Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bells Expedition Stout - Tom #10

Hello everyone, as winter is quickly winding down before we are even noticing it I have been in a stout mode. As a lot of new, we will label them as winter into spring beers, are emerging on the shelves of your local shops. So I have been hitting my stock of stouts fairly hard recently. For this review this particular stout is one of the ones I finally got my hands on back in December from Gus and recently as a freebie in a trade. That beer would be Bell's Expedition Stout.

How it rates with others: 

YouTube Videos

About the beer:
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5% 
Availability: Winter (6packs) 
Info from Bell's
One of the earliest examples of the Russian Imperial Stout in the United States, Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.

I poured this into my Cigar City Snifter

Appearance: Well first I have to start with that this brew to date has been the closest resemblance of pouring motor oil out of a beer bottle. (Yes I change my own oil so I know what real oil looks like!) This brew poured so thick but yet so smoothly. So being as it poured like motor oil it was pitch black with a half of finger of dark khaki head that lasted a fairly decent amount of time.

Aroma: This was a little tricky as I picked up on a number of different things so rapidly. It was from a little chocolate at first straight to coffee from the pour than once sat and swirled a bit it gets roasty and some alcohol notes appear. On the back you get some mild dark fruit notes.

Taste: This was the real treat. This 10.5% RIS drank so smooth it should be illegal. This is one of the most smoothest stouts I've ever had the pleasure of drinking from a bottle. Nice subtle malt starts on the pallet than to a nice balance chocolate taste. Coffee is present but hidden behind the chocolate in my opinion. Alcohol wasn't upfront at all with zero burn.

Verdict:  Overall this was a bomb, a massive big profile bomb. Every stout lover should definitely have a try at this and makes me wanna seek out some black note stout even more! Overall this deserves a well earned A+. It is loaded with all the things one would seek in a superb brew; appearance, aroma and taste are all out of this world! 

Thanks for reading and don't forget to drop a comment, subscribe and follow us on facebook! 


Monday, February 25, 2013

Pipeworks Ninja vs. Unicorn - Gus #45

How crazy would it be to see a ninja fight a unicorn?  I'd pay money to see that.  Especially if it is half as epic as this bottle label looks.  Pipeworks Brweing Company out of Chicago, IL is putting out some really nice stuff.  All of it has pretty awesome labels too.  I previously reviewed their Abduction stout.  This time it's their Ninja Vs. Unicorn Double IPA.

How it rates with others:

YouTube reviews:
Joe via Proper Hops
Chris from Beer Geek Nation

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:
Not really too much there.  Still under construction I'm guessing.

About the Beer:
Style:  Double IPA
Alcohol by Volume:  8.50%
IBUs:  N/A

"Ninja vs. Unicorn celebrates the epic battle between two of the biggest hop-heads of lore.  Brewed with over five pounds of hops per barrel.  This unfiltered Double IPA is sure to please the most discerning hop lover. Whether you're rooting for the mythical horned horse or the deadly assassin of the east, we hope you'll enjoy Ninja vs. Unicorn."

I poured this brew into my Jester King glass.

Appearance:  The brew poured a hazy golden orange with hints of yellow and bright orange around the edges of the glass.  Pour yielded one and a half fingers of head.  The head was slightly off white and riddled with a ton of different sized bubbles.  Good lacing around the glass a little hints of alcohol legs.  It became more transparent as it warmed but it was never clear.  As it cleared a little more I noticed the carbonation streaming up the side of the glass.

Aroma:  Big hop forward as you would expect from this beer.  Citrus notes right up front of a lemon/orange mixture and some bitter grapefruit.  Then there is a sweet aroma much like a tangelo or sweet orange.  Little bit of pine right on the back end but that is blown away by a big sweet aroma.  Sweet peaches maybe.  Some mango maybe even.  Spice from hops but it's very faint as the citrus and pine are bigger.  Not picking up any alcohol at all.  Nice aroma.

Taste:  Really hoppy up front again.  Kind of a sweet kick that leads into some more of the citrus notes.  The sweetness comes in mid palate to reveal itself with hints of caramel.  Kind of a candy sweetness with hints of white grapefruit.  Not too much of the pine in the flavor but there is a thick resiny feel.  Medium mouthfeel with nice carbonation.  It's really easy to drink.  Don't get any alcohol flavors even after I let it warm up.  

Verdict:  This is as solid of a Double IPA as you can get.  It does everything you would expect.  It's not over the top but it's very, very good.  I would love to have this one again.  Be nice with a spicy buffalo chicken sandwich or strips.  The finish doesn't linger too long but it cleans it away pretty quickly too.  I'm gonna give this one an A.  It's a great example of the style and what I look for in a brew like this.  This brewery is up and coming and I am glad I've gotten to sample some of their offers.  

