Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Boulevard Brewing Unfiltered Wheat

In a moment of culinary inspiration tonight, I wanted to cover some swai filets in a lemon beurre blanc (lemon/cream/white wine sauce). Yummy, right? Only we lacked the white wine that makes a proper beurre blanc, so I substituted a bit of a wheat beer for the white wine. It was fantastic. At a certain point in the reduction, it even smelled just like wine. Flavor-wise, you'd never know. And now, David Letterman is making terrible jokes about vacationing in Russia. Let me tell you, I've lived there; if you get a chance, it's an amazing place to vacation. I just can't believe it's been 20 years since I lived there. The one thing I will say is that I hope their craft beer scene has improved since I was there, and I need to revisit Baltika beer soon. I tended to spend most of my spare time at the Warsteiner bar in St. Petersburg, and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of Irish bars in Moscow on St. Patrick's Day.

So, onto this decidedly American beer. It's from Boulevard Brewing, out of Missouri, from our trip to Illinois last month. It pours a hazy pale yellow with a light hint of a white head. The nose is mostly wheat, with just a hint of lemony citrus. It's an extraordinarily mild wheat beer with a very unnoticeable yeast strain and even lighter citrus notes. Exceedingly drinkable, there's a hint of Triscuits among the dry finish and 4.4% ABV. This is probably the mildest, blandest Boulevard beer I've had. It's also probably the blandest wheat beer I've had. It's well done, it's just, well, bland. At the very bottom of the glass, however, contains some yeast sediment which actually has more flavor than the rest of the beer, and is where most of the citrusy, lemon flavors reside.

My overall take on this is to use this in cooking more than drinking, unless it's a really hot and humid day, like it should be in Ohio tonight. It's a fine substitute for white wine. It makes a phenomenal beurre blanc.

3.9/5 caps


Being to work at 7 am, roughly 2 hours before I normally wake up, after roughly 3 hours of sleep, makes for a very long day. The way to relax is beer and artwork. So, while continuing an EPIC painting for my friend, we decided to continue on our beer adventures. Now, what beer to review? We have roughly eight 12 oz singles and 2 bombers from unobtainable in Ohio beers, plus one single and one bomber of quasi-readily available here. Huh. Jennie used part of this Boulevard brew in her fantastic sauce tonight, so it's clear that we're going to be reviewing this.

This has a hazy pale straw color, perfectly fine for a wheat. Jazzy just blasted me in the back while adjusting herself as Amanda Seyfried is talking about showing her boobs in her new movie about Linda Lovelace. Fuck. Where was I? Oh yeah, beer. So this has a wheaty/citrusy aroma about it that is fantastic. Normally, I'm not a fan of wheat beers, but this smells amazing. Now onto the part that will chase PBR out of my mouth, the taste. Lawnmower beer at it's finest. Nice, lighter, DAMN IT JAZZY! STOP KICKING ME!... Nice, lighter beer with just hints of flavors. Nicely described by Jennie. This makes me want to buy more and drink it while playing corn hole at our friend's place. Perfect lighter summer beer with hints of wheat and citrus, dry finish, nice smooth mouthfeel that's as refreshing as it is smooth. Now, off to the Great Land of Slumber to dream about how to pay homage to Hopsus on Aug 1st (National IPA Day).

4/5 caps


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ska Brewing Vernal Minthe Stout

Ah, Sunday night, an evening for relaxing and recovering from the weekend while preparing for the coming week. It was a perfectly beautiful day, with that kind of weather you wish for year-round, in the lower 70s and sunny with big puffy clouds. This makes me crave craft beer, so here we are. I've been looking forward to this brew since we bought it in Peoria.

This brew comes to us from Ska Brewing, out of Durango, Colorado. Their notes on this particular brew, on their website at, note that this is brewed with real peppermint and spearmint, cacao nibs, vanilla beans. This is a beer after my heart. Also in the notes on their website:
Ancient Greeks tell us ('cause we talk to them) that Persephone turned Minthe into a mint plant in a jealous rage, to keep the little nymph away from her man Hades. Jealous rages rarely end well, but if one did result in mint we're glad: this is a unique and delicious stout, and we recommend having one while you calm the hell down.
Once we translated their Castilian, we realized we had to support their dream. We knew you wouldn't let us down, grapes. An oak-aged stout fermented with Malbec grapes. Complex and slightly boozy, yet balanced.
I chuckled heartily when I read this. I just threw a temper tantrum in the kitchen a few minutes ago, as the entire bag of recycling landed on its side shortly after my son went to bed. Indeed, I'll be happy to calm the hell down. And it's fermented with Malbec grapes (one of my favorite varieties of wine)... OK, I can't wait any longer to drink this.

It pours a deep brown, just shy of black, with a smallish khaki head. The aroma is divine; think Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. Noticeable mint, lovely soft chocolate, a hint of vanilla. It's like they brewed fresh Girl Scouts. Given the intense chocolate cravings I was having earlier, this needs to get into my mouth, now. It's a most interesting brew to drink. Up front there's a hit of mint (both spearmint and peppermint), which goes into a lovely chocolate note, the vanilla peeks through, and then there's a lovely finish from the grapes. You can taste the grapes, yet it's not like the hot mess that was Dogfish Head's Sixty-One Minute. And underlying all of this, which I also noticed in the aroma, is the evident flavor of root beer that pervades the drink. The mouthfeel is creamy and a little sticky.

At 5.8% ABV, you can drink this one and not feel guilty Monday morning. I'm not sure that I'm fully in love with it, but I'm very glad that I selected this in Peoria.

4.3/5 caps


Wow, how do I follow that up except listening to Bohemian Rhapsody by Puscifer and a velvet Elvis painting of one of my good friends.  So, with the background sufficiently covered, I guess I'll get to the worst part of this, reviewing the beer. Damn, I hate drinking beer. HA! Just kidding.

This was poured into my trusty Flying Dog pint glass. By this point, roughly a half hour after the initial pour, there's no visible head. What sticks out instantly is the dark cola/black coffee sort of color of this. Whoa the aroma. Heavy mint, notes of chocolate and almost a vanilla coke hint between the sweetness and vanilla blending on the, ah hell, does anyone really read this part of the review? I could randomly rant and talk about how the quality of Applause by Ovation guitars in the 70's was much better than any product put out by Harmony after Harmony was bought out and produced in Korea. But no, I'll save rants like that for another day when I need to unwind from work. This is a night of celebration. The celebration is surviving another weekend and enjoying another beer that's unobtainable in Ohio.

Now, with the aroma out of the way, onto the part many of you wish (not to brag) you could be doing right now. The taste. There's an initial burst of mint (think Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime), followed by some chocolate and vanilla, riding out on the mint note. Lighter body, smooth drinking, slightly creamy feel with some light stickiness (like sweetness sort of stickiness). Not bad. This is one of the lightest stouts that I've had, but yet, rather enjoyable.

4.4/5 caps


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Upland Dragonfly IPA

Upland is new to Ohio distribution. Upland is out of Indiana (for those not familiar with American geography, Indiana is next to Ohio on the western border). They were picked up here in Columbus by Superior Beverage (the local Miller/Coors distributor who also carries a fantastic profile of craft beer such as Columbus Brewing Company, Rivertown, Erie Brewing, Frankenmuth, Oskar Blues, and the now defunct Neil House). This is the first chance we've had to try one of their brews, so I hope this leaves a lasting impression.

This pours a nice clear, amber color with decent head that does not linger. Now, I would like to point out at this point that there was around, mmm, roughly 10-15 minutes between the pour and where we are now. The aroma on this is earthy, tea-like faintness with some caramel and almost a skunkiness to it (not like Heinie or any other green bottle import sort of skunk, more like dank with sweetness). So, now, with my trusty gray snuggle bug by my side, I delve into this beer like an excavator in a cave that collapsed. The flavor is an interesting combination. There's a nice citrusy, piney blend with some earthy tones that pop up toward the back. The malt doesn't make itself as heavily known as other brews, but it's there. It's more of a biscuit flavor than a caramel flavor. A nice dry finish with some residual hops lingering to leave a resiny pleasantness about it... This has a light body. Very smooth drinking, mouthfeel like velvet with some pungent bitterness toward the back. I enjoy this.

