Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Troegs Scratch Series #71 DMB (Dim) Wit - Tom #6

For today's review we are going to look at a particular brew that actually brought Gus and I's friendship together. This brew I speak of is part of Troeg's Scratch Series and is #71 DMB (Dim Wit.) So the story behind this brew is that Troeg's released it on June 29th 2012 the day that Dave Matthews Band played Hershey Park and was a one time only brew and release. When released at the end of Troeg's description they stated "We heard this is Dave Matthews favorite beer." So with this all said the beer was originally named DMB and number 71 out of the series but often is called "Dim" wit as well. So a long story short this is the beer that prompted Gus to approach me for our first beer trade which has lead us down a path where we are today as you read our blog. So continue reading and see how the brew fairs!
How it rates with others

Beer Advocate 


About the beer: 
Style: Witbier 
Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%
IBUs: 10 
Yeast: LaChouffe

Info from Troeg's
SCRATCH #71 - 2012 (Dim Wit) For Scratch #71, we’re revisiting the blissful world of white ales. This beer typically features a blend of wheat and barley along with spices and yeast to create a refreshing and complex flavor. With a dense haze from the red wheat and a foamy white head, Scratch #71 incorporates tartness and a delicate orange aroma that complements the spices and the LaChouffe yeast. The finish is dry and crisp. 

 I poured this into my Dogfish Head pint glass

Appearance: This brew pours a pretty clear golden color with a big fluffy three finger white head. Head hung around for a few minutes till finishing as a thick layer around the glass. A lot of carbonation bubbles coming up the side of the glass. Wasn't much retention as figured with this one. But overall a great looking beer.

Aroma: This is one of my favorite parts of this beer. The smells is a superb blend of spices and coriander, lemon and some citrus and you can definitely pick up on the Belgian yeast in this one. The spices are a great additional to the aroma as there is a very sweet smell mixing with them from the malts used. This is a fantastic smelling beer.

Taste: As the nose indicates there is a spicy presence here but the flavors here are very gentle with a little bit of pepper in there which mixes it up perfectly. The coriander and citrus come into light again and are the perfect touch for this. Digging a little bit deeper into the brew you definitely pick up on the Belgian yeast which I didn't find to dominant like some Belgian yeasts tend to do. Overall this brew was very complex and favorable with the spices and sweetness blending perfectly.

Verdict: So in the end I am a huge fan of this beer. I can see why Troeg's would release it in the middle of the summer and for a major concert next door like the Dave Matthews Band. I can easily find myself sitting back in the summer drinking plenty of these on those hot humid days or sitting at a DMB show enjoying this DMB wit! So overall this is an incredibly smooth brew which is so well deserving an A+ from me. So I definitely think Troeg's should make this a new seasonal or year rounder!

 Thanks for reading and remember to comment, subscribe, add us on facebook to let us know what you think or any suggestions you may have. Thanks again for reading.

      - Tom

Monday, January 28, 2013

Brewery Vivant/New Belgium Brewing Escoffier - Gus #38

Good Monday to all you guys out there.  Hope everyone had a great weekend and had some great brews.  I had a few good ones this weekend but those will come later.  Today's review is one that I had the weekend before last.  It was an interesting brew I got in a trade.  I shared it with a couple of friends that I'm working on getting into craft beer.  I was surprised (as I think they were too) that they liked a good many of the brews we sampled in the mini bottle share.  This one actually came in a can.  It's brewed in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Brewery Vivant.  They add a strain of Brettanomyces given to them by New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado.  I have recently become enamored with anything containing Brett strains.  I have started a couple home brews using this wild yeast and will even be doing one this weekend.  I love the sour and barnyard flavors and aromas it gives brews.  I've had a few other commercial beers containing Brett, I even reviewed one from The Bruery in California called Rueuze.  Will this one live up to my now rising expectation of sour/wild ales brewed with Brett?  I'm definitely ready to find out!  Read on for my review of the collaboration brew, Escoffier, from Brewery Vivant and New Belgium.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:

About the Beer:
Style:  Sour/Wild Ale
Alcohol by Volume:  9.25%  (the label above states 9.5% but my can had 9.25%, probably different batches)
IBUs:  N/A

"Escoffier is our much heralded collaboration with New Belgium Brewing in Ft. Collins, CO. Coinciding with their entry into Michigan, this project began with a friendly meeting at our pub. After a few beers and some food, the idea to brew a beer together started to take shape.
Auguste Escoffier is considered the master chef of the 20th century. His ideas and methods left an indellible imprint on the culinary world, and are still in use to this very day. We named our beer 'Escoffier' to celebrate the relationship between great food and excellent beer, and how they elevate each other when enjoyed together. If you've ever visited our pub, this is the cornerstone of what we try to accomplish."


"This beer displays our Farmhand yeast and a wild yeast from New Belgium's brewery called Brettanomyces. Expect a brew that is somewhat dry and malt forward with the "horse blanket" funkiness synonymous with brett. This beer will only get better with time, and cellar well for years to come."

Great with:

"This beer is made for delicious food, so have fun and experiment! Try it with some yeasty bread, stinky cheese, or mushrooms."

I poured this brew into three glasses.  Mine was a Cigar City snifter.

Appearance:  The beer poured a rich golden straw color.  Slight hints of copper and orange.  Had very little head with my pour.  I may not have been very aggressive as I was saving some for some others to have.  Ring of large and small bubbles around the edge of the glass.  Very little lacing left behind as well.  Good carbonation, though not very high.  There were some bubbles coming up from the bottom and sides.  Definitely some alcohol legs grabbing on to the side of the brew.  Relatively clear.   I was expecting some haze in this one.  Very nice appearance.  It was extremely inviting to take a sip.