I've seen some other stuff from this brewery checked in lately.  I hope everyone is enjoying them as much as I have.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Home Brew Wednesday - Gus HBW #4 Gémeaux (Gemini)

Well it's Wednesday again!  That means it's time for another Home Brew Wednesday post.  I've brewed a couple batches here lately.  I'm going to get these into bottles for conditioning then start brewing some of my IPAs.  This post is one I brewed about a week and a half ago.  It was my firs All Grain brew.  Well it had a little DME in the end but that was to balance out my grain bill that I had for this brew.  I wanted to spike it just a little bit but didn't want to use table sugar.  My grains had me a little lower on the Starting Gravity than I wanted to be.  So added 1 LB of DME.  My next All Grain won't have anything but the grain in it.

This brew is a Belgian Dubbel that I have dubbed Gémeaux.  That word is French for Gemini.  Since this is a Dubbel I thought that seemed fitting.  Most of my Belgian style brews will have French names I think.  I will see as I brew more.  Now I just have to decide on a theme for all my IPAs and Stouts.

My Recipe

6.60 lbs Pilsner (2-Row) German
1.50 lbs Munich Malt
1.00 lbs Aromatic Malt
0.50 lbs Special B Malt
0.50 lbs White Wheat Malt
0.50 lbs Biscuit Malt
1.00 lbs Candi Sugar (added at the 30 min mark)
1.00 lbs Light DME (added at the 15 min mark)

1.00 ozs Saaz @ 60 mins
1.00 ozs Hallertauer @ 20 mins

White Labs Trappist Ale WLP500 (2 Vials)

Wirlfloc Tablet @ 15 mins

Pretty basic Belgian recipe.  I'm interested to see how this turns out.  I love a good Dubbel.  Maybe I can brew one!

For this brew I used my newly completed mash tun.  I took a 54 quart cooler and built a manifold to go in the bottom out of CPVC.  It's good to use it because it isn't toxic and is rated for high heat.  Then I picked up a ball valve from Bayou Classic here in town.  I couldn't find stainless hose barbs so I ordered some from Rebel Brewer.  Check out their site if your LHBS doesn't have something you are looking for or can't get it.

I let my grains mash for an hour and then Batch Sparged to get the remaining liquid that I would need for the boil.  Always remember to Vorlauf to get your wort as clear as possible.  If you aren't sure what Vorlauf is, click the word and it will take you to an explanation.

For the Batch Sparge I heated the remaining water to 170F.  That would get the remaining sugars out of the water and get me set to go.  I use my stove top for this but I won't have to use that for brewing any more!  You will see below why.

This is why I don't have to use my stove top any more.  I recently got a new Brew Kettle from Bayou Classic.

I also picked up a propane burner from them while I was there.  This should cut brew times way down for me.

After I filled my Brew Kettle with enough wort to start my boil I moved it to the burner outside.

In under 20 minutes I had a full and rolling boil.  That was so much nicer than having to wait closer to an hour inside.  This also gives me the benefit of having bigger boils increasing the amounts of flavor.

I use the iBrewMaster app on my phone when brewing.  It's really handy and I recommend anyone who brews to download it.  It has timers built in and even keeps you organized for your additions throughout the boil.

I added my recently built Hop Spider and added the first additions of hops.  Throughout the boil there were two additions of hops and a few other additions of Belgian Candi Sugar and the DME at the end.  iBrewMaster kept me on schedule and didn't let me miss a thing.

After the boil was complete I threw my sanitized Wort Chiller in and began lowering the temperature to pitch the yeast.

All in all the brew day was much shorter than any I have had.  I kept it organized and everything went smoothly.  I didn't quite reach my Starting Gravity of 1.064 but I was right there at it with 1.062.  I wasn't worried about hitting my ABV though as all of my brews so far have been getting lower than my target Final Gravity.  The brews are a little drier and easier to drink though.

I checked the gravity of the brew on Monday this week and I was already down to 1.008.  I started the chilling process in my fermenter to hault any other fermentation and start the clearing process.  By this weekend I should have it down to 45F and keep going another week to clear up.

Thanks for reading my HBW post!  Hope other brewers out there are having as much fun as I am.  Let me know if you brew yourself and what you brew.  Be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also follow Tom and I on UnTappd to see what we are drinking.  Our handles are listed in the side bar to the right.

Cheers and happy brewing!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Boulevard Tank 7 - Tom #9

Hello everyone! For today's review we are going to look at Tank 7 by Boulevard. This is a brew I picked up on a trip to Maryland with my cousin who had this particular brew before during his travels and highly recommended it. So I grabbed a few to give them a try. It is a Saison style which I have become a huge fan of so I was eager to give this one a try.

How it rates with others:


YouTube Videos

About the Beer
Style:  Saison/Farmhouse Ale 
Alcohol by Volume:  8.5%
IBUs: 38 
Malt: Pale Malt, Malted Wheat 
Hops: Magnum, Bravo, Amarillo

Info from the brewery
Most breweries have at least one piece of equipment that’s just a bit persnickity. Here at Boulevard we have fermenter number seven, the black sheep of our cellar family. Ironically, when our brewers were experimenting with variations on a traditional Belgian-style farmhouse ale, the perfect combination of elements came together in that very vessel. You could call it fate, but they called it Tank 7, and so it is. Beginning with a big surge of fruity aromatics and grapefruit-hoppy notes, the flavor of this complex, straw-colored ale tapers off to a peppery, dry finish.

