Sunday, March 31, 2013

Indigo Imp Winter Soul





And now we return to the States after taking a Belgian tour. As we are into Spring officially, I figured this will be our last winter seasonal that we'll review/get our hands on. Indigo Imp is out of the Cleveland area, and, last I knew, were self distributed (quote "some guy in a truck drives it down to Columbus"). They have a unique yeast strain they use, that's either love it or hate it. I know some of my peers don't care for it, others love it, so, as with any and all of our reviews, this is just our opinion and go experience this for yourself.

I made sure that I snagged the 'Impish' bottle (in every pack Indigo Imp releases, there is one that has the cap covered in wax, similar to some wine bottles or Maker's Mark). We opened the bottle, there was little to no 'pfizz' sound, it pours a beautiful deep amber, almost garnet color, zero head. The aroma is bizarre. There's some sweet malt, and some spices, but mostly it's like a cooked vegetable smell. Weird. The taste is sweet and sour. There's no real distinct flavor other than their yeast strain, which over powers everything in this brew. Maybe it's old to where the hops and cinnamon, that the label mentions, have toned down? I don't know. The mouthfeel is smooth with no carbonation. Not the most impressive selection from these guys, but then again, it might be a bad bottle (BA and Ratebeer had reviews from people that had 2 inches of head, so it might be a bad bottle). I'm picturing this more of a sour beer than a winter seasonal as of this point.

3/5 caps

-Nathan-

Michelle (my cousin) and her fiance, Dan, had a pint of Indigo Imp (variety not recalled) and described it as tasting like sauerkraut. I have never gotten that out of an Indigo Imp beer until now... and that's just in the aroma. Now mind you, sauerkraut is another food I detest, unless it's on Lexi's Reuben nachos. Then it's the bomb... but that's because whatever sauerkraut they use doesn't taste like sauerkraut. Honestly, my first reaction to this when I took a sip was, "Ew." Nathan's description is quite accurate. It's extraordinarily flat, and that sauerkraut thing really throws me off. I normally love everything that Indigo Imp does, so I'm a tad bewildered here. It's not quite a sour, even though they open ferment their beers. I'm guessing it's a bad bottle, or at least one that hasn't aged well at all.

I'm starting to wonder if I'll be able to finish my portion. And I'm looking forward to the redImption, because really, most of their beers are fantastic.

2.25/5 caps, mostly because of the "Ew"

-Jennie

Orval





Onto our next venture into the world of those wonderful, maniacal monks from Belgium. This is another highly rated Belgian beer, this one being a Belgian Pale Ale. This was $5 a bottle, so in two beers we have drank the equivalent of our normal six-pack, price-wise. But it's another on my beer bucket list, and clearly Nathan loves me, so let's see how this rates.

We had an explosion in the kitchen upon opening. There was beer everywhere... including the floor, where our youngest cat was trying to lick it off the floor. Gia is very interested in beer, but she's not of age, so she's not allowed to drink it. This pours a very cloudy copper color, with an overflowing off-white head with beautiful lacing and big, fluffy bubbles. This was also poured into a wineglass, because we're still fancy-pants. It smells of orange, cloves, some banana and bubblegum esters come through, and it smells, well, Belgian. It tastes bready, then the orange, clove, and banana and bubblegum come through. It finishes rather dry, which is fine by me. The aftertaste is fairly earthy, like dry soil. The mouthfeel is highly carbonated, yet smooth like eating a banana.

It's a pretty mild beer, overall. None of the flavors overwhelm. It's a very well-done Belgian pale ale, and it's a lovely contrast to the American take on the style. If you've been reading our blogs, you will remember that I am working to explore Belgian flavors and train my taste buds to enjoy them more this year. This is a beer which won't require too much training. It should also be noted that we drank this and the Trappistes Rochefort 10 at near room temperature, having pulled them out of the  refrigerator about an hour before consuming, to let the flavors and complexities come through. It should also be noted that we're so fancy-pants that we're writing these reviews in our fuzzy pants tonight. Just be glad we don't have the webcam recording this.

4.98/5 caps. I'm feeling arbitrary tonight.

-Jennie


Gia is an interesting cat indeed. Nothing says 'wake up you sorry, pathetic bastard' like her biting my face at 4 in the morning But she's adorable. And when she turns of age, we'll have her help us brew beer. Until then, no beer for the kitten.


Onto the beer. This is a copper/orange color that is cloudy, as previously noted. The nose is interesting. I catch honey, orange, clover, black pepper, some bubble gum, some grains (bready sort of smell), banana, and at times apple. There's different characteristics on the nose per whiff. The taste is interesting as well. It starts out with some hop bitterness, fading quickly into honey, orange, clove and spices, and ends on a earthy, slighter bitter note. Medium mouthfeel, highly carbonated.

This wasn't bad. It's nice to expand my horizons onto world beers that are highly ranked.

4.8/5 caps

-Nathan-

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Trappistes Rochefort 10

Yep, we're fancypants tonight. We were meandering around Clintonville today, and decided to stop at Pace-Hi and pick up a mixed six-pack. I saw this, and added it to my half. Nathan has been teasing me all day about how much he loves me, as this cost $6 for one 11.2-ounce bottle. It's consistently ranked in the top beers in the world (currently #15 on BeerAdvocate and #7 on RateBeer), and I wanted to tick it off my beer bucket list, as it's fairly readily available here. It's a Belgian Quadrupel, so let's find out if it lives up to the hype.

It pours looking like Coca-Cola in the glass... that deep, rich cola brown with a beautiful khaki head that leaves gorgeous loose lacing on the glass. The head sticks around, despite the weighty ABV (11.3%). We're so fancypants, we poured this into a wineglass. It's my version of a tulip glass. I'm fresh out of trappist glasses, and this is the next closest thing. It smells like dried stone fruit, bready malts,  and booze. Lots of booze in the aroma. I may not have to drink it to catch a buzz. The taste is plums, raisins, some black currant, apricot, tobacco, brown sugar, and well, booze. Make that plums soaked in vodka, raisins soaked in vodka, black currants soaked in vodka... you get my drift. Yeah, the alcohol really bites on the back end. And the front end. It doesn't kill it for me, but it's definitely a strong beer. Yeah, I'm halfway through my 5.6 ounces, and I'm feeling a buzz. The feel on this is creamy, velvety with a light stickiness. It's a fantastically complex beer.

Verdict? (Insert the two-note theme from Law and Order:SVU, which Dad is watching a marathon.) It's good. It's world-class. I hate raisins. It may not be my favorite beer in the world, but I'd definitely drink it again. Hell, if I won the lottery, I'd probably buy a cask of it. I'm guessing it would cellar quite well, if you're into that. Thus far, I'm rather too impatient for that. But it's on the table, as we discussed earlier in the day purchasing a bomber of Flying Dog Gonzo with the express intent of cellaring it. We'll see how that goes.

4.99999/5 caps -- because I really detest raisins

-Jennie

Ya damn right on the BAG (Barrel Aged Gonzo).

I really can't add anything to that amazing review except in the flavor, I catch some vanilla bean from time to time as well all the flavors that my partner-in-criminal-activities already mentioned. My only quarrel with this is the boozy flavor. I've had plenty of high ABV beers where you don't get the boozy flavor. Maybe aging this for a year would make it lose the boozy tone? It worked for the 2012 B.A. Gonzo (see review at http://behindthetap.blogspot.com/2013/02/flying-dog-barrel-aged-gonzo-2012.html)

This is a fantastic brew, if you have an extra $6, it's worth a try, and you won't need much more for the night to get you buzzed (if you're going for that alone).

4.85/5 caps

Friday, March 29, 2013

Magic Hat Blind Faith


So, here we are, on our last beer of the night. Nathan can stay up and review, but this chica is off to bed soon. I had bibliographic insomnia last night... I was so into the book I'm reading that I stayed up until 4:00AM reading. I only have about 50 pages left, and I'm determined to finish it tonight... if I don't fall asleep first. At this point, I'm just hoping I don't faceplant in the keyboard mid-review.

This is Magic Hat's English-style IPA, meaning it's going to have subtler hop characteristics and be a little more malty and balanced. Let's get to it. Seriously, that book is calling my name. I have to find out what happens. This pours a lovely orange color with a nice chill haze. Moderate whitish head. When I stick my nose deep in the glass, I pick up orange and citrus hops, breadiness from the malts, and a little caramel. All of that comes through in the taste, but there's also some earthiness and a metallic finish. Maybe my allergies are kicking in, as I've been very drippy tonight and this is the second beer I've noticed a metallic finish on. The mouthfeel is a little richer than I'm used to in an IPA... there's a little resin, and moderate carbonation. I prefer American IPA's, but this is pretty all right for an English style.

OK, I just hallucinated that the image was moving. I don't think I recorded video, so I'll take that as a sign to hand it over to Nathan (expect at least one Ginger Baker reference, if not Clapton and Winwood, too). Good night, fellow beer lovers.

3.7/5 caps

-Jennie

Yeah, as Jennie predicted, there will be a Blind Faith reference. One of the greatest super groups ever, that somehow has become lost in the sands of time. Maybe if I crank "Had to Cry Today" or "Can't Find My Way Home", I'll be more in tune with this beer. British super group, English-style IPA, let's have a ripping good time.

