Wednesday, October 31, 2012

La Fin Du Monde - Unibroue #1 Tom

Hey everyone, so here it is my first review finally. For my first crack we are going to look at a great Tripel brewed by Unibroue called La Fin Du Monde (French for "The End of the World.") This is a really popular brew from Unibroue that is highly rated and sought after so sometimes it may be out of stock at your local store. You can usually find it in 12oz 4 packs or 750ml bottles. But anyway this is definitely one of my favorite brews and definitely my favorite Tripel by far, so lets get to the review! 
The Big Guns 

Beer Advocate (solid 100 from the bros!) 

La Fin Du Monde
(9%ABV, 19 IBU) 

Brew was slow poured from a 355ml bottle into a tulip glass leaving a little bit of the sediment remains in the bottle.
Brew poured a very cloudy golden color which is natural for a Tripel. There was a big clean head which faded rather quick leaving a thin lining floating about. There is also a great amount of beautiful lacing left around the glass. This is one of the cleanest looking beers that I can remember too.
 Here we go, so I always find myself giving Belgium's an extra sniff because to me their smells are so complex and hard to pull apart. But with this one you get a huge floral scent that is backed with a ton of orange and coriander with some ripe bananas in the mix. Once another sniff or two is given you get a huge spicy nose mixed with hints of honey. With the beer being at 9% you can smell some of the alcohol but not too much. 
Once you first sip this beer its like a mouth full of Belgium ballet dancers spinning about on your taste buds that sends your senses soaring! This beer really pacts an array of truly amazing blend of flavors throughout. The abundance of flavors running about this brew is quite impressive when the balance so well. There is a strong fruit presence with a spicy backing. The orange and coriander really mix great with the glove and nutmeg spice all blending superbly as one. The beer definitely has some warmth to it from its 9% base. La Fin Du Monde has a great smooth dry finish.

Overall as you could imagine I was greatly impressed. This is not the first time I have had this beer and I routinely have it in my cellar in 750ml form. Its a great beer to have around for those times you really need a Tripel fixing and it cellars great too! But it seams every time I enjoy a glass of this I find new scents and flavors throughout. Though this is my first review here, this brew is definitely a game changer and should be tried by every beer lover out there. I have to give this one a solid big A+ for its extreme complexity and balance it provides. 

 If you have had this brew before drop us a comment and let us know what you thought of it!
Or suggest some new brews for us to send a review out about. 
Thanks for reading!

Tallgrass Oasis - Gus #12

Today's brew is from the brewery that I had my first canned craft beer from.  As far as I know their beer only comes in cans if not on draught.  And these cans are 16oz full sized pint cans.   I really like a couple of their beers so look to see more from them in other reviews.  The one for today is one that really stands out.  It's my second favorite from them.  It's one of those brews that could fall into two different categories.  They call it an Imperial ESB but it could also be considered a double IPA.  Let's get into the review of Tallgrass Oasis.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from Tallgrass's website:
(ABV 7.2%, 93 IBU)

"Oasis is a Double ESB/IPAish beer that came about from playing around with one of Jeff’s favorite homebrew recipes.  Here at Tallgrass we love malt and we love hops, and this beer has both of them in record quantities; well, at least records for our baby brewery.  
At a hefty 7.2% ABV and 93 IBU, Oasis is a big beer that has to be priced a bit higher than our regular line of beers.  We think that once you taste the over-the-top hops and surprisingly sturdy malt backbone you will realize why it’s worth it.  
Definitely not a fruit-extract seasonal shandy, this beer is meant to be enjoyed on the back porch, the front porch, or even on the stoop.  What's a stoop?  Well, it's a good place to drink beer, is what it is."

I poured this brew into a pint/shaker glass.

Appearance:  Hazy dark amber/orange almost copper in color.  Not clear at all.  Multi-sized bubble two finger head.  Has a very soapy appearance.  Heavy lacing on the glass.  No real signs of alcohol legs.  At 7.2% ABV I wouldn't really expect too many.  It has the classic IPA look to it.  Little darker and hazier than a regular pale ale.  So the Imperial ESB name fits perfect.  I like the look of this beer a lot.  I love that the lacing sticks on the glass so well.

Aroma:   Very hop forward on the nose.  Citrus and piney with a malty sweetness.  Little bit of an earthy undertone as well.  Kind of a grassy aroma.  Slight bit of spice and grapefruit.  Maybe a hint of lemon zest in there.  Do pick up some caramel in there too.  Definitely has some sweet notes in there.  It blends with the hops very nicely to create a good balance.  Hints of floral bits in there.  I really like the earthy tones that are coming out more now.  Kind of like wet grass more than wet hay.  Definitely not anything funky in there.  Mixed somewhere in there is a bready yeast aroma.  Again very nice aroma to this beer.