 I poured this into my Hill Farmstead stemmed tulip
Appearance: This beer poured a hazy yellow/orange color with a very large pure white head that lasted the entire time as it dissipated to about a half finger for the whole drink. From the pop of the cap it seemed to be very carbonated as the picture below indicates but it turned out to be the perfect balance. 

 Foamy head appeared as it was going to gush all over!
Aroma: This beer really smelled fantastic. Very earth like and you get tons of grapefruit and coriander. As most Saisons it had a peppery spicy scent as well. Was definitely a bready and floral scent spinning about as well.

Taste: As the nose indicated huge citrusy and grapefruit taste that all flowed together with intermingling spicy peppery notes backed with mild hop bite so perfectly. I was really blown away at how balance and flavorful this brew was.

Verdict: Overall I couldn't have been happier with this brew. It was fantastic and had all the right characteristics a Saison should. After having this I think it is safe to say that this is now my new favorite Saison! So with that said I have to give this a solid and well deserved A+! I definitely have to thank my cousin Matt for enlightening me on this brew!

As always thanks for reading and remember to comment, subscribe and follow us on facebook!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Deschutes Red Chair NWPA - Gus #44

Today's review comes from Deschutes in Bend, Oregon.  This one is there late Winter/Spring seasonal.  My buddy Winton was kind enough to split a 6-pack with me.  Their Northwest Pale Ale, called Red Chair, is named for a ski lift out that way and has a ton of good reviews.  People have gone so far as to say it's one of the best Pale Ales on the market.  I'm really excited to try this one.  I have some more things I got from Winton that I plan on reviewing as well, including another from Deschutes.  Check out his YouTube channel.  I'll put a link top his channel below.  Let's check out Deschutes Red Chair NWPA.

Winton's YouTube Channel

How it rates with others:

YouTube reviews:
These are older reviews.  No one has anything on this years batch.
Ryan aka StumpyJoeJr
Jamison's Beer Reviews
Daniel from Beyond the Pour
Peter the Master of Hoppets
Chris from Beer Geek Nation

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:
About the Beer:
Style:  American Pale Ale
Alcohol by Volume:  6.2%
IBUs:  60
Malts:  Pale, Crystal, Munich, Carapils, Pilsner, Carastan
Hops:  Cascade, Centennial

"The citrus punch of a big IPA, minus the one-dimensional hop sledgehammer.  Seven select European and domestic malts round out the edges for a complex copper-colored brew.  Like it's namesake ski lift, it's an insider's ride to fresh thrills."

I poured this brew into my Jester King glass.

Appearance:  Pours a copper/dark orange color.  Darker than I expected.  The head was a solid two fingers of white to off white-ish before it settled.  It kept a film over the top all the way through drinking it.  Really almost caramel in color.  Maybe that's a hint to the aroma.  Super clear.  You are able to see the logo on the opposite of the glass by looking through it..  Lacing sticking all around the glass, but not really heavy, thick lacing.  No sign of alcohol legs.  Nice carbonation streaming up the edge of the glass too.  I like the look of this one a lot.

Nice head lacing.

Super clear.  You can see all the way through this one.

Aroma:  Hop forward for sure.  Having hints of grapefruit and citrus.  A sweet citrus like a tangerine more so than bitterness really.  Malt sweetness in the form of caramel, much like the color.  Some candy confection sweetness in there as well.  Almost has a hint of wet, fresh cut grass to me.  This is perfect for spring.  Earthy notes and almost floral.  Definitely a Centennial hop aroma with the floral notes.  Cascade most definitely responsible for the citrus notes.  Not a lot of spiciness.  Really smells like a smooth balanced brew.  Maybe a little bit of toffee.  But that is slight.  Sweet fruit notes are really what's there after the hop aroma. 

Taste:  Hop forward as expected, like the nose.  The orange/tangerine sweetness hits you right on the front of the tongue. Slight grapefruit but more sweet grapefruit than bitter.  There isn't much bitterness at all actually.  A sweet caramel washes over the mid palate and the brew finishes so clean in the back of the mouth.  What residual is there in the aftertaste is just a little bit of sweetness.  Like others have said before me this is SUPER drinkable.  No alcohol taste, mouthfeel is medium-light.  I feel like I could drink this all day.  Perfect to watch some baseball games in spring with.  

Held the head "cap" all the way down to the bottom.

Verdict:  Well this is one of the best Pale Ales I've ever had.  It's not a hop bomb like something like Zombie Dust or Daisy Cutter. But, it's super drinkable, super fresh and really easy to drink.  I'd love to have a ton of this for the Spring time.  The hop presence is there with out being to resiny or bitter.  I love some hop bombs but you honestly can't have too many of those without wrecking your palate.  This is a definite A for me.  Super impressive and something I wish some breweries close to me would try to do.  Something like this would be liked by a ton of different people.  Hop heads will love it.  People who like malts will love it.  And, people who aren't into craft beer would too.  It's not too overpowering that it would run them off.  I'm glad I got to try this one.  I'm also glad I have a few more in the fridge!

I paired this with some pizza.  But, I think this is extremely versatile.  I think a hamburger, sandwich or almost any daily foods will be great with this.