As Jennie previously stated, a nice orange pour with whitish head. The aroma to me is faint orange, heavy bready malts and some hints of sweetness. Mind you, with out reviews, the person who takes lead has it first, the second person has time for the brew to warm up. This can be an advantage at times (some brews bring out different characteristics when it warms). The taste is sweeter than most American IPAs, toward the front, with some slight toasted notes. It has a nice floral and citrus middle and finishes with a almost caramel flavor with hints of bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium, almost creamy with a bit of resiny stickiness.

This is a good beer, much different than what comes to mind when you think typical IPA. Much like how you should think of Steve Winwood for his career with Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith, and not of his solo career in the 80's. Actually, no... that's a terrible analogy that doesn't work. Scratch that one, despite my laziness of deleting it. So, I as well head to the great King Size in the land of Slumber after wrapping the night with some Blue Monday by New Order. Yes, I've been craving music as I lack it at work.

4/5 caps

-Nathan-

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Founders All Day IPA





Attempting to drown out the loud television with The Jesus and Mary Chain is a brilliant idea. Such mellow, yet interesting music. Reverb heavy. Listening to this and The Cure, right there is the ultimate writing/zoning out and collecting thoughts music. Although, I will state that 'Just Like Honey' should be played anytime anyone is drinking Hopslam.

Apparently, there is a task at hand, which is to review this beer. I remember the first time I saw this brew. I was turned off by it, by the description. 42 IBUs, 4.7 ABV? This is hardly what I consider an IPA. I was nearly outraged with seeing the IBUs. I expect a hop heavy mid-70 IBUs minimum when I think IPA. Below that I consider a pale ale. But this surprised me. Let's see if one year later, it continues to while I fight the urge to grab the Les Paul and strum along with "Blues From A Gun".

The color is a slightly hazy golden, almost straw color. Little amount of head that is almost stark white. But then you get to aroma. Oh yeah. somehow the 42 IBUs brings out big aroma of citrus, earth and pine notes, with some very faint hints of fresh cut grass, but the citrus overwhelms most of the aroma. The taste is where this starts to bother me a bit. This has some earthy toward the front with grapefruit ending, but the flavor is just a little too watery for a cold Ohio day. This would be great to drink while mowing the grass after a long day at work. This may warm up to me, once the weather does, but as of mid 30's in Ohio, this isn't doing it for me. The mouthfeel is like drinking water and it's more like drinking a lightly hopped tea than a beer. Very little carbonation.

So, now that I've confused you panning and giving praise, what will the final verdict be?

3.5/5 caps (maybe change the name to "All Day Pale Ale" and maybe a more of a malt backbone?)

-Nathan-


Yes, this is a "session" ale, meaning it's going to be lower in alcohol content so you can down a six-pack and not wake up under your coffee table. Or better yet, cheek plastered to the bathroom floor. I'm surprised that it's only 42 IBU's. I also think it's better structured than Nathan does... I find a hint of malt backbone on the backside of the brew. It's not as thin as, say, Lagunitas Daytime, which seemed more like a hop tea to me. This has enough maltiness to make it a very drinkable session IPA. It's definitely hoppy enough, and it's a little more bitter than a pale ale. I'd like to do a side-by-side comparison of this and their Dry-Hopped Pale Ale, which is fantastically hoppy for a pale ale. But that's just me. And while I'm indulging in Founders fantasy, I'd also throw a sixer of their Centennial IPA up against it, just for shits and giggles. But I suppose that would detract from the meaning of a session ale.

Is this my favorite IPA? No, but it's a decent offering from an outstanding brewery. It's a porch-sipper, where I could see myself languoring over a hot summer night not trying to cool myself off on the bathroom floor.

4/5 caps

-Jennie

New Holland Monkey King





We survived a busy day in Mommyland, and it's beer time. Thank goodness... although Peanut was exceptionally well-behaved today. Continuing our way through the five-pack (there are two left, including this one), we have arrived at New Holland's Monkey King, a saison/farmhouse ale. I'm super stoked about this, as I love New Holland and I fell in love with saisons last year, and I'm trying to train my palate to better appreciate farmhouse ales.

This pours a clear pale straw color with little head that quickly dissipates. There is a light chill haze in the glass. The aroma is faint banana and clove esters, with some orange and and maybe a hint of coriander. The taste is, well, farmhouse-y. It's not bad... there is definitely the banana/clove/orange that the aroma hinted at, and some white pepper. It gets almost metallic on the finish... that part is kind of weird to me. It's has a crystal clear, smooth mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. I pick up none of the 6.6% ABV in the flavor.

Overall, it's ok. It's not the best saison I've had, but it's a solid beer from New Holland. It's perfectly ok... nothing stellar or spectacular about it, in my opinion. It's almost Hatter season from them, so I'm more excited about that.

3.75/5 caps

-Jennie

....Before I begin... I'm getting out of my big boy pants....  Ok... Into my comfy fuzzy pants... Pet the kitty outside who is yelling at us (if this turns out to be a stray, we'll be looking for a good home for it). And now onto the beer review.

A very pale, straw color, yes. Heavy on the banana and clove esters from the yeast strain, so definite Belgian strain. The taste is orange with banana and clove up front, fading to some spice (I guess white pepper), with hints of wheat and grass, but leaving an almost musky sort of thing at the end. I can't put my finger on it, just reminds me of my friend Bret's Dad's basement. It's not in a bad-way, like 'Blair Witch Project' or 'Jerry Sandusky's Funhouse' sort of basement. No, more like a warm memory that is held near to the heart. The mouthfeel is smooth, decent carbonation. Apparently it's 6.6%, but there's not a.... shit... it's gone... Back to my point, though. The 6.6% is not noticed.

Decent saison, great for someone who's looking at expanding their horizons into new realms of the Craft Beer World. And, as a guy, you can't go wrong with a beer with the word 'Monkey' in it.

3.9/5 caps

-Nathan-

Founders Breakfast Stout

So, we're working our way through that aforementioned five-pack, and there was some discussion over which way to go. Nathan's comment when I mentioned this: "It's a killer." Great description, as it's the Ted Bundy of beers. We've been hopped up all night; I figured this would be a good balance to eviscerate my palate. You may now picture my entrails dangling from my tongue. Perhaps this would have been a better review for Sunday, when we watch the season finale of "Walking Dead", but it's already in the glass now, and that would just be craft beer abuse, which is tantamount to a federal felony in our house.

As Nathan mentioned just after pouring, it's just Breakfast Stout, not the CBS or KBS, which is due to be released later this month. KBS is Breakfast Stout aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. It's often ranked among Founders best beers on BeerAdvocate and RateBeer and the ilk. I like to consider it as the One That Started It All. It's also one of the first stouts I truly enjoyed.

It pours as black as my soul, with a coffee-colored head that doesn't stick around. When I put my nose into it, I want to die of happiness. It's coffee, some chocolate, and more coffee. When I drink it, it's coffee, chocolate, more coffee, heaven in my mouth, and a couple of other things I can't quite put my finger on, but definitely all malty in nature. Yet it's lighter in body than any other oatmeal stout I've had, or even Guinness Draught. Wait, there it is, on the back end, that heavy feeling of oatmeal stout. Apparently it's brewed with flaked oats, bitter and sweetened imported chocolate, and Kona and Sumatra coffees, two of my favorite coffee regions, probably because they're also black as my soul. That's according to BeerAdvocate. All I know is that I want to be buried with a bottle. Or a keg of it. Or better yet, since I'm not into that whole worms eating my remains thing, preserve me in a keg of this. Not quite sure how the logistics of that would work, but they're pretty smart up there in Grand Rapids. I'm sure they can figure it out.

Oh, there's also the mouthfeel, which is velvety, and then the 8.3% alcohol bite kicks in. It also gets very sweet on the back end of the taste, but it's not overwhelming. Seriously, guys, find a way to fit my body into a keg. Or at least my ashes. 

Sorry for the morbidity. I must be more pissed than I thought that "The Americans" wasn't on tonight.

5/5 caps

-Jennie

Well, Jennie, you just made your review about as dark as this brew is in color. In case you didn't catch what Jennie was grimly stating, this is a dark beer that's aroma is coffee. This is a coffee drinker's brew. The dark, spiraling ride of this brew is coffee, bitter dark chocolate, coffee, with some faint hints of dark fruits that quickly turn a new leaf to the slight oatmeal back. The 8.3 % really isn't noticed, to me at least, but the mouthfeel is like drinking a cup of black coffee with some stickiness toward the back. Coffee, coffee, coffee. How many more times can this be stated? Just go and purchase some. It's available in 4 packs for around $12 dollars, and this year, I've noticed it's more widely available (I've seen it at Kroger and Giant Eagle, instead of just the more Craft Beer oriented stores like Weiland's, Savor, Palmer's, well, you get the hint).

And as Jennie mentioned the Walking Dead, I just happened to find a marathon of said show. Shane was a dick and deserved to die. Maybe I try to find something special for the season finale (like Full Pint's Night of the Living Stout), but as She Who Has Lady Parts stated, I cannot purchase more until we get through these reviews. We have it manageable now, and with the three day weekend due to some rabbit that shits chocolate, we'll have more than ample time to do so. I seem to be rambling, but that's what good beer will do to you.

5/5 caps

-Nathan-

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Troegs Perpetual IPA





Troegs, sans the umlaut (cause, let's be honest, how many people in the English world know how to create an umlaut on the computer), started in 1996. This brew is one of their year round brews, and for good reason, looking at their website. Brewed with 3 hops, hop backed with 2, and dry hopped with 2, it appears to be a hop heads wet dream. Insert wet hop joke here. Wait... It should be a dirty joke. Never mind.