Aroma:  The smell of this one started off with a hint of sweetness.  Maybe like a candy sugar sweetness.  This was followed by a bit of a fruit aroma.  Maybe dried fruit or candied fruit.  Then the funky aromas started to come in.  Hints of wet hay, little bit of vinegar and then an earthy dirt aroma.  Kind of like wet dirt mixed with old wet hay.  It wasn't super strong though.  Not just blaring out.  I know this because if it had been just super strong it would have ran my friends off.  Instead they liked the aroma.  The sweetness balanced out all of the funk and earthiness that the brew had in the aroma.  Not one bit of alcohol detected at all.  They hid the high ABV well.  Most of the wild ales are able to do this with extended fermentation.

Taste:  Just as the nose suggested.  Started off a little different than the aroma with a flavor of sweet orange right at the beginning.  Then followed a little hint of green apple mixed with apple vinegar.  Some of that candy sugar or dry fruit right at the back of the mouth.  Aftertaste was a mix of lemon tartness and the wet hay.  Hints of the earthy and vinegar were there too.  Just tart enough to quench a thirst and dry the finish.  Really makes it easier to have another sip.  Again, no alcohol present at all.  Not even a warmth in the belly as it sat.  Very good flavors and mouthfeel.  Just on the edge of medium-light.

Verdict:  All of the factors above make this a super easy drinker.  Almost scary how easy it would be to take a couple of these down.  Super refreshing and the tart finish just makes you want to take another sip.  I'd really like to grab a couple of these and let them age a while.  I think it would develop more funk as it sat.   Right now it has just enough funk to know that it is an ale brewed with Brett.  Being as I'm drifting more and more into loving the sour/wild ales, this one did not disappoint.  I'd love to try this with something like a mushroom-swiss burger.  Just like they describe I think it would pair perfectly with the earthy mushroom flavors and bitterness from the cheese.  I think if more people tried a brew like this, it would open them up to the style.  A lot of people run away when they hear the terms: wild, funky, barnyard, earthy and wet hay.  They think they will be off putting.  After they tasted a beer like this they would realize how it works all together to make a very tasty brew.

I'm going to give this one an A.  In my limited experience (bet ever growing) experience with sour/wild ales I really enjoyed this one.  Enough to be sad when the can was finished.  I was glad to share it with the guys I did.  We sampled a few more that night that I will post up I'm sure.  It was interesting to get their take on the brew as they haven't had anything like that before.  

If you have any experience or have a favorite sour/wild ale, let me know.  If you want to work up a trade to trade some of your local sour brews too let me know.  I'm always up for a trade.  Comment, subscribe and follow us to let us know what you think.  Also look us up on Facebook.  See you in the next review!



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Three Floyds Topless Wytch - Gus #37

Today's review is another one from Three Floyds Brewing Company out of Munster, Indiana.  This is a limited release brew that I was able to get in a trade.  I believe this was a one time brew but I'm not positive. It is their version of a Baltic Porter named Topless Wytch.  It has a very interesting label, wouldn't expect anything less from FFF.  Baltic Porter is an interesting style.  Some say it's just a really hoppy porter, while some say it's a porter brewed with lager yeast.  I'm not sure which way FFF went with this one but I was excited to get to review it.

How it rates with others:

YouTube reviews:
Chris from Beer Geek Nation

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:
About the Beer:
Style:  Baltic Porter
Alcohol by Volume:  9.0%
IBUs:  N/A

"Strong, full bodied Baltic porter with coffee and chocolate notes."

I poured this brew into a Raise Your Pints tulip glass.

Appearance:  The brew poured, as expected, very dark brown with a big two finger head.  Around the edges of the glass there was a little light getting through showing the brown hints instead of it being jet black.  The head was tan/off white and had tons and tons of tight white bubbles.  Lacing was sticking to the glass when I tilted it and there were visible alcohol legs around the edges.  It left a brown film as I swirled it as well.  The head finally settled to about a fourth of an inch as I got ready to get the aroma.  Very good looking porter.

Aroma:  Up front there is the hop forward aroma of citrus with just a hint of pine.  Some lemon zest and maybe a little bit of grapefruit bitterness mixed in.  Then the coffee and bitter dark chocolate start to waft in.  Very distinct notes of coffee too.  Some slight espresso bitterness.  A hint of milk chocolate sweetness and malt backbone with no hints of alcohol at all.  It was hidden well.  It all balanced very nice to make a great smelling brew.

Taste:  Taste didn't feature quite as much of the citrus notes like the aroma had.  It did have some of the pine in there but that was overshadowed by the bitterness from a dark chocolate and coffee flavor.  The mouthfeel was so smooth due to just the right amount of carbonation.  The aftertaste was bitter like you had just swallowed a little bit of dark chocolate or a dark roasted coffee.  It was really nice.  Again, no signs of alcohol just a really balanced and smooth brew.

Verdict:  I said it many times in this review but the biggest thing that I liked about this brew was the balance.  All of the hop presence was just the right amount to mix in with the chocolate and coffee flavors from the malts.  It was a super easy drinker for the higher ABV.  I'd love to have this as an after dinner brew.  Be even better on a cold night sitting by a fire.  It's just as smooth as drinking a fresh cup of homemade hot chocolate.  The hops they chose mix well with everything.  I've only had a few Baltic Porters but this one fits the style perfect in my opinion of what the style is.  For pairing, I'd say try this brew with some roasted marshmallows sitting by a fire.  If you wanted to put it with a meal it would go well with some short ribs or even some prime rib.  I'm gonna give this one an A.  I really enjoyed what they did with it and was expecting great things from FFF.  They didn't disappoint with this one at all.