Thanks for reading my brew review for today!  And, thanks to Winton for sending it out to me!



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA - Tom #8

Hoppy Hallmark Holiday to everyone! ( Happy Valentines Day) Hopefully y'all have someone special your spending it with whether that's a significant other, friends or even a big special brew! Anyways for this review we will be dipping into a big Imperial Double IPA from Three Floyds called Dreadnaught IPA. I acquired this in my first trade with a good guy from the Chicago area and was super excited to try this one. So sit back, buckle in and prepare for the ride.
How it rates with others: 

About the beer:
Style: Imperial Double IPA 
ABV: 9.5%
IBUs: 99

From Three Floyds:
A hophead’s dream beer. This Imperial India Pale Ale has an opening salvo of mango, peach and citrus hop aromas that sit atop a pronounced caramel malt backbone. Although Dreadnaught is a strong and intensely hoppy ale, its complex flavor is both smooth and memorable.

Poured this into the new Dogfish Head IPA glass 
Appearance: This brew pours a hazy deep golden orange color that packs a big 3 finger white head that actually lingers around for quite some time and leaves lacing where ever it touches. A solid and really great looking IPA.

Aroma: WHOA! Right into the glass you instantly smell lots and lots of citrus and piney notes. When you dig your nose into it you definitely pull out a lot of mango, pine, citrus and mild subdued hops which is amazing since this is a DIPA. Being a mid-west brew it definitely has the west coast IPA characteristics thus far to it. Overall a really fantastic smelling IPA.

Taste: Where to start with this thing, the taste of this brew was unbelievable. At first sip you can really taste a lot of citrus notes with heavy pine backing. This was mildly sweet on the back of the pallet with the ever so tart hint to it. The after taste definitely packs the hop profile you would expect from a big IPA. While throughout the tasting there is a dominate hop presence, its not till the follow through that they really shine through and give you that pallet cleansing of hops.

Verdict: Overall this is a winner in my book hands down in every category. I've heard a lot of people say its like fruit juice and such, no way. This beer has a superior legacy behind it for a reason. Its bold, yet ridiculously smooth and absolutely refreshing to the max! This is brew will definitely get a IPA fan boys motor turning and even if you aren't a big IPA fan you will still find love in this (ask my dad who doesn't like bold bitter IPA's at all who loved this!) So as for a letter grade Dreadnaught passes and receives a solid A from me!

If you have a change to pick this up, do so, you won't be disappointed! So comment, follow, subscribe and like us on facebook! Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jester King RU-55 - Gus #43

Every now and then you hear about a brew coming out that really sparks your attention.  Something different than what you have had or maybe just an example of your favorite styles.  Jester King's RU-55 was that for me.  I've really been into sour beers here lately, as a lot of other people have been.  This one is a Barrel-Aged Sour Red or Wild Ale.  So this combines my new love of Sour Ales and my other love, Barrel-Aged beers.  Jester King brews their beers farmhouse style, using farmhouse yeast and wild yeast from the Texas Hill Country (from their descriptions.)  They also use some "bugs" or bacteria in the fermentation of their brews.  I've always been impressed with their very low Final Gravity and how dry they get their beers to ferment to.  So, needless to say, I was excited to try this brew.  I wish I had gotten some more pictures of it but I had this during my brew day this weekend.  I had a lot going on.  But, that didn't stop me from jotting down notes about this brew.  Here is the review for Jester King's RU-55 Sour Red Ale.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:
About the Beer:
Style:  Sour Ale/Wild Ale
Alcohol by Volume:  7.30%
IBUs:  N/A

"Red ale aged in oak barrels with wild yeast and souring bacteria.  Unfiltered, unpasteurized  and bottle-conditioned.  This beer is a tribute to our good friend Russ Beadie.  Thanks, Russ.  Thuss."

I poured this brew into my Jester King glass.

Appearance:  Brew poured in with a finger to a finger and a half of head.  It didn't last long as it gave way to a light ring around the glass.  Extended barrel aging usually cuts down on head retention.  Little bit of carbonation but not too high.  Slightly cloudy but deep red almost mahogany in color.  Swirling the glass gives you some remnants of alcohol legs as the brew leaves the side.  Really almost wine-like in appearance.  Definitely inviting to take a sip.

Aroma:  Right in the front there is a hint of red apple and maybe even some strawberry. Hints of cherry come in after that. Then comes the bitter, sour funk.  Really has a tart fruit aroma.  Little bit of white wine vinegar.  Some malt backbone is there as well.  No hop aroma really other than some fruity notes that hint citrus.  That could be from the bugs in there during fermentation.  I love way the tart aromas give you that sour feeling right in the back of your jaw.  No hint of alcohol in the aroma at all.

Taste:  Very fruity and apple forward.  Hints of apple skin and lemony tartness there.  Sweetness of strawberry and cherry.  More of a red wine vinegar instead of the white wine aromas.  Tart with hints of sour and just enough funk to be nice.  I like the fruity sourness that it has over some others with that lemony tartness that can be too much after a while.  This one is a very easy drinker and would definitely sneak up on you.  Mouthfeel is thin and light.  I'm sure the Final Gravity is way down there so that is to be expected.  Finish is super dry and makes you want to go back for another drink.  

