Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stone Enjoy By 04.01.13

This is killing 2 birds with one Stone (Ha, see what I did there?). Our buddy, Zimmer, asked if we'd do more Stone reviews, and this is a brew made out of the rare metal Unobtainium. So let's learn a bit about this.

This is the 5th batch of Stone's Enjoy By series. This was delivered today to local beer stores. We managed to snag one from Wine & Brew Emporium. This has a 100 at ratebeer and a 97 at beeradvocate, so let's see (with Trollie) if this lives up to the expectations. This is the freshest non-homebrew I've had the pleasure of trying. This was bottled 6 days ago.

This came into our lives in a 22 ounce bomber. This pours a golden color, almost like PBR or Burger, but don't let the color fool you.The head is a stark white that doesn't stick around, but leaves beautiful lacing. The aroma is FUCKING DIVINE! Heavy grapefruit, citrus notes,  some slight spice notes. With only 32 days, 18 minutes and 42 seconds to drink this beer (according to the countdown clock on Stone's website), I better hurry. Apparently, there are 11 different hops used throughout this brew: Calypso, Super Galena, Simcoe, Delta, Target, Amarillo, Motueka, Citra, Cascade, New Zealand Nelson Sauvin, and Australian Galaxy. The first sip.... .... .... .... The second sip..... .... .... The third sip.... fuck... this is fantastic. It leaves me speechless. There's a light toasted note from the malts that lend itself perfectly to the amazing hop onslaught your mouth receives. There are citrus, piney, and grapefruit notes that hit, with the hop oils sticking around on your mouth for however long they feel like it. The mouthfeel is medium, just the right about of carbonation, with a very sticky finish that leaves you wanting more and more and more and more and I'll sell Jennie's kid for more....

The alcohol in this is 9.4%, but yet, nowhere in the taste or nose does it make itself known. This is one of the smoothest DIPAs (double IPA, aka Imperial IPA) that I've ever drank. Ok... This is fantastic. Zimmer- you NEED to try this. You've been called out in a blog that had 900 views in the month of February.

5/5 caps


Now that Nathan has thoroughly yelled at all of you, I'm not quite sure what I can add to that description... other than please don't sell Peanut for more... but let's find a way to get more. It's that good.

I will say it's a hop bomb in the mouth. As a hophead, that makes me perfectly happy (hoppy?). If you're averse to the piney, grapefruity aromas, you may not want to delve into this, even though you should, just to say you did. Although I'm gonna call dibs on that last bomber at [insert local brew joint here], so just make sure it's not the last, and no one will have to get hurt.

And Zimmer... seriously, go pick some up. I think Barley Hopster's was on the distribution map I saw today. Cavalier posted it on Facebook today. I heart them for that.

5/5 caps


Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA

One of our favorite little wine and craft beer joints in this corner of town put in a growler station a couple of weeks ago. I've been promising to make it in to pick up a growler, but this is the first chance we've had. If you get a chance, go check out Wine & Brew Emporium on Sunbury Road, just north of Rte. 161 and adjacent to Gordy's. The lady who owns it is super nice. Tonight, Nathan picked up a 32-ounce growler of Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA. On to continue our redemption of Dogfish Head after the Rhizing Bines debacle.

This pours a beautiful clear orange color with a barely off-white head. Because it came in draft form, the head lasted in the growler, but, as you can see, was nearly non-existent upon pouring into pint glasses. The aroma of this is fairly faint, with some light citrus hops and some sweetness wafting up my nose. The first sip of this yields some tropical fruits, which give way to that sweetness from the nose and then to some earthy tones, perhaps a little soapy note but not enough to be offensive, and finishes just a tad piney. The mouthfeel is a little sticky.

This is a fantastic IPA. It's not so hoppy it will turn off people with an aversion to hops. It's very well-balanced, with a very solid malt backbone. Is it heresy that I think I prefer this to their 120 Minute IPA? I last had that just over a year ago, and was a little disappointed... I was expecting a hopgasm, and it just didn't have that. 90 Minute IPA, however, is another solid offering from Dogfish Head, and well worth delving into, if you get a chance.

4.7/5 caps


Tonight could be one of the greatest nights I've had in a while. I got to swing by one of my favorite beer joints, I picked up my first growler, I picked up a beer made out of the rare metal Unobtainium, and I FOUND MY TROLLIE!!!!!!! You see, Trollie is my drinking buddy.

Trollie likes to drink and live out everyone's craziest fantasies (stealing a Louts and Ferarri in the same day).  But he also enjoys great beers. He was with us on the filming of our pilot episode (at Elevator Brewery).

But I seem to be steering away from the task at hand. Dogfish. Faint aroma of citrus and tropical with tones of caramel. Jennie's description of the taste is spot on, only I don't get the soapy note she did. Nice medium body with a resiny mouthfeel.

According to Dogfish, this was the first beer that they continuously hopped. Esquire magazine called this possibly the best IPA in America. I don't know about that, but it's a damn good one. A great one to experience for those who aren't experienced in the Way of the Hop.

$11.99 for a 32 oz growler (including price of the growler) at Wine and Brew Emporium.

4.65/5 caps

-Nathan (with Trollie)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bell's Midwestern Pale Ale

The lovely Nathan brought home another selection from Bell's, apparently attempting to curry favor, and allegedly to even out the score of Bell's v. Flying Dog reviews. Not so sure I'm believing all that, but I'm pretty sure he's aware that I've been coveting this brew.

This is actually just a re-branding of the Bell's Pale Ale. I'm fine with that... from what I recall, it's a pretty solid brew. Let's see how this new pop of it goes.

It pours a lovely golden color with a moderate off-white head. With a pale ale, I would not expect the head on this to evaporate too quickly, and this doesn't. It clocks in at 5.2% ABV, so I would expect the head to stick around for awhile. The aroma of this is crackery malts and earthy hops. The flavor isn't as hoppy as I recall, and it's much earthier. I pick up some notes of orange that fade into earthy. I'm somehow reminded of fresh earth, but it's not a turn-off. It just kind of smells and tastes like freshly tilled earth on a crop farm (as opposed to an animal farm -- that would be offensive! Unless, of course, we're referring to the George Orwell novel). There's also some faint pineapple and tropical citrus that comes through.

One thing I love about Bell's is that they work closely with many local sources, such as Briess Malt and a couple of different hop farms in Michigan. Kalamazoo and Comstock are pretty close to some rather rural areas, so their availability is easy to come by. Bell's is committed to sustainability, as well, and they've been ahead of the curve for most trends in beer production. Not that they bow to the trends, but I love that the beer industry actually cares about the world around it -- even while providing us with materials to forget all about it.

Overall, this is a little blander than I recall, but it's still a solid pale ale, more than adequately representative of the style.

4/5 caps


fudge... I can't add anything to what she said.... so.... That's what she said

4/5 caps


Bell's Java Stout

Bell's Java Stout. Issued in late winter, it's one of my favorite coffee stouts. I'd love to do a side-by-side comparison of this versus Flying Dog Kujo (ahem, Nathan). I also enjoy Southern Tier's Jahva, for what it's worth... probably mentioned because I had all three in one session at Bob's Bar one random Tuesday a couple of years ago.

This pours black as midnight with a small head that looks like my morning coffee, natch. The aroma? Oh my... can I swim in this? Please? It gives off some stale coffee tones, like the burner has been turned off for an hour and there's still a cup in the pot. That's not a bad thing, to me. I also pick up some heavy, toasty malt characteristics in this. And then you take a sip... and it's heaven. For a stout, it's heavily skewed toward the coffee rather than the chocolate notes, but then again, this is a coffee stout. It also tastes like coffee that has been left in the pot for about an hour after the burner has been turned off. Again, I kind of like that... probably because it so rarely happens at my house. We're usually fighting over the last cup before the burner turns itself off. It's velvety, smooth, and coffeelicious. Yep, I just made up that word. I'm a lawyer; I'm allowed to do that.

This is another solid offering from my favorite brewery, Bell's. If my olfactory memory serves me right, though, I do prefer this on tap to in a bottle.

4.4/5 caps


Kujo would rock this beer's world. Not only because this is made in that state up north, but because Flying Dog's Kujo is fucking amazing. solid coffee flavor in both nose and flavor. Can't really say much more except I can't wait to brew beer again.... Great coffee stout, it just lacks something to me that I can't place my finger on. That should not be, in anyway, a deterrent from this beer. Nay, nay. In fact, go buy some. It just is very heavy coffee flavor, but lacking something.