Let me know what you think of Topless Wytch if you get it or have had it.  It seems to be a limited brew.  I'm not even sure when it was distributed.  It was a focus of a trade I did not long ago and I popped it and another one the same night.  I'll put a review of the other one up soon.  Thanks for reading guys!



Home Brew Wednesday - Gus HBW #3 Update on Obscurité (Darkness)

Ok today, to go along with the review, I'm doing a simple update to my Belgian Dark Strong Ale I am brewing.  I took a gravity reading Sunday night (1/20/13) and in eight days the gravity had gone down to 1.028.  This puts the brew around 7.5% ABV and leaves it just a hint on the sweet side.  I shook my fermenter up and am going to let it go for another week before I bottle it.  After it's bottled it will have to condition for a month or so.

I did a little taste test as well and can tell this thing is going to be a good brew.  There was just enough hop presence and the fruits were nice as well.  Definitely a Belgian spice already showing itself too.  Again, it was on the sweet side but that was because of the fermentables left in there to finish.  Hopefully that little shake and shimmy I did will get the yeast working again for just a little bit longer.  My target FG is 1.020.  So there isn't much left to hit it.  If it get's a little lower that's fine, maybe it will dry out a bit more.  Either way this brew looks like it will be a good one.  I'm interested to see how it turns out!

I'll post some more when I take my final gravity reading and get this thing into bottles.



Monday, January 21, 2013

Victory Brewing Company Otto - Gus #36

Today's brew is a different one.  A different style than most are accustomed to.  It comes from Victory Brewing Company out of Downingtown, PA.  This is their Otto Ale.  A Belgian "Smoked" Dubbel.  I've had some smoked beers, but I've never had a smoked Belgian until this point.  Going into the brew, I had to keep any open mind and look for traits of each beer individually and then decide whether or not I liked how they blended together.  I am a fan of well done smoked beers.  But, I'm a HUGE fan of Belgian beers.  This brew came to me by trade (Thanks Dino!) and as soon as I saw it I was excited to try it.  So here is the review for Victory Brewing Company's Otto Ale.

How it rates with others:

YouTube reviews:

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:

About the Beer:
Style:  Smoked Beer (Rauchbier)
Alcohol by Volume:  8.10%
IBUs:  N/A
Malts:  Munich and Belgian Caramel Malt
Hops:  German Hops
Yeast:  Trappist

"The complimentary flavors of smoked malt and Belgian yeast seemed like an obvious combination," said Bill Covaleski (Victory co-founder.)  "As far as we know, no one has bothered to put them together until now."

I poured this brew into a Belgian tulip glass.

Appearance:  The brew poured into the glass with a dark, rich mahogany color.  Had some ruby hints that faded into orange shades just as it settled.  The pour gave the brew a huge three to four finger head.  I did expect the beer to have a large, frothy head since it was bottle conditioned.  Sticky, fluffy lacing all around the glass.  Slight hints of alcohol legs but the lacing and head hid a lot of that until it dissipated.  Head was an off white, almost cream color.  It was full of multi-sized bubbles and stuck around forever.  Very nice looking Dubbel.  Good head retention even for a 8+% ABV brew.

Aroma:  At first sniff you really pick up some of the sweet, fruity aspects of the Dubbel.  They aren't extremely big though.  Then you pick up a woody smokiness.  It starts to kind of take over with the smoke being the big player.  It is a decent smoke aroma.  But, it overpowers the other things in the brew.  If you weren't exactly looking for the Belgian characteristics you wouldn't find them in my opinion.  Maybe some slight hints of tobacco mixed in.  No alcohol aromas either.  But just a smokey aroma with small hints of the others.

Taste:  Right up front you get the aspects of the Dubbel.  The dark fruits and sweetness mixed with a good full bodied, medium high carbonation mouthfeel.  That doesn't last long as the smokiness comes in mid palate and just washes over everything Belgian you could get.  Not much residual yeast flavors that you expect from a Belgian.  Back of the mouth is more smokiness.  It kind of just lingers around.  It's more of an imitation smokey flavor to me.  The aroma was a bit better than the flavor.  This is a 2011 bottle so it's interesting that the smokiness stayed around in the bottle.  Usually some of the smoke will die off and other flavors start to come out.  It's on the verge of being balanced.  I may have popped this one a little too late or too early.  As the brew warmed, the smoke just overwhelmed it.  Not many of the Dubbel qualities were around at all.  There isn't any alcohol flavors, so those have been masked well.

Verdict:  This was, as I said, an interesting brew.  I came into it with mixed emotions from the beginning.  Since it was a Belgian Dubbel that I know and love mixed with a smoked beer that I'm quite fond of, I didn't know how to take it.  But, it's a decent brew.  It's nothing amazing or earth shattering.  It has some of the Dubbel characteristics, but they are over shadowed by the smoke.  I think I wanted more balance between the two.  After the brew warmed, all you were able to get was a smokiness.  And the smokiness seemed more synthetic or imitation.  I'm gonna give this one a C.  It's an average beer.  Nothing really bad about it, but it didn't rock my socks.  I think I would like to try it again after it's aged a bit longer to see what it does.

This beer would pair well, like other smoked brews, with something from the grill.  Nice barbecue chicken or something similar.  I would definitely advise sharing it with some friends instead of taking the whole bottle by yourself.  I usually recommend that with all smoked beers.