Verdict:  Super good stuff.  I had heard this was one to grab so I'm glad I got a couple bottles of it.  The sweetness of the fruits are blended perfect with the tartness.  Then the easy drinking mouthfeel and finish being so dry just work so well.  I'm interested to try some other things from Jester King.  This one is going to score an A.  Really impressive stuff.  I can't wait to try some more.  This would be a great pair with a nice grilled steak salad.  I think that would be super refreshing.  I'm going to keep a bottle in the cellar for a while since it is bottle conditioned to see what it will do over time.  I'm excited for a young brewery like Jester King putting out stuff this good.  I hope they expand to our market soon (HINT if you guys are reading!) since they are in Alabama already.  I'd like to keep some of there stuff around at all times!

If you haven't tried any sour beers you really should.  Sometimes they can take getting used to but when you do you will fall in love with them.  I know I did.  Thanks for reading and remember to check us out on Facebook at Mason-Dixon Brew Crew Facebook.  Comment, subscribe and follow to let us know how we are doing!



Friday, February 8, 2013

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye 2013 - Gus #42

Well it's finally Friday! I've been looking forward to this day because this weekend is a brew weekend.  More on that for HBW next week.  Today's review is the Spring seasonal from Sierra Nevada.  I believe this is the second year this has been released.  I jumped on it when it showed up here.  I have become more and more of a fan of brews with rye.  It showed up here the week after it was released so I knew it would be fresh.  I'm a fan of a lot of what Sierra Nevada does.  Their Pale Ale was one of the first (I'm sure for many) craft beers I actually had.  I'm a huge fan of their Torpedo IPA and Bigfoot Barleywine.  So I had high expectations for this one.

How it rates with others:

Information from the website:
About the Beer:
Style:  Rye IPA
Alcohol by Volume:  6.6%
IBUs:  55

"Rustic grains, refined flavor, ruthless character."

"Rugged and resilient, rye has been a staple grain for ages and its spicy black pepper-like flavor has been prized by distillers and brewers for centuries.  Rye thrives in the harshest conditions and comes to life in Ruthless, a spicy and rugged IPA with fruity, citrus and herbal hop notes balanced with the dry spiciness of the rye, making the beer aggressive yet comforting to bolster against whatever the winter winds may bring."

I poured this brew into my Jester King glass.

Appearance:  Little bit of chill haze when I poured it but as it warmed up a bit it was crystal clear.  Copper in color almost like rust or burn orange.  Really bright in color.  Two fingers of a white to off white head that settled down to a cap on the top as I drank it.  Sticky lacing all around the glass.  No alcohol legs that I can see.  They would be hidden by the lace if they were there.  Carbonation streaming up the middle and sides of the glass.  Looks like a perfect Spring beer.  It really gets your mouth watering while looking at it! 

Aroma:  Big citrus and spice on the aroma.  Tiny bit of floral notes in there but the rye comes in and cleans that out with the spice it brings to the table.  Hops seem to have a spicy character in there as well.  Citrus is mostly grapefruit or maybe even acidic like grapefruit zest.  Kind of that aroma you get when you pull back the peel of a grapefruit.  Sweet malt backbone right behind all the citrus and spice.  Not an overwhelming sweetness that could be too sticky though.  Just really nice soft sweetness that mixes everything well.  Hints of pine in there.  Kind of like dry pine though.  Not just extremely pungent but nice and subtle.  Standard Sierra Nevada aroma quality we all know and love. 

Taste:  This is just as exciting as the nose.  The spice character is more prevalent   It works so well though.  Citrus and spice of something like ground black pepper with just hint of white pepper in there too.  The grapefruit just washes right over the spice in mid palate and carries over to the back of the mouth.  The aftertaste is more of the spice and some of the sweetness.  Kind of like sweet ruby red grapefruit juice now.  Mouthfeel is medium-light.  I think the rye plays in to give this a nice mouthfeel without being too watery.  Carbonation is just exactly where you would want it in a brew like this.  Dry in the finish so it leaves you wanting to take another sip.  Really nice stuff.

Verdict:  I think this brew is complex enough to be very interesting and offer tons of flavors to the drinker.  It doesn't over do it though.  To much and it can turn from a session type brew into a sipper/sharer.  This is definitely not going to wreck your palate or anything like that.  But, at the same time, it is packed with tons of flavors and aromas.  6.6% is a little high for a session beer but I really think this one could be considered that.  Super refreshing, super tasty and perfect mouthfeel.  This would pair perfect with a nice spring salad or even something simple like a slice of pizza.  This is gonna get an A from me.  I'm getting more and more into these rye beers, and how could you not with great offerings like this?  Sierra Nevada time and time again puts out some really great stuff.  They do that while sending their stuff pretty much all over the country.  An amazing feat in itself.  I will probably pick up some more of this while it is still around.  Maybe do a side-by-side of this and their Pale Ale.  I think they are similar with this having just a bit more spice from the rye.  This brew compares to Lazy Magnolia's Timber Beast for you guys local to me.  It's kind of like a little brother to Timber Beast since Timber Beast is an Imperial Rye IPA.  If you like either check out the other.

