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