4.4/5 caps


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fat Head's Bumbleberry

By the way, have you noticed an improvement in the pictures the last two days? I got a new phone with a kick-ass camera on it. It does this brew (and almost every other one we've taken since yesterday) some righteous justice. Ignore the countertop... you should see the rest of the kitchen. It's decorated in 1980s low style and way crooked. Seriously, there's a 1/2" difference that the counters are offset at a seam, because there is not one level corner in the place. Thank goodness our lease is almost over, and we're starting the house hunt. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Anyway, I somehow got sidetracked from the beer... let's fix that.

This is another selection from the exemplary Fat Head's. As we covered earlier, they're here in Ohio and put out fantastic brews, and we can't wait to meet them in person and film a brew day. This is Bumbleberry, their honey blueberry ale, and I've had my eye on it for awhile. All you fruit beer haters, just go ahead and let me flaunt my vagina... I like fruit beers, no matter what you say. Maybe you should expand your horizons, just a suggestion.

This pours a pale orange and clear, with a moderate-sized white head. And then there's the nose... oh wow. Remember this pic? And if not, remember this cereal? Because it's exactly the smell of my childhood favorite, Blueberry Waffelos. Hells to the yeah.

And this beer has so much more promise than the one brewed by our friends in Cincinnati, Rivertown's Blueberry Lager, which we panned. For starters, this is made with local Ohio honey (I sense a heck of a story on the angry bees mentioned on and blueberry puree. Not artificial flavors. Thank you, Fat Head's, for that.

Oh hell, this is good. It has a fantastic structure, with some early malt presence that lingers throughout the sip. Well carbonated, it also tastes kind of like blueberry pie, or like the aforementioned joy of mornings during my youth. It tastes like actual blueberries, not artificial flavor. And the honey comes through, as well, on the back side. It also adds a silky, honeyed mouthfeel to the brew.

If you don't like fruit beer and are still reading this, go buy some. It's sooooo good. If you don't like it, I'd be happy to finish off the pack for you. If you do like fruit beer, go buy some... you won't be disappointed.

4.6/5 caps


The aroma to me is breakfast. The taste is breakfast. Why can't I drink this for breakfast before heading into work daily? This is fantastic. There's nothing else I can add to Jennie's review, except I really don't remember Waffelos.

4.6/5 caps


Green Flash Palate Wrecker

Green Flash is a newer company. They started in 2002 and have been doing fantastic beers out of California. I had an opportunity to meet a guy from Green Flash (although at this point, almost a year later, I can't remember his name) at a release party for Linchpin, a collaboration they had with Founders. The beer was fantastic. And I learned more about the two companies. Unfortunately, Jennie could not make it to that event, as she was working a party at her job.

We've had the Palate Wrecker before. There's a reason we picked it up again (and again). This pours a perfectly clear orange color. The head definitely sticks around (as it should at 9.5%). The aroma is citrus and pine, with some earthier tones, like grass. It also has something in the nose that I can't place. Something sweeter. The taste is WOWZA. This is a roller coaster of hops. It starts with nice, mellow earthy tones, that does a gradual build up to a citrus explosion toward the back. Meanwhile the bitterness builds and builds and builds. The bitterness takes a stranglehold over the citrus and leaves you with a resiny mouth and a satisfied smile. The mouthfeel, again, is resiny, by medium body, surprising for being 9.5%.

4.7/5 caps


I don't have much to add here... Nathan's description is pretty spot-on. It reminds me a lot of a brunch item my mom used to make. It was a broiled grapefruit with brown sugar sprinkled on top and cherry in the middle. For some reason, this drink harkens me back to New Year's mornings with that on the brunch menu. I love that sentimentality that the olfactory sense gives.

4.85/5 caps


Fat Head's Head Hunter IPA

Ahhh, Fat Head's. A fairly new (or at least new to us) brewery out of North Olmstead, Ohio. That's up by Cleveland, for those of you not familiar with Ohio. They started winning awards in 2009, anyway. We've had remendous luck with them, and they're a rising star in my eyes. I'll let Nathan tell you the story of our primary interaction with them. Head Hunter is one of their flagship beers, and one we've come to love.

It pours a crystal clear, deep golden color with a white head. I pick up some grapefruit and pine in the nose, along with some caramel and sweetness. And then you take a sip, and oh holy hell, this is yumtastic. This is a very well-structured brew with heavy hop notes throughout. It starts out with some grapefruit, mellows out a bit in the middle with the caramel and sweetness, and finishes very piney. It's fairly well carbonated, and there's a faintly sticky mouthfeel that comes out long after you have swallowed the sip.

It's pretty much what I look for in an IPA. According to their website, they also don't filter their beers. Trust me, this is a good thing, contrary to any macrobrewers who tout triple-filtering blah blah they make crap beer anyway so what do I care blah.

4.9/5 caps


Our first encounter with this beer, October of 2012, was interesting. A fantastic IPA. Then we got to the last bottle. It was not sealed properly. We drank the beer, it was not carbonated, but it was still tasty. I contacted Fat Head's, and they sent us two t-shirts as their way of saying sorry (hell, I was just trying to let them know they might have an issue with one of the cap machines).  Really friendly people.

So, as Jennie mentioned, they're new to the Columbus scene, although they're a well loved company (Stone has done a collaboration with them, Columbus Brewing Co has done a collaboration IPA that was amazing). This is what a great IPA is made of. Jimmy, if you're reading this- go buy a 6-pack ($10, I've seen it at Savor/Clintonville Market and Giant Eagle on 161).

The description Jennie gave is dead on. I can't really add anything to this.

5/5 caps


Oskar Blues G'Knight

Oskar Blues is newer to Ohio (only a few months of distribution here), and they've impressed me so far. There are other beers we drink that we forget to review. Oskar Blues Dick's Pale Ale is one of them. I remember it was fantastically hoppy and left a huge impact on everyone who was at the house that night.

Back to this beer though. This pours a beautiful clear amber, and by amber, I mean the same tone as amber, not darker, not lighter. Amber. Has a bit of off-white head that sticks around. The aroma is rather hoppy, sort of citrusy notes, with some malt back. First sip is interesting. There's citrus, some alcohol, there's earth-tones, then citrus. It finishes like biting into a fresh orange with a strong citrus and juicy mouthfeel with some sweeter tones. The citrus lingers lightly in the back, but does not overwhelm.

Pleasantly surprised, as I expected more of a bitterness toward the back.



I'm also impressed with Oskar Blues. This is billed as an Imperial Red IPA and it clocks in at 8.7% ABV. OK, I'm in! This is a citrus bomb... I pick up a ton of grapefruit and tangerine. Yum. I like the sweeter finish on it. Also, I like that everything they put out is in a can, proving that you can get good beer in a can, and not just adjunct swill.

4.3/5 caps


Flying Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo (2013 Release)

And now onto our 3rd and final tribute of the night to the good Doctor. 2013 release of Barrel Aged Gonzo. This was released in 750ml bottles (instead of the last year release that was 12oz). It was corked, like a fine wine, ergo, I must get more for aging (see Barrel Aged 2012 review for what I intend to do with said aged beer).

Again, this pours black as coal. I think my exact words the first time I had Gonzo, "as dark and opaque as soy sauce." The light coffee head adds to the beauty of this. This is an interesting day, as we both finally upgraded our phones to smart phones, and as we're reviewing fantastic brews tonight. How else should we end the night? The answer, my dear, hedonistic reader, is the 2013 release of B.A. Gonzo.

The aroma is.... SHIT!.... I dunked my nose in the beer... Let's try this again... The aroma is about the same as the 2012 release, coffee, chocolate and whiskey barrel notes (with a devilish dash of vanilla). Only, as of right now, the 2013 release isn't as potent on the nose. The flavor of this, however, is not quite as good as the aged. The whiskey comes out a lot more and overpowers the rest of the brew. This claims that this is 9.5%, but tastes heavier. The wood flavor is more predominant (guessing because it hasn't had time to mellow out), there are bonus notes of coffee and chocolate on the back end, but they seem to be overwhelmed by the front end of whiskey and wood. Once it warms up a bit, though, the flavors meld. Still rather woody. If you don't like a nice oak aged flavor, this is not for you. But then again, as I've worked with wood for a long time (insert all kinds of sophomoric jokes here), I find it pleasant. Nay, I find it rather calm and relaxing. It brings me back to wood shop, building a hollow body guitar my senior year of high school. No cares in the world, no bills, no worries except when the next jam session between friends would happen. This is a trip down memory lane in every sip.