So there we have it.  A very interesting brew (have I said that enough?) that should be tried by anyone that can get it.  Maybe you thought differently than me and may find something else in there.  I'm really glad I tried it, but I think I prefer smoked porters to smoked Belgian Dubbels.  I like Dubbels in the traditional way.  Remember to comment, subscribe and follow.  Let us know how we are doing.  Also look up Mason-Dixon Brew Crew on Facebook.  Tom is working on that so you guys can keep up with what we have going on.  Thanks for reading!



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale - Tom #5

Hello all, for today's review we are going to dip into a beer I got in a trade, Half Acre's Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. This is my first brew from Half Acre who is located in Chicago Illinois. This beer has begun to gain a cult following along with its sister variations of it as well. This is an American Pale Ale (APA) and comes in 16oz cans. A little into the friendly title "Daisy Cutter." This term is actually the nickname that was given to the BLU-82 bomb that was used in Vietnam to flatten forest's for helicopter landing zones. So does this indicate anything? So now lets get reviewing!
 How it rates with others: 



Youtube: ProperHops

About the Beer
Style: American Pale Ale 
Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%
IBUs: 60
Serving: 16oz Can 
Availability: Year Round 

Info from Half Acre's Website:
"A west coast Pale Ale chock-full of dank, aromatic hops. This one's a screamer, horde it." 

This beer was poured into my DogFish Head Goblet. (On the boarder of what this glass really is) 

Appearance:This beer poured a golden orange color the normal for an APA. From my pour the initial head was about a finger and a half and pure white which had good retention. There was a lot of very sticky lacing and the glass showed normal looking carbonation. This brew looked very delicious from start to end of pour.

Aroma: This was a very rewarding part of my tasting. Right away the nose picks up the sweet smells of grapefruit, peach and some slight orange peel. There was also a very strong and prominent floral hop smell filling my nose but still retains an APA smell. This was a funky smeller as it had many characteristics of an IPA and almost fools you into this. This was a very sweet fantastic smelling brew.

Taste: Whew! Boy did this have an amazing mouth feel. The taste follows the aroma quite nice. Throughout there was a great balance of hops with the malts. So that fantastic IPA hoppy smell I mentioned was actually just right and perfect for an APA as it didn't over power the beer and make it like an IPA and kept its pale ale setting. This brew packs a lot of flavor and the pallet and you can easily pick up the fresh peach, grapefruit, orange and some floral pine hops. The malt had a nice sweet bready backing to it as well which finished nicely. 

Verdict: So after drinking this brew and analyzing it, it's name which as I mentioned was the nickname for a bomb gives you the impression this is going to be a hop bomb. Well the nose indicated this more than the taste. But! This definitely was a hoppier APA and closey resembles in my opinion Zombie Dust by Three Floyds. This is definitely a solid brew that I will be seeking out more of (Philadelphia now carries it!) So overall I give this particular brew easily a solid A

Thanks for reading today's review everyone. Remember if you have any suggestions or comments don't hesitate to drop them on by! Also check us out on Facebook now and make sure you like and follow us! We will be posting our reviews on there as long as news happening in the beer world! 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Home Brew Wednesday - Gus HBW #2 Obscurité (Darkness)

Time for another home brew post!!!  This one has an explosive ending!

I'm set hard in my Belgian kick for home brews right now.  I decided I wanted to make a house beer.  One that I try to keep around at all times in bottles, or eventually on tap.  I ran down to Brewhaha last Friday and picked up my supplies for this brew.  Nick had fixed me up a partial recipe a couple days before.  I'm going to base my beer off of it.  I'm brewing it the first time from his recipe and then I'll change some things and make it more of my own.  He was a great help!  I'll list the recipe below.  I had a few changes to it.  I'll let you know what those were as well.

8.60 lbs Briess Pilsen LME - 60 mins
2.50 lbs Munich Malt - 60 mins
0.70 ozs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L - 60 mins
0.30 lbs Briess Chocolate - 60 mins
0.40 lbs Bries Extra Special - 60 mins
0.80 lbs Briess Red Malt Wheat - 60 mins
1.00 lbs Candi Sugar, Clear - 60 mins

1.50 ozs Northern Brewer 8.50% - 60 mins

2 - White Labs WLP530 Abbey Ale Yeast

I took exception to the 8.6 lbs Briess Pilsen LME (Liquid Malt Extract) and used 6.6 lbs but added 2 lbs of Pilsen DME (Dry Malt Extract).  I did this because they sell the LME in 3.3 lb containers and I didn't want to have the extra.  Next time I may could use the full 9.9 lbs.  But I think next time I will go All Grain with this recipe.

So I had all of my ingredients.

It was time to start my mini mash and get this brew going.  I heated my water and poured the grains in to begin the mashing process.  Mashing brings out all of the fermentable sugars from the malt and grains.  It's what feeds the yeast to ferment and create alcohol.

After I had mashed the grains for an hour at the suggested temperature I added my LME and DME.  Then I brought the wort to a boil and added my bittering hops.  When the time was up I set the pot in the sink to cool.  It took a few hours to cool to the right temperature but when it did I filtered the wort into the fermenting bucket and added spring water to bring it to 5 gallons.  I took my Original Gravity reading and it came out to 1.081.  Almost directly on target!  I pitched my two vials of White Labs Abbey Ale yeast and sealed her up.  It should take 7-10 days to ferment.  It could be shorter or longer.  I will have to take a gravity reading to see if I'm there.  For now it's time to wait!

I pitched the yeast into the wort on 1-12-13.  By the next day the brew was already fermenting hard.  On Monday 1-14-13 I walked into my kitchen after getting home from work and found this.