Although they are new to the Ohio area, I can't wait to try more of their brews, especially as they've around 15 years now, and we, in this huge Craft Beer Mecca of Ohio, are just now hearing about them.

4.4/5 caps


Let's discuss, just for a moment, how Ohio is the most underrated state in the craft beer scene. Sure, we all know Oregon, California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York are hot on the beer scene. I might even throw Vermont and Massachusetts onto that list. And sure, North Carolina is up-and-coming. Good for you! Ohio has something around 200 breweries, some larger than others (Great Lakes, anyone? Or hell, I drive past an Anheuser-Busch brewery every day), and yet, we get no respect. Consider this my official petition to get Ohio recognized among the best craft beer states. We make it, we drink it, we appreciate the hell out of it. And it's not just Columbus. No, sir. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Dayton, Toledo, Athens, Delaware (just north of Columbus)... all have killer local breweries. Some have killer regional breweries. And yet, in the mass beer press, we get no love. No love. It's now my mission to change that, one beer at a time.

Anyway, so this one is from our fair neighbor-to-the-west, Indiana. Let's get to it. Huh. Upland is based out of Bloomington, where Ohio State's rival, Indiana University, is located. And yet Nathan failed to mention that, all while I've been taking crap all night from him and a friend over the Ohio State-Michigan game from last fall. I've been to a football game at Memorial Stadium. That's more than most OSU fans can say. Anyway, back to this, the beer. It's amazingly clear. With the head long gone, it has a beautiful light, piney, citrusy aroma, with just a hint of bready malts in the background. It starts out earthy and resinous with pine, fading into more soft citrus and just a tinge of biscuit, then back into strong pine with an almost harsh bite at the end. It's pretty good, very light in body, very resin-y without being dank.

Upland, welcome to Ohio, 2014's Craft Beer Mecca Of The World. Although if we could get some Pliny or Heady Topper here, that'd be great. Thanks.

4.05/5 caps


Friday, July 26, 2013

Tenaya Creek Tandem

Randomly last week, we ran across town to seek a 24-pack of Burger beer at the only place we know that consistently carries it in stock. This place, Kenny Road Market, also has a fantastic selection of craft brews and wines, and they usually have some stuff on clearance at great prices, if you're willing to take a chance. This beer is one of those.

This is our first foray into any of Tenaya Creek's brews. This is their double IPA, Tandem. Tenaya Creek is out of Vegas, baby! I'm always up for discovering a new brewery, and Nathan was craving hops, so here we are. At 9% ABV, this should also be the perfect start to a Friday evening.

This pours a medium orange color, hazy with a decent-sized, fluffy head that has mostly dissipated in the short amount of time it took me to log into Blogger. The nose is heavily caramel, moderately citrus, with perhaps a hint of grass, and definite overtones of alcohol. The flavor is caramel, lychee (squee!), grapefruit, and some earthy, grassy notes sneaking in at the end. The finish on this is different. I'm trying to put my finger on what it is. OK, bear with me here... have you ever swallowed an aspirin without water? Yeah, it's like that. Or if you've taken a Dr. Goody's headache powder... it's like that. Almost a metallic aftertaste, with the bitterness and alcohol bite coming in. It's one of the strangest finishes on a beer I've had. Up until that point, it's a pretty decent beer. That aftertaste is very unsettling. The mouthfeel is well carbonated, and because of the heavy malts in here, it's pretty heavy-bodied, rather like if Guinness made an IPA. The super-aftertaste (read: flavor in the belch I just made -- discreetly, of course -- and while that may not be the most ladylike, it also is important to me in my beer flavor) is pure orange.

I'm completely conflicted. I enjoy the beginning of this, but not the finish. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. My face is screwed up in confusion. Even the cat is sniffing it and giving it a weird look. And now she's blocking the monitor again. Sigh. She thinks she's my muse, usually sitting off to the side of the computer desk while I write. Tonight, she's trying to become literate, staring at the screen rather intently. Cat removed (for the time being; she'll be back), I'm going to turn this over to Nathan.

3.95/5 caps


After letting this warm up with Jennie taking lead (me doing artwork followed by petting my little gray monster, Gia), let's figure out how this ranks up with the awesomeness that is Hops. Hopsus be with you (and also with you). And after chair dancing and singing to my Gia (Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order), it's time to stop pussy-footing around and get down to brass tacks. Enough of this PBR in my mouth, nay, I need hops.

This has a color that is a hazy brown orange muddled mess. But, oh you naysayers, say nay, as that's what you do. Don't let any appearance deter you from any beer. It goes back to the old English idiom of 'never judge a book by it's cover.' There is a bit of faint, wispy head lingering around to almost a translucent white hanging by a thread above this muddled concoction. The aroma, at this time, is malt heavy (caramel) with pine, earthy and herbal smells, almost a good Irish red aroma. And now, the long awaited taste. Where are the hops? There's an initial blast of caramel and grapefruit that fades instantly to an non-disclosed herbal tea.  That tea like flavor fades while giving way to an alcohol bite toward the backend. Not what I consider a double IPA, let alone an IPA. The mouthfeel is thick with some slight resiny lingering along the gums and cheeks, but not the pucker power of, say, something like... well I just spent 5 minutes trying to figure out a beer to equate the heavy resin that I'm trying to equate that to and failed.

And there's the 9% kicking in after countless PBR and vodka. Time to crack open the next beer and finish out this month on a few good notes.



Monday, July 15, 2013

New Belgium Dig

New Belgium is, once again, a huge brewery that we cannot obtain in Ohio. This would be our 3rd brew from them that we've reviewed (other two being Ranger and Rolle Bolle). And I just realized this makes out 196th posting here on the blog.

This pours a darker amber color, initially having a small amount of light caramel head. This is a lot darker than most pale ales that I've seen. The only info I can find on this is 5.6% ABV, no idea on the IBUs, but is brewed with Sorachi Ace, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade and Centennial hop strains. Sounds pleasant. The aroma is an interesting blend of caramel, citrus and cracker. The flavor is eh. There's an initial watery taste followed by a mild blast of citrus, tropical, earthy all at once, rounding into a caramel note with a slight lingering bitterness having almost a mango-like flavor. Interesting, yes. Lighter body with a slight resin on the residual mouthfeel. Little carbonation.

4/5 caps


So, there are Rampant rumors that New Belgium will actually be distributed in Ohio once their new Asheville, NC, brewery is up and running. Ha, see what I did there? Rampant is one of New Belgium's IPAs (and why we didn't pick some up in Illinois, I can't recall). Regardless, it looks like they are nearing deconstruction on the site and have about a 22-month construction projection, so I'm guessing we'll see them here somewhere around the middle of 2015. Sigh.

When I looked at the beer after it was poured, my initial comment was, "Well, that's the darkest pale ale I've seen." It is, indeed, a darker amber color. My partner-in-crime's description of the aroma was pretty spot-on. I am not getting the initial blast of citrus, but I do pick up a lot of earthy, mineral notes early, maybe a hint of grapefruit, the caramel that Nathan mentioned, and the tropical fruit and lingering bitterness. Let's discuss that for a moment... it's almost like a shock on my tongue, the finish is so dry and bitter (much like my sense of humor). Yet there's also a little sticky sweetness left on my tongue afterwards. It's interesting. I don't find it nearly as watery as Nathan does.

Huh. Mango in a belch. I'm Dig-ging that. Ugh, the beer puns are starting to take over. Let's wrap this up quickly.

To review, this is a decent pale ale, almost British in style, but I think it's fairly well done. Nelson Sauvin is a strain that I'm still getting to know, and it adds an interesting note to this. It's a milder hop strain from New Zealand (who hasn't seen the weather affecting hop crops as much as in the United States the last few years). It definitely adds a certain zest to the beers I've had with that strain in them. I also enjoy the full body of the brew. And, most importantly, I look forward to trying a whole lot more of New Belgium's brews over the next few years.

4.2/5 caps


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Capital Brewery Lake House Lager

Beer reviews sound pretty amazing after an epic dinner, so here we are. The wine is gone, time to move on to some decent beer. I figured since it's one of those miserable hot and muggy days and I've been slaving over a hot stove for the last five hours, a craft lager sounds pretty amazing.