This, as well, is a fantastic brew. I would love to review this next year, side by side by side with last year's, this year's, and next year's selections. Side note, this is out 80th review. Sweet Raptor Jesus how time does fly.

I'm not finishing this beer for one simple, and yet, good reason. I gave Phil a couple drinks. He really likes it. He's going to kill the rest of it, as Phil is worth it.

4.8/5 caps (only because I think this should age longer)


Hehehehe Nathan and Phil shared wood. Insert West Virginia joke here. Please, now, let's get to the damn beer already.

I pick up more chocolate in the nose of this current brew. And booze. Lots and lots of booze. Who needs whiskey when this is picking up every last molecule from the aging barrels? It's not nearly as smooth and well-rounded as the 2012 cellared version. And yet, because of the booziness, it gives off more stout characteristics than porter. The 2012 was deeply layered and complex; this isn't nearly as much; in fact, it's probably my least favorite of the three variations we've tried tonight. No noticeable hop values, no deep layers of complexity... and wow, after three 9.5% beers and another 10% brew (plus a few in between), I'm certainly feeling the need to see what Google really has to say now (Siri can suck it).

There's a lot of alcohol bite on the back side of this. As Peanut (my child) would say, "Hellooooo, Nurse!" (he watches a lot of Animaniacs).

4.5/5 caps, because it's a little boozy and loses a lot of great characteristics without being aged or the ability to maintain hop characteristics.


Flying Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo (2012 release)

The 2012 release of Barrel Aged Gonzo. This has been aged one year as of this point. I remember moving into this shitty little apartment with Jennie about a year ago, our commemorative beers were a 6-pack of Hopslam and two bottles of this.  She and I both preferred the regular Gonzo at the time, as we felt the barrel aging, although picking up different notes, lost a lot of the great hoppy characteristics that regular Gonzo excelled in.

So, now, we've come to this. 3 days late of the 7th anniversary of the passing of the last true American hero. And what do we have to show for this? The American economy has tanked, the young man ain't got nothing in the world these days. I seem to be trailing off and writing part of my 'hobby writing' saga American Dream. I'll try and digress from this.

The pour is exactly as expected, dark as a starless night, with a coffee colored head. The aroma, however, is not as expected. There are deep tones of alcohol notes to offset the coffee and chocolate notes, with some slight almost vanilla and woody tones. The taste is... Sweet Jesus... This ages fantastically. Picture, if you will, the smoothest, best sex you've ever had, and intensify it, to where your ancestors will rise from the grave to have a cigarette and say 'Damn, that was good.' There are rich chocolate and coffee flavors that meld perfectly with notes from the whiskey barrels. Now, something that I just learned tonight if Gonzo is aged in Stranahan Whiskey barrels. This is fitting, as George Stranahan was Hunter S Thompson's neighbor and good friend. Apparently (for those who did not know), Stranahan also founded Flying Dog.  The mouthfeel is thick, slightly creamy, with a roasty note toward the back end.

This is getting harder to find, as it's last year's release. I feel like I should purchase a few more bottles and cellar them, breaking them out during special occasions that involve said special beer. Much like a wine aficionado breaks out a hundred dollar bottle of chateau du fancy-wine sounding name, I will bust out amazing beer. And why, you ask, because, in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, "If something's worth doing, it's worth doing right."

The aging on this gave this time to meld together, although it did lose the hoppiness of the brew. The whiskey barrels replaced, in my opinion, where the hops left off.

5/5 Caps


As a mother, I learn new levels of patience daily. Cellaring beer has really not yet made it onto my patience radar, particularly after dealing with a rambunctious five-year-old, but after this, it definitely should. Really, there are some mornings when I wonder how I made it through my coffee without spiking it. After this, it makes me want to... it's nearly the perfect morning brew. And at 9.5%, it'd certainly power me through whatever Morning can throw at me.

I remember when we first cracked the first bottle of Barrel-Aged Gonzo, not being as fanatic about it as I am about regular Gonzo. It lost the hoppiness, and that, to me, is tantamount to a cardinal sin, at least with this beer. Let me state, however, that the additional aging of this has only melded the flavors. This has the same roasty, toasty nose, that perfect balance of coffee and chocolate, mellowed by the whiskey and wood aging which lend a hint of vanilla and, well, whiskey to the aroma. Yes, it has lost most of the hop notes, but they creep back in at the very tail end of the flavor for me. It's a little more rich than the regular Gonzo, like shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue when you're accustomed to Macy's. The layers of flavor that were added by the whiskey barrels really add deep tones.

4.95/5 caps


Flying Dog Gonzo

So, this is the first review of our Gonzo Extravaganza. Gonzo is named after the Good Doctor himself, Hunter Stockton Thompson. You probably won't recognize his name, which is a shame and travesty on humanity. If you've seen Johnny Depp's movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you've been experienced to Hunter S. Thompson (as Thompson wrote the book that said movie is based on). Same with The Rum Diary.  The artwork on the bottles is done by Ralph Steadman, who illustrated many of Thompson's novels/articles.

Why is this beer called Gonzo? Thompson was an outlaw journalist, a non-traditionalist who lived by his own rules. His writing style was deemed 'Gonzo journalism'. He passed, by his own hand, on Feb 20th, so to pay tribute, this is the first in a 3 part beer review. Why wasn't it done on the 20th? Well, in true Gonzo style, we missed the deadline.

But enough about his history lesson on the greatest American ever, onto the beer review.

This is a harder-to-find year round brew. It is an imperial porter that is simply amazing. I first fell in love with this back in 2007, and it's been my fitting tribute to the man since. 9.2%, dark as the blackest night, with a head on it that looks like coffee with a bit of cream.

The aroma is uncharacteristic of most porters. You get tons of hops in the nose. The flavor, though, fucking eh, the flavor. There are dark roasted notes, chocolate notes, coffee notes, some slight caramel notes, and hops. The mouthfeel is a little thick, but finishes with an amazing bitterness, like getting a fresh cup of coffee from a barista, throwing it into the face of the barista, then chugging a high IBU IPA, punching an elderly lady and stealing her car to flee the scene.

This beer is simply amazing, if you do not go and pick some up, I will hunt you down and rip out each toenail, one by one, while pouring lemon juice onto them.

5/5 caps because that's as high as our rating system goes


I'll be a little less harsh, much as this beer is easy-drinking. This was the first porter that I actually liked. It's still my favorite (with Founder's being a close second, and I'm currently kicking myself for not picking up the Bell's Porter today, as I haven't seen that in a long time).

The hoppy finish on this is fantastic. It's a great beer, one which all porters should strive to be. It's not so heavy it makes you feel like you just ate a Hunter S. Thompson hangover breakfast in one beer. It's perfectly light-bodied, yet drinks as dark as coffee without any cream. Yet I find it a perfect balance of coffee and chocolate.

I'll try to hold Nathan back from the toenail affronts, but yes, please do go out and find some. Weiland's is the only place I've seen it in a long time.

5/5 caps because my toenails live in fear


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Revolution Brewing A Little Crazy

Previously, we had only one brew from Revolution (see our review on Anti-Hero, which is fantastic, perfect 5 for both). So this is, again, expanding our beer legs and branching out. This is a Belgian-style pale ale. So, we're knocking out some more with Belgian yeast strains tonight.

The pour is a clear, golden color, looks moderately carbonated, with a bit of head that doesn't stick around. This is 6.8% (according to the can, ratebeer says it's 6.4%), so it'll be interesting to see how this melds together with the previous beers. The aroma is hops, mostly citrusy notes, but some earthy tones. The first taste is... whoa... This is great. This isn't what I expected. The Belgian yeast strain adds to this, instead of overpowering. The hops come out great in this, in a tropical fruit sort of essence. Nice, light mouthfeel with a slightly sweet finish, but does not linger. Jennie's trying to activate the voice command on her phone by telling Google that she is drunk.

Go, find this. Revolution is becoming one of my favorite newer breweries, and their products are proof that AMAZING beer can, and will, come from a can.

