Saturday, December 29, 2012



One of the most interesting histories of a beer company. They started in Germany, then moved to American soil, eventually ending up in Detroit. They were a massive company, surviving the Dark Days (Prohibition) by making other products (soda and ice cream). They eventually bought out other companies (Old Milwaukee, Lone Star, Schlitz, and others), but lost the war to the big 3 (Miller, Coors, Anheuser-Busch). They were bought out by Pabst and Miller.

So that brings us to today. Any time I mention Stroh's, there's always someone about 20-30 years older than me stating that their dad's choice of brews. I discovered this on a broke spell in 2007 ($9 for a 15 pack? Hell yeah!), and it's been a go-to since.

The pour is light golden. The aroma is sweeter with a slight metallic hint. First sip is sweet, slightly malty, but light. Slight hint of hops toward the back before it goes into a dry smooth finish.  Decent body to it, a little heavier than PBR, but very comparable. A decent beer for when times are stretching your wallet.

3/5 caps


I'm not that old, but this was my grandfather's beer of choice. I remember being at a family dinner out, there were probably 10 or so of us there, and all the adults had a Stroh's. I think I had just turned 21, and wasn't that wise, being still a college student and into Miller Lite and Icehouse in those days. Ahhh, the misconceptions of youth.

A little smoother than PBR, I find Stroh's has more hop presence than most American adjunct lagers. I also find a little sweetness in the middle and finish. It's really not bad at all, very drinkable, and in my opinion, better than most American macro adjunct lagers.

3/5 caps


Pabst Blue Ribbon

Let's be honest. It wouldn't be fair to make it seem like we only drink high cost beer. We have our broke beers as well. This is a go-to for our broke beer.

To clarify, no, we are not part of the Hipster scene. Yes, we have Hipster friends, but we do not subscribe to any sort of fad, we are individuals. PBR has been a highly decorated American adjunct lager. PBR has won Gold in the Great American Beer Festival for the American lager category in 2012, 2006 and 2005, has taken silver in 1996 and 1990, and bronze in 2004.

This pours a clear, golden color. With a good pour, there's little head (about half inch). The aroma of this is faint. Nothing stands out too heavily. The flavor is first slightly sweet, then has a decently malty taste. It finishes clean and dry with a nice body to it. It has more color and flavor than most adjunct lagers (i.e. Miller, Bud, Coors, etc).

3/5 caps


While it could be argued that the Hipster scene is all about individualism (right, Hauser?), this blog is about beer. I recommend drinking it from a can, as it tastes the same out of a bottle, and I don't care for the metallic flavor in a bottle.

I don't really have much to add to Nathan's review... highly drinkable, my favorite beer when buying in bulk ($17.99 for a 30-pack, when not on sale). Yeah, I'll have another.

3/5 caps


Friday, December 28, 2012

Flying Dog Raging Bitch

"rd is"

that is what Jennie left after deleting the beautiful posting I had.... first was a review, then raving about her team (the team from WHORE TOWN). I'll now try and recreate my review-Nathan

Trust me, Nathan, it was good, but verbose. -Jennie


So.... Wow... Just Wow... Raging Bitch... Best way I can sum it up in one sentence is "God Dizzle this is a fantastic brew!"

As it's been noted, Flying Dog is my favorite brewery. I have their 'bat' tattooed on my arm, twice. My love affair with them began in Feb 2007. I was in Athens, Ohio, hanging out with a couple of good friends who lived/ went to college there. We decided we needed beer, so we wandered down to a carry out down the street with a great 'make your own six' selection. I remember three of the brews I got on that epic day: Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale, Southern Tier Phin and Matt's, and Flying Dog Doggie Style. I picked up the Flying Dog due to noticing Ralph Steadman's artwork on the bottle (I had been a Hunter S Thompson fan for years and been familiar with Steadman's work). It was off that one bottle that I realized Flying Dog was MY brewery (RIP Kerberos, Tire Bite and possibly Garde Dog). That day changed me from a 'drinking beer to get drunk' person to a 'beer aficionado.'

A little story, before I once again continue with the review. That state up north (starts with the letter between 'L' and 'N' and rhymes with 'bitch again') tried to ban this brew from being distributed because they deemed it too obscene by it its name. Now, this shit smelling state (to be fair, I don't know if the whole state smells like shit, although I'm at least sure that one town, who is named after a WHORE smells like feces) has a brewery, Founders, that makes Dirty Bastard, distributed there. Stone's Arrogant Bastard and Double Bastard are distributed there as well, so what's in a name?  Is it that the Department of Obscene Names of Beer (I don't know if that exists) woke up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to shit on an amazing brew? I have no idea what was going on in their minds, but, long story short, Flying Dog won after legal battles.