Taste:  Fruity and citrusy right at the front of the tongue.  Hop forward again followed by a sweet malt backbone in the middle of the mouth.  A lot of caramel in this one.  I do get a little floral and spice notes.  The earthy flavors are there as well.  I'm pleasantly surprised by how much the caramel is in there with out making it too sweet.  The bitterness of the hops works with it nicely to hide the sweetness.  Perfect balance in the two.  Medium-light mouthfeel.

Verdict:   I was very impressed with this beer.  This not being the first time I've had it I was able to dig a little deeper and find some more things in there.  It's such a good mix of bitterness and sweetness.  It did give me the hoppiness that I love but also gave me the malty undertones to make it a better package.  Tallgrass does a lot of their brews well.  I'm going to give this one an A-.  It's not going to change the game but it is very, very good.  My brother-in-law loved it.  I'm working on getting him into some other beers.  I had a feeling he would like this one.  

Again, comment if you have had this brew and let me know what you think.  If you have a Google account click the link on the right side to follow.  If you want to keep up and don't have a Google account, just enter your email in the space under the title to get updates when I post a new one.  Thanks for reading!



Monday, October 29, 2012

Napa Smith Bonfire - Gus #11

In light of the cold weather we have had the past few days, I decided to pull something out of the cellar.  I looked around to find something to warm me up. Then I noticed I still had this one.  This is a 2011 vintage bottle.   I picked it up one weekend in Memphis.  It's described as a winter warmer, so I figured it would do the trick.  This is the second beer I've reviewed from this brewery.  This one is Napa Smith's Bonfire.  It is a winter seasonal for them and should be coming out for 2012 very soon if it hasn't already started showing up in places.  I'll be grabbing a fresh bottle to have this year too.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from Napa Smith's website:
About the Beer:
Imperial Porter
An obscenely dry-hopped ale
Available:  Winter
Alcohol by Volume:  8.0%
Color:  Dark Chocolate
Bitterness:  30 IBUs
Pairs with:  Stews, short ribs and chocolate
Available in:  12oz, 22oz, 1/6 bbl kegs, 1/2 bbl kegs

"Each year we produce a limited amount of Bonfire Imperial Porter to complement the winter season.  Bonfire has a medium-full body, with complex coffee, chocolate and dark caramel flavors.  The spicy character given by additions of Mt. Hood, Cluster and Perle hops balance the generous malt presence, which finishes with a subtle sweetness.  Bonfire will please lovers of big, smooth dark beers.  Try our winter warmer - and set the night on fire."

I poured this brew into a 10oz snifter glass.

Appearance:  It pours very dark in color, but it is relatively clear.  Holding it up to the light it has a reddish, brown body with lighter hues around the edges of the glass.  Poured with a fingers worth of a tan head that dissipated quickly.  It really reminded me of a cola with it's appearance and head.  Pretty good head lacing and minimal alcohol legs.  Overall a very good looking porter.

Aroma:  Right at the front of the nose there are big dark fruit notes.  Black cherries mixed in with some raisins.  Then some of the dark chocolate bitterness shows up.  Not a whole lot of malt sweetness in there.  Maybe a slight bit of alcohol sweetness.  This being a 2011 vintage bottle any of the big noticeable alcohol flavors have probably subsided or turned into the sweetness.  Not a bad aroma at all but I do wish there were more roasted notes.  There is a slight smokiness in there but nothing just jumping out at you.

Taste:  Again the dark friends are right up front.  Some black cherry, hints of raisins or some type of pitted fruit.  Maybe some fig or prune.  Actually a slight hint of dried cranberry as well.  Pretty light on the mouthfeel with good carbonation.  Back of the throat has some of the roasted coffee and smokiness I was looking for but the big players are still the dark fruits.  Not much bitterness in there on the taste.  A lot sweeter than I expected.  This was probably due to the bottle being a year old.  

Verdict:  This is a nice porter.  And it did just what the brewery describes.  It gave me just the right amount to warm me up a bit.  I really enjoyed the dark fruit flavors.  It was lacking in some of the roasted notes but the age of the bottle probably had an effect on that.  I'm going to give this one a B.  A pretty good porter overall.

So if you are looking for something to warm you up on a chilly night, look for a porter, stout or winter warmer give this one a shot if you can find it.  I'd love to have this around a fire with a nice cigar or maybe try it with the roast as they suggest.  It would definitely pair well with heavier deserts with the lighter mouthfeel.  Until next time comment, subscribe or follow my blog using the tab on the right.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Bell's Two Hearted Ale - Gus #10

Today's brew comes from Bell's Brewery out of Kalamazoo and Comstock Michigan.  It's another India Pale Ale.  This one again receives a lot of attention on the big beer rating websites and through out forums.  Since it garnered so much attention I decided to seek it out.  It's not available anywhere around me as Bell's does not distribute here.  A good friend of mine found it for me in Birmingham, AL and brought me some when she came to visit.  Thanks Katy!  Let's get to the review of Bell's Two Hearted Ale.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from Bell's website:
"Bell's Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma an malt balance.  Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas.  A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell's house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.