So back to this brew. This pours a golden straw color. The head dissipates  but leaves a beautiful stark white lacing on the side of the glass. The nose is bready, with some hints of tropical fruits and sweetness. The taste is light bread at first rolling into hints of lemon and grapefruit and ending with some lemon and bitterness. Very hop-forward without being over-hoppy. There's a lack of maltiness to it, but it's not unpleasant (note, I'm a hop head who eats straight hops on days that we home brew). This is a smooth drinking IPA, lighter mouthfeel with some lighter resin stickiness.

Not bad, very crisp, clean IPA. This would be a good evening-on-the-porch IPA, but once again, I find myself in Ohio. It's almost April and we're still battling snow. Mother Fucker. This boggles my mind that January had better temperature days than after the first day of Spring. We're slowly moving into Orange Barrel Season in Ohio, so that's perfect weather for drinking this.

4.6/5 caps

-Nathan-

Oh sure, Nathan, you can throw a French word into a sentence, but not an umlaut? (To be honest, I have no idea how to create the umlaut on a computer, either, without getting into changing the keyboard language, and even then, I don't know where the umlaut-e would be.) I first discovered this last summer, and fell in love with it. When I first held it to my nose tonight, back when it was cold and fridge-fresh, it smelled much more piney. Now that it has warmed a tad while Nathan was writing his segment, it has more the smell that he described. I also find more pineapple and mango in the taste now that it's closer to room temperature. I get some caramel tones, and some earthy flavors on the back end. Being the hophead I am, I rather enjoy this. I find it to be better structured than many session IPA's, with a decent malt backbone. But that's just me. And yes, I could easily make this my summer porch-sipper. But it's also quite lovely on an early spring night that is rather chilly. But the moon. Step outside and look at the moon. It was full last night, and is almost ovid in shape tonight. It's stunning. I took a picture, and it's a little grainy, but I also caught an orb (the green spot at the top of the moon; wasn't visible to the naked eye, but was rather prevalent in the camera. And it moved. A lot).

Sweet.

4.6/5 caps

-Jennie

Lagunitas Sucks Brown Shugga Substitute






So, we have this six-pack (OK, well, five of them are left) of beers in the refrigerator that we've now had for a couple of weeks, with the intent of reviewing them. Life happens blah blah, and it hasn't happened thus far, and yet we're killing a twelve-pack of PBR or Burger daily. Being the nagging, persistent girlfriend I am, I put my foot down on buying any more "everyday" beer and particularly more beer for review until we at least drink a few of them before the hops die. Mind you, this is in the middle of the third visit from maintenance to fix our toilet today. I really could go for a beer right about now. I'm sure the maintenance guy could, too, but until he fixes it right, I'm not going to offer him one. So let's get to it.

Bloggus interruptus. I just got called away to assist Nathan with boiling some hops and honey together to add to the fermenter for the beer we're brewing (Alpha 3.0, our Simcoe-and-Citra imperial IPA, natch). After that, all I can say is that oops, some splashed on the stove. And oops, it's a two-pound container of honey, not one, discovered after the honey was already added. And oops, is it tasty. I'm starting to wonder if all honey should be hoppy. Or if I'm just a raging craft beeraholic.

On to the beer in my glass. This pours a light-to-medium amber color with a moderate off-white head and a faint chill haze. When I put my nose in to smell the aroma, I want to dive into a tank of this. I'm not much of a fan of dunk tanks, but if all dunk tanks were filled with good beer such as this, I'd be a willing participant. The nose is grapefruit and orange with some mild notes from the malts coming through. There is also an earthy tone -- think fresh soil after a gentle spring rain -- that comes through in the nose. The flavor is very similar to the nose. Grapefruit and orange citrus, fresh soil, and a solid malt backbone. There is also some pine in there. This is really tasty stuff.

Lagunitas puts out a lot of good beer -- IPA, Brown Shugga, A Little Sumpin Sumpin, Cappuccino Stout, and Hop Stoopid are among my favorites. This is at the top of that list, perhaps tied with Hop Stoopid. Yuuuuuuuuum. I'm sad I'm at the end of my glass, which is part of how I judge a beer. This is something they came up with one year when they couldn't make Brown Shugga. I'm so glad that spark of inspiration hit them and they've kept it around.

4.8/5 caps

-Jennie

So, to unwind from busy day (end of month, end of quarter, and maintenance fiasco), beer is amazing. I could (and probably will at some point) write a book on how much I love beer, counting all the reasons, other than just getting drunk. There's more to beer than getting drunk, and this is a good example of that statement. To expand on Jennie's comment about Alpha 3.0, I'm excited about this brew for a few different reasons. First being, this is our first home brew since September. We've tweaked the recipe from the original to not make it so bitter, and get more of the aroma and flavor of the hop strains (which are just simply fantastic).

I have to agree with Jennie on the pour, and especially the aroma (as right now, the entire place smells like Simcoe and Citra tea). She also nailed the taste. Damn, I sometimes don't like playing second fiddle when there's such a great lead that's given. But I will note on something that she missed. The mouthfeel. It's slightly sticky toward the back, but before that is smooth, with just the right amount of carbonation to make it a happy ending to the amazing taste bud assault you just experienced.

I as well agree that it is sad to see the empty pint. Not this half-full half-empty dilemma, just empty. Insert sad face emoticon here. The only quarrel I had with this is I expected an onslaught of hops (ala Hop Stoopid), but this is a nicely balanced, yet hop forward beer.

4.75/5

-Nathan-

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bell's Sparkling


Nathan and I were doing our usual assorted Saturday afternoon errands: mostly brewing supplies and grocery shopping, as we plan to brew some beer tomorrow. We were prowling around Clintonville, and decided to stop at Savor, even though we have a fridge full of beer. Boy, am I glad we did... they recently put in a growler station, and Rin was pouring several lovely beers for you to take home and enjoy. I perused the tap list while Nathan was exploring the bomber selection, and wait, what is that??? Is that what I think it is? Bell's Sparkling? Hell yes! I've yet to enjoy this lovely Belgian tripel offering from Bell's, which is nigh made of that rare substance, unobtainium.

Of course, we picked up a growler, because I wheedled, cajoled, and flat out begged.

Nathan rules. This is one of the many reasons I'm with him.

So, does it stack up to the legends and myths? Let's find out. It pours a light orange color, hazy, with a lovely white head that leaves a beautiful lacing on the glass. The nose is citrusy and smells faintly of the esters in a farmhouse ale, along with a faint tinge of pepper. The taste is orange, banana, clove, some pepper mid-taste, and fading into the mildest back end I've had in awhile. The malts come through on the back end, and there are little to no discernible hop flavors. But the lovely part is that is comes back a little bit after you swallow (yes yes, that is, in fact, what she said), and I can do nothing but smile after I've consumed a drink. The mouthfeel is almost feels like you are eating a banana... very smooth and soft.

This weighs in at 9% ABV, but unless you looked it up, you wouldn't know it. It has no alcohol bite, and not nearly as much as you would expect from such a big beer.

Now that I'm 2/3 through my first pint, I'm picking up pear and green apple in it. I also got a bit of sediment in the last sip. It's really good. I love that Bell's has not only mastered the American ales and stouts, but also nailed the Belgian tripel. This is really fantastic.

4.9/5 caps

-Jennie

This is a harder to find brew from a fantastic brewery. I've had this one previously, while at St James Tavern on 4th. I remember it was an officers meeting for the beer club I was co-founder/VP/member of, I had never heard of Bell's Sparkling, so I had to try it. I remember it was nice and bubbly, like a craft beer champagne. Unfortunately, Jennie was unable to attend that, and we haven't had the opportunity to enjoy it together. That was around Sept to Oct of 2011. We've seen it advertised at a couple tastings, but we were unable to attend the tastings. Not sure how Rin pulled this off, but kudos.

This pours a hazy light golden orange with a decent amount of head that sticks around. The aroma to me is hefe yeast strain to the Nth fold. There's your banana, clove, some black pepper, and I think I catch a bit of citrus in there. The taste is a delicious fruit cocktail that's heavy in the banana. All the notes you get in the smell, comes out in the taste, with some added additional fruits (I think Jennie nailed it with stating 'pear and green apple') A nice medium, velvety mouthfeel that coats your mouth and your throat in delicious bliss as it leaves the glass and enters your life.

Jennie pretty much nailed it and I'm just reiterating what she said. This is a fantastic tripel. Find some of this if you can. This will turn you into a tripel fan.

And side note Jennie- This puts Bell's up by one, need to do another Dog here soon.

4.8/5 caps

-Nathan-

Yes, dear. -Jennie

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout






Continuing on with the Saint Patrick's day festivities, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. I've had this before, Jennie on the other hand, has not. I remember I enjoyed this more than regular Guinness, so let's see if this still holds true.

This pours a dark black and opaque, with a moderate amount of tan head that sticks around. The aroma is fantastic. Some toasted notes with heavy sweetness- almost fruity, like plum? Interesting... The taste is a fantastic roller coaster starting with bittersweet chocolate, fading to dark fruit, chocolate, and coffee, a touch of smoky flavor with almost like a bourbon-barrel aged ending to this. Sweet Jesus, I can't put this down. This is the best Guinness brew I've had, and that opinion still holds true. Hell, this might rate up with one of my favorite stouts. This is 7.5 ABV, this leaves beautiful lacing along the sides of the pint glass.