This is Capital Brewery's Lake House Lager. They are from Wisconsin, and we've enjoyed most of the beers we've had from them. This pours a clear medium straw color with a small white head. The aroma on this is clean malts and a little lemony bite from the hops. Taking a drink, it's malty smoothness, going into a little lemon and freshly mown grass, and then finishing with a dry bite from the hops. The hops aren't in-your-face, but this is tasty for a standard lager. It's way better than most American adjunct macro lagers. It's well-carbonated, yet feels a little creamy in the mouth. There's a little resiny stickiness that comes in after the beer slides down the throat.

All in all, it's pretty refreshing. Just what the doctor ordered on a hot summer night.

4.1/5 caps


Jennie, after making a fantastic Julia Child-esque dinner, was rather brief and to the point on this. Huh. Very rare for us with our perpetual train of thought derailment. I was working on a painting while she was pouring, so I'll have to go somewhat off what she said (yes, that's what she said).

This coming from our Peoria trip, is a crystal clear straw. At this point there's no head remaining, but at some point, according to Jennie-a Child (AHH! See what I did there?!), there was a small amount of white head. The aroma is clean, slight honey aroma and a hint of citrus (lemon?). The initial sip on this is damn good for a lager. Very clean, crisp and refreshing. There's the same slight sweetness with faint citrus and grass. Still, after sitting out and getting closer to room temp, has decent carbonation. Sega-Jenniesus nailed the mouthfeel.

Overall a damn good lager. Wishing Capital would distribute here to Ohio (Hop Cream and Mutiny constantly, anyone?).

4.1/5 caps


Flying Dog Easy IPA

Since the moment I read about this, I knew I needed it. A 4.2% ABV, 50 IBU Brewhouse Rarity selection that uses Galaxy, Amarillo, and Sorachi Ace hops. I'm sold. Flying Dog is my favorite brewery, and they decided to do a one off batch per month for their Brewhouse Rarity series. We, in Ohio, missed the first 3 selections (Chipotle Dark Ale, Green Tea Imperial Stout, and Pumpernickel IPA), but we were able to get April's selection (Big Black Wit). So with that being said, let me muster my inner Gonzo and venture into this fantastic looking and smelling brew.

After a night of mojitos and cheap beer, the body calls for something strong flavored, possibly to shake away the shock that AB actually has a decent brew (Rolling Rock in can form). This fine specimen of a beer might do the trick. As I poured this, I was overwhelmed with a lemony, citrusy blast that was sheer bliss upon the olfactory senses. The color is a yellow-orange color, and hazy. Hazy like last night's romp in the front yard with the neighbors. Strange memories of potential lawsuits and throwing a cat in the shower start to make their way out of the depths of obscured darkness as I bend over to catch the aroma of this. There is very little head on this, which doesn't surprise me as the growler was filled yesterday. Analyzing this more, there's strong citrus notes with almost a peach/apricot aroma lending a hand. Not much, but a whisper from the malt plays from time to time. As I raise this up to take my initial sip, I'm distracted by the kid cranking the volume on some half-wit waterhead cartoon. Fucker, you don't need to have the volume halfway up to hear a bunch of annoying noises and sounds with no god damned plot.

I finally take my first sip of this and was instantly blown back. I debate if I share this with Jennie, as she is in the kitchen making some sort of French cuisine a la Julia Child's cookbook. It is, after all Bastille Day, some sort of French holiday celebrating the French Revolution. I feel like having some cake when I'm done with this beer. But I seem to off topic. Ah, now, where were we? Oh, yes. The flavor profile on this. Oh, yes. This is something else. For a lighter body, lighter ABV beer, there's a lot happening here. There's the initial pine and citrus burst that gives way to a hint of the lighter malts, then there's a blast of lemongrass, peach, and grapefruit zest that fades into a pine/ citrus zest bitterness that rides out the rest of the wave. Lighter body, slightly creamy, very resiny on the backend, lighter carbonation to make this an awesome porch-sipping brew.

I need this constantly in my life, instead of this being a one off batch. Oh, Flying Dog, why do you torture me so? As a side note, however, I would like to point out that we are some of the elite few who have reviewed this twisted ale (3 reviews on BA and 13 on RateBeer).

5/5 caps


Yes, it's Bastille Day, the day when the French stormed the Bastille and kicked off the French Revolution in 1789. I'm channeling my inner Julia today, putting together a lovely menu of beef stew braised with onions and red wine, a broccoli gratin, and crusty French bread. The chocolate mousse is chilling in the fridge, keeping the remainder of the growler company. Let them eat mousse, my dear. Let them eat mousse. And oh, how I think a lovely chocolate mint stout (such as is also in the fridge) would make for a fanstastic addition to the mousse. But that's a cooking segment for another episode.

Nathan made me smell this as soon as he poured his glass. I fell in love. The smell is divine: pine, grapefruit, a hint of pineapple that I pick up on, but Nathan does not. I find the pineapple note comes through even more in the taste than in the aroma. Oh, wait, there's that peach note He-With-Boy-Parts mentioned. It sneaks in toward the very end of the sip. Other than that, his description was very similar to what I am experiencing.

My only beef with session IPAs is that they tend to lack the body to complement the strong hop flavors. They tend to taste more like a hop tea than a full beer to me. This is just my opinion; I've had the same opinion with Founders All-Day IPA and Lagunitas Daytime. There's almost a watery flavor that runs underneath the beer profile. I prefer the heavier body that the malts add to a traditional IPA. That is not saying anything bad about this beer or the other session IPAs we've tasted; all have great hop flavors, it's just not a style I prefer.

I'm back to the kitchen, so that dinner is on the table before midnight tonight. I find that spending a day in the kitchen is very therapeutic, creating a multitude of culinary delights for the family. Today, it's just what I need.

4.6/5 caps


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Reissdorf Kolsch

It's a wonderfully relaxed Saturday afternoon, sunny and in the mid-80s here in central Ohio. A discussion on Facebook spawned this particular selection, as I delved into an in-depth conversation about German beers. Sometimes, it feels really good to be a woman who has a fair amount of knowledge about craft beers from around the world.

With that said, kolsch beers are brewed in Cologne, Germany. It's kind of like champagne; if it's brewed outside that area, even if it's brewed in strict accordance with the rules of brewing a kolsch, it must be called something else. It was originally brewed in response to the British pale ale, and this is one of the lightest beers made in Germany. Kolsch is made with a particular ale yeast strain that lends a certain fruitiness to the flavor profile of the beer, then it is fermented at near-freezing conditions, using a lagering technique. The end result is a light, bright summery beer, perfect for a day such as this. It is traditionally served in a Stange glass, which is a narrow, straight-sided glass that holds 6 3/4 ounces. Now that Kolsch 101 class is over, let's get to it.

This pours a perfectly clear, light golden color with a medium-sized white head that dissipates pretty quickly, leaving a ring of head around the edge of the glass. It is 4.8% ABV, so I'm a little surprised that the head left so quickly. The aroma is classic light malted barley, with hints of lemon and sunshine, and some milder German hops. Honestly, I think it is perfectly reminiscent of what I imagine the German countryside to smell like. Taking a sip, I pick up bread, lemon and lemongrass, some floral notes coming through about the middle of the sip, as well as something that makes me think of apple blossoms? It finishes with an earthy, almost mineral bite that is complemented by the dryness of the hops, which are very mild. The mouthfeel is a little creamy, yet quite well carbonated. It's refreshing, tasty, and delicious on a hot summer day like today.

This is a great example of a German beer that is moderately unknown in the United States. If you can find a bottle of this, please do yourself a favor and pick it up. It's a lovely contrast to the IPA's and wheat beers that crowd our summer palates.

(Stepping down off my soapbox now)

4.4/5 caps


Kolsch. Probably my top 2 styles that started in Germany (the other being Gose, which is also rather unknown in the US).  So, after waking up at 6 am (I know, I know, on a Saturday?!), I think it's about beer time (9 1/2 hours later).

This pours a gorgeous light golden color, much like what the American Adjunct Lagers try to replicate with their additives. There is very little head left, the little bit hanging on in desperation, letting me know it's still there. The aroma on this is sheer summer. I'm sorry Oberon, this may replace you as my quintessential summer beer. This has some citrus notes blending with the light barley. Smells like happiness. The flavor is BEER!!!!!! This is how a lighter beer should be. Bready, hints of citrus and floral, just adding to the awesomeness of this. This is crisp, clean and refreshing. Perfect for a sunny, hot day like this. In fact, I'm taking this outside to enjoy this (definitely has nothing to do with the upstairs neighbor's on-again off-again douche bag playing his shit music so loud I can't even hear the keys on the keyboard.)