4.9/5 caps


...And this beer is one reason I've been wanting to expand my Belgian horizons. I took one whiff and my comment was, "Farmhouse-y," a style I either love or want to pour down the sink. There are some spice and bubble gum and banana esters in the nose, along with something I can only describe as basement must. When I taste it, I pick up a hint of cardamom, followed by banana esters and tropical fruit -- is that papaya? -- and finishing very earthy. It's a flavor profile I'm trying to train my taste buds to appreciate more.

And I am totally testing out Google to see if it compares to Siri. I'm not drunk, but Siri would have some great advice if I were. Google did not. This is the first point where I've noticed that my hours-old phone may not stack up to or exceed the iPhone 5. Hey, curiosity killed the cat. And possibly the girl, if I take the safety manual to heart.

For the style, I definitely appreciate this. I am loving what Revolution Brewing is doing and look forward to trying many more of their brews.

4.4/5 caps


Troegs Nugget Nectar

Troegs Nugget Nectar is another cult favorite among hopheads. This is an Imperial Amber that's hopped up, from a Pennsylvania-based brewery. It's 7.5% ABV, and we're about to find out whether the cult following is deserved.

It pours a medium amber, clear color with a khaki head that leaves a lovely lacing on the glass. The aroma is very hoppy, mostly pine with some tart citrus notes. I was first assaulted with heavy grapefruit notes up front that mellow out to a caramel or toffee middle and finished again with heavy grapefruit. I love grapefruit, so I find this pleasing. There are also some mild bread or biscuit notes in the middle, but they quickly lose out to the citrusy notes of the hops. I may not be a huge fan of amber brews, but this is terrific. If they were all as hopped up as this, I'd be a much bigger fan of the style.

I definitely think this deserves the cult following it receives. In fact, you might add me to the list.

4.7/5 caps


What i was reading about this, it's Hopback to the Nth Fold.

Jennie's description pretty much nailed it and I have nothing really to add except that the mouthfeel is sticky and resiny, as a good hoppy brew should be.

4.6/5 caps


De Proefbrouwerij Signature Ale

De Proefbrouwerij Signature Ale is a collaboration between a Belgian brewery and Port Brewing out of the good ol' USA. 8.5%, out of an 11.2 oz bottle.

This pours a murky golden orange with very little head. The aroma. Oh sweet Raptor Jesus, the aroma. If you combine the smells of apple cider, spice, and something slightly sour, you have the aroma. Then you get the sip. Wait... I need another sip. There is so much happening in this brew. The things I can say before taking more and more sips to analyze the taste, medium mouthfeel with a smooth, then slightly sticky finish.

Analyzing the taste- seriously- so much happening here. Toward the front there's almost an mulled cider (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and apple), then hints of sour mash, then some caramel, back to the mulled, then ending in spice taste. No signal of the alcohol.

Jennie wanted to get into more Belgian brews this year, and this is a great one to expand our horizons with.

4.3/5 caps


One of my goals for this year has been to expand my exposure to Belgians, as Nathan mentioned. Instead of going for broke on Westie, I picked this one up at Weiland's in a mixed-sixer today. I'm so glad I did.

I pick up some dried fruit in the aroma (thankfully, not really raisins, as they're one of the few foods I don't care for) and some candi sugar. Then you taste it, and I pick up some stone fruit and more candi sugar, maybe some brown sugar and a touch of the mulled cider flavors Nathan mentioned. This is an extraordinarily complex beer, and I love every sip of it. It's very nuanced in all its layers of flavors. At some point, I almost get some leather in it. This is extraordinary, and probably not the best to start my annual tour off with, as it may very well spoil me for any others.

4.9/5 caps


Dogfish Head Burton Baton

So, after our pan of the Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada Rhizing Bines last night, I felt the need to prove that I don't just dislike Dogfish Head's brews. We ended up at Weiland's Market this afternoon for the prior-reviewed Lucky SOB, and while we were there picked up several other singles. This is one I've been looking forward to tasting, so we picked some up. It's an Imperial IPA that has been aged in oak barrels, with a hefty 10% ABV.

It pours a lighter orange color with a moderate off-white head that leaves beautiful lacing on the glass and has moderate alcohol legs. Tonight we chose to use wineglasses for this because they seemed appropriate for the style. My wineglasses are snifter-shaped with tall stems. Just so you know. We figured we'd finally try to be proper and stuff. This smells purely lovely, like grapefruit and pine and all the happy hoppy flavors I enjoy, and just a hint of caramel or toffee. And then you taste it. It has a very mellow grapefruit flavor up front, with just a hint of the oak barrel, which fades into very mellow caramel and toffee flavors. The nose on this is intense; the flavor is a lesser degree of exactly what you smell, primarily due to the barrel aging.

This is really good. This is what I was hoping for out of Rhizing Bines. Well done, Dogfish Head. I could probably live off of this if I had to.

4.9/5 caps


Where do I begin with this? 10% IPA that's oaked. Could either be good or bad. The aroma is hops. There are some woody and vanilla tones, but HOPS. The flavor is how Jennie described. Nowhere in this brew does it scream out about the 10% ABV. It's nice and mellow, but yet gives a nice warming sensation (like red wine). Is this better than the Rhizing Bines? Well, does the Pope shit in the woods? This is the high quality beer that I expect from a huge name like Dogfish Head.

4.85/5 caps


Flying Dog Lucky S.O.B.

By George, my fine brewery, you've done it again! You've made a previously unobtainable brew available here in Ohio. This was part of their Brewhouse Rarities series last year, available only in kegs and only around Maryland, DC and Virginia. I'm glad that this has found it's way to Columbus, and into our home (to be added to my Flying Dog bottle collection). Irish style red brewed with four-leaf clovers.

Pours a reddish amber color with an off white head that sticks around for a bit. The aroma Like leaves sort of green. There's also caramel and toffee notes in the aroma. The first taste is interesting. It's a bit earthy toward the front, floral in the middle, with light roast and caramel tastes toward the back. Medium mouthfeel that finishes smooth and makes you linger for more. There's a caramel taste that lightly lingers, but is not persistent or annoying.

This would have to definitely have to be my favorite Irish Red thus far (as previously noted, not a huge fan of the style), not for the fact that it's from my favorite brewery, more of the fact that this is fanfuckingtastic.



By saying "By George," I'm sure he's referring to George Stranahan, the founder of Flying Dog. I don't have a lot to add to Nathan's assessment... I get some grassy tones in the aroma, and they reappear about the middle of the taste. I pick up more earthy tones on the backside, and maybe almost some burnt sugar, despite this being an exceptionally dry beer. I have had a couple of red ales that I have really enjoyed, but I think this nails the style, and the clovers are a festive touch. I think what may be the brilliant perfection of this beer would be to barrel-age it in Stranahan Whiskey barrels (oh yes, the very same George Stranahan has left the beer brewing world to bring us fine whiskey). Or Bushmill's. Damn, now I want some good Irish whiskey.

4.1/5 caps


Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada Rhizing Bines

This is a hophead's dream, a collaboration between Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada that should put to rest all East Coast-West Coast beef over IPA styles. This is the Tupac versus Biggie of IPAs, without all the violence and death and icky stuff. It uses Dogfish Head's red fife wheat and continual hopping, and Sierra Nevada's caramel malt and torpedo dry-hopping (see our prior post on Sierra Nevada's Torpedo IPA for more on their proprietary torpedo). It's also one of the highly anticipated beers to hit the shelves recently, and has been selling out fast.

This pours rather translucent, a medium golden color with a thin white head that doesn't last. It's only 8% ABV, so I was a bit surprised when the head dissipated as quickly as it did. The nose is surprisingly mild and understated. I was expecting a hop bomb in the olfactory nerve, but I barely pick up any hop aromas. It took three deep sniffs to detect some faint pine and citrus notes in the nose. Let's see how it tastes.

The first sip yields some really floral notes. Did I just drink perfume? The floral notes stick around throughout the sip, but give yield to some pineapple and earthy tones. I almost pick up some basement must. It's pretty carbonated, tickling the throat and adding a layer of fizz to the top of my stomach acids.