I keep getting sidetracked by the television, interesting episode of Law and Order S.V.U. Spoiler alert- they couldn't get the guy on rape, due to statute of limitations, but they got him for kidnapping. And now the news. Ah the news. Best played loudly at 11pm in this place of beer (aka, our place). This place of beer has had several different beers pass through here. Guinness Foreign Extra has to be one of the best widely available beers that has passed through here.

4.75/5 caps

-Nathan

Yes, Phil enjoys his hockey, SVU, and must watch at least three editions of the news each day. All at very loud volumes. I love my dad.

Nathan described this to a T. This is fantastic. And no hint of the "Guinness water" that I've noted throughout the rest of the selections. We still have the Black Lager to go, but I've had it before, and -- spoiler alert -- it tastes of the Guinness water. I also think this has an appropriate heaviness for the taste -- unlike the regular Draught, which tastes watery yet feels like a three-course meal.

This is really good stuff. Kinda reminds me of Bell's Kalamazoo Stout. And remember how I said that tasting Guinness in Ireland was on my bucket list? I've heard a rumor that this is at least close, if not the same as the stuff they serve there. If you believe Wikipedia, this is not the case. But if it were, no wonder it's such a popular brew in Ireland. I get it. I totally get it. I may have to roshambo Nathan for the last one.

4.75/5 caps

-Jennie

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guinness Generous Ale






We picked up a winter seasonal selection of Guinness brews in honor of St. Patrick's Day. We ended up not drinking each of them yesterday, as we had a friend over and were busy downing the whiskey. I wish I could make that up, but no, it's true. It was a fine St. Patrick's Day, indeed, where the whiskey defeated our love of craft beer. It's a once-a-year shortcoming, I promise.

So, this is the Generous Ale. It pours a deep garnet color with minimal off-white head. The aroma is biscuity malts and moderate hops, with some mild caramel and toffee notes. Let's take a sip. Wow, this is good. I'm pleasantly surprised. It's different... that Guinness water note is what I first taste (see the Smithwick's and Guinness Draught reviews for more on the water note). It carries throughout the drink, but it's not objectionable. Then the biscuity malts come through, which are followed by some mild floral hop notes, and then it flows into a toffee tone. This is the best beer from Guinness I've had. It's smooth. The mouthfeel is pretty clean -- not sticky, not resinous. It's more velvety, but with ample carbonation.

I'm pleasantly surprised. It recalls to my memory another beer I've had, but I can't recall in detail. When it comes to me, I'll update the post.

4/5 caps

-Jennie

So, after a long day at work, I decided to do a review. Not because I needed a beer, but because I figure it would help me wind down, and, yet, get out some of my bottled up creativity and frustrations.

This winter seasonal was purchased about a week ago from Kenny Road Market. They are a fantastic store for purchasing a wide selection of craft and imports (and the only place I've only seen a 24 pack of Burger). My heart jumped with joy when I saw this, knowing it would be a fantastic selection to review for the upcoming drinking holiday.

As Jennie-the-Jigger (see previous post about how she was dancing a jig while holding a bottle of Bushmills) stated, this pours a deep red color with some off white head. The aroma to me is very faint, but gives off tones of toffee and biscuit malt. I don't really get the hops Jennie-the-Jolly-Leprechaun picked up, but then again, my nose is kind of plugged up with dust. Yay, factory work! The taste is interesting. I pick up some floral hops, roasted malt and toffee, although all very faint. Clean, smooth mouthfeel that leaves me wanting more.

While drinking this, I'm left with many questions. What the hell is the Harlem Shake? Who really pays attention to the Papal Inauguration? And why don't I have a pope-mobile? The reason these questions are running through my head, very clear to me. The news is on. The answers to these questions, though, much more complex. Complex like why is this better than the regular Guinness. Why is this not brewed year round and sold in its own 6 pack... Ponder this, my Irish beer-brethren and get back to me.

4/5 caps

-Nathan


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Guiness Draught





Ok, so this is part two of our epic St Patty's Day Fiasco.

St. Patrick was a douche who drove the pagans out of Ireland (hence the 'driving the snakes out' story).  So because of that, we drink in America? This makes no sense to me.

But that's beside the point. Guinness is probably considered the quintessential Irish beer that's readily available in America.  The cap said that this is best enjoyed straight out of the bottle, so that is how this is being served.That would be because of the widget that's in the bottle to make it aerated and seem more like draft instead of out of a bottle. The color from this cannot be told, if you've never had it in a pint. The aroma is faint, but coffee and molasses like notes are noticed. The taste is very light. Some slight coffee tones, some slight biscuit tones, with some hints of smokey flavors on the back, but faint. This is probably got to be one of the lightest tasting beers that's not an American adjunct lager. Definitely lightest taste for a stout.  The mouthfeel on the other hand is thick, like a milk shake.

I know this is some people's favorite, other people's go-to import. This just isn't floating my boat. I forgot where I was going with this as Jennie started dancing a jig to Dropkick Murphys while holding a Bushmills bottle. This is why she is my partner.

3.5/5

-Nathan

Adam, this is for you. I miss you more than words can describe. For those of you who don't know my friend Adam, he and I used to terrorize the Short North of Columbus, particularly the Press Grill and The Rossi. Adam would walk in and immediately have two Guinni (the plural of Guinness, of course) waiting for him. One would be downed in the span of less than 10 seconds, the other would be consumed at a normal pace. If it were a really hot summer day, he would have three Guinni: two to slake the thirst, one to savor. And the debauchery would commence.

Pagan-banishing methods aside, I celebrate my Irish heritage on St. Patrick's Day. Corned beef and cabbage (even though it's more Irish-American) and colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage -- tonight's offering also included bacon, cheddar, and Smithwick's) were tonight's menu; Irish music has been playing in the house all weekend; Shamrock shots abound; and yes, I can jig. Suck on that, Muggles. Or whatever you non-Irish people are called. Even though everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

So, back to the Guinness... I pick up almost exclusively chocolate in the nose. When I drink it, I pick up water, coffee, and mild chocolate, with, as Nathan said, the very faint smoky notes on the back side. Mostly water, though, and that thick mouthfeel, like I've just eaten a three-course dinner in a pint glass.

Guinness is the lightest of beers, though, underwhelming the scale at less than 90 calories. Miller Lite has 90; Bud Light has 100. Unless you go to super-light beers with the numbers in the name (Miller 64 or Bud Select 55), you can't get a lighter calorie beer in America. For that, I like it. For a stout, not so much. There's too much of a discrepancy between with the flavor and the mouthfeel. I've heard Guinness tastes a lot better in Ireland. One item on my bucket list is to tell you whether or not that is true.

We have my dear friend Brandy over, and as we were downing our last round of Shamrock shots, I had a brilliant idea: instead of doing an Irish car bomb, do a Shamrock bomb -- drop a Shamrock shot into a bit of Guinness. At that moment, Irish Car Bombs became dead to me. Add a little creme de menthe, and it's one of the best beer cocktails I've had. Shamrock shots are equal parts Bailey's, Jameson/Bushmill's/your favorite Irish whiskey, and green creme de menthe. They taste just like Shamrock shakes from McDonald's. Only with three ingredients instead of 54. And you'll get drunk off these. Put them in a couple ounces of Guinness, and you have heaven.

3.75/5 caps

-Jennie

Smithwick's Irish Ale


As the first part of our St. Patrick's Day debauchery, we'll start with Smithwick's. I got my ass handed to me back in '08 at an Irish pub in Cleveland, when I ordered a "Smith-Wicks". I was given a lesson on how I was a douche and mispronouncing it. It is pronounced ""Smid-dicks." That was my first experience with this. So, that out of the way, let's get onto this review.

This was going down real good last night (with the Shamrock Shots Jennie makes, and the shots of Bushmills). I wonder with it being the first brew of the day (yes at 5:45pm, I am disappointed in myself as well), how it will fare to last night.

The color is a dark reddish-brown with a thick off-white head that sticks around. The aroma is.... oops... dipped my giant schnoz in the beer... The aroma to me seems very Irish red. It has the slight earthy tones blending with the caramel and some slight roasted notes. The first sip is heavier than it was last night, but then again, when you start off with shots of Bushmills, everything goes down easy (except the women... *sigh*). It's a well balanced beer that's slightly on the sweet side. There are caramel and roasted flavors, I really don't get much in the taste department for hops, but I know there are hops in there (otherwise the beer would be way too cloying). Not overwhelming with any one flavor, just nicely balanced. The mouthfeel is medium to heavy, and this leaves a nice dry finish.

Not bad, for a style that's not my particular favorite.

4/5 caps

-Nathan-


I can't disagree with anything Nathan said about the beer description. As for the shots... well, we'll be using those as palate cleansers tonight. Or palate wreckers. Either way.

My first encounter with Smithwick's was back in 2003 or thereabouts, soon after its release in the United States, at The Rose and Thistle, a great little Scottish pub in Grandview that, sadly, is no longer there. It was probably about the time that Guinness bought Smithwick's and started distributing it. I enjoyed it then, and I've enjoyed it ever since.

This is a very balanced ale. I pick up more toffee in the nose. There's a lovely grassy, earthy note in this that I can't quite identify... almost herbal. Eh.

Funny thing is, I'm not sure if it's the water, or if it's something else in the brewing process, but this actually kind of tastes like Guinness.