Alcohol by Volume:  7.0%
Original Gravity:  1.064
Shelf Life:  6 months
Dates Available:  Year Round
Available Packages:  Bottle, draft, and 5 liter (1.32 gal.) mini-keg (limited)

I poured this brew into a pint/shaker glass.

Appearance:  Hazy dark orange, almost amber in color.  It's definitely lighter around the edges of the glass.  A yellowish-orange overall.  Poured with a very bubbly finger and a half head.  Super sticky lacing all around the glass.  Not really any alcohol legs to speak of.  A very nice looking IPA.  Take a look at the lacing below.  Nuts!

Aroma:  Huge sweet fruit notes.  Mango mixed with some ruby red grapefruit.  It actually smells "juicy" if that is even possible.  Little bit of that tangy "sweet tart" candy aroma that I prefer in my IPAs.  That sour, tart candy smell always makes my mouth start watering as soon as I pick it up.  Also pick of some of that piney resin aroma they described.  Smells like it's going to be a good brew.

Taste:  Very sweet flavor right up front.  Fruity and juicy much like the aroma.  Citrus notes that overwhelm your nose when you turn the glass back.  A smooth, medium mouthfeel with a spicy, honey flavored finish.  Aftertaste has a hint of apple and sweet, sour candy note.  Very refreshing!

Verdict:  I can definitely see why this brew is so heavily regarded.  Such a good representation of the style.  Super easy to drink.  I'd love to have this with a nice tuna steak sandwich or a big club sandwich.  Wish we got this brew here.  This was picked up by one of my friends in Alabama.  Since they are getting it maybe soon we will too.  I'm going to give Bell's Two Hearted Ale an A.  Very good stuff.  I could see it being a staple in my fridge if we do start to get access to it.

Remember to comment below and tell me what you think, if you have had this brew.  Also subscribe and let me know if there is a brew out there you want me to review.  Thanks for reading.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Founders Breakfast Stout - Gus #9

Wednesday's brew is one that has garnered a praise and a following from people all over the country.  It's a seasonal beer that people load up on cases of to have whenever they want.  And some for trades too I'm betting.  It is a big imperial stout (all smiles from me.)  A double chocolate, coffee, oatmeal stout to be precise.  Every bit of that sounds amazing.  Will it hold up to the hype and does it deserve the following it has?  Let's see.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from the Founders website:
"The coffee lover's consumate beer.  Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever.

ABV:  8.3%
IBUs:  60
Availability:  Sep-Feb

I poured this brew into a snifter glass.

Appearance:  Pours motor oil black.  It actually seems to be just as viscous as used motor oil.  It has a sold two finger head of mocha colored head.  Very tight bubbles.  Thick lacing all around the glass and visible alcohol legs in there as well.  Pretty decent head retention.  Over time it gave way to a ring with a few bubbles.  No light getting through at all.  Looks like a cup of coffee.  Pretty dark in color with some brown hues instead of just being jet black.  That may be from the bubbles in the head.  Very nice looking stout.

Aroma:   Dark coffee aromas spilling over the glass.  Hints of toasted malts with milk chocolate undertones.  A dark chocolate aroma is present in there as well.  Slight bit of a hop spice/bitterness in there.  Not a trace of alcohol in there to me.  They hide the 8.3% ABV very well.  Slight cinnamon hints in there.  Overall just big, big coffee notes.  Just like smelling early morning coffee.  And you ground that coffee yourself and brewed it in a french press.  That's how good it smells.

Taste:  Instantly noticed the creamy, smooth mouthfeel.  Oatmeal really helped out in this brew.  Immediate coffee flavors, big dark roasted coffees.  Then hints of the dark chocolate come in.  Super roasty and nice.  Finish is so much coffee and dark chocolate.  Hints of sweetness from the malts.  I feel as if I've just had my morning coffee.  Black with one sugar.  Again no alcohol taste.  Very easy to drink but could also be enjoyed as a sipper.  

Verdict:  Such a hyped beer but it deserves all that hype.  Everything in this beer works together flawlessly.  The coffee notes really stand out and make it deserving of it's "Breakfast Stout" name.  For pairings I'm going to go with a half stack of pancakes or a golden waffle with breakfast sausage links.  You could drink this as a breakfast beer but I love to have breakfast at dinner time or "brinner."  It would also be a great substitute for after dinner coffee.  Definitely an A+ from me.  One of the best I've had in my favorite style of brews.  

Let me know if you have had this one from Founders.  It is limited in availability as far as distribution.  If you have let me know what you think.  I'm pretty confident that all stout lovers will like this one.  Thanks for reading!



Monday, October 22, 2012

Red Brick Brick Mason Double IPA - Gus #8

This is my second attempt at reviewing this beer.  I had the entire thing done and ready to publish and some how I deleted the whole thing.  So I had to start over.  Here it is... Again. HA HA

This beer comes out of Red Brick Brewing Company in Atlanta, GA.  It is part of their rotating series called Brick Mason.  They have four different beers that come out throughout the year.  Some stay the same each year and some change.  The one I am reviewing today is their Brick Mason Double IPA.  This is one of my favorite styles of brew.  Let's see how it does.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:
Information from Red Brick's website:

Brick Mason
Double IPA

Hops:  Apollo, Bravo, Columbus, Centenial , Cascade.