So, now, onto the review.

This brew is simply amazing. It's a nice, beautiful amber color. The aroma is interesting, a perfect combination of the Belgian yeast and hops. The flavor is first malty, then hoppy, with the Belgian yeast strain making its presence known. There are candied sugars noted in the flavor as well.

Despite it being an 8.3% beer, the alcohol isn't instantly noted (after a few it is, HA!), it's a smooth tasting, balanced bodied beer that is fantastic. I've had non-hop-heads love this, I've had Guinness drinkers love it. I've had non-craft drinkers love it.

Jennie and I had a hot wings challenge when we ran the kitchen at a bar (RIP Scalawags), it was a ghost chili sauce heavily coated over the wings. At the end of the challenge, you got a Raging Bitch to chase the heat/pain. It's just an overall fantastic brew.

Sweet Jesus I'm typing a lot. I hop(e) Jennie doesn't delete this like the last one.

4.9/5 caps


Yeah, Nathan, you have some verbose tendencies when you've had a few... as we all do. Ahem, nothing really to add to his review... it's a good brew, a very solid, enjoyable beer from Flying Dog. And I don't mind the Belgian yeast strain in here, although my palate is developing to rather enjoy the Belgians, or at least the dank, musty flavors that are associated with some yeast strains (most notably Flying Dog's Woody Creek White, Garde Dog, In Heat Wheat, and In de Wildeman).

And, by the way... that State Up North is Michigan... there is no whore town there, only a beautiful, vibrant city that hosts one of the most kickass universities in the U.S.... Ann Arbor. Beautiful city, not that Nathan would know, as he's never even visited. GO BLUE!!!!!

4.5/5 caps


I refuse to visit the enemy unless I'm forced to go so the SCARLET AND GREY can dominate what you call a team (hahaha you have The Predator on your team, trying to blow up the world every time you lose., which is often.. How'd that Rich Rod era work out for ya?)


You, my  most darling and beloved, have no idea... because you've never been there. Yes, Denard is likely starting in our bowl game on Tuesday. Oh wait... what bowl is Ohio State playing in this year? None, you say???? Why don't you go sell some championship merchandise to buy your way into one?


You can poke fun of us, as you damn near landed in the Little Caesar's bowl (couldn't even afford the Papa John's pizza, huh? Couldn't afford the free garlic dipping sauce on the side?) We have plenty of 'championship merch', yes. We're suffering from a few players who aren't on the team this season.... When was the last time you won anything that mattered? I.E. National Championship, Heisman, Big Ten Championship, a rivalry game against us with a non-interim coach....  Your team hasn't been relevant since the Cooper era (which you'll try to throw in my face, but he was one of the most winning coaches in all of college football, how's that Rich Rod era again? Huh?)... Wisconsin and Nebraska are more of a rivalry matchup than your teams been for the past 10 years. If your shit smelling whore town didn't suck so much ass, you might have a leg to stand on.  You will not have your whore town coat to go smoke, you will suffer as I write this. GAME, SET AND MATCH! GO BUCKS!


Bell's Two Hearted

Ah... Where to begin.

Amazing go-to when you're wanting a nice, hoppy brew. The nose is pure, simple citrusy and floral hop aroma. The taste is the same. It's a fantastic brew, about what you'd expect from Bell's (damn you for being based out of that state up north). I felt dirty purchasing this 6 pack though, as I passed up Flying Dog (my favorite brewery) in order to make the lady-type happy, but as a man, these are things you must do from time to time. You try to make them happy by purchasing their favorite beers, and all you get in return is falling asleep alone as you have to be up early in the morning. At some point you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it? Should I have got that sixer of Snake Dog? Why am I rambling online to a blog that people will skim through just to get to the rating?

Anywho, back to the review.

As previously noted, the aroma is awesome. Floral and citrusy notes. The mouth feel is balanced. It's smooth, slightly sweet, with a beautiful hop flavoring. Slight carbonation, beautiful lacing on the glass. The 7% abv is not noticeable in the taste or body of the brew. The nice light amber color makes it visually appealing with the lacing.

The overall of this beer is this: Amazing American IPA that's widely available. Most places it's $10.99 a 6 pack, worth every penny. The only thing that's docking a perfect 5 cap score, is I prefer 'in your face, rip off the enamel of your teeth hops'  but this is just beautifully balanced. It's a personal preference thing.