3.8/5 caps

-Jennie

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Holland Paleooza


I honestly can't believe this is the first New Holland brew that we've reviewed. They're a fantastic company that consistently putting out great beers. After doing a bit of research on this brew, I found out a little more about this beer. Here's the history lesson, which if it doesn't interest you, skip to the next paragraph. New Holland Brewery is based out of Holland, Michigan, yes, the same Holland, Michigan that L. Frank Baum who penned The Wizard of Oz spent his summers. They took little fact of history to pay tribute to L. Frank Baum with some of their brews. This brew, the Paleooza, is the very first beer that New Holland brewed (back in 1997). Apparently it's a good brew if it's stood the test of time and they're still producing it.

According to New Holland's website, this is brewed with Cascade hops. The malts are caramunich, special pale and carapils. Let's get on with the review. The pour is a golden amber with moderate off-white head that doesn't stick around. The aroma is faint, but the notes I pick up are biscuit, slight earthy tones, some citrus, combining to form almost an herbal tea sort of smell. It's not terrible.

Onto the important part of this. The tasting. This is interesting. It's biscuity with almost a fresh cut grass hint, followed by some earthy bitterness toward the back (not overwhelming though). The mouthfeel is crisp, the carbonation is perfect to where it isn't too bubbly for this.

Not my favorite Pale Ale, but very good. I'd like to point out that this, yes another one, would be better enjoyed on a hot summer day.

4.3/5 caps

-Nathan

I'm as surprised that I haven't had this as I am that this is our first review of a New Holland beer. They put out some great brews... Mad Hatter is definitely a go-to, and the Poet is a fantastic oatmeal stout. I prefer Full Circle for summer brews, and pale ales damn near anytime. And don't even get me started on the Ichabod, their pumpkin ale. New Holland also distills their own booze, if you're into the heavier stuff. Next time I'm up in Michigan, I plan to pick up a bottle of their liquor.

I pick up some orange and citrus notes in the aroma, as well as some biscuit and fresh-mown grass. The taste is very Cascadey -- some citrus and pine resins with some earthier notes. It's a little sweet in the mouth, leaving some faint stickiness. Other than that, Nathan pretty much nailed the description. I enjoy herbal tea, which yes, this does remind me of.

It reminds me of the Michigan shores on Lake Michigan, which is fitting, because that's where Holland is. I have a lot of fun memories of traveling to Holland both as a child with my family, as well as in college for more nefarious purposes. As for beer, I could definitely live with having this in my fridge on a regular basis.

4.1/5 caps

-Jennie

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Founder's Curmudgeon






I'm starting to think that Nathan is trying to kill me early tonight. This is Founder's Curmudgeon, an Old Ale that is brewed with molasses, aged in oak barrels, and weighs in at a gut-warming 9.8% ABV. Founder's is an exceptional brewery from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Yes, Nathan, suck it. Our fair northern neighbor produces phenomenal beer, particularly this late winter seasonal.

This pours a lovely garnet color with some slight chill haze. The light toffee-colored head doesn't stick around, but I would not expect it to, with this ABV. In the nose I detect stone fruit and hops. Oops, I think I just caught a buzz off the aroma. When I taste it, I pick up malty and bready flavors and molasses, fading into alcohol bite, and then easing up with the bittering of hops at the tail end. It's fairly sweet, leaving a sticky feeling on the tongue.

Seriously, I'm starting to think they underestimated the alcohol percentage on this after three sips. Probably should have used a tulip glass for this. And it definitely should be served at approaching 60 degrees Fahrenheit to let the complexities of flavors play on your tongue. 

After a moment, some bready notes come back through, followed by the stone fruit. Wow, this is good. Wow, one is enough to kick me in the ding-ding, at least tonight. This is another fantastic offering from Founder's, who has yet to disappoint in the least.

4.6/5 caps

-Jennie

Now, let it be known, I never said that the state up north didn't produce good beer. Nay, nay. In fact, it's just their college team that I hate, you know, the one Jennie likes. And it's no just because Jennie likes them, no, it's the fact that I am a fan (and former student) of The Ohio State University. But let's get on to the review.

This pours a darker amber color with a, as she-who-roots-for-the-wrong-team elegantly worded, light toffee head. I get more dark sugars, some slight alcohol, and hops in the nose. The taste is really good. I get some toasted oak and molasses fading into a slight alcohol bite. And as Jennie knocked over the remaining amount from her glass (trying to turn down the LOUD emergency alert system on the TV), I catch some light bittering hops, but not enough to add more texture to this complex brew.  This leaves, to me, like a syrupy, sticky feeling in my mouth that makes me want to drink more to get rid of it.

This is heavy. This is good. This is good and heavy, much like a Triple Baconator from Wendy's. Hmm... Bacon.

4.4/5 caps because I think this might be a good cellaring beer (we really need to start a beer cellar).

-Nathan

Brew Kettle Old 21


The Brew Kettle brings us Old 21, an imperial IPA that's highly reviewed and beloved by many. We've had this brew many different times, and it continues to be a go to for a hop-blasting amazing beer. Also note that this is made in Ohio, suck on that, state up north.

This pours a orange color with a small amount of white head (that does not stick around). The aroma is divine. Heavy orange and citrus tones with some caramel malt tones toward the back. Oh the first sip is a hop head's wet dream. There's some caramel, slight tinge of honey, and notes of brown sugar that play second fiddle to the ALMIGHTY SIMCOE! ALL HAIL THE SIMCOE HOP AS THIS RAVAGES YOUR TASTEBUDS WITH ITS MIGHTY FLAVOR! There is little bitterness on this, some piney, but mostly grapefruit and slight citrus tones from this gift from Silenus (the Roman God of Beer).

Shit. I'm out of this beautiful brew. I was too busy zoning out while letting the Simcoe take hold of my mind. Well, I guess that just goes to show you, great things never last forever. Now the harsh reality of life is hitting me and all the troubles of the world are coming back into view. Come back Simcoe euphoric state of bliss, please come back.

5/5 caps

-Nathan-

I think we have found Nathan's replacement for pot. Or crack. Or heroin. But back to the beer. This brew is what made me fall head over heels in love with Brew Kettle. I remember that day fondly... it was a beautiful spring Tuesday late afternoon at Bob's Bar in Columbus, and my love affair with hops had just begun. Cue sappy music. It was my last beer of the afternoon. I had sampled nearly every IPA on tap, and then asked the bartender/manager what their hoppiest beer was. He poured me an Old 21. Oh sweet nectar of Ninkasi (Sumerian goddess) I fell in love that day. Hard.

Nathan's description is pretty darn accurate. I pick up more pine in the nose and a faint mildewy scent and flavor to it. Actually, I'm starting to wonder if we got a bad bottle. Maybe it's just some dank hops, if there are such a thing. Perhaps this is the 'dro of Simcoe? Nevertheless, my love affair still runs strong with this one. And not really diminished by that off note. I mean, I've yet to have a Brew Kettle offering that is less than fanfuckingtastic. Oh, and have we mentioned that you can brew your own beer on premise? And their kettles are usually booked months in advance? If you haven't yet, call 440-239-8788 to book your kettle. They're located in Strongsville, between Cleveland and Akron.

I'm off to check on Nathan and make sure he's coming down from that high and not passed out in a corner...

4.8/5 caps -- merely because of the mildew note

-Jennie

Monday, March 11, 2013

Oskar Blues Gubna





Ah, yet another Oskar Blues selection. This one is their Imperial IPA (if you haven't caught on yet, we're hop heads. I figured out that 30% of our reviews have been some form of IPA thus far). This one is basic in the ingredients, 3 malts and 1 hop strain (Summit). This will be a new experience, as I don't think I've had anything that's focused on the Summit strain of hops.

This pours a clear golden orange color with very little amount of white head, that doesn't stick around. The aroma is sweet, reminiscent of Grape Nuts cereal (this would be from the malt. If you haven't tasted 2-row malt, go to a homebrew store and purchase some. Chew on it a little.). Along with Grape Nuts, there are orange and grapefruit notes. So enough torture, onto the taste. Oh yeah. This is good. There are malt tones that don't get lost from the intense hops. It's a complex malty, citrusy concoction that leaves a slightly sticky mouthfeel, with little carbonation.

This is 10% ABV. The alcohol isn't noticed in the nose, but it is slightly noted in the taste.

I'll turn this over to Jennie for additional comments, as I'm running low on the creativity (a long work day in a factory will do that).

4.5/5 caps

-Nathan

This is an extraordinarily complex imperial IPA. I had a sip while Nathan was writing above, and I noted that it was nothing that I expected.

I don't pick up the Grape Nuts in the nose, but I do in the taste. I do pick up a bunch of citrus in the nose. OK, and maybe a bit of Grape Nuts. When I taste it, it's like my taste buds are enjoying a day at Cedar Point. The malt flavors really come through more than in any other IPA I've had. OK, so we have some solid structure. There are some citrusy and tropical fruit notes in the taste. For an imperial IPA, it's not nearly as hoppy as I expected. I'm not disappointed, though... it's just different. I also pick up some earthy tones mid-taste. There's almost a berry flavor at the end. And I get more carbonation than Nathan does out of it.

This is definitely another solid offering from Oskar Blues.