IBUs:  90

ABV:  9.5%

"This limited release is a hoppy brew that is sure to please your senses and assault your taste buds... in a good way, of course!"

I poured this brew into a 10oz Red Brick Brick Mason tulip glass.

Appearance:  Golden, yellow with and orange tint to it.  Slightly hazy appearance.  Solid two finger head with a good amount of lacing on the glass as well.  Do pick up some alcohol legs in there as well.  One thing I noticed instantly after the poor was the amount of sediment that is in there.  Definitely a bottle conditioned beer.  Overall a pretty good looking double/imperial IPA.

Aroma:  Definitely get some of those citrusy notes right at the beginning.  Grapefruit with hints of other citrus fruits as well.  Little bit of that tart candy smell too.  Slight piney, resinous aromas.  But surprisingly nothing really huge on the nose.  Nothing very prominent or bursting out.

Taste:  Mostly floral up front with a with a honey sweetness.  Not too much front of the palate bitterness.  Do pick up the typical grapefruit flavors.  Middle of the palate to the back of the mouth the bitterness does start to creep up.  There are some bread-like yeast flavors from the sediment in there too. 

Verdict:  This is a pretty good double IPA but it is lacking for me in some areas.  I really would have liked for the nose a lot bigger and have a few things stand out.  Appearance won out as being the best thing about this brew.  The taste was good but nothing too great.  Overall this is going to be B in my book.  Some of the other beers I've had in the Brick Mason series have been better.  Look for reviews to come on those.

Remember to comment below and tell me what you think, if you have had this brew.  Also subscribe and let me know if there is a brew out there you want me to review.  Thanks for reading.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Victory Storm King Imperial Stout - Gus #7

This brew today comes from Victory Brewing Company out of Downingtown, PA.  It has received a lot of great reviews and came recommended to me by Tom in NJ.  He sent me a bottle down in a trade.  With stouts being my favorite style of beer, I was excited to try it.  Here is the review for Victory's Storm King Imperial Stout.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from Victory's website:
Malts:  Imported 2 row
Hops:  American whole flowers
ABV:  9.1%

"With a huge, Pacific Northwest hop aroma & character upfront, Storm King subsides into massive, roast malt complexity.  Rich and substantial, it will warm your heart."

I poured the 12oz bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Appearance:  Pours jet black.  Looks to be a pretty think body on it.  There are thicker pouring stouts but this one looks great.  A solid one finger head of creamy, slightly mocha-brown head.  I didn't really pour it aggressively.  Very dark appearance after it has settled.  Almost no light coming through.  Maybe a little on the edges of the glass.  Showing a very deep red, dark brown color.  There is some carbonation streaming up the side of the glass.  Very good lacing on this one as well as some alcohol legs.

Aroma:  Up front it really has more of a hoppy aroma than the malt base one would expect.  Slightly spicy and floral.  Pine notes in there as well.  After that I do pick up the coffee notes.  Some roasted malts.  Slight caramel and toffee aromas.  Big dark chocolate bitterness that mixes well with the hops.  Really interesting to have such a hop forward stout.  I really enjoyed the aroma on this one as something different than the norm.  After it warmed a bit there was more of the creamy coffee smell.

Taste:  Same as the nose, an instant hop bitterness up front.  More of a floral character to it.  Then the sweet coffee flavors just coat the mouth.  Traces of that dark chocolate that are very nice.  It's so interesting how the hops are right up front but give way to malt flavors as it hits mid palate.  Really has that complex Black IPA feel to it.  Pretty heavy mouthfeel to it.  Maybe just a slight alcohol taste in there but it's not really warming the back of the throat or standing out too much.  Very well hidden I believe.  Super drinkable being 9.1% ABV.  

Verdict:  A very nice take on an imperial stout.  Creamy but not too thick.  Lots of good malt characters while still getting the hop characteristics.  I would like to cellar one of these to see if the hops held up.  If they did die off it would be interesting to see what the malts alone would be like.  Being a year round offering and readily available, I'm going to give this one an A-.  Really nice stuff from Victory.  If I could get more of their stuff regularly I would be a happy fella.  I've had a few other brews from them and those were great as well.

Let me know what you think of this brew if you have had it.  It really was enjoyable to me being that it was a hoppy stout.  I would love to pair this with a good cheese plate or an after meal drink.  That's how I like most of my stouts.  Really close to those Black IPAs out there.  Again very, very nice.

Thanks for reading!