4.5/5 caps


I was so excited when I saw this in Nathan's hand tonight when he came home! He'll be getting a little extra attention tonight. It's one of my favorite go-to's, a hop ecstasy. I love the floral nose, the hop-forward body that's a little citrusy, a little piney. And the only reason I'm not giving it 5/5 caps is because, well, it's not Hopslam. But it is almost Hopslam season.

4.9/5 caps


Monday, December 24, 2012

3 Floyd's Zombie Dust

Beer Advocate  rated this 100%. I've been looking for this beer since I first read about it. Finally, this amazing brew has been released in Ohio at a time I could pick up a 6 pack.

It's a single-hop American Pale Ale that's 60 IBU and 6.4% ABV. The Citra hop is the variety of hops that is used.

Poured into my favorite pint glass, a Flying Dog pint with a Hunter S Thompson quote. The quote reads:
"There is an ancient Celtic axiom that says 'Good people drink good beer.' Which is true, then as now. Just look around you in a public barroom, and you will quickly see: Bad People drink bad beer. Think about it."

I figure it's perfect for this brew. Good beer, good quote.

So, onto the review. The color was a gorgeous golden, orange color. Very light head with amazing lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma was full of citrus, heavier on the grapefruit notes, with some grassy, earthy tones to it.

Medium body with light carbonation. Nice lingering hops on the back end, the first smell is what you get in the back as well, rare from what I've tasted. Very little malt characteristics, focusing purely on this amazing hop variety. Very refreshing, nice clean finish. The alcohol is not noticed in the tasting.

This beer is simply amazing. I've only had a couple from 3 Floyd's so far, but look forward to trying more (especially if they are anywhere near on par with this).

I will note, though, out of the brews that I've had this year, this would have to be my second favorite rare one (first being Flying Dog's Imperial Citra <see previous review>).

5/5 caps


I don't have much to add... I picked up the lychee flavors that are so indicative of Citra hops, along with a wonderful nose and flavor of grapefruit (although I also have held off on drinking this for two days now, as I have a cold and congestion is not a beer-taster's friend). If you haven't figured out already, Nathan's and my favorite hop is Citra, so we figured this would be a winner.

Three Floyd's is hopefully going to be more prevalent in Ohio, particularly packaged. It's been on tap at Bodega and other such places for most of 2012, but without going to Indiana, we haven't been able to find any either here or in Illinois.

Next request from Three Floyd's in packaged form: Dark Lord? I'm just saying... it's not likely, but it would be awesome.

Another thing that surprised me with this brew was how fast it sold out. We purchased ours at Palmer's Beverage on Indianola. There were 2 six-packs after we picked ours off the shelf; both of those were gone by the time we checked out. It's worthy of the obsessive buying.

And, I'd consider it on par with my all-time favorite brew, Hopslam. Which, nudge nudge, Nathan, is due for release soon.

5/5 caps


Friday, December 21, 2012

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout

I heart Nathan for picking this up last night. I had asked him to pick up a stout for the beer toffee I wanted to attempt. This was his choice; I was elated. If you haven't been paying attention, Bell's is my favorite brewery. I shied away from this particular brew for a long time, as I don't like licorice at all, and it's made with brewer's licorice. Am I regretting those years that I passed this over for something else!

Kalamazoo Stout pours a deep brown, almost black color, with a dark-ish caramel-colored head. Because it's 6% ABV, it has moderate head retention The aroma is straight stout... you get a whiff of roasty malts and coffee with a little chocolate. And a hint of the brewer's licorice. It doesn't smell like black licorice. I was expecting a Sambuca beer, to be honest. Apparently, brewer's licorice is a completely different beast. Or not... according to How Stuff Works, it's the same plant that gives us the horrible black licorice, but brewers add it to dark beers to add complexity of flavor and stabilize the head. Brewers use the root in brewing, whereas candymakers and Sambuca makers use an extract of the juice of the plant.

There is just enough licorice in Bell's Kalamazoo Stout to add that complexity of flavor without sending it to Sambucaland. The first sip gives some coffee flavors and bitterness from the licorice. The middle is more coffee. There is a lovely pleasantly bitter finish, probably from hops and licorice. It's a very smooth stout, and has quickly become one of my go-to's.

4.5/5 caps


Again, I have to agree with Jen-a-len-a-ding-dong with this review... Although it's brewed with licorice, it's not prevalent. Nice tones for being out of the state up north.

4.5/5 caps

Beer Toffee

I was inspired by a beer brittle recipe I have, and decided to make beer toffee instead. Holy delectability, it turned out amazing!