4.5/5 caps


Friday, July 12, 2013

New Belgium Ranger

Ah, the Ranger. Not our first experience with this. My Gia kitten is all about smelling this, by the way. It's very intriguing to her. 4 to 5 times of moving the pint glass, she keeps walking over to it, smelling it. The first experience was January of last year, I seem to remember it wasn't terrible, but there was something rather earthy about it.

6.5% ABV, 70 IBU, sounding perfect for this night where it's sweaty inside, yet cooling down outside. This pours a lighter orangey amber color with small amount of white head. The aroma is piney, citrusy, a little dank, with a nice caramel-like fragrance that adds to the complexity of this. The flavor on this is different than I remember. It's very aggressive with the hops giving a pineapple/tropical fruit sort of flavor. There's not much on the malt end, to where I think more came out in the nose. This isn't as earthy as I remember. This is rather pleasant. Almost an herbal tea to the back that leads into lingering bitterness. This is a lighter body than most IPAs, with a nice medium resin left in the mouth.

With that being said, I pass this off to my awesome counterpart as I wind down and prepare to wake up 7 hours from now to head to work on a Saturday.

4.3/5 caps


Hey, Nathan, don't let the man keep you down. Just say no to working on the weekends. Oh wait, I  forgot, it's a mandatory shift tomorrow, and you're the sole breadwinner in the family. I take that back. It's not like we have better things to do, like sleep in and review beer in the morning.

As I recall, this beer is amazing... there was only one thing about it I didn't care for, and that's how it made your breath smell afterwards. Normally, I don't mind beer breath. This was a tad offensive. Regardless, I recall it tasting fantastic. Let's see if it still does. I pick up some pineapple in the nose that adds to Nathan's description. The taste goes from bright pineapple and lychee flavors (yay), to some pine, to some toffee, to freshly dug earth, to an almost metallic bitterness on the back end, and then some more pine. I get a little more body out of this than Nathan did, it would seem. Or maybe just different flavors are coming out now that it's had a bit of time to warm.

I find it an enjoyable beer. I look forward to the time when New Belgium distributes to Ohio finally. Please? Pretty please?

4.3/5 caps


Thursday, July 11, 2013

B Nektar Necromangocon

Sometimes we're not just about craft beer. Sometimes we feel the urge to expand our horizons. In case you hadn't noticed, we enjoy the occasional mead, particularly when it comes from our friends at Brothers Drake, who had a lovely ginger-chamomile mead at Comfest this year. When I saw this come on the market, I knew we had to try it. It's from an up-and-coming meadery from Michigan; it is flavored with mango and black peppercorn; and it has so many references to Nathan's favorite movie series, Evil Dead, it's not even funny. Did you see the artwork on the label? Heck yeah, we're in. No need to even think twice about it.

It pours the color of sauvignon blanc, with a few bubbles of carbonation dancing on the side of the glass. The aroma is lovely, smelling of a lovely unoaked chardonnay with just a hint of honey, mango, and black peppercorns. Taking a sip, it's quite the opposite of the demonology expressed on the label: this is heavenly. The initial taste is of a decent pinot grigio, which quickly turns into honey sweetness, then the black pepper kicks in and rides the wave of the rest of the sip. The mango is very understated and seems to underlie the entire drink. The pepper ebbs and flows on the back end of the taste, alternately tickling the tongue and fading away, then coming back with a spicy bite, and again fading. It's delightful. This is some of the best mead I've had. It feels a little sticky in the mouth, mostly from the honey (mead being a honey wine, in case you weren't aware), with the bubbles lending a moscato-like lightly carbonated texture to it.

I'm sold. I want more. I want to try different flavors of B. Nektar. I want to go steal Nathan's half of the bottle. This is really good. I hope there's some of this around in the fall, when I typically think of drinking mead. I definitely want to head up to Ferndale and stop in and drink some mead with the folks at B. Nektar.

5/5 caps


So, to point out, I have my monster next to me... I love my Gia kitten.

B Nektar's label describes it as such:
"Swallow this...
Many years ago, a mysterious book was discovered by a group of friends in a Ferndale, MI basement. A translation of its contents revealed the recipe for an ancient beverage using mango juice, honey, and black pepper. What they didn't realize was that creating the beverage had dire consequences. Stricken by fear after its completion, the friends tried to contain the terrifying forces into this very bottle. Once opened, however, no one can say for sure if it can be conquered. Defend your soul or join us...

B. Smart - B. S-MART"
Evil Dead Trilogy references- group of friends in the woods in Michigan, ancient, mysterious book translated, "Join us!" and the Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart....  I'm sold. Plus, clearly the label having a picture of the Necronomicon similar to the Evil Dead 2 era the Necronomicon. Double sold.

This has had time to warm, so let's see how this stacks up.

 This pours a clear golden color with decent carbonation. The aroma is sweet, like a Gran Spumunte, with hints of mango and honey. Oops. Dipped my nose in this while catching the aroma. The initial taste is mouth-rocking. There's so much happening here. There's a lighter white wine like front, then a blast of honey and mango that dominates until the end, followed by a tinge of peppercorn on the backend to add to the complexity of this. I agree with Jennie that this has a Moscato like vibe, being as it's sweeter and carbonated, but at the same point, it's not cloyingly sweet. There's a bit of tang to balance with the sweetness, then the slight peppercorn to offset it, yet adding a whole other dimension at the same time.

This is damn good. Too bad it's from that State Up North.

5/5 caps


Side note- this was released into distribution areas around the end of March, and we're some of the first people to review it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Argus Pegasus IPA

I feel slightly like a pioneer here, with so few reviews online. 61 reviews on BA (75/100 rating) and 51 reviews on RateBeer (35/100 rating). Why such differing scores? Anyway, Argus is a brewery out of Chicago, which I've never heard of before our trip to Peoria/Pekin Illinois. I like Argus's idea about using solar and wind power to heat kettles and reusing their grain as feed to farm animals. Other than that, I can't find much out about the brewery other than they formed in 2009 (rather young) and make a beer with the son of late Walter Payton (yes, Da Bears).

So, the only info I can find on this beer, really, is 6.5% abv, no idea on IBUs. Based on a recipe from Smugglers Brew Pub in Telluride, CO, this uses Cascade, Magnum and a special breed of hops grown just for Argus Brewery. Sounds interesting, right?

This pours a hazy copper color with a decent amount of white head that fades faster than Walter Payton broke rushing records (AH! See what I did there?!). The aroma on this is a nice combination of bready and caramel from the malts with earthy tones and some slight perfume from the hops, and there's something I can't place, almost like apple? The flavor is not bad. It's a very balanced IPA. Everything you catch in the nose is in the taste with that unplaced aroma manifesting itself as like a apple and mint combo that plays nicely in with the malts and earthiness but comes out more toward the backend. Almost tea like flavors at times. And then BAM. You're left with an awesome bitterness that lingers for over a minute. Not a mouth puckering bitterness like I'm used to, just a decent bitterness that makes its presence known. This has a medium body with a slightly sticky mouthfeel.

I hop(e) Argus expands and we can eventually get them in Ohio, as this is slightly frustrating that it's gone now... Sad panda face. Still no idea why the conflicting ratings from BA and Ratebeer (and why Ratebeer has it as a 6 for the style). Only thing I would change about this is slightly hoppier, but this is damn good the way it is.

4.7/5 caps


Mmmm. Da Bears. Football. Football season is less than two months away. Can a beer-loving girl get a "woot woot" for that? Football plus beer. Possibly better than any pairing with food (only joking, of course... food and beer are fantastic together). Yep, I get it. I'm a catch. Pssst. I also love hockey. And soccer. And that was prior to becoming a soccer mom.

I suppose I'll try to actually put a full, coherent sentence together and start reviewing this beer. Nathan's description is quite accurate, and yes, that's apple in the nose. It's a little more earthy than I expected him to like, but it does play well on the palate. The earthiness works well with this beer, however. My only issue is I would probably classify it as a pale ale instead of an IPA. Maybe it's more a Midwestern IPA instead of the usual East coast-West coast palate battles we so enjoy.