This brew gets out everywhere so I'm sure a lot of you guys have had it.  Let me know what you think of it.  It's definitely a good one to introduce someone to craft beer with.  Also something great to introduce folks to rye beers.  They have a lot to offer and can be interesting in any style.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!  Remember to have a good time and drink good beer while doing it!



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Goose Island Night Stalker - Tom #7

Hello everyone, for today's review we are going to look at Goose Island's Night Stalker. As all beer lovers know A-B InBev has complete ownership of Goose Island and there has be a lot of controversy going on by other big names in the craft beer industry about GI. So I was really interested in trying this particular brew by them as I have been told its a solid one even though I am against the evil giant A-B InBev but we won't go off on that rant today! This bottle label stated it was bottle on November 18th, 2012

 How it rates with others:

Beer Advocate

Rate Beer

Beer Geek Nation

About the beer:
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.7%
IBUs: 60
Hops: Mt Hood, Simcoe
Malts: 2-Row, Munich, Chocolate, Caramel, Roasted Barley, De-Bittered Black

From Goose Island:
 "A heavily-hopped imperial stout, Night Stalker is a heavyweight of a beer. It delivers a formidable punch of hops and rich roasted malt notes to the nose in a silky body that's as dark as night"

"Night Stalker, as an homage to the Chicago-based television show. Night Stalker is a jet black, dry hopped Imperial Stout, extremely rich and full flavored with malt and chocolate followed by a bright dry hopped aroma. It is the same base as our Bourbon County Stout, but instead of aging in Bourbon barrels, we dry hop it like madmen"

Bottle also states "Brewery fresh within 180 days from bottling date." 

I poured this into an Maudite glass

Appearance: This poured pitch black with an dark khaki color head. There was about a finger maybe a finger and a half of head which resided fairly quickly to just a trace around the glass. Beer definitely had a lot of legs from the 11.7% ABV and the lacing is evident. This definitely poured and shaped out to be exactly how you would imagine a big imperial stout would.

Aroma: This is where my flag went up. From the second this brew left the bottle instantly your nasal passages were full of strong alcohol! The 11.7% in this bottle was not hidden at all and was completely upfront. So I let this sit a little and swirled it around to air it out a little. After a little sitting this is when the other aromas starting filling the air like dark chocolates and a little coffee. The roasted malts shined I believe more than the hops did in this one when the bottle clearly states its a hoppy imperial stout, but there was some notable hop notes swirling about. Still a lot of alcohol throughout.

Taste: This follows the nose with the alcohol and had a huge pungent alcohol blast to it. This was definitely the most dominate taste throughout the entire glass. Once past the strong alcohol burn some chocolate and coffee flavors started to emerge. I still didn't notice any of these strong hop flavors I have read about this beer having.

Verdict: Overall I think it is safe to say I was generally disappointed in this brew. This bottle was only 2 months old and having it stated on the bottle itself that it is a hoppy imperial stout I wouldn't have thought the hops would have died out that fast. So this was a bit of a let down as I was hoping for something different and instead got a massive alcohol bomb. I also should state that I am no stranger to extremely high ABV brews. So I am going to safely give this a B- and super happy that I shared this bottle with my cousin and wasn't left drinking it all by myself.
 Thanks for reading everybody and don't forget to follow, subscribe, drop us a line, and like us on facebook!

 - Tom

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout - Gus #41

So last night I bottled my Belgian Dark Strong Ale, Obscurité.  I decided to pop a brew while I was working on it.  I walked to my cellar and this popped out at me so I grabbed it and chilled it slightly.  This is a Odd Year release from Stone.  In 2011 they release Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout.  This is a cool thing they do every odd year (2011 and will release some this year in 2013) where they release one of their brews done in a different way.  This release was their Imperial Russian Stout (IRS) brewed with star anise and oak chips, fermented with Belgian yeast.  I love Belgian brews and since I was bottling one of my own it fit perfect.  I've held on to this bottle for a long time now.  Last night seemed like the right time to let it loose.

How it rates with others:

YouTube review:
Jamison (tantrum777)
Ryan aka StumpyJoeJr
Chris of Beer Geek Nation
Peter the Master of Hoppets

ratebeer review:

About the Beer:
Style:  Imperial Stout
Alcohol by Volume:  10.50%
IBUs:  Unknown
Serving:  22oz Bomber

I poured this brew into a snifter glass.

Appearance:  Pours dark brown as it goes into the glass.  It settles almost black with about a finger and a half of off white to tan head.  Tight white bubbles in the head due to the bottle conditioning.  The head did dissipate after a few minutes.  Alcohol legs on the glass as I swirled it.  Barely any light coming through at all. What does get through, and I mean barely any, is only on the edges and it gives the edges a clear very dark brown appearance.