You will need:

1 c. unsalted butter (NO substitutes!)
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. stout or porter (I used Bell's Kalamazoo Stout, but any stout would be wonderful in this)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (in something like this, I go for quality, and used Ghirardelli)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. stout or porter (same as in the toffee)
1 c. coarsely chopped nuts (I used some roasted walnuts our friends had made)
1 tsp. kosher or other coarse salt

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, place the butter, sugar, stout, and salt. Once the butter is melted, insert a candy thermometer over the side of the pot (I actually used my homebrewing thermometer). Stir constantly until the thermometer reads 300F, or the hard crack stage. Once it reaches that temperature, pour it into an ungreased 8x8" pan. Let cool.

While the toffee is cooling, prepare the chocolate. Over a pan of hot water (not boiling, not even simmering) set over medium-low heat, set a heatproof bowl and add the chocolate chips, sugar, and beer. Whisk constantly until it's melted and smooth. Spread over the hardened toffee. Sprinkle with nuts and the remaining salt. Let cool and harden for 2-3 hours. Break into pieces.

Makes a great holiday gift... if there's any left.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Shiner Cheer

Ahhhh, it's winter seasonal time... and one of my go-to's is Shiner Cheer. When you can find it. Shiner, based out of Texas, puts out a respectable Bock, and I have a strong affinity for their summer seasonal, Ruby Redbird. But I can drink 6-pack upon 6-pack of their Cheer. The label describes it as a dark wheat ale brewed with peaches and roasted pecans. BeerAdvocate lists it as 5.4% ABV.

Cheer pours a medium amber color, with a moderate head. Eh, who am I kidding, I didn't feel like dirtying a glass tonight and am drinking it from the bottle. Tsk tsk, but I haven't cleaned the kitchen from dinner yet. And, as mentioned in prior posts, I'm a bottle baby. I can still see that it has a medium amber color. Maybe it's the caramel coloring that the label confesses to adding. I'm not thrilled with that, but as I'm drinking (and thoroughly enjoying) a fruit-and-nut beer, I'm certainly no beer purist. Can't tell you the head color or retention. Once you pop that cap (and yes, it's a screw-top), at fridge temp, you get a whiff of pecans.Yes, fridge temp, probably colder than it should be. And it probably won't last long enough to warm to cellar temperature. You may revolt now, beer snobs.

Anyway, back to the beer. Pecans in the nose, at fridge temp. Interesting. I usually don't get the nut flavors out until the beer warms. On the first sip, you get a smack of peach. Not overwhelming, but definitely there. And fresh peaches, not that fake peach flavor that reminds one of a Jelly Belly. I find the pecans stay more in the aroma than in the flavor. But this is one smooth beer. No wonder I can kill a 6-er in a sitting without regrets the next morning. As for the finish, that's where I find the wheat really coming through. It's just yummy. I could totally envision a sliver of pecan pie being a fantastic accompaniment to this.

4/5 caps. Decking them a little for adding caramel color and "natural flavor".


 I have nothing to add to this. Jenniesis was spot one with this.


Picture taken from Check out Beer Drinker Rob's review of this -- I found it spot on!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Southern Tier 2XStout

It's been a Southern Tier kind of weekend around here. Last night, the 2XIPA, tonight the 2XStout. Even though it was well into the 50's in Columbus, Ohio, today, it still felt like a stout day. A double milk stout, to be precise. It just sounded yummy.

The stout pours dark and right, almost black in color, and opaque, with a toffee-colored head which quickly dissipated. The label says it's only 7.5%, so I was surprised with such little head retention. The nose gives off deep, roasty aromas with a hint of dark caramel. There is almost a coffee flavor at the forefront of the brew, which tastes rich. Very, very rich. It's also viscous, with a thick middle mouthfeel, and finishing with black coffee and rather sweet flavors.

It's what Guinness should be. It's what Guinness tries to be. It kind of reminds me of Bell's Double Cream Stout, with its richness.

4.5/5 caps


The dark roasted notes in this are amazing. It says it's a milk stout, but it doesn't really give off the typical milk stout flavor or mouth feel to me. Overall a fantastic stout, nice dark tones, smooth finish like a good coffee. I can't really add more than what Jennie already mentioned.