Speaking of food and beer pairings, I'd suggest eating a lychee flavored gummy candy just before drinking this. The bitterness of the beer and the sweetness of the candy play well together, and lychee is always a welcome flavor addition to any IPA, in my opinion. It's mild enough to not detract, but to enhance the flavor of an IPA. Oh damn, there's a can of lychees in the cupboard. I feel a beer-and-food pairing of epic proportions oncoming.

4.3/5 caps


Monday, July 8, 2013

Atwater Brewery Vanilla Java Porter

It's Monday. You know what Monday is, right? The furthest from next Monday, so let's have a couple of beers! Tonight we bring to you another selection from our summer 2013 road trip to Peoria, Atwater Brewery's Vanilla Java Porter. Why we can't get this in Ohio, I have no idea. It's brewed in Detroit, Michigan. We get plenty of Michigan beers. I have no idea why we can't get this one.

This pours as black as my soul, with very little khaki head. The nose on this is lovely: velvety chocolate, rich coffee, a float of vanilla bean. It smells a bit sweet, but not as sweet as the Buffalo Sweat we drank last night. Taking a sip, wow, the aroma is much better. I'm confused. I love (real) vanilla. I love coffee. I love vanilla in my coffee. The first sip tastes much like RC Cola, then it fades to vanilla candles (AKA fake vanilla), a little toffee, and then drying out almost instantly on the tongue. The coffee is really hard to identify. It's sticky sweet like a cola. And the mouthfeel is, you guessed it, very reminiscent of cola. It's beer soda! If Vanilla Coke and a bad porter had a love child, this would be it. Too bad I can't think of any bad porters off the top of my head.

Oh man, I so got Mondayed on this beer! I was so looking forward to it, only to be gravely disappointed. It's not awful. It's just not nearly as good as I thought it was going to be. Monday, I'm now flipping you off.

3.8/5 caps


So, let the record show, I dropped my pants and waddled after the neighbor. That being said, let's review beer.

This pours black. Black as the boxers I was wearing when I was waddling after the neighbor. There's a light khaki head, as previously mentioned by my feminine counterpart. This has dissipated away with time to where it's a distant memory, unlike me waddling after the neighbor. Okay, I think I'm done with that now... Maybe. Anywho, the aroma is sweet. Tones of chocolate, vanilla, cola, and roasted malts intertwine in my olfactory senses like the acid jazz of Miles Davis's "Bitches Brew" attacks the auditory system. Smooth, slightly bizarre, but awesome at the same time. Then we get to the taste. It's like you take a Vanilla Coke and mix it in coffee on the front. Similar to Coca-Cola Black (if anyone remembers that, it was cola and coffee) with a candle-like vanilla flavor added, much like Lady Bligh's Vanilla Rum has that "Oh, Jesus, did I drink rum or a Yankee Candle?" sort of taste. It's not bad if you like artificial flavorings in your beer (in which case, go buy some Wild Blue Blueberry Lager from AB), but not this guy. As I rush to drink this, there's a weirder artificial taste that starts kicking in, like the smell left over on my hands from the water balloon fight yesterday with the neighbors, along with a diet soda like aftertaste from artificial sweeteners. Mouthfeel is like drinking a slightly flat soda.

So, after the Dogfish Sixty-One and this, I'm really hoping the next review astounds me, cause if not, I'm switching to drinking Burger Classic full-time.

3/5 caps


Deschutes Black Butte Porter

So we round out this 4th of July holiday weekend with one last review. Deschutes Black Butte Porter. Purchased from our epic journey to Pekin, Illinois at the Food Depot. Thus far, Deschutes has left a lasting impression to where I will look for them whenever I'm out of state. Their Chainbreaker and Red Chair are damn good brews.

This pours a deep black. Black as the night during a storm, such as tonight in Columbus, Ohio. There was some head on this, roughly a soft caramel color, but that faded into oblivion like the band names of all those countless hit songs in the 80's (Naked Eyes, Boy Meets Girl, The Vapors, Soft Cell, Kajagoogoo, Escape Club). The aroma is dark fruit heavy, with tones of coffee, chocolate, roasted malts and sweetness. 5.2% ABV, 30 IBUs, I can't wait to get this on my taste buds. Huh... This is damn good. The flavor has more roasted malt flavor with hints of coffee and caramel, adding just a tinge of the dark fruit from the nose toward the backend.  This is a lighter bodied beer that drinks smooth and finishes slightly bitter (which dissipates almost as fast as it hits). Mouthfeel has a faint creaminess about it at first and then Jennie kicks my Gia cat on accident. The poor little kitten did nothing to you, she's just assisting you in the layout of your artwork (much like she was helping/observing me while I was painting today).

This saddens me that this is the last bottle of this, as this is damn good, I'd have to say probably my second favorite regular porter (by regular, I mean non-Imperial). My favorite being Flying Dog's Road Dog. Also, a side note, this is only the second regular porter we've reviewed. Huh.

4.6/5 caps


Hey, I didn't kick the kitty! I brushed past a bag of my art supplies and bumped that, which startled her to the point where she jumped about a foot in the air. I have been picking a good amount of cat hair off the strips, though. Thank you, Jasmine, for laying on every piece of artwork we leave out to dry overnight.

I was fortunate enough to have the other bottle of this awhile ago. I rather enjoyed it then, as I do now. I've become a pretty big fan of porters. Stouts can be a little heavy on my palate, but porters, with their lovely roasted notes, are sensuous and sexy, kind of like Taye Diggs shirtless. Or Nathan. Yes, Nathan, you lovely roasted beast... wait, this isn't working at all. Let's move on to the beer.

Nathan, that wonderful sexybeastmammal, described this beer to a T. Mine has had a bit more time to warm, since Nathan took lead and I've been, well, clearly working on a piece of artwork. The stone fruits really come out a bit more as it warms, which is lovely. Plums and nectarines, chocolate, coffee, and a hint of caramel dance across my tongue and down my throat. Light-bodied, and yes, somehow creamy, it's a great porter. Those dark fruits are a flavor I'm not necessarily accustomed to in a porter, and yet they're so welcome here.

I'm glad we stumbled across this, and were able to obtain a good selection of Deschutes beers. I do have to add, I think this one is my favorite. Maybe not... the other two are such a distant memory by now, and there are still a couple of ounces of this in my glass. At the same time, when Nathan pulled this one out of the fridge, my palate smiled in happy memory.

4.75/5 caps


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tallgrass Brewing Company Buffalo Sweat

This is one of those beers obtained on the epic trip to Peoria. I could complain some more about it, but I think I have most complaining out of my system, and I really have nothing to complain about right now: Dad is being very helpful, despite being in a massive funk, and Nathan is cleaning up a pretty epic mess from dinner. Here's a spoiler for the show: I'm desperately trying to figure out how to be a neater cook, because it looks bad on television, especially in 3D.

This beer was highly recommended by the helpful resident beer god at Friar Tuck's in Peoria. In fact, he recommended anything by Tallgrass, but this brew in particular. It's an oatmeal cream stout, and seems to be a good fit for a dark-beer kind of night. Tallgrass Brewing is out of Manhattan, Kansas, making this, I do believe, the first beer from Kansas I've had.

It pours jet black into the glass, with a small coffee-with-cream colored head that doesn't have much staying power. The aroma is wonderful: lovely roasted, toasted notes, and a sweet whiff that catches my intrigue. There's coffee and chocolate, but neither overwhelms the other, and there's a decent bready note underlying it all. Taking a sip, it drinks much like it smells. The sweetness from the lactose balances out the roasted notes. There may be more coffee in drinking it than there is in the aroma. It finishes fast and dry and very well-rounded from the oatmeal. It's pretty heavy in body, with a good carbonation that tickles down the throat.

This is a delight on a not-so-hot July night (it's storming and chilly here, in fact). Thanks for the recommendation; I'd drink this again in a heartbeat.

4.5/5 caps


Jennie, it's kind of hard to keep clean when there are a combination of 4 pots and pans on the stove at the same time (each containing a tasty ingredient for the epic concoction that was mexi-meatloaf open-faced sandwich). At least the toaster was clean.