This is a very complex beer. I don't know that I love the floral notes throughout... it tastes exactly like I just glugged some Calvin Klein Eternity. I'm not much for overwhelming perfume or cologne; when I wear perfume, I usually opt for hops essential oil. And I don't mind some perfume notes to IPAs; Ithaca's Flower Power comes to mind as one I enjoy. I wish this were a little more in-your-face with the hops. It's not bad... but it's not as hop-forward as I was hoping, especially between two breweries noted for their hoppiness. Maybe I was expecting some of Dogfish Head's 120-Minute IPA blended with Sierra Nevada's Celebration or even their Hemisphere series. The hop flavors in this are surprisingly understated. It's a solidly structured beer, with a solid medium body and a sticky mouthfeel that's not offensive.

The CK Eternity is really throwing me off. Sorry, guys, I am pretty disappointed in this... I realize that Dogfish Head has a cult-like following, and Sierra Nevada puts out some great beer, too. I love Sam Calagione's vision and what he's done, and he has a great personality. But this... this leaves me wanting more.

2.9/5 caps


Rin @ Savor Market told me "Don't think of this as your typical IPA. It drinks more like a Pale Ale." I agree that it drinks more like a pale ale than an IPA, but at the same time, it lacks a lot for such huge names in the craft beer industry. It definitely has a perfume aura about it, both in the nose and the taste. Sadly, I has expected more. The perfume-ness overwhelms a lot after a few sips, but then again, is it just my twisted brain trying to fixate itself on the part that I'm disliking over this?  There are some pineapple tones, but again they get overpowered. The earthy tones don't distinguish themselves once this starts warming up. Very disappointing for both great breweries. It might be the hop strains, as we've not had Bravo or 644 strains of hops. But don't let our review deter you from expanding your horizons. Each person has their own tastes. Our tastes do not prefer this.

Great beers from Dogfish: 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA, Sah'tea, Chicory Stout. Great beers from Sierra: IPA, Torpedo, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, Hoptimum.

2.8/5 caps


Friday, February 22, 2013

Indigo Imp Blonde Bombshell

Ah, Indigo Imp's Blonde Bombshell. Indigo Imp is a brewery in Cleveland, Ohio, that produces real ales. That means that they are unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally carbonated. They also use an open fermentation process, harvesting the yeasts that naturally exist in the air. Blonde Bombshell is their American Golden Ale. I fell in love with this beer a couple of years ago, and haven't looked back.

This pours a hazy, deep orange color with a pale khaki, thick, rich, tightly-laced, creamy head. I love the hillocks that occurred in the head during the pour. The nose is very mild, with a hint of caramel and orange citrus notes. And then there's the taste: citrusy tones at first, fading into moderate carbonation that tickled my throat, and ending with sweet malt note and finishing like a sour. That would be due to the open fermentation process. Despite the carbonation, this has a velvety mouthfeel.

People seem to have a love-or-hate opinion of this beer. My cousin and her fiance picked up notes of sauerkraut. I'm very glad I have not had that experience with this, although, because of the open fermentation, one batch of this will never be precisely like another. Reviews on BeerAdvocate and RateBeer are widely disparate, with not much middle ground.

I find this thoroughly enjoyable, myself. Then again, I like the Brett-style flavor and funk it has, even though it's not nearly as funky as, say, George Clinton. It's a great summer beer, although I've enjoyed it year-round. It's light, yet at 6.2% ABV, you probably don't want to kill an entire six-pack in a sitting. Then again, if you do, you won't want to kill me in the morning through the fog of your hangover, because it won't be that bad.

4.2/5 caps


Rather good review, Jennie. This is a great brewery. I've had a few different brews from them (5 different styles, I want to say), and have yet to have a bad one. Real ales are hard to find from breweries.

There is nothing bad I can say about this beer, except possibly that it would be better enjoyed on a hot day. It's mild and mellow with a bit of spicy tones that melt with the slightly sour tones that the yeast strain gives off.

4.2/5 caps


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Flying Dog Horn Dog

Tonight was a good night. Picked up 3 different Dogs (other 2 to be reviewed this weekend). The Horn Dog was once a year round flavor, now, unfortunately, it is a seasonal. What is Horn dog? It's a 10.2% barley wine. Why do I not have the Flying Dog goblet to taste this out of? Well, I don't really know the answer.

So to review this beer, I must summon my inner-Gonzo spirit.

The pour is a deep, rich amber color. Slight khaki tone to the light head that forms on top. Chocolate and fruity (almost raisin) tones to the aroma, with some notes of the alcohol. There's also tones of the malt-heaviness that this style is known for. The first sip hits you with so many different flavors, it's slightly overwhelming. There must be a few more in order to pick them out. There are some dark chocolate flavors that meld in with some brown sugar, dark fruit and hops tones, finishing up with some light alcohol notes that leave you longing for more of it's sweet embrace. The mouthfeel is medium, a very light carbonation to this, that really doesn't make a fizz as much as a slight tingle on the tip of the tongue. But you can't put it down. It's like the dark beauty you've pined over for a number of years, dreaming of the things you would do with it, but yet, you're still astounded by it when you finally achieve your goal of getting it, as the sweet, blissful passion does not fade.  OK. Onto the second one, after an interruption or two. The second one drinks as well as the first, only slightly more light headed, not the beer, but the author. The author, the artist, the one whose view is obscured and sees the world in a different way from the supposed norm. I seem to be trailing away from this as Jennie and her dad are loudly talking, clouding my freight train of thought. Bartenders are gods, treat them as such, they are the law, and your judgement is the best judgement in a place of debauchery and happiness. Again, trying to get back on track. This finishes slightly sweet and malty, but some hops come out and make their presence known, as do the dark fruit and brown sugar notes, previously noted. And apparently on the TV, that's cranked as loud as humanly possible, there was some guy who was shot and blah blah blah heart of gold, bullshit media jargon, someone has to know who killed this man, Southwest landlord accused of spanking his tenant, ice storm coming. Can't focus with the sheer volume of the television. Trying to....

Ah, fuck it, it's not going to happen...

Great beer, go buy a six-pack. It's $15, but don't let the price scare you, worth every penny and every sip. And this coming from a man who doesn't really enjoy many barley wines.

4.8/5 caps


^^^What he said.

4.6/5 caps


Pete's Wicked Ale

Ready for a blast from the past? Man, this stuff was all the rage in the mid-1990's. I hadn't seen it around in years or heard any mention of this stuff since the height of its popularity. This was one of my first forays into the craft beer scene; I recall a summer cookout and falling in love with this, and preferring it to Sam Adams and other popular, "weird" beers of the time.

And then Nathan spied a twelve-pack at a carryout near our home. And then he decided to purchase it. So here we are, reviewing one of the first non-macro-lagers I had experienced and enjoyed. Pete's stopped distribution in 2011, so this may well be one of the last of this particular brew available. This particular batch was brewed in June 2010, so it's been, ahem, aged.

It's self-described as a ruby-brown ale. It pours a deep amber color with a creamy off-white head and great head retention. The aroma is pure malt, with some deep caramel seeping through. Not sure if it's because it's "cellared" or if it's just that way anyway, but I pick up nearly all malts and very little hops in this. It kind of reminds me of some good brown bread. It's really sweet without being cloying, and there's a hint of hop bitterness on the back end.

Huh. I think I just fell back in love with it. I'm not a huge red or amber fan. Honestly, I mentioned to Nathan during my last one that it reminds me of another favorite brewery, Indigo Imp. Makes me wonder whether this, likewise, has a wild yeast strain, although it was contract brewed for a long time, so I doubt it.

Now I have to go bust a move and get my Running Man on. It's a nostalgic kind of beer.

4.1/5 caps


This may be one of the last reviews of this fine beer, from a pioneer in the craft scene. A while back, we were talking about Pete's Wicked, and wondering what had happened to them. I started doing a little research. A homebrewer that started a company in 1985 and became the 2nd largest microbrewery in a short time. The company make $70 million in revenue at their peak. They sold the company to the company that owns Shiner beer. That company decided to kill the Pete's brand in 2011, due to declining sales. Apparently, now, Pete Slosberg (founder of Pete's Brewing) is making chocolates in California, but keeps in touch with the beer scene.

History lesson over, onto this possibly final review of this.