4.5/5 caps


Southern Tier 2XIPA

What can I say about this beer.... It's a great, nay, fantastic go-to beer for any fan of the hops. Simcoe definitely is prevalent in it, although the label says it uses 4 varieties of hops. I've had this many times before, both on tap and in bottle forms, and it still is a classic go-to for me. Every sip brings out a citrusy, floraly astonishment of awesomeness that you don't get in many beers. It's nicely balanced, to where the bitterness of the hops don't overtake the aroma and flavor of them. It's just an outstanding brew that has yet to fail me on the IPA or DIPA level. Southern Tier has yet to put out a brew that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed.... I take that back... Phin and Matt's tastes like dirty hippie to me... damn hippies, almost as bad as gingers, you soulless daywalkers, why don't you go and get a job instead of relying on the common decency of your fellow man to support your free-love peace loving ways......................... ok.... so to reiterate,  this brew has a higher alcohol percentage, which brings out the bias against free-loading hippies and gingers.... Regardless, it's a fantastic brew that finishes nice, smooth finish rather, with a nice, clean crisp body, and a refreshing hoppy goodness about it.

4.9/5 caps


Ahem, are ya done bitching about dirty hippies and gingers yet, love? Go snag yourself some vodka, because this is the last of the beer tonight...

So, on the more technical side of things, the 2XIPA pours a lovely light amber, very clear. The head is barely off-white, with little head retention because of the alcohol content. The aroma is citrusy, a little floral. The first sip is rather hop-forward, with Simcoe predominantly featured, a lovely grapefruity, floral first sip that leaves me wanting more. Of you not hating on hippies. Because if this is what hippies taste like, I'm getting a shawl, floral floor-length skirt, and dreds.

He's right, it's well-balanced. And Southern Tier puts out a whole lot of awesomeness.

4.8/5 caps -- I mean it's really good, but it's nowhere near the awesomeness of, say, Hopslam.


Rebuttal...  The vodka is gone and the gingers still walk among us...


Stone Brewing/BrewDog Bashah

A collaboration between Stone Brewing from California and BrewDog from Scotland, Bashah is billed as a Double IPA. It is one of the most interesting DIPA's I've had the pleasure of drinking. Nathan grabbed a single of it, at $6 a bottle, and on a family Saturday night in, Phil (my super-awesome dad) decided to hit up the beer selection. I figured him for more of a PBR fan, or Brooklyn Winter Ale. This was his choice -- we talked him out of a sip of the quaff before he killed it.

Boy, am I glad we did. This is one of the most interesting beers I've had in awhile.

I'm a hophead, through and through. I can tell my Simcoe from my Centennial. I know my American Pale Ales from my IPAs; my IPAs from my DIPA's or Imperial IPA's (by the way... those are pretty much interchangeable in the brewing industry). My Two-Hearted from my Hopslam. You get the picture.

I can't tell you about the appearance or the head, as Phil is a self-described "bottle baby". (It runs in the family, what can I say?) But the aroma was fantastically hoppy... a hophead's dream. What followed that initial, heady, hoppy sniff was pure heaven in a bottle.

About the only way I can describe it is a Reverse IPA. It was extremely hop-forward, both in the nose and the first sip. It was a lovely blend of seemingly American hops. And then, in the middle- and after-taste, you get hit with a big fat whack of malty goodness. It was really, really good. Really.  I'm used to DIPA's, where you may lose the maltiness completely, or at least where the hops take the center stage. This was so perfectly balanced, and I loved that the malt came out ON THE BACK SIDE! What pale ale does that?!?!

I only wish that I had had more than one sip... but it was killed very quickly.

4.9/5 caps


I agree that it was a fantastic brew. I, too, was hoping to enjoy half of it, but Phil snagged it, and, well, Phil was worth it. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. The only thing I can add to Jennie's review is that I've had a few collaborations and variations from Stone, Saison Du Buff (Dogfish, Victory and Stone collaboration) being my favorite thus far. This rivals it. It was a fantastic brew and wish it was more readily available financially. Her rating seems just. although I will call her bluff on being a hophead some day, tick tock, Jennie, tick tock.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Brooklyn Brewing's Winter Ale

I like what Brooklyn Brewing is doing. Their beers are usually pretty good -- their Black Chocolate Stout is amazing. I mean fan-damn-tastic. Last night, Nathan brought home a 6-pack of their Winter Ale. I had yet to try it, so I was looking forward to this. This is one of the Winter Warmers that is more British in style, relying on the malts to give it its flavor instead of spices and herbs.

It pours a deep amber color with a toffee-colored head. The nose gives off rich malt characteristics, almost like a porter. It tastes a little bit lighter than a porter, though; not quite a black ale, not quite a porter, not quite a marzen. The malts are lightly roasted, just enough to perfectly bring out their flavor. There's a caramel or toffee flavor in the middle of the mouth. It's a very smooth beer, very enjoyable. And then a light coffee aftertaste.

It's very enjoyable. Like Bell's Christmas Ale, it's purpose is to accompany winter dishes and not overpower them. I look forward to drinking another one... just as soon as this one is gone.