A good old fashioned homebrew bomb! ha ha!  It's a good thing I had moved the brew from my closet to my kitchen.  I wanted to keep the brew colder as it fermented and the concrete floor in the kitchen was the perfect place.  The airlock had filled up with kraussen as the brew was fermenting so hard.  The pressure became too much and it blew the lid!  I cleaned everything back up and resanitized.  Put a new airlock in and sealed the top again.  Hopefully I won't have any more blow offs!  I learned my lesson that when I'm pitching two vials of yeast in a higher gravity brew, that I'll use a blow off hose instead of an airlock from now on.

Thanks for readying the second Home Brew Wednesday installment!  If anyone has any questions or suggestions let me know!  I hope to keep this up as I'm getting more into the brewing side of craft beer.  My next post will be soon.  I hope to get some info up in the DIY part of equipment used in home brewing.  Comment, subscribe and follow!  Let us know how we are doing!



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 - Tom #4

Hello everybody, I know its been awhile but the dust has settled and I am finally back. So for my long awaited next review I am going to do a follow up to Gus's review of Stone's "Enjoy By 12.21.12". As a recap Stone handles its distribution itself so this has allowed them to develop this Enjoy By series in which you see a super fresh IPA being brewed and released only to certain states each time. The concept behind this is to release these IPA's super fresh and enjoy by the date in which the beer is named after and is printed very largely on the front of the bottle (not like your typical microscopic date usually printed on the back of the bottle). I shared this bottle with my cousin Matt on 11/30/12 to assure that I shared one last bottle before the end of the world! (No I didn't believe it!) So here is my take on the Enjoy by 12.21.12.
How it rates with others:

YouTube review:
What Cheers!

Information from the brewery's website:

About the Beer:
Style:  Double IPA
Alcohol by Volume:  9.4%
IBUs:  88
Serving:  22oz Bomber
Bottled On:  11.16.12
Enjoy By Date:  12.21.12

"You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA.  While freshness is a key component of many beers - especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs - we've taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA.  You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last.  We've not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you're getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn't randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the level, to be overlooked by all but he most attentive of retailers and consumers.  Instead, we've sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA."

This was poured into a Unibroue La Fin Du Monde Tulip glass

 Appearance:  This poured a very deep golden yellow that was clear through.  On both pours it produced about a finger width of marshmallow like fluffy head. The lacing was steady around and the retention was solid for a little while and eventually gave way to a thin layer. The lacing lasted through out the drink. The carbonation was moderate and not over baring.

Aroma: I think Gus nailed it right when he said it was absolutely HUGE on the nose! From the pop of the cap you could instantly smell the huge citrus notes that alike of Pliny the Elder. Through the nose you easily get hints of orange peel, grapefruit, resin, piney hops and a sweetness from the malts. It also had a huge barnyard hay smell to it from the piney backing. The nose on this beast was huge and there was zero alcohol that I could pick up.
Taste:  Mmmmmm from first sip it was heavenly. Huge citrus notes just like the nose indicated and a little lemon zest came into play. From first sip the citrus takes over with the presence of the strong piney and resin notes close behind. Again this was super similar to Pliny the Elder in which I actually thought was a lot better. This is truly a hop heads dream come true right here. The sweet malt backs everything up so well at the end. And again as the nose indicated the alcohol completely hidden in this gem.

Verdict:  Hands down this brew battles my top 5 IPA's. Single handed the best IPA by Stone. This IPA definitely contends with the big boys like Pliny the Elder and Heady Topper. Having it be so fresh really helps boost the power this brew has and really stands out from the crowd and should be consumed as quickly as possible. Would easily pair great with spicy foods. This easily gets an A+ and a 100 across the board! Stone nailed it for sure.

This is truly a winner and with its restricted distribution if you were able to get it you were definitely treated to something special and if not, keep your eyes peeled for other Enjoy Series that may be popping up at your local stores soon such as the 2.15.13! Remember to subscribe, tell your friends and follow us on Facebook now!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Three Floyds Brewing Zombie Dust - Gus #35

Today's review is a good one.  It's one of those beers that people tend to seek out all across the country.  It comes from Three Floyds Brewing so distribution is in their normal foot print.  It seems to be hard to get a hold of at times.  I recently got a bottle of this in a trade.  It was a bonus and I was super pumped to get it.  I'm talking about Zombie Dust.  This brew has garnered quite the name since it's release and the reviews have reflected that.  It's an American Pale Ale.  But, not just any APA.  It's a super hoppy APA.  It has probably one of the coolest labels I've ever seen on a brew.

It's not uncommon for Three Floyd's to put out really artistic labels.  But this one is just really awesome.  I've been looking forward to drinking and reviewing this beer.  Many consider it to be the best American Pale Ale available.  Will it live up to the hype?  I'm glad I get to try it to find out!

How it rates with others:

YouTube reviews:
There are a bunch of these out there.  I'll list some of the ones I watch regularly.  Some of these guys have already been listed on other reviews.  This is a highly regarded brew so everyone (most of the BGN as well) has tried to review it I'm sure.  I'm sure I left some great reviews out but do a quick YouTube search for Zombie Dust and you will find a ton more.

Joe via Proper Hops
Daniel from Beyond the Pour
StumpyJoeJr (Ryan) of San Diego Beer Vlog
Peter - The Master of Hoppets
Mr. Beer Geek Nation himself - Chris Steltz

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:
About the Beer:
Style:  American Pale Ale
Alcohol by Volume:  6.4%
IBUs:  60

"The intensely hopped and gushing undead pale ale will be ones only respite after the zombie apocalypse.  Created with our marvelous friends in the comic industry.  Art by Tim Seeley"

I poured this brew into my Jester King glass.