Aroma:  Really big star anise/licorice notes right off the get go.  Being brewed with the star anise in there of course helps that.  I think the Belgian yeast probably enhanced this over time with the brew being bottle conditioned as well.  Some hits of bitter chocolate and roasted coffee bean in there.  There is a sweetness in there as well.  Not really any alcohol present.  The aging probably cooled some of it down that others experience with a fresher bottle.  The hops have faded a bit as well giving way to the malt aromas.  Overall the licorice and roasty notes are the big players with some underlying coffee and chocolate bitterness.  The spice aromas from the Belgian yeast are there as well but a little muted by the other aromas.  Maybe some hints of vanilla but if they are there, it's just barely.

Taste:  This is almost just like the aroma but a little sweeter and more roast in the flavor.  The licorice is right there with some of the dark chocolate.  Coffee is there as well but downplayed by the anise/licorice notes.  Sweetness with the licorice kind of gives it a root beer flavor a little bit.  Alcohol, like the aroma, has been converted into more of a sweetness instead of being too hot.  Carbonation is still at a good level, probable due to the Belgian yeast still working in the bottle.  I will say there isn't as much Belgian spice as I would like to have.  Being brewed with that yeast and bottle conditioned, I was looking for a little more.  I think the anise was just the big player and kind of overpowered the other flavors.  After taste is coffee and dark chocolate with a dry finish.  Medium to medium/heavy mouthfeel that was surprisingly easy to drink.  

Verdict:  This is a very interesting brew.  I think the extended aging helped with the hot alcohol aromas and flavors that were there when fresh.  It had big licorice flavors and sweetness.  The roasty notes were a little subdued by that.  I really wanted to see more from the oak chips.  It had a little vanilla maybe but not too much.  It was fairly complex and had a ton to offer but, I do prefer their regular IRS to this one.  It would be interesting to see what this one is like with just the Belgian yeast as some others have said.  Belgian style stouts are usually pretty tasty.  All that being said, I'm really glad I kept this bottle and let it sit for a while.  I also love the way they alter it on the Odd Year releases.  I'm going to score this one a B.  Definitely above average but not quite as good as their regular IRS.  I have a 2012 bottle of IRS that I will pop open when they release this years batch.  I'll make a comparison of the old and new batches.  I just have to remember to buy more that I usually do!  For pairings, I think this would go great with a Cigar or some type of ribs.  The licorice and sweetness would cut the savory flavors of some really nice smoked ribs.

Thanks for checking out another review and let me know what you guys think.  I'll get a review of my BDSA that I bottled while drinking this one soon to let you guys know how that turned out.  



Monday, February 4, 2013

Firestone Walker Double DBA - Gus #40

Today's review is a big one.  I have been saving this bottle for a while.  I guess looking for the perfect moment to pop it open.  Well the other night the temps dropped and it was freezing outside here.  I decided I wanted a big brew to warm me up.  Went to look at my cellar and there she sat.  In her big fancy box just staring at me.  So I grabbed it and sat it in the fridge for maybe 5 minutes.  After that I sat it on the counter for a few more minutes.  Then it was time to pop it.  This is a really big brew.  It comes from Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Beullton, CA.  These guys pop out some great things.  I'm sure this one won't be any different.  I'm talking about their Double DBA.  It's their Double Double Barrel Aged Imperial Special Bitter.  Their flagship brew is their DBA Imperial Bitter.  So they took a double batch and aged it in some oak barrels.  Probably their Union Jack barrels but I'm not sure.  I've been excited to try this for a while.  I guess #40 is a good place to put it!  Let's get it poured and see how it is.

How it rates with others:

YouTube reviews:
This is another one that has been reviewed by a ton of people.  Most give it great reviews.  This made me more excited to try it.
Chris from Beer Geek Nation
Ryan aka StumpyJoeJr
Peter the Master of Hoppets
What Cheers!

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:
About the Beer:
Style:  American Strong Ale
Alcohol by Volume:  12.0%
IBUs:  29
Malts:  Premium Two-Row, Maris Otter Pale, Munich, Crystal, Chocolate
Hops:  Bittering - Magnum;  Late Kettle - Styrian Golding, East Kent Golding;  Dry Hops - East Kent Golding

"DDBA is our flagship beer brewed at double strength.  It is amazingly similar in many ways to our barrel fermented DBA and possesses everything we love about that beer times two.  English caramel malts lend rich toffee character that pairs well with assertive medium toast American oak barrels."

Sounds amazing!

I poured this brew into a large snifter glass.

Appearance:  This one poured out an amber almost red tint.  Really a ruby red glow to it.  It reminded me of some of the bourbons or darker scotches I've had.  Add the red hue and that was really close.  The pour yielded half a finger of head that went away immediately.  I really didn't expect much head being that this brew is 12% ABV and it's barrel aged.  It did leave a ring and an island of bubbles in the glass as I drank it.  Super clear brew and alcohol legs galore.  You can really tell this is one big brew.

Aroma:  First off, let me say that this aroma is HUGE.  Just so much going on in it.  Right at the front you do get some sweetness.  More of a malty, toffee sweetness.  Then slight hints of some cherry.  Then the barrel characteristics come out.  Oak, tannins, vanilla and hints of almost a caramelized raisins are all in there.  At the end you pick up some darker fruits but those are slight.  It was just slightly chilled when I popped it but as it warmed to be room temperature I got more barrel characteristics.  Toasted coconut and toffee took up most of the aroma.  There is definitely some alcohol in there as well.  I do expect that in such a large brew.  Plus it isn't an offensive alcohol aroma.  More of a sweetness like a good blended whiskey.  Really nice smelling brew from Firestone Walker.  More and more excited to taste this one.