Looked into the breweries in Kansas, as of January 2013, there are 14 breweries. This is the first Kansas brew we've had. But this makes me wonder if I should compile a list of each state we've had brews from (I randomly like making lists of things like that, or list of the people who have ridden in each of my vehicles, list of the different beers we've reviewed, so on and so forth). It's a weird thing I like to do to keep my brain busy instead of wandering off into it's own world of insanity, though insanity isn't always a bad thing.

That being said, onto the review. I poured the 16 ounce can of oil-like brew. 5.0% ABV, 20 IBUs. Dark, opaque, with a creamy, frothy head that dissipates quickly and eventually looks like a flat cola. This has had time to warm up while I was doing reconstruction on the kitchen mess, previously stated. The aroma is roasted notes, like coffee, with a sweetness about it and hints from time to time of dark chocolate, but mostly fresh brewed coffee. The flavor is like a little brother of Founders Breakfast Stout. By little brother, I mean that as it's lighter body and lighter flavor. It's still coffee/roasted flavor, the lactose sugars help mellow it out. There are hints of cola, cocoa and oatmeal toward the back. This is a medium body beer with a slightly creamy mouthfeel, not overly creamy, more like, well, coffee with cream. Lighter carbonation to add to some awesomeness of this stout.

Wish we could get this here in Ohio.

4.5/5 caps


By the way- this puts us up to 20 different states that we've had beer from. I quickly formed a list and referenced another list (beers we've reviewed) to figure that out.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dogfish Head Sixty-One

This sounded interesting to me on one crazy night that I can't remember. Dogfish Head is known for their extreme brewing (we have a copy of Sam's book 'Extreme Brewing" which is where we draw some inspiration for our homebrews). The premise of this fits perfecting into the 'extreme' brewing category. Combining IPA and wine grapes. Could be good, could be weird. But remember, the weird ones are the ones who have the most fun. The birth of this beer happened when Sam Calagione (if you don't know who he is, research) combined some Dogfish Sixty-Minute IPA and some red wine. Fuck it, why not? 6.5% ABV, although I can't find anything with a proper IBU rating (sans the test batch of this that was 61 IBU)

This pours a garnet like color with a pinkish white head. Similar to the color Founders Rubaeus has. The aroma on this is sweet, like a red wine and hops, twisted in this interesting concoction that plays against your nose, making it work overtime on its day off in order to pick out the distinct characteristics. The first taste hits my tongue as "Transmission" by Joy Division comes on the Classic Alt station. I'm not sure how to poetically word this, so i'll word it bluntly. Tasted like a carbonated watered down red wine. Occasionally there are hints of hops, but they get lost in the muddling of grapes. Nowhere near the body or characteristics of Dogfish Head's Sixty-Minute. This is more of a wine drinker's beer than it is a hop head's beer. Complex flavors, decent carbonation, dry finish.

3.7/5 caps


Note: Nathan thought this sounded way more interesting than I did. And I classify myself as a wino who has grown with the craft beer movement. This just doesn't really appeal to me: an IPA with grape must? But hey, I'll try anything twice. Yes, you read that right.

While painting and letting Him-With-Boyparts write his portion, my beer has had time to warm. It's not nearly as pinkish as Rubaeus, no sir. This is more off-white head with the faintest tinge of pink atop a deep amber color. The aroma is interesting: simultaneously hoppy/toffee/bready and smelling of a light red wine, like an Arbor Mist of some horrendous variety. Taking a sip, I can't help the look of disdain creeping across my face. And then we get to the aftertaste. But first, let me take you on the journey that is the worst thing from Dogfish Head to cross my lips since Rhizing Bines. There's a decent hop start, over a toffee note, mixed with some cheap red wine, and then it derails into the mineral, earthy aftertaste and a really bitter note that hits long after it's down your throat. Funny, I like my beers hoppy and my wine earthy, dry, and red. Let the two of these never blend again on my palate simultaneously. Please. I beg of you. I kind of want to throw the rest of this down the garbage disposal. It's a hot mess of not-quite-sure-whether-it's-wine-or-beer. And it's trying too hard to be both.

Imagine if you mixed a bottle of, say, Lambrusco with an IPA. This is the love (hate?) child of that. Please, save yourself the $11 and drink them separately.

Sorry, Sam, you've done way better than this. Let it also be noted that this is a waste of $3 per bottle.

3.4/5 caps


Bridgeport Kingpin

This is another beer from our trip to Peoria. Sigh. So, this morning we were awakened by Dad coming in from taking the neighbor on an errand by him telling Peanut, "I had an accident." I figured he meant he spilled something. No, he meant he actually ripped the plastic bottom runner from the side of his car by running over a parking block. Now mind you, Dad isn't the best driver, as we experienced on the trip to Peoria (screaming three times in downtown Indianapolis because Dad almost wrecks as many times counts as not a good driver!). Fortunately, he and the neighbor were safe, and the part was easily reattached.

This may be part of why we're reviewing a lot of beers today. This is Bridgeport Brewing's double red ale. It also claims to be triple hopped, which, as we know from Miller Lite, doesn't mean a thing.

Currently, my mousing is impeded because one of our cats, Jasmine, is perched on top of the computer desk and keeps inching closer to me. I'm guessing she's wanting pets and affection. That, or else she thinks it's a real mouse and she's going to attack it. I'm not quite sure. Regardless, between her and my dad listening to a very unfunny Letterman at insanely loud decibels, writing isn't the easiest at the moment. Here is my view at the moment:
She's very sweet, although typing right now is quite a challenge. So, let's get to the beer, shall we?

This pours a medium amber color with a moderate off-white head. The nose on this is lovely: bready malts, toffee, a hint of pine. Taking a sip, though, I'm not thrilled. I pick up notes of citrus, a bit of toffee, and then this earthy, mineral note takes over and destroys the beer for me. Okay, the second sip isn't so bad, but that aftertaste is rather unpleasant for me. The body of this feels thinner than the aroma indicated. It feels a bit soapy in the mouth.

It makes me really wish the bottle of McCarthy's Bane was in the fridge.

3.4/5 caps


Wow, Jennie finally got to reviewing the beer... I'll focus mostly on the beer. BridgePort is out of Oregon, which we previously reviewed their India Pale Ale. This is only our second beer from them, as they are unobtainable in Ohio. This is a 7.5% ABV, 65 IBU red ale. Seriously, it is hard to use a mouse when there a gray tabby beast sitting there. Oh, she decided to try and take over the rest of the area in front of the monitor and lay on the mouse, randomly clicking it... I've now been involved in a 5 minute struggle with her going back to the same area, me putting her on the other side of the desk, and repeat actions. And now that the beer is severely warmed up, I've managed to get 3 inches of mouse movement (as she decided to sit on the mouse's cord). Apparently, I, as well, can't focus on the beer.

Regardless, there is beer to review. This pours a medium amber color, as stated. There's no head remaining, by the time I'm able to review this. The aroma is bready, caramel, toffee, pine and hints of rye like spice. Very malty smelling though. The flavor... sigh.... Picture your typical Irish Red style (caramel and toffee) but with slight more hops (citrus and some earthy/pine). There is a slightly weird taste on the backend that makes me question red ales again. After finding good red ales like Flying Dog's Lucky S.O.B., Oskar Blues G'Knight, Stone's Levitation, and of course, McCarthy's Bane, there are these sort of Red Ales that turn me away from the category. Mouthfeel is medium with decent carbonation, finishes dry.

3.4/5 caps


Friday, July 5, 2013

Boulevard Single-Wide IPA

We continue on our adventure of unobtainable in Ohio beers with this fine selection from Boulevard Brewing Co. We first experienced this when we were moving Phil out here in October (pre-making the blog), and we were intrigued enough to where we picked up a sampler 12-pack of their brews (6 selections, 2 bottles of each). Based out of Kansas City, Mo, Boulevard has been in business since 1989, back when they were one of roughly 100 breweries in the USA, first delivering in a pickup truck. They had a huge expansion in 2006, to 600,000 barrels a year capacity (still fitting in the then-classification of craft brewery, which at the time was 2 million barrels a year {as of Dec. 2010, the classification is 6 million barrels}).

This is 5.7% ABV and 57 IBUs using Zeus, Bravo, Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe, and Citra Hops; and Pale Malt, Amber 50, Malted Wheat, Munich, and Cara 50 Malts (all obtained from Boulevard's website).