Appearance:  I poured this one with a pretty aggressive pour because I really wanted to get a nice head and release all of the wonderful hop aroma this brew had to off.  It settled down to two and a half fingers of head almost three.  Head was slightly off white/bright white and had really tight white bubbles.  Lacing was sticky all over the glass and the head was very fluffy.

The brew was burnt orange almost copper in color.  Pretty hazy but that may have been from the cold too.  I wanted to start drinking this one relatively cold and let it warm up as I went.  No real alcohol legs but it's not a big brew.  Also the lacing and head would have kept any alcohol legs hidden!  Good carbonation all around the glass.  Really nice looking brew.  Had a lot of characteristics of an IPA in the appearance.

Aroma:  The brew is single hopped with a really great hop, Citra.  This puts out, as you can tell from the name, tons of citrus aromas and flavors.  The nose is exactly that.  Tons of grapefruit and orange juice.  Even some big orange peel/rind aromas.  Little bit of pineapple starts to come through as it warms up.  Maybe a few more tropical fruits but the citrus is the main player.  The malt backbone balances it out really nice.  There is a sweetness and even sort of a bready aroma.  Slight, slight caramel sweetness too.  It is exactly as expected with being really juicy and citrus forward.  I'm a fan of the aroma for sure.

Taste:  Right as it hits your tongue you get that citrus bitterness.  Really big orange juice and orange peel flavors.  Slight grapefruit but really this one hits the orange right on the money.  Medium-light mouthfeel and the carbonation seems perfect.  It is juicy in the mouth just like the aroma.  Some of the caramel flavors in a sort of sweetness hit you mid palate.  Then on the back end a little bready malt.  It finishes really clean and with an aftertaste of citrus.  Sweet orange is how I would describe the aftertaste.  No hint of alcohol at all.  This is a really easy drinker.

Verdict:  Single hopped brews can be hit or miss but Three Floyds nailed this one.  I like Citra hops and I like what they did with this one.  Very easy drinker and would be great to drink any time.  Perfect for a sessionable drink and I think it would pair well with a good grilled chicken sandwich or salad.  This brew is going to get an A.  It is one of (if not) the best American Pale Ales I've ever had.  I have another review coming soon of another one that is right up there with it in my opinion.

Check out the lacing on Zombie Dust after sipping on it a while!

Great job on this one from Three Floyds.  Most everything I've had from them has been great.  They are a big name in the craft beer world and deserving of that name.  I hope to get some more things up of theirs and let you guys know what I think.  Until then, remember to comment, subscribe and follow.  Thanks to everyone for your comments on Facebook, Twitter and Google.  We have a new Facebook page up now that Tom is working on.  Do a search and find us!



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Home Brew Wednesday - Gus HBW #1 Funky Cold Medina

Today I have another post that is a little different from my norm.  I'm going to do, as you can tell from the title, a Home Brew Wednesday (HBW) post to my blog.  I recently brewed another batch of beer and decided I'm going to try to get more into the brewing side of beer.  I figured it would be an interesting post and would teach some folks how the beer making process (on a small scale) goes.  A good friend of mine and fellow beer lover does some really great home brews and has gotten me into it.  You can follow him on UnTappd at DrewBrew08 and he is on HomeBrewTalk.com by the same name.  You can find me on both UnTappd and HomeBrewTalk with the name Gus_13.  I should have already listed this info and will update the information on the front page of my blog.  A lot of the names and titles will be shortened in these posts so I'll try to explain them as I go so as not to confuse anyone.  I'll use the short hand names more often than I will the really long names.  I will do my best to explain some of the processes but, I am still new to brewing and how all of this works.  So I can do my best and share what I do know.  Now all the explaining and introducing is out of the way, let's get into my first HBW post!

I started brewing this brew with a quick run to my local home brew store (LHBS) BrewHaha.  I explained to the guys there what I was trying to do and asked for their advice in getting to my goal.  If you have a LHBS I really recommend going by and seeing what they have to offer and what information you can pick up.  Ours located off of Highway 55 in Jackson, MS area is brand new.  We used to have to order things from online.  It's not really any trouble and they do their best to answer any questions you may have online.  But, it's easier to talk and get information face-to-face in my opinion.  I told Nick (shout out to you if you are reading!) that I was thinking of taking a kit beer like a Belgian Saison and then pumping it up a bit to get what I was actually looking for. Most of the time the kits are easier to brew.  After this one I think I'm going to start making my own kits and brewing from new recipes.  We will see. He really helped me out in getting started to get what I wanted to have in the brew when all was said and done.  I'm going to show you how I brewed this beer along with some extra information.  Organization will get better as I go along with these but bare with me and let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions for how to present these HBW posts better.

I picked up a Brewer's Best Belgian Saison kit.  This thing comes with everything you need to get a good Belgian Saison.  It also included caps and priming sugar.  A lot of other kits don't include these.

 The kit comes with the standard malt extract, hops and yeast required to brew this beer.

Hops used in this brew.  Pretty standard stuff for a Belgian:  German Tradition, US Golding and Willamette.

I decided to add a few of my own additions with the advice from Nick again as well.  I knew I wanted to brew a beer using some Brett (Brettanomyces) and maybe even some other souring agents.  Nick led me to Brettanomyces Lambicus and Sour Mix #1 from White Labs.  Pitching these into my brew would increase fermenting time but would give me what I was looking for (funky, crazy, sour brew.)  Brettanomyces is a strand of yeast that is used in brewing to get that horsy, funky and sour flavors and aromas.  The strain B. Lambicus is used in Lambics.  It can be used for others and I decided it would be a perfect fit as I really wanted the biggest funky flavors I could get.