4/5 caps


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dark Horse Kmita Kolsch

Dark Horse is a brewery out of Michigan. They produce some fantastic flavors that we've enjoyed thoroughly. This year, the released a Kolsch, which is a great summertime, lighter beer. Kolsch is a German style lager that's typically straw in color and nicely balanced.

This one is Polish style Kolsch. I've not had any other Polish style Kolsch beers in the past, so comparing this to the traditional German style, seems to me like comparing apples and oranges.

The color is an orangey/amber color. The aroma is sweet, like a good lager should be. The first taste though is interesting. Again, not having a Polish style before, I was expecting a more lighter, balanced flavor. This has a nice malty flavor with some slight hop bitterness. A little heavy and slightly sticky on the mouth feel. Nice and refreshing though.

Overall, a rather good brew. Potential to buy it again, when it's warmer weather, yes.

4/5 caps


 Not too much more to add... I likewise enjoy Dark Horse's offerings. Doesn't also hurt that I've spent a fair amount of time in Marshall, Michigan, during my college days.

It reminds me more of a marzen almost, than a kolsch. I tend to associate kolsches more with a lighter-bodied, golden ale. Noble hops, for sure, are present. I'm familiar with Russian beers and with German... this reminds me more of a German, but I have no idea of what Poland has been producing.

It's good... I'd like to revisit it at a barbecue. And I like the label artwork.

4/5 caps


Lagunitas Daytime

Lagunitas Daytime is a light and hoppy brew. 4.65% abv and 54.2 IBUs, it's perfect for the dog days of Summer.

It's color is almost a green tea color. The aroma is sheer hops. A fresh cut grass and citrus sort of smell. The initial taste is earthy, piney and citrus tones from the hops, but nice and light. No real hint of malt flavorings. Mouthfeel is almost like water, very light body, low carbonation. The hop flavors stick around in the taste for a while, more of the piney and citrus flavors coming out on the back.

Overall, an enjoyable beer, but not one of my favorites. It's just a little too light for my personal preference. It would be great for a hot Summer day, as I mentioned, but not for a cold bitter day in November (which it is today).

3.5/5 Caps


I liked it better than Nathan. Yes, it's light, and I love that breweries have been doing session IPA's (All Day IPA by Founder's is another fantastic iteration of this style).

Whilst drinking it, Nathan likened it to hop tea... which it kind of is in color and body. I find citra hops to really come out in the aroma and taste, along with some Centennial. It has a great piney, grapefruity flavor I find rather refreshing. I'd score it at least 4 out of 5 caps... but that's just my inner hophead speaking.


Bell's Christmas Ale

Ahhh, Bell's... Jennie's favorite brewery. Based in Comstock, Michigan, just outside Kalamazoo, they are one of the largest craft breweries in the United States and consistently put out good brews and have been one of the leaders of the Michigan craft beer movement.

This is one example of a winter warmer brewed without spices. They rely on Briess malting (it's a Michigan thing) and locally grown barley for the flavor. It's also a session beer, weighing in at 5.5% ABV. According to Bell's website (, it's "intended to complement holiday menus, not overshadow them."

Bells' Christmas Ale pours a lighter amber than most of the winter warmer styles we've tried. It's cloudy and mostly opaque, with a light khaki head and moderate that is retained. The nose is roasty and toasty, full of malt. The first sip gives a very balanced taste of the malts, along with some understated hops. The middle is a malt explosion, and the finish leaves a toasted flavor in the mouth. It's well-rounded and medium-bodied; a very enjoyable, drinkable beer.

Overall, I'd say this is my favorite example that I've had of a non-spiced winter warmer. It relies on the great malt characteristics to warm body and soul.

4.5/5 caps

-Jennie and Nathan

Southern Tier 2XMAS

Southern Tier out of New York makes some fine brews. We love their Pumpking, Creme Brulee, 2XIPA, and Krampus; but this was our first tasting of the 2XMAS. (Pssst, Nathan, you forgot their awesome coffee stout!)

The label proclaims that it is brewed with figs, orange peel, and spices, along with 2 kinds of hops and 4 types of malt. It also says that it is 8.0% ABV. No mention of the IBU levels on the label, but being a winter warmer, one shouldn't expect a lot of hop flavors or aromas.