The pour is deep amber, the self description of 'ruby-brown' fits. Somehow, with this being bottled in 2010, this has a decent amount of head and carbonation. Interesting how aging a beer 2 1/2 years doesn't affect the carbonation (I'll have to keep this in mind for cellar aging beers in the future).  The aroma is just as Jennie described it. The flavor is awesome. You have some caramel tones with the malt, some light bitterness (Brewer's Gold hop strain) toward the back. The mouthfeel is lighter, a little sticky, but not overwhelming. At 5.5% ABV, this is a nice, light brew. Leaves a beautiful thin lacing down the side of the pint glass (like a spider web touched by the first dew of the morning).

It saddens me that this isn't around for people to still enjoy, but I'm glad that Jennie and I had the opportunity to enjoy it. I'm thinking I'll try and find a clone recipe of this soon, as this is too good to be pushed into the shadows of oblivion. May you rest in peace, Pete's Wicked Ale, and may you have a resurgence some day soon. I raise this potentially final pint in your honor. Cheers.

4.25/5 caps


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dundee Porter

Okay, So onto the last of the mixed 12 pack of Dundee's. Their porter. Now, before we begin, there's a lot of debate between what is a porter and stout. Are they the same and it's all up to what the brewer decides to call it? Well, here's an easy answer- Porters are lighter in body than stouts, the mouthfeel isn't as thick. There is a lot I could go in, but I don't want to lose the audience.

This pours a dark brown with a light khaki head that sticks around a bit. The aroma has tones of chocolate and caramel, but faint. After dipping my nose in the beer, accidentally, it's time to review the taste instead of tying to get more out of (or in) the nose. The taste has tones of coffee with some light hints of chocolate and almost a wheat-like flavor. No real trace of hops. A nice, light mouthfeel with no trace of alcohol (this is 6.5%). The finish is slightly sticky with notes of roasted coffee.  The foam left on the side of the pint glass is thick and does not subside.

This is probably the most impressive flavor out of this particular mixed selection Dundee has (Their summer mixed pack has a kolsch that's pretty good). It is satisfying and a good representation of the porter on a budget. Although I will say, this is training wheels for porters. If you want THE porter that all will be rated against, go out and find Gonzo from Flying Dog (upcoming review on 2 barrel aged versions and the normal Gonzo). But back to this brew. I have nothing else to really add, so I'll turn it over to my partner in crime for her review.



I don't have a whole lot to add here. I don't get that it's necessarily dark brown in color... more like a deep amber, almost like a watered down (regular) Coke with melted ice. And the head (on mine, anyway) was ridiculous. Then there's the taste. Decent representation of the flavors that go into a porter, but it's like it was mixed with water. Lots of water. So much water that Fred Durst got it wrong: it's not "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water", it's the other way around.

Sigh. I just can't help feeling a little disappointed and unsatisfied, much like when an average girl hooks up with the hottest guy in school with the biggest ego.

2.8/5 caps


Dundee Pale Ale

This is another beer within the Dundee sampler twelve-pack we picked up the other night.

It pours a deep golden or light orange color, with a little chill haze and an off-white, creamy head. At 5.3%, the head retention on this is pretty decent. In the aromas I get some grapefruit, citrusy hops, and a little caramel from the malts. Huh. This smells promising. And then it hits my mouth, and I'm confused. Like a blonde from the Valley, like, radically confused (no offense to either blondes or valley girls. Come on, I thought I was one back in the 80's. Which is really funny, because according to Nathan, I was a toddler at the end of the decade). Almost halfway through the beer, I realize it tastes like oranges and maybe some pineapple up front, fading almost into pure carbonation, and finishing rather sweet with a whole lot of caramel and toffee and a little resinous pine at the tail end. It leaves a sticky feeling in the mouth when it's all said and done. And then I realized that this description sounds way better than it actually tastes. It's not bad, but it's also not that good. It's kind of a hot mess of an American Pale Ale.

Really, you should see my face right now. It's screwed up into this confused expression. But no, I'm not turning on the webcam to capture this. I'm not ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille. (Whew. Nathan has the exact same expression on his face as he tries it.)

What weirds me out even more is that, over halfway through the beer, the head is almost identical as when I poured it. That never happens, especially not in my Bell's glass (which reminds me, I need to add some baking soda to the dishwasher cycle tonight). And then I realize: this beer is as bipolar as my ex-boyfriend. Which is saying a lot, as he was in and out of mental institutions several times over our brief-but-not-brief-enough courtship.

Now that I have that beerpiphany out of the way... onto the next one. And a hug to the wonderful Nathan in the meantime.

2.75/5 caps


The smell is amazing, I would bathe in the aroma it has. The taste though..... um... What the fuck? Any frontal assault of flavor fades so fast, I can't get a good read on it. The middle is more bland than most U2 ballads. The back end hints of bitterness. I realize that this bores me so much that just spent damn near an hour zoning out and trying to find a song to compare with the bland middle.... Jennie commented that this reminds her of Genesee Cream Ale with added hops. This isn't bad for experiencing a pale ale for the first time, but there are better options out there (Doggie Style from Flying Dog).... Not absolutely appalling, just not what I was expecting from after the amazing aroma.... weird...

2.7/5 Caps


Monday, February 18, 2013

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Ahhh, Sierra Nevada's Torpedo Extra IPA. I was surprised when Nathan pointed out this is our first Sierra Nevada review. Well, at least we're starting off with a damn good one. I really enjoy much of what Sierra Nevada does, and the fact that they're readily available and reasonably priced (at $8.99 a six-pack) only adds to the allure. I want to attend their Beer School someday.

This pours a medium orange color with a moderate white head. There are some decent alcohol legs on this, coming in at 7.2% ABV, and it leaves a lovely lacing on the glass. The aroma is all pine and citrus. I got hit with grapefruit at first, which faded into piney resins and a hint of orange as the malts mellowed out the hops, finishing with a whole lot of grapefruity hop bitterness. My mouth is happy.

Overall, I'd say it's a very solid IPA. It's a good example of a West Coast IPA, a hop bomb of happiness that I can get at most grocery stores and gas stations in Ohio. It's solidly structured with a good malt backbone to complement the generous hop additions that are in here.

4.3/5 caps


Wow, well described. I don't know how to add anything to this. Um... It's tasty, it's affordable... um... Hoppy... um...  Yeah... The flavor is great on both balls cold days and hot, sweaty summer days. For being 7.2%, it drinks smooth, no notes of the alcohol. It finishes sticky and resiny, as a good IPA should. The Magnum hop strain adds some awesome bite while the Citra hop strain adds the amazing citrusy tones. This is very hop-forward and worth checking out.



Magic Hat #9

Magic Hat #9 is one of the most interesting brews I've had. How do you classify it? It claims on the bottle that it's "Not Quite Pale Ale", but yet it has more of a fruit flavor... Regardless, it's good. It pours a golden color with a little bit of white head that doesn't stick around. The aroma is sweeter, almost like peach notes. The flavor... Oh, yes the flavor. Nice lighter bodied, apricot/peach flavors with some floral hops. Finishes a bit sticky like a pale ale. I'm not sure the classification, but I do know you should go buy a 6-pack.

4/5 Caps


I am reminded of a golden ale with heavy apricot aromas and sometimes flavors. Funny, I don't recall the apricot notes from when I first tasted this until a year or two ago. From what I've read, though, they haven't changed the recipe lately. This brew was recently lambasted on BeerForum as one of the worst beers a couple of members had ever tasted. I don't think it's that bad. I will say I do have to be in the mood for it to enjoy it. It's one I also have to say I prefer colder.

3.4/5 caps

Dundee English-Style Ale

This is another offering from the sampler twelve-pack we picked up yesterday. I feel dirty keeping this one in the refrigerator, as many English ales are served at room temperature.

It pours a medium amber color with some faint chill haze and a fairly large off-white head. It actually has decent lacing, which I, for whatever reason, find surprising. It has a lot of caramel notes in the nose, along with some sweeter malts and some very mild English hops... do I pick up some Fuggles in there? The caramel tones really come out in the first taste, which then fade to more earthy, mineral tones, which then give way to more caramel. There is a moderate hop and malt presence throughout the sip. It has a thin but sticky mouthfeel.

Overall, it's an ok beer. Not great, but then again, my taste buds tend to prefer the bigger hop presence and more in-your-face attitude in the American-style ales and IPA's. Not to say those limey Brits don't put out good beer, but then again, this is an American interpretation of an English brew.