The other vial from White Labs contained their Sour Mix #1.  This contained more Brettanomyces and some Saccharomyces yeasts (normal beer brewing yeast.)  This vial also contained some creepy crawlies.  Or as they are called in the brewing world, bugs.  These "bugs" are some bacterial strains that are used to help achieve some more of the sour, funky flavors.  This specific vial had Lactobacillus (a bacteria that converts lactose and other sugars lactic acid) and Pediococcus (another strain of bacteria that produces lactic acid.)  The lactic acid adds to the acidity and sourness of a brew.  All of this may sound gross, but if you have a taste for the brews that these things produce it is amazingly delicious.  It took me some time to develop the taste for them but when it did, I was sucked in.

I had all of my ingredients so I went to steeping my special grains included in the kit.

When I was done with this I added my malt extracts from the kit and brought it to a boil.  I also included 3.3 lbs of wheat malt extract, by recommendation of Nick, to feed the extra yeasts and bacteria that I was going to include in the brew.

I followed the instructions and pitched my yeasts at the desired intervals of the boil.  When I had 15 minutes or so left in the boil I threw in the candy sugar from the kit and the aromatic spices it had as well.  I'm not sure how much of the aromatics will remain since this will be a very long fermentation (roughly a year) but I wanted to include whatever was in the kit.

After the boil was completed I transferred my pot full of wart into an ice bath in the sink to cool.

After the wort had cooled to the right temperature I strained it into my fermenter and got ready to pitch the yeast.  I took my Original Gravity (OG) reading and was a little high.  This was due to adding the extra malt in the boil.  I added water to bring the wort just under 5.5 gallons.  I wanted a little extra since I would have a large amount of yeast and to account for the pellicle that would be created by the Brett.  I was ready to pitch my yeast.

I hydrated the dry yeast that came with the kit and poured it into the bucket.

I also poured in the vial of White Labs Brettanomyces Lambicus.  It was getting closer to being ready to ferment.  Being the over-the-top kind of person I am, and apparently Nick can fall into this category as well (a good trait for a brewer I believe!), I added some French Oak Chips that had been soaking in some sanitizer.  This would make a home similar to a barrel for all of the Brett and bugs that I added to the brew.  It may or may not give it some oak character but it will be a perfect place for more of the bacteria to grow and get happy.  Nick mention this to me at the store and I jumped all over it.

Soaking the chips.

After I had combined all of this it was time to seal it up and let the yeast and bugs do what they do.  It will be tough to just sit and wait for this brew to come to fruition.  I'm hoping all of the waiting and extra I put into this brew will be worth it.  I have a feeling it will be.  I sealed the top and put the bucket in my closet.

I named my fermenter for this brew "The Bug Pit."  The reason I wrote this on the bucket is that I won't be able to use this bucket for a regular brew anymore.  It will retain some of the Brett and bacteria that I pitched in there and would ruin other brews.  From now on this will be my sour fermenting bucket.

I'm not so worried about a specific temperature for this to ferment.  Belgian brewers aren't very concerned with it.  They are the experts, so I will take from them ha ha.  I did wrap the bucket in a bag just in case I have a violent exploding fermentation!  I hope this doesn't happen but, you never know.

A few days after I had pitched the yeast and put the bucket up, I checked it.  It was fermenting hard and even some of the krausen had crept into the air lock but not a ton.  This just means it's fermenting well and hard.  If it gets too crazy, I will have to make a blow off valve.  But I'm thinking it's ok for now.

Now all that's left to do is wait.  In 6 months or so I will feed the yeast and bugs with some sugar and get them fermenting and working again.  Until then I just have to forget about it.  It will be tough to do!  Since this is a funky, sour brew I decided to name it Funky Cold Medina.  Who doesn't like some funk??

Thanks for reading my Home Brew Wednesday post.  Let me know what you think and if you have any other suggestions.  I should be brewing again this weekend and will have another update next week.  I will check back in from time to time with updates from Funky Cold Medina.  I hope to keep HBW a regular thing.  That just means I need to make more beer!  I'll probably put some posts in here about other brewers I brew with as well.  Especially Drew.  Until then, thanks again for reading the blog!  Check out the beer reviews as well!



Rock Art Brewery Double Porter Smoked - Gus #34

Today's brew (should have been yesterday's) comes from a brewery in Morrisville, Vermont.  This is my first brew from them but, I have heard some good things about this and other brews.  This one is a double porter that has smoked malt in the brewing process.  I have been getting more into smoked beers so this should be interesting.  It has been the perfect weather around here for a dark brew with some heft behind it.  This 8.0% ABV should help warm things up.  This is the review of Rock Art Brewery's Double Porter Smoked.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:

About the Beer:
Style:  Smoked Imperial Porter
Alcohol by Volume:  8.00%
IBUs:  60

"This deep dark brew may help to tame those cool evenings and put a little spunk in the long nights.  You'll flavor the sweet caramel malts, roasted grains, a big mouth feel and a touch of smoked grain.  Serve this baby up with a nice grilled salmon steak and lemon butter sauce (easy on the sauce, a light brush or two) Continuing to grill, wedge up some previously baked potatoes heat them through and crisp up the edges, slightly burnt on a few.  Slice some eggplant about 3/4 of an inch and put some nice diamond grill marks on the sides.  On the side mix up a baby greens salad with a little mescaline mix, spinach leaves, thin sliced carrots, a few cherry tomatoes sprinkle with balsamic vinaigrette, a few capers and a little fresh grated parmesan cheese."