Friday, October 19, 2012

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout - Gus #6

Today's brew review is one of my favorite beers.  It's the benchmark for which I judge all big stouts.  If it's better than this then it's going to be fantastic.  If it's right there at it it's a really good stout.  It's readily available almost anywhere.  We can even get it pretty much everywhere here in the still young to craft beer state of Mississippi.  I'm talking about the North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from North Coast's website:
Vital Statistics
Style:  Russian Imperial Stout
Color:  Black
ABV:  9%
Bitterness:  75 IBUs

"Produced in the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia's Catherine the Great, Old Rasputin seems to develop a cult following wherever it goes.  It's a rich, intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish.
The Old Rasputin brand image is a drawing of Rasputin with a phrase in Russian encircling it - A sincere friend is not born instantly."

I poured this brew into a snifter glass.

Appearance:  Poured oily, jet black.  No light coming through anywhere at all.  Not even on the edges of the glass.  I mean this thing is tar black.  Thick, multi-sized bubble head.  The head was actually two different colors at first.  Almost two different heads.  A darker, tighter bubbled head under a tan, larger bubbled head.  Mild carbonation streaming up the glass.  The classic appearance of a Russian Imperial Stout.

Aroma:  Huge roasted notes coming off this brew.  Sweet malts and lots of chocolate undertones.  Milk chocolate aromas but also a little bit of the bitter dark chocolate too.  Hints of spicy hop aromas are in there as well.  It is relatively high in  IBUs for a stout so I can see that.  It's nice to have a hop aroma in a stout like that.  Ever so slight coffee notes as well.  

Taste:  Again, huge roasted , almost smoky flavors.  The sweet milk chocolate hints are second to the roasted coffee taste.  A sweet alcohol hint as well.  Slightly warms the back of the throat.  That's ok when the brew is 9% ABV.  Definitely not off putting at all.  Such a creamy smooth mouthfeel as well.  Definitely a very easy drinker too.  

Verdict:  Simply one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts out there.  So many good reviews to back it up as well.  All of the amazing qualities in a beer almost anyone can get.  All those things put together make it hard not to give this brew an A+.  Like I said it's my benchmark for imperial stouts.  Anything as good as or better than this is an amazing, amazing stout.

As far as pairings.  This would go great as an after dinner brew.  Something to sip like after dinner coffee.  I think it would pair well with cheesecake, brownies or a German chocolate cake.  Anything dessert related really.  Let me know what you think of this beer.  If someone is wanting to get into craft beers and see what a quality brew is like, they should definitely try Old Rasputin.  I love to keep this on hand.  I have some cellaring now to see if it will change over time.  I'm sure it will when the hops die off and the sweetness comes out.

Thanks for reading!



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Napa Smith Hopageddon - Gus #5

Today's brew is one of my favorite "new beers" to Mississippi.  I first had it at the Top of the Hops beer festival here.  It was just after our beer laws changed to allow high gravity beers to be sold in Mississippi.  As soon as I tried it, it became one of my favorites.  So I rushed home and pulled it up online to see it was only served on draught.  I was so bummed.  Then on a trip to my local brew store, I noticed it sitting in there in a 22oz bomber!  I was pumped.  I scooped up three bottles and rushed home.  I had to try it again.  I have recently learned that this has become a year round brew and now comes in 4-pack 12oz bottles.  This excited me even more.  I can now get one of my favorite brews anytime I want and not have to get it in a bomber.  I like bombers but sometimes you just want one glass if you don't have anyone to share it with.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from Napa Smith's website:
About the Beer:
Imperial Oak-Aged IPA
An obscenely dry-hopped ale
Now Available Year Round:  Available in 4-Packs of 12oz bottles, 22oz bottles, 5.2 gal. draught cylinders and 15.5 gal. draught kegs
Alcohol by Volume:  9.2%
Color:  Fiery Orange
Bitterness:  144 IBUs
CO2:  2.6 Vol.
Original Gravity:  19.6 Balling
Hops:  Chinook, Cascade, Warrior, Columbus, Mt. Hood and Centennial

"You can pray to the Hop Gods all you want... You'll never find another IPA like this one."

“Hopageddon is an end-of-the-world imperial IPA that defies expectations and induces an intense hop-stupor that will leave you wondering what just happened.  At 144 IBUs, Hopageddon glows with a gorgeous fiery orange color and showcases a distinct, full white head.  The added character is given by the Chardonnay and Cabernet barrels accentuates explosive papaya and lychee flavors along with herbaceous aromas.  Chewy, grassy, wet-hop flavors, hints of dried appricot, and impressions of barrel tannins are evident in multiple latyers.  The distinct barrel-hopped flavors and shockwave of bitterness lingers on teh palate and leaves hopheads with a post-ahopalyptic yearning for more.”

"Can you survive the Hopageddon?"

I poured this brew into a 12oz tulip glass.

Appearance:  Dark orange almost red in color (fiery orange as the brewery says.)  Pretty much glowing in the glass.  On the border of hazy.  But that could be from chill haze.  This thing is barrel hopped so it could be from that.  It's got a solid finger and a half of tight white bubble head.  Decent head retention but at just over 9% ABV it did finally give way to a ring with an island of bubbles floating in the glass.  Good amount a head lacing and definitely traces of alcohol legs on the glass.