With all that being said, let's get this into my mouth (that's what she said). This pours a golden orange color with decent amount of stark white head that fades quickly. The aroma is still tainted from not thoroughly rinsing out the pint glass from our Founders Rubaeus tasting. Huh. Okay, so with that being said, I'll have to use my nose to it's fullest to pull out the aroma without getting it muddled from the epic raspberry from said tasting. There are citrusy and piney/grass notes, with some hints of malt. The flavor is damn good. There is some caramel like tones blending with the earthy, piney, and citrus flavors of the hops. There's some hints of spice in there. Medium body with decent carbonation. Clean and crisp with a dry finish.

Damn, I wish we could get this in Ohio, unfortunately, the closest I can find is Indiana (which would be a hell of a trip for Three Floyds and Boulevard).

4.5/5 caps


We fell in love with this beer last fall. It's a well-done IPA. I really wish that Boulevard distributed to Ohio, but alas, they don't. I pick up some grapefruit in the nose, along with a little pine, some caramel notes from the solid malt backbone. Nathan described it quite well, although wait, that unidentifiable note at the end of the Three Floyds Dreadnaught is there. Oh hell, I just figured it out. It's a lovely lychee flavor from the Citra hops. It's even a little more prominent here than in the Dreadnaught.

Damn. Now I kinda want to open my can of lychees in the cupboard and make a martini. Or just eat them straight out of the can. Either way, yumminess and happiness all at once. Lychees are probably my second favorite fruit. And I'm now wondering why the hell we haven't brewed an all-Citra IPA with lychees in it. You're welcome.

4.6/5 caps


Founders Rubaeus

Whew. Somehow I got out of bedtime storytime tonight, as Peanut wanted to read by himself. Sweet. I had just poured this. Founders Rubaeus. I've been looking forward to this since something like January, when it was announced that Founders would be replacing Cerise this year with this, a raspberry ale, all because the cherry harvest wasn't that great in Michigan last year. I'm a girl. I like fruit beers (mostly). Raspberries are some of my favorite fruit, if not actually my favorite fruit. I love a good raspberry ale, and this being a Founders offering, I'm all in for it. Let's see how it is.

It pours a deep garnet color with a fluffy light pink head. It's purty. Oh my, I want to swim in that aroma. It's pure, fresh Michigan raspberries. Let's have a sip. I just literally loudly proclaimed, "Oh my god. This is amazing."  Pure raspberries, fresh, tart and sweet simultaneously dominate the palate. There really isn't a lot else going on in this beer. It perfectly highlights the delicious taste of raspberries. I've really liked Southern Tier's raspberry ale and Thirsty Dog's, as well, but this is somehow just a semi-notch better than both of those. I'd love to compare this to Bell's raspberry ale, but we can't get that here in Ohio. The only thing it's comparable to, in my mind, is Cerise, only this is with raspberries instead of cherries. They have the same flavor profile, which is somewhere about amazing. It also reminds me a bit of a lighter version of Lindeman's Framboise. It's perfectly carbonated, and just a little sticky in the mouth and on the lips (yes, that's what she said).

This would be fantastic for making beer cocktails. This would be fantastic paired with, say, Southern Tier's Choklat or Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Like a black and tan, but this would be a black and pink. It would also be good in a raspberry beer-jito (mojito with beer instead of club soda). It's perfectly wonderful by itself, also, although I kind of want to use this in my raspberry sauce that I use on a dark chocolate torte. Yeah. Now you're hungry, aren't you?

5/5 caps


Now, mind you, as Jennie is ranting about the different recipes she would use this in, Alton Brown's "Good Eats" is on TV in the background. Drawing some inspiration, are you dear? And the cat just fell off the arm of the couch.... Such a bizarre night. Let's delve into this before the ghost of Hunter S Thompson speaks to me.

As Jennie put, this pours a garnet color, but by now, all the head has dissipated away into oblivion. The aroma on this is like sticking your face into a quart of fresh red raspberries. There's no sign of your typical beer ingredients (hops, malt, different characteristics of the yeasts, so on and so on). I took a sip and literally said 'Oh, wow'. Damn it. I don't want a fruit beer most of the time, but this changes my mind. This is nothing but raspberry flavor, like drinking straight juice. There's a bit of light carbonation to keep it crisp and clean. Combining that with the sweet and tart this beer has, I think this might be my favorite fruit beer.

5/5 caps


Three Floyds Dreadnaught

Ah... Three Floyds. Is there anything you can do wrong? This is a 9.5% ABV, 100 IBU Imperial IPA beast that we obtained from a tasting/raffle at Aficionado 's in Polaris area. Thus far, we've not had a bad brew from them (Jinx Proof, Zombie Dust, Arctic Panzer Wolf, Rabbid Rabbit), and my expectations of this brew are very high.

This pours a slightly hazy amber/orange color with a small amount of white head that hangs around a bit. The aroma on this is strongly mango, with hints of citrus, caramel malt and some alcohol. The flavor on this is... Yup, you guessed it. HOPSUS BE PRAISED! There's grapefruit and tropical fruit combined on the front that leads to a slight caramel malt and toffee flavor, which fades damn near instantly, to a citrus zest bitterness that lingers slightly). Someone call Homeland Security, cause Dreadnaught just released a Weapon of Hop Destruction upon your tongue.This slides down the throat with a medium body, decent carbonation and a juicy, sticky feel. Nice sipping beer that drinks faster than it should. The alcohol is not noticed in the taste, but is noticed after drinking 11 oz of this. 11 ounces of sheer hoptastic bliss.


My glass is empty. This isn't one of those optimism/pessimism "my glass is half full/half empty" things. No, in fact I mean, my glass is empty. Which irks me as this is a damn good brew. I'd go and sneak a couple sips out of Jennie's glass, but I have a lap Thatcher (17-year-old cat), and Lap Thatchy says I have to stay here and pet her.

Regardless, Three Floyds does not make a bad beer. They have lived up to my high hop(e)s. If/when you can find this, grab some, and savor this.

5/5 caps


Today has been a wonderfully, blissfully lazy day. I think it's something the entire family has needed, including the kitties. Happy July 5 to us, indeed, even though we're a little later on starting the review process than we wanted. Let's see if this meets up with Nathan's excitement. And yes, his hand is still intact. If he had sneaked a couple of sips of mine, I would have cut off his hand. See, Thatcher always has had my back. That's my girl.

Yes, the aroma is heavy on the mango. Oh holy hell, I just took a sip and this is fanfuckingtastic. I was so distracted by the wondrous beauty that is this brew that I didn't even note what was happening other than sheer bliss. Let's try this again. I pick up mango, caramel, and possibly some white pepper in the nose. Whew. So far, so good. Drinking it, there is grapefruit, some mango (but less than the aroma), a little earthy note, some pine, cracker from the malts, and that white pepper is a little more prevalent on the back side. It's much sweeter than I expected. But it's good. I do pick up a bit of an alcohol bite in the aftertaste. Taking another drink, I am picking up a couple of different notes: one is grassy, and there's one I can't quite identify. I almost want to call it spruce or juniper, but that's not quite right.

Oops. I was totally going to be the best girlfriend ever and give Nathan the last couple of sips of mine. But then I chugged it trying to identify the note in the aftertaste. Oh well, it's the thought that counts, right???

5/5 caps


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Schlafly Pale Ale

Schlafly, ah, yet another company we cannot obtain in Ohio. We first tasted them out in Peoria, January 2012. We had a pumpkin beer from them that I ranked up in my top 3 favorite pumpkins (other 2 being Flying Dog's The Fear and Southern Tier's Pumking). So, I was a little excited to find some more of their brews.

This isn't the typical style of Pale Ale we've gone for. This is more of an British Style Pale Ale, so we're opening our horizons, and your minds, all in one 12 ounce bottle. I would like to point out that while looking at this particular beer, some lady in Friar Tuck's was complaining that they are selling 'outdated beer' and we should 'check the dates.' Has she never heard of cellar aged beer? This, as a side note, was bottled 2 months ago today.

This pours a hazy copper color with a small amount of white head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is sweet, biscuity, and some slight hints of spice. The flavor is like a good lighter herbal tea. This has some sweetness with spice, earthy tones, and a slight hint of biscuit and an even lesser hint of something sour (almost like a lemon head, but it fades quickly). This drinks smooth and quick with a dry finish. Nice light body. Would be great on a summer day.