3/5 caps


Pours a golden, slight orange color. White head that sticks around. Aroma is malty with typical English ale yeast strain noted. Taste is... Not good. Not one of Dundee's better selections. Sweeter tone, some corn and other filler notes. This isn't much better than your average American adjunct lager. Corny tones on the back. This hits with a sweeter, dry finish, this is unfortunately the best part of this. Not a good brew at all... Not a good representation of an English-style. Better options are to go with an actual English ale (Moorhouse's "Pendle Witches Brew", Monty Python's Holy Ale, and Wychcraft are ones I recommend), despite what Jennie said, there are some good Brit beers.

2/5 caps


Dundee India Pale Ale

As stated before, Dundee is a good gateway beer. Their IPA came in their sampler 12-pack. This pours a golden amber with a small amount of white head. Light floral and citrus tones from the hops in the nose with a slight amount of sweetness from malts. The taste is lighter than most IPAs, but has the characteristics of a typical IPA. There are the notes of heavier hops, mostly citrusy toward the front with some lingering earthy bitterness on the back end that lingers a bit. Has a slightly sticky mouthfeel. For being a mass produced, cheaper beer ($12 a mixed 12-pack), it's decent and very drinkable. It's a great gateway beer for beer geeks in training, or if you're wanting to switch up from drinking your normal domestic bland lagers. As I've been enjoying IPAs for years, it's lacking certain characteristics that I tend to enjoy in the hop-heavy IPAs, but I can't hate on this.

3.3/5 caps


It's no secret that we're both pretty strong hopheads. That being said, this isn't terrible. Don't get me wrong, it's not fantabulous, but it's definitely drinkable. This would be a great beer for someone who is wanting to develop their palates for hoppier brews. I pick up some grapefruit on the front and in the nose, which gives way to the earthier tones that Nathan mentioned, with some grassy notes in the middle. The malts are barely noticeable, so I'd be tempted to categorize this -- merely based on lightness of body -- as a session IPA. It's 6.3% ABV, though, so don't fall for that.

If you're looking to establish your hop tastebuds, pick up a mixed twelve of this.

3.1/5 caps


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Special Edition: North Market Fiery Fest

Well, we just returned home after a fun filled day of hot pepper-based goodness. Sampled MANY different hot sauces (picked up 3) and 3 hot pepper libations (and one non-spicy). There was also the hot wing competition, which i fared rather well in (6 rounds, 3 wings with each round, increasing in heat. I tapped out after the 5th round was over, mainly because I was stuffed and couldn't eat 6 more wings for the 6th round and the finals).

So, let's begin our reviews/ flashbacks.

The cast: Big Mike & Trish, Jimmy, Jennie and Nathan (with Pat and Jess joining after the mead sampling).

As we were walking toward the upstairs (where the event was held), there was something that caught our eye. Barrel and Bottle. A beer and wine store in the North Market. Amazing staff, fantastic selection for being such a tiny booth.

In the opening of the booth, there was a rep from Brothers Drake Meadery We decided to try a sample of the Hot Shot and Est. 1812. Figured we'd step out of our norm of beer and experience ourselves with some locally made mead.

Brothers Drake "Hot Shot"
(picture from Belmont Party Supply's page as I couldn't find a picture of the bottle and wasn't thinking of taking a picture via my own phone)

The Hot Shot is a habanero honey mead that is a collaboration with CaJohn's (a hot sauce place in the North Market). Sounds interesting, huh. The little sample was amazing. It had the flavor of the habanero, but without the intensity of the heat. The pepper and honey blended well. It was sweet with a crisp pepper flavor, then the warming hit toward the back. Big Mike noted that his "balls were warm from this." Before this point, I hadn't had too many mead varieties. This was rather enjoyable, even a non-pepper head would most likely enjoy this.

4/5 caps


Oh, Nathan, you little pepperhead, you're so cute... it was fairly intense with the heat of the habaneros. It had a lovely sweetish, honeyed start, then I coughed with the heat, which came as a bit of a surprise. I wasn't expecting that heat level in a honey mead. Don't get me wrong, it was delish, it just caught me off-guard. And yes, it warmed the body through. If you don't have a fair amount of heat tolerance, though, I don't know that you would enjoy it, and I would suggest one of their milder flavors.

4/5 caps


Brothers Drake "Est. 1812"
 (picture taken from Brothers Drake's website, as, again, I did not think of taking a picture of the bottle)

The Est. 1812 mead is an organic raspberry honey mead that pays tribute to the year Columbus, Ohio was founded. Makes sense as Brothers Drake is based out of here (at 5th and High, I believe it's Short North area). The color was a beautiful pink, clearly no head (as it's a honey wine). The flavor was amazing, raspberries with a some sweetness, but a nice dry finish. Worth checking out (really hoping to try their Dry Hopped mead soon).

4/5 caps


Facepalm. Yes, Nathan, Brothers Drake is in the Short North. I loved this, even though my taste buds were still tingling from the Hot Shot. It was sweet, but not too sweet. The raspberries were an amazing complement to the honey. I don't often enjoy sweet wines, but this.... this is fantastic. They use natural, locally grown raspberries and honey, and it shows. We're scheduled to shoot an episode at the Meadery, and we're both stoked for it. I really wish we had picked up a bottle of this.

4.4/5 caps


We continued on our hot pepper adventure as we headed upstairs, where the festivities were happening. After sampling some different vendors (and purchasing local made hot sauces), we decided to hit up the beer selection. We were disheartened as Columbus Brewing Company's Habanero Bodhi has sold out. We were looking forward to trying that, as Bodhi is a fantastic brew, and only available on tap.  Elevator represented this year with two amazing selections; "Hot Brown" chipotle nut brown ale and "Three Hot Frogs" IPA, both brewed with peppers from CaJohn's. Pints were $4 and a 4oz sample was $1. Big Mike and Jimmy opted for the Three Hot Frogs, Trish opted for the Hot Brown, Jennie opted for a pint of the Hot Brown and a sample of the Three Hot Frogs, Nathan opted for a pint of Three Hot Frogs and sample of Hot Brown. While tasting the fantastic brews, Pat and Jess joined the group. Pat decided, after sampling, to get a pint of the Hot Brown.

Elevator "Hot Brown" Chipotle Nut Brown Ale

This was fantastic. The pour was darker than most nut brown ales that I've had, almost like a porter or stout sort of color. There was little head on this. The aroma was slightly smokey. The flavor was seriously fantastic. Hazelnut heavy nut brown with the smokiness of the chipotle peppers. The heat does not come through at all, just the smokey flavor. The smokey and nutty flavors blended in a tasty concoction of sheer brilliance that only the mad zymurgists of Elevator could come up with. I really hope they start bottling this, as this should be tasted by anyone who enjoys smokey flavors or brown ales.

4.4/5 caps

I thought the color was appropriate for the style. I found the nose to be very mild, with very little smokiness to indicate the amazing concoction I was about to consume. My first sip showed a solid malt backbone, with some caramel flavors coming through. Then the hazelnuts hit, and my mouth was in love. And then the smokiness came through from the chipotle peppers. There was really no heat to this, but the smoky flavors from the pepper perfectly complemented the wonder that is usually Dick's Nut Brown Ale. If you've had Rogue's Chipotle Ale, I think this is a step or two even better. I can only hope that I don't have to wait another year to taste some more of this.

4.6/5 caps


Elevator "Three Hot Frogs" IPA

Wow. This beer.... This beer. Wow.
I already enjoyed the Three Frogs IPA from Elevator, but they ramped it up with this special batch. A combination of Jalapeno, Serrano, and Habanero peppers in a nice citrusy IPA, again, well played Dick and Vic. Typical IPA look when poured, nice ambery color. The nose gave some spice and fresh peppers, but still the citrusy, grapefruit tones of the hops. The flavor was interesting. I got the amazing IPA flavor, with some jalapeno and habanero flavors, without the heat. Big Mike got more serrano flavor in the taste. There was a bit of heat on the back end, but nothing overwhelming, I still noticed the grapefruit tones that lingered (again, like a good IPA), Jimmy thought it had more of a peppery aftertaste, and less grapefruit. Jimmy also noted that anyone could drink this. Again, Elevator should bottle this, this would sell like hot cakes. Hmm... Hot Cake IPA. I think I have an idea for another homebrew.