4.3/5 caps

-Jennie

Gaffel Kolsch






Nathan and I both enjoy a good kolsch -- usually a lighter, golden ale that has been kreusened during the brewing process. This is brought to you from Cologne, Germany, so it's as authentic as it gets. Dad has moved on from beer to whiskey for the evening, but I made him take a sip against his will, as he was stationed in Germany in the Army (where he "tried to drink Europe dry," as he is wont to say), and spent a fair amount of time in Cologne. Or Koln, as the Germans call it. But since I have no idea how to do umlauts on the computer, we'll call it by its anglicized name. By the way, Dad gave it a two-eyebrow wiggle and seemed to rather enjoy it. I haven't had serious German beer since, well, I tried to drink Eastern Europe dry during my days in Russia. Like father, like daughter, eh?

So, on to the beer, now that I've bored you with a bit of family history. It pours a pale straw color, crystal clear, with a white head that doesn't last. It smells like, well, German beer: mild malts, noble hops, loveliness. It tastes like... a lighter style of German beer. Moderately carbonated, it starts off with some light malt flavors, which give way to some earthy noble hops. It's a really dry beer. It's rather delicious, and would be fantastic on a summer day. Rainy and falling temps from the mid-50's don't count, dammit, Ohio. I was hoping for more of the same lovely 70-degree weather we enjoyed yesterday.

I'm accustomed to most American kolsches being closer in style to a golden ale. This is a lovely surprise, and I'd be happy to stock this in my fridge on a regular basis.

4.2/5 caps

-Jennie

Interesting that this is only our second import. Huh.

I was turned onto the Kolsch style during the summer. It brings fond memories of hot summer days and fun nights. Well, as Ohio is cold and bitter now, I only hope this will be bring those fond memories once again.

The pale straw color, the light head. This is how a German beer should look. Ah, light crisp, refreshing smell. This is good. Light malt and hop flavors, that have a nice light body and light carbonation. American lagers should look to this as a light beer, not a watered down piss lager.

Yep. There are the summer memories. Ah. Sitting on the porch, watching the sun go down while shooting the breeze with good friends. Then the harsh reality hits, and I realize I'm in Ohio toward the end of winter.

I would suggest this to anyone who wants a nice, lighter beer. It's not heavy on any one flavor, but it's nowhere near the 'Lite' piss lagers.

4.4/5

-Nathan


Hoppy Brewing Total Eclipse


This is another brew from Hoppy Brewing that we recently obtained. Total Eclipse, a black ale. Black ales tend to be lighter and hoppier than porters or stouts, even though they are about the same color. Let's see how this is.

This pours black as my heart with a copious khaki head that dissipates quickly and leaves lovely lacing on the glass. There isn't a lot in the nose of this... it has some faint roasted notes, and perhaps a touch of coffee. The first sip is more coffee and roasted, toasted notes, followed by water -- seriously, it gets kind of bland in the middle -- and finishing with chocolate notes. At the very end, there is some bitterness from the hops, but not a lot.

It's a solid example of the style, but it's not exemplary. It would be a great go-to, and I'll pick up more whenever I find it on clearance (usually around $2 a bottle), but I don't know that I'd go out of my way to pay full price ($7ish) for it.

3.8/5 caps

-Jennie

Well, shit. How do I follow up a perfect description? Beautiful lacing, yes. Faint roasted, yes. Coffee and roasted tones, bland in middle, yes.

What I get out of this: Coffee, roasted, and toasted notes for about 2 seconds, then it fades into obscurity. There was some faint bitterness and come coffee notes toward the back.

Not terrible in the least bit. Not what I was expecting though, as most black ales I've had in the past had more hop tones to them. At 5.8%, it's a good evening sipping brew.

3.75/5 caps

-Nathan

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Full Pint Chinookie



Full Pint just started distributing in Ohio. We've had their beers before, often when our friend Jason bootlegged a case back from a business trip to Pennsylvania. This is a new brew, though, and a welcome addition to the Ohio scene. Clearly brewed exclusively with Chinook hops. Let the innuendo begin.

This pours a light orange color with some chill haze, and an off-white head. I'm fine with the head quickly dissipating, as we've had "exploding" beers from Full Pint before. Thankfully this one did not do that.  I pick up some citrus and earthy tones in the nose, and almost some sweetgrass. The flavor is wonderful... some orange and grapefruit fading into sweetness and mildly earthy tones and then back into grapefruit on the finish. It's good... it's really good. Even with my diminished senses. Damn allergies.

I'm not sure what else I can say about this... I'll leave the innuendo to Nathan. Although I like the graphic on the label... kinda looks like Nathan looking at me and begging. Or, more appropriately, leering. Welcome to Ohio, Full Pint. I, for one, am looking forward to more of your great beers.

4.5/5 caps

-Jennie

Two hops in a hot tub. HA! Whoa, wait.... There's innuendo in this name?

So Jennie mentioned exploding beers. Our previous 2 experiences with Full Pint were completely different. The first one, our friend Jason brought over a mixed case, all were enjoyable. The second experience, Jason picked me up what was supposed to be a mixed case (clearly marked on the side). Inside of the case was nothing but the White Lightning. Bummer number one. Shortly after the first four, the bottles started exploding upon opening (didn't matter if they were chilled or not). Bummer number two. Full Pint reimbursed $20 as a way of saying sorry. Okay. Clean slate with them.

So, very recently, Full Pint is available here.

The aroma is interesting. There's tropical fruit, citrus, slight earthy, and almost an apple sort of smell. The taste is pretty damn good. Grapefruit fading to sweet, to earthy, to grapefruit, then finishing a mix of earth and grapefruit. This roller coaster ride of hops is pretty damn good. The mouthfeel is smooth, with a bit of stickiness on the very back.

Renewed faith in Full Pint, check. Better labels this time around (previously, all the labels looked exactly the same with a pint glass in the background and the brew name in the foreground), check. Available in Ohio now, check.

4.45/5 caps

-Nathan-


Oskar Blues Deviant Dale's





Dark, diabolical looking 16 oz can. Oskar Blues is known for being a pioneer company for putting craft beer in can form. A lot of others have jumped on board for this (including Flying Dog and Samuel Adams).  Deviant Dale's is their IPA selection. We've previously had 2 Oskar Blues (one reviewed, one not), and thus far, we're enjoying them.

This pours a golden amber color with a tone of off white head. The head sticks around some, but not an obscene amount. The aroma is... oh sweet fucking mercy. This smells like a perfect mixture of hops, happiness and bliss. OH sweet citrus grapefruit and pine nose. Why must you torment me. Then there's the first sip. Copious amounts of hops. Grapefruit, citrus and pine. Oh sweet nectar of Dionysus, the hops. This is good. There's not a huge malt flavor in here, and there's some slight orange peel tone in there as well. The finish is sweet and sticky, but still amazing.

I'm going to need a few minutes alone with this.

5/5 caps

-Nathan-

Well, while Nathan is polishing himself off in the bathroom, let's dig into this. It's sweeter than most IPA's, but I enjoy that (see Hopslam). I don't have a lot to add to Nathan's assessment... this is fantastic. I wish that Mother Nature didn't hate me, as she has impaired my sinuses by letting pollen do kegstands in my head. Yay allergies. So my senses of taste and smell this evening are a little less refined than usual. The pininess of this, though, kind of cuts through the murk in my head.

Yeah, this is pretty fantastic. I wish we had picked up more than one, but at least this one is a 16-ounce can. Mmmm tall boy. Mmmm great idea there, Oskar. The more I drink from them, the more I fall in love with them.

4.9/5 caps

-Jennie


Bell's Best Brown Ale







So, we covered Flying Dog in our last post... this one must be for Jennie, as Bell's is her favorite brewery. Best Brown Ale is one of their flagship beers, as well, so let's see why.

This pours a clear deep amber color, almost garnet, with a light khaki-colored head that sticks around. In the nose I pick up some bready tones and some noble hops. Then you taste it, and wow... my mouth is happy. There are some lovely roasted tones that come through immediately, and that fades into sweetness and then into bitterness from the very mild hops. It has a little coffee flavor to it, but it's not overwhelming. It's a really solid brew, and exemplary of the style. It's perfectly carbonated, and it has a velvety mouthfeel.

This is a great go-to brew, one to keep in the refrigerator. I'm not a huge fan of brown ales, as I find many to just not pique my interest enough. But this... this is really good.

4.3/5 caps

-Jennie

It would help to review this beer if I had it in front of me. Instead, like a dumb ass, I left it on the living room table. Let's find a happy solution to this.

I decided, after contemplating whether to holler at Jennie, or get it myself. I decided to not disturb her during her Scramble addiction session, so I decided to get said brew.

This is a brown ale. Best brown, though? We'll decide here shortly.

Deep amber pour, light khaki head. Definite bread tones in the aroma, I also pick up some faint caramel tones. The taste is roasty. Like a light roasted coffee. It dissipates to sweetness, as Jennie said, but I don't get so much bitterness on the back. To me it's a combination of roast and bitter tones. Smooth mouthfeel, the carbonation isn't prevalent, some slight stickiness at the very end.

Good brown, yes. Best brown, eh, still out for judgement. I'm not sure if the name Best Brown was because this was Larry Bell's best batch of brown, so they stuck with the recipe, or if it's a marketing thing to make people purchase it. Just sheer speculation on both, I have no facts to back up either and I can't find anything on the history of this particular brew after Google searching. Regardless, as not a brown ale fan, you should purchase it.

