make a special trip, but Russian River's one of them. This is apparently part of a new, presumably all single-hop varietal line of beers from RRBC.  It's made with 100% Simcoe hops and is named after the specific location within the Yakima, WA hop yard in which Simcoe hops were created.  The label (which is pretty cool) indicates the three farms from which RRBC obtained the hops. It kind of strikes me as a winery-like approach in both craft and naming, and if anyone's going to do that, it'd be this Sonoma County powerhouse.

So, I admit that I'm not so much of a hop connoisseur that I know what Simcoe is supposed to smell and taste like.  But this sure seems like a good way to learn. There's not much to be discerned from the color, it looks like a pale ale.  The smell is definitely familiar, as it should be given Simcoe's general popularity- piny and citrusy, though initially a specific citrus fruit isn't really jumping out at me.

The flavor's similar, piny and citrusy in equal proportions, and quite delicious.  The bitterness is highly amplified relative to a run-of-the-mill pale ale- it's like a low-ABV (but not to the point of a session) IPA.  As it started to warm, the citrus in both the nose and the flavor morphed from not-all-that-identifiable to obvious grapefruit, while the pine stayed more or less constant.  Wait, that's kind of a dumb thing to say, who the hell knows what specific pine tree species taste like? Anyway, the body's nice and light, and the finish is super dry, so it's really drinkable- though it's not like you should be shotgunning this even if you could. This is one of the only pale ales I've ever had that I'd recommend taking enough time with to let it warm a fair bit- it really develops as it sits in the glass, and if it's ice cold the hop flavors will be muffled.  At the very end, I get something a bit metallic...or maybe more accurately minerally.  It's not off-putting or anything, just a little tinge that makes we wonder where it came from.  All in all, quite good, and edumacational to boot.  I'll be looking forward to other entries in the RRBC Hop Grower's series.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brasserie de l'Abbaye du Val Dieu Grand Cru

Type: Quadrupel
Origin: Aubel, Belgium
Price: $11.59/750 ml
ABV: 10.5% 
NSP: 6.49
website (no specific Grand Cru site)

I had a glass of this at the Beagle a couple of weeks ago and decided that I liked it enough to go after a bottle. Remember when I said that I'd love a root-beery quad?  This was the closest thing that I've had to that so far.  It's from an abbey in Belgium that has had its church destroyed four times- in 1287, 1574, 1683, and during the French Revolution.  What's the point of destroying an abbey?  Seems to me that it's a bunch of pious dudes hanging out, growing veggies, tending sheep, making cheese, and caring for the tired, poor, huddled masses, and then a bunch of rabblers have to come along and wreck their shit.  Maybe I'm wrong and the Cistercians were a bunch of roughhousers themselves, but if not it seems a bit unnecessary.

But that's long in the past.  The present involves beer (among other things, I'm sure), which is of course where my main interest lies.  The bottle gave me a nice hefty cough (I didn't ask it to turn its head first), and the carb seemed fairly heavy in the pour, at least relative to most quads I've had.  The color looks just like cola (whether in liter form or otherwise) or root beer, dark but not opaque.

The smell is interesting in that it's quite light. There's some Belgian yeast and dark fruitiness, plus a fair bit of sweetness.  And the root beer quality is there, but thinly, at least relative to the draught version.  The flavor follows the nose- it's immediately quite sweet and fruity.  The root beer is also there, but it's more like root beer barrels, the candy, than actual root beer.  It's the least alcohol-soaked-raisin-type quad I've had, which is a nice change of pace- but it also makes it feel like it's straddling the line between a quad and a dark strong ale, if there's even a line there to be straddled in the first place.  Maybe that's why they call it a grand cru, if it's not intended to be a straight quad.  The sweetness kind of cloaks a fairly light body, which also means that the booze factor comes through pretty strong all the way along- it's potent enough to make you recoil if you're not ready for it.  

The bottle seems to be less root-beery than I remember the Beagle offering being, but it's still closer to what I envision than any others I've had, and I like it a lot. And as with most beers of this type, it gets less complex and easier to drink the deeper into the bottle you get, so you can stop worrying about the details and just enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Harpoon IPA

type: IPA
origin: Windsor, VT
price: $14/12x12oz
ABV: 5.9%
NSP: 17.5

I've been infatuated with Harpoon since my first 100 Barrel series--their ESB--and I've been waiting to try a deeper selection.  In Vermont I found it impossible not to find Harpoon in the stores and on the taps, which is really encouraging: clearly Vermont knows beer.  When I bought this 12-pack I was quickly accosted by some Vermonter who said to me "THAT'S A VERY GOOD CHOICE." (And it sounded just like it reads in your head.)

As an IPA this is nothing like the West Coast style I've come to love.  But let that not be a detraction because this is good, and it makes me happy that I'm able to enjoy a completely different style of IPA without claiming some silly bullshit about West vs East.  That same silly bullshit killed Tupac and Biggie, and that shit was weak!