You probably already know about our love affair with Three Frogs IPA. I need to go back and bump up my rating... I think I underrated it when we reviewed it. I love the way a hoppy beer will tame the heat when you're in the mood for some spicy food. I was a little nervous about this beer, because, while I enjoy some heat, I've been assaulted with their Ghost Scorpion Lager and had just had some hot-ish mead downstairs, and we had just sampled our way through the festival where I had consumed more scorpion peppers than I have to date. My mouth was on fire... I wasn't sure if a hot beer would tame my singed tastebuds or make them feel worse.

How wrong I was.

This beer is nothing shy of amazing. Sure, you get a whiff of jalapenos and serranos in the nose, as well as the noticeable hops. But the flavor... oh, the flavor. It was the perfect amount of heat to complement the perfect amount of hops. The heat increased as you finished the mouthful, but it was nothing intense or overpowering. The habaneros lent more of a sweet flavor than heat. You could tell they were there, but it wasn't brimming with capsaicin. And the heat and the hops complemented each other so perfectly, this is now one of my favorite IPA's. Really, guys, please don't make me wait another year to have this again. Please? Pretty please? With habaneros on top?

4.9/5 caps


The hot pepper adventure continued after the beer tasting as Big Mike and Nathan decided to enter the hot wing eating competition. 6 rounds of 3 wings per round, coated in sauce. The sauces increased in heat with each round. Nathan tapped out after the end of round 5 (finishing the Trinidad Scorpion wings), due to being uncomfortably stuffed, finishing in 8th place. Big Mike finished 6th place. There were roughly 25 people when the competition began. Here are some pictures.

                                                                    (before round one)

                                                                   (after round one)

                                                                   (after round two)

                                                               (finishing round three)

                                                                  (mid-round four)

                                                                   (mid-round five)

(the wings of round five, with copious amounts of Trinidad Scorpion peppers. Check the dust on the plate. They burned Jennie's skin just by passing by.)

Overall, it was a blast. We hope to see a lot of you there next February.

Note: We are PIONEERS! Currently (2/17/13 at 9pm) on BeerAdvocate 0 reviews for either Brothers Drake, Ratebeer has 3 for Est 1812 and 0 for Hot Shot. For the Elevator beers, 0 reviews on B.A. for either, Ratebeer has 1 for the chipotle nut brown and 0 for the Three Hot Frogs.

New Albion Brewing Co. New Albion Ale

I've seen this quite often in stores and have been rather intrigued by it, purely for the name. I went to Albion College (MI), so seeing this in stores provoked some kind of vague fond reminiscence of my college days. It's funny how my college life has followed me to Columbus... a couple of former roommates moved here (although each of our lives have diverged), my child's pediatrician was in my graduating class (Dr. Shari Burns; she's awesome if you have little ones), and one of my dear friends here in town has been doing the brand identity for my alma mater. And now I find this in my local Kroger. I've always said that Columbus is the biggest small town anywhere, as it is 1 1/2 degrees of separation, at most. Will this be the beer to prove my theory?

New Albion Brewing is regarded as the first American craft brewery of the modern era, founded in 1976 and dissolved in 1982. Somewhere since then, Boston Beer Company (you probably know them better as Sam Adams) bought the rights and started brewing and widely distributing New Albion Ale in January 2013. I'm excited to see how it tastes.

It pours a very light orange color with an off-white head, semi-cloudy in the glass with some chill haze. The nose yields some citrusy, pineapple-y hop aromas and mild malt presence. Those are barely noticeable when you actually taste it. It's a very mild beer, highly carbonated, with an extraordinarily clean finish. I don't find it to be remotely offensive. It's a solid American pale ale, fairly safe for Sam Adams to produce, yet it does evoke the recent revival in American craft beer. This may quickly become a staple in my fridge.

And your trivia for the night: Albion means "England" in Old English. The language, not that crap malt liquor that still makes me retch a little in my mouth when I just think about it.

4.2/5 caps. Bonus points for the name.


I get more piney out of the hops in the nose. The taste is mild, as Jennie stated, but yet drinkable. The finish is clean and smooth, almost finishing like a lager. Not a bad selection and seriously makes me rethink what I previously thought of Boston Beer's selections.

4.1/5 caps


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Elevator Dark Horse

Ah... Dark Horse. Another fantastic selection from Elevator.

Now, let me give you a little history about myself. This was one of 2 beers that turned me into the craft beer drinker that I am today. I was a younger version of the maniacal tool I am now, and was fed up with drinking crap. I tasted this and Flying Dog's Doggie Style (review yet to come) and it made me realize that not all beer has to be crap. And because of that, we decided to make this our 60th beer review.

This beer changed my view on lagers forever. It opened my eyes that there are lagers that can be fantastic. This doesn't pour light yellow. No, my fellow freak, this pours a dark coppery color (when held up to light, in a dimly lit room, it's black) that light barely passes through. But, yet, the head is a very light color that doesn't stick around. The aroma has tones of hazelnut, chocolate and malty goodness. The taste. Oh, Sweet Jesus, the taste. Take a nut brown ale, add some cocoa notes,  and some roasted notes. All of a sudden, it's gone, it's down your throat with a perfectly clean finish. There is a reason this took Bronze in 2007 at the Great American Beer Festival.

The 5.3 % ABV does not get noticed. What does get noticed is the AMAZING flavor from this. This got a 3-nod and eye-brow lift from Phil. That's very good for a Phil review.

As always, we have to show our appreciation to Dick and Vic at Elevator, and this beer is a great example of their exemplary contributions to the brewing world. Go, pick up a six pack. If you're not in the Columbus, Ohio area, travel here. It's worth it for this brew.

5/5 caps


Hehehehe he said "maniacal tool."

I don't have much to add. When it warms a bit, I get more of a citrusy aroma in the nose. It's like a porter that has been blended with the lightness and clean finish of a lager. Eminently drinkable, it, too, has spoiled me in my opinion of lagers. Well played, Dick and Vic. Well played.

Seriously, if you don't live here, get a ticket to Columbus and taste this fantastic beverage.

4.5/5 caps


Burger Classic

Ahhh, Burger Classic (sorry, I have no idea how to do the umlauts to make it proper). After a day of chasing a bored 14-year-old and an overly lively 5-year-old because he got a bunch of quality time with said 14-year-old, you occasionally need to just get your beer buzz on early in the day. Clearly, this was one of those days. It was barely noon when I cracked one open.

Burger Classic is made by Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Co. out of Cincinnati. It's an American pale lager. Don't judge. Those boys wore me out today, with mine waking the entire household up at 6:00 a.m. Let's just say I'm already plotting revenge for when he's a teen and dying to sleep in on a Saturday morning. Like I said, sometimes you just need to get your beer buzz on early, and you don't want to waste it on a high-cost beer. This is your perfect solution.

It pours a clear, medium golden color with a white head. It dissipates quickly and leaves little lacing on the glass. The nose is a bit malty, and the first sip contains some sweet grain flavor. There really isn't much more to it. I think it's the lack of anything else that impresses me with this beer. There's no offensive aftertaste, unlike I get with most mass-produced American adjunct lagers. This is a very clean-tasting brew, and one I can down quickly and numerously. There are some noticeable light hop additions to it, but nothing overwhelming.

For the category and for the price, at $5.99 a 12-pack, it's a frequent inhabitant of our refrigerator when we can find it. The Kroger we shop at most often stopped carrying it, but we've picked it up at many other Krogers, as well as the Meijer around the corner from us. It's one of our favorite beers to take to Wargoland, which I also fondly refer to as my summer cottage (our friends' house with an awesome pool and great back yard).

3.25/5 caps


The first time I had this was a friend's bachelor party back in 2011. We stopped by Whitey's Discount Liquor (trustworthy name, eh?) and decided to get some cheap beer for some pre-gambling drinking. We picked up this $6 12-pack, thinking it would be cheap swill to play drinking games with. Well, low cost, yes. Cheap, no. Around my circle of friends, Burger is known as the best 'broke beer'.  And what makes it so good?
-Well for one, it has flavor for being a cheap beer. There are tones of light hops and malt. It finishes clean and doesn't leave you wondering what bet you lost with Karma for you to be stupid enough to purchase, let alone, drink whatever swill (Natty Ice).
-The cost is cheaper than most American piss lagers. It won't break your bank to get some taste.
-This is the only beer where you can say you're drinking your sandwich.

I can't really think of anything else to say about this aside from, check it out when you see a 12-pack.

3.3/5 caps