The 2XMAS pours a clear, amber color with a moderate beige head. The fig aromas really come through on a good whiff of the quaff. I also picked up the orange peel and the spices. And then I took a sip... holy fig, this is good! Figs have been all the rage on the cooking scene for a couple of years now, but this is one of the first craft beers I've seen that contain the fruit. They complement the nutmeg and ginger quite nicely, with a light cinnamon note in the background. The head dissipated fairly quickly, which one would expect from an 8.0% beer, and the alcohol legs were not insignificant. I noted a more significant cinnamon flavor in the aftertaste. I found it had a very smooth mouthfeel.

Overall, this may be my new favorite of the winter warmers, although we still have many to taste. But that's just me.... and I like fruity. And spicy winter warmers. The figs really added another dimension to the beer that you don't find in too many beers.

4.5/5 caps

-Jennie and Nathan

Elevator's Ghost Scorpion

Wow, just wow. The Ghost Scorpion is a lager that is brewed with ghost chili and scorpion chili peppers. We talked to the owner of Elevator, Dick, about this. He said he's a closet chili head and wanted to make the world's hottest beer. He enlisted the help of local hot sauce/pepper company, Cajohns, to achieve this.

Needless to say, they did achieve the goal of hottest beer.

It poured a golden color (like most American lagers). The aroma was deceptive; it gave hints of sweet peepers and vegetation. The first sip was sheer insanity. This was hotter than any hot sauce I've had (note- I dump ghost chili sauce on most things I eat). This was painfully hot. The flavor could not be noted as the capsaicin took hold and left an agonizing, bitter pain for about 20 minutes. 2nd sip, I must be insane. Insanity is defined by doing the same actions repeatedly and expecting different results. Well, the results of sip #2 were the same as sip #1. Sip number #3, the same.

I love hot foods and chili peppers with different things (my good friend just gave me some home made chocolate ghost fudge and some ghost chili beef jerky). I can honestly say I do not recommend this to anyone with 0 to nil heat tolerance. This is a sheer endurance challenge for those dedicated, insane chili heads like myself.

The rating of this cannot be determined, as it's a category killer.


I once described this as "vile" to Elevator Brewing's sales rep, Jay. It's not a bad lager, but the heat... oh my, the heat. I can handle (and enjoy) habanero, but ghost peppers really push my heat limits. And since scorpion peppers are hotter than ghost, well, you get where I'm going here. I took a microsip of this, and my mouth and throat were on fire for a full hour. I didn't enjoy it... but maybe I just haven't grown the right boy parts yet.


Elevator's Winter Warmer

We went to Elevator Brewing Co. to film our pilot episode. We met with the owner, Dick, and the brew master Vic. They are an amazing group of guys who put out fantastic brews.

We filmed their Winter Warmer for the pilot. It is one of out favorite Winter time brews and it makes us look forward to the cold, harsh weather of Ohio.

Elevator uses ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon in their Winter Warmer. No one flavor overpowers anything in this fantastic balanced brew.

Upon pouring it, it has the typical brown ale look with a copper/ dark amber look. The smell is sweeter, like baking for the holidays. The initial aroma reminds me of a less-sweet snickerdoodle. I once described the beer, upon opening, as "holiday cheer in a bottle," which seems to have stuck for most beers in this category.

The first sip leads to a balanced flavor of malts and spices. I get a strong nutmeg and ginger taste on the front, but it's very pleasing. The cinnamon, I think, comes out in the middle and the finish. It has a somewhat creamy mouthfeel, and tastes like a brown ale (which it is). The alcohol bite doesn't come through, despite its 8.9% ABV, although you'll start to feel it around the 12th ounce. And, true to the style, it does warm the body.

Overall, we both thoroughly enjoy this offering from Elevator, and had a blast brewing it with the crew. Thanks again, guys, for letting us brew it with you!

4.5/5 caps

-Jennie and Nathan

Lagunitas Brown Shugga'

We've always enjoyed beers by Lagunitas. They've consistently put out great brews, but we've not been able (previously) to try their Brown Sugga'.

Brown Sugga' came about from Lagunitas trying to rescue a batch of their barleywine with brown sugar. 9.9% abv and 50.1 IBUs. We poured it from a bottle into a pint glass. The color is a dark amber, almost brown in color.

The aroma gave off a slight hop scent with some alcohol and sweetness. The taste is interesting. There's so much happening in this beer all at the same time. There's bitterness, there's sweetness, there's some citrus, there's almost carmel like flavors at times. There's a slight hint of almost orange zest on the back. The mouthfeel is slightly sticky. The alcohol is noticed at different times, but not as frequent as other strong ales. 

Overall, it's a pretty good brew. Very interesting flavors swirling all at once. Alcohol that will sneak up on you.