Aroma:  Huge hop aroma from this brew.  When I popped the cap it instantly hit my nose on this one.  Big citrus notes.  Grapefruit, mango, a little orange like an orange juice smell in there.  Maybe a little orange zest.  Definitely sweet aromas as well.  Resiny, floral and fruit notes too.  This thing is very, very complex and big.  Little hints of sweet malts in there.  A wine type astringent smell coming from being aged in the wine bottles I'm assuming.  Very nice smelling brew.

Taste:  First thing that hits my mouth is that bitter, sour candy flavor.  Almost makes your mouth pucker up.  It's powerful but enjoyable at the same time.  The first sip was very surprising.  Then you start to get citrus notes.  Grapefruit is the big player in this one.  Then some mango and orange flavors.  It really has a medium mouthfeel.  Back of the tongue the sour hints come in nice.  It has a very pleasant aftertaste.  Everything kind of blends and mellows out back there.

As it warmed up a bit the sweet flavors really started to shine.  I really enjoyed that with the mixture of all the hops that were in this brew.  It can be compared to drinking white grapefruit juice then switching to ruby red.

Verdict:  .I really, really like this brew.  It's becoming one of my favorites.  And now that it is available year round I can see myself having it in the fridge often.  I may try to cellar a bottle since it is a barrel-aged beer.  It will be interesting to see what comes out after some of the hops die out.  This one really does everything I want a big IPA to do.  The wine barrel characteristics give it that added boost.  I'm going to give this one an A.  Such a good beer.

Grab a bottle and try it out.  Let me know what you think of it.  Napa Smith is pretty wide spread.  And now that it has moved form a draught only and limited release to a year round I expect this one to start popping up more places.  



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer - Gus #4

The brew for today also fits in a Halloween theme.  It comes from Clown Shoes Beer brewed by Mercury Brewing Co. in Ipswich, MA.  When I had this brew it was called an Imperial American Stout.  Newer labels have it styled as an Smoked Imperial Stout.  Either way the brew is named Vampire Slayer.  This is Clown Shoe's 2nd Anniversary brew.  All of the beers I have had from them have been outstanding.  Let's get into the review of this one.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Not a whole lot of information from their website.  But here is what I found there, on the label and throughout the interwebz:
About the Beer:
Style:  Smoked Imperial Stout
Alcohol by Volume:  11%
IBUs:  Unknown

"In a world full of uncertainty, hardship, and people trying to hold us back, do we need Vampires, too? Clown Shoes says, 'No! Die, monsters, die!'"

"Our second anniversary ale incorporates signature dark malts, holy water, and malt smoked locally with hickory, ash, and vampire killing stakes."

As you can tell, not a lot of information out there about this brew.  But, with a write up like that, how can it not be good?

I poured this brew into a 12oz tulip glass.

Appearance:  The brew poured gloomy, black as night.  No light getting through this thing anywhere.  Poured with a thick, brownish, khaki head.  The tight bubbled head gave way to a thinner 1/4th of a finger film just on the top.  Very heavy lacing and visible alcohol legs.  Almost an oily look to it with a film remaining on the glass when it is swirled.  All together a very nice looking imperial stout.

Aroma:  First thing to hit the nose is a huge coffee and dark chocolate aromas.  Then heavy, malty caramel notes start to creep in.  It smells of both dark and milk chocolate.  A smoky back bone is in there as well.  Actually if you dig deep you get a little bit of a hop bitterness.  What is so surprising is there is not any alcohol smell at all.  That's pretty nuts for this being such a big brew.  They have hidden the 11% ABV very, very well.

Taste:  Holy crap.  Big, big, sweet chocolate taste.  Definitely pick up some coffee, even a slight toffee taste as well.  Hints of smokiness in there but nothing heavy.  Mostly big dark and milk chocolate flavors.  Again no trace of the alcohol in there.  As it warms up more of the sweetness comes out.  Not really even an alcohol warmth on the back of the throat from this one.  Very nicely done.

Verdict:  This is one amazing stout.  It has moved very high on my list.  Super smooth and very drinkable.  Almost scary drinkable at 11% alcohol by volume.  When you drink it you will have to show some restraint and savor this one.  I plan to pick up a few more bottles since it is the anniversary brew and hold on to a couple.  I'm sure these will cellar well being such high alcohol content.  I'm going to have to give this brew an A+.  The alcohol is hidden so well and it's a superb stout.  The smoky flavors blend in so well.

Something like this is best served alone in my opinion.  But if you were going to pair it with something, a good smoked brisket would be good.  Or even some desserts.  I'd like to try this with a nice cigar as well.  Try some things out and let me know how it pairs.