This beer is good because it's simple, and balanced. Easy on the palate, and nice on the buzz.  On the west coast we've become used to beers that try and push the limit, and consequently we may tend to forget the simpler beer-pleasures in life.  This is one of those beers that reminds you why we drink beer in the first place, so it should be obvious that this is damn refreshing too.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Unibroue Don De Dieu

Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Origin: Chambly, Quebec, Canada
Price: $8.49/4-pack (sampler)
ABV: 9.0%
NSP: 15.07 (unscaled)

Picked myself up a little Unibroue sampler pack at Trader Joe's the other day, much as Brendan did for the first few Unibroue reviews here (though the price has gone up...SOBs).  I figured that this way I get 48 oz of beer for the same price as a single bottle of La Fin du Monde, plus I get to try more stuff, and I also get to subject all of you to more of tripe I spew up on a regular (regurgular?) basis.  Anyway, this sampler was very different from the one Brendan had, containing La Fin du Monde (which I can just drink because I already reviewed it), Maudite, Trois Pistoles, and Don De Dieu, the last of which I am currently enjoying.  Don De Dieu means "Gift of God" ...I'm going to assume that they named it after one of the ships that assisted in the founding of Quebec City and not that Unibroue is bunch of cocky, pretentious bastards that think they have some sort of mandate of heaven.

It looks like a Belgian ale, but a filtered one, because it's not nearly as cloudy as most of them.  This is maybe a bit surprising, given that the bottle says it's a triple wheat ale, and most joints gleefully avoid filtering their wheat beers and advertise that fact on their labels.  But whatever.  It smells really nice, Belgian fruit, wheaty funk, and citrus, but somehow it's all soft, if that makes sense.  It's floral and lemony enough that it almost seems like it could've been a collaboration with Bath And Body Works, but in a good way.

The flavor deviates from the smell just a touch, if only because the lemony citrus prevails more than it did on the nose.  The Belgian yeastiness is relatively delicate, and takes a bit of a backseat to the citrus.  But that's by no means a weakness and was clearly the intent- you don't get a flavor like this by accident.  The carb is pretty strong and body's really light (=buuuuuuuurp), and the 9% is completely undetectable.  This seems like it'd be a great beer to session by the pool, except that after four or five of them you'd be facedown in the deep end.  Deliciously dangerous, and I'd definitely buy it again.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Founders Red Rye Pale Ale

type: rye pale ale
origin: Grand Rapids, MI
price: $5.50/16oz at Tap & Mallet (Rochester, NY)
ABV: 6.6%
NSP: 5.6

Coincidentally I was in Rochester for a wedding while RRBW was going on, and of course it was sold out.  But at least I got a chance to drool over the breweries setting up outside the Tap & Mallet, a fine establishment which had quite a nice selection of drafts, and an impressive bottle reserve (and a damn fine BLT!).

I've been looking to try Founders for a while now, since I hear good things (actually, I can't recall any specific recommendations, so I probably made that up), and the Mallet delivered.  This is definitely a pale ale in terms of body, but it's nice and bitter, not too hoppy, and has nice, deep, amber red color.  I find the term 'red ale' can be problematic sometimes, but with the addition of rye into the grain bill they really took this to 11.  Although this may have been The Mallet's fault, I found it to be a bit under carbonated.  Overall, a mighty fine beer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Einstok Olgerd Toasted Porter

Type: porter
Origin: Akureyri, Iceland
ABV: 6%

Chris gifted this badboy (hence no NSP) to me last weekend after I mentioned I have been to Akureyri before.  It is such a random place to get beer from in the US, so I was definitely intrigued.  Most beers of Iceland are pretty lackluster and there aren't many microbreweries due to the alcohol laws of the country which have large taxes on the production and sale of alcohol and also limits on the ABVs (without special permits).  If I remember right, I did have a few sips of the pale ale in Akureyri when my friend Thomas ordered it in a bar to get something different.  I believe the price was $9 in a bar for a 12 oz as opposed to $7 for a half liter of Viking Stout.  Fucking Scandinavia.
          Anyways, this is a pretty enjoyable porter.  It isn't gimmicky or oppressive, it is just done well.  You can definitely pick up the toasted malts which give it a nice clean toffee and chocolate taste.  It also is a bit buttery and is incredibly drinkable.  It is definitely a much lighter porter than most, and I would probably suggest this as a beginners porter (say for your kids 18th birthday) since it would be hard to truly dislike this.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ska Special ESB

type: ESB
origin: Durango, CO
price: $5/12oz
ABV: 5%
NSP: 3.6

Tiger Tiger can come through pretty big sometimes, especially with their option for 1 liter beers

 ** PAUSE: Oktoberfest flashbacks!!!

And... I'm back.   So, I was pretty excited to see Ska on their tap board, especially something I've not yet tried.  I've been a fan of Ska since Decadent, but not everything has been peaches-and-cream (e.g. Pinstripe), so I try as much of their beer as I can to try and pin down my feelings on them.  Let's talk about our feelings shall we?  

This is a decent ESB, but not really worth it for such a low NSP.  I really enjoy biscuity, tangy English bitters once in a while, and this doesn't disappoint in that regard.  Although I found it to be a but to sweet (in other words not dry enough), everything else about it was still quite satisfying.  Then again, maybe that was because Tiger gave me a free coozie.  Fuck yeah, free coozie!