I poured this brew into my Cigar City snifter glass.

Appearance:  The brew poured a somewhat clear, somewhat muddy brown into the glass.  The pour yielded an almost two finger head.  The head was off white almost khaki in color and had a mixture of sizes of bubbles.  After a few minutes all but a ring around the glass and a floating island of bubbles was all that remained.  The brew definitely was brown not black.  It was opaque but the edges of the glass did allow some light to come through.  Retained it's dark brown color after the pour was complete. Alcohol legs were around the glass mixed in with a little bit of brown film as you swirled it in the glass.  Overall a nice looking porter.  I would have liked to see a little more color or what color there be a little darker.  It gives the impression of a light mouthfeel which I don't prefer in a brew like this.

Aroma:  The nose opened up with light smoke, hints of caramel and just a little bit of a woody aroma.  Minor hints of some toffee and just a little bit of coffee.  I kept looking for some chocolate and bigger hints of coffee but it wasn't there.  It had some hints of smoked tobacco and actually maybe a little hint of a dirt smell.  The smoke came out more as it warmed up but it nothing was just a huge player in this one for the aroma.  No traces of alcohol were picked up at all.

Taste:  Taste brought out some of the chocolate I was looking for.  Still had the caramel and hints of toffee.  Not much coffee aroma at all.  A slight dark chocolate bitterness that could possibly be called a coffee bitterness I suppose.  But the big thing was the tobacco flavor in this one.  It was very nice.  Slight hints of smoke but nothing just too overwhelming.  The tobacco was very interesting to get out of it but I guess it could be expected out of a smoked brew.  Mouthfeel was as expected, light and carbonation was medium.  No hint of alcohol even as the brew warmed up.  Just more tobacco flavors.

Verdict:  This was a nice brew.  It was nothing outstanding but it was good.  The tobacco was something I really liked and made me want to try this brew paired with a nice cigar.  I think it would go well with something off of the grill just like website said.  I'd go more with ribs or a brisket over the salmon though.  While it was an above average brew it was nothing spectacular and I wouldn't break the bank or your back trying to seek it out.  For a score I'm going to give it a B-.  Slightly above average.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think if you have had this or any other smoked brews.  I'm not sure how popular they are yet but I have had some really great ones and some I wish I hadn't drank.  Remember to comment, subscribe and follow!



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pipeworks Abduction - Gus #33

I hope everyone had a great Christmas holiday and a Happy New Year!  I got to spend time with family and friends and enjoy some great brews.  I'm looking forward to a great year in 2013 and I hope you all can do the same!  I missed a few days on reviews but with the holidays and all the traveling I did, I just couldn't find the time.  Hopefully this brew today will start 2013 off right!

This brew is from a small brewery in Chicago, IL.  They have put out some great brews and are really hitting some home runs with a lot of their offerings.  This one is a small batch imperial stout called Abduction.  I've heard a lot of good things.  Let's get into the review of this brew.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:
Not really a lot available on the website.  I think it is still under construction.  I had to pull most of this from the label.
About the Beer:
Style:  American Imperial stout
Alcohol by Volume:  10.5%

"Abduction in the dead of night, an eerie silence consumes the blackened sky.  In an instant, BOOM, a single beam engulfs you.  Panic stricken, you flee in no particular direction.  It’s of little use, as you’re lifted effortlessly from the safety and comfort of the earth into a darkness unknown.  Resistance is futile.  They have you now.  Abduction has you now.

Bottling Dates:
Batch 041: 10/8/12"

I poured this brew into a large snifter glass.

Appearance:  The brew poured really dark brown, almost jet black.  It was almost like cola colored, black with hints of brown on the sides of the glass.  Really nice head for such a big brew.  Head was light brown/tan color that put forth a ton of lacing.  It had much better head retention than I expected.  Very apparent alcohol legs as well.  When swirled in the glass it left a brown film.  It looks like this will be a big brew with great mouthfeel.

Aroma:  Big malt notes right off the bat.  Then some chocolate but more of a cocoa chocolate than anything.  Slight hints of dark chocolate.  Roasty coffee and sweet caramel aromas.  Some dark fruits mixed in as well.  It does have a slight alcohol aroma but nothing hot or bad.  Kind of a sweet aroma.  Super roasty almost smoky in this one.  Really nice Imperial Stout. 

Taste:  Pretty much spot on with following the nose.  Roasty chocolate and hints of espresso.  Coffee bitterness mixed with a dark chocolate bitterness mid palate.  The back end has that cocoa sweetness to it.  Some of the alcohol comes through but mostly in a warming sensation in the back of the mouth.  This would do great cellared for a few months to see what it does.  Some dark fruits, maybe a little raisin.  Smokiness is really nice.  It's easy to drink even with the hint of alcohol and is great for a chilly night!

Verdict:  I really enjoyed this brew.  I'm starting to like the smoky stouts more and more.  This one is a perfect example of what American Imperial Stouts are.  They are usually a bit more smokey than Russian Imperial Stouts that I've had and I like that factor.  I really liked the espresso and subtle mixtures of all the other flavors.  Everything balanced and blended well.  The warmth was really great as it's been chilly around here.  This brew gets an A from me.  I hope to get some more of this one and let some age to see what happens to them.  Maybe some more dark fruits will come out.  It would pair nicely with some rich fudge or another rich chocolaty dessert.  It would even go great with a cigar to enhance the smokiness.  Very nice from a young brewery.  I hope to have some more things from them in the future.

I really like the artwork these guys do with the stories to go along with them.  Let me know what you think and if you have any other suggestions from this brewery to try!