Not bad, not too familiar with British Pale Ales, though.

4/5 caps


British-style, eh? That usually means more malt backbone and subtler hops. I can't lie, I'm a big fan of American hops. They're all in-your-face, like that drunk guy at the bar. The British hops tend to be more subtle and refined, like that drunk British guy at the bar. No, no, not the one with the Cockney accent, loudly cheering on Manchester United. More like the guy sitting in the corner of the pub, quaffing away while he accurately enunciates his Queen's English and pores over today's copy of the Financial Times.

I pick up some caramel and biscuit in the aroma, with a hint of sweetness and yes, some slight spice. It tastes just like it smells. Nathan described it well, although I'm not getting the light herbal tea. I'm picturing a warm summer evening in London. I want to hop on the next plane and go. Now. It's much lighter-bodied than I expected from a British-style pale ale. I kind of like the sucker punch of tartness on the back side of this; it's almost like a tannic red wine.

Honestly, it's one of the best British Pale Ale's I've had. I enjoy Schlafly, and look forward to trying more of their brews. This would be a fantastic accompaniment to a takeaway curry. Damn, I read too much British chick-lit.

4.15/5 caps


Monday, July 1, 2013

New Belgium Rolle Bolle

This is another brew which we picked up on the trip to Peoria. I have no idea why, but New Belgium is not available in Ohio, despite them being one of the biggest craft brewers in the United States. I've enjoyed most everything I've had from them, and we have a few more of their selections to come.

This is their summer seasonal, a Belgian pale ale brewed with soursop and monkfruit. Now I don't know about you, but I love playing The Sims. It's one of those games I can play for hours on end. When Nathan and I started dating, we'd enjoy Saturday nights in with craft beer, The Sims and 'za. Those were some of my favorite nights. Soursop is a fruit in The Sims, and I totally had no idea until this year that it was an actual fruit. I'm pretty sure I've never consumed it, and I can't think of the last time I had monkfruit. This should prove interesting, but it's triggering happy memories from early in our relationship.

Rolle Bolle pours a pale straw color with a moderate white head. The aroma is pretty faint, with hints of tropical fruits and a certain astringency not found in most beers. Taking a sip, it tastes as light as it looks. It's not as fruit-forward as I expected. There are vague hints of tropical fruits, white wine, fresh grass, and just a tinge of cracker flavor from the malt. It's not offensively Belgian, with the yeast esters being quite mild. It finishes quite dry, like a white wine. It would be a great lawn-mowing beer, ideal for a really hot summer day. It feels a tad bit stronger than the 5.5% ABV would indicate.

Honestly, I'm a little underwhelmed by this. It's good... it's just meh. Maybe it's because it's not 1000 degrees in here, like it was last night. Maybe it's because I was expecting more. Maybe it's because I'm just not feeling it that much.

4.01/5 caps


New Belgium, as of the end of 2012, is the 3rd largest producer of craft beer in America (behind Boston Brewing Co [Sam Adams] and Sierra Nevada). They distribute to all but 18 states (mostly New England and the eastern part of the Midwest), Ohio not being one of them, but yet Indiana and that state up north are able to obtain them. Not really fair, as Ohio is a huge beer drinking state. But enough about that, beer time.

As Jennie stated, pours a pale straw color. By now, most of the head has dissipated (as I took a shower while Jennie took lead), but there is a small amount of white head that is lingering. The aroma is caramel, fruit and almost like a sour-like note. Wow, this has a light flavor. There are only hints of fruit (almost a lychee flavor) and grass. There is a faint, lingering tartness toward the backend of this. This drinks like water and finishes dry. Definitely a lawn-mowing beer. Yes, I pretty much reiterated what Jennie said, but she described it perfectly.

Not bad, just not what I expected.

3.8/5 caps


Capital Brewing Company Island Wheat

When we were on the Homeric trip to Peoria (seriously, Odysseus didn't encounter as much strife as we did on this venture), we picked up not one, not two, but three bottles of Capital Brewing Company's Island Wheat. Actually, the third was a mistake... we picked up identical mixed six-packs for the first night (one to drink there, and one to bring back and review), and then unknowingly picked up another one in our blend of beers from Friar Tuck's. As soon as we checked into the hotel and began to place the beer in the mini-fridge, we realized that not one of us had a bottle opener on our person. Me, a former bartender who usually carries 2-3 churchkeys in her purse? Opener-less. Dad, who usually carries some kind of wine tool with a bottle opener? Nope, not there, either. We ventured down to the hotel bar at one point and tried to borrow one, only to learn that the bartender used the built-in openers on the beer coolers. We considered McGyvering the beer, then decided against it (we had also purchased a case of PBR). Sigh. So, here we are, a month later, back in Ohio where we have a full collection of churchkeys on hand, and we're just getting around to drinking this.

Note, also, the differing labels. It brings out the beer geek in me. I have no idea which came first, or when Capital Brewing decided to change labels and styles. Considering the bottle on the right is the one pictured on BeerAdvocate, I'd venture to guess that is the bottle style that came first. But who knows? Really, if anyone does know, my inner beer geek is going to ponder this all night.

This pours a light straw color with moderate chill haze that has faded in the 15 minutes since we poured the beers. Seriously, it's hot in here. It's quite comfortable outside, and I have the windows open. Please tell me it's not just a hot flash, because the beer is telling me it's hot inside our crappy apartment. It had a moderate white head that hasn't stuck around. I'm also blaming the heat for that. So we're clear, it's definitely not a hot flash. The aroma is extremely faint and smells vaguely of Triscuits. There are also some mild citrus notes that come through in the the nose, along with some more bready, malty notes. When drinking it, I see where it got its name: it's definitely the perfect island beer. It's very mild, with some peppercorn surprisingly hitting the olfactory nerves first (maybe I shouldn't inhale while taking a sip?), then the mild citrus notes -- lemon, orange, and passionfruit come to mind -- take over the palate for a few seconds, then the malty notes come through again, with a hint or two of bread hitting the palate. It's a soft, round-drinking beer, yet it has moderate carbonation. I sense the wheat most in the aroma and the mouthfeel. It's very sessionable, at 4.2% ABV.

Since I'm either having a hot flash or it's somewhere around 115 degrees in here now, this may be the perfect beer for this evening. I almost don't want to turn this over to Nathan and return to the two pieces of art I'm working on, particularly since I'm to the point of cutting little teeny (and some not-so-teeny) strips of paper. The painting and the gluing of each little strip is much more fun to me... but I love the way these pieces evolve.

4.35/5 caps -- probably a little higher than I would normally rate it, because it tastes perfect when I'm so overheated.


It's 78 in here, by the way. Phil just headed to sleepland, so the Classic Alt station goes back on, just in time for Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." And as anyone with good knowledge knows, after Ian Curtis offed himself, Joy Division became New Order who released possibly the greatest song in history, "Bizarre Love Triangle." But you aren't reading for my musical rants or my aging looks, you're here for the beer, so let's say we settle down in front of the warming glow of the computer monitor, and talk about beer. Much like FDR has his Fireside Chats, we'll have Pintside Reviews. Holy shit. That's a brilliant name. I hereby, being in a foggy haze of fantastic beer reserve the right to use the name "Pintside Reviews" or any variation of previously stated name (including with or without space, and with or without being pluralized or any combination). Ok, in-my-mind legal stuff taken care of, onto the beer as Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round" pulsates from the music channel.

This has a straw like color, very clear. No head to mention at this moment, as this has had time to warm up. The aroma is sweet with slight hints of citrus and earthy tones. The flavor though is nice and mellow. Lawn mowing beer at it's finest. Jennie described the flavor perfectly with some citrus hints and almost a black pepper flavor at times (possibly the yeast strain?). This is smooth drinking, like an American Lager, but with a much crisper, cleaner flavor. Decent carbonation to keep this bubbly and refreshing, but not as bubbly as a high school cheerleader who tried to find one iota of interest in the crowd of fans with the team perpetually losing and the crowd is downtrodden after 20 years of a no winning record in any sport. But enough of my high school career. The mouthfeel is smooth, hairless and refreshing. Yes, this is a hairless beer.

4.3/5 caps