Remember to comment below and tell me what you think, if you have had this brew.  Also subscribe and let me know if there is a brew out there you want me to review.  Thanks for reading.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Southern Tier Pumking (2012 Batch) - Gus #3

Today's beer is one that has developed quite the "cult" following.  Most people compare other brews of the same category to it.  There are countless threads on the interwebz about it.  And countless more threads from home brew websites trying to copy it.  This is one of my favorite brews since having it and I will continue to look forward to it every year.  I'm talking about Southern Tier's Pumking.  This Imperial Pumpkin Ale is constantly at the top of the list of pumpkin beers.  It has quickly become one of my favorites.  I know I  will look forward to its release every year.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from Southern Tier's website:
About the Beer:
Style:  Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Brewed Since:  2007
ABV:  8.6%
Fermentation:  Ale yeast, two types of malt, two types of hops, pumpkin
Color:  Deep copper
Effervescence:  Medium carbonation
Nose:  Pumpkin, pie spices, buttery crust, vanilla, roasted pecans
Flavor:  Malty sweetness, vanilla, clove, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, pie crust
Bitterness:  Low
Body:  Medium-light
Serving Temperature:  40-48 degrees Fahrenheit
Glass:  Goblet
Availability:  Autumn seasonal, August release / 22oz / 1/6 keg
Cellaring:  35-40 degrees Fahrenheit

Food Pairings:  Particularly tasty when paired with traditional thanksgiving dinner, a compliment to pumpkin pie, desserts.

“bewitched and brewed with pagan spirit”

"All Hallows Eve is a time of year when spirits can make contact with the physical world, and when magic is most potent.  It is thought that we harness this magic to brew our powerful pumpkin ale.  Not so, but it is with great respect to the magic of their trade that our brewers produce this fine beer.  Take a whiff of this complex ale and your journey has just begun.  At first sip, a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds, yet another victim enraptured by the Pumking."

I poured this brew into a 12oz tulip glass instead of the recommended goblet.

Appearance:  Just as described by Southern Tier, this brew poured clear, light copper.  Slight orange hues in there as well.  The pour left me with a solid finger and a half head.  The head disapated rather quickly leaving just a few islands of bubbles floating behind.  Mild carbonation with just a few streams of bubble running up the side of the glass.  Decent lacing when the head was present.  Slight, very slight hints of alcohol legs were present.  This is a big pumpkin beer at 8.6% ABV.  Very nice looking brew. It instantly makes me think of Halloween or Thanksgiving when I look at it.

Aroma:  This brew has a huge, HUGE aroma.  I was instantly hit with it when I popped the top on this thing.  So many different notes in there.  Very complex.  First thing I picked up was the pie crust aroma that they describe.  Buttery flaky pie crust.  Then the pumpkin pie aromas started in.  Pumpkin, nutmeg, big hints of cinnamon and allspice.  There is also a creaminess hint in there as well.  Almost like pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top of it.  The vanilla hints mix well with that.  So amazing how they incorporate all these things into this beer.  My mouth started watering as soon as I popped the cap.

Taste:  The taste overwhelmingly matched the smell.  Just a bit more of the sweet, buttery crust and pumpkin flavors.  It matched so well.  Vanilla creaminess again on the back of the tongue.  A medium moutfeel that went perfect with the taste.  Nothing to heavy.  As it warms up I pick up some brown sugar notes.  And still nothing is overpowering the other.  They all mix so clean and well.  The crust flavor is so amazing.  It's so specific.  It tastes like a pumpkin pie with graham cracker crust, poured out of a bottle.

Verdict:  This is as close to a phenomenal brew as you can get.  Exactly what I want in a pumpkin beer.  Nothing overwhelms or hides the other.  Everything works nicely together.  It's amazing how they really get that pie crust flavor in there.  I think this beer really lives up to the hype.  I feel like I could drink it over and over again in the fall and winter.  This brew is going to get an A+ from me.  Definitely pick this up if you get the chance.  I'm going to cellar one of my bottles to see what it compares to with next years.  If you do get a chance to taste, or have tasted, this amazing brew let me know what you think as well.  I'd love to hear what others think about it.  I know one of my best friends loved it the first time I split a bottle with him.

This brew would pair well with, of course, a slice of pumpkin pie.  Maybe also used as an after Thanksgiving dinner drink.  I could also see it, as I'm going to try, as a Halloween night drink.



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tröegs Perpetual IPA (Imperial Pale Ale?) - Gus #2

Another brew review today from notes of a previous tasting.  My first few will be like this, from my notes.  I'll continue to update and add more as I finish getting these up.

This brew is from Tröegs Brewing Company in Hershey, PA.  This was once a seasonal/special release but Tröegs has now changed this to a year round brew.  The brew is Tröegs Perpetual IPA.  Not your typical IPA mind you.  This stands for Imperial Pale Ale instead of the traditional India Pale Ale.  

Now I don't know how much difference Tröegs IPA will be from your typical IPA as most reviews and others put this in the India Pale Ale category.  But I'll review it and see what I think.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from Tröegs website:
Alcohol by Volume:  7.5%
Hop Bitterness (IBUs):  85
Color (SRM):  Straw/Golden
Availability:  Year Round
Malts:  Pilsner, Crystal, Munich
Hops:  Bravo, Chinook, Mt. Hood
Hopback Hops:  Mt. Hood, Nugget
Dry Hops:  Citra, Cascade
Yeast:  Ale

"In our constant evolution as a brewery, we've developed an undying drive to meld the organic and mechanical Perpetual IPA utilizes our hopback and dry-hopping to engineer a bold Imperial Pale Ale.  It features Bravo, Chinook and Mt. Hood hops in the boil, Mt. Hood and Nugget hops in the hopback, and is further dry-hopped with Citra and Cascade Hops."