4.5/5 Caps


Flying Dog's K-9 Winter Ale

While at Whole Foods (see Nathan's Single-Hop Citra IPA post), we also picked up a mixed 6-pack of various beers. One of these was his beloved Flying Dog K-9 Winter Ale.

This falls into the category of winter warmers, technically not a recognized category of beers, but a popular style nonetheless. Most are based on an English Strong Ale, and have added spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, although these vary from brewer to brewer. And with this particular beer, from year to year, according to Flying Dog's website (

The beer is 7.4% ABV, with a moderate 30 IBU's. It is Flying Dog's winter seasonal.

Poured into a pint glass (well, technically 2, as I wouldn't be allowed to consume a Flying Dog brew by myself), the beer is a lovely amber color, very transparent, with a medium cream-colored head and some moderate alcohol legs. The aroma gives a lovely malty base with cinnamon and nutmeg jumping out at me, yet not overwhelming the palate. The beer yields almost a fruity flavor on the front of the palate, without being a fruit beer. It's well-balanced, the malts come through without being overpowering, and on the back side, a little bite of ginger nips in to warm the taste buds.

The spices do not overwhelm, as they do in many winter warmers. It's a very rounded flavor, and indeed, a well-rounded beer. Not an explosion of Christmas spices in your mouth, and yet still tasting of holiday cheer in a bottle, this is a solid offering from Flying Dog.

Rating: 4/5 caps


Although I have to agree with Jennie on the review, I will state this- Flying Dog makes amazing beer. To add to their awesomeness, they have Ralph Steadman for their artwork. Sheer Gonzo-style in a winter warmer. Good People Drink Good Beer. Cheers


Gonzo is another beer from Flying Dog, Nathan. Silly Nathan. Trix are for kids.



sleep well.....


...And he wonders why I stay up way later than he does.... Furthermore, the full HST quote is Good People Drink Good Beer. No Shit.


I know what the quote is. I also know that it's originally off of Road Dog (another fantastic brew from Flying Dog). I also know that a bunch of states felt it was too..... 'edgy' because it said shit. SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT... Censor that!  And the reason you stay up late is because you're no longer attracted to me, which is why I have to slam beer heavily to forget this, so I can actually get a couple hours of sleep before you come staggering in, trying to wake me from a comfortable slumber to tell me about how your Angry Birds addiction is going..... Check and mate....


Sleep well, yourself, Nathan... you have to sleep sometime.

And with that, censorship is something that has plagued Flying Dog throughout its history. See the upcoming Raging Bitch entry.


So, you have nothing, ergo I win


No, but I like to let you think you win.


....How's that paying for your own beer working out, Ms. Stay At Home Mom And My Kid Isn't Paying Me Shit For Cleaning Up After His Multiple Daily Messes While Claiming That I'm Not Doing My Job Because He Just Made Another Mess While I'm Trying To Feed The Family...... Damn... That's a long ass last name.... I forget where I was going with this other than, I win


Thanks for the Two Hearted tonight, Nathan.


You're welcome.... I think....


Flying Dog's Single Hop Imperial IPA with Citra

Recently, Flying Dog brewery out of Maryland has been doing a single hop series, only using one variety of hop in the brew. Most of the flavors are hard to come by in Columbus, Ohio. After thorough searching, I found a place with their Single Hop Imperial IPA with Citra (Whole Foods at 161 and Sawmill). The Whole Foods recently opened a bar in store, and it was proudly displayed as one of the 12 or so tap handles.

The Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA with Citra is a 10 % imperial IPA with 70 IBUs. The Citra hop is a strain that has high alpha acids and is described as having tropical fruit aromas and flavors.

The fantastic brew came to us in a tulip glass. It was a bright golden color with light khaki foam. The smell was fantastic, citrus fruit with a bit of hops. The initial taste was sheer hop head bliss, although not overly bitter. A citrus flavor (a la the Citra hop) with sweetness took over anything the malt flavors could have brought to the palate. There was little carbonation in this smooth drinking brew. The high alcohol was not noticed while drinking.

Overall- an AMAZING Imperial IPA. I would recommend this brew to anyone who enjoys a nice, crisp IPA. Flying Dog is my favorite brewery, and it's beers like this that keeps them as such.

5/5 Caps


Yep, it was fandamntastic. A lovely reminder of my love affair with citra hops. Thanks, Flying Dog... I've thoroughly enjoyed your single-hop IPA's.

5/5 caps


Welcome to Behind The Tap

Hi, welcome to Behind The Tap, the blog behind the eponymous television show. Here we'll review beers Jennie and Nathan drink, as well as the beers we feature in each episode. So sit back, crack open a cold one, and join us Behind The Tap!

-Jennie and Nathan