Taste:  Same as the aroma this thing was packed with flavor.  The sweeter flavors like toffee and caramelized sugar were really big.  Then the toasted coconut and vanilla moved right in.  The mouthfeel is perfect for  a sipper brew.  Just on the heavy side of medium.  Carbonation is nice and light as well.  There were some hints of a tobacco and woodiness all throughout the sip.  The back of the throat has a nice warming sensation.  Definitely not too hot and overpowering.  The aftertaste has some of the cherry and more of the vanilla in it.  Really complex flavor profile and really nice to sip.  I am realizing that I should have shared this with someone, that's for sure.  12% is a lot to handle by one's self.  

Verdict:  Firestone Walker's Double DBA comes from their Reserve Series.  It really is a special brew and deserves that Reserve title.  All the things I've had from the brewery so far have been great.  This is no exception.  I wouldn't even pair this brew with anything.  I would let it totally stand on its own as an after meal sipper.  Even a late cold night by the fire brew.  If it was easy to seal it back this one would be perfect for those night caps.  It is very much a perfect example of a sipping beer though.  I wouldn't to chug down two pints of this thing back to back.  I'm going to give this one an A.  It is pretty sweet but a brew this big I do look for it to be that way.  It's perfect for bottle shares or for just sharing with a couple other friends after a nice meal.  I'd love to have a couple more sitting in the cellar.  I think when they release it this year I will pick up a few more bottles.

Until the next review guys, cheers!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Half Acre Daisy Cutter - Gus #39

For Wednesday's review I'm reviewing a beer that Tom has previously done.  It will be interesting to compare and see how we received the beer.  I've seen his notes on it and I have now had the brew a couple times to develop my own.  This brew gets great reviews from all of the major sites and is a sought after one in trades.  I really wanted to try this along with a few other brews from the Chicago area.  I set up a trade with a guy I had previously traded with on BeerAdvocate.  I chilled them down and poured one as soon as I was able to.  Let's get into the review of Half Acre's Daisy Cutter American Pale Ale so you can see what I think about it.

How it rates with others:

YouTube reviews:
Joe via Proper Hops

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:

About the BeerStyle: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: 60
Serving: 16oz Can 
Availability: Year Round  

"A west coast Pale Ale chock-full of dank, aromatic hops. This one's a screamer, horde it."  

I poured this brew into my Jester King glass.

Appearance:  The brew poured pristine clear.  Golden color with hints of orange and yellow on the edges of the glass.  Good amount of carbonation coming up the side of the glass.  Two fingers of white head.  Mixture of sizes of bubbles.  Really fluffy, almost soapy looking.  Solid lacing all the way around the glass.  No real signs of alcohol legs but it did have great head retention.  Really refreshing and tasty looking Pale Ale.

Did I mention really good lacing??

Aroma:  Huge aroma on here.  As soon as I popped the top I could smell big citrus notes, some resiny hop aromas resembling grape fruit and oranges.  Really sweet citrus aromas that were really pleasant.  The malts balanced the brew nicely.  Slight hints of caramel maybe a sweet candy aroma as well.  Like Tom said, there were also some floral notes in there.  Fresh flowers and maybe even a little hint of fresh green grass.  Just a really good smelling beer.

Taste:  As expected some of those same hop aromas carried over into the flavor.  I did get a little more sweetness in the flavor but nothing over malty or too sweet.  Some sweet tangerine and ripe peaches.  Little bit of a tropical fruit flavor.  Then the orange and lemon zest hit you mid palate with a mix of those caramel and candy sugar sweetness.  Slightly tart but just a hint of it.  The after taste was more of the lemon and citrus flavors.  Super refreshing and amazingly easy to drink.

Verdict:  I had a high expectation coming into this one.  Having had this and Zombie Dust in a very close time period had me amped up for some good hoppy brews.  This holds it's own as being just as good as Zombie Dust.  The fact that it's cheaper and easier to get makes it a little better in my book.  This one is an A.  Nothing bad about this brew to me.  I'd love to have this as a regular around here.  It reminded me a little of Tallgrass 8-Bit Pale Ale with similar malt but different hop profiles.  I'd like to know what hops they use to brew Daisy Cutter.  I'll have to do some research to find that out.  Pairing this with a nice spring salad with some grilled shrimp would hit the spot.  This is also a great brew for being out on the water in the spring and summer.  Just enough hops to be great and refreshing.  

If you have had a chance to try this one, let us know what you think.  I'm a fan and will definitely seek it out again.  I finally finished the 4-pack I got not long ago.  I was saving the last ones for a while.  But if you can get this one fresh that is the way to drink it.  Until the next brew review, check us out on Facebook, comment, subscribe and follow us on here.  We'd love to get some feedback of how we are doing.  Thanks to all those who have been reading!