Serving suggestions:  
Temp:  50-55 degrees Fahrenheit    Glassware:  Pint Glass

I poured this brew into a 10oz tulip glass instead of the pint or shaker style glass.

Appearance:  Poured a dark golden/straw color with a nice solid two fingers of head.  Decent amount of head lacing and the head stuck around.  No real visible alcohol legs, but I didn't expect heavy legs from a 7.5% ABV brew.  Great looking ale.  Super clean with not much haze.  You can see light coming through the brew.

Aroma:  Big sweet citrus notes.  Very fruity with a distinct bitterness as well.  Some malty notes.  The distinct citrus fruit smell of grapefruit and pineapple is big with just a hint of an apple or pear aroma.  I really like the smell of this brew.  I think the pineapple hints are very nice.  There is a spice backbone in there as well.  The combination of hops work very well.  If the taste follows the aroma, I already know I'm going to like this beer a lot.

Taste:  Very clean.  Hop bitterness up front.  Followed by fruity, sweet tastes in the middle of the mouth.  The grapefruit and pineapple aromas are reflected here as well.  That sweet pineapple taste is very, very good.  After taste brings more of the bitterness from the hops.  The spice notes take over and it cleans itself off your palate nice.  A little lingering bitterness but that is enjoyable.  Mouthfeel is light to medium light.  Not the heavier mouthfeel you usually get in double/imperial IPAs.

Verdict:  This brew is a very nice offering from Tröegs.  Very good "Imperial Pale Ale."  The mouthfeel is probably what keeps this from being called an India Pale Ale.  Whatever it is, it's very good and I would definitely drink another one.  I received this one in a trade with a buddy from New Jersey.  Tröegs distribution is not very wide spread as of yet.  For pairings I think this would go well with spicy foods, a good club sandwich or a good burger.

This brew is going to score a solid A from me.  I'd love to have it as a steady offering down here.  I'll be sure to keep my eyes open for it when I travel up north.  Thanks to Tom for the trade!



Back Forty Freckle Belly IPA - Gus #1

Today I'm reviewing a brew from Back Forty Beer Co. out of Gasden, AL.  This is a young brewery that was founded in 2009.  Their distribution reached into Mississippi  a couple years ago but, more of their brews have started to come over after Mississippi changed it's beer laws this July.  I've had a couple of their brews so I decided to review this one with IPAs being one of my favorite style of brew.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

beeradvocate review:

Information from Back Forty's website:

Alcohol Content by Volume: 7.5%
Hops: Falconer's Flight, Citra, Columbus, Cascade, Apollo
Malts: Crystal & Special Roast Malts
IBU: 65

They actually have recommended food pairings on the bottles.  Back Forty suggests spicy food, fish and burgers to go with this brew.

I poured this brew from a 12oz bottle into a short stemmed snifter.

Appearance:  The IPA poured a dark orange almost copper color.  Pretty hazy not a lot a light able to be seen through the glass.  Good carbonation streaming on the glass as well.  My pour wasn't very aggressive but the brew still had a good finger and a half of head in the glass.  The head faded away to a ring with an island of bubbles floating in the middle.  Very little head lacing and no real visible alcohol legs.  Not a very high ABV so I can understand that.

Aroma:  Very citrusy on the nose.  There are hints of fresh pine mixed with a tart sweetness.  I prefer my IPAs to have that "SweetTart" type aroma and taste.  The aroma is there.  A very nice smelling IPA.

Taste:  First sip brought that sweet, tart, bitterness that I was expecting.  Floral and citrus notes as well.  Some grapefruit and tangerine flavors mixing mid palate.  The brew finishes clean and has some of the floral and sweet notes as a finish.  It's not an overpowering or over lingering aftertaste.  Very medium mouthfeel and easy drinker.

Going with the brewery's recommendations I paired this brew with some hot homemade salsa and corn ships.  The tart and sweetness went perfect with the spicy peppers in the salsa.  Some other suggestions would be a buffalo chicken sandwich or hot wings.  The buffalo chicken sandwich pairing may be my next one to try.  That sounds very nice.

Verdict:  Being a young brewery I really didn't know what to expect.  I've had their pale ale and it was nice but nothing ground breaking.  This brew was a much better beer in my opinion.  Very nicely done.  I'm interested to see what else comes out from this brewery.

As far as a score I'm going to give this brew a B.  Not just an amazing beer but a very, very good interpretation of what an IPA should be.  I've had it on tap and in the bottle.  Both times I liked this beer a lot.  If you can get it, try it and comment below to let me know what you think.

I'll have some more reviews up as I get them typed up from my notes.

Until then,