4.3/5 caps

-Nathan-

Flying Dog Doggie Style


This is one of two beers that turned me into a craft drinker (the other being Elevator's "Dark Horse"). So let's return to my roots, so to speak, and review this life-changing brew.

I think I've made it painfully obvious that Flying Dog is my favorite brewery. This is one of their flagship beers, and for damn good reason.

The pour is a gorgeous light amber with some khaki head that doesn't stick around. The aroma is light. Slight biscuit with a hint of citrus. The taste, though, whoa. When I want the most perfectly balanced beer, I'll turn to this. This is a smooth drinking, perfectly carbonated brew. The front is light, the middle is when the malt comes out, almost slight caramel and biscuit tones, toward the back is where the hops hit. The Northern Brewer and Cascade hops add a perfect little citrus leading into a piney taste toward the back. The hops are there, but it's not overwhelming to where it would turn off non-hop heads.  The mouthfeel is smooth, very little stickiness. Overall, an amazing brew.

I've had people who mostly drink the mass produced lagers enjoy this beer. The sophomoric chuckling over the name doesn't hurt either. And if you've delved into the Gonzo world, you'll know the artwork by Ralph Steadman is proudly displayed on the bottle.

4.75/5 caps

-Nathan-

Ha, I see what you did there, Nathan... "for damn good reason." Ralph Steadman has an upcoming movie titled For No Good Reason. Nathan is, of course, a huge Steadman fan. With all good reason.

To the brew. I pick up some caramel and biscuit notes in the nose. I also get a lot of orange in the initial sip. And yes, it's fanfuckingtastic. This is a great gateway beer for those just getting into the craft scene or looking to expand their beer horizons.

Yes, this is a beer I would want during a zombie apocalypse. I'm typing my review during ads of the newest "Walking Dead" episode. Fantastic brew to accompany a fantastic show. This is a brew I could drink at any time.

4.8/5 caps

-Jennie

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sierra Nevada Celebration



Sierra Nevada Celebration. The 100th review of ours (yes, this is only our 99th post, but 1 was a welcome, and 1 was a recipe. We reviewed 4 different things on the North Market Fiery Foods fest review). What a name for such an event.

Looking around, this is a 6.8% ABV IPA. This was first brewed in 1981, and uses Centennial, Cascade and Chinook hops. Sierra Nevada was founded in 1979 and decided to do a different take on the Winter Seasonal brew with their Celebration. Their website has all kinds of interesting info for beer geeks, like Jennie and I (such as the difference between Wet Hop and Fresh Hop ales). But, unfortunately, I'll save the lectures and such for another time and place, and focus, as much as I can at 12:15 am, on this brew.

So, after an eventful day of gathering car parts, making hot sauces and artwork, and finding out some potentially phenomenal news about the show (with a meeting postponed until Sunday),  we decided to review Sierra Nevada's Celebration to celebrate all things good in life right now. Dionysus is smiling upon us, it seems.

This pours a.... color.... the smell is... good.... it has a taste that's good.... and is ... good....

This is what I want to say as I'm starting to fade after an eventful day, but at the same time, the job must be done, and done right.

This pours a beautiful amber color, with a slightly khaki head that lingers for a bit. The aroma is a collage of earthy tones, citrus and some spice. Very hop forward on the aroma with faint hints of almost biscuity malt. The first sip is what I've been craving since dropping $100 on my suspension for the car. There's pine that fades into a bitter citrus, like unsweetened grapefruit, then delving into the world of spices while leaving slightly sweet tone as the caboose of this flavor train. The mouthfeel is medium and sticky, as it should be. There are some citrus, earthy and sweetness tones that linger temporarily, fluctuating between the intensity of all three.

A fantastic brew that should be drank shortly after it comes out (thus getting the freshest fresh of the hops. Fresh fresh fre-fre-fre-fresh, I'm gonna drop some rhymes like mimes eating key limes). I need some slumber before mustering the energy to partake in the work schedule of tomorrow.

4.9/5 caps

-Nathan

Please excuse Nathan as I send him to bed. That last paragraph was inexcusable. At least he has comfy new shoes to cushion his work day tomorrow.

I pick up way less spice, way more hops. Mmmmm hops. And this is soon after killing a Hopslam. What, did you really think I'd tell you where I knew there was one six-pack of that lovely libation remaining? Ah, sorry, dear reader... I may have withheld critical information for my own personal gain. Although I did share one with Dad. Lucky bastard.

(I say "bastard" out of love, of course. And clearly I know his parentage.)

I pick up a lot more earthy tones in the brew... and knowing how Sierra Nevada loves to use Cascade hops, I'd expect no less.

This is a wonderful out-of-the-norm winter seasonal from a fantastic brewery. I think this may even absolve all crimes of Rhizing Bines. Now that, my dear Nathan, is a rhyme. Someone, please, stop me. That last one wasn't even intentional.

Wow, I must be tired, too... some ADD is kicking in. Great beer. Getcha some. We found this at the Worthington Kroger in their make-your-own selection. Seriously, it's that good.

4.9/5 caps

-Jennie



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Left Hand Milk Stout


Ok. So we kinda panned the last Left Hand offering. This is their redemption, as this is a brew we know and love. Furthermore, this post is dedicated to our friend Rachel, who loves this beer. It's her go-to craft brew. And trust me, her fiance makes some fantastic beer. It's also our friend Jess's anathema, as she is a vegan. Sorry, Jess... sometimes, you gotta have a little lactose in your coffee. Come on, almonds and soy beans have feelings, too. And how can you live with soy cheese? It's not real cheese. I couldn't live without Brie. Or Vermont extra-sharp cheddar. Or Gruyere. And don't even get me started on the porter-cheddar they carry at Kroger. But I love that you've come to appreciate craft beer since we've met.

This pours black as night with very light coffee-colored head. The head is minimal to begin with and leaves like an out-of-your-league one night stand the next morning. There's a lot of coffee in the nose. A lot. Like I want to brew a fresh pot right now. There are also some rich malt tones, and, well, yumminess. Let's take a sip. Oh my, this is good. It's the perfect blend of coffee, chocolate, and fantastic stout. It tastes like coffee when I am out of cream or milk (ironic, since it's a milk stout). It has the ideal hop bite at the back end, and a great malt backbone. And it's silky and light-bodied... unlike, say, Guinness, which to me feels like it's a 690-calorie meal in a 90-calorie glass. It drinks more like a porter than a stout. This is something I could drink all night long. Why oh why oh why did we get just one????

Oh, because this was part of a mixed six-pack. And we have more beer to review. Yay beer!

4.4/5 caps

-Jennie

So, after completing a Jackson Pollock/Ralph Steadman inspired painting, I need more alcohol to keep up the inspiration. Multicolored hands, I start in on this review. And I'm not going to knock our vegan friend,and my soon to be half-sister (as I normally do face to face).

This pours a dark color. As dark as a starless night. As dark as Emo-kids claim to be. The head looks like coffee with some cream in it, it fades away though. The nose has coffee and dark chocolate that overtake the aroma of anything else. Drinking this, however, reminds me of Coca-Cola Black, if you remember that. It was Coke with coffee. Only this is much better. The only reason I compare the two, are the coffee with sweetness in a non-typical way of combining the two. You get the coffee tones with the sweetness of the malt. The lactose sugars (non-technical terms; the thing that makes it a milk stout) do not come out that heavy. There is some hop bitterness toward the back, but not like your typical hops, more like a coffee bean sort of bitterness. I catch some roasted notes in there as well, as any great stout should have. This is smoother drinking than most stouts, however. The 'silky and light-bodied' description that Jennie gave is spot on. It leaves a residue of that first cup of morning coffee in your mouth that makes you want to go to Tee Jay's and get a Barnyard Buster and a cup of coffee at 3am after a 5 hour drinking excursion.

All in all, this is a good brew, and this is the quality that should be thought of when you think Left Hand. So go give yourself a stranger, clean up, then go out and purchase some (unless you're vegan, as lactose sugars are milk sugars, ergo, milk, ergo animal, ergo... well, you get it).

4.5/5 caps

-Nathan

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Left Hand Stranger


Ah, Left Hand, out of Colorado. I enjoy the beers I've had from them... a regular resident of our fridge in the summer is Good Juju. Good shit, there. This is their American Pale Ale, the Stranger. Ha, Stranger, from Left Hand... you get it, right? If not, sit on your hand for a few minutes until the numbness sets in, and yeah. Go blind, see what happens, blah blah. Just don't let your mom catching you do it.

This pours a light golden color, with a moderate white head that doesn't stick around too long but leaves moderate lacing on the glass. At 5% ABV, I'd be surprised if it lasted. The nose is mostly pine notes, very light toffee and bread. The flavor is, well, light... and like really watered down grapefruit juice. It has medium carbonation, and wow, this is light-bodied. Almost like a pilsner. Or American piss water, but better tasting. That's it, if Bud Light were to come out with a grapefruit flavor, this might be it... but it's still better than Bud Light. Maybe more like a piney Bud Light Platinum (which, to me, tastes like watered down Bud Light, which, in turn, tastes like water. Anyone surprised by the lawsuit against AB-Inbev about watering down their product?). I'm not sure... It is very clean and refreshing, so maybe this would be really good on a sweltering summer evening. But not as good as Good Juju.

Overall, it's ok. I was hoping for more. We'll get to the "more" either later tonight or tomorrow. I promise. We have another offering from Left Hand to consider, and a stellar American Pale Ale, as well.

3.75/5 caps

-Jennie

I've been wanting to try this brew for a while. Not only because of the name, but because Left Hand puts out some great brews (see Jennie's review above). Color is a light golden, almost like your typical American Adjunct Lager. The aroma is piney, hints of caramel, toffee and bread. I like the aroma. The taste is, unfortunately just how Jennie described it. Watered down grapefruit juice. You get the flavor and some bitterness, but, there's unfortunately no bite. Some slight earthy tones toward the back, but nil on the malt flavors. Normally I'd enjoy this more (insert "Nathan, you're a hop head. You consider me a friend, right? I just want to talk to you about your hop problem"), but this is too watery to be satisfying. I agree with Jennie that this would be good on a summer evening.

I, too, expected more. Especially with an epic name and the label to match. Where's the dude's hand? It's not terrible, by any means. Just too light for my personal liking. This would be a good gateway beer into the world of craft beer (for a piss lager drinker), but then again, a lot of the pale ale styles are. This is no Doggie Style, but it's also not a beer to be drinking when it's around 30 degrees and your city is recovering from 4-6" of snow. 4-6" is what she said, HA! Stranger, HA! I think I'm done for now.

3.8/5 caps

-Nathan-

Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Sumpin'





Lagunitas, you've done it again. You've whisked away all my fears and terrors and, once again, produced a fantastic brew. There are a couple things different tonight though. I have tomorrow off (got to run some errands) and I don't have my typical Flying Dog pint. No, for it is in the dishwasher. I am using a Newcastle schooner glass. I figured this might be fine for brown ales and IPAs.

Fuzzy pants on, check, beer in hand, check. Let's review

The pour is a golden, slightly orange color with a bit of off white head that doesn't stick around very long. The aroma is Citrus heavy, with some earthy tones and some malt backing. The first sip is fantastic. sweeter toward the front, with some citrus kicking in, ending with some piney notes that don't linger. The mouthfeel is light body, slightly resiny, but not too bad. Great carbonation to just add the right amount of bubbles to the brew, not too heavy, not too light of carbonation. This is really good being a hopped up wheat ale. Nice lighter brew that's refreshing and hoppy.

I should have peed before doing this review. Cutting it short now.

4.5/5 caps

-Nathan-

Anyone else with me on that was too much information??? Sigh. Facepalm. On to the beer. This is a pale wheat ale from our buddies at Lagunitas in California.

I pick up more pine and bready notes in the nose. The taste is pretty much what Nathan said. It's really good. It's really light-bodied for a wheat ale. This is almost lager-light. There's a taste note I can't quite put my finger on... almost a mimosa, that lovely combination of champagne and orange juice that makes my Sunday mornings perfectly happy.

This was a lovely discovery last summer that I don't mind revisiting often. It's one of my favorites from Lagunitas, who has yet to disappoint me.

4.6/5 caps

-Jennie

Founders Dirty Bastard



Ok, so I'm taking the lead on this review mainly due to a certain, beautiful 16-year-old girl cat in my lap. She's loving my fuzzy pants, and refusing to move (it was a struggle earlier to use the bathroom). That's right. I like to wear my red plaid, penguin fuzzy pants. I hate wearing my big-boy pants (jeans) when I get home. If it's wrong for a grown man to wear his comfy, fuzzy pajama pants around the house as soon as he gets off work, then, well, I don't want to be right. But, I again seem to be getting sidetracked. I noticed this happens a lot to me. I start to wonder if possibly I have some sort of mental illness or Attention Deficit Disorder, but then I realize that while I'm pondering this, I'm also not hitting the point of this. But eventually I realize it's usually the beer or the rum. Yay, Beer!

Founders, based out of that state up north, has produced amazing stuff. I have yet to have let-down from them. I have no idea why we haven't reviewed more than just this and the Cerise. Their Breakfast Stout is phenomenal, their Centennial is, well... you get the point.

This, purchased at Meijer, was bottled in Nov of 2012, so this is slightly aged, but not a typical aging. Now what is a dirty bastard? It could be describing the guy who ripped you off, it could be describing a guy who hasn't showered in a long time, or it could be describing both at once, in the form of my half-brother. This dirty bastard that we're reviewing, though, is none of the above. It's a Scotch Ale, could also be classified as a Wee-Heavy.

It pours a dark rich red, but not quite the red color I've seen since I logged into my Hotmail account (see our review on Great Lake's Alchemy Hour for that story). The head is a light tan color, almost a dirty white color (could this possibly be part of the description for the name?). The aroma is Toffee, caramel, some almost dark fruit (raisin?) tones. Very malt heavy. Very Scottish ale smelling. The taste is.... Ah, you Dirty Bastard! Malt heavy, obviously. Toffee, some fruity tones. Well, instead of trying to describe it again, just read what you get in the nose. What you get in the nose is also in the taste. The taste though, does have some alcohol bite toward the back. The mouthfeel is thick, creamy, slight sweet-stickiness to the back, but not overwhelming.

Go, purchase this. Whilst purchasing, bring me back some.

4.6/5 Caps

-Nathan

I have no idea how I'm even supposed to follow that up... other than Founder's is out of Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN!!!!!! (As opposed to that state up north). A lovely garnet color in the glass, I pick up some stone fruit in the nose: a bit of plum, a bit of dried cherry. Definite toffee. And this is what a Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy should be. Damn good. Makes me want to do a jig (Scottish, not Irish, thank you very much) and put on my St. Patrick's Day shirt and... wait... maybe that jig should be Irish. Nah, it makes me want to rediscover Brigadoon (laugh all you want, it's one of my favorite musicals) and put on a tartan (I used to have my clan's tartan.... wonder whatever happened to that?) and embrace the Scottish part of my heritage. Even though it's from Michigan, which is where my Scottish relatives ended up. Huh. So this is like the ancestry.com of my beer. In fact, here's my family's coat of arms. You didn't think Koeper was my maiden name, did you?


So, what have we learned tonight? Jennie has a sordid history? Perhaps... Also, maybe that three beers on a grilled cheese today may lead to intoxication, at home, of course. And we can also extrapolate that to infer that stomach flu sucks. Except when it comes to appreciating good beer. Therefore, my stomach rules with more of an iron fist than Robert the Bruce.

4.7/5 caps

-Jennie

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Great Lakes Alchemy Hour



Congratulations to Great Lakes Brewing Company for surviving it in this tough industry for 25 years. They released this beer a couple of weeks ago, and it's been flying off the shelves since. It's a West Coast-style double IPA. We decided to pick up some beer for the massive snowstorm we're expecting, and this was at Kroger. Hell yeah. It's priced the same as Lake Erie Monster, my favorite brew from Great Lakes, at $9.99 a four-pack. Stomach flu be damned... funny, I can't eat much of anything, but I can keep down a couple of beers. All for you, dear readers. Ah, the sacrifices that this job requires.

This pours a clear orange color with very little off-white head that dissipates quickly, which is expected at 9.4% ABV. The nose is tropical fruits -- some pineapple, passion fruit, and papaya. I don't really pick up any malt notes in the nose. The taste, though... wow. It's totally different from Lake Erie Monster, and yet rather tasty. It has more orange on the front, fading to some sweetness and there is some significant alcohol bite on the back, with some passion fruit coming through there, as well. There is some sticky sweetness to the mouthfeel. It is a very complex IPA, and is utterly fantastic. Well done, Great Lakes.

4.9/5 caps

-Jennie  


Great Lakes puts out good brews, but some seem a little over rated to me, which pushes me away from them (i.e. Great Lakes Christmas. Not as good as other winter brews). I now have a lap-Thatchy (beautiful 16-year-old tortoiseshell cat) to assist as my wordsmith for this review. Meow meow meow. (purr purr) Meow. (purr) Meow Meow, meow (purr) Meow (purr) MEOW (purr).

I think that translates (roughly) to:
The pour is beautiful, crisp and clear orange with beautiful white head. I can't describe the smell as perfect as Jennie can, the best I can pull out, as morose and unexciting as this sounds, is tropical fruit. Woo hoo. There's that perfect wordsmithery happening. Tropical Fruit. Yeah, that's the best description you're going to get from me. Maybe you'd get a better description if I wasn't so steamed right now at Windows. My Hotmail account that I've had for 10 years has suddenly changed, without warning, to Outlook. Did I ask for the change, no. Did anyone ask for the change, no. My items are still there, yes, but the layout blows more than my whore ex.

So, to slowly guide myself back on track, this beer. Tropical Fucking Fruit.

This isn't unpleasant to me, no, in fact, I actually like this. I'm just sitting in my bitter, seething loathsome pity chair right now.

The taste is fantastic. The hop heavy characteristics start out as orange/tangerine/tropical up front, decaying into rotating grapefruit and earthy tones toward the back. Slightly caramel in the front, but dissipates quickly, leading to total hop takeover.This is a lighter mouthfeel than what I expected for a 9.4% brew. It's almost....slick on the front, leading to a nice sticky finish that leaves you wanting more. This isn't too carbonated, just the right amount to let you know that it's there and add some refreshing bubbly-ness to this dark clusterfuck of Windows.

Well worth the $10. Especially on this storm of the year night (estimated 4-6" of snow, the most Central Ohio has had at once since the Blizzard of 2008. The Blizzard of '08, I was staggering home from a dive bar that I hold dear to my heart).

4.95/5 caps. Only because I feel it lacks something that I can't place my finger one. Not much, just a little something